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FAQs about the Damselfish Disease 2

Related Articles: Damselfishes, Clownfishes, Jumbo Damselfishes,

Related FAQs: Damsel Disease 1, Damsels 1, Damsel Identification, Damsel Systems, Damsel Selection, Damsel Compatibility, Damsel Behavior, Damsel Feeding, Damsel Reproduction,

Most damsels are relatively tough and disease resistant like this Dascyllus albisella.

Re: Quarantine for fish shipments, Hermits.... Damsels breaking down, comm.        12/9/15
Ahh okay. Thanks for the info. I guess I wont be getting large quantities of snails/hermits and will get them in small volume.
I have another question in regards to Chromis. Everytime I bring them in these days, they will develop a red blotch and it will spread very quickly.
<A very bad sign.... in the West we used to call this a "break down syndrome" and, Oh, I see you know below>
I understand this is either caused by Vibrio or Uronema. I was searching around Google and WetWebMedia but I am having trouble finding a clear treatment procedure.
<By the time the batch/group show symptoms it's almost always too late.
NEED better supplier, shipper... to get you clean/er stock more quickly>
Some say Chloroquine Phosphate (has proven to be very difficult to get these days in Canada), Furan, Metro and Copper and Methylene Blue helps but no clear consensus.
<Only the first has any hope of being effective>
I would like to get clarification on what is the best method for treating it.
<I want to be absolutely clear: GET a copy of Ed Noga's "Fish Disease" work, first or second edition, and a good 'scope.... even a 400X QL series Intel/Mattel.... And study, practice using these. >
<You will thank me. Bob Fenner.>

Re: Injured Lemon Damsel? 6/30/10
Hi Bob,
Thank you for your rapid reply. We are definitely looking into how to eliminate our nitrites and ammonia. Our issue with our damsel is still persisting however,
<... environmental...>
she seems to be getting worse. She has developed red blotches around her mouth (we are not sure if these are
open wounds or sores), and her top lip seems to be completely split up to her cheek on one side. They are also flaking and peeling more heavily. Does this sound like any disease that you know of? We cant seem to find anything online with regard to all of these symptoms, and while we thought this may have started as an injury it does not
look that way anymore. Would you recommend we put her in quarantine, or take her out of the tank permanently? We would just like to be sure on the best course of action.
Thanks again for all of your help,
Courtney & Dan
<Fix the environment, cure this fish... B>

heart attack, swim bladder problem? Damsel stressed to death, env. 5/13/10
Dear WWM,
I have a 20 gallon saltwater tank with a hermit crab, 2 damsels
<What, which species?>
and a Firefish goby. One of the damsels had been beating up the other 2 fish pretty badly.
<Remove it>
I finally decided to move him to my quarantine tank- but that wasn't a success. While trying to catch the damsel, he suddenly darted to the top of the tank and turned onto his side (this was kind of odd).
<Mmm, nope>
I scooped him up immediately and transferred him right to my quarantine tank (the temp. and water of the quarantine tank are the same as my main tank).
When released into the quarantine tank, he dropped straight to the bottom like a rock, upside down. He righted himself after a while and spent the next day or so breathing frantically at the surface. There was plenty of aeration, and the water parameters were the same as the other tank, so this was confusing that he continued to remain in a shocked state this long. I finally ended up transferring him back to the main tank (perhaps a bad idea) upon which point he died nearly instantly and floated at the top, upside down.
So, any thoughts on what might have happened and what I could do to prevent this from happening in the future?
<Reading, understanding the needs of the life in your care... Pomacentrids need more room...>
Also, should I replace him with another small fish or two or would that be an excessive load for the 20 gallon tank I've got?
<... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/smswstk11.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Nick Peterson
Re: heart attack, swim bladder problem? 5/13/10

Thanks so much!
<Willkommen. B>

Re: Help with Sick Damsel Follow up questions. 5/1/2010
Hi Mike,
<Hi Bill.>
I wanted to Thank You for your help on this and apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I've been working quite a few hours this week.
<As a frequent traveler for my job, I understand completely.>
My little Damsel appears about the same as when I last wrote you. I have seen her doing some swimming around the tank, but not much. She seems a little stronger, but still has not eaten -- at least not that I can tell...
<Still seems consistent with ammonia poisoning. if the Damsel's gills were burned, it will take time to heal.>
I re-tested the water. My Test Kit does not have a separate test for Ammonia, but it does test for Phosphates, Nitrates, and Nitrites -- all of which showed what I would call a "Zero" reading. There was no perceptible
color change in the reagents. I checked my Salinity and it was holding at 1.023. I thought about lowering it somewhat, but wasn't sure if my Zoo's would handle the change.
<Do invest in an ammonia test kit - very useful to have, and it only costs a few dollars. Of course, if the tank has recycled again, the readings will now be zero>
The name of the supplement that I added is called Reef Solutions... It says that it is beneficial for Corals and Fish. The LFS where I purchased it specializes in Corals and they highly recommended it. Do you think I could have added too much?
<I just did a quick lookup in the web for it - it claims to add 'essential organic nutrients' - so yes, that may have triggered an ammonia spike. >
I will do another 20% water change this week-end and hope the little Damsel hangs in there... Let me know if you have any other thoughts about what I might try.
<Just keep up with good water quality and keep offering food. I would not add any other sort of supplements to the tank.>
I do really appreciate all of your help and the topics that you forwarded to me.
<Glad you found them useful.>
Thanks again,
<My pleasure.>

Saltwater yellow belly damsel rapid breathing, 4/20/10
I have a 20 gallon tank, its pretty new as we had it for 3 weeks.
<Very new.>
The water is temp. is 76-78, salinity is at 1.020.
<Aim for a more natural 1.025 SG.>
We also just got our water checked at Petco and they said it was good.
<Define good, numbers are important. Ammonia and nitrite needs to be 0, nitrate needs to be less than 20ppm.>
I have two a. ocellaris clown fish, a small bubble tipped anemone, and some live rock.
<This tank is too new and small for an anemone.>
We just exchanged our Condylactis purple tipped anemone for the small bubble.
<I would avoid anemones altogether in your system.>
So we noticed our yellow belly damsel isn't doing well, we noticed he is breathing heavily and is laying on it's side at the bottom of the tank. My other fish are doing great. We think he might of eaten some of the waste from the old
Condylactis and is poisoned?
We did a 1/3 water change today too. Is there anything we can do?
Nicole G.
<Most likely this is related to water quality, at only 3 weeks only your tank may still be cycling. Test for ammonia and nitrite and make sure they are 0. Otherwise keep up with the water changes and hope he improves. It is also possible he could have had a bad run in with the anemone is your are seeing the effects.>

Galba's Chrysiptera - can I save his eye? 9/13/09
HI again!
After much good information from you regarding my flame angel situation and a "yellow fish" that would be compatible with my current fish - I am very excited to report that I was able to get my hands on a Galba's Chrysiptera! I received him about 4 days ago (online mail) - he is in a qt tank. Today I noticed that he wasn't eating - by later in the afternoon his head seemed discolored (darker). I thought it was my imagination. A few hours later I took a good look at him from above and noticed that his one eye is bulging out of his head!
<I see this in your excellent photos>
I have read your website regarding PopEye - but I am sending a picture along to verify that this is what I am indeed dealing with. I can try to get a better picture if needed. The eye itself still looks clear, but everything around it looks bad. Its bulging, the top and side of his head is darkly discolored and behind his eye where it is bulging is red. If I didn't know better I would say he has a pretty good "shiner". Can you tell if it sounds/looks more bacterial or injury related (possibly from shipping??)
<Most likely the latter; else both eyes would be afflicted>
Could he lose his eye?
<Is a possibility; yes>
Would you start Maracyn and or Epsom salt, or just leave it for now. I would like to take quick, but proper action. As always I appreciate your help!
Thank you,
Chris K
<I would begin this course of treatment; with slightly lowered specific gravity... Do place a bit of cured live rock with this fish... for security, aiding stability. Bob Fenner>

Re: Too late for Galba's Chrysiptera? 09/15/09
Bob -
In my haste (or maybe panic is a better choice) to update you, my last e-mail may not have made sense. The canary damsel is now in another tank (3 gallon acrylic) with only saltwater and Epsom salt - no medication.
<Mmm... one last time, I would have moved this fish back to the main display. Any other setting is going to be inferior, more stressful>
I am in the process of cleaning out the original QT to rid it of medication residue. The temporary tank his is in has filtration and a rock which he is still hiding behind. I hesitate to disturb him, and I don't think I should stress him out more by attempting to move him into the bigger QT at this point, but I did remove the rock for a few minutes to take a good look.
He stays only at the bottom of the tank, and made no attempt to move at all when I put in my hand and pulled out the rock. The top of his head, above his eye and behind his eye are now completely black.
<A bad sign... nervous damage, or...>
He is showing a red streak above his top "lip". The swelling of his injured left eye appears to have gone only slightly and the eye itself is still clear. The gill(?) area behind his injured left eye appears to be swollen now. And if you look at him straight on, you can see that he is leaning to the right. I have yet to see him eat in the past few days - yet I notice today he has a long white strand of feces (with some dark globs on it) hanging from him. Possibly a parasite on top of everything else?
<Can't tell>
He made it through the night - he's a fighter - I refuse to give up on him. I am attempting to get more pictures to send along later today. I find myself again in desperate need of your expertise. Is he too weak to
try to medicate again?
<Won't avail you anything>
How can I entice him to eat? Garlic? Would adding Selcon vitamins directly to the water do anything at all to get his strength up or would that even be too stressful?
<Only time now>
Thank you as always - the service that you provide is invaluable.
Chris K
re: More photos - Too late for Galba's Chrysiptera?

Mr. Fenner - I have attached more photos of my canary damsel as promised.
He seems to be swimming in circles on the bottom - at least while I was trying to photograph him.
<... very bad. B>
Too late for Galba's Chrysiptera 09/15/09

Mr. Fenner - my canary damsel unfortunately just died. I don't know what else I could have done - but I do appreciate everything you did to assist me. I am still interested in your thoughts regarding the last e-mail with photos. It never hurts to acquire knowledge for future reference...
Sincerest regards and gratitude,
Chris K
<I fully suspect this fish was damaged in being captured, held, shipped (quite common)... I would ask your supplier in turn to enquire of theirs for credit/replacement. Bob Fenner>

re: Too late for Galba's Chrysiptera 9/15/09
Thank you Bob - you are invaluable - I'm sure you get that all the time. I hope you never become disenchanted from hearing it, because it is wholeheartedly the truth. The supplier is replacing. Should be here tomorrow. Wish me luck. I hope I did not contribute to his death by not putting him in the display tank.
<Not likely, but I would routinely just dip/bath this genus' members and place them directly. Most are very "clean" on arrival.>
Also - I am "floating" the aggressive Firefish in an acrylic cage suction cupped to the inside of my display tank. Much to my husbands amusement - the Firefish leapt from the "cage" into the tank - where I shear dumb luck I was able to promptly net him before he got his bearings, and placed him back in his cell where he now sits cooling his jets. However not without escaping my husband's rendition of "Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy... The docile Firefish hid at first, but is now swimming about.
Chris K
<Ahh, welcome. BobF>
re: Too late for Galba's Chrysiptera 9/15/09

Bob - am I misunderstanding - I do not need to QT the fish tomorrow - just a freshwater bath?
<Yes... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm

Damsel Disease/Crypt/Ammonia Poisoning 5/14/2009
I read a lot of the articles posted in your website but it is a lot of info to grasp at once and I don't want to lose my fish. I have a Yellowtail Damselfish in a 5gal. QT.
<Small volume of water.>
I was treating it with QUICK CURE for ich and the white spots disappeared but it seems it is infected with Oodinium (fast breathing, swimming up to the surface as if gasping for air, discoloration, not eating, blood streaks, hovering weakly in one spot, usually near the surface).
<Hmmm..... Could be ammonia or other metabolite poisoning - Does the fish look velvety or covered in mucus?>
What can I do??? Today was the third day of treatment (and I believe the last one according to the directions in the bottle). Please tell me what to do.
<I would execute an immediate 50% water change and test your water in the QT tank.
Thank you for your help.
Never mind. It just died.
<Sorry to hear that.
How can I make sure my 30gal. is not infected?
<Based upon what you've written, I suspect it is not Amyloodinium, but rather metabolite poisoning as the Quick Cure killed off the bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate.
Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm
and here:
Right now it is home for a turbo snail, a hermit crab, live rock, and live sand.
<They should be fine.>
Ah! and the nitrite levels >1.
<?? What are the nitrate levels?>
I feel clueless.
<You can read here for nutrient control information:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm >
Thank you.

