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FAQs about Puffer Environmental Disease

FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease: Marine Puffer Disease 1, Marine Puffer Disease 2, Marine Puffer Disease 3, Marine Puffer Disease 4, Marine Puffer Disease 5, Marine Puffer Disease 6, Marine Puffer Disease 7,
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Nutrition, Social, Trauma, Pathogenic, Treatments
<Plus see below re Disease by Category per Puffer Family>
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Group: Marine Puffers & Kin, Velvet & Crypt, Boxfish Disease, Tetraodont Disease, FW Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Disease, Toby Disease, Burrfish Disease,

Related Articles: Puffers in General, A Saltwater Puffer Primer: Big Pufferfish! by Mike Maddox, Puffer Care and Information, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, (Big) Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo, Small Puffer Dentistry By Jeni Tyrell (aka Pufferpunk), Puffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: Puffers in General 1, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Compatibility, Puffer Selection, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Reproduction, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

For messy eaters, puffers of all kinds need clean, low-metabolite concentration water.

IF you have bright lighting, DO provide shaded areas for your puffer/s.



Puffer Problems and Overstocking 3-4-08 I have been looking on your website for two days and I got some information, but I was hoping if I tell you the story you might have a more clear answer. I have a 125 gallon saltwater tank with about 120 pounds of live rock. I have 2 maroon clownfish 1 Sweetlips 1 lawn mower blenny 2 sharp nose puffers 3 green spotted puffers 1 yellow tang 1 anemone 1 Foxface 1 dogface puffer and lasting 1 porcupine puffer. <First things first 'This tanks is incredibly overstocked!! Half of this list would be more applicable. Second, you never ever want to combine anemones with puffers due to their curiosity and tendency to nip at things that spark their attention. One nip to an anemone can be the end of a puffer. > I just moved the tank last month and have had some trouble with the nitrate level since, as of today my levels were, ammonia .25, nitrite 0, ph 7.8 and nitrate 80. Off the charts almost. <Due to overstocking.> That being said, two days ago I introduced a new porcupine puffer into my tank. <Was he quarantined first?> It was smaller by about half. I noticed the new one was chasing my OG around the tank and I said I would give it overnight and if they were not getting along by then I would take it back. <Combining multiple species of puffers will most often lead to aggression. You have 4 different kinds here, so there are always going to be problems unless you remove some.> The next morning (yesterday) I found my OG puffer breathing very heavy at the bottom of the tank, he was not responsive to my touch or net. I removed him from the tank and put him in a bucket with a pump to get him more oxygen. This seemed to work as he perked up and started swimming and got his color back after about three hours I put him back into the main tank. That is when I noticed he was running into things, first he went to the top of the water line and gulping air, then calmed down but still is running into stuff, his eyes are moving around but he can't see. I put him in an iso net as I don't have a hospital tank right now. I am using Ich-attack and MelaFix right now and I have done a 30 gallon water change tonight. <Ich isn't his problem and medicating unnecessary will do more harm than good seeing as puffers was very sensitive to medications. I cannot stress enough about quarantining new fish before adding them into your main tank. New fish, especially porcupines carry parasites and other diseases that can harm or kill your other fish. You need to see about getting him into a quarantine tank a.s.a.p. Do 50% water changes in your main tank every other day for at least a week. I would see if a local LFS can take some of the fish out of your tank. I know it will be hard to part with your friends but if you do not lower the bio-load then they will surely perish. Your high nitrates are due to too much feeding and not enough water changes. The reason why the puffer responded positively when you removed him from that main tank is because it was like a breath of fresh air for him. Placing him back into the bad water caused him to go bad to feeling bad again. I think once you remedy this water and overstocking situation, things in your tank will be much better.> Please let me know how to help him he is my favorite fish. Thanks so much for your time. <You're welcome and good luck. ---Yunachin> Holly

