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FAQs on Butterflyfish Diseases 1

FAQs on Butterflyfish Disease: Butterflyfish Disease 1, Butterflyfish Disease 2, Angels and Butterflyfishes &Crypt,  
FAQs on Butterflyfish Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Trauma, Infectious, Parasitic, Treatments

Related Articles: Butterflyfishes

Related FAQs: Butterflyfish, Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Reproduction,

Unexplained death... rates of mortality, expectations  9/25/05 Hello all, <Mark> I am having a very difficult time 'getting the hang' of this saltwater aquarium thing!  I have been reading your many articles for many weeks now  and thought I was making good progress - until this morning.  I awoke to  find my 3.5" Punctato Butterfly at the bottom pretty motionless except when he  dart about from time to time without any equilibrium. I have had him for 19  weeks to the day.  He has always eaten well.  I feed him Formulae 2  and Mysis shrimp. <Like most all Butterflyfishes, this one does often "die mysteriously", usually overnight> I watch my fish regularly and he was acting normally the night  before.  His coloration is still perfect.  I cannot see any signs of  disease.  The only thing out of place is his tail fin with a very small  tear.  The only other fish in the tank is a Firefish. I was just  getting ready to begin purchasing live rock to slowly add before buying more  fish. <Mmm, would have been better to have had the LR first/ahead of time>   My water parameters are all near perfect (nitrite, nitrate,  ammonia=0, Ph=8.2, 79F, SG=1.22) <Better to keep SPG near 1.025> I use RO water. I have a 75 gal. tank with Eheim  2217 filter, Aqua C Remora Pro and UV sterilizer.  I have 1.5" of aragonite  substrate. I set the tank up about 9 months ago. <Some folks would say to keep the substrate thinner or decidedly deeper> Possible problem(s).  I bought 10 very small (pea sized) hermit crabs,  2 snails and a 1.5" emerald crab last week as a cleaner crew to help with my   algae.  I netted them and placed them directly into my display tank as I  was told they do not carry any diseases that can harm my fish.  Could  they have brought a disease that could kill this quickly? <Possible, but unlikely> Could the  emerald crab have done something to the butterfly overnight to injure him in  such a way to cause this condition? <Probably not> I am having serious doubts whether I can continue trying to get things  right and spend additional dollars on live rock etc. as I have  over $1700 invested so far and essentially nothing to show for my  efforts or expense.  Can you tell me something to encourage me or explain  what might have gone wrong? Help, Mark <Mmm, general stress... but/and something very important to impart to you re the "general survivability" of marine fishes... period, this BF in particular... Most fishes don't live for a month or two... BF's likely less than a month (really... though most are "bumped off" rather than dying from pathogenic causes)... 19 weeks is a good long time relatively... Bob Fenner>
Re: Unexplained  death... rates of mortality, expectations...  9/26/05
Thanks for your Saturday reply (do you ever take a day off?), <Mmm, not often> A few follow up questions.  I want to slowly increase my salinity from  1.021 to 1.025 per your suggestion. I figured I would do it during regular 15%   water changes. Is there an accepted 'formula' based on tank size and  current salinity that will guide me on knowing about how much and what salinity  I can replace to rise the overall tank salinity by one  one-thousandth? <A proportionality problem... V1/spg1 = V2/spg2... > I suppose I could just replace with 1.025 each time but if  you have a different method I would be interested to learn. <Easy to "do the math"> Since my tank only has the one Firefish and one emerald crab I decided to   add live rock as my budget allows (10 lbs per month or so) after curing   according to WWM's recommendations before buying any new fish.  During  this painfully slow process, I will be researching various fish for the future  FOWLR tank. <Good> Is there software, website or a database of some kind  available that tabulates many of the more basic fish criteria for quick sorting  so I can more easily isolate the kinds of fish I can keep and exclude ones that  are not an option for me (i.e. minimum tank size, food types, and gross  compatibility - <None that I've seen that are accurate, useful> I understand there is a large gray area regarding compatibility  but there are also lots of absolutes that need to be avoided).  Information  like this would be very helpful while deciding about the many, many options out  there.  I keep falling in love with a fish only to find I can't keep it due  to my tank size, overall capability (i.e., beginner) or other fish I  want/have etc. <This "data accumulation" is (actually, for me) some of the "most fun" part of the hobby... I like to "find things out"> Finally, I was very surprised to read your statement about general   survivability of marine fishes - specifically  "most fishes don't live for  a month or two". <"Is a fact Jack"> Are you saying that even if I were to approach your  knowledge of marine fish keeping (LOL) I will still experience regular die-off  every couple of months? <Mmm, perhaps a few to several months...> This will be a hard sell to my spouse and  potentially a deal-breaker.  Any help/clarification on this topic will be  very appreciated! Mark   <Just a historical fact that I thought was pertinent. Bob Fenner>

- White Spots on Raccoon Butterfly - I have a small raccoon butterfly in my main tank - FOWLR.  I had it in quarantine for 2 weeks and now in my main tank for 2 weeks.  I see some tiny white dots on the tail.  It's eating normally and acting fine.  Should I put it back into quarantine tank with medicine or is it nothing and will it go away? <I'd leave it be for now - a few spots on a fin shouldn't be an extreme concern and better at this point for the fish to resume a "normal" life rather than quarantine. Do keep an eye on those spots and make sure they don't multiply - if they do then you know what you'll need to do.> Thanks. Mitch <Cheers, J -- >

Cyanided Copperband? - 03/31/2005 Hello, <Ahoy, thar, Rob! Sabrina here, this fine evening.> A couple of months ago I emailed you about my success with a Copperband butterfly in my 90 gallon reef tank. In fact you guys posted on your website, very cool.  <We do try to post everything! Thank you for sharing your experience with us before; I hope we can be of service now....> I have a question though. How do I determine if a fish has been caught by cyanide? <This can be extremely difficult to determine with any certainty.... Location of collection may shed some insight; I believe a fish can be necropsied after death to discover if cyanide poisoning did it in or not....> <<Editor's note: In general, not always, Indo-Pacific fishes may be suspect.  If not collected with cyanide, may have been exposed via run-off, downstream of mining operations.>> For the last two months this same Copperband has been eating everything in sight, Mysis, bloodworms, squid, clam - pretty much whatever I put in the tank but for the last 2 weeks he seems to be getting thinner by the day.  <So, he's eating heartily, but he's losing weight? A few possibilities here, including cyanide poisoning.> I feed my fish 2-3 times a day and I vary their diet. I have quite a variety of fish in there. My water parameters are pretty much where they need to be, ammonia - 0, nitrites - 0, nitrates - 0, ph - 8.3.  <Salinity? Alkalinity? Tank size? Other fish? Most recent addition? Were all additions quarantined?> I have been observing the tank for several days and nights to see if other fish are harassing the Copperband causing it stress but none seem to be. There are no signs of parasites, fungus or bacterial infection.  <Mm, actually, the fact that the fish is losing weight despite an obviously hearty appetite is a strong sign of internal parasites. Can't see 'em when they're on the inside, after all. It might also be an indication of mycobacteriosis, an essentially incurable internal bacterial complaint. Other signs of mycobacteriosis are deformations of the spine, possibly clouded/frayed fins, small lumps/granulomas, or bloating. Let's hope, for now, that it's not mycobacteriosis, and not cyanide poisoning, as there's not a whole heck of a lot you can do about those. Let's turn to the possibility of internal parasites, and explore that a bit.> I have many years experience with saltwater fish and inverts but I have not seen this before. This Copperband seems to be wasting away no matter how much he eats and he eats a lot. What should I be looking for?  <At this point, let's hope for the best. If you have access to a high-powered microscope, collect a fecal sample from the fish and take a look. You will probably need help from a university biology professor, or a veterinarian, with this, unless you have a lot of confidence in making a diagnosis. If you don't seek the help of someone of that nature, then try to get a hold of "Handbook of Fish Diseases" by Untergasser, "Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment" by Noga, or other book with good, accurate microscopic photographs of what to look for in the way of internal nasties. Mostly, you'll want to determine first if there IS anything in those guts, and secondly whether it's protozoan or a nematode, trematode, or cestode taking residence in the fish. If it seems that you're dealing with a protozoan, I would suggest treating with Metronidazole in food, as the fish is still eating. If you find signs of nematodes, Trematodes, or Cestodes, I would try treating with Piperazine or Levamisole in food. Now, if you DON'T have access to a good microscope, or vet, or good book, or you simply don't feel confidant with your findings, you could treat with Praziquantel in food, which should handle any of the above nasties - but you'll probably need a vet's help in obtaining this. Metronidazole, Piperazine and Levamisole are easily available in the aquarium trade, and can even be purchased already in foods. You might take a look at http://www.flguppiesplus.com ; I know they have some medicated foods available.> I have to admit I am getting ticked off at the thought that he may have been caught with cyanide.  <I would be, as well. I'd be infuriated.> The fish store that got him in for me guaranteed he was not but you never really know do you?  <Unless you feel you can trust the fish store, and they the wholesaler, and they the transshipper, in collection location, and you know that location does not permit collection via cyanide, then no, you really can't know. And even when the stars ARE in alignment, and you DO know the entire history of the fish, well, I'm sure it's just not possible to be absolutely 100% certain. Sadly, it is entirely possible that this IS the problem with your fish. I've still got my fingers crossed that it's a perfectly fixable situation, though.> I would appreciate any thoughts on the matter.  <And there you've got 'em. If you need further treatment information, the two books that I mentioned have great suggestions for treatment and dosages. Do try to look the books up, if you have the opportunity.> Thanks, Rob Mancabelli Syracuse, NY <Wishing you and your Copperband well, -Sabrina>

