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FAQs on Dartfish Disease/Health

Related Articles: Dartfishes, CA: Family Microdesmidae, the Worm- and Dartfishes by Robert Fenner and Anthony Calfo, Gobies

Related FAQs:  Dartfish 1, Dartfish 2, Dartfish Identification, Dartfish Behavior, Dartfish Compatibility, Dartfish Selection, Dartfish Systems, Dartfish Feeding, Dartfish Reproduction,

See the egg sacs of the parasitic copepod under the Nemateleotris pectoral fin?

Ptereleotris zebra curious behavior         7/2/15
One of my Ptereleotris zebra is showing a curious behavior, wondering what do you think.
<Let's see>
First, some historical context is in order. Back in 2013 I contacted you regarding the behavior of a group of Ptereleotris zebra I had. One year later I have lost two due to jumping out of the water,
<Oh so common>
with just one remaining. Lesson learned, my tank is covered now.
The lonely one has been mostly fine, although it became more shy than before.
<I hope I've mentioned that this is a social species... Not all Microdesmids are, but this one and a few others NEED to be kept in a group... a few to several individuals>
Anyway when I fed the tank it came out immediately.
Suddenly, about two months ago, I witnessed three panic attacks while eating. The fish jumped out of the tank, barely squeezing through a corner. Fortunately I was there, so I could put the fish back into water immediately.
<See above>
It happened three times. And that brought the social question, I was wondering whether it was a result of being alone with other fishes
(a group of seven Chromis viridis, a Centropyge bicolor, a Nemateleotris decora, 4 Sphaeramia nematoptera and one Zebrasoma flavescens).
I have been avoiding to add fishes because I had some metal contamination problem long ago, wiping all my corals, but, well, it was time with the issue apparently solved (even Xenia died, now I have thriving Anthelia, some Zoanthus, and some other "softs") and some time for the tank with several days off.
So, I ordered three fishes from my LFS. The three turned out to be four, because the LFS guy wanted an extra one just in case one was DOA. I took the four of them home because leaving one at the LFS would have been a bad idea (nobody around my area keeps P. zebra as far as I know) and one more wouldn't make a difference.
After acclimation, when releasing them, I noticed that one of the fishes was severely battered. But I didn't worry too much because it behaved normally and I saw it eating frozen mysis like crazy. Several days later it showed no sign of damage and it's doing fine. In fact I can't tell which one of the five fishes it is.
I haven't had many problems, apart from some social displays, a couple of chasing incidents or so, and some barbel exhibitions without any consequences. Rather than one burrow now there are several of them (the substrate is a DSB made with "oolitic" aragonite)
<I'd mix in some rubble... more stable for burrows>
and the five fishes
just distribute themselves into two burrows. I can't know if they just choose a burrow at random or I have two gangs :)
<No big>
What I have noticed is a marked difference in daring character, something I have often observed in Dartfishes.
<Ah yes>
The surprising thing is, one of the fishes behaves in a strange way. It likes to lie down on a cleaning magnet, which is (for me) a surprising behavior for a Dartfish. Other than that it doesn't do anything odd. It eats perfectly (I should say gorges) and I haven't seen it being bullied by the others. Anyway it sleeps with one of the gangs.
Several years ago I had a Nemateleotris decora that went apparently went senile after two or three years with me. It just sat in a corner on the sand bottom, swimming up to feed when I added food, and being rather unresponsive to my presence. It spent maybe two or three months in that state before dying.
But this zebra doesn't look senile at all, and it indeed reacts when I move in the same room. Also, it turns to be the most daring of them, usually the first one to come out of a burrow even when there's no food.
Whatever, adding more companions has solved the "panic" problem. No more incidents since I added them, which is great. :)
Any ideas? I have no idea of which of the fishes it is. I mean, might be the veteran or one of the newcomers.
<Enjoy! Bob Fenner>
Re: Ptereleotris zebra curious behavior         7/2/15

> I haven't had many problems, apart from some social displays, a couple
> of chasing incidents or so, and some barbel exhibitions without any
> consequences. Rather than one burrow now there are several of them (the
> substrate is a DSB made with "oolitic" aragonite)
> <I'd mix in some rubble... more stable for burrows>
This is interesting. Can these fishes use rubble to improve their burrows? I still have a bottle of medium-coarse calcium reactor substrate and I no longer use a reactor. Would be a good way to make it useful.
I have noticed that they burrow with a rather brute force approach, just pushing and twisting their bodies to displace sand (and making the water very turbid for several hours :) ). Another fish I've seen burrowing, the A. rainfordi, does it with much more finesse, taking small mouthfuls of sand and disposing of them outside of the burrow.
<Thank you. B>

white hairs on zebra dart fish    10/24/13
I have 4 of these little guys in my 90 gallon reef tank. All of my fish are non aggressive and get along fine. I noticed that this guy had these little white hairs coming out. Do you know what these are and should I remove the fish, or try to remove the fish?
<Yeeowch! I do know... these are almost assuredly the podial spines of a Bristleworm... The dart got too dang close... They will wear, fall out on their own over time; I would not try catching the fish... too much stress alternatively.
Bob Fenner>