Re: Puffer Problems and Overstocking Re: 3-9-08 I just wanted to give you an update. I continued to have nitrate problems so I took a water sample to my LFS. They checked it and everything was normal so my test kit was wrong. (I bought a new one) I also bought a nano tank where I placed my blind puffer. <Sounds great so far.> I started to treat him with copper; I removed him today and put him back into the main where I am treating them with Rally Ich med and Rally bacterial med. <<These are shams. RMF>> <He needs more than 4 days in a quarantine tank, probably a couple of weeks. Also why are you treating him/them with all of these multiple medications? Puffers are especially sensitive to copper and it can do more damage than help. Also medicating fish just because is never a good idea either. Again puffers are highly sensitive to medications and because these are 'scale-less' creatures most medications are not recommended for use on them in the first place. I would cease all of the medicating on the main tank immediately and do some large water changes. Check out this link for treatment on QT safely: http://wetwebmedia.com/quinmedfaqs.htm;> My levels are all normal. Do you have any suggestions on how I can get him to eat? I use garlic and he was not interested but I think it was because of the copper. It's been a week since he's had food. <He is definitely going to be affected from the copper. I would read through the site starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontidfaqs.htm; and work your way through the sections, feeding, disease, etc. There is lots of information there to help answer your questions.> Gizmo is still blind but I am hopeful. I don't want to have to put him down as he's totally fine other than his blindness. Please help. BTW all my fish in my tank are very small Gizmo is my largest fish at about 5 inches, also all my puffers have been getting along since day 1, I guess I was lucky. The new one I introduced was a problem so I took him back the day after I got him. <Here is the problem; there are too many fish in this tank. It doesn't matter what size they are now, they are going to grow, and most likely be stunted due to being forced to live in a cramped environment. Also there is going to be aggression, period. They may get along that you can see now but that will not be the case in the future. Again there are several species of puffer in this tank increasing the bio-load immensely. You are going to have problems with the health of these fish in the future and if kept in their current conditions, will dramatically shorten their life spans. Please reconsider taking some back to your LFS, or possibly getting another tank to split these fish up. > Thank you. <Good Luck---Yunachin>

Sick Dog Face Puffer   8/29/06 Hi, my name is Beth, my husband and I have a dog face puffer, and  I think he's really sick; but I don't know what the problem is. <Hi Beth, you have Justin with you tonight, one of the resident puffer people.> None of the two local fish stores that we go to can tell us whats wrong they just suggest to do water changes.  We have.  We have had  Pudge for about eight months with nothing else but a crab. Please Help Me!!!  I am really sorry if you have already answered a question like this, but I've done tons of research on your website and can't find any answers.  About ten days ago Pudge stopped eating and swimming on the third day I noticed he was breathing very heavy his left gill was opening very wide and when he did swim not aggressively at all he would bmp into the live rock and the glass as if he didn't even see it. <Signs of poor water quality generally> We did a water change and added bio-Spira that night at about 10:00 he was laying on his side and getting all these brown spots on him I thought he was dying.  With no suggestion from the fish store as a last resort  I told my husband to put the medication Rally in his tank, within 20 min. the spots were gone , the next day his breathing improved, the following day he was swimming around again still with no signs of hunger. <Brown spots?  can you get a photo?  do you mean that the puffer was turning blotchy, or that he was actually covered in small black/brown dots?>  The day before yesterday I noticed what seems to be mucus coming out of his mouth and his one left gill. Still not eating.  Yesterday I tried force feeding him but he wouldn't take it.  Today he just seems to be in the same position he was ten days ago.  This morning I put some more medication in but it doesn't seem to be working he is breathing heavy again with no energy at all. He is very dark brown but when I go over to the tank it seems that he is trying to turn that grayish white color he normally is but cant and he gets these white spots all over him almost like a leopard.  I don't know what to do I feel helpless. I hope you can help me.     Thank you so much for your time.           Beth <Beth, without knowing key things about your setup such as tank size, size of the puffer, water parameters (Take your water to be tested or if you have a test kit, use it  and reply back), and what type of blotches you are seeing, it is hard to tell you anything you can do.  your LFS is right that water changes (50%) will be very helpful, but Im concerned with the adding medicine and spots disappearing, that sounds like black spot disease or black Ich, which is a parasite.  If it is black Ich, (small black spots all over the body/gills) fresh water dipping and gravel vacuuming your entire tank will help remove most of them, however please read on WWM about black spot disease to get a better feel for if that is what is actually happening.  At this point do the water changes, and try adding garlic juice to the puffers food to entice it to eat.  Answer the questions above and reply back and we can go from there.> <Justin>
Re: Sick Dog Face Puffer. Justin was right, bunk env.   8/29/06
The puffer is about 5-6 inches..   he is in a 30 gallon tank <Too small... unstable> and I have a 70 gallon aqua clear filter running.   I also have a powerhead.  the nitrates are really high <Also...> when the water was tested.   I did a water change but the nitrates are still very high.  He is breathing very heavy and has white blotches all over him not salt looking though. <"Fix the environment, cure the fish". Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/trupufsysfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Dog Face Puffer
  8/30/06 Hi Justin, <Beth> I believe my husband just e-mailed you back regarding tank size ect.  I'm not to knowledgeable about fish my husband is more the fish type than I am, but I do love my little pudge.  I have tried soaking his food in garlic and still nothing.  The spots I'm seeing literally look like he's trying to change to that grayish white color, but instead of fully changing color he gets these white spots.  How  else can I make him eat I'm really concerned that he has gone this long w/o food.  I know that's not the key problem but I feel if I can get food in him it will build his strength and immune system. I feel like I need to do something immediately but  I don't know what.  I really hope you can help me Justin.  Thank you so much!! <I have not seen any email from him yet, until I do there isn't much more I can tell you. Please see if he can resend it or if another crew member tackled his email> <Justin>