New Longnose butterfly with spots

Hello, <Howdy> Some background: 55 gal saltwater reef tank approx 14 years old. Wet/dry filter, protein skimmer. Lots of live rock, Sailfin tang, Regal angel... <Pygoplites?> ...Squarespot Anthias, flame angel, blue devil damsel, cleaner shrimp, leather coral, fluorescent green carpet anemone, some plants. <All in a 55?> Regular water changes, addition of trace elements and calcium. Today we (my wife and I) purchased a Longnose butterfly from a shop we have done business with for years. In the store the only thing noticeable was a small bump on one side that an aggressive damsel was picking at. Feeling sorry for the poor guy we bought him and he is now in our reef tank. Here's the catch. When we got him home we went thru an acclamation period of about 3 hours, floating the bag, mixing tank water with the bag water, lights out in the tank, etc.  When we finally did put him into the tank, and later turned on the lights, we noticed small (very, very small) white spots on his head, and fins. His body looks clean, and the spots don't appear to be raised. These were not at all evident in the store's lighting, but seem to be enhanced by the blue actinic lighting in our tank (my guess).  Not sure if this is early stage of Ich or what, so here we are.  Please look at the attached photos and give us your opinion.   Thanks very much in advance. Look forward to your reply.  Michael & Gulnar - Bethel, CT <Mmm, looks like Cryptocaryon rather than "normal" stress coloration markings to me... I would (have) quarantined this and other new specimens if you had a larger system... as it is, with such a tiny tank, so much life already, I would NOT have added any more... possibly upsetting whatever magic dynamic you had... What will you do now? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm  Bob Fenner> 

Longnose butterfly My Longnose butterfly has developed a dull red streak along its spine. <Not good> It is internal (not a surface scratch) as it is only visible when viewed from the side when the fish is swimming at the front of the tank i.e.. with light from behind.   I added a piece of artificial coral the day before, which I have since removed after noticing the redness on the butterfly. <Do you think the coral affected your water chemistry?>   I have fifteen other fish in my 200 gal, all look fine.  The butterfly is active and eating well.   <Ah, good> Could it be a toxic reaction from picking at the artificial coral? <Maybe, but doubtful... if the coral was made for aquarium use... and your other livestock show no symptoms> Are there any diseases that produce this symptom?  Please advise. Thanks, Peter <A few diseases are associated with this symptom, mainly infectious (septicemic, bacterial, internal). Boosting the animal's immune system by food supplementation, improving water quality are important steps here. Bob Fenner>

Fallen Butterfly (Sick Butterflyfish?) 7/29/04 Hi, I have a Teardrop Butterflyfish (Chaetodon unimaculatus). <One of my favorite Butterflies...Somewhat challenging, but a great fish!> I noticed he started to lay on his side and his "skin" on his sides started to slowly come off. <Not good at all> He did have a small puffer bite on his tail, but I know that wouldn't cause this. <Doubtful- you're correct> Also, I do have a lionfish, but I don't know if he was stung or not. There are no signs of disease except for the skin. He rapidly degraded in 20 min, from rapid breathing to skin peeling in those 20 min, I think he is gone as I write this. I didn't know if you guys knew what had happened. The Ph and alkalinity were a little low at 8.0 but I immediately corrected. No ammonia or nitrite, and nitrate at 5. I couldn't find any diseases relating to peeling skin and rapid breathing, but I cannot tell if it was harassment or not. Thank You <Well, I'd be a bit concerned if a fish declined this rapidly. I suppose that you cannot rule out some kind of toxic water condition (although not likely if the other fishes seemed to be unaffected), or even a sting from the Lionfish (a long shot, though IMO). However, if the fish in question had been declining over a period of days or weeks, then disease is certainly the best possibility. Virulent parasitic diseases, such as Amyloodinium (Marine Velvet) manifest themselves with the victim sloughing off tissue and showing "dissolving" skin and tissue, as it is liquefied by the causative protozoa. Rapid labored breathing and lack of appetite are also signs of this illness. As far as harassment from other fishes is concerned- I suppose it is also a possibility, but the fish must have been severely beat up prior to this rapid decline. if the whole thing happened in a matter of a few minutes, then these may be valid possibilities. I'd do a careful evaluation of the overall tank environmental parameters (you mentioned the low pH- ask yourself what caused this...), husbandry procedures (quarantine?), etc. Look for the obvious-then look beyond. The answer is there! Regards, Scott F.>

Sick Copperband (7/19/04) Hi, there! <Steve Allen with you tonight.>  We've had a beautiful Copperband for about 2 months.  The fish has been fine, eating very well - we have even been able to feed him by hand.  We had to rearrange the tank the night before last to access a LTA who we couldn't reach to feed.  Our Copperband hasn't been the same since. Last night his appetite was decreased but he seemed fine.  This morning he was laying on the substrate rapidly gilling and floated upside down for a moment.  Earlier tonight he was at the top of the tank "resting" but breathing better.  Now, he is laying at the bottom again, gilling hard and I don't think this fish is going to make it.  Tank parameters (oxygen, nitrite, ph, ammonia, temp, alk) are all normal with the exception of the nitrates  which are between 40 and 80 ppm (we haven't been able to get it down since we started the tank 7 months ago). <You will want to search for ways to get this down through natural nitrate reduction or frequent water changes. Search the FAQs.> We did have a salinity spike up to 3.0 last week <what are your units of measure here and what instrument are you measuring with?> and lost two shrimp.  We did a 30% water change this morning and the Copperband seemed to perk up a little after that. <Smart move. At first I though he might just be stressed, but your further description sounds toxic from some source.> Now, he's back to laying on the substrate looking about to die.  All other fish seem fine. We have a 120 gal reef with 2 clowns, 1 yellow tang, 1 Pseudochromis, 2 cardinals, 1 coral beauty, 1 lawnmower blenny, 1 arrowhead crab and one hippo tang.  Also 2 brittle stars, one of each: LTA, BTA, hammerhead coral, one elegance coral, pumping xenia, galaxy coral, frogspawn, green star polyps, Rasta leather, Zoanthids and yellow tip torch.  Please help as we desperately love this fish and don't want to lose him.   Thanks so much in advance for your help! <If he's still with you, move him to a hospital tank and maintain excellent water quality. This hospital can consist of a simple large Rubbermaid container with a heater (if needed this time of year) and a sponge filter. Copperbands are not very hardy. I had one that was several inches long, ate heartily and was very active. I found him leaning dead against a rock one morning. He was fine 8 hours earlier.  Also, mixing anemones and corals (especially stingers like torches) can lead to chemical warfare with all sorts of toxins. You might want to run some serious carbon and/or PolyFilter for a while. Hope these ideas help.>

Butterfly With Cloudy Eyes Hello. <Hi there! Scott F> I just purchased a Raccoon Butterfly and noticed after putting him into my tank that he has cloudy eyes, in both eyes. The dealer I bought him from just got him in yesterday. <Yikes! Next time, please be sure to quarantine ALL new arrivals without fail, okay...?> I've read cloudy eyes can be symptoms of general stress, water poisoning or even fish lice. <Usually, they are positive signs of some sort of parasitic infection. Ich and Amyloodinium come to mind. Of course, this could also be a sign of the fish being kept in very poor water conditions. If you see other symptoms, do take immediate action> I'm gonna just let him be for a few days before even thinking about a freshwater bath or medication. Any other thoughts, suggestions, comments??? <I do like your idea of not rushing into a treatment that may be more dangerous than the illness that you're treating. I'd observe for a couple more days. If further symptoms don't arise, then you might have dodged a bullet! On the other hand, if the fish is deteriorating, do take appropriate actions to treat it. Maintain very high water quality in this tank, make sure that the fish is eating regularly, and observe him carefully. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