Re: white hairs on zebra dart fish     10/25/13
Thanks Bob, it all makes sense now. I do have bristleworms.
<Ah yes; Microdesmids DO live "with" such... I would be considering baiting/trapping and removing some of the larger part of the Errantiate Polychaete herd here. A bunch re archived on WWM re Bristleworm Compatibility FAQs. Cheers, BobF>

Fire fish lethargic – 09/9/13
Hi crew!
 Almost 3 weeks ago I put a Purple Firefish into a QT.
<Hope this tank is covered! Microdesmids are great "jumpers">
 The first week or so he was doing ok.
<Mmm, see WWM; this is as long as I'd isolate this "type" of fish should...
Too likely to starve, get too stressed>
He was hiding under plastic rock ledges but at least he was hovering over the bottom of the tank. For the last week or so he has been just sitting on the bottom. He'll go after food but not out of his way. He is not scratching nor are there any spots. His abdomen seems to be a little contorted. I think he may have an intestinal parasite.
<... see WWM re>
 I tried treating with PraziPro but that did nothing. After researching WWM I decided to add Metronidazole to his tank. What is the time frame to wait to see improvements and/or remove medicine? Thank you!!
<... I would only expose the fish once... And be moving it to permanent quarters. See WWM re the family. Bob Fenner>
Re: Fire fish lethargic – 09/9/13

Hi Bob,
 There is a lid on the QT.  Thank you for the info. I'll be moving him soon:)
<Ah, good. Am sure you'll both be much happier. Cheers, BobF>

Hurt Firefish       12/12/12
I have a question about one of my Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifier)
(Indonesia) . I noticed that the top dorsal fin has been damaged.
It appears to be split.
<I see this in your image>
 Although the picture doesn't show it, but a part of the fin has been broken off at the top, because it is now shorter than shown in the photo. I haven't noticed any other tank mate picking on it. I have noticed that when he is out of one of his hiding places, he rests down on the bottom of the tank behind a rock.
<About what they do in the wild... in pairs. How large is this system? What other tankmates, life there?>
If this makes sense, he is laying there like he is sick, but rather resting. I can't help but think that it is impacting him.  What I don't know is: 1) Do we know if it would be in pain from the splitting of its fin?
<Not likely, no>
 2) If he ends up loosing <losing> his fin, is it gone for good, or do they develop these back?
<Not likely to lose, and should grow back... given "good conditions">
 I assume gone for good. 3) If it doesn't grow back, what purpose does it serve? Would this negatively impact or handicap it in any way?
<Mmm, hard to say... likely some negative impact; balance, maneuverability wise>
I'm not sure what purpose, if any, this long fin served.  I'm just not sure how to care for it under this situation. I have attached a photo to help explain what its situation is. Thanks for your help. Brent
<Do read re Microdesmids on WWM: Start here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Hurt Firefish (reply for your request for additional information)       12/12/12
Hello Bob,
<Hey Brent>
Sorry about the couple of misspellings. That's what I get for moving too fast.
<No worries. We try to keep spelling and grammar correct to aid search tools in going over the site>
 Thanks for the reply. You asked about other tank-mates. Presently, there is another Firefish, Yellow Watchman Goby, Gold Head Goby, Carpenter's Flasher Wrasse, Lime Green Wrasse,
<Thalassoma lutescens? Needs room... lots>
Cardinal, Two pairs of Clown Fish (Black/White & Orange/White). None of them seem to even act like they know the damaged Firefish is there. It is a rather peaceful tank.
 Any significance in the other tank-mates?
<May be that one of the gobies, the other Firefish, wrasse could be harassing the one>
You say, it possibly may grow back under "good conditions". Besides the normal good conditions, is there anything that is particularly important?
<Please read where you were referred. Too much to (re) list here>
The tank it is in currently is in great condition and well maintained.
Thanks again.
<Cheers, BobF>

Constipated Firefish   6/11/12
Good afternoon!
I recently set up a 5 gallon SW aquarium in my class room.
<Mmm, small volumes... not much room... for error or keeping>
pH is at 8.2, Ammonia is 0, Nitrate is 0 and Nitrite is 0. Salinity is right at 1.025.
Living in this little habitat is a friendly Firefish named Ferdinand.
We've had him for about 2 weeks. He is a great eater, and is currently eating a combo of Ocean Nutrition Spirulina flakes and Spectrum pellets.
<I'd sub something small, frozen/defrosted for the flakes>
 I noticed today when feeding that he appears to be constipated. He has a bit of a lump on his belly.
<Mmm, this could be "a few things"...>