SW Puffer Systems/ Possible Disease - 3/24/2006 Hi Crew Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer. <<I will try.>> I have kept a large dog faced puffer (now 11 inches long) in a 100 gallon (UK) tank for five years, after spending hours and hours reading your site I decided to introduce live rock about a week ago.  The water parameters are: Nh3  0 ppm No2  0.1 ppm <<Should always be Zero.>> No3  30-40ppm  10% water changes per week required! <<Puffers are very sensitive to such things.  I do 50% weekly changes on my puffer tanks.>> Ph     8.3-8.4 alk 12dkh ca  370 phosphate 0.1 silicate    0 temp 78 - 80 s.g 1.022 The tank has a bare bottom, now with live rock, huge circulation (60X per hour) and an AquaC Remora pro skimmer imported from America - on your site's recommendation.  I am very pleased with it <<As am I, with mine :).>> Also 2 large Eheim 2028 externals.  I supplemented the calcium when I introduced the live rock with Tropic Marin Bio Calcium, because the reading was 310 and I would like to give the rock a chance to grow corallines. <<Ok.  Be sure not to push it too high.>> I noticed 2 days after introducing the rock and dosing the calcium, that he has large white markings in his fins, they are not like spots more like splodges (hope that is a relevant term!!) <<I'm not sure it is a term at all! :)>> and they don't seem to protrude from his fins more like they are in the fins themselves, the marks are about 2mm in length and he has 5 of them in total. He had a case of Ich about 4 years ago when I introduced a Tang, I feel that this does not look like the same thing as they are much bigger and don't look as if they protrude, also in the past he has had one of these marks on his fins which came to nothing.  To confuse matters more, he has also lost a little of the colour in his tail fin, he has however, recently taken to resting his tail on the Tunze stream pump, because this has now become the new area where he rests after I introduced the rock.  This has left me thinking is this a parasite from the live rock (well cured),  or could it be explained away with his tail on the pump- and dosing of the calcium somehow affecting his fins. <<I think you may have had some die-off in the rock, hence the nitrite reading.  I wouldn't blame the pump, or the calcium for his marks.  This could be little more than a small display of stress.>> I am resisting the urge to panic (although it is building!! ) because his behavior is normal, no scratching or labored breathing, and as I have mentioned I feel sure he has had a similar mark before. Any ideas you have would be appreciated. <<Increase the volume of your water changes, and keep an eye out for changing behaviour.>> Thank you for your advice past and present. Dave Squire (England) <<Glad to help.  Lisa.>>