-Sick Heni's!-  Hi Crew,  After a bad run with Heni's I decided to try again. <Generally, these critters are pretty hardy, that's too bad.> I bleached out the qt tank after a previous bad result with this fish and found 2 very healthy looking specimens at a different LFS. For the first 5 days they were eating like literal pigs and looking great. In the last 48 hrs, they have developed a few white patches and are showing some discoloration around their gills, especially the larger one. His eyes are starting to get cloudy and he is becoming more listless. He is still eating , but not with he same gusto of a few days ago. There are also a few dark dots forming on his dorsal fin. The smaller one looks better, but is still forming the white patches. <Could the water quality be taking a turn for the worse? Run frequent pH, ammonia, and nitrite tests, especially since you've been feeding a lot recently.>  I put in a double dose of Maracyn 24 hrs ago, but he is still declining. I also have been (from day 1) lacing their food with Selcon and garlic). Am considering starting Cupramine in case it is velvet. <Velvet looks like you've coated the fish in a light sprinkling of powdered sugar, and rapidly enters the gills. When it gets in the gills you'll notice that the fish breathes very fast and heavily (or at least considerably faster than before).> Water conditions are fine, <That answers that question.> I do a daily 10 gallon water change in the 40 gallon qt. What drug would you use? <That's the $20,000 question. The 'white patches' could be a number of things, including Brooklynella which can also infiltrate the gills. Unfortunately, it's not so obvious what's going on with these fish. The cloudy eyes is likely a secondary infection, but I'm not sure what the primary one is. If it's parasitic, copper sulfate will do the trick, and since it's generally safe to mix with other medications, you might as well try it (you will need to frequently test and adjust for it as it doesn't stay in solution for very long). You'll also want to remove any extraneous decor in the tank since copper tends to bind to everything, lowering it's concentration in the solution. If the fish begin to breathe heavy, a freshwater bath may be in order. Aside from those recommendations, I would just keep feeding them and testing the water. The 10g water change per day is a bit much, and may be more stressful than good (unless the tank can't handle the amount of food input w/out these water changes). I'd cut back to once or twice a week.> Any Ideas. Thank you for your great service, <Sorry I don't have a straight answer for ya, but good luck! -Kevin> Kurt


New Copperband BF with Ich 3/29/04  I woke up this morning and see that my Copperband is starting to get s few spots of ICK. As mentioned before, it's in a 10g QT by itself w/LR/LS. Should I give it a fresh water dip?  <I do believe this will be very helpful. 3 minutes bare minimum to be effective... towards 5 minutes at least ideally. Do be sure to adjust the temperature and pH of the FW dip water very accurately to match the tank water. Aerate this bath several hours in advance too>  Should I medicate the dip?  <Formalin would be fine, but any of the organic dyes (Meth blue, Mal green, etc) or Copper/metals may take their toll on this sensitive fish>  Should I just treat the entire tank?  <if it is bare bottomed (glass) QT, then this may be an option.>  If you recommend medication, what should I use?  <Formalin and FW dips gets my vote. Daily or nearly so for the next week>  I'm giving this fish my all - I don't know who's stressed more - me or the fish (fish I'm sure). Thanks again, Dennis Nolan  <best of luck. Anthony>

Butterfly In Peril... Hi Scott <Hi there!> How ya doing, How was your weekend? <Two days to short!> I have had a saddleback butterfly in my tank for about two months now and it has been doing fine. I did a water change on Saturday like I normally do week in week out. Yesterday, I saw the butterfly struggling, swimming on his side and upside down, etc. It was pretty late in the evening so I didn't have time to act and since it was the first time I saw him this way I decided let me leave him be and see how his doing in the morning. This morning I found the guy flat on his side in the one corner of the tank hardly breathing and I had no time as its Monday morning and I had to get to work so I left him. He still is alive as I was leaving home I noticed he was not on the same spot. I do not have a quarantine setup but I have a drum powerhead etc where I mix my water where I can quickly setup for the butterfly. Should I get home this evening and he is still alive I am gonna do the quarantine setup and get him out of the tank. <A good move!> I regret not getting him out last night, so I pray that he makes it through today. If he does make it how long should I leave him in the quarantine? <Well, it's hard to say. If you notice other "obvious" disease symptoms and need to medicate, you should leave him in long enough to affect a cure and allow for some recovery time.> I am regular with my water changes, etc., but before I go getting any more fish I think I will play it safe and have my water tested. <Very good idea. Sudden negative reactions by fish that were previously healthy could be caused by water quality problems, such as ammonia, etc.> I have done this a few times and its always been clear, so I kinda have taken this for granted. <A good lesson to learn: Never take anything in a marine tank for granted, as things can and do change! Best to test regularly> Now I realize that I should still check my water at least once a month, especially as I increase fish load, as I have added two new fish in the last week. <Well, the biological filtration needs time to adjust to an increasing fish load, so you should pace your new fish additions accordingly> Thanks. I probably will only get your reply my time tomorrow so I am gonna have to act and get the butterfly out, that's if he pulls through today. Thanks Again, Ziad <Well, Ziad- I hope that he makes it. I would definitely review water conditions as quickly as possible to determine a possible cause. Provide excellent water quality and plenty of aeration, and he might make it. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Bruised Butterfly Hi Scott <Hi there!> How are you doing? <Doing great! Hope things are well with you> I have had a butterfly in my tank for about a month now don't know the exact species but it  is white with black stripes and yellow throughout the edges, not sure if my description helps. <Unfortunately, no. That describes about half the known butterfly species in the world! Best you peruse the Butterfly section on WWM or fishbase.org to get an idea what species you're dealing with> It has been fine. However, yesterday, a few hours after doing a water change , I noticed that the fish has some circular bruises on either side of its body and I have no idea where this has suddenly come from. <Hmm... hard to say, could have been that the fish simply got nervous from the activity and ran into something in the tank> I am very regular with my water changes and my water parameters are always constant. <Excellent. I would keep an eye on the fish and make sure that it does not worsen> I did add a few more pieces of live rock and redecorated the tank while doing the water change to add a few more caves not sure if this stressed the guy out. <Well, it's possible that he became a bit agitated or excited...> He ate fine yesterday and his behaviour seemed pretty normal. Only noticed the spots once I turned my lights out. I decided to have a peep at the tank when I saw the spots on the butterfly. What do you think? Regards Ziad Limbada <Well, Ziad- it's almost impossible to ascertain what the problem is from here. However, in the absence of other visible signs of problems, or symptoms of disease, I'd operate on the assumption that he was somehow injured by an object in the tank. If this is the case, the best thing that you could do would be to leave the fish alone! Just keep the water clean, offer food regularly, and try not to reach into the tank any more than needed. Observe the fish carefully, and be prepared to take action if necessary. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

