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FAQs about Triggerfish Disease Treatments

FAQs on Triggerfish Disease: Trigger Disease 1, Triggerfish Health 2, Triggerfish Health 3,
FAQs on Triggerfish Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Trauma, Pathogenic (infectious, parasitic), Social, Genetic,

Related Articles: Triggerfish, Red Sea Triggerfishes

Related FAQs: Triggerfishes, Triggerfish: Identification, Selection, Compatibility, Behavior, Systems, Feeding Reproduction,


Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Blotchy White Spots on Trigger      12/30/16
Dear WWW Team:
Happy holidays and I hope all is well.
<Thank you; yes>
I recently purchased a 7in crosshatch trigger, but I was only able to quarantine him for 5 days. The water quality in my QT was bad. So, I decided to dip him with Safety Stop (2 parts dip - 45min in formalin and another 45min in Methylene blue) before putting him in my 120 reef tank. In the last couple of days, I noticed several white blotchy spots on both of his fins (pics attached). They are different sizes and shapes - I don't think is ich.
<Agreed... this looks like "burns" from the dip exposure to me. Should heal on its own in one-two weeks>
I decided not to catch him and QT him again because it would cause an extreme amount of stress to him and all other inhabitants in reef tank.
<We are in agreement>
Besides he looks well and eating well.
<Ah, good>
A couple of days ago, I began to give him Dr G's bacterial frozen food plus soaked Selcon in the pellets 3x a day. The trigger and all other tank mates are behaving normal, happy, active, and eating well. All the other fishes are currently not showing any signs of the blotchy white spots.
My water parameters are: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 2-4, temperature 77-79, and ph is steady at 8.2.
My questions are: what is afflicting my trigger?
<As stated>
And I am on the right direction in terms of treating him or do I need to do something differently/aggressively?
<I would continue as you are doing; no worries>
Your advice, insights are greatly appreciated.
Kind regards and Happy New Year
<And to you. Bob Fenner>

triggerfish keep dying: Poisoned by phony "med.s"   6/21/12
I have followed your site for some time and noticed the detailed answers/advice you seem to offer. I am a very frustrated aquarist. Over the last 3 months I've purchased separately 10 triggerfish that die almost immediately.

 (4 clown triggers, 2 BlueLine, 1 whitetail, 2 undulated, 1 Huma BlueLine). I know a good aquarist should find out what's wrong before adding more but I am doing everything right. I have 6 SW tank setups with groupers, eels, damsels, a marine Betta, harlequin tusk, & pufferfish all thriving in different tanks. As I add triggerfish the initial acclimation is fine, they're eating and getting along with others. Within a week or so it's the same MO; their eyes begin to cloud, small white dots on their fins develop, and it seems their scales begin to peel. After getting progressively worst, each stops eating and after a week or two dead.
<Something up here...>
My parameters seem fine: ph 8.3, 0 nitrites, ammonia, 5 nitrates(unnoticeable in some cases), salinity 1.023 range. Medications and a QT tank for most doesn't help. The latest was the BlueLine (55g) and clown(150g); acclimation was fine, LR, canister filters, protein skim, 77 temp, parameters were near perfect, and after a few days, white spots, cloudy eyes, not eating, and then death. I purchased both from online retailers but others I have purchase locally with the same results.
<Mmm, what's going on here?>
This is extremely frustrating and disappointing for both the costs I'm out of and simply not knowing why these fish are dying while others thrive. I take these deaths personally as I am dedicated and serious and hate to this happen to any of my fish.  Also using Instant Ocean sea salt which I hope is not the issue. Any assistance or guidance is appreciated.
<Well, there are no specific "Balistid only" pathogenic diseases... what might mal-affect them would do the same to the puffers, other fish groups... Have you changed your protocol in dipping/bathing new purchases?
Perhaps there is insufficient oxygen (using RO water in dips?) or too much formalin exposure... Explain to me your modus operandi from purchase to main tank placement.
Bob Fenner>
Re: triggerfish keep dying; being killed     6/23/12

I have tried two primary methods:  a Methylene Blue dip before the QT tank and a product my LFS suggested called Ruby Reef Rally.
<A scam... see WWM re>
 After a few days and noticeable cloud eye, white spots, and laggard movement,
<Could be the pepper sauce...>
 I use Chem-Marine parasite products, Melafix,
<These last two are worthless as well... Please search on WWM...>

and EM Erythromycin to varied degrees. The most recent happened to both 5"clown and 6" bluelined, both in new species only cycled tanks (150g, 55g) where parameters were excellent. I also used this product I discovered call Seachem Stability and Stress Coat hoping this would help. I let the bag float for 1/2hr and pour 1/2cup of tank water every 5mins into the bag for about an hour.
<... and see WWM re acclimation>