 His appetite is healthy and he doesn't appear to be in any distress at all. I have had success doing Epsom salt dips with other constipated fish, but I'm having trouble finding a good dosage to use for this little guy. What would you recommend?
<None at this point>
Also, should I modify his diet to prevent this from happening in the future?
<See above>
Thank you so much for your time!
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Firefish tail trauma    5/25/12
Thanks for your wonderful website! I search it frequently for advice and assistance. This question is quite specific, so I haven't been able to locate a similar passage. I obtained a purple Firefish from the LFS approximately 1 month ago. The poor fish was being pretty beat up by others at the LFS, so I felt sorry for him and brought him home. He had already been in copper at the LFS for 6 weeks. I fresh-dipped him and placed him in the quarantine tank. (My quarantine tank is painted black, so a little hard to see the fish well during his stay in quarantine for two weeks) I don't like to use medication unless absolutely necessary
<We are in agreement>
 so I decided to just watch him closely. He's acted wonderfully normal during both his stay in quarantine and subsequent placement in the main aquarium. It's a peaceful community tank (pajama cardinals x 2, yellow-head goby, royal gramma)
<Uhh, not w/ this last... Grammas are quite aggressive toward
Microdesmids... they both/occupy about the same niche/habitat>
 in a 50 gallon tank. Everyone gets along rather nicely. I've been soaking their food with both garlic (daily) and Selcon (twice a week) to help their immune systems.
The firefish's top frayed fins have healed. However, the lower tail fin continues to have a translucent appearance with black lines running through it.
<This may be the enduring appearance>
 They almost look like veins. Please review the pictures I have sent. Is this something to be concerned about?
<Not really; no>
 Does he need to be placed back in quarantine? or receive antibiotics?
<No and no>
It just doesn't look like the tail rot I've seen pictures of or read descriptions on various web sites. The tank parameters are healthy: Nitrates, ammonia, Phos - all zero. I run a protein skimmer 24/7 with live rocks and corals.
Thank you for your assistance,
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Firefish tail trauma
One last request for advice ~ From the statement below {It's a peaceful community tank (pajama cardinals x 2, yellow-head goby, royal gramma)
<Uhh, not w/ this last... Grammas are quite aggressive toward Microdesmids... they both/occupy about the same niche/habitat>
in a 50 gallon tank.}
So far, the two are not competing for food and space. I'm hopeful this will continue due to the size of the tank. However, I have a pyramid snail population that is growing. I was planning to add one last fish in the next few weeks to deal with this situation. After researching for hours, I thought my safest option is a canary wrasse.
<Meiacanthus? Yes if so>
It's a reef tank, so I know
that's a slight risk as well as the Firefish compatibility, but I wasn't sure what else to do. There are no clams in the tank, but quite a few corals and larger snails. Thoughts? As always, I sincerely appreciate your advice.
<If there's too much "dissonance" twixt the two, the new, I'd put the protagonist (use two nets... hard to catch; may have to remove rock, decor...) to a floating, plastic colander (yep, spag. strainer) in the tank. BobF>
Re: Firefish tail trauma – 5/26/12

"[After researching for hours, I thought my safest option is a canary wrasse.
<Meiacanthus? Yes if so>"
Do you mean a canary blenny or a canary wrasse?
<The Halichoeres Wrasse... mea culpa>
 I'm happy to go with the Blenny, but I haven't found information regarding it eating the pyramid snails, only the dining patterns of the wrasse. Please clarify my slight confusion.
<Sorry for my part>
Thanks and I won't bug you the rest of the holiday weekend!!
<Not a bother. BobF>

Firefish goby dies over night -- 12/29/11
Hey crew,
First off awesome site and very useful. I looked trough the index and found a couple possible answers to my question of why my new Firefish goby
<Singular? Are social species; given to easy stressing>

died overnight. I recently bought him and dripped the fish for almost 3 hours also putting the heater in to make sure water temp matched after such a long period of still water. The goby appeared fine and was put in with a red coral banded shrimp

( who I've since removed for picking on the goby- I know mistake). He seemed a lot happier after that and started moving about more but was still timid.
<As Microdesmids are>

To give you the whole picture I have had this 30gal tank for a little more then 6 months. I started with a cleaner shrimp then added two Clarkii clowns. I also have 4 blue hermits, 1 emerald crab and 4 turbo snails. And lastly a LTA anemone.
<Too likely to have problems... anomalous deaths, consumption by this Anemone in such a small volume>

Everyone lived great together. The cleaner shrimp died last week and I found him under the filter so I'm assuming he got caught while trying to molt and that was the end. I have about 20 pounds if not a little more of live rock. I plan on adding more.
<I wouldn't. Better to have more water volume, space>
The goby was introduced about 6 days ago and again seemed to do fine the clown fish loved him and they slept next to each other side to side at times. Since I removed the red banded coral shrimp 3 days later like I said, he seemed to be great. Yesterday I added a new cleaner and a small dwarf angel my last additions.
<... this system is too small for a Centropyge Angel and the Clowns>

The angel took territory over on the right side of the tank and goby left side. They didn't bother each other and the goby actually became more active by the time I fell asleep. I thought " wow the angel cheered him up!" I had the lights off for a good 5 then my timer turned on the light. I woke up to a dead goby who is now on the opposite side if the tank?
<In a word, the cause here: "stress">
After I tried moving some things to see if he was alive I saw him restless on the bottom moving with the current. He wasn't breathing and I notices his color went from awesome last night to being very dark in the middle and one side had a huge protruding bubble on one side.
What could have happened over night?
<Damage... from the other fish/es or trauma from dashing into the rock, side>
I checked my levels at the LFS ( ran out of tabs) and water was perfect.
Salinity was a tad high but the gobies water when introduced was of similar quality. Any ideas?
<See above>
I noticed since my anemone likes to hang up on the glass between a heater and a corner ( is this okay by the way?)
<No; too likely to get burned>
I turned down the heaters out put so it didn't fry my anemone. Could the slightly colder side of the tank have been the reason?
<Perhaps another source of stress, but not by itself>
I have another heater on the other side that was set only 5 degrees higher then the others.
Just want clarification on why this beautiful goby died on me so quick.
Thanks guys,
Adam Hirschberg
<Best to review, look into what is posted on WWM re all the species you currently house here, AND anything you intend to add. Bob Fenner>