The Impulse Buy - Saddleback Butterfly Flies No More >Marina, you are terrific. >>Why.. thank you. <blush> >Unfortunately, I am not so terrific, and I've now lost 3 fish. >>Ouch!  It's part of the learning curve though.. yeah?  It happens to the best of us. >(That was quick, wasn't it?)   >>With the Greenex I am not at all surprised.  I've heard that the company has been doing tests and determined user issues, but I'm not entirely convinced of this - the reports are awfully consistent and I believe that this stuff may just be too touchy with regards to dosing for most folks.   >I had actually stopped using the Greenex before your last e-mail, and I did a partial water change. >>Ahh.. what made you change your mind? >I also moved the saddleback to a quarantine tank, making sure the pH, salinity, temp., etc. were all similar. I also tried, at the suggestion of a local pet store, a very quick, 3 to 5 second fresh water dip. >>This is a waste of time.  Did they tell you how important it is when dipping to match temperature and (even more importantly) pH of the freshwater?  When dipping for parasites you would need to leave the fish for a period more on the order of 7 - 10 minutes, at times even longer. >The saddleback died about 6 hours later. >>If they didn't warn you about how quickly pH shock kills, I would look to this as the problem with that dip first.  However, there is so much more to know about this picture, and at this stage you're still quite new. >My goby, who was still in the main tank, then also died very suddenly. >>Then my guess is the Greenex did its work, quickly. >Until about an hour before he died, he was still very active, still sifting the sand, cleaning his burrow. He suddenly then started rapid breathing, and was dead very soon after. >>Uh oh.. (thinking about Amyloodinium suddenly).. >I tested the water yet again (I had tested it the day before adding the new fish, and again 2 days after adding them and all nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, pH, salinity was fine. But when I checked yesterday, my nitrate level was quite high. Possibly from the effects of the Greenex? >>Well.. could be, yes.  I would expect the Greenex to have killed your nitrifying bacteria, and the first value to rise would be that for the ammonia, then nitrite, then nitrate. >Or maybe it wasn't such a good idea to try feeding any Mysis shrimp or krill last week. >>Least likely. >Although I used very small amounts, it still seemed to be a lot more messy than the other foods I've used.  In my very limited experience, it seems that the Mysis, brine shrimp, and frozen krill all result in a rapid increase in nitrate levels, whereas when I'm feeding flakes, freeze dried plankton, or even shrimp pellets, I don't have that problem. >>Nix the brine, and when you feed make sure you feed VERY small amounts at a time.  What often helps (though it's a bit more time consuming) is to feed a small bit, as much as you KNOW will be totally consumed in less than one minute.  Then a bit more, a bit more, so on and so forth.  THIS will do more to prevent the nitrate buildup.  However, do understand that, outside of water changes that introduce water that already has nitrate in it, you can NOT get a high nitrate reading without FIRST getting higher ammonia and nitrite (even only briefly).  It just doesn't work any other way. >In any event, my remaining fish, as of this morning, seem to be doing fairly well, and I plan on another partial water change (maybe 20%). >>BIGGER IS BETTER!  50% at LEAST. >Should I be doing anything else at this point, given that they appear okay? I've stopped the Greenex. >>Get some carbon or a PolyFilter going on that tank to be SURE you've removed all Greenex. >I'm worried that the parasites/Ich are still present, but I don't have the facilities to quarantine all of the remaining fish. >>The Ich (or velvet.. eek!) IS still present.  Ich can and does kill, but I've never seen it kill within a few hours.  Rubbermaid tub(s), sponge filters, and big trash cans with saltwater mixed up are your best friends at this point.  With the speed at which your fish died I suspect two culprits (I love that word) - the Greenex, or Amyloodinium.  This is also known as marine velvet, and the first sign is rapid gilling.  This disease moves FAST!  I'm hoping it's the Greenex, do the large water changes, make sure the new water is NSW (near sea water) quality.  It may be easier afterwards to remove all inverts from the tank, and then take THAT to hypo, but honestly, I really suggest you put the display itself fallow, and put the fish in the Rubbermaid tubs for the 6-8 week period.  I believe that at least one of your queries has also been answered by one Scott Fellman, and I know that he advocates fallowing as well.  This is because it really really works. >Thanks again for all of your help. I just wish I had been able to get to you before I began doing anything in terms of treatment. You can bet though that I've learned a good (and expensive) lesson. I'll never take the easy way out again, and all future additions to the tank will be quarantined. >>Sage words of advice, my friend.  We like the Rubbermaid tubs because once you're finished using them they can be emptied, cleaned, dried, and STACKED!  So much easier to store than regular aquariums.  Also, did you ever figure out exactly what species of saddleback you had?  They are all beautiful.  Marina
The Impulse Buy - Saddleback Butterfly - II (Marina's Answer)
>Thanks for the info. >>Much welcome. >As it turns out, I have not had any difficulty feeding the saddleback butterfly, as it seems more than willing to take Mysid shrimp, krill, some flakes, etc. >>Very good. >But, you were ultimately right about quarantining the fish. Just two days ago, my 10 year old son noticed some white spots on the left pectoral fin. The fish is still very active, and I have begun treating the entire tank with Greenex in the hopes of curing the problem. >>My honest word of advice - DON'T!  Never treat your display, there are many instances of hobbyists having trouble with Greenex, and there are other, BETTER ways to deal with this problem.  We have *many* articles and FAQs dealing specifically with treating marine parasites.  Please use our Google bar to search "Ich", "Cryptocaryon irritans", "marine parasitic infections".  Follow the links within. >Supposedly it's invertebrate safe (we have one very small hermit crab). >>No, not proven as such at all.  Please search "Greenex" for reporting. >One more question. One of the other fish is showing some signs of red/inflamed gills. I know the tank is in trouble, but is that problem related to the saddlebacks problem? Is Greenex an appropriate treatment for the red gills as well?  Please help!! >>That would be more indicative of high ammonia/nitrite levels.  Water changes are in order, as you've likely begun killing off your nitrifying bacteria by treating with the Greenex.  Also, you MUST determine what species you actually have, this is important for the long term health of your butterfly to have as much knowledge and information as possible.  Best of luck, Marina

- Fish Acting Oddly? - My son recently acquired a beautiful healthy copper-band. To night he seemed to be staying near the surface of the aquarium, swimming horizontally and then rapidly swimming around in a circle and then back to the horizontal swim. Is this the behavior of a dying fish or is he just showing off to the other fish in the tank? <Hard to say - I have a butterfly fish that just recently decided it like to swim upside down... I have no idea why.> The yellow tang is not bothering with it, and the clowns, damsels and other fish seem to be fine with it also. He has had the fish for one week now and we are really hoping it struggles through the adjustment of a new tank and not working on his last few moments of life. <Without more information about the tank and system, it's hard for me to say much more than this: fish do this sometimes, and it's very hard to know the motivations of any fish. If the other fish are otherwise fine, this fish could still be adjusting to its new environment - it often takes up to a month, sometimes two before a fish feels comfortable, or perhaps resigned to its new confines.> Any suggestions? <Give it time.> Oksana <Cheers, J -- >
- Fish Acting Oddly? Follow-up -
Thank you for the reply. Our Copper-Band seems to be fine and doing well. We'll give him time and see what happens. Happy New Year. <Sounds really good. Happy new year to you as well.> Oksana
<Cheers, J -- >

- Wound on Butterflyfish - Hi brilliant aquarists! Thanks a bunch for your help in the past.  My fish only aquarium is working wonderfully thanks to you lot.  Water is absolutely pristine (no traces of ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, pH = 8.3, specific gravity = 1.023).  The tank is stocked with: 1. one 3.5" yellow tang 2. one 2" maroon clownfish 3. one 3" raccoon butterfly fish (picture included) 4. one 1" damsel (the blue one with a bright yellow tail) The question is the butterfly fish.  I notice on its right side near its fin is an abrasion of some sort (you can kind of see this in the picture attached). <I see.> It does occasionally rub the abrasion against the piece of dead coral I have in the tank.  Is this something I should be concerned about? <Yes.> Is one of the other fish picking on it? <Could be, could also just be an acquired wound... but you need to make sure it doesn't get worse.> Also, the clownfish has been doing great except just a few days ago its dorsal fin looks like its been chomped on. <I'd blame the damsel.> The butterfly fish just came into this tank about two weeks ago (quarantined) - could it be picking on the clownfish? <Could be - is something you really need to sit down at watch for.> Regarding the damsel, lately it looks like it is picking stuff off of the tang's body.  The tang gets close to the damsel, turns slightly to the side and lets the damsel pick at it.  Is this normal?? <It's not abnormal - many juvenile fish act as cleaners.> Lastly, what do you all think about adding a niger trigger? <That would likely work out well in this tank... I wouldn't add much more.> What size would you recommend considering the sizes of the fish I already have. <Smallish - not much larger than anyone else.> The tank is 90gal. Thanks a bunch!
<Cheers, J -- >

- Non-Ich-magnets - Hi all, Hope things are going well.  I have several questions for you.  I have a 75 gallon saltwater FO tank with no live rock.  I had considered getting a Klein's butterfly as I have heard that it would be good for a beginner. <Very hardy once established> However, I recently heard in a local fish store that ALL butterflies are prone to parasitic infections and that I should stay away from them unless I was very experienced at dealing with that type of thing. <Sounds like more of a problem with the fish that THEY get. There are several very hardy butterflies that you should have no problem with, including the Klein's.> Please tell me what you  think.  Also, I currently have a pair of false perculas and a royal Gramma.  I had thought of getting a yellow tang at one time, but am scared because I have heard and read that they are all very inclined to Ich and also usually bully other fish already in the tank. <Tangs are a little more susceptible to Ich than some other fish, but provided that the fish is well acclimated and quarantined in a different tank (check out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm) you should have no problem.> Are chances good that if I get one I will have to deal with Ich, even with proper care; and would I have problems with them picking on other fish? <If the store you are dealing with consistently has parasitic problems with butterflies and tangs, you may want to find another shop! Simply quarantine and you should be all set. Should something happen it is very easy to treat in the QT.> Also, are there any types of tangs that are less susceptible than others to this disease? <Check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangs,.htm> Any recommendations as to a  fairly peaceful and hardy fish I could add to what I already have that shows itself a lot? <How about building up a good amount of live rock and going for a Centropyge angel? ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/index.htm) Tangs and pygmy angels will benefit tremendously from the addition of live rock (the algae and critters are excellent natural food sources). Otherwise, be sure to feed these guys small amounts of a variety of algae based frozen foods several times per day. Good luck! -Kevin> As always, thank you so much for your help and patience with all my questions, James