3 stripe damsel labored breathing and turning colors 01/22/09 Hi my name is Brandie. <"Oh Brandie... you're a fine girl, what a good wife you would be! But my life, my love, my lady... is the sea!" Sorry... I love that song.> I'm new at this, I just started my salt water tank a few weeks ago. I have read all throughout my book and online but can find no answers. I have a 30 gallon tank and all I have in it is 2 blue and yellow damsels and 1 three stripe damsel. <Poor choices for a 30g tank. They will get big and mean and kill each other or die.> Today when I got home I noticed my three stripe was belly up at the bottom of the tank. It now has labored breathing, the white parts of its body are turning gray and it is completely still but just jerking occasionally. I am very paranoid and I check my water daily and it is fine so what could this be? <What do you mean by "fine?" What all did you check? How long has the tank been set up? What do you have for filtration? I'm sorry, but I need a lot more information to help you.> Is it a disease? Please help soon! <I suspect toxic shock of some sort... but again, I need more info please. Best, Sara M.>
Re: 3 stripe damsel labored breathing and turning colors 02/23/09
Well it died last night , but I'm still afraid to put fish in there now because I want to make sure it didn't have a disease first. <Well, it had something. But I haven't seen the fish, so I can't guess for sure. The symptoms you describe are common to any number of fish diseases/problems. Here are some good readings to help you start to figure out what might have happened: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/fishdisho.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amylloodiniumart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm> The pH was 8.3, Alk was about 200, salinity was 1.023, temp was 80, and my ammonia test was 0. I have an Emperor Power Filter 280 and a SeaClone 100 protein skimmer (yes, yes, yes I know). The tank has been set up for about a month (just live sand/live rock) the fish have been in there only for about a week. <I suspect your fish died from stress. But it might not have been all your doing. The fish could have been caught using explosives or cyanide, etc. The fish could have been in poor health when you got it (this is common among marine aquarium fish). Best, Sara M.>

damsels - please help! Hlth., env. 10/14/08 Hello - <Amber> I sent this e-mail to you 3 or so days ago and haven't heard anything...I really need your help, please...I'm really lost. <Mmm, haven't seen this> Here is the e-mail I sent... "Let me first say that I am new to marine fish, and this is my first try at setting up a saltwater tank. I completely cycled my 55 gallon tank 2-3 months ago, using the fish-less cycling method. I have cycled many freshwater tanks using a similar method, so I am familiar with the cycling process and what to look for during the process. Once Ammonia and Nitrite levels were both back down to 0, I figured it would be safe to add a few damsels. I took a water sample to my LFS and they confirmed that my water was in great condition and it would be fine to add some fish. I picked out 3 yellowtail damsels, and after acclimatizing them for 1 hour, I added them to the tank. I did not quarantine as they were the only living things in the tank at that time - there was nothing for them to infect. Sadly, after approximately a week, one of the damsels began showing "white lips" which I usually would associate with columnaris. <Mmm, no... not this...> I am not certain if there is a marine variety of this disease; searching online has given me mixed results. <Can easily do so... does to/for me all the time> I was told that damsels often get "white lips" from crashing into rocks, fighting for dominance, etc. so I kept an eye on it for the evening while I fed them their mysis shrimp. All three ate normally. The next morning, the damsel with the "white lips" was dead, and the other two were showing the same symptoms. They died later that day. <Summat amiss here... en toto> I did a water sample using my personal kit, and came out with near ideal readings. <Bear in mind, this set of results was for what you could, did test for... NOT all possibilities> I took a sample to my LFS, and they confirmed the readings. (Ammonia = 0, Nitrite = 0, Nitrate = 10, pH = 8.3, temp. = 76) I was advised by my LFS to allow the tank to set fish-less for a week <Good advice> and raise the temperature slightly, which I did. After a week and a half, I did yet another round of tests on my water, and took a sample to the LFS for them to check. Again, nothing other than ideal levels. They said I could try again if I wanted to, so I chose 3 domino damsels <Mmm, this species... can't really be crowded like this...> (their tank at the LFS was on a different system than the tank of the yellowtails, since I suspected the fish came to me with the disease and wanted to avoid buying fish from the same system.) Again, I acclimatized the dominoes for a good hour, and released them into the 55 gallon. They have been eating heartily (I am feeding frozen/thawed mysis shrimps currently) and are exploring their environment. Tonight, they have been with me for almost a week, and I just noticed a small, lighter colored area on the largest domino's upper lip. It is not by any means white, but it is lighter than the rest of the domino's body color. It isn't as dramatic as the white on the late yellowtails, in fact, the more I look at it, it seems almost as if it is natural coloration. Perhaps I am just being overly paranoid...Should I treat all 3 with malachite green, <? No> or should I let them be? <Something else...> Their behavior is great, and they are still eating heartily, though they seem to have clamped their fins a bit (this might be because I've been worriedly staring at them for almost an hour.) I don't want to lose them, but I'm afraid that if I chase them around to medicate them, they may succumb to a stress-induced infection." Thank you so much for your time and advice, Amber <Do see your LFS re a product call "PolyFilter"... place a pad of this in your filter/flow path... I suspect you have some sort of toxicity issue here... The pad may change color, give us clues. Bob Fenner>
Re: damsels - please help! 8/18/08
Hello again! <Amber> Got the Poly-Filter yesterday, left it in for about 18 hours, and it turned bubblegum/Pepto-Bismol pink! <?!> This isn't a "valid" color on their reference sheet...All the damsels are dead, now, so my tank has been empty since Tuesday (the 14th of October.) There is nothing in the tank that would give off this color other than a piece of live rock with some dark maroon algae on it. <Ah hah! Here's very likely part of the mystery solved> The LFS is at a loss, I did a water test with them last night when I picked up the Poly-Filter and AGAIN everything is fine! (Ammonia = 0, Nitrites = 0, Nitrates = 10, salinity = 1.023, temp. = 78, pH = 8.4, they also tested for potassium I believe and said it was nowhere near levels that would stress a fish, I didn't get the exact number.) My turnover rate is 14.6x per hour (it is a 55 gallon FOWLR, or it will be when the fish decide they want to start living...) Crushed coral substrate, lace rock + live rock for hiding places...I can't think of anything else that might be helpful... Thank you for your time, Amber <Likely "organic" issue/s at play here... the "maroon" colored algae is likely BGA... toxic... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/toxicwipeoutf.htm and elsewhere on WWM re Cyanobacteria... Likely the best path for you to consider is taking this system down, bleaching the decor/rock mal-affected, and re-setting all up. Bob Fenner>

Velvet Damsel seems to float to the top. 5/10/08 I just bought a Velvet damsel the other day. He seemed healthy in the store, he swam around in his tiny area. The store kept him in a tiny box "tank" around probably 3x3x3 inches. <yikes> I then put him into my quarantine tank. He was fine all day yesterday. But this morning I looked at him and noticed he seems to be trying not to float to the top. He swims a little just to stay neutrally buoyant. But once he stops swimming he starts to float up. He wasn't floating yesterday, he just swam around. <Hmmm...possibly a swim bladder problem.> He looks completely healthy otherwise. The quarantine is a 10 gallon tank. The specific gravity is 1.016 (I read that its good to keep the salinity levels low in quarantine tanks, although it might be too low?). <The salinity of the quarantine tank should be the same as the main tank.> I haven't tested other parameters as of yet, but I'll have them by tonight, I work at a pet store, so I can test them when I go to work tonight. Is it possible that the specific gravity is too low, and that's why he keeps floating? Or might there be something more going on that I do not now of? <It's hard to say, but I would raise the salinity and see if that doesn't help.> The quarantine was only set up for about a week, and it was good the other day, all levels were normal. I scraped the bacteria from my main tank and added it to the filter to jumpstart the nitrogen cycle. <Ok, good luck, Sara M.>

Domino Damsel slowly declining, need more info 5/6/08 Hi Crew, <Hello> I need your help....my domino damsel is slowly declining in health and I am unsure on what to do next. <Let's try to figure it out.> I have thoroughly checked all my levels...PH, Nitrite, Nitrate, Ammonia and Phosphate levels and they are all within acceptable levels. I am now doing this daily because my first fish I bought was the Domino and I do not want to lose him. <Numbers please, acceptable is too subjective.> All the other fish are fine so I cannot pin point any problems, the Domino is laying on the bottom of the tank for long periods and is very listless. It will occasionally swim around but looks disorientated, bump into something and fall back to the bottom of the tank. He is not eaten now for a couple of days and obviously I feel as though time is running out. <Not a good sign.> I have found your site very informative and read many articles but I can find anything like this. He does not have any visible deformity to eyes or body, no lesions or visible cuts etc and I can not see any thing that would indicate a parasite or bacterial infection i.e. no change in colour, spotting or fin rotting etc. I would really appreciate someone's time and assistance, in advance thank you for your site and your help Regards Ian <Need more information here. How big is the tank, how old is it, tankmates, water parameters, corals/anemones present to start with. In the mean time check out here to see if you get any ideas http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm .> <Chris>
Re: Domino Damsel slowly declining, need more info 5/6/08
Hi Crew, <Hello> First of all thank you so much for returning my email, it is so good to know someone out there is willing to help. <We try.> Sadly though my Domino Damsel died during the night, I blame myself for doing too little too late, my 3 year old son is a little distraught as this was our first purchase when we started the Marine Tank. <Sorry to hear.> Again thank you for your help, I will be monitoring the health of the remaining fish very closely and if there are any issues I feel a little safer now that the WetWebMedia crew are out there. With Regards Ian <Good luck.> <Chris>