Question I have a Nano 6gal reef tank    2/22/11
<VERY hard to keep such small systems>
and this am notice my fire fish was gasping for air at the bottom was fine last night eating great!. Checked all parameter everything is in range could a fish just die like that with no reason? (ph 8.4, temp 80, am o, nitrate 30 , KH 10) have a couple of mushrooms and a clown fish in tank as well as a cleaner shrimp a couple of snails and crabs and sand snails. tank has been up for 7 months with no probs.
<Some simple change likely resulted in too low dissolved oxygen. The Microdesmid needs higher DO than the Clown. Bob Fenner>

Could a worm be harming my fish? 1/7/10
Hi there,
About a week and a half ago, I notice this worm in my tank, it was long (maybe 6 inches long 5-7mm in diameter, and can stretch I think), brown and looked as if it had bumpy skin, or very freckled skin. One end of the worm
seems to 'suction' itself on the live rock and move along in that way. I'm not sure what kind of worm this is, but I thought maybe that's the way it eats off the live rocks, so I didn't give much thought to it and let it be.
On Sunday this week, I put in a Firefish, yellowtail damsel, and clown fish
<All social animals...>
in my tank (about 60 gallons, it had just completed cycling). They all seem very peaceful, and doesn't appear to be any bullying etc. Today, when I was feeding my Firefish, I noticed on one side of its body, there's a circular bulge, and there is a small indent in the middle of the bulge - like a ring. If you look front on, you see the bulge sticking out, but if you look side on, you can see the indent in the middle. The size of this 'circular bulge' is similar to the size of that worm I mentioned. Could that worm have 'suctioned' itself on the fish and caused this? Or could it have been something else?
<Yes and yes>
Oh, and yesterday, I fed my fish frozen brine shrimp, and the Firefish ate some and then threw it up pretty much straight away. I looked on the forums and read that maybe the fish just doesn't like the food, so I put in a bit of flake food to see if the fish would throw that up too, but it ate that just fine, and has been eating fine this morning. I don't know if that's relevant to whether it could have caused the bulge since it looks as if it's an external thing. Right now, the fish doesn't appear to be doing anything out of the ordinary.
I would send you a photo, but my camera has a dead battery so I'll try to post one when it finishes charging.
Thanks for your help,
<I'd keep an eye on the worm... and read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Pic - Re: could a worm be harming my fish? 1/7/10
Hi again,
Here's a picture of the fish, it's rather blurry... you can sort of see the bulge, I couldn't take it from the side on to show you the small 'indent' because it just comes out as white on the camera. After paying some more attention to the fish today, it doesn't seem as if it's swimming around as freely now. Most of the day, it was hiding in one of the holes as if it's sleeping. When it does come out, it's not swimming around as usual and just seems to be hovering in the water, in the middle of the tank. And it's not interested in any food either now. Any idea what could be the cause of this? And what can I do about it?
<Could be predation... from the worm or... Or resultant from a physical trauma... or...>
I tested my water a few hours ago..
Salinity: 1.023, PH: 7.8,
<A bit low>
Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: 0, KH: 9-10, Temp:81-82
<Welcome, and keep reading... on WWM, re Microdesmids, your other
livestock. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pic - could a worm be harming my fish? 1/7/10
Hi Bob,
Thanks for your quick reply! I've been looking through the pics and some posts in the worm FAQs to find the type of worm I've seen in my tank to see if they're harmful or not but I can't seem to find a match. Any idea what
type of worm it could be - that suctions itself to the surface and moves flat along the ground/rocks?
<Need pix Kitty... even then, there's a bunch of worm species...>
And possibly harm fish... I would take a photo of it, but I haven't seen it for a few days.
<Try baiting it out toward lights out/evening>
Also, do you think it would be a good idea to somehow get rid of the worm?
<Mmm, likely so... this one's a bit too large for me>
I wouldn't want it to do the same thing to my other fish - if it is the worm that caused the injury to my Firefish in the first place.
Thanks again,
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: could a worm be harming my fish? 1/7/10
Hey there,
Thanks for your reply Bob, it seems we have two separate emails going on (this one, and another one where I sent you the photo) so I'll just reply to this one from now. Well, my Firefish just died =( I've been trying to figure out whether the worm could have really caused this. At first, I thought it could quite possibly have been the worm because the size of the 'bulge' and the shape matched the worm. Tonight, though, when my fish wasn't looking too good, I noticed it kept twitching it's tail violently every 10 seconds or so, as if it was trying to get rid of something, but I didn't see it scraping itself against rocks or anything, and it was breathing rapidly.
Right after my fish died, I looked at it again since it'd been trying to hide at the back, near rocks for most of the night where it's kind of dark, and realized that the bulge that was initially just white with an indent was gone, there was no bump but instead there were red scratches on its skin. Now I'm wondering, could it have been internal?
Or could the fish have been scraping at the wound?
<Also could be...>
Or maybe something eating away at it on the skin? I'm probably way off...
<We can only guess here>
I just looked briefly at the link you sent me about the bristle worms.
(I'll read it more thoroughly tomorrow since it's really late where I am... I was actually about to go to sleep when I noticed my fish not looking so good =( ) I didn't notice any bristles on the worm, and I never saw any bristles on the body of the fish either. Do all bristle worms have visible bristles on their body?
<Mmm, no... some have very little podia, bristles>
Sorry for all these questions but I'm pretty new to this hobby and am trying to learn as much as I can, and I don't want something like this to happen again to my other fish.
Anyways, I've attached a photo of the red wound on the fish along with this email. The photo was taken about five minutes after the fish died. The purple color around its head came on after its death, but you can see the
red area I was talking about.. I also attached the original picture that I took and sent you earlier today when I could still see the white bulge.
Thanks again for your help
<Welcome dear. BobF>