 But it has happened to my other triggers once mixed in with other species.
Very disturbing and can't figure out the issue especially since other fish are fine. I visited my LFS today which had a fresh crop of triggers but I didn't dare purchased any.  I noticed how vibrant each were in their tanks and also notice they are using rock substrate where as I use sand on a 3" bed. thx
<Read. BobF>

A case of rehoming Bluechin triggers.., avoiding Crypt 6/30/08 Evening all :D <Carolyn> Am sure this question must appear somewhere on WWM but I can't find it for love nor money, so hope you don't mind me asking it :) <Please go ahead> I'm (hopefully) rehoming a pair of Bluechin triggers (male and female) however the current owner has recently had ich. I'm still keen to take the animals now they are on the mend (he says only a few spots left) however they will be popped straight into my hospital tank on arrival. Now then.. 1. given that the animals will be stressed from the move, should I still freshwater dip them before they go in the treatment tank? <Yes, I would... with formalin, aeration...> 2. are triggers ok with copper treatments so long as the instructions are meticulously followed? <Yes> 3. OR would it be better l (i.e. less stressful) leaving the animals without copper for a few weeks and see if they are indeed over the ich, treating if any signs occur? <Up to you... if they appear healthy, I might skip the copper, go with simple observation for now> They will, ultimately, be going into my 5ft tank upgrade once they're done in QT but I'm terrified of introducing ich :o Any advice on how best to ensure this hated parasite never makes it past QT would be greatly appreciated. Thanks as always, Carolyn <As often welcome. Bob Fenner>

QT size for Triggerfish 01/09/2008 Dear Crew: <<Hello, Andrew here>> In your opinion, is a 14 gallon BioCube large enough to quarantine a 2 inch Sargassum Triggerfish for 6 to 8 weeks assuming excellent water quality and maintenance? It's up and running with some modifications and improvements over the stock set up, but still empty, so it would be quite convenient if large enough. Thanks for any information in advance! <<Yes, as the fish is still very small at this point, just keep good maintenance on the tank>> Michele <<Thanks for the question, A Nixon>>

Re: QT size 01/18/2008 Andrew, (or who ever gets this reply) <<Hello, Andrew here>> Thanks for the QT info. We went ahead and ordered the Sargassum triggerfish from Blue Zoo and it arrived today. Our 2 inch trigger is a.... gulp..... 4 inch trigger! Do you still think we might be okay for a two month quarantine in a 14 gallon BioCube? The QT has to be at least two months to allow us time to finish some plumbing on the 240 gallon display tank. We have about eight to ten pounds of live rock for biofiltration and hiding places and no substrate. <<well tended and water parameters held excellent, yes, will be fine, maybe conceder a larger QT in the future if purchasing larger fish>> I know everyplace says no live rock in a QT, but I couldn't figure out why it would matter as long as I realize that I will lose the rock if I have to treat with any meds. <<Live rock and substrate are not desirable in a QT tank it provides places to harbour parasites which can then be passed on to other newly quarantined fish, and yes, if you use meds, it will mostly kill off the live rock>> I plan on changing about 10% -20% of the water twice a week unless water tests/levels dictate more often. <<This is good>> This is our first time ordering a fish online instead of using the LFS, so we've been a bit nervous. We did a 1 1/2 hour acclimation and left him/her in dim lights today. The plan was normal lights tomorrow and offer a chopped silverside for a first feeding. S/he is a gorgeous fish.......checked out the tank and then hung out in a little cave in the rock. Thanks again for any information! <<These are such a beautiful fish indeed, great personalities, I wish you all success with your new friend. Michele <<Thanks for the questions, A Nixon>>