Damsel Distress 4/25/08 Good morning Crew, I hope everyone is well. Let me start with my tank setup. 125 gal., 100 or so lbs. of live rock, PH 7.8 ( working on raising it ), KH over 300 ppm, ammonia and nitrites 0, nitrates 40. <Hmm, high> Not currently skimming. <I would> The livestock consists of 12 dwarf hermits, about 10 snails mostly Astrea, 1 small Snowflake eel, 1 Cubicus Boxfish juvenile, 1 small Spotted Grouper, 3 Damsels, ( 3 Stripe, Domino and Blue Devil ) a Long spined Urchin, and an orange Starfish. After sifting through FAQ's and Googling for a few hours I am still left with a question regarding my Blue Damsel. For the last 3 days, starting in the late afternoon, he begins to swim around the bottom of the tank looking like he can't get his bottom off the ground, and breathing hard. It looks like his back end has been weighted down while he's trying to swim. During the day he swims fine, the Grouper and the Damsels chasing each other through the rocks, and he comes to the top of the tank for morning feeding but come evening he can't or won't get off the ground very readily. Everyone seems to get along fine since they were all introduced in the same week and are all juveniles. They sleep together, and are only aggressive towards the eel, not each other. I observe the tank for hours each day and get up in the middle of the night just to see what's going on - just a bunch of sleeping for the fish. Is this normal behavior? <The inter-species aggression/territorial is, the butt-dragging, not> I have also noticed the Domino's black color fading to a greyish brown starting from the tail yesterday and today, any suggestions on what might be going on? Everyone is lively and eating voraciously. Thanks for being my complete go to Crew! <I suspect these Damselfishes were poorly collected, handled... not decompressed properly, held, shipped in the usual deplorable ways... In the present setting it is likely they will perish from these influences than be consumed by the growing grouper. Bob Fenner>

Sick Green Chromis - help identifying illness 1/20/08 Hi All, <Rana> I'm hoping one of you is on email this morning! Looking for your invaluable advice. I believe we got a pair of diseased Chromis from the LFS. <Happens... many damselfish groups, particularly this genus "come in bad"... damaged, challenged, and die in droves...> Starting a new tank (30 gal), the LFS guy recommended we put in a pair of green Chromis as a starter - <Mmm, this is a practice I don't encourage... and old-timey approach to establish "cycling"... too likely to present/cause troubles, as it may have here... possibly introducing hyperinfection...> after the live cured rock and sand (and bacteria pack) went in. <These would have been fine w/o the Chromis...> 30 gal tank, nothing else in there but live rock and live sand - levels are zero/trace of ammonia/nitrite, ph about 8.1, nitrate <12.5 mg/L. Protein skimmer, powerhead installed. <Good> One Chromis (pictured here) was a bit smaller than the other and both seemed healthy at first. After a day, the larger was picking on the smaller. <Very common behavior> After 4 days - the small one is in VERY bad shape with what looks like an apparent open red/pink wound and trailing skin. <I see this> The LFS I have to say was very unknowledgeable /unhelpful after seeing the pics so we took the risk of saying it's aggression and moved the large Chromis into our established 14gal nano with Cardinal and Ocellaris Clown, to give the small one a chance. <I hope this does not prove to be a mistake...> The little Chromis died (total 4 days in our tank, same day we took the other Chromis out), bigger Chromis now in the established tank - after 24 hours - it's not using a fin one side and the scales look raised and skin looks "peeling" and turning pink in color. Area is to the rear of gills (not gills) near fin on the side of the body. <...> Any advice on what this is? We have the sick Chromis out and will take to LFS shortly <Is dead already, little doubt> but very concerned about having contaminated the healthy Ocellaris clown, Banggai Cardinal and Randall Goby. <You should be concerned> Help identifying this and what action to take (if any)? Thanks as always, Rana (up early on the computer) <Me too... in Hawai'i... Not much "to do" at this juncture, but stay observant... The Chromis likely died from some aspect of "rough handling" in the course of their capture, being moved about... But did "pick up" some sort of bacterial growth (maybe, possibly something else...)http://wetwebmedia.com/infectio.htm ... and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

What to do with a sick damselfish in a small tank that's cycling 01/11/2008 Hi, <<Hello, Andrew here>> My new 65l tank is in the third week of its cycle (unfortunately, not having researched this hobby adequately, I was persuaded that the damselfish method would be ok -reading your site I realize this is not really the case). <<Glad to see this is realised>> I have 2 blue damsels and 1 blue/yellow damsel. The blue/yellow was never the most vigorous but for a week or so he has been floating around at the surface and not really eating, his eyes are cloudy and quite suddenly white areas have developed around his gills and head. I'm pretty concerned and wonder how to treat him at this stage of tank cycling - the other 2 fish are very strong and eat well. If I was to hospitalize this fish in a separate tank what water should I use? Can I buy special ready prepared water? <<Its not just water you need, you will need a cycled tank to move the poorly fish too. You best course of action is to catch the fish, and take them back to where you brought them from. Then add a raw (uncooked) shrimp or prawn as your ammonia source, instead of the fish, and cycle correctly. This way you don't harm the fish any more than they have been, and you wont be stuck with semi aggressive fish after the cycle>> What would I do with the other fish if this is a parasitic infestation - would I need to stick them in yet another tank? <<As above, you need a cycled aquarium to move them too, which you don't have. Take note from my comment above regarding taking the fish back to a store and get some store credit for them>> Any help would be appreciated, thanks, Sean. <<Thanks for the questions, A Nixon>>

Damsel bent, and holy fatness!! 10/1/07 hi crew, if it isn't one tank it's another! I have 3 black and white stripped damsels (Humbug aruanus). I've had them about 2 weeks. 1 of them, after my water change yesterday bent like a banana and became really fat! <Unusual> Looks like he (or she) swallowed a marble. The only thing I can find with that as a symptom is fish TB, and skinny is a symptom there, not fat. I thought that only affected freshwater fish. Then I thought some sort of internal parasite, but no luck on finding anything on that with these symptoms. There are no other symptoms. Scales appear fine, all intact, no spots or dots or holes. Tail and fins are intact. Color is great. Just all bent in the spine, fat and swimming sideways, like swirling. sometimes does a summersault. <Bad> He'll rest on a plant for a while. I watched the tank for a long time, And the other damsels and the clownfish appear to be worried(?). Seriously. They are hanging close to him and if he hides in a plant someone will swim and hover by him or swim between him and the glass. Almost an encouraging/comforting type thing, <Are social animals, both species> he stays in the open water half of the time, no one is picking on him or anything. I've tried to chase him with the net to move him to the nursery tank, Then he swims almost normal across the tank and hides very quickly, but still bent. His breathing doesn't seem to be erratic, but the poor thing is working awful hard to stay upright. He's only a 4 dollar fish so I won't be devastated if he doesn't make it, but if it's something contagious, I need to know what it might be, if it'll spread to my other critters and how to treat it. All other tank mates appear to be normal. Water parameters, 55 gal. Temp. 78 Salinity 1.024 Nitrate 0 Nitrite 0 PH 8.4 Ammonia 0 Calcium 480 <A bit high... are you boosting? How?> Phosphate 0 Carb. Hardness 8-9 (should this be higher?) I don't try to raise it if it's in the normal range. Alk 180 Thank you once again, I'm so glad you here for all of us. Rochelle <Perhaps a gut blockage... From? All one can do is wait, hope here. Bob Fenner>

Damselfish Troubles 9/5/07 I recently bought two yellow tailed damselfish. For the first week or so they did great, then yesterday I got out of bed and one was dead. I thought it was just his time, <What would lead you to believe this?> but then I looked at his buddy and I saw that half of his lips were gone and there was some white looking stuff going towards his gills. I do remember when I bought them the one looked like he had bubbles on his lips, but I thought it was just from me putting them in the tank. <Unlikely> Hind site, could it have been a disease of some sort? <Perhaps> I am still new to the saltwater game. I have a 55 gallon tank with 57 pounds of live rock, canister filter, skimmer, and a cleaning crew. Tired of dead fish please help. Thank you <Too much to cover here, I recommend going through our articles in the marine section, especially the ones dealing with Quarantine and disease.> <Chris>

Sick damsel, senescence 8/8/07 Hi, I've been reading symptoms of other people's fish and haven't yet found the same combination as my fish. He stopped eating normally a couple weeks ago, but it looked like he was eating stuff off the bottom of the tank, so we didn't think much of it. Then I noticed him sort of "bobbing" up and down from the floor of the tank to the surface and back down. He wasn't swimming, just floating up and down which he's never done before. I started getting a little worried at that point. Then, two days ago, my husband witnessed the fish spinning in circles and spiraling up to the surface and down to the bottom. He feared the end was near. That day, the fish was very lethargic and would just float around, occasionally bumping into things. Yesterday, the fish was still hanging in there, but I witnessed him do the spiral thing again - which is very frightening to watch since he looked completely out of control. After that, the fish managed to get under a rock and hide. At that point, my husband moved the fish into another tank. He's been in that tank since last night. One of his eyes is extremely dark and sunken in. The other eye looks like the classic pop eye. And it appears he's breathing rapidly. I haven't noticed anything unusual with is skin or fins. Any advice? Or is it too late for him? <Yes, maybe...> My husband tells me the fish is about 10 years old and suspects it's just old age. <Possibly> Oh, my husband did a water test of the original tank and everything was normal, although I don't know what the results were a few weeks ago when the symptoms started. Thanks, Karen <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damseldisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. I suspect the "old age" part here myself. Bob Fenner>

Help with damsel, no useful data 7/16/07 Good Afternoon, <Hi there> I posted this yesterday, but haven't received any replies and I'm starting to get worried: <Me too... I don't see the prev. msg.> My yellow tail damsel looks like he swallowed a ball. He has a bulge on his right side and the scales are stretched so they appear white from a distance. The left side only has a small bulge, so it still appears blue. He's swimming just fine and eating normally. Any ideas of what it is? Should I remove him from the tank? <Mmm, the condition has a few names... Ascites, dropsy... causes can be environmental, bacterial, genetic, trauma, idiopathic/tumorous... Need to know your system make-up, water quality tests, history of this animal in your care, foods/feeding...> I appreciate your help! Attached are a couple pictures. Thanks, Keira <See WWM re "dropsy", the use of Epsom Salt... Bob Fenner>

Re: help with damsel... Unbelievable crowding 7/17/07 Bob, <Keira> Thank you for your reply! Here is some more information on the tank: 29 gal FOWLR, home to a Foxface, <This volume is too small for any species of Siganid> 3 yellow-tail damsels, <Nor these> a trigger, <Nor...> a neon-striped damsel, a juvenile angelfish <Keira... are you joking? Pulling old Bob the Fishman's fins?> and 3 Brittlestars. I have had full custody of my step fish for 6 months now, but my boyfriend started the tank over 2.5 years ago (I adopted them when he moved to Greenland). I feed them every morning with Ocean Nutrition Formula Two flakes, plus every few days I include a frozen cube brine shrimp or frozen krill. I checked the water quality and everything seems fine except the SG is a little high (1.026). So, should I go forward with the Epsom salt regimen? <... you need to read, either get a MUCH larger system, and/or give away most all this stock> Sorry I can't be more specific, but I'm really new to all of this. Thanks, Keira <No worries. Please use the search tool, indices on WWM to read, make notes re the Systems, Compatibility of all the species you list above. Your problem/s here are induced... iatrogenic. Bob Fenner>

Please tell me what is wrong with my tank! Territorial issues likely

First things first - an overview of my setup:

I have 2 10G tanks attached to a home built sump in a 10G that actually holds about 7G for a total water volume of 27G. My first tank is setup to be a reef tank with 76W of compact florescent lighting (26W full spectrum, 10W 6000K, 5W 10,000?K daylight and 5W Actinic 03 blue). Approx. 100GPH sump circulation W/ a 200GPH recalculating pump. 10 lb live rock 10lb live sand 5 lb crushed coral over a 1/2" plenum. This tank has always had a peppermint shrimp that has molted 3 times - and has always done awesome. There are 2 small corals but I have not have them for long enough to gage how they are doing. There are several things growing happily off the live rock and a small unknown hitchhiking anemone. The other tank has 38W of full spectrum lighting. Approx. 100GPH sump circulation W/ a 145GPH recirculation pump. 3 lbs of live rock and 3 pounds of porous rock with 8 lbs of crushed coral. There is a peppermint shrimp and an emerald crab that has been in here since the start. My sump has a Fission nano skimmer that I have fiddled with enough to make work well, a 100W heater, a pre-filter pad that is rinsed weekly. I put 4"of sand in my sump along with several clumps of macro algae, and 4 mangrove plants growing quite happily under 80W of plant grow florescent. I also have a DIY coil denitrator. My tank lights are on 12 Hrs/day and my sump runs opposite 18 hr/day.