Sudden butterfly death Dear Crew: <Hi Steve, PF with you today> Again, thanks for your ongoing guidance to aquarists everywhere. Your site is an invaluable treasure trove of experience and wisdom. <Why thank you, IMO the best thing about the internet is the exchange of information, and the ability to keep up to date on the latest findings in a hobby such as ours.> I was shocked and saddened to find my 5" Copper-banded Butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) lying dead on the bottom of tank this morning. He was acting fine and eating heartily last night! <Sorry to hear this.> I have and 80G FOWLR (with 3 cleaner shrimp, 3 medium-sized brittle stars and an assortment of snails) that has 120 pounds of LR and a 30G upstream refugium with Chaetomorpha, Ulva and some Caulerpa. Parameters: Daily checks: T=78, pH=8.2, ORP=380 (constant monitor), SG=1.025;  Weekly checks (just done yesterday):  Ammonia & nitrite zero; nitrate=10, phosphate=0.24, Ca=330, hardness=4 meq. I have heard of these fish slowly starving to death despite eating well. He was eating a good mix of foods: SFBB Marine Cuisine, Mysis, omega-3 brine shrimp, Emerald Entr?, squid & mussels. Also Hikari krill, Mysis & plankton. <Well, was his belly looking pinched? That would indicate malnutrition. These fish eat polyps (coral and anemone) in the wild, and whether or not the foods we feed them provide the right kinds of nutrients is debatable. I think this is why they do well in systems with heavy Aiptasia problems - they're getting the right kind of food.> I just don't understand why this outwardly healthy-appearing fish dropped dead. Any theories? <I don't know the age of your fish, given that these animals come from the wild, it's entirely possible he may have just died of old age.> I think I'll replace him with something with a reputation for greater durability. Any suggestions? <Well, if you're looking for another butterfly, try one of the long nose varieties, they're hardy, attractive fish. Read more starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bstbfshi.htm> Current inhabitants are 1 ocellaris clown, 1 yellow-headed Jawfish, 1 dusky Jawfish, 1 Flame Angel, 1 Canary Wrasse (Halichoeres chrysus), 1 Red-Headed Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus solorensis) and 1 Royal Gramma.  BTW, I will be connecting this tank to a 150-180G tank by Christmas. I plan to have larger, non-reef-safe fish in the big tank and a reef with reef-safe fish in this tank. There will also be a 55G refugium in the system. The water will circulate between the 3 tanks. <On second thought, I'd say just get a mate (by a small one, they'll work it out) for the clown, and go with that. That will keep your bioload down. I'd stay with that even after plumbing in the larger system (good luck with that btw, plumbing is always an adventure.> Thanks, Steve Allen <Have a nice weekend, PF>

Heniochus In Trouble? Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I wrote to you a few days ago about my Heni.  It had a couple of spots of Ich on his tail which I treated (copper--4 weeks).  A couple of weeks into the treatment the Ich spots dropped off and in its place was a spot that looked like Lymphocystis (immediately the following day) which we tried to scrape off with a finger but not successfully.  A couple of weeks have gone by and the large spots were spreading so we scraped the tail again with a fingernail and put Wound Control on it. <I got to tell ya...I don't think that was the best course of action...It might have caused more harm than good> Now the tail looks a mess (shredded with a white film and some spots) and two spots have appeared on his top fin. <Hard to say exactly what this might be...It might even be damage caused by the Ich treatment...or a secondary infection of some sort...> I have tried to take pictures although its very difficult to see distinctly.  From the pictures can you tell what might be the problem? Thanks again for any help, Eileen <Well, Eileen, it's really hard to say from the pictures, but it looks to be some sort of "collateral damage" from the treatment...My recommendation at this point would be to provide excellent water conditions, and observe the fish carefully. Many times, these types of "maladies" end up spontaneously clearing up with little intervention. If necessary, however, be prepared to move the afflicted fish into a separate tank for this. I am not too quick to recommend dumping another medication into the water without knowing exactly what you're dealing with. Hang in there, and utilize the many disease resources that we have in the WWM site to make a positive ID on the condition, if required. Regards, Scott F>

Double Saddle Butterfly May I direct this question to Bob Fenner as I read something he wrote on butterflies : <Okay> I found this poor DSB BF at Petco (a nationwide retailer) He had what I call cotton ball disease on his tail , mouth and fin. Not to mention his mouth area is red. <A sad situation> I have already been through one round of Spectrogram and two rounds of Maracyn. I bought him knowing full well his condition because he would have most certainly died in their store. I took him from not eating to eating and picking at stuff in the HT. <Great> However the Cotton ball stuff is not falling off and his mouth area is still red. He breathes a teensy bit more rapidly than I would like but otherwise seems good. I keep his water quality as high as I can. I found yesterday that his PH was way too low so I am correcting that. <Takes time> Could that be the reason the meds are not working as well as they should? <Possibly> Otherwise his water is great.  I test it every other day. I am not giving up on this little guy. He greets me every morning and seems to look to me for hope. <Good> Can you impart any advice or procedures other than what I am doing? <Mmm, considering the improvement evidenced thus far, I would keep on doing what you're doing. Soaking foods in a vitamin and HUFA mix (like Selcon) might speed on feeding, improvement in overall health> He is in a ten gallon HT with a heater and airstone. Should I put a filter on the back? (Penguin etc) <Yes, I would> Someone told me he will clear up as soon as he is put into our reef aquarium. Well : <This is very likely so> 1. Our new 55 gallon reef upgrade is still cycling. <Wait then> (We have a 30 Gallon FO) right now. 2. I am scared of what he might bring with him to a brand new reef system. <Not a problem in this case... difficulties from poor treatment, handling ahead of your acquisition... not likely a real "infectious or parasitic disease"> Bob, thank you for any advice you can give. Sincerely, Christy Evans <Press on my friend, and do keep us informed. Bob Fenner>

Re: Identification of problem with Klein's butterfly.... >Hello, >>Hello Melissa, Marina here. >I purchased my Klein's (butterfly) from reputable LFS on 3/8/03.  I took it home on 3/15/03. The transfer was slightly traumatic as the LFS employee dumped fish onto towel instead of transfer bag. >>OOPS!   >It was quickly put into large transfer bag (with plenty of room to turn around and taken home. However, fish calmed and has been eating regularly after being transferred to my QT tank. >>I absolutely, positively LOVE hearing that folks are using quarantine tanks!  Good on ya. >Yesterday, my spouse noticed an abrasion (?) just under rear dorsal fin on right side only.  It is slightly pinkish in color.  These are current tank conditions: 20gal Long 28 Watt 50/50 Coralife Compact Fluor (12 hours daily) Fluval 304 Canister 301 Powerhead Bare bottom tank w/2-3 lbs. well cured live rock 1.022 Gravity Ammonia  0 Nitrite  less than .2 but not clear Nitrate  less than 10 ppm Alkalinity 5.0 meq/l PH 8.2 3 Green Chromis tank mates. >I need some help to diagnose this problem as abrasion (treat w/stress coat product), fungal, bacterial, parasite? I appreciate your help.  Melissa >>Ok, I've seen the picture, it's not clear, but it does appear to be an abrasion.  Because you're still getting nitrite and nitrate readings the fish will have a bit more difficulty healing.  You can help by doing more water changes till you at least get those nitrites to zero (you didn't mention which test kit you're using).  Also, if you're not already, begin soaking the fish's food in vitamins, I like Selcon.  If you're really worried, you could begin a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Melafix or Spectrogram (this is the broad spectrum antibiotic used at the LBAOP as a matter of course, for both fishes and inverts--go figure!).  You'll have to remove any carbon, should you be using it, when you medicate.  Good luck!  Marina

Re: Identification of problem with Klein's butterfly.... >Thanks for the prompt reply which prompted another comment and questions.   >>You're welcome.  Lay it on me. >I am using Fastest tests by Aquarium Systems.  Since I have slight readings on Nitrites/Nitrates (I thought under 10ppm was acceptable for Nitrates) should I feed less (currently they receive just enough for them to clean up 1 - 2 times daily).  I will do more water changes as well. >>No, I wouldn't feed less.  Also, I'm not too familiar with the quality/reliability of this test kit, I am very comfortable with Salifert or SeaChem, though.  Zero nitrates is the goal no matter what fish you're keeping. >>Also, since Butterfly fish need excellent water quality should I add a protein skimmer to the quarantine tank since he must be in residence another 3 weeks? >>If you're getting one of the two species known as Longnose (Forcipiger longirostris or F. flavissimus) they aren't as touchy as some species.  Also, Copperbands are forgiving.  You could add the skimmer, or go with frequent water changes instead. >I appreciate your help!  I love your site. >>Glad to be of help, Melissa.  Spread the word!  Marina  (One of my sisters is named Melissa.) Melissa

BF In Trouble My Punctato butterfly doesn't look OK he is breathing fast and he has what looks like blood on his mouth and he is swimming with his face up struggling and bumping into everything what should I do is there a way to save him or is he a goner? <well- I hate to be overly pessimistic here, but the blood in the mouth is indicative of several possible problems, including malnutrition (starvation), metabolic poisoning, and possibly some sort of collection or other trauma. In general, Butterflyfishes that display these sort of symptoms are difficult, if not impossible to save.  Review all water chemistry parameters, husbandry techniques, and possible sources of trauma. There could be a heroic effort on your part, utilizing a separate aquarium, administration of vitamin preparations, intensified feeding, and possibly, antibiotics, if you're dealing with possible disease symptoms as well. More often, unfortunately, these types of symptoms usually indicate that a fish is beyond saving...Don't give up on this fish, though...Keep trying, and maybe you'll have some success! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>     

