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FAQs about the Brooklynellosis Disease and Clownfishes, Etiology/Prevention

Related FAQs: Brooklynellosis 1, Brooklynellosis 2, Brooklynellosis 3, &  & FAQs on Brooklynellosis: Diagnosis/Symptomology, Cures That Don't Work, Cures That Do Work, Treatment/Products/Manufacturers... & Clownfish Disease 1, Clownfish Disease FAQs 3Clownfish Disease 4, Clownfish Disease 5, Clownfish Disease 10, Clownfish Disease 12, Clownfish Disease 13, Clownfishes in General, Clownfish Identification, Clownfish Selection, Clownfish Compatibility, Clownfish Behavior, Clownfish Systems, Clownfish Feeding, Clownfishes and AnemonesBreeding ClownsParasitic Marine Tanks 1, Marine Parasitic Disease, Parasitic Reef Tanks, Cryptocaryoniasis, Marine Ich, Marine Velvet Disease, Biological Cleaners, Treating Parasitic Disease, Using Hyposalinity to Treat Parasitic Disease

Related Articles: Surviving Brooklynellosis by Mike Maddox, Clownfish Disease, Brooklynellosis, ClownfishesMaroon Clowns, Marine Parasitic Disease

Is a protozoan... must be imported... on livestock, via something wet that has been infested... Can infest fishes other than Amphiprionines. Can become resident, low pathogenicity, resting...Can be excluded through quarantine, dips/baths... simply buying clean (mostly tank bred) stock that hasn't been exposed.

Brook help        4/1/15
hey bob-
I sold my 60 cube tank to a guy about 5 weeks ago. Everything was rinsed and washed with vinegar before allowing to dry out for a week.
I helped him cycle it with pure ammonia, and moved everything from his 30 gallon tank on Friday. By Saturday night, his pj Cardinal was dead, and yesterday his clown had a white sheen over his body, with cloudy eyes. He had these fish in his tank for a year with no apparent issue.
All signs point to brook. My question is can brook lay silent for a year, before coming on board and killing?
<.... not w/ drying, exposure to Acetic Acid>
 The only thing he added was a brain coral from lfs.
I know brook can come in on anything wet. If brook can't sit Dormant, it would have had to come in on the coral.
<Could; but not likely>
I know the coral came from a tank with a hippo tang, no clownfish.
I'm trying to help him out, I've been coaching him and feel partly responsible .
<The usual reading, looking w/ a 'scope...... B>

How long for a disease to show up?   3/10/14
Hi crew,
 I have a question as to how long does it take for a disease such as brook of velvet to show up on a fish.
<How long from when? What? Oh, I think I understand from your writing below... These and many other pathogenic diseases can be non-clinically resident indefinitely>

 The reason I ask is I purchased a Cherub Angel and a Tailspot Blenny in January. They had both been in the LFS for 3 months and 3 weeks, respectively. I did freshwater dips on both of them when I brought them home. They were both clean (no flukes). I then commenced the tank transfer method in the event of ich. I did 4 transfers every 3 days which equated to
16 days. On the 16th day I moved them into a permanent QT that I've had set up and is fully cycled. They stayed in that QT for 30 days. I moved them into the main last night and today the Cherub sort of looks like he has a sheen to him. His fins are also torn up but I think that is from fighting with the royal gramma. So my question is Is it possible for velvet or brook
to lie dormant during the 6 weeks of quarantine or is this just me being extremely paranoid?  Thank you!
<Is possible either the fish/es are/were carriers, or more likely, that the system itself is infested. Bob Fenner>