<All sounds/reads good/spiffy thus far>


I top off my tank with tap water - which I know is not the best of practices - but I use a tap water filter and I add a de-chlorinator and let it sit in a jug with a bubbler for a few days before using. I add the Kent marine SuperBuffer for PH and KH control along with iodine for my shrimp and Iron for coralline algae growth - again I know it is not best practices to add supplements blindly but I have yet to obtain test kits. I do a 10% water change bi-monthly. I feed my inhabitant's 1/day 6 days a week a varied diet including phytoplankton.

Test results:

PH - 8.6 - added slightly more buffer and will retest in the morning.

Ammonia - 0.1 mg/l - but I just had a fish die and it was probably in there for about 12 hrs before I found it.

Nitrite - 0 mg/l

Nitrate - 0 mg/l

KH 240 PPM

Temp: 81 and quite stable

I have a bit of a hair algae problem as well, but I have not tested my tap water for phosphates so that could be my problem.

So my problem is that I have to date lost 6 fish. A pair of false Percula clowns, a lawnmower blenny, <Need more room...> a Royal Gramma, a Domino Damsel, <D'oh! Am glad I'm not in such a tiny volume with this bully!> and a yellow goby over 2 months. I currently have a surviving damsel but it has only been here for a week.

I would think that if there is something horribly wrong with my water that my shrimp would have died/not have molted. <The animals you list all need more space... the Goby, live Acropora...> But at this point I have no idea what to do. please let me know if I have forgot anything relevant, I have probably included far more information than you need, but I hate it when people say "oh it is the typical setup and my test results are all ok" :). Thanks for your help.

James Laster <Could be quite a few "things" at play here James... most likely though, all added to with territorial issues from the mixed stock... Perhaps an imbalance of calcium/magnesium for the Lysmata... Please do read re the Systems FAQs for all the species you list above; on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Re: Please tell me what is wrong with my tank! Territorial issues likely 5/29/07 I am aware that most of these do not play well together, <Mmm, actually most all those listed "do play well together"... just not in such a small "playground"> but they were not in the tanks together, each was purchased to replace the last. <Still too small a volume... even by themselves...> There have never been more than 1 fish in a tank at the same time, any ideas now? or am I just SOL? <More like FOL, Fish Out of Luck. Look, read re livestock selection for small systems... on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Sudden death of a Damsel 4/21/07 Hi crew, <Kwon> Thanks for all the helpful info you've posted on your site. Here's my situation: I have a 55 gal fish only with LR. I have one damsel and one trigger (small, 2-3 inch)...and yes, a bigger tank is in the works. Today, I fed them with frozen trigger formula like I always do. I went out for about 4 hours, when I return, I found my damsel dead. I remember it was eating like a pig, as always, before I left the house. So I dug him up and did not notice any physical damage. All I've notice was that the gill portion of his body looks a little bulged. What do you think might have killed him in such short amount of time? <Mmm, impossible to say... perhaps a rupture in its blood/vascular system... a "heart attack"... Fear of the trigger tankmate...?> I see him every day and there were no symptoms of any thing wrong. My trigger seems to be fine for now. He is sleeping in the rocks. Should I perform a water change? <I would test the water for what you have kits for...> Please advise. Thanks. Kwon. <Do know that such rapid deaths in Damsels are not uncommon... especially when small, good numbers of these fishes "do just die" w/o apparent reason at times. Bob Fenner>
Re: sudden death, Damsel 4/26/07
Thanks for the feedback Bob. The story continues.....after the sudden death of my damsel, I went to my local fish store and got another one. After acclimation, it was placed into the tank. It seemed to be healthy. I was watching it as it swam into the cave where my brittle star is. For a few seconds, it swam out and lay on the gravel breathing heavily. After about 10 minutes, the brittle star came out from the back of the live rocks and grab the dying damsel. I did some research on your website and found that only the green brittles are a threat to small fishes, <Mmm, well, the most commonly predaceous species... others are also a danger to small fishes> what I have is, I believe, Ophiocoma erinaceus. <Can be trouble as well> I came home today, the star fish is still grabbing on a hold of the dead damsel and feeding on it. Could a real hungry Ophiocoma erinaceus hunt for fish? Could it be the cause of death with my previous damsel? <Yes, and yes> Thanks as always. Kwon. <Bob Fenner, who would not trust this specimen with small fishes, and would feed it directly>

Only Damsel fishes with ich? 4/16/07 Hey Crew, <Rachael> I have read your website for hours upon end and found many answers to many questions. <Me too> I am always appreciative of good info. <We do have quite a bit in common...> I have a 20 gal nano reef... the tank has been great for 2 mths. Today, I added two new pieces of coral, and within an hour, I had a blotchy and lethargic YT damsel and a white spotted clownfish. <Mmm... likely related events> The only other fish I have is a PJ Cardinal, and he shows no signs. <Less affected... thus far> I am setting up a bare bottom HT today (read the WWM specs) and going to dose with what I am sure will stain the tank, and stains will be permanent (gotta give and take). So here is the question... why is the ich so sudden on only the damsel family fishes? <More "stressed" in this case... perhaps more easily afflicted by whatever the cnidarians introduced are releasing... I would go so far as to speculate that Pomacentrids are more sensitive to such from their close/r association with Anthozoans in the wild...> Also, should I dose all fish in the HT, or just the two symptomatic fishes? <Mmm, all fishes must be treated... and your system left fallow (fish-host/less) for a period of time...) as your system itself has whatever this is (likely some protozoan...> As a side note, I am also going to try the Kordon organic ich treatment to find out if it has any credibility. <Worth a go. Bob Fenner> Thanx!! Rachael

Blue Green Chromis Dying 1/8/07 Bob, <Leslie here this fine evening> Searched FAQs. Found a few regarding the red spots (look like internal bleeding) on Chromis. We turbo started our tank and bought 2 false clowns and 4 b/g Chromis. One of the Chromis got a red spot - and very quickly - one would die another would get it - until it wiped out all four of them. Clowns are still alive and doing great and a blenny too. This was 5 weeks ago. We test the water weekly at the store - everything is great. 90 Gal Tank with about 14 lbs of live rock - with a refugium. We just bought another 6 b/g Chromis from another store Friday night. Same thing - one died Saturday - one is at the door of death - and I can't get to him Sunday - probably dead today - three of them I scooped out - not taking any chances - rather loose the money - than loose other fish. One seems to be healthy no spots and swims with the clowns. Whatever it is - it only seems to bother the b/g Chromis. Clowns are still fine and our lawnmower blenny is still fine. As well as several invertebrates (snails, crabs, shrimp). Do I need to worry about treating my water to avoid infection on other fish. <It's not really advisable to treat the main tank. Sick fish are best treated in a hospital or quarantine tank.> Or where these fish already doomed somehow? <Not necessarily. However I would keep a close eye on them.> Any input is highly appreciated! Brian <It is always a good idea to do some extra water changes when there has been a problem like this in a tank….. "dilution is the solution to pollution" as it has been put in quite a few other articles. This goes for pathogens as well. You could place UV on the tank for a while. One of your best ways to avoid problems like this in the future is to quarantine all new additions for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks. to avoid problems like this. Please do have a look at the following links for some insight into how to keep your tank healthy….. The Three Sets of Factors That Help Determine Livestock Health http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm Quarantine of Marine Fishes http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm Quarantining Marine Livestock http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm HTH, Leslie>

Damsel Issue 12/13/06 Crew: First off thank you in advance for helping me with this situation. I purchased two yellow tale <tail> blue Damsels and put them through 4 weeks QT. <Good!> The day of the move to the main tank to minimize stress I did not turn the lights on in the QT tank and had to chase them a little bit. The next morning when the lights came on in the display tank I noticed that one of the Damsels has a white line that runs from behind his eye to the bottom of his chin. <Mmm, just "night time" coloration?> I also notice that it appears to be peeling off. I thought that it might be an injury but now that it is peeling I am not so sure. Other than that he is perfect. Great color, active, breathing normal, and eating fine. Could this just be an injury from the move? <Yes...> Should I try and get him out and put into a QT tank? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks again for all you do, <I do think this line is/was the result of a physical trauma... and that it will likely "heal over" in a few days. I would not further stress the one fish, or the system by trying to remove it. Bob Fenner>
Re: Damsel Update... Yellow Tang comp. 12/14/06
Hello crew: I just wanted to take a minute to update you on a situation I had asked you about regarding a white line on one of my Yellow Tail Blue Damsels. Everything was going well and the line was healing. Yesterday I came home from work and to my surprise both Damsels where laying on the bottom with no eyes and no fins. <Yikes!> Sitting above them looking guilty was..... Mr. Buttersworth my established Yellow Tang. I put them in a zip lock back then froze it as I read this was a humane way to dispose of them. <Yes> I have pretty much decided that my tank is full anyway so although I am upset about the loss at least I can now share the story with others regarding the aggressive nature of the Yellow and the truth behind adding aggressive fish last as I also have two little Clowns and two little Cardinals that where in the tank first and he has never bothered them at all. Thanks for all of your advise setting up my tank over the last couple months. <Welcome. Thank you for this update, input. Bob Fenner>

"Hole" in My Damsel - 10/23/06 I have searched about and found the HTH description. I have 2 damsels in a 30 gallon one is a blue and the other is a blue/yellow. When I first got them the yellow had a yellow tail and a yellow spot right before his tail. I thought nothing of this but today my daughter pointed out "Hey daddy that fish has a hole in it". <<...!>> To my surprise she was right; the yellow spot is now a "hole" clean-through. <<Perhaps not a "spot" at all then. Possibly was a parasite, or some other physical trauma that developed in to a bacterial infection. If the hole continues to grow your best option may be to euthanize this fish>> This fish has always been on the docile side as compared to the other. <<As would be expected. Though not a "gentle" fish, the yellow-tail blue damsel is on of the more peaceful of the damsel species>> Sadly these fish have been used to cycle a new tank. <<Mmm, not necessary...can be done without subjecting fishes to this treatment>> Tough little buggers. <<Indeed...but still no excuse>> Could this be a disease or just because of the stress I had put them though? <<Hard to say...but whatever the cause it will certainly have been compounded by the stress of a new/cycling system>> Any help would be great. <<Regards, EricR>>