Butterfly Problems, Disease? Hello fellas... 90 gallon 95lbs live rock live sand salinity 1.024 temp 77f 2 percula clowns 2 watchman gobies (yellow & orange spotted) 1 fire goby 1 cleaner shrimp 1 pistol shrimp 1 coral banded shrimp 1 emerald crab 20+ blue legged hermits 25 snails I originally had 3 Auriga Butterflies... they last just over a month.  I assume that they were fighting and later died of their wounds...  Almost two months later, I tried a Pearlscale Butterfly.  He's been doing great and has made good friends with the cleaner shrimp.  He has been feeding actively as well.  I noticed last night that he seemed 'maybe' a little more docile in that the cleaner shrimp was aggressively cleaning him and he tolerated it for longer than usual.  Usually he gets cleaned for maybe 10 second intervals... off and on...  Last night it was almost like the cleaner shrimp had him pinned against a rock and was really working him.  Anyhow, 24hrs later I saw his tail sticking out from under a rock.  I pulled the butterfly body out. I'm pretty sure that the cleaner shrimp had nothing to do with his death... and I am pretty sure the pistol shrimp dragged him under the rock.  Any thoughts?  Wouldn't think the pistol shrimp would've attacked and killed him (being a larger fish and all - although he was perhaps a medium sized butterfly).  Perhaps the emerald crab could've snagged him originally?  My emerald is about the size of a Canadian two dollar coin.  Whatever it was, I'm pretty sure it was a creature because he was feeding aggressively as always last night.  I did a water test right after and it was fine. Dave  P.S.  Not having the best of luck with butterflies... <Geez Dave, sorry to hear about your problem.... You don't mention a quarantine, do you have a QT tank and did you use it?  It's really difficult to try to guess what happens in these situations. You would be surprised how fast fish die and how guilty scavengers look for doing what comes naturally. Never-the-less, you do have a group of animals that can be a problem if large enough and perhaps unfed.  This may be to the point that the Coral Banded shrimp attempts to or does eat the cleaner or the Pistol or vice-versa. Both disease and predators are a possibility, but my money is on disease/parasites. Velvet can kill very quickly. I think the fish was weakened when you saw it being cleaned by the cleaner....and for a reason. Keep an eye on your clowns, the Gobies tend to resist Ich etc. fairly well, but I would keep a sharp eye out for signs of parasites like velvet.  There is more on quarantine and parasitic disease at WetWebMedia.com, just type quarantine or parasites into the Google search engine.  Craig>

Butterfly Problems, Disease Thanks...  Actually a few more comments.  I read that the Butterflies were a schooling fish... so my initial experience was with purchasing 3 Aurigas that looked healthy and placing them in my 90 gallon tank (no quarantine) in October.  They lasted about 6 weeks before any signs of problems.  Those fish seemed to frequently rub themselves against my live rock and I never witnessed them fighting or anything bothering them.   <Rubbing on the rocks "Flashing" is the primary symptom of Ich and other parasites.> Finally, one day I noticed one with a puncture mark... it died two days later.  Perhaps a week >later I noticed another Auriga with a slash mark on it's side... it began to deteriorate.  A couple of days later it was missing and it took me almost two days to find buried under sand under the live rock.  By that time, there was higher levels of ammonia in my tank and my remaining Auriga and my small yellow boxfish seemed to be doing not so well.  I then setup a quarantine tank (way too quickly) to get my Butterfly and Boxfish in their own tank. It was obviously a rookie mistake... temp was too low... both fish died within 3 days. <Maybe not temp, but Ich, temp, overall stress certainly.> Of note, I used Detox2 in my canister filter and would recommend it to anyone with high ammonia...  It cleared my 90 gallon tank of any signs of ammonia within 2 days!!  The rest of my tankmates are fine and I have never had any problems with them. <Yes, the fish named are somewhat hardy but can still be Ich hosts.> So... my tank has shown signs of stability from Nov to January.  I introduced the Pearlscale Butterfly and my Fire Goby to my quarantine tank with a new piece of live rock (another rookie mistake... didn't know anything about the curing process).  I noticed after two days high ammonia and nitrates in my quarantine tank in addition to some cobweb like matter all over my live rock.  In order to save my fish I put them in the main tank. Both fish were fine.  I have since cured my live rock and know for next time. There were no visible signs of disease or parasites on my Pearlscale Butterfly.  If anything, perhaps the fish was a little darker toned in around the face area.  I didn't think it was unordinary.  My other fish are doing great.  The deceased Pearlscale body didn't have any apparent attack marks on it and my water quality has been top notch since the ammonia outbreak in November. <Except you still have had hosts in main tank, no QT for new fish, and then release of un-quarantined stock into main. Dude, it's your money, but you need to figure out the quarantine deal, and to do one thing at a time, slowly, so as not to cause all sorts of confusion and mistakes. As I posted before I think this is a typical parasite problem. The Gobies can be resistant to Ich, but if you turn an Angel or God forbid a Tang loose in there it is all done but the crying. The Gobies may actually be the hosts.... I strongly advise you go to WetWebMedia.com and read the quarantine section thoroughly, esp. about no rock or mineral containing items in the QT and esp. about parasites, how they are transmitted and their life-cycle so you can avoid them in the future. Remember, nothing good happens fast in this hobby! Slow down and be methodical in your approach. It is slow, but much more enjoyable! Thank you for the kind words, we really try to help folks out. I sure hope this helps you!  Craig>
Re: Butterfly Problems, Disease
Ok... thanks for the info.  But...  I have only ever seen my Butterflies 'flash' and I have seen Butterflies flash in all four aquariums in Calgary, Canada. <I'm not shocked or surprised!> I thought it was behavioral? <Nope.><<Yep. RMF>> My Pearlscale perhaps only 'flashed' once or twice that I saw in the 2 months that I had him... whereas my 3 Aurigas were 'flashing' daily.  None of the Butterflies have ever had peculiar markings on them in the way of spots. <This isn't necessary, look at your picture of the cleaner and the Pearlscale...cleaning his gills, not a good sign! The flashing may only be an indicator of infestation, including gills.> As well, no other fish have spots or marking or act weird.  How does one detect Velvet Disease? <Usually listlessness, rapid gilling, perhaps flashing at first. Fairly rapid demise without treatment. Please go to WetWebMedia.com and completely read the parasite articles for all the info you really need. Far too much to answer here!> So, given that I have fish and invertebrates that appear very healthy...what should I do?  Trust that they are ok... wait a month or so and add my Royal Gramma?  I intended to quarantine that Butterfly but made the live rock mistake. <I understand.> From now on all my fish will be quarantined for the 21 days. <Please do read the QT articles as well. 2 weeks can be enough to spot problems, but then treatment may take longer. I am a big fan of some of the treated anti-parasite foods like Tetra (discontinued and some not so nice reader bought ALL the stash at my local store, greedy and unnecessary) so you may want to order Seachem's Metronidazole food additive and use it to treat all your fish. Follow the label, but it is something like two weeks. Use it judiciously.> Do you think it is safe to add another fish in a month? Or do I have to fight some disease in my tank that is not visible? P.S.  Did you like the pictures? Dave <Loved the pictures, helped me a lot in seeing what the shrimp was after, likely Ich or velvet on that fish. If you get your fish eating medicated food with Metronidazole, then I would be more confident in adding another fish after treatment and during any possible flair-ups.  Best of luck! Craig>

Boo-Boo On A Butterfly? Dear Bob <Actually, Scott F. today> My raccoon BF seems to have a bacteria infection, he have some red lesion, kind of like sore.. the fish have large scale as you know, and the red sore seems to be spreading, it had 2 places of infection, and now spread to 3.The BF seems fine and eating well. the spot I observe is under the scale, kind of like swollen, how do I know what it is?? How do I know it is a bacteria infection or not?? <Well, it's hard to be 100 percent certain from here, but the fact that it's spreading may be indicative of some form of infection. The origin of the infection may have been an injury or other trauma to the body of the fish.> If so, how should I treat him?? Or should I treat him ?? Thanks Eric <Well, Eric- I'd observe this fish for a few more days to see if this "condition" spreads more. Maintain top-notch water quality to avoid additional infection. If the fish does not show any improvement, or appears to be declining, I'd move the fish to a separate "hospital" aquarium for treatment with an antibiotic, such as Maracyn...With good water quality, keen observation, and rapid intervention should it become necessary, you'll see this make a full recovery soon! Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Abrasion? Dear WWM Crew: I had the irresistible opportunity to purchase and ostensibly healthy 5" Chelmon rostratus that had been returned to my LFS after well over a year in another customer's tank (he moved). It is a beautiful specimen that eats just about any frozen food.   I've never handled a fish this big before and had some trouble getting him into my 10G QT. Now I see what appears to be a slightly bloody abrasion on it's left side. (see attached photos). <I see> I have been adding Kent Marine Pro-Tech Coat daily since I notice this. Should I treat with an antibiotic? If so, what? Am I mistaking something more ominous for a "simple" abrasion? It continues to behave normally and eat well. <I would place this fish in your main/display system without much worry. It is very likely pathogen free... and will only suffer from being quarantined much longer. Bob Fenner> Your input will be highly valued. Thanks, Steve Allen