Re: QT size 01/30/2008 Andrew, (or who ever gets this reply), <<Hello Michelle, Andrew here>> I'm bothering you about the Sargassum triggerfish in QT again! I apologize ahead of time if this is really stupid, but I wanted your opinion. <<No need to apologise>> As a reminder, I have a four inch Sargassum triggerfish in QT in a 14 gallon BioCube. As expected, water quality is difficult. We are finishing the second week of QT and I do 20% water changes every 2 to 3 days. The nitrate stays between 5 and 10 ppm. Ammonia and nitrite are zero. <<Sounds good, always good to keep on top of them>> Our goal was to leave the fish in the BioCube for an additional 4 to 6 weeks after the end of QT until our 240 was ready for fish. I am starting to worry that this may be too stressful on the fish because of the small size of the aquarium and the nitrate levels. SOOO, the question...which is the least stressful on the triggerfish. 1: Spend the additional six weeks in the BioCube or 2: go in a very overstocked 100 gallon aquarium with a Naso tang, yellow tang, Rabbitfish, mandarin dragonette, and pair of Sebae clowns until the 240 gallon is ready? The tangs are all very peaceful, but the female clown can be a bit aggressive. Currently, the triggerfish is very active and eats flake and frozen seafood well. S/he does pace the top of the tank a lot...I'm not sure if this is begging for food or secondary to the small size and nitrate level. We have liverock in the QT (I know, it will be scrape if we treat), so the fish has hiding places and a small area to explore. If it makes a difference, at the end of the four week QT, we will connect the BioCube to a refugium with a four inch sandbed, six gallons of water (that's in addition to the sandbed and liverock) and Gracilaria. Thanks as always for your help! <<I would keep the fish in the quarantine tank, don't see a reason to add undue stress to the fish. As long as the water is kept very well, as your doing already, feeding a good diet, and add the extra refugium for filtration, it shall be fine>> <<Thanks for the update and questions. Good luck. A Nixon>>

Filter Cleaning, actually trigger non-treatment 06/08/07 Hello, <Howdy> I have a 6 inch Black Hawaiian Trigger <Ah, Melichthys niger... very wide-ranging species...> with a small white dot right above his eye that looks pretty much like a pimple my LFS said it was probably fluke and I want to qt him a 10-gallon qt tank. <Nah and nah> Is the tank big enough if I keep pristine water conditions? Also how should I treat this? <All posted on WWM, however...> Thank you very much, Jared <I would NOT treat this fish, not move it... not. The spot is likely "nothing" pathogenic... will go of its own accord. Moving, exposing this specimen will be more harm, trouble than it's worth... Not necessary... Is this clear enough? Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Trigger 6/9/07
Ok I did the wrong thing and over reacted and moved him to the qt tank cause it looked like the trigger started to look like it was getting ich. <... if this were/is the case, the system has "it"... all fish livestock must need me moved, treated...> So now he is in the qt tank. Should I give him a freshwater bath and lower the salinity? Thanks for all your help. Also I live in Dallas, TX and I was wondering if you could help me find a respectable fish store in my area or maybe point me to a site that could help me. <Ask your local marine club for input here> Your sites help is priceless Jared <... then use it. Your answers are all archived... along with much related, needed info. Bob Fenner>

Stupid trigger? Mmm, no, but going blind... from? 2/25/07 Hello, <Kwon> Thanks for all the wonderful info on your site. They're really helpful. But I can't seem to find info on my problem. I have a 3" clown trigger in a fish only 55 gal tank with 50lb live rocks. <Mmm, you know this fish needs more room... can/will likely become a terror...> I have him for about 8 month now. Lately, I've notice that during feeding, he charges towards the sinking food and miss it. He has no problem picking them off the floor. He also bumps into the rocks a lot. Is there something wrong with his eye sight? I see no physical damage on his eye nor body. <There is likely a nutritional deficiency at play here... though the source of the problem could be (smaller likelihood) an internal (eye) parasite... or even less likely, a psychological result from the crowding...> He just survived an ick attack about 4 month ago. Could that have damaged something? <Mmm, yes... depending on how the fish/system was treated... it may have been neurologically poisoned. Bob Fenner> Please advise. Thanks. Kwon.

Huma Huma help 1/2/07 hello. <Hello, Graham here.> I have had a catastrophe... and want to help save my last fish... I purchased some turbo snails from the local pet store and after introducing them to my 75 gallon tank all my fish started scratching. I added Sea Cure and that was the end of my marine life. I lost 2 clown 2 damsel 1 yellow tang and my emperor angel.. now my trigger is left but he is still scratching away at his side. he has his whole belly red and flakey now. what can I do ? My tank was all zeros for no2, no3 and ammonia and a ph of 8.0-8.2.... I now have him out of the tank and in a quarantine.. he seems to be fine but he is scratching his skin really bad...I an dosing him with sea cure BTW. <Very hard to diagnose a problem like this when you can't see it. Send a high-resolution .JPG that has been either compressed in an image editor or to a .ZIP file. (Make sure the file is no bigger than 500k, but preferably under 100k) If you cannot send a pic, I recommend you try to work out an identification from our FAQs using the search tool.> Thanks Josh <Welcome.> <P.S. Bob F. : Please jump in if you see a red flag I'm missing! -Graham> <<Mmm... copper poisoning... removing the copper, hope, time going by... RMF>>