I shot the sheriff, no, I killed a damsel? 9/26/06 Wow, what did I do? <Is this that Blondie pop singer writing me again? My wife doesn't approve> Ok, so I've been keeping a fish/invert tank for 4yrs and am setting up another predator tank. My cycling fish that will fit in well, is (was) a jeweled damsel. <Not a good idea... am a fan of fish-less cycling> He was about 2.5" long. Anyhow, I have some scattered liverock in a 20gallon quarantine tank to which he has been residing. The tank has been running for months and previously housed my Royal Dottyback for 2 months. I do water changes about 30% twice a month and the new water is directly from what is soon to become my reef tank. I have no new liverock in my quarantine. My pH 8.2 No sign of nitrates, nitrites, ammonia. Salinity holds steady at around 1.024 (1.0024?) <The former> and the water temp steady at about 26oc. The damsel was aggressively feeding up until two days ago. He was dead and stuck to the powerhead (a small MaxiJet 900) yesterday. The day before he was alive and hiding in a small cave of the liverock. The day before, he was hanging out at the top of the water level waiting for me to feed him... to which he aggressively gobbled everything down. I've been feeding a mixture of flake, krill, shrimp, etc. Alternating every few days. He looked pretty healthy. There's nothing else in the tank with him and there's no marks on his body. He lasted 4 weeks and his behaviour change leading up to his death was over the course of maybe 30 hours. I did an immediate water test when I discovered him. The only thing I can remotely even think of is that over the past 10 days, a small Cyano colony on my live rock turned from a fuzzy purple to a dark green/grey. <Mmm, this could "do it"> It looked kinda sickly. Water parameters stayed excellent. Any thoughts? <Yes. Hopefully this fish hasn't infested the system with parasites. BobF> Regards, Dave Brynlund

Blue Damsel - Danger? 5/12/06 Dear WWM Crew - Hello from Central Florida.... <Hello from rainy Chicago> We have searched for an answer to our dilemma on all sites we could find with FAQ's on Blue Damsels to no avail.... So, our query is this -- our Blue Damsel has suddenly sprouted a 'growth', for lack of a better description, on his back. It looks like a whitehead pimple. Is this dangerous? He eats and swims quite normally....hmmm....can you help? <Hard to say without a picture, but I would guess Lymphocystis, Google this and see if it fits.> Mark and Tom of Lakeland, FL. <Chris>

Domino damsel/s sick - 03/12/2006 Hello, I was hoping you could help me. I have never had good luck with domino damsel fish for some reason and this one is no exception. <Unusual> I bought him about 3 weeks ago and he was doing fine but now I noticed his color is fading and he is breathing rapidly with reddening near his gills. This has happened to my previous dominos last year when I was starting my reef tank. Now I have a wonderful established reef with near perfect water, 0 nitrate, 0 ammonia, ph 8.3 checked weekly. Everyone else is doing fine my rusty angel, blue and zebra damsel, and 2 small Chromis are thriving. Is there something dominos specifically need or do I just have bad luck with them? <Not luck> What would you recommend as a medicine to help his problem? Are there any non-copper medicines I can use or than won't damage the inverts? Any help would be great. tank 29gal <Oh... this tank is too small..> 30lbs live rock many inverts and corals Prizm protein skimmer magnum canister filter with bio-wheel water usually near perfect condition with temp at constant 80 <Something is wrong with your system... Can't really point to it from what is posted here... Was the Domino the last one placed? Bob Fenner>
Re: domino damsel sick - 03/13/2005
Yes, the domino was the last fish put in the tank along with my two baby Chromis. <This size system is unsuitable for all these damsels or just a large Dascyllus... they're likely being harassed to death...> He seems to be doing ok, he eats vigorously and spends most of his day swimming in the high current off the protein skimmer. He just has lost his color and has reddened gills, I've seen this happen before and about a week after I notice it the fish dies. for now he seems to be holding on, all my other livestock are doing great I just can't figure out this problem with my dominos. <The problem here is principally with the stocking... Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm ... the linked files at top... Bob Fenner>

Pot bellied Blue damsel - 2/28/2006 Hi, Thank you for all the information I've absorbed over the past couple years. <Ah, good to read that you have gained by our efforts> I have 6 tanks all doing well, all fish doing well. (Short of my own procrastination of water changes , 20% change sort of weekly) LOL. I do have one fish that has sent me to your site on several occasions with no answer to be found. This blue damsel has looked VERY pregnant several times now. Once again he's all bloated looking but seems just fine. When I look on your site ...searching with: "blue damsel looks pregnant" I get a long list of letters/responses having nothing to do with my search I hunt down the list and find what I kinda need deep in the list maybe I just search improperly <Do substitute "bloated" for "pregnant" and look at the cached versions (for highlighted key terms)> All I've been able to find is that it could be a parasite or gut blockage <This/these are most likely... along with "mis-feeding"... too much dried food at a time> this phenomenon has happened before and gone away so I'm not worried just frustrated about not knowing the cause of this "bulging belly" what do you think? David Conway <Mmm, another possibility... just that this fish is "anxious" due to living in more stressful setting than the wild (in large numbers with arborose coral to dip into)... and overfeeding due to this. Bob Fenner>

Gold tail damsels changing colors - 02/25/06 I am cycling a new 110 gallon saltwater tank. <There are other, better ways w/o fish present> I notice a couple of days ago that my one gold tail damsel was getting darker while the other stayed the same color. I test my water to see if there are any changes. Everything is cycling as normal. PH @ 8.2, NIT @ 10, and AMMO @ 0.1 The darker on eats normally does seem sick. But now I notice that the damsel that was normal colored is slow becoming darker. I've looked all over to see if they change color as they mature. I don't think they should. Could they have an internal parasite that could cause a color change? Heather from Wahiawa, HI <... could, but much more likely just stress-coloration from being present in a toxic environment. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm and the linked files above. A hu'i hou! Bob Fenner>

Pink sore on green Chromis... env. dis. 2/17/06 Hi all <John> I have a 250 litre (c.60 gallon) tank with a 40 litre (c.10 gallon) sump that I've been running for about a year. Last addition was over four months ago. Contains: 2 tangs <Too small a volume for....> 4 green Chromis 1 Banggai cardinal 1 orange-spotted sleeper goby 1 pygmy angel 1 tomato clown 2 cleaner shrimp 'big pile' of rock, mushroom leather, small bubble, clove polyp, anemone (aka clown sleeping bag) ... 2 romantic starfish and about a zillion starfish babies... and one or two very shy red-clawed hermits and some slug-like hitchhikers <Good descriptors> Equipment: UV, skimmer, refugium in sump, 2 powerheads in tank + return pump, metal halide 10 hr/day, night light in sump. Has been going really well, zero mortality since a heat wave last July, but this evening my daughter spotted a 2-3mm raised pink sore on the smallest Chromis. Behaviour (the fish, not the daughter) is normal, so far. He fed fine this evening. Parameters a little off as I've been topping up with RO but not changing very frequently: NH3 = 0 NO2 = 0.3 <Mmm...> NO3 = 100 (yikes!) <Yeeikes!> pH 7.8 <A bit low> SG 1.025 (more RO needed!) <And buffer, and water changes...> Any idea what this sore might be? <Environmental and social stress> I have no QT/hospital tank - what could I do in the main tank? <Fix your water quality> What is the size and time lag of water changes I should do to get that nitrate down to acceptable levels? <Posted... and not the entire approach I would take...> Thanks for your time and help! JC <Do start those water changes, reading re Nitrate control/reduction. Bob Fenner>

Dead Four-Stripe Damsel - 2/4/2006 Hello, crew! I love your website and have gained much information about damsels there. But now, I feel like I'm a bad mommy. I found my four-stripe damsel at the bottom of the tank this morning. Here's the info: January 14 I purchased two damsels: 1 blue damsel, 1 four-stripe damsel. I had just set up a 55-gal tank with live rock and sand. <Not good to place fish life in uncycled systems> I waited a week after set up before purchasing the damsels. <Not long enough> The first week the four-stripe would nip at the blue if she came near him, swim to the top for food and exhibited a lot of personality. The second week I noticed the four-stripe had stopped nipping at her. Then, I saw a white string coming out of him but I thought he was, you know, using the bathroom. A few days later I noticed a brown coloration on the wings on his back. Last night I saw another white string coming out of him. I have been feeding them flake food in the morning and frozen brine shrimp with flake food in the evening. I hadn't seen him eat for a few days and he was keeping close to a plastic decoration I have in the tank, but articles I read about damsels said the four-stripe doesn't eat much and sometimes they do stay in one part of the tank. I also noticed, two days ago, what looked like pieces of white flake stuck to one of his wings (or are they called fins?). <Yikes... I hope you have not introduced a parasite into the system... no quarantine...> I do have a water test kit and here are the levels, which have been consistent: Water Temp 76-78; pH 8.2; Ammonia 0; Nitrite 0; Nitrate 40 or less. I purchased the saltwater from an aquarium store -- took two trips. <I'll bet... is heavy to lug around> My question is: what could I have done to prevent his death? <... not placed into non-ready environment, dipped/quarantined...> My blue damsel seems quite healthy and hearty (or should I say greedy!) but I want to make sure she doesn't get whatever he had. By the way, a few days ago I added romaine lettuce (small amount) because I read they like that. I was hoping it would tweak his appetite. Brenda Truitt <Mmm, very likely the damsel/s were "challenged" health-wise before your purchase (common), and the added stress just worked itself out here... But I do encourage you to read re quarantine, foods/feeding/nutrition of marines... and of course investigate species, groups ahead of purchasing. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Dead Four-Stripe Damsel 2/7/06
Thanks, Bob. I have read the info on your site and will not add any more fish until I get that QT tank set up. <Good> I will get the sponge filter first so it can get prepared. I plan to add a percula clown, anemone <Do read re this ahead of purchase... not easily kept... problematical for your other livestock> and 1 yellow tang. That's probably all I will put in this 55-gal aquarium ... I like for them to have room. By the way, I purchased a Cleaner Shrimp Saturday ... he's beautiful and has made one of the rocks his home, over by the filter. The largest thing in the aquarium right now, as my blue damsel and yellow tail damsel are small. I purchased the yellow tail damsel Saturday (without knowing about QT) and he seems to have partnered up with the blue damsel; he's a little bigger (as suggested in your site). The guy at the store tried to get me to purchase the yellow tang but I was just too nervous, after losing one fish, and being new at this. Needless to say, the Cleaner Shrimp idea came from YOUR website. I'm so glad I found your site! I feel better already! Thanks for your quick response! Brenda Truitt <Welcome my friend, Bob Fenner, whose sister is named Brenda as well>

Damsel help 1/18/06 I have two neon blue damsels recently one started to get a bubble around its eye then two days later the other eye. It's also losing its scales and seem not to be eating is this a disease or something else. And if it is a disease should I take him out of the tank so not to contaminate the other fish? <... these are signs of poor/unsuitable water quality... Perhaps "things" for which there is/are no ready measures (test kits...). I would "do" the usual water changes, add chemical filtrants to the water flow, supplement foods... or move them to another system, stat! Bob Fenner>

Damsel fish respiration/breathing rate 1/11/06 Hi, <Hello Chris> I have 2 humbug damsel with what I think looks like high respiration. I know lion fish normal respiration is 30 breaths per minute, could you please tell me what the normal respiration for a damsel fish is per minute, thank you <The humbug is rather active and what you are seeing isn't abnormal. I really don't know what the respiration rate is, never checked. Please do not ask what the blood pressure might be:):) <James (Salty Dog)> Chris

Sick damsel 9/19.5/05 My blue damsel has big internal lumps on both sides of his body that have distended him outwards and are whitish. They look like they're about to penetrate the skin and he gasps. He's still active and eats well. I've read about the Epsom salts cure for intestinal blockage. I have 2 other fish doing well in my 10 gal. as well as a hermit crab and a new bubble anemone but the damsel has been with me about 3 yrs. and is by far the oldster. I have no idea about ammonia levels, nitrites, etc. I change the tank infrequently and feed fish pellets every 3 to 5 days. I've had small marine tanks for about 11 yrs. and do well with them generally. Thanks for your help. Geralin <You've been pretty lucky as I see it. Water changes infrequently, no idea of water parameters, a bubble anemone in a 10 gallon tank?, a steady diet of fish pellets (not a good diet), and, as far as the damsel, he is getting old fast with all the above conditions. James (Salty Dog)>