Question Regarding Ich and Brooklynella   3/12/10
I have read your site for months before and after getting my first saltwater tank. And I'll start by saying I knew I should have set up a QT tank and did not.
<If only we had a dollar for every time we've heard/read that expressed>
Rest assured that will never happen again. I have a 20gallon QT running now, but it's a little too late. I've read all the links for Ich and various treatments, etc. As well as detailed info on each fish I have. I hope its okay to email you as I'm truly lost as to which option is my best bet right now.
Tank Stats:
Display 90 gallon with Tidepool II Sump. UV sterilizer,
<Depending on the med./s used, this may need to be turned off>
Prizm skimmer.
<And this>
Bought system as an established tank with no fish left (they had a fire and lost electricity at some point) Moved 100 pounds of live rock, 60% of water. Replaced dirty corral
<Yee hah!>
substrate with 4 inch live sand bed. Cycle was short to non existent, no ammonia detected, nitrate spiked to 60, but controlled with water changes and adding skimmer. Currently Ammonia, 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 5-10. Tank has been up 3 months, stocked fish slowly, but no QT. Was selective about where I got fish, but obviously not enough.
2 Blue tailed damsels (unaffected until yesterday, now declining quickly)
2 Ocellaris clowns (now deceased)
2 black ocellaris clowns (1 deceased, 1 struggling in formalin (Rid Ich + QT tank) All clowns were tank raised juveniles.
1 Pink spotted goby ("appears" unaffected)
1 3" Blue tang (The fish I've always wanted and why I got the tank)
Infested with ICH for 10 days.
Cleaner shrimp who doesn't clean (bought 2 one died on introduction)
Current one just molted today
Had bought a neon goby which did a great job but it succumbed to Ich within days. (I feel terribly for having tried this, desperation causing stupid decisions)
Less than two weeks after adding the blue tang, I saw what I thought was ich, very hard to see, my husband said I was imagining it-NOT) Raised tank temp to 81, added UV sterilizer, added garlic. Tried Kick Ich (A WASTE OF
TIME AND MONEY- I knew it was too good to be true, but I was praying it would work)
<Ah, yes... see WWM re my unrelenting campaign against this and other worthless non-remedies>
No other fish showed signs until yesterday am when the clowns looked terrible. But they don't have spots, more strings, and looks like its peeling. So I was guessing Brooklynella.
<Mmm, maybe>
I lost 1 almost immediately. I did prepare a PH adjusted freshwater bath, which it lived through, but died within the hour. I then scrambled to go buy a QT tank, and decide between copper and formalin.
Drove 2 hours to get formalin, could only get Rid Ich + (formalin and Mal Green) I chose this as I thought it might save the clowns if it was Brook, and might also cure the tangs ICH. One clown was almost dead by the time I
got home, passed away shortly after moving to the new tank. I moved the clowns and the tang. The tang FREAKED out, swam frantically and then laid on the bottom and appeared to not be able to swim.
<Simple stress>
I was hoping she was just hiding, I left her there for 4 hours when in the middle of the night I couldn't stand it as I thought she was dying from the formalin and moved her back to the DT. In the DT she slept in "her" rock, and was out swimming this am. She'll eat anything except the Metronidazole soaked food I made. I typically feed frozen Mysis, vitamin packed brine, Cyclop-eeze, marine cuisine and Formula 1 and 2 flakes.
So I'm left with one small clown in the QT tank with the one dose of Rid Ich + from last night, and the others in my DT. I'm not sure if I should do the second dose of formalin and put the tang back in, I'm guessing NOT.
<How will you treat this fish otherwise?>
Or if I should change the water (completely, partially, use new or system (infected) water) and try copper or Hypo.
<I'd use a Quinine compound... CP... Maybe "start over" treatment wise, dip/bath the fish enroute to the treatment tank... in pH-adjusted freshwater... with formalin alone if you had it>
Is it too stressful to try copper at this point for the clown (if it pulls through) or the tang who was in the formalin for 4 hours last night.
<I don't like/use copper on Clownfishes or Acanthuroids (the suborder that includes Tangs, Rabbitfishes and more)... is too toxic to be efficacious>
Should I just leave her in my DT for a couple days to de-stress, or is that going to kill her too?
<Too likely to die there due to whatever the protozoan presence>
I know hypo is not 100%, but would it be safer at this point?
<See my statement above... and read here on WWM:
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/crypttangsf4.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/clndiscrypt.htm>
I'll leave the goby in the DT if I do copper and then pull him into QT after copper for the fallow period for my tank... or would he still be carrying ich and reinfect the tang?
How do you think he'll do in the QT environment. I would really love to save my tang, but I'm afraid to make the choice on what to do. I haven't slept the past two nights, and I'm truly at a loss on what to do.
<Move all fishes>
I apologize for the rambling, and would humbly ask for some help. I will obviously be letting my tank go fallow, and will religiously QT from this day forward.
Thanks for any advice, Pam
<Do write back after reading... and this soon... should you have any further questions, want clarification. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question Regarding Ich and Brooklynella   3/12/10
Thanks so much for the reply. I didn't truly expect a response. I hate to sound like everyone of the emails I've read on your site, but here goes.
I'm really hating the thought of moving my tang and goby to the bare bottom small QT.
<Not quarantine, really... treatment>
I've read some accounts of using the Crypto Cure - Quinine Sulfate in the display tank. If I moved half my rock, my snails, and my shrimp to QT could I treat my display tank with QS?
<You could... but this isn't the proscribed SOP I'd go with...>
I'm going to be out of town next week for work (my husband will be here, but he's not going to be thrilled if I ask him to do daily water changes and monitor ammonia in my non-cycled QT). My live rock has little live growth at this point anyhow (was pretty much bare when I got it with the tank, now has some small sponge growth and a little green algae). How dangerous would this be?
<Not very>
My main concern is saving the tang, without risking ammonia spikes in QT when I'm not here... Does QS wipe out the biologic filter (I run a Biowheel with the rock and sand...)
<Very rarely do/es Quinine/s disrupt nitrification... if any effect, this is indirect>
I can't get the QS today, can order it overnighted from National Fish Pharmacy for delivery tomorrow am...Is that okay?
<Likely so>
The only thing I could start today would be hypo, but I assume the shift I could make in 24 hours wouldn't offer much relief anyhow?
<Not worth the stress IMO... and this can very easily kill off beneficial microbes/biological filtration>
Also it looks like my lights should be OFF during treatment with QS? Is ambient room light okay?
<Yes and yes>
Thanks again for the response, and please don't take my asking about treating the display as disrespect for your opinion. I'm just really worried about not being here to oversee the QT.
<I understand. BobF>
Thanks, Pam Speck