Re: could a worm be harming my fish? 1/7/10
Hey there again,
<Hello Kitty>
Just as I said I hadn't seen the worm for a few days, it came out of hiding! Well... sort of... you can only see a tiny part of it, most of it is still in hiding. I'm not sure if you can tell what kind of worm species this is since the photo is rather blurry, but here it is anyways.
I'm going to try and trap the worm tonight, and see what happens :)
<Mmm, can't make much of anything here. BobF> 

Firefish   12/18/09
Hi my Firefish is floating upside down and just letting the filter push him around. What should I do?
<Unfortunately it sounds likely it is too late. What are your system's specs? Scott V.>

Quarantine woes 8/15/09
I have had 3 bad experiences with my quarantine tank. (was a 29 gallon.
Hang on back filter with a Koralia power head.) I have lost 3 fish in it.
2 recent were a pair of purple Firefish.
<I am not a "fan" of quarantining Microdesmids... this is one group/family (along with others) that are better summarily dipped/bathed (and sometimes not even this) and directly placed in their display tank/s... Much more to
be lost in delaying their placement (starving, jumping out, plain stress...)>
I had decided to let them go after returning from a weekend trip as long as all was well. (QT duration was about 18 - 20 days) their fins had frayed a bit from stress as I don't think they liked their close quarters but all else was well. I came home to see one of them had developed flukes/flatworms while I was gone. I consulted many sources as well as my LFS and went with his guidance and what he recommended which was a freshwater dip and then if that wasn't effective try a treatment with Sea Chem Para Guard or copper. I had a VERY bad experience with my first freshwater dip as the sick fish began to go upside and twirl erratically immediately after being placed in freshwater w/ Methylene blue. I removed him and placed him back in fresh and treated the other. Needless to say the twirly fish, as we will call him, did not make it another 24 hrs. The other developed an outward sore about the size of a pencil eraser. I tried to treat this with a low dose of Paraguard and 2 days later he too died. The wound had closed, or so it seemed. It had a white patch over it and seemed to have closed up. First question on this matter does it sound like anything went bad on my end?
<Doesn't seem like so>
The tank had a few pieces of live rock in it and had been cycling for over a month (LR previously cycled, tank had already had 1 successful QT'd fish come out of it). No noticeable nitrite or nitrate while the fish were in the QT. I am at a loss and hate to see my pets die at an early fate feeling as I have failed in my husbandry.
<Mmm, not entirely w/in your control... Might be the given livestock was "too weak" when you acquired them>
My second question is this: Will allowing my LFS to watch over fish I order through him for 2 - 3 weeks and take care of any issues that arise work out just as well as I went through QT process with them at home?
<Maybe... Some outfits are astute, disciplined...>
I understand this would require a bit of trust between the LFS owner and I, but after the experiences I have had and my bad luck I would feel better letting someone more accustom to handling the situations to take care of the QT end...
<Bob Fenner>