Damsel in distress, Dascyllus are social animals 08/08/2005 Hi, <Hello there> I purchased a four stripe damsel five to six months ago and have had continuous problems with it ever since. When I placed it in quarantine and it always preferred hiding behind the heater or other equipment rather than the PVC pipes or the artificial branch coral I placed in there. <... Dascyllus are social species... live in groups> She has also always been a very scared fish, and always hides except at feeding time. About three days after I got the fish in quarantine dark areas started forming on the white stripes just behind the gill plates and the last white stripe on the tail. the fish has been this way ever since. By the way the fish did lose an eye while in quarantine from injury most likely while darting to a hiding place when I entered the room. I kept the fish in quarantine for an extra two weeks and administered a copper treatment because she just was not acting right. <Starting to sound like the U.S. military's confinement of folks...> The copper treatment seemed to work somewhat the dark spots became more vague, but did not disappear. <... poisoning> However, she was still a very scared fish. After a month in quarantine I moved her into a 46 gallon tank (where she still is) with live rock and numerous hiding places but she still prefers to hide in the equipment at the top of the tank except at night when she goes down to hide in the rocks. The dark areas are still present and seem to grow in darkness when stressed (during water changes and when I clean the glass). There are no outward signs or parasites, but I do sometimes see her scratching on rocks. She is the only fish in the tank. The water quality should be excellent (I use RO/distilled water) and all parameters are good and consistent. She eats and seems to be a very greedy fish and is not shy around feeding time. So my real question is what could cause all these symptoms and this extreme fear of people and movement. The best answer I can come up with is stress, but I can not find the cause. Please give me your opinion. Also would it be safe to add another fish in this tank with her in this condition. Thanks for the great service, Jed <Thank you for writing to well, thoroughly... to reiterate, the one simple fact that you apparently are unaware of is the need for others of their own kind... Take a look at Dascyllus species pix in the wild... they are always in close association with others of their own kind. Bob Fenner>

Sick Domino Damsel 7/22/05 Hi, We have a 92 gallon bowed corner tank. I'm not sure of the brand, but, we have a underground 30 gallon wet/dry filter. Also included is a rainbow lifeguard 25 watt UV sterilizer, as well as a protein skimmer. <Sounds good> We perform weekly water changes and check the levels every 3-4 weeks. Last tests performed about a week ago and water quality was perfect. <Perfect being?> Anyway, my problem is we have a large domino damsel; just tonight we realized that his left eye is huge! He looks and acts completely healthy, and the eye is not cloudy or covered by a film. I tried to take a picture to show to you but, the little guy just wouldn't stay still for a clear shot. Is this maybe the beginning of a Popeye infection, or something else? I know this might seem like a redundant question but since it does not look exactly like Popeye I'm not sure how to treat him. Thanks again, you guys are always quick and informative. <Observe him for a while to see if it gets any worse or better. If it starts getting worse, move to a quarantine tank and medicate for Popeye. If not, then I wouldn't worry about it> -Heather <M. Maddox>

Saltwater Aquarium -- Damsels Dying :( Hi, I used to have several yellow tail damsels and 3 stripe damsels...all small. The tank also has several black mollies. For a while the damsels were doing great....then suddenly one died and within a matter of days, all the others died. After testing the water, I saw that everything was normal -- salinity, ammonia etc. I noticed that all the fishes died the same way -- they would get lethargic and hardly swim until they eventually just gave up. I could not see any visible signs of disease or anything and the mollies remain healthy. We did a 100% water change and then we tried again with the damsels, this time we only put in 2. Again, they all died in the same manner. I also noticed that the mollies were nibbling on the damsels. Should we remove the mollies from the tank all together? Please help!! <The mollies are not likely a real problem here... they're just hardier re whatever the root cause of the real difficulty is... probably water quality related... I would place a pad of Polyfilter in your filter flow path and check for resultant color for clues here... Possibly a bit of metal has gotten into your tank? Maybe a clamp... a misplaced decor item? Bob Fenner>

Damsel Illness WWM crew, Sorry to write again, but the problem has changed. I did as you said and purchased a product to raise the pH and used it with the water change. The corals now appear much better, especially the mushroom. <Good to hear!> However, my striped damsel now appears to be under a lot of stress. He seems to be gasping for air, his respiration very quick. He also won't eat and is usually ravenous. <Under stress indeed.> I have two hang on filters running to change water flow for the corals, and one has venturi air action (I think that's what it's called). <Could it be a skimmer? :-/ > These have been up working together for months with no problem. He appeared stressed before I added anything but now is much worse. <Then his getting worse was likely brought on by the additional stress of the rapid environmental changes, even if they were for the better. The fact that he looked bad before the changes is not good.> I don't know what could be wrong? The mushroom was the first to be unhappy; could he be poisoning the tank? <I doubt it. I think the fish was already in bad shape, as you indicated earlier. I think the stress of changing conditions opened the door to illness.>

Damsel blues Follow-up Okay, here is some more info that you asked about. Please see below. Hope you can help! <I'll do my best! Okay first thing I see is that you have GOT to get that temp. down. Is the heater set too high? Can you put a fan across the top of the water? Perhaps some more surface current? At this point what I would do is take out the carbon cause that is really messing stuff up. Yes definitely replace it with sponges. I'd do a 20 percent water change and then let the levels start over again. It should be fairly quick because a lot of the bacteria is in there. Next you need to get your salt up and I would suggest getting a hydrometer that is more accurate or getting a reading from the local pet store. I cannot imagine it going down that quickly. Its hard to imagine that you have nitrate readings already but this is okay, we can work you through it and it should help the cycle go a bit more quickly. The reason I'm suggesting the water change is that your damsel does appear to be having a hard time with it and I personally don't like the idea of having to lose animals during a cycle. If you slow it down you should be able to sustain your damsel and continue on with the cycle. Let me know how this works for you and we will go on from here. Good luck and don't worry you are GREAT parents.>

Damsel sickness or health? Hi, I have two yellowtail damsels and one of them has developed a white growth on his mouth right on the lip it looks like. the fish has no other signs of problem and is eating and swimming great. Today I prepared and administered a freshwater dip for him but I'm not sure if I helped or not, the white growth is still there. Thanks for any help <Sounds like a "secondary" infection (microbial) from a physical injury (a bump in the night)... will hopefully heal with time. No real medicine to administer that is worth the stress of application, netting the specimen. Bob Fenner>

Domino damselfish is turning blue on the fins....acts like blind Hello...my domino damsel is 1 year old. he has lost an appetite but, no thinness is shown. He swims really slowly, and up against the glass, if you put your finger there he acts as if he can't see it. there is no cloudiness in his eyes. but the edges of his fins are turning blue. and the spot on his forehead is blue completely. <Mmm, well, the blue coloring may be nothing to worry about, but the other good observations you offer do worry me. What have you been feeding your fishes? What sort of water quality test gear do you have/use? What can you tell us about your set-up... the filters et al.?> HE doesn't mind the other 4 fish he'll just swim into them sometimes and they won't even go after him. he acts like he is blind sometimes but there is nothing wrong with his eyes that I can see. All my test are exact, I even had a local fish store check them for me. <Good> My mom wanted to see if he could respond to anything.. so she took the fish net and put it towards him he swam away, but so slowly my 3 year old brother could have caught him. Nothing seems to bother him. and he will casually bump into stuff but then slowly turn around. He tried to swim through the plastic plants, as soon as his top fin bump it he just turned around like he couldn't get through.*****please tell me what is wrong*** I've never lost a fish ever in over a year. And I don't plan to start. Sorry but I'm new to this. I started last Christmas. And the pet store I go to seems to be doing really well for it is an all saltwater fish store. He tells me to keep my salinity low to prevent parasites. 1.010. is that too low all my fish seem to be use to it. ---Erica age 13 <I would not necessarily lower the spg here... but would definitely try changing out a good part of the water (25% or so) while gravel vacuuming, and look into adding a vitamin mix to the food you offer. Often blindness is a result of a lack of nutrition. Bob Fenner, much older>
Re: Domino damselfish is turning blue on the fins....acts like blind
I changed the water 25% and did vacuum cleaning. my water quality is good. Nitrite is 0 ppm, my nitrate is, 20 ppm, my total alkalinity is around 300 ppm (kH), my pH. is about 8.4. I have a wet dry filter. and an undergravel filter. (I don't know why, my mom bought it) I'm not really sure what a protein skimmer thing is or what it does. but I don't have one. (is that bad?) <An important filtering tool... you should look into getting one... will save you a great deal of clean-up, improve water quality and your livestock's health> I feed my domino damsel frozen brine shrimp or sometimes marine fish flakes once a day, and only what they can consume with in 2 minutes. but since I emailed you, my domino damsel, has eaten some flakes, only after they would sink and hit the bottom of the tank. he stays towards the top around 3:00-4:15 the slowly swim around the bottom the rest of the day. ***how long are domino damselfish suppose to live cause when I got him he was already a year old. <Can live several years> so now he is about 2 years. so maybe he could just be old. hey I never thought of that. P.S thank you so much for your information. it made me think. I was giving up to easily. o and domino doesn't appear blind cause his pupils are of normal color and size. I'm going to try the vitamins to the food. to see if that helps. <Do read over the marine filtration and skimmer areas of our site, www.WetWebMedia.com You will enjoy, gain by this. Bob Fenner>

Damselfish with white spots I have had the Atlantic Jewel for 2 weeks. Just this evening (November 17, 2004) I have noticed on both sides of the fish large white areas, somewhat circular, about 1/2 inch in diameter. They are about in the center below the midline. The tank is a mini reef, so I'm hesitant to medicate. How do I start diagnosing what is wrong? << Wow that is tough. If he is behaving normally and eating then I'm not sure I would do anything. Although adding garlic to the food is a great idea. >> > I have a 58 gallon tank with 40 lbs live rock, several snails, hermits, > shrimp, a pick tipped anemone, large feather duster and a coral. The tank > has been set up for about 6 months now. I change 4 - 5 gal every two > weeks. > Live stock: > 5 Blue-Green Chromis > 1 Blue Damsel > 1 Domino Damsel > 1 Clown fish > 1 bi color Dottyback > 1 yellow tang > 1 coral beauty dwarf angel > and just added an > Atlantic Jewel Damsel. << I noticed no cleaner shrimp. I would probably add a cleaner shrimp as well. >> Joe Ellis << Blundell >>

Catching A Cagy Chromis! Good Morning WWM, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I just set up a Quarantine tank after a bad case of Ich. I will quarantine all new arrivals. <Awesome! Another quarantine convert!> But my question is: I have only two fish left. A Black and white Percula Clown and a Blue Green Chromis. I was able to catch the Clownfish and put him the hospital tank, but I can not for the life of me catch the Chromis. (he never shows any signs of Ich looks and eats just fine) Is it possible to let the tank go fallow with just one fish in the tank. I don't think I will be able to catch him. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <Well, you asked...Really, a "fallow" tank means just that- fallow! No fish at all. This is the only way to carry out the process of interrupting the life cycle of the causative protozoa. I'd use any means possible to contain and capture this guy. Often times, fish like Chromis can be more easily captured at night, after the lights are out. You simply shine a flashlight on them, and use whatever fancy netting technique that you've developed to capture them. The only other option is to take advantage of their natural tendency to head into rocks when you try to net 'em. You simply remove the rock that the fish is hiding in, and place it in your treatment tank. Unfortunately, it's easier than it sounds...But definitely worth a try! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