Re: Question Regarding Ich and Brooklynella  3/12/10
Thank you so much for your assistance. I will write back with an update.
Thanks again, Pam
<Real good. BobF>
Re: Question Regarding Ich and Brooklynella  3/12/10
On a much less urgent note, and please don't feel you have to respond, as I'm sure you have tons of email to look at.
1) I'm wondering how long to wait before I consider getting another clown fish (the struggling survivor in the hospital tank did not make it). I'm pretty certain it was Brooklynella, it looked nothing like the ich on the tang, and was so fast, and obviously deadly. If I understand correctly its possible my damsels can host the disease, thus keeping it in my tank?
<Yes, this is so>
Any chance the QS will take care of that too?
<Yes... Please see WWM re this Ciliate>
(I'm sure that's too easy to hope for!) If I waited 6 months could I put clowns back in my tank (after QT of course?) Or is it too risky to even consider putting clowns back in unless the damsels are gone for awhile first?
<Less risky as time goes by>
2) Eventually I would like to add a trio of McCosker's Flasher Wrasses.
I've seen some info in the FAQ's that QT is questionable on these type of fish. What would your suggestion be, given that my tank is infested. Will treat with QS and wait at least a couple months before I start looking at additions. (I will be QTing every other fish I decide to add, just wasn't sure with the FAQ's on these if I should on the flasher wrasse's or not)
<This interval should prove fine>
Thanks again, and I commend you and the rest of the "crew" on providing such a wonderful resource for those trying to learn about the hobby.
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