Puffers and copper  2/6/06 It says on your site not to ever treat puffers with copper. <Some folks say...>   I had my  tank at better than 1.5ppm (CopperSafe) for 3 months and my map and dogface are  no worse for the wear as far as I can tell.  I just bought a starry puffer  who was doing great the first day but now seems a little lethargic and not eager to eat.  My copper level is at 1.0 (less than a true therapeutic dose) but  I'm concerned that it may be effecting his health. <... sub-therapeutic doses do more harm than good> I'm going to get all  the copper out of my tank once I get a golden puffer but I don't want to invite another Ich infection before that.  Your input would be appreciated.   Greg <Quarantine, don't crowd... Bob Fenner>
Re: puffers and copper... poor water quality  2/6/06
Also, My starry puffer's skin is pealing off.  I have a 400  gallon tank with: PH-8.3 nitrite 0 ammonia 0 nitrate -80 (I can't seem to keep this under control) Thanks, Greg <The nitrate and what it indicates (other metabolite accumulation) are your root problem here. Fix... see WWM re Nitrates... Bob Fenner>
Re: puffers and copper   2/8/06 I put the fish in another tank with <20ppm nitrate and after one day it  is doing much better.  I know that at one time I had that tank at between   300-400ppm nitrate and all the fish (including two puffers) were thriving.   <There is more to the situation than: high nitrates bad, low nitrates good... Please see WWM...> weird.  I've come to the conclusion that if you acclimate them slowly to a  high nitrate situation they will do fine but if you take sensitive a fish out of  the ocean that is used to zero nitrates and put it in a polluted tank it will suffer from nitrate poisoning. <Yes, well put. In general, this is so> Unfortunately, I had to lose a beautiful  golden puffer before I realized this.   <Thank you for the follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Poor Planning/Husbandry and Puffer Health - 12/13/2005 Hello - <Hi Francesca.> I noticed very recently that my Porcupine Puffer has been gasping/ labored breathing and stays around the top, as if 1) there's too much ammonia or not enough oxygen in tank or 2) some parasitic problem, maybe gill flukes? <This doesn't bode well for your tank. Has your Puffer been puffing at all (or ever). They are usually very good first indicators of poor conditions.> Just for background, I have a 30 gallon tank with a Clown, the Puffer, small Damsel and Yellow Tang. <This demonstrates extremely poor planning or a lack there of. Neither the Puffer nor the Tang are suitable here. They should both be removed to larger systems. This inappropriate stocking is a good part of your problem. Both will have stunted growth and die prematurely if they remain. The choice however is ultimately yours.> The Puffer's about 4 inches. I checked water conditions, Ph, <pH> ammonia of course, etc, and everything's fine. <I can draw no such conclusion here.> I like keeping my salinity level lower (not a reef tank) at 1.020, also hear it's good for preventing Ich supposedly, not sure? <Do read up on hyposalinity on our site for more info.> They seem fine though. <Obviously not.> Just did a water change too. I do these every 2-3 weeks, about 20% or so. <Being this overstocked you should be doing these much more frequently. Skimmer?> Every week I put in calcium supplements to maintain Ph (in particular Kalkwasser mix, and All in One Salifert). <Do you know what your doing with these? How much calcium is lost in your tank weekly? If not testing/regulating accordingly, please stop. Increase water change frequency.> I'm usually <Usually!?> careful pouring the Kalkwasser mixed with freshwater in it (I hear you're supposed to pour in slowly), <Only go on what you know and understand thoroughly. Going on what you've heard can be deadly and doesn't often apply in such cases.> but last week I may have poured it in too fast and 'burned' a bit of the puffer tail fringes. I'm wondering whether I may have slightly affected his gills too, thus the labored breathing. <Do you know the effects of a sudden pH spike? The effect it would have on any measurable amount of ammonia?> But that was last Thursday and it's already Monday. Or is it gill flukes? I hear that's hard to diagnose. <I doubt it's more than inappropriate care.> What should I do? I love this guy - his name's Piggy (aptly named of course). Great personality, good color and weight (not too fat). Even though he's acting like this, he still eats like a pig and is relatively active when I'm ready to feed him. <You'll need to start frequent water changes (at least weekly), study more on additives and their use/need and either buy a larger (100 gal. at least) system for these or adopt them out.> Thanks for your help, sorry email so long! I'm just at a loss what to do. <I know this was not at all what you wanted to hear and understand your attachment to your livestock. You must however consider what is best for them and how to best help them here. Just think how it would feel to constantly try harder (which can also hurt things if misapplied) only to watch them fade and slowly waste away (or become brain damaged, neurotic, Etc.). Besides, a little well intentioned "tough love" is what we all need sometimes.> Francesca <Josh>