Firefish Parasite? 1/15/09 I first want to start by complementing you on your web site.? <Maybe complimenting> I have had much success finding answers to my continuous list of questions.? I have searched the site but have not found an answer to my most recent question. I recently purchased a Firefish <Are social animals... one won't be happy> from my local supplier about 2 weeks ago.? He has adjusted well to his new surroundings.? He eats well and he does not seem to be under any stress (breathing good, swimming good etc.) Last night, when feeding the tank I noticed that he has two white curly things coming out from behind his pectoral fin?? These do not seem to be bothering him.? At first glance it almost looks like wing of a fly (I know sounds strange) From the research that? have done, I am thinking that they could be a parasite or part of his intestine.? What do you think? <Could be parasitic... perhaps a copepod of some sort... Please see WWM re, send well-resolved images> Thanks for our insight Tamara <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Question about Firefish quarantine, 10/22/08 Hello WWMedia crew, <Hi> I read over the info about Firefish on your web-site and I know that you as a whole routinely recommend to quarantine fish in general. <Yes> However, a couple of times it was mentioned that a quarantine period may be detrimental to Firefish. I realize that it would be a risk to put any fish directly into the main tank; but in the case of Firefish, would it better for them to be placed directly into the DT? <They can at times be difficult to feed and very shy in an overly sterile QT with good hiding places. Sometimes putting them directly into the DT where there are lots of bolt holes and microfauna to feed on helps, sometimes it introduces disease. Pluses and minuses to both approaches.> Yesterday I purchased a paired couple of red Firefish. They were placed in a bare-bottom QT with PVC pipes, air stone/pump, an external filter and a good cover on the tank and I just use ambient light. <Good, lots of PVC here helps a bunch.> I routinely do 10% daily water changes and monitor parameters. They will be fed a combination of frozen Cyclops-Eeze, frozen Mysis soaked in Selcon and Formula One Flakes. <Good.> My questions are: Do I keep going with the quarantine tank or move them to the DT? <If you can get them to eat and they are not cowering in the corner of the tank I would go with the QT.> For the Firefish, is a 2 week quarantine too short or should I do a minimum of 4 weeks? (I routinely do a 6 week quarantine). I realize there is no right or wrong answer but I want to maximize the chances of survival for this couple. <Generally if they adapt well to the QT initially you will have few problems going farther. The quietness of a QT can be very beneficial to this passive fish, gives them a chance to beef up a bit before going into the DT.> A separate subject/question. I know that some people recommend adding garlic as an appetite stimulant. Do I just crush a small amount of a fresh garlic clove and soak the food with it? <Can, although probably easier to buy a prepared liquid mixture available on-line and in most fish shops.> Thank you in advance, Miguel Perales <Welcome> <Chris>

Purple Firefish parasite?  6/24/08 Hello and thank you for taking the time to view my question. <Welcome> I had recently(~3 weeks ago) purchased a pair of Firefish from the same LFS. Both fish are eating fine and have acclimated well to my 72 gallon system. After about 1.5 weeks, I've started to notice a couple of small brownish-white bumps on the lower-interior lip of my purple Firefish. Since then, two protruding spike-like growths have stemmed from the bottom lip and seems to have somewhat made the bottom lip a bit swollen. Although I'm not sure, it does seem that the two protrusions each have a fuzzy tip. <Mmmm> I've tried to take multiple pictures with no success and wondered if this possible infection/parasite may affect my other tankmates? <No, not likely> I've done much research in attempting to find pictures of a similar parasite and/or disease but haven't had any success. <I don't think this is a parasite> During the four year period of me owning the system, I've never had any fish suffer from any diseases of any kind including Ick so I'm a bit concerned. I've attached a photo that was the best I could take. Unfortunately, my Virgate Rabbitfish is very camera friendly and I can't fixate my camera for more than a couple of seconds before he jumps in front of my focal point. I'd appreciate any insight you may provide in identifying this parasite/disease and thank you for your help. Here's info on my setup: 72 gallon bowfront with ~130-140lbs of live rock 30 gallon sump 90 gallon Euro-reef skimmer ~15-20% bi-monthly water changes (1) Virgate Rabbitfish (1) Orange Firefish (1) Purple Firefish (1) Blue-green Chromis (1) Red Social fairy wrasse (1) Banana wrasse (1) False Percula Clownfish (1) Bi-color blenny (1) African Midas blenny (1) Orange-spotted goby (3) Dispar Anthias (one male w/ two females) (1) Fire shrimp (1) Peppermint shrimp (2) Yellow cleaner shrimp (2) Emerald crabs (1) pom-pom crab (~15-20) assorted hermits (~10) assorted snails (1) Sand-sifting starfish (1) Lettuce Nudibranch (1) 5-inch Crocea clam Chemicals used: Chemi-pure (added to hang-on four-filter filtration system for added mechanical removal of free-floating solids) AZ-NO3 Zero (small daily doses to keep nitrates in check) Daily capful dose of Bi-Ionic Calcium/Alkalinity solutions <The one fish looks like he has run into something... perhaps bit into a fire/Bristleworm... hopefully it will recover. I would do nothing (not move the one fish, add medicant) here. Bob Fenner>