Brooklynella, die-off  8/30/2009
Bob thanks for the informative site. I have a 120 gallon tank with about 100 pounds of base rock and 40 pounds of live rock. I had 2 clowns in the tank as they were my first fish. 1 has died from Brooklynella, at least the LFS had an outbreak in their tanks where mine were taken from so I am assuming that was the cause. It had most of the symptoms. The second clown was taken out and is in a QT. He is staying at the top of the water and not swimming around but seems have good color, no spots, and normal fins. He
is eating fine. My question is about the rock that was in the tank. How long should I wait for the rock not to be a host for the parasite.
<Well... the longer, the more likely the vector/cause will have gone... four weeks is probably somewhere around the "trade off" point... of more damage being done to the host/clown/s than benefit in avoiding the
Protozoan. Bob Fenner>

Re: New Captive-Bred "Clownfish Disease"?  2/20/09 Crew - <Martin> This is a follow-up to the exchange below. My thanks to Bob Fenner for his thoughtful response. Unfortunately I was not able to get access to a microscope before the last of the fish manifesting symptoms perished. So, now I have an empty hospital tank that I will sterilize and return to quarantine duty. I have seen the FAQ suggesting use of a bleach solution and will implement and then dry - although sun is in short supply this time of year in New England. <Ah yes... but thank goodness (I am in the N. hemisphere as well, though a bit closer to the equator), the days are getting longer> My question today concerns the 300 gal. display tank. It still contains a group of ocellaris clowns, a pair of Golden Butterflyfish (Chaetodon semilarvatus) and a midas blenny, all of whom were exposed to the clowns that manifested the infection before those fish were moved to the hospital tank. The last such move occurred three weeks ago and since then all of the display tank fish have been fine - no symptoms, eating greedily. <I see> The question is what further cautionary measures I should take before adding fish to the display tank. (My stocking plan calls for a Kole Tang next, and he will have plenty of green filamentous algae to consume when he arrives.) My instinct is just to wait some additional time before making the addition, continuing to look for symptoms (with my fingers crossed) and eschewing any aggressive intervention (I do have a UV sterilizer running). Do you agree? <Mmm, a gamble... or better... somewhat calculable risk...> If not, what else should I do? <Mmmm, ahhh... t'were it me, nothing. There is some small chance that IF this were Brooklynellosis, it might infest other fish families... but...> And how much time total (including the three weeks that have already passed) would you wait before adding the next fish (after quarantine, of course, and assuming no more manifestation of disease). Thanks very much for any advice you can give. Marty <This is no zero-sum universe, sans risk... Marty, I'd go ahead (boldly) and place the Kole... there is small chance of trouble in my estimation. Bob Fenner>