Porcupine Puffer  5/3//04 Thank you for your great and quick response.  I am the person who asked you about the one puffer with the two blue damsels in an 80 gal tank.  I will do my best to take care of my puffer, Spike.  I guess I won't be getting more fish.  My tank is too small.  I want to take care of Spike the best I can and don't want to worry about so many other things.  I don't want more damsels.  I do have more decor in the tank.  I just didn't want to list them all.  I will get a protein skimmer today as well as a water cooler.  The weather has been very warm here in CA and the water temp is now 81!  I unplugged the heater two days ago after I had already turned it down. <I really don't think a cooler is necessary.  Temps of 78-82, or even a little higher for a few days is fine.  The only harm that could come to your fish is if it was kept at high temps for years, this would quicken it's metabolism & shorten it's lifespan.>   Do puffers jump out of tanks? <Definitely!  They are also excellent spitters.  Check out this cute site: http://www.puffers.org/.  ~PP> Irene

Puffer Blinded by the Lights? (12/24/03) Hi! <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> The fish is still OK, but I forgot to mention the fact that I switched the lights off when she started acting funny and yesterday when I turned them on again, she started circling like crazy and acted really strange, as if she were trying to hide from the light. As soon as I turned it off, she calmed down. Apparently, it disturbs her. However, she was quite OK before that, when the lights were on, she never did seem to mind. <I would do something to reduce the light intensity for a while, then slowly build it back up. There is info regarding same on the WWM site.> As for the nitrates I am using a downdraft skimmer, but I still have to figure out what to do with phosphates. I am using JBL's PhosEx, but it doesn't work (or do I have to give it more time?). <Sorry, I'm not familiar with that product. Do try checking the company's website.> The source water is OK, I am using a reverse osmosis system. I'll try to find out more about balancing pH and do something about it, hopefully I'll succeed.  Katja <The pH and alkalinity interaction can seem complex, but is understandable. --Ananda>

Puffer Trouble!   3/17/03 Hey guys!<Hey!  Phil here, "Bozek" on the forums.. you're "Dissolution" on the forums right?> Purchased a Dogface puffer Friday night.<My favorite puffer> He seems like he got used to the tank fairly quick.  Seemed ok. My room mate did a water change with water that was slightly cooler (72 degrees) because the moron didn't think to check the temp.<Not good>   Not only that - when he was taking the water out the heater cracked because the water level went below it.<This is sounding worse by the minute!> I had to do a 40min drive to the only place that was open to get a new one.   Now the water is at the normal temp 78degrees.<good> The problem is that between the water change and the temp drop he got stressed out.  He just sits at the bottom and occasionally moves to a new spot and chills there.  His color is off (like when some fish fall asleep - then they get the colors back). I've been reading over the FAQs - and it doesn't seem like a "horrible" behaviour - but I know its not normal - and I'd like to get my new buddy all feeling better. What can I do?<Make sure he's eating and keep the water quality high!  These are tough fish and should be able to take this like a trooper!  Please e-mail me back if there is any change in appearance/ behaviour!> Thanks so much!<No problem! Phil>
Re: Puffer Trouble...   3/17/03
Hey Phil,<Hey there!> The little guy "passed on" later that evening.<I'm very sorry, the loss of a fish is never easy!>  Do you think it was the temperature drop?<It probably was...>  It didn't seem to really affect the other fish too much (the initial temp drop freaked them all out).   It really didn't get back up to 78 for awhile.<The stress of moving tanks was probably hard on it, the added stress of the water temp drop was probably too much.>   Yeah, I'm Dissolution on the forums. Thanks again.<Once again I'm sorry> In some good news I got a killer lighting system from one of the LFS.  Got 9 lights (3 "ballasts"?  (1 per 3 lights).  They were tearing down one of the display tanks so we got that cheap.  I got to make a new hood to accommodate it but we got a good deal.<Do I smell a reef tank?? lol.. Phil>