Firefish trouble... Reading   4/1/08 Hi there and let me first say thank you for a great site. My Firefish while under a .3 percent dose of Cupramine has developed either a growth or injury to its mouth. <Mmm, not uncommon with Microdesmids... from jumping, running into things in captivity... the copper might be a factor here as well> The fish can no longer close its mouth and it looks as if it hurts it eat. The growth or injury seems to cover the entire bottom lip and even appears to be getting larger. The growth or injury is brown in color and at first glance I thought it was some kind of food lodged in the fishes mouth. Just today I noticed that the tail fin seems to be frayed. <Bad...> I can not tell if this is a injury also or if it is a symptom of the growth in the fishes mouth. Any advice you can provide would be much appreciated. Regards, Lee <... this fish is very likely a goner... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dartfish.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Fish Parasite <copepod>  12/14/06 Hi, <Hello there> Attached is a picture of my Firefish with an attached parasite behind the right fin. <I see it> I was not smart enough or patient enough to follow the quarantine advice from your Marine Aquarist book. I really enjoyed the book by the way.  I find myself rereading it often. I would appreciate any information about this parasite you could give me. Thank you, Paul Hug <Appears to be a Copepod... the trailing "egg sacs" are indicative to definitive. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/crustdisfaqs1.htm I would (gingerly) remove this from the fish using a tweezers... pulling away, toward the tail... with the fish netted, underwater... Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish Parasite   12/14/06 Thank you for the response.  I am hoping you can give me some advise on what to do next. <Okay> I removed the Firefish, Nemateleotris magnifica, from my main tank. I then removed the parasite using tweezers.  The parasite stretched during removal making me think it was a worm.  The '"Thing" on Firefish' letter sounds exactly like mine.  The curlicue description fits. <Mmm, I do wish I would have remembered to include a note re grasping the "worm" (like previously stated this is actually a crustacean)... near, by the head... pulling firmly, though slowly from there... to prevent breaking the Copepod...> I quickly set up a new 10 gallon tank as a quarantine/hospital tank and moved the Firefish and my only other fish, a diamond goby, Valenciennea puellaris, to this new tank. <Mmm, okay... though likely unnecessary... The parasite likely has a "complex" life cycle... requiring the presence of at least another intermediary organism (which is highly likely not present)> My two week old 105 gallon main tank now contains base rock, live rock, sand from another running aquarium, 29 miscellaneous snails, 15 hermits, 2 Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis), and 6 mushroom corals (Discosoma sp.). This tank with some live rock and sand from an active system shows now ammonia or nitrite.  Nitrates are currently 20 ppm (This is a decrease from 1st week at 30 ppm). <Good> This afternoon the Firefish died.  I am pretty sure I stressed it during removal and by the delay in getting it into the new quarantine tank. <Very likely... sorry for your loss> Should I medicate the diamond goby (no symptoms)? <I would not... not worth the further stress, small likelihood that this is something "treat-able">   I assume that leaving the goby in the quarantine tank and leaving the main tank fishless is a good idea. <Mmm... not really necessary> If so, how long would you recommend and should I do anything else to reduce/eliminate the possibility of transmission? <Use of practical cleaner organism/s here...>   Also my quarantine tank was purchase/setup in a hurry so I ended up with a cheap incandescent hood. Is this a problem, other than heat, for the diamond goby? Thank you, Paul Hug <Not a problem. Paul... please do read re Dart Gobies, Microdesmids... most of the species used in our interest really need to be in pairs... Bob Fenner>

Stress Guard... Microdesmid trouble? Nature of disease/health, tilting balances...    10/3/06 Forgive me if this answer is already posted on the board but I really did try. I have a recent addition (Scissortail Goby) that seems to be suffering from some type of external parasite, I don't think its Ich because the small white spots are in different quadrants of the fish and not like salt has been shaken on it. But then again what do I know I've never had Ich before. <Mmm, there are a few "things" that look like this> Anyway, I am going to remove him from the tank (if I can) and QT him/her. I was thinking of putting Stress Guard in the tank to build up the slime coat of my other inhabitants hoping to avoid any further parasite hosts. <I would leave this fish where it is... if indeed there is a pathogen involved, it has already infested the system> So here is the question, would you know if Stress Guard is reef safe? <I don't, wouldn't use it... There are a few "things" I'd like to relate... first, the overall "picture" of disease/health: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm The fact that this species is social, shy, needs lots of room, a paucity of aggressive tankmate beh.: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dartfish.htm and maybe lastly for now, the value/utility of purposeful cleaners: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnrfaqs.htm> Thanks, Tom <And the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sick Firefish?  - 5/8/2006 Hi Crew, <Thomas> I know this might be hard to answer, but hopefully you can help. <Will try> I have a Purple Firefish that's been alone in a 15 gallon quarantine tank for 3 weeks and 2 days. <Mmm, hard on Microdesmids, this species in isolation... social animals...> The quarantine tank was held at 1.017 specific gravity until a couple days ago, when I starting daily water changes (2 gallons, then 3 gallons) replacing the quarantine water with system tank water with specific gravity 1.025. As of today, specific gravity is just under 1.022. The Firefish has been behaving and eating well.  My old eyes are not that sharp anymore, but until today, I had not noticed any visual signs of disease either. Today, however, I noticed maybe 4-6 small patches on each side of the fish that looked unusual.  I examined these with a magnifying glass.  Some appeared to have no well defined form, to be slightly raised above the skin, and almost transparent.  I also noticed three or four other milky to translucent things attached to the skin that seemed to have form. <Ahh!> These appeared elongated in shape, I'd guess well less than 1 mm in length, and sometimes looked attached at one end only, so the other end would occasionally lift up (perhaps from the current - or maybe these things move).  It would be easy to imagine that these were some kind of "worm" attached to the fish.  Could the other formless patches be lesions from previous attacks by these "worms"? <Yes... but likely "flukes" themselves> So I have three questions:  Can you guess what this is?  Do you think I would have a decent chance of curing this problem simply by lowering specific gravity to 1.01-1.012?  If not, how would you recommend I treat this fish? <I would not reduce the spg, but try the use of a purposeful cleaner here... either a Gobiosoma goby or a Lysmata shrimp... small specimen> P.S. I decided to begin lowering specific gravity -- initially from 1.022 to 1.018, and four hours later to 1.015, where I'll leave it until tomorrow.  Too fast, probably, but since the fish still looks strong, maybe it will hurt the disease more than the fish. <Hard to state, but the fact that this apparent pathogen has persisted through the previous density manipulation is telling... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Tom