Brooklynella Armageddon...  6/25/08 Hi again, <Marc> I can't begin to tell you, how much of a help you all have been. I have done much research on the Internet, and every time I start looking for an answer, I get the best suggestions from this site. And have had positive results in my tank. The problem I have run into lately, is Brooklynella. It has killed every Clown fish and Angelfish I have put in the tank. Now, with the help from you're crew member Benjamin and research, I now know that I should not have added any after the first one died. <Mmm, likely the Protozoan is resident...> I still have three Chromises, a Sixline Wrasse, a Firefish, Lawnmower Blenny and a Chalk Bass. I have had these fish for about six to eight weeks without a problem. They have seen many Clowns and Angels come and go. My last Clown or Angel died about a week ago. Stripping down the tank and bleaching everything is no going to be practical. <Can be done in place...> I can't set up a guarantee tank, just not enough room. I have two 75 gallon tanks, and had to squeeze one of them in the dining room. My question is, is there an amount of time I can wait, without casualties, that might make it safe to try a couple of tank raised Clown-fish? <Mmm, a matter of time vs. likelihood... not absolute... I'd bleach...> I have researched this, and the only information I found is on a fallow tank, or if you're not planning on keeping Clowns. What would be your best suggestion, no more fish for six to eight weeks, or just no more Clown fish? Thanks again, Marc <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Disease refractory to treatment... Brooklynella?   12/3/06 Bob, I used the microscope yesterday and performed a skin scraping. The pathogen is an oval, ciliated organism that looks most like Brooklynella hostilis (using Edward Noga's Fish Disease Diagnosis and Treatment) for comparison. <Could you make out the nucleus, nuclei? Their relative size here?> This might explain its refractoriness to Cu++. However, I have dipped it multiple times in a 125 ppm Formalin solution, with improvement but not cure. <Frighten-, frustrating for sure> Do you know the lifecycle of Brooklynella? <Yes> Is it an obligate parasite? <Yes> Should I treat the entire tank with a 25 ppm Formalin prolonged immersion, or are there more specific antimicrobials that I should use (Chloroquine, Metronidazole, an aminoglycoside)? I have not been able to find any literature on the lifecycle or sensitivity of this pathogen. thanks very much, Sam <Successive Formalin dips and moves to non-infested systems should break the cycle here... along with the use of anti-protozoals. My choice is/would be Metronidazole/Flagyl... as posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Re: New pair of clownfish Sorry to bother you yet Again I was reading your site and now have more questions). In regards to Brooklynella, how do clowns get it? <Brought in with other host/Clownfishes... mainly imported with wild-collected specimens... spread to others by their introduction, movement of water, materials from infested systems...> Should I be concerned? The clowns we got look great; beautiful color, not skinny...., are very active and curious. They didn't say they were tank raised/reared, but there behavior laying on top of each other in a corner) is indicative of tank raised. I don't know if it helps but they have a lot of black in them is this more likely in tank raised specimens?) <Likely no worries... were captive produced probably... The darker ones from stock hailing from Shark Bay, Australia...> We didn't dip the fish because the LFS dipped them in quick cure on Wednesday and we thought another dip would be stressful. <Not warranted, worth it in my estimation as well> I am mostly concerned about my 5 inch Hippo he can't get Brooklynella, right?) <No> Again, should I be concerned about this disease given the above info on the clowns? THANKS again and I will stop reading your site for now, or I will be coming to you all day with "what if questions" haha.... <Keep studying, dreaming, scheming my friend. Bob Fenner>