A damsel problem In my marine biology class, we recently got 4 blue damsels, 1 yellow tailed damsel, and 2 4-striped damsels in. They were distributed blue blues to each tank, the yellow in one, and the striped in the other. Within a few days one blue damsel in each tank got the "lockjaw" that I have been investigating. They were each in separate environments for about 2 to 5 days, so I don't think it has to do with the environment, and it hadn't injured itself on anything. Both fish had died by the next day. We dissected one and nothing was stuck inside to prevent the mouth from closing. Today another blue fish has this same lockjaw, and we don't know what to do to cure it, if there is a cure. So unfortunately we assume it will be dead in the morning. Could you email me back with what you think the problem is and the solution, if there is one. Thank You -Paul Hooper <Mmmm, don't know of this ailment "lock jaw" in Pomacentrids. Some do die shortly after arrival (all are wild-collected) with their mouths "stuck open"... perhaps a manifestation of these specimens inability to generate sufficient oxygen, or loss of osmotic integrity... consequent to poor, rough collection, shipping trauma. Fishes have very high (relative to terrestrial tetrapods) hematocrits (packed cell volumes) and live in a world/environment much less oxygen concentrated (at most about 7,8 ppm of O2)... and can have real troubles if the availability of oxygen drops, other influences to its uptake occur (e.g. drops in pH, elevated ammonia in shipping containers, slime wiped from their bodies...). Much more could be mentioned as possible sources of mortality, but I strongly suspect these anomalous losses are due to environmental stressors. Bob Fenner>

Ill Damsel I have a 40 gallon tank that is around 4 months old. All levels are fine and most of the fish have been in there for at least 2-3 months. <Define fine please> The only thing newly introduced around a month ago have been some cleaner shrimp and some tiny crabs (hermit & baby stone). In the last week my Electric Blue Damsel has gone from being extremely social and having his little areas to hide to floating towards the surface and barely being able to swim straight. He has also lost the vibrancy in his color. I was sure he was a goner last week because all he did was float sideways at the top of the tank looking as if he was gulping at air. He has held on like this for over a week, rarely eating food, if any. I have separated him from the other fish in an isolation tank within the same large tank to try and revive him somehow, so the other fish won't eat the food so fast, but he does not seem to be getting better. Is this common? <No actually it sounds like he is sick> Is there something I can do to help him? <I would suggest an antibiotic, perhaps something like Melafix, can you see any signs of ANYTHING on him? dots, or anything out of the usual on him?> Or is he just on his way out? <Hopefully not> He looks so pathetic I feel awful for him. <A quarantine tank would be idea where you could treat him in isolation but if not treating the tank. Just be very careful that you don't treat with something so strong it wipes out your entire bacterial bed.> Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. <Good luck, MacL> Regards, Tina

3 spot domino damsel Hi there, Just a quick question: One of 2 dominos seems to have a whitish thing between the two bottom front fins. Has it overeaten and busted, is pregnant or sick? It's behavior is normal, swims around and still eats as usual. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you. ***Hello Minh, It's been a few days since you sent this query. Sorry, it was a busy weekend! How does the fish look now? It could be ich in which case you will need to treat the fish with hypo, or it could be a piece of sand in the slime coat. Please update. Jim

*** Red Spot on Chromis (7/12/04) Hi Bob <Steve Allen with you tonight.> Great site, but I cannot find a reference to this problem. I have just noticed a small reddish spot about 3mm on one side of one of my green Chromis. So far he looks fine, should I be concerned? regards, Ian <Well, it could be an abrasion of some sort, or the start of a bacterial infection. You might want to try saltwater coating (Stress-Coat-type) solution that might help it heal. Bear in mind that you will need to turn your skimmer off for a couple of days. On the other hand, if you are keeping your water in tip-top shape, you might just watch and it could heal on its own. If it starts to spread, you would probably be best moving to a hospital tank and treating there. Hope this helps.>

Damsel with mouth stuck open I have a damsel that's been in my tank for a good 3 months, and today I noticed his mouth is constantly open. My other 3 damsels all open & close their mouths constantly. This one has not been like this for more than half a day, because he was eating last night. I put some food in the tank a little while ago and he swam to it, but didn't even attempt to eat it. Is this lockjaw, or is that only when the mouth is locked shut? Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Dean <Good observation. Not "lockjaw" as in a paralysis from an infection, but likely either an injury resultant from banging into something in the tank or something lodged in an articulating joint in this fish's mouth. If this is still the case (that is, if the situation hasn't remedied itself within a day) I might try catching the fish, gently opening the mouth a bit more, and even more gently trying to close it. Bob Fenner>
Re: Damsel with mouth stuck open
I received your response & immediately went to the tank. Once in the net, still in the tank, I could see that he was actually moving his mouth for the first time, whereas he wasn't 5 minutes before. I let him out of the net & could see that he still wasn't shutting his mouth all the way, and before I could catch him again, behind the rock he went. However, I just dumped some brine shrimp in the tank, and he, without hesitation, successfully ate his normal amount, so I guess the shock of the net was enough to make him say "OH S**T & start flexing his mouth. Thank you very much for your suggestion, I really didn't want to watch this fish starve to death. I truly appreciate it. Dean <Good moves all the way around... reminds me of a time I chipped a tooth, but still was able to eat pizza! Bob Fenner>

Dying Damsels Bob, <John> I have had a catastrophe in my 55 gal saltwater aquarium. But to make a very long story short, I have now lost 2 Blue Damsels in the last two days. The third one looks ill as well. I have contacted my LFS and they have no idea. Tank parameters are: Temp: 76 degrees pH: 8.3 Alkalinity: 30 parts PPT Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 10 PPM Filtration is Emperor 400 and a Maxi-Jet 900 power head. I just got through a treatment of Kanacyn for what was believed to be "star rot" (I lost two sets of two brittle stars-04/08 & 04/16) I have also lost a 1-male Percula Clown, 2-Heniochus Butterflies, 1-Yellow Tank, 1-Rainbow Wrasse. All from what appear to be breathing disorders. (Red around mouth and gills) I have called the biology department at the Oklahoma Aquarium, but they are unsure without examination, but they are unwilling to do and exam for fear of introducing some infection at the aquarium. (I understand and accept that.) I have included two pictures of the Blue Damsel, maybe you can see something to help. John McKnight PS: I just received you book today, but haven't gotten into it yet. I am looking forward to some very informative reading. <Well, nothing "jumps out" from the data presented... do you have a protein skimmer on this system? Has it any live rock in it? How long has it been up and going... and what other livestock are there? I suspect the damsels may have been "challenged" before your purchasing them... from the pix it appears the one is "breaking down"... this is very unlikely a "primary" infectious disease, but much more likely resultant from an environmental upset... perhaps having to do with the Seastar losses. Do you use chemical filtrants? I might place some activated carbon (in a bag) in your water flow path. Bob Fenner>

Damsels in Distress! >HI there, >>Hi there yourself. >We have just set up a 55 gal. saltwater tank in our office, and had it running no fish for a few days, the salinity was 1.025, pH 8.4, nit. 0 & ammonia 0. Temperature is 75. >>There *should* be no ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate in an empty tank. You need to add something to start culturing nitrifying bacteria in order to get those readings to do their thang. >Well we then added 5 damsels. 1 large 4 stripe, 1 tiny domino, 2 yellow tail and one blue. >>Oh, crap. Well, that'll do it! For future reference, it's now the accepted method to cycle fishless. Do search our site for "nitrogen cycle" and "cycling" to understand both how and why it works. Methods used are via food of some sort, raw shrimp, frozen, et al, placed into the tank and allowed to decompose - test for subsequent spikes first in ammonia, then nitrite. When those FALL, and nitrate comes up, you know you've established colonies of nitrifying bacteria. >The domino didn't look well on the trip home and when we put them in the tank, he stayed near the bottom and didn't swim around much. >>This doesn't sound too good. If it was a short trip, the shop should give you credit on this animal, as it clearly wasn't healthy to begin with. >The other damsels appeared to be healthy and swam around and ate a few marine flakes. >>Right, but maybe not for long, eh? >Being fairly new to the hobby, we did not set up a quarantine tank but that is definitely on the next to do list before any more fish are added. >>Ok, I'd like you to know it doesn't have to be an "aquarium". Rubbermaid makes great stackable containers that are about 30 gallons and perfect for "q/t on the fly". A filter and a heater and you are set to go! >Anyway, we lost the domino the next morning, and that same day the lighter yellow tail what appeared to be a white mustache. No other spots but he seemed to not want to swim and stayed near the bottom of the tank and wasn't swimming very well. Well, he died the same night. >>Too much too fast, my friend. The domino wasn't well, as I mentioned, but the next damsel likely succumbed to high ammonia/nitrite. All too common in this size system without water changes. >When we removed him from the tank he was completely white. >>Fish decompose VERY quickly once dead, as in FAST BAM! >I looked up on your site to see what possibly was going on. I don't think it's ich, possibly velvet? >>You would definitely be seeing other signs in my opinion, but their presence absolutely cannot be ruled out. >I don't know though the domino had no lesions or white spots or any signs of disease other than his behavior. Could the yellow tail have had a fungus? >>Much less likely, though I would be interested in seeing how that whole batch of fish is currently doing (what remains at the shop)! >It came on quite rapidly. Anyway, while I was at home my boss said that the 4 stripe had also died. He had shown no other signs of disease, no white spots lesions etc, but had suddenly started staying near the bottom and hiding. He wasn't white either when he died. Now the other yellow tail is hiding and acting like the others did but is also scratching himself on the rock. I decided after reading about parasites/disease to try a fresh water bath for the remaining 2 damsels, and also performed a water change of 5 gal. didn't add any salt to the new water because I wanted the gravity/salinity to lower a bit, which it did to 1.024. Ph was also high before the water change @ 8.6 and nit. were <0.3 and ammonia was 1.5 >>Yeeowch! That is a very high ammonia level, definitely high enough to kill quickly. High pH (and yours was borderline) makes its effects even worse. However, be VERY CAREFUL messing about with pH! I'd like you to search on acclimation procedures on our site, as well as the quarantine stuff. >So I wanted those #'s to come down a bit. Anyway, I dipped each fish in a freshwater bath (same temp/ph as the tank water) for 5 minutes and then returned them to the tank. >>Good job, but it's not going to be enough, as they've gone right back into the water with the high ammonia, yes? >For a while they seemed to be doing better, but now they are hiding again and don't seem to want to come out. They aren't looking too good, and I don't know what else to do for them. >>A very large water change - as in 40 gallons or more. Do NOT vacuum or mess around with the tank walls or anything. You *may* be able to boost nitrifiers colonies with a product I am unfamiliar with personally, but hear great things about - Bio-Spira. >The yellow tail doesn't swim much, just stays in the same spot sort of hovering. They don't appear to have any spots on them though. ????? any suggestions what might be going on with these fish and what we should do? >>As above, and double check on the source of those fish, I am currently suspect as they *should* have all made it home. >Thanks so much for your time, and have a great day! Sirina from California >>You're very welcome, Sirina. Cover those bases, and you should be able to get this tank going well, although I cannot say how well the fish you currently have will do in the long run. Marina