Banged-Up Butterfly I have had a Pearlscale butterfly fish for 5 weeks now and I am wondering if it is safe to put it in my large tank yet? I bought it from a local pet store and he was in great shape. I took him home and put him in my quarantine tank with 2 blue/yellow tailed damsels I also bought. A few days later, I noticed he had a lot of scales missing from both sides of his body. I removed the rocks I had in the tank and also the 2 damsels. I could see his pink flesh where the scales were missing. First of all, what could have caused this??? <Could be that he was somehow damaged during handling/introduction, or that there was an "incident" with his quarantine "pals", the damsels. Maybe he even just scraped up against something in the tank...hard to be sure> I have been adding penicillin to keep down any bacteria infection and stress coat. He is always active and hungry. <Good steps on your part, and great to hear that he's always eating! A fish that eats usually recovers well, in my experience!> I can never seem to feed him enough to fill him up. His scales still have not fully returned ? I am wondering if there is any info you can give me as to how this could have happened and if it is safe to put it in my big tank yet? Any info would be great. Diggy <Well, Diggy, I'm not sure if the scales will ever completely re-generate, but I'd make sure that the flesh is in good shape and that there is absolutely no sign of infection before you put him in the main tank. I'd really fatten him up, and then release him into the main tank if he appears otherwise healthy. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Butterflies Aren't Free Mornin fellas... <Hey there- Scott F. here!> Am getting a tad frustrated with my saltwater tank. 90gallon, live sand, huge canister filter, etc.. Creatures:  2 small clowns, shrimp goby, mandarin goby, small little boxfish, pistol shrimp,  coral banded shrimp, cleaner shrimp - yep, he still hasn't become a cocktail for my CBS, 2 emerald crabs, 45 hermit crabs, 25 snails, had 3 butterfly Aurigas. Everyone is doing just peachy except for my Auriga Butterflies.  I have read on your site that they are pretty hardy fish that are easy to keep. <It certainly has the reputation of being one of the hardiest butterflies for aquariums> Anyhow, I introduced 3 butterflies together 3 weeks ago.  I introduced them appropriately to my tank but did not quarantine them ~ yaya, I know, I just bought a doctor/quarantine tank and will quarantine all new creatures from now on. <Good! You spared yourself from the lecture...  :) > One of them died overnight while the other two were fine.  I then replaced the butterfly with another Auriga.  All 3 were doing well for a week or so, when one day I noticed what appeared to be a criss-cross laceration on the side of one of the butterflies.  He survived a couple of days and then died.  The other two were doing fine... 4 days  after the death of the aforementioned, I noticed another butterfly sitting upright, but at an angle at the bottom of the tank.  He had a small laceration in the bottom of the middle of his side.  Called Big Al's to ask what was up with the Butterflies they were giving me.  Before I even mentioned their behaviors to the guy at Big Al's, he told me that the Butterflies were probably scraping themselves against my liverock because of an itch and that that was the likely cause of their lacerations. <A possibility, for sure...but what's the cause of the "itch"...?> He didn't think anything in my tank would go after the largest of my fishes (the Aurigas).  Ya, my butterflies and only my butterflies over the past two/three weeks had been swimming slowly up to a rock and then quickly slamming their bodies against the rock.  Their is perhaps tiny little bubbled skin marks behind the gills... not sure if it is a bacteria or if it is just the fishes appearance. <Nope- not part of their appearance...under normal circumstances> So, I bought a 20gallon hospital/quarantine tank and used my main tank's water.  Water seems to be ok and now my last two butterflies are in the tank.  I bought "REEF SAFE KICK-ICH" to treat it. <IMO, this stuff is better used as salad dressing than a fish "medication"...and please don't use it in your main tank! It's really a "pepper sauce", intended to make the fish slough off body slime in the hope that the parasites go with it...Also- are you sure that Ich is what you are dealing with? Please verify the illness (assuming it is an illness, not just an injury) before using any medication. Sometimes, administering the wrong medication can be worse than not medicating a fish at all.> This morning, my butterfly with the small laceration on the bottom middle of his side is laying on my hospital tank bottom.  It looks like he has a newly developed sore on his dorsal fin (it's a little reddish).  He can't  swim upright but seems to have a lot of energy.  I left him there while I go to work.  I expect him to be dead when I return from work leaving me one butterfly with no lacerations (but the guy still seems to rub against rocks as I described above). So... questions: a) do you think it is the 'ICK' causing them to rub against the rocks...thus causing the lacerations?? <A possibility- Ich definitely can cause fish to scratch> b) is this REEF SAFE KICK-ICH a good treatment??? <Umm...I don't really have anything nice to say about this stuff...> c) are butterflies really easy to keep?? <IMO, not really! Butterflies need very stable water chemistry, lots of space (Aurigas can reach almost 10 inches!), high oxygen content, brisk circulation, and an established aquarium. They are usually the first fish to decline if your water quality falls off. Aurigas and Long Nosed butterflies are considered the easiest to keep of a rather touchy group> d) any idea why I have had such bad luck with JUST my butterflies??  All other creatures are happy campers. <As above...The species we're discussing are not "difficult", but I would not classify them as "easy", either!> Is their anything I haven't done that I should be doing???  May I have overlooked something?? Please help...Dave <Well, Dave-Quarantine, of course, is the best thing that you can do. Apart from that, selecting good, healthy specimens is very important...These fishes don't always ship well, and can "break down", as Bob likes to say, quite easily...These fishes need lots of space, too-a very important and often overlooked factor in the husbandry of these (and many other) fishes, IMO. Don't be discouraged by this experience. Do review all water parameters, recheck your husbandry procedures (i.e.; water changes, feeding, skimming, etc.), study your future purchases very carefully, and choose healthy specimens that are eating at the store. Go for it. but do read all you can and be prepared for a better run at it this time! You can do it! Good luck!  Scott F.>
Butterflies Aren't Free (Cont'd.)
Thanks for the info... <Our pleasure-that's why we're here!> So how does one know if they are paying $39 for "Pepper Sauce" as opposed for a viable treatment (re: REEF SAFE KICK ICK) ???? Is there a better treatment for 'the itch' or 'ick' whatever you call it? <If you are indeed certain that Ich is the malady that you're dealing with, then I'd use (in a separate treatment tank) a proven, "mainstream" cure, such as copper sulphate, properly administered and monitored for concentration.> The only signs my butterflies have is that they rub themselves against the rocks... they may have slight imperfections like a few missing scales behind the gills... but this is also where they are rubbing themselves.  So, from what I can see... all signs point to some sort of skin irritation /itchiness??? <Well- itching is an Ich symptom, but there are other symptoms to this illness as well. In the absence of signs, it could even be a different parasite of some sort. You really need to check the FAQ's on marine parasites on the wetwebmedia.com site for more info. than I can touch on here regarding the identification and treatment of parasitic conditions> My water has been tested on average twice a week and I have just bought my own water test kit.  My test last night showed a pH of 8.2-8.3, 0 nitrites, ammonia level was pretty close to 0 (I need to cut back my twice a week frozen shrimp feedings, as it is not all consumed), and my nitrates were between 0 and 4.From what I have read, this is a pretty good test... and as mentioned before, I can get the ammonia back to  zero with feeding more carefully. <I am concerned about the ammonia reading- it really should be completely undetectable on a hobbyist-grade test kit...You are correct in re-visiting your husbandry techniques...and do try a different test kit to confirm your results> So, should I stick to treating my one surviving butterfly with this KICK ICK?  He does rub on the rock, but has virtually no scales missing and no cuts... he is the last 'healthy' one??? <I really don't like this product...but that's just me, of course. I'd make a positive ID on the condition that you're dealing with, and treat accordingly> This guy is in my 20 gallon doctor tank alone. <Good procedure> Should I do anything with my main tank? Do you think my main tank might be carrying something??? Even though my two gobies, two clowns, and my boxfish are doing fine? <If you are dealing with a contagious disease, such as Ich, you really need to get everyone out for observation/treatment (even if all inhabitants don't show signs), let the main system go "fallow" for about a month...If it is Ich that's in your tank, you must take aggressive steps to treat it, IMO> What's a better ICK/ITCH medication?? <I like copper sulphate for Ich, as mentioned above> I am fully expecting my remaining butterfly to do ok... should I grab another butterfly and pair them up after he has been quarantined??? <That can work, but there can be some aggressive behaviour between the two fish on introduction> The only other thing I can think of is my Coral Banded Shrimp getting nasty with my butterflies as they do bother him in hopes that the CBS will clean them.  On the other hand, the CBS doesn't bother my mandarin goby that will sleep right in front of him... and the CBS hasn't bothered my Cleaner Shrimp either. <Hey- you never know...> I guess the butterfly is a fairly cheap fish that I don't mind experimenting with, but I don't want to risk the rest of my tank. Opinion??? Thanks guys! Dave <Well, Dave- I encourage you to keep trying, but do study their needs and prepare for them. Good luck!  Scott F.>