Bad Advice - And A Bad Result! My poor clown already died. <Sorry to hear that...> I put her in a hospital tank and she got worse from there on. The patch of skin fell off leaving a red open wound. My LFS said not to put her in a hospital tank, as it would only make things worse, but I wanted to get her out of the main tank as I have another clown in there. <Your thought was correct...> My LFS also said that Brooklynella is wiped out in fish (that would be nice; this is also the same person that said there is no reason to quarantine fish, they only get sick when they are stressed, so they can get sick in the main tank, too) <Yikes...not the best advice I've heard!>, but I think he said it was velvet, because that was the only medication that they carried. She was in my main tank when she got sick (I didn't quarantine the clowns, per my LFS, but I learned my lesson the hard way). I still have 1 clown (that I bought at the same time as the other - 2 weeks ago, and a lawnmower blenny in the tank. They show no signs of being sick, but I'm afraid if I add another (after quarantine this time) that they will pick up the Brooklynella in the main tank. Does Brooklynella stay dormant in the main tank until it finds another victim? <Like many diseases, it can remain in a sort of "dormant phase", waiting to strike again...I'd remove everyone into a separate tank, and let the main tank go fallow for a month or so, to allow the population of parasites (assuming it's a parasitic infection that you're dealing with) to crash for lack of hosts...> I just added a cleaner shrimp, and I don't known if that helps some. Any help is appreciated, I can't get good advice from my LFS. <Well, I'd go for the fallow tank trick, as outlined above. Keep a close eye on all of your remaining fishes, quarantine all new arrivals, and take all advice from that LFS with a grain of salt! Quarantine is simply one of the things that you must do if you keep marine fish...I'm sorry that you had to learn it the hard way, but I'll bet that you'll see a lot of success in the future! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Clown Going Down? (Brooklynella?) I have an ailing/recovering clownfish. I have been reading through some of the FAQ's. I am having a terrible time distinguishing velvet from Brooklynella from ich. First, here is a ROUGH timeline of what I have been going through. About a month ago Purchased two small (1in.) percula clownfish and a rose anemone from LFS for cycled 10 gal. fish tank One clown defended the anemone from the other after a day or two. Talked to LFS, they told me I could return the outcast clown with slight hopes of ending up with a mated pair. When I took the clown out, it looked like it had a slimy film on it that I could peel off. Sounds a lot like Brooklynella's external symptoms> I took it to the store and they told me that it was probably low ph and gave me another. (found out yesterday that the clown died in the bag while they floated it) <No surprise there, if we're talking about this disease. It is nasty!> (Some time here, I did some research and decided that I needed a larger tank to do a reef setup. I bought a 45 gal. and started piling in the rock here and there along with three Chromis damsels to cycle it.) I took the new clown home and floated it. It was love at first sight. Or so it seemed to me. A little over a week ago... It was doing fine for a week or so and then it developed the slimy film. I started researching the ailment and can't determine if it is velvet, ich or Brooklynella. I did immediately start FW dips (only for a min or two as this was the first time frame I read about). Keep in mind that the first clown never showed (and still doesn't show) any sign of any problems. <Well, a fish infected with Amyloodinium ("Velvet") will usually patches of discoloration where the tissues have been liquefied. The affected fish will also display difficulty breathing, lack of appetite, and general listlessness. The "slime" that you have described sounds more to me like Brooklynella. Fishes infected with this disease seem to slough off large quantities of mucus, and display similar lack of feeding, listlessness, etc. They will often "hang" in the current.> The larger tanks numbers went fine quite soon with the LR and wet/dry filter. The ailing Clownfish's tail started having problems (disappearing) so I took the good clown and the anemone out and put them in the 45) I was afraid that the healthier appearing clown was picking on it or that it would contract the illness. I realize now that this was probably not the best thing to do especially since I added a coral beauty and a bicolor blenny to the larger tank. <You really need to develop a quarantine procedure and stick to it. With regular quarantine, you'll be able to treat such diseases before they get to the display and cause problems> I went to the LFS and he gave me some antibiotic tablets. I have been adding the correct amount of antibiotics to the new 10 gal hospital tank and doing a FW dip (I started increasing the time  spent in the FW to a little over five min last night) <Well, antibiotics are effective if you are dealing with a disease that requires their use! If you are dealing with any of the aforementioned afflictions- they are parasitic, and require medications like copper sulphate or formalin to do the job> I did some more research last night and found this site to be very helpful, but I am having trouble diagnosing the problem and verifying that I am on the right course of action. I don't think it is velvet because it just doesn't sound like it. It sounds like Brooklynella, but the other clown still doesn't show any signs. It doesn't sound like ich because I don't see any crystal-like spots. There was a spot on the second day that seemed to disappear either from the fw dip or from the net in transferring to the fw. I asked the guy about Brooklynella and he didn't seem to know anything about it. I asked about getting some Formalin and he said that it was formaldehyde and that he could give me a little if I wanted to try that. First of all, is this info right, second of all, do I need to use it and finally, how do I use it. <Best you get an aquarium-specific formalin medication. This way, you'll be getting a medication with the proper concentration and a set of instructions on how to use it!> I do appreciate the time taken to look at my problem. Forgot one thing. The fish is hanging in there and seems to be doing okay other than acting lonesome since I took the other clown out. It still eats <and that is a good sign> :-) Thanks in advance! Gordon <Yes, Gordon- the fact that the fish is eating is excellent! I'd get going on a copper sulphate or formalin treatment regimen (not in the display tank, of course) and monitor carefully. This disease can be very contagious, so do observe your other fishes for potential signs of illness. Arm yourself with some good research on the WWM site and others about these diseases, and you'll be able to make a positive ID rather quickly! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

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