- Picasso Trigger Needs Help - Hiya, I have a Picasso Trigger and a Volitans Lion in a 75 gal. (1) Fluval 304; (1) Fluval 404. Lately noticing the Trigger is having trouble seeing. He can't quite grasp the food so I've resorted to putting it on a skewer for him. It appears as though both eyes are larger than before w/ white circles around them at the base. No signs of parasites (at least externally). Water quality: salt = 1.021; ph = 8.2; nitrates = tend to be on the high side; ammonia & nitrites = 0. When the Lion was first introduced I caught the Trigger nibbling on his fin and wonder if perhaps he's been poisoned in same way or stung and could this lead to eye problems or trouble seeing. <Is a possibility.> Now that he's having trouble seeing, he's getting in the way of the Lion during feeding and therefore the Lion is turning on his side and then the Trigger gets into his fins. He's going into a 20 gal QT. <Excellent.> After searching your FAQ's I read about using Epsom Salt, but that all appeared to be for pop-eye. <I would treat as such anyway... think the Epsom salt could help reduce some of the pressure in those eyes.> Not sure if this is the same thing so wanted to double check before using something. <The Epsom salts are safe to use in the quarantine tank. As an aside, if the trigger was actually envenomized in/near/around the eyes, there is likely little you can do. All the same, I'd give a good try at getting it to eat and you've already outlined the steps that I would take. Make sure you have plenty of new water made up so you can provide frequent water changes in that 20 gallon tank.> Please help. Your site is always informative and extremely helpful...thank you for always being there for us hobbyist! ;) <Cheers, J -- >

- Clown Trigger Questions - Hello, <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I've recently set up a semi predator tank with inhabitants including a clown trigger (3.5 in), snowflake eel, <My friend, with these two creatures alone, the word "semi" does not belong - this is a true predator tank.> formosa wrasse and a recently added Imperator Angelfish (4.5 in) and my triggers colors have been fading since his addition I am not sure if this is a sign that he is stressed out from the new arrival or if it might be related to either a feeding or disease issue. <Could be any one of those - how big is this system?> About 6 weeks ago, I noticed spots on him and corrected by treating my tank with a mild based copper treatment (killed my cleaner wrasse) which seemed to correct the situation and regularly am checking for signs of return <Egad... this is not a correction by any means. Treating your main system with copper will likely stall your biological filter and could even lay it to waste. You should do some rudimentary water tests to make sure ammonia and nitrite are not building up...> In regards to feeding I try a few goldfish/ghost shrimp twice a week and for the balance of the week feed the tank brine shrimp and frozen krill. At what size can I feed him crayfish and what size should they be in relation to him <I would stick with frozen foods like Prime Reef and other meaty foods, shrimp, krill, squid, etc. Live foods tend to cause too much aggression which this clown trigger doesn't need to have encouraged.> All assistance is greatly appreciated <I would encourage you to browse and read the Wet Web Media site - all of these animals and their captive care requirements are covered there in addition to quarantine and treatment procedures for ailing fish.> Chris <Cheers, J -- >

Trigger Trouble?  Concerned about my Niger Trigger. 5yrs in 1200 litre system. Gone off food for 2 weeks now & not swimming around at all.  <Not good...>  All other fish in system ok. Captured & in hospital tank. No signs of external disease.  <That's good to here...>  Treated for 1 week with Myxazin & fresh water dip.  <I'd stick with just the FW dip. Why medicate if you're not sure what you're treating?>  Tried feeding sea urchin to see if any interest. No interest at all in food. Don't know what to treat with, maybe something for worms? Concerned from Cape Town South Africa.  <Well, concerned, a fish that refuses food all of the sudden definitely is problematic. While these fishes tend to go on "hunger strikes" occasionally, it is entirely possible that you may be dealing with some kind of internal parasite. So, I cannot entirely blame you for attempting medication after all! I suppose that I'd utilize medications that are for internal parasites. Hopefully, that will do the trick...Also, keep tempting the fish with a variety of different foods. You may want to use some liquid vitamins, such as Vita Chem, which can be administered directly into the water. As fishes do drink, the fish may actually take in some of the vitamins directly. These may just pull him through until he starts taking food again. Don' give up! Regards, Scott F.>

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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