Sick Dogface Puffer (03/10/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight as the puffer patrol heads for the ocean...> I have a dog face puffer and he hasn't eaten the last two days.  His face and lips seem to be very swollen. His eyes do not stick out at all and are very cloudy. He sits on the bottom and looks like he's having a hard time breathing.  He'll swim around a little but he runs into stuff since he can't see very well. <My first suspect is water quality. Have you tested the ammonia/nitrites/nitrates in this tank? Ammonia and nitrites should be at zero, and nitrates should be under 40. If you have *any* ammonia or nitrites, or nitrates over 40, I would do a water change of at least 20%.> I also have a lionfish and yellow tang in the tank.  The tang appears healthy.  The lionfish also has cloudy eyes and hasn't eaten in the last two days but he is stubborn sometimes with his food and is still swimming around like normal.    <Hmmm. What did you add to the tank two days ago?> I did a 20% water change today. Do you have any suggestions, I don't want to lose my puffer!!!   <Another 20% water change might be in order. There are also some bacterial infections that can cause cloudy eyes, but I would like to rule out water quality issues first. I know nothing about your tank, so water quality is my first suspect.> Thanks so much!  Lea
Re: Sick Dogface Puffer (03/10/03)
We lost our puffer  :(   <So sorry to hear that!> Now our lion is swimming around at the top of the tank with his head out of the water possibly gasping for air.  He started this as soon as the dog faced puffer was removed.  The Lionfishes eyes are still cloudy.  Our ammonia is .5, nitrite is .1, nitrate is between five and ten, and ph is 8.2.  We did a 20% water change about 6 hours ago and the levels have stayed the same.   <Then do another water change as soon as you can. A 40% water change is not out of line. The ammonia and nitrite is a deadly combination.> We also put in prime ammonia remover but that starting yesterday but that hasn't helped.   <Prime can neutralize the ammonia, but it will still show up on some tests... a difference between "free" ammonia and ammonia that is chemically bound up and not free.> We don't know what to do we don't want to lose our lion too.  Thanks, Lea <Another large water change is in order, pronto. And once you get the next one done, start another batch of saltwater mixing for yet another water change.... I'll be online for several hours yet, so let me know if the big water change doesn't help. I'll be doing some research on this in the meantime. --Ananda>