Suspected Illness (4/5/04) Hello fish husbandry gods, <Mere mortal Steve Allen attempting to help tonight.> I have a blue damsel that hasn't eaten in 5-6 days. Had this fish for about 1.5 years and he's usually quite the aggressive eater. Now seems spaced out, meek and just acting strangely in general. I have just been waiting it out, looking for symptoms with which to try to diagnose something. I only once saw it excrete some white feces. Other than that I could not say there is anything visible. [The fish also has a very small spot on his side that has been there for months, hasn't changed ever, so small I could not describe.] <If present & unchanged for months, it is highly doubtful that it is pathologic.> I have a 55 gal with only an ocellaris and a large hermit crab in it otherwise. Still, I faithfully change 4 gallons weekly. <Smart> Admittedly I do not test water frequently and do not currently have any kits to do so. <I think you'd better test just to be sure since your fish is having symptoms that could be due to toxicity.> I don't overfeed and maintain well so haven't focused there. What I am wondering is should I quarantine, and if so what medicine--if any--do you think I might use? The only recent change in the system was the addition of a ball of Chaetomorpha. <Sometimes even algae comes equipped with parasites or other pathogens.> Thanks bunch, Lance. <I, too, am puzzled by these symptoms. I'd advise testing or having your LFS test to be certain the parameters are OK. If so, I'd be worried about illness. If it doesn't perk up very soon, you'd best catch it and keep it in a QT and consider treatment for an internal parasite. It could be constipated. This happens sometimes. Read about treating this on WWM. Hope this helps.>

Damsel Getting Better (4/13/03) Hello, Steve Allen responded to my question regarding a sick Damsel a week ago, and I thank him. The bugger (the damsel, not Steve) didn't eat for a week and was acting vaguely strange--but no clear symptoms. I decided to add some Epsom salt just in case that was it. (This fish had that problem before--clearly--but acted, well, differently.) Not sure if it was that this time, but the damsel slowly improved and began eating again. My new question is about foods. Could bad food cause illness and/or constipation? I have very few fish, and the food in the too large containers lasts longer than the expiration dates, I am sure. <Hard to say what "expiration" dates really mean. It's highly doubtful that the food becomes harmful, but its nutritional value goes down gradually over time.> Why do they make the food containers so large? (Yes, rhetorical :-) Should I freeze some of it upon opening? Thanks to all! <You might consider adding frozen foods such as Mysis, squid, etc. Variety is important both for nutrition and to prevent constipation. Another option would be to buy seafood in the grocery store and chop it finely (partially frozen in a food processor should shred to an edible size. Then freeze in in small portions in snack bags or one of those mini ice-cube trays. I buy a seafood mix at Albertson's that includes squid, mussels, octopus and other disgusting things that fish love. There's also a great recipe for frozen food in Bob Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist." Hope this helps, Steve Allen.> Lance

Sick Chromis (3/24/04) Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> This is my first time sending in a question so I'm not entirely sure how this works. <Give the sorts of details you've included and ask. Best to do some research first. Sometimes we can't give a definitive answer and will refer you to places you can read more. It's hard to be sure sometimes what a problem is without seeing it.> I have had a saltwater 20 gallon tank running for about two months now. For the first few weeks, I just had live rock and snails in there and 3 weeks ago, I added 2 Blue Green Chromis to help in cycling the tank, which occurred within a week of introducing them. They have been doing very well but three days ago, I noticed on the larger Chromis two reddish sore-looking spots, one near the tail end of his body (a bit faded now) and one above his head. He spends most of his time underneath the live rock, <Odd, Chromis are usually out and about.> and I originally thought that he had just scraped himself on the jagged edges of the rock darting in and out of his favourite hiding places. I became concerned yesterday when I noticed that he was fairly lethargic, not eating much and his breathing seemed rapid (but then I cannot quite remember at what rate he used to breathe, but he IS breathing more rapidly <uh, oh> than the other smaller Chromis, which is doing very well; he is very active, and eating very regularly). The water chemistry is good <zero ammonia and nitrite? low nitrates?> and I even performed a partial water change last night, in hopes that it would somehow help. I was wondering if you have any suggestions on what he could be suffering from? I'm not sure if a cut or abrasion would affect a fish's behaviour this much and I'm concerned it may be a parasite or bacterial infection and I would like to treat it before it spreads to the younger Chromis. <Appropriate concerns indeed.> Any help would be greatly appreciated. (Also, with a partial water change done after cycling, the protein skimmer needed constant adjustment of the air flow in order to work properly again, I still have to tinker around with it every now and then...<It takes a while.> Could that have caused a breeding ground for bacteria or parasites?) <Many factors contribute.> Looking forward to your reply, Sonia <The symptoms are very concerning for a parasitic infection such as Cryptocaryon or Amyloodinium. The red spots should like abrasions or bacterial infection. Have you noticed him scratching on the rocks or sand? I'd suggest you read about parasitic and bacterial infections on WWM, as well as quarantine. Reading this should help you decide the best course of action. Hope this helps.>
Sick Chromis 2 (3/25/04)
Thanks for your reply! <My pleasure. Steve Allen again.> I went to my pet store yesterday evening and told them the situation and they suggested Melafix which I added along with some Stress Coat. <I'm not sure Stress Coat is meant for saltwater. Check the label. There are several similar products intended specifically for SW.> He ate a little bit last night, but definitely not as much as he used to. <Any eating is a good thing.> He seemed to be selective on which morsels of food he wanted to try. The abrasion on his head has started to fade as well (it's not as red as it used to be) and he was coming to the front of the tank a lot more last night, and this morning. He is still hanging around the bottom of the live rock though and his breathing is still rapid. <Not good> I haven't noticed him scratching himself on the rock, but they're both such acrobatic swimmers, swimming sideways and vertical in between the live rock so he may do so without me noticing. I have an ammonia kit and I tested it last night, it was 0.1 and the pH is in the range of 7.5-8.0. <Both of these are problems. Any ammonia can be toxic. The range of pH you cite is too wide. Do you mean that your pH is actually fluctuating between these two numbers or that you can't tell closely enough with your kit? You should be striving to keep pH 8.1-8.3 range with as little variability as possible.> Should I get a specific nitrate kit? <Nitrites are more important as any nitrite will cause such symptoms as well. Nitrate is also worth monitoring, but fish are more tolerant of this.> Also, with addition of the Melafix should I turn off my protein skimmer? <Actually, it's the Stress Coat that causes problems. It increases the surface tension of the bubbles and usually causes the skimmer to foam wildly, filling the collection cup in a matter of moments. I have had this happen myself--it's kind of like the old comedies where somebody put too much detergent in the washer.> I'm still trying to get the air flow just right and I'm afraid in turning it off, protein will build up in the tank and cause even more problems. <No need to turn off unless it's foaming out of control.> Lastly, would you have any idea how long a fish can survive after his breathing starts to become rapid? <That depends on why it's breathing rapidly. If its Amyloodinium, they may only live hours. If it's a toxin, they may last for days. I'd suggest a large (30-40%) water change to try to get that ammonia down. You might even consider adding some Amquel Plus (not the old plain Amquel!) to bind up the ammonia and see if it makes your fish feel better. This is only a temporizing measure--the ammonia still needs to be removed and it's source determined. You might want to look into getting some Bio-Spira Marine (live bacteria) to instantly enhance your biofilter. I noticed you've posted your dilemma on WetWebFotos. Check there frequently for other suggestions. Hope this helps.> Thanks, again. <You're welcome.>

Injured Chromis? Good morning. Yesterday afternoon I bought 3 blue-green Chromis, which are to be the first additions to our 75 gallon tank. After a 6 minute dip in buffered fresh water and Methylene blue, I transferred them to a 10 gallon quarantine tank. All tolerated the dip well, and by evening were swimming together around their new temporary home. Although all looked healthy last night, this morning one of them has a bruise-like vertical line through his mid-section. Only on one side. He's swimming normally, breathing normally, doesn't appear stressed. Having no fish experience, my best guess is a bruise - maybe a net injury or something? <Likely so... may develop into a secondary (bacterial) infection> If it is a bruise, will it heal on its own with good water quality. and how long before I should see improvement? <Should and a week or two> Please let me know if there are other possibilities I should be aware of, or what I should be watching for/expecting. Thanks. Suzanne <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Damsel In Distress! Hi folks! <Hello! Scott F. here today!> I have a 29 gallon tank with a 20 gallon sump (if this starts to sound familiar, my partner wrote in a couple days ago about something odd and fuzzy we had growing in the sump). The 29 gal. has three Blue Devil damsels, three Turbo snails, and two Peppermint Shrimp. We've had the damsels for a little over a month; started out with five, but two died shortly after we brought them home. One damsel was doing well, but at the expense of the other two (he's very territorial and thinks the whole tank is his territory), so for the time being we've got a tank divider set up, with the mean one on one side and the two stressed damsels on the other. Haven't quite figured out what we'll do long term, but in the short term the idea was to try to keep all three alive. One of the stressed damsels is making a big comeback -- he eats well, some missing scales are growing back, and his color has massively improved. <Glad to hear that!> The other isn't doing so well. It's the smallest of the three, and after separating them out like this, we realized just how thin the poor little guy is. We thought this was due to being driven away from the food, but it looks like he might not be eating at all. We give them a little bit of flake food in the morning, and either more flakes or another food in the evening. The littlest fish will take food into his mouth, but spits it back out again. They all do this to break up large particles, but after watching him closely for the past couple days I have yet to see him actually eat anything at all -- he seems to spit everything back out. He's listless in general, and doesn't seem very enthusiastic about the food. We've tried the aforementioned flakes, shredded shrimp (frozen stuff thawed), tiny bits of spinach, dried seaweed, and even bread crumbs. The other fish eat everything happily, but nothing seems to tempt him, and he's really rather disturbingly gaunt -- the skull is sharply defined, and the flesh seems to dent in along the spine, sort of like he's been partially deflated or something. Any ideas? Thanks, Kirsten <Well, Kirsten, your idea of trying a variety of foods makes a lot of sense. However, I'd try some more nutritious frozen foods, such as Mysis shrimp, "Formula" foods, and maybe some chopped squid. Also, you could try to administer some liquid vitamin preparations, such as Vita Chem, etc. directly into the water (if you're keeping this guy in a separate treatment aquarium, of course). Since fishes drink, this guy can take in some nutrition directly from the water this way. And, it may just hold him over until he comes around and eats again. Hang in there- good luck with this little guy! Let's keep our fingers crossed...Regards, Scott F>

Swollen Eye On The Damselfish Guy... I added a Jewel damsel 2 days ago to my 55 gal. This evening I noticed one eye is kinda white and bulging out. What is going on? No other spots, etc. to him or any other fish. <If the swelling is just in one eye, it is probably due to some sort of injury or localized trauma. This condition can be alleviated by the use of Epsom salt in the water (ideally performed in a separate treatment tank) to help draw out the fluid causing swelling> Tank is well established and have had no outbreaks in the past. I am wondering if it has been injured somehow. I hate to treat the whole tank when nothing else has problems. I do not have a hospital tank as I have never had any problems in the past. Thanks for any advice you can give. Michael Linkous <Well, Michael- my recommendation is to treat the fish in a separate aquarium. Since you don't have one, you could "jury-rig" something with a large Rubbermaid container or other plastic container of suitable size. This should do the trick as a temporary "hospital". Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

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