Threadfin Butterfly Injury Hi, I have a 3 in. threadfin butterfly. It now has a bad injury on it's side. Its scales are all shredded off, and you can see red on it. He is eating but doesn't seem to be swimming around a lot as before. The wound is like the size of the quarter, it looks real bad. So how do I help him recover, and hope he doesn't get an infection? Thanks! <Well, the fact that he's eating is very good. Do use vitamin preparations to enrich his foods during recovery. As far as injury treatment is concerned, a few things you can do: First, maintain the highest water quality that you can in his treatment tank (do remove him to a quarantine/hospital tank for treatment). You can administer "stress coat" preparations, such as Novaqua, to protect and coat the fish's skin. Lowering the specific gravity in his treatment tank can prevent some infectious diseases from manifesting themselves. If a secondary inspection does manifest itself, do begin treatment with antibiotics. Consult the disease treatment resources on wetwebmedia.com for much more information on wound management. Stay on top of his condition, and he should recover well! Good luck! Scott F.>
Threadfin Injury (Follow-up)
Thanks, currently I am feeding him all of his vitamins, the salt is low. The injury seems to be better, ill keep you updated. Thanks! <Glad that he's doing well. Keep up the good work! Scott F.>

Raccoon scratching face on rocks? My newest addition (a lunula) has been scratching just his face area the last couple of days. I have had him 5 days and he has not eaten yet.  <a quarantine tank is the single most important piece/assembly of equipment to have for good husbandry... all new fish and sick fish go into it for 2-4 weeks. It saves money and lives. Could have helped this situation. Do research the articles and FAQs on this site for guidance> I tried the variety of foods you recommended, I will just have to be patient. I did a 5 minute freshwater dip when I first got him & I see no other fish scratching, yet? Steve Tilotta <very glad to hear about the FW dip. Scratching can be from water chemistry or gill parasites. If water quality tests OK, do more FW dips with the assumption of an impending parasite outbreak. A QT tank would be best in case meds are needed. Do try Sweetwater Plankton (glass jar) or a live freshwater mussel (cracked open shell) to entice the feeding. Best regards, Anthony>

Help - what kind of fish disease is this? Mr. Fenner, Yesterday evening when I came home from work, I found my Threadfin (auriga) Butterflyfish has something strange - the "root" part of both of its pectoral fins (the joint between the fin and the body) is very red. I've had this fish for about a year. It is swimming and eating as usual. This occurred overnight. What is this? What should I do about it? <Very likely an indication of infectious activity (bacteria) from a physical trauma (if one sided... if both pectoral bases affected would be inclined otherwise). I would do your best to keep the system optimized and stable, and supplement this fish's foods with a vitamin and iodide preparation (such are made/sold for the purpose, or you can make your own). Please read over the "Tank Troubleshooting" and especially "Three Sets of Factors That Determine Livestock Health" sections and beyond on our site starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jason
Re: Help - what kind of fish disease is this?
The red is on BOTH sides. uniform around the joint. like you said, it doesn't look like physical injury. What others could this be? <Sorry about the mis-read. Would look into water quality first/foremost here. This and most Butterflyfishes are often the first fish livestock to show the affects of something/s anomalous. Bob Fenner> thanks, Jason
Re: Help - what kind of fish disease is this?
I checked water parameters: ammonia = 0 nitrite = 0 nitrate = 40 pH = 8 temperature = 82F alk = 3 meq/L as I haven't done water change for a while, I did a large water change (10g of 55g tank). I read your web site. It seems like some internal infection. I have antibiotics Furan-2 (for both gram-positive and negative) and a 10g hospital tank. But I am debating whether it's best to treat the fish: The fish  <for browsers a Chaetodon auriga, Threadfin Butterfly> swims and eats fine, no other symptoms. Given the stress of catching it, moving a 4" fish to a 10g tank, and the danger of antibiotics killing biofilter and cause ammonia spike which could indeed kill the fish, is it better off just to stay in the main tank? <IMO yes> What's the chance of the fish fighting off this disease by itself? <Some... depends really on the root cause/s... your nitrate is a bit high, might be contributing to the problem... do you have live rock, some macro-algae you could place in the system to reduce this, improve water quality overall?> Please help me make this decision before it's too late. <I would do what was stated before: I would do your best to keep the  >>system optimized and stable, and supplement this fish's foods with  >>a vitamin and iodide preparation (such are made/sold for the  >>purpose, or you can make your own). And add a biological cleaner. Bob Fenner> Thank you!

Problem with my Pearl scale butterfly... Robert I have a Pearl Scale Butterfly that I got about 3 weeks ago. When I got him I bought a Cleaner Wrasse as the Butterfly had ick the week before and the pet store had placed the Wrasse in with him. I had reservations about keeping a Wrasse as I've read they will starve to death in captivity, however, mine seems to love Daphnia and frozen Brine Shrimp and has a healthy appetite. <Ah, good> I freshwater dipped both fish when I brought them home to avoid getting a healthy dose of ick in my fish only tank (although, so far they are the only fish in there). They were both fine afterwards but for the last week, I have noticed a swelling and some pink coloring at the base of the Butterfly's right Pectoral fin to the point where he can't fold it back against his body. as of yesterday, it's getting a dark red place on the surface of the skin at that site and I also noticed a couple scales on his opposite side about midway down his side are pushed out although very slightly. Is it possible he has some kind of internal parasite? If so, How could I identify it and more importantly, how should I treat it?? <Possible... or perhaps "just" a bacterial problem... and not good. The appearance you characterize can be real trouble, a "breakdown" contagion of mainly marine Butterflyfishes... let's hope this one resolves on its own... in the trade some folks will bathe a whole tank or individuals in Furacyn compounds, some try adding gram-negative broad spectrum antibiotics to the animals foods (if they're eating).> I appreciate any help you could provide. Thanks very much for your time. <Wish I could tell you more. Bassleer's book, Noga's newest efforts are about as helpful in this situation unfortunately. Bob Fenner> Mike
Re: Problem with my Pearl scale butterfly...
Thanks for your reply Bob. Since I heard from you I bought some Furacyn and a Broad Spectrum Gram Negative Antibiotic (I put it in the water as he won't eat since I've moved him to the hosp. tank) and have been treating the butterfly with it. The place at his pectoral fin and under his scale have opened and are showing raw tissue now. <A typical scenario...> I dipped him out and coated both places with Iodine as I had heard a friend had treated her fish who had an open wound with it at the pet store's recommendation. I figured it couldn't hurt at this point. <A good idea, yes> Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for the information. <You're welcome my friend. I wish you and you B/F well. Bob Fenner> Mike

Interesting Parasite Bob,  I thought I had seen every parasite until today. A large golden butterfly  with brown spots shaped similar to flat footballs spread pretty evenly  throughout the body (many, many of them). At close glance, you could  actually see them doing 180 and 360 degree turns. They are not on the  outside. They are actually under the scales as you can see the scales raised  some. The fish is going nuts trying to shake them off and you can see a  couple of blood spots from where I guess they have been. What is this? Are  they a type of leach or a flat worm? None of the other inhabitants appear to  have any on them. I immediately treated the entire tank (210 gallons, Fish  Only, No Live Rock) with Clout. Any ideas? Thanks for any help you can provide. >> Likely some sort of body fluke, aka trematode... a group of largely parasitic flatworms (Phylum Platyhelminthes)... There are many of these that infest marine fishes... DO dip the animal in freshwater (dechloraminated, with maybe a teaspoon of baking soda... don't worry about the dosage... it's safe) for now... and as fast as you can, get your hands on some formalin/formaldehyde and re-do the freshwater dip with a stated (look on the bottle... a few drops per the dipping volume if it's full-strength... i.e. 37%) for a good ten minutes... do this soon, as the butterfly is on its way out... and don't worry about the helminth (worm) getting on to your other fishes... these tend to be quite species-specific in their hosts. Bob "Yamaguti" Fenner

Butterflyfishes for Marine

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