Puffer problems Hello, I am hoping you can help me? <Hi, Ananda here tonight...> I am taking care of a friends saltwater fish while she is on vacation. First, I know nothing about saltwater fish! but she left me specific instructions, which I have followed to the letter. <That's a good start, and emailing was another good start... my apologies on the delay in answering.> The fish were fine the last 2 days, today, I found one of 3 butterfly fish dead, and the puffer has not eaten for 2 days! <I hope you removed the butterfly pronto. Did she leave you instructions on how to do a water change? Puffers occasionally go on "hunger strikes" for a week or so, so that alone shouldn't be too big a problem.> and his eyes are all white and cloudy! <Often a sign of a water quality problem...> can hardly see his eyes anymore, he was swimming around some, but never came to the top to eat. I checked the ammonia levels which seemed fine and also the salt, which was also fine. <Ammonia levels should be zero. If they are not, please do a water change.> Any help or suggestions? Please contact me as soon as possible! Ginny <The good news is that cloudy eyes are a symptom that should abate when the water quality conditions improve. If you don't know how to do a water change, do email back and someone can help you through it, or post on the Saltwater Newbies board at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk and explain your situation. Sometimes, there will be people on the boards who can answer your question before the email servers can get a message to you! --Ananda>
Re: Puffer problems (08/07/03)
<Hi! Ananda here again tonight...> Thank you so much for replying! I actually found the problem! or rather, my  smart, fish guy husband did, we did a partial water change but found the problem was with the pump! Sending electric current through the water, poor guys! <Interesting. I hadn't realized stray current could cause eye problems as a symptom. This does illustrate why a grounding probe is A Good Thing(tm)!> But have turned the pump off, and will continue to feed and monitor the ones who made it, which is NOT very many, the puffer died, and so did the yellow tang...we tried. <I'm sorry that the fish didn't make it. Sometimes there is not much you can do, especially when the problem is an unusual one.> But I only hope they did not suffer too much! <As do I.> Thanks for all your help, I do appreciate it. Sincerely Ginny <My sympathies to the fish owner... --Ananda>

Dogface Puffer Problem >I have searched through your site, but I have a couple different symptoms, although I fear it may be too late.  I have a dog faced puffer (about 8-10") in a 40 gallon tank, which I have had for 5 years, I have been using the same bottle of prime for this entire time. Once the Prime Dechlor has been opened, does it have a certain amount of shelf life? >>I can only assume that it has a limited useful life, but I couldn't say that it would do anything worse than be ineffective.  I'd treat it like certain toiletries, give it anything from one to three years (?), just a guess. >Since it always smells bad, its hard to tell if it's actually "gone bad".  His usual diet is tiger shrimps and smelts (which I now realize is likely not a good enough variety. I used to give him scallops too, but his teeth started overgrowing, and his increased size also made it harder to feed them to him). He recently has slowed down on eating, over the last month to only about once a week. (I had been on holidays with someone caring for my tank, and when I returned there was a slight elevation in ammonia and nitrites, which was quickly alleviated with a water change) He seems to be breathing differently, and over night his eyes have sunken in. His teeth don't seem to be overgrown, although his lips seem to be 'pulled back', and I'm not sure about the lock jaw, he kinda holds his teeth open, but I think he can close them if he needs to. I usually do a water change of 5-6 gallons every 2 weeks, I had done one last Saturday, and am doing another tonight. >>First thoughts are that he's reached the limits of suitability in housing.  I really think your fish needs a tank at *least* double the size currently housed in.  Also, you can do larger, more frequent changes, they never hurt (as long as you're not going vacuum-mad on the gravel). >While I live in a city where there is no one that has saltwater knowledge, I visited a larger center today, and the sales rep didn't think i had anything to worry about yet, although at that time I hadn't noticed his eyes to be sunken. At the same time I bought a new bottle of Prime, and I think there is a slight difference in the smell - could this be the problem? I asked the rep if liquid vitamins would help if he has a vitamin deficiency, and he didn't feel they would do much good. >>It is my opinion that the sales rep was remiss for discounting the true importance of nutrition.  I feel that you should use supplements, especially on this fish.  There is one (available online) that is *very* good, called Selcon.  Other folks also speak (and there does appear to be some proof validating the claim that garlic (or extract thereof) induces feeding response in poorly feeding fish.  It is indeed known for the antibiotic properties of Allicin within garlic.  You can crush it, and soak food in it, see if it inspires any increased interest in food. >If they would help, is there any substitutions since its unlikely any pet store here would have them? Would it be worth it to try to force feed him, or with the sunken eyes is it already too late? >>I'm honestly unfamiliar with anything other than malnutrition that would cause a fish to look like that.  I might suggest a parasitic infection, for which garlic is also purported by some to have internal anti-parasitic effects.  Since this message is a few days old, please email me back so I have time to do some research, and to see how he's doing right now, then we'll move on.  Marina >Thank you for your help, Shawna Ogonoski

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