Re: Sick Firefish?  - 5/11/06 Thanks, Bob. <Welcome> Here's a follow-up, and some additional questions. The next morning, before getting your email, I went ahead with one more 20 percent water change, dropping the specific gravity to a little under 1.012. As of now (48+ hours later), I can no longer see parasites on the fish's skin, fish's color looks better, fish continues to eat well  -- in short, this appears to have worked. Recall that I had held specific gravity at 1.017 for three weeks, and then increased it to 1.022, after which I noticed these parasites.  I wonder what mechanism is at work here. <Me too> Were these parasites "dormant" in the quarantine tank until the specific gravity was increased? <Perhaps> Were they in the system water I used to raise the specific gravity? <Maybe> That system water came from a tank that now contains just one fish -- a Yellow Clown Goby -- that's been in there for 6 months and seems healthy.  I did have a Firefish in there for four months, but he disappeared after a few weeks of seeing him less and less.  I did not notice any sign of parasites on him before he disappeared, though.  He's been gone over two months now. If these parasites just remain dormant, or somehow persist in my system tank, I will have this problem again when I raise the specific gravity, or begin acclimation to system water.  If this worry is well founded, perhaps I should get a cleaner Goby as you suggested.  What is your opinion now? <The same... to try the cleaner> Also, I had understood from your book that one should have 20 gallons per fish to keep more than one Firefish. <Yes, a good general "rule of thumb" with this family> Since I have only a 30 gallon system here, I have not been considering more than one Firefish.  Do you think that's right? <Yes> Finally, how long do you think I should keep specific gravity at 1.012 in the hope of wiping out the parasite population? <Am not a fan of hyposalinity (alone) as a treatment of parasitic disease. This condition persisted through your last effort at such... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Tom Goby Quarantine Period 10/11/05 Hi Crew (especially Bob F. if available), <Howdy> Bob Fenner suggests a short quarantine for Gobies (maybe a few days), since longer quarantine periods represent a "bad trade-off." I assume he means that after a few days, the additional insurance against disease transmission is outweighed by ill-effects of additional quarantine time for fish like Gobies. <Good interpretation> My question: If my Goby (actually Firefish) has been in quarantine for 5 days, is looking/acting/eating well, and shows no outward evidence of disease, is that a reason to get him into the main tank soon (since he is likely disease free) or is that a reason to leave him in quarantine (since he does not appear to be suffering from being there)? <Not a problem here> Of course, I have to assume that one should also consider what is at risk in the main display tank. <Yes> In my case, there are no fish yet, but there are hermit crabs, a Fireshrimp, mushroom coral, and live rock. So, if I introduce a sick Firefish, I would lose no other fish, but I assume I would have to leave the display tank fallow for at least a month. Thanks, Tom <Could. Bob Fenner>

Re: Goby Quarantine Period 10/12/05 Hi Bob, <Hello again> Thanks for the prompt reply. However, I need clarification on this point:  My question: If my Goby (actually Firefish) has been in quarantine for 5 days, is looking/acting/eating well, and shows no outward evidence of disease, is that a reason to get him into the main tank soon (since he is likely disease free) or is that a reason to leave him in quarantine (since he does not appear to be suffering from being there)? <Not a problem here> By "Not a problem here" do you mean that if the Firefish (or any other Goby) is apparently doing well in quarantine, quarantine should continue for a full 4 weeks? <<Yes, sorry for the lack of clarity>> And conversely, your short quarantine recommendation applies when the Goby is not doing well in quarantine? <<Yes>> Thanks again, Tom <<Bob Fenner>> 

Purple Firefish passed away, was there anything I could/shouldn't have done?  9/8/05 First of all, thanks for such a great website with tons of info.  We are new to the scene and your website has helped us a lot in countless ways.  At this moment, I really need help in evaluating the following scenario and please advise me of any wrong doings before we mishandle another precious beautiful life.  I'll try to keep it short, so please bear with me. <Okay> My husband and I bought a purple Firefish 2 1/2 weeks ago from a LFS.  I recalled later that the owner of the LFS didn't put stress coat into the bag.  When we got home approx. 1 -1 1/2 hrs. later, we immediately turn the lights off & put the little bag in the aquarium to adjust the temperature.  At that time we noticed that the fish was slightly tilted to its side in the bag.  We let it float for 15 min.s, then pour the entire content into a plastic container.  The fish seemed better in the container, it was not leaning to its side and swims a little bit.  We then used turkey baster to take some water out, then put some aquarium water in.  However, whenever we put aquarium water into the container, the fish would tilt slightly, but if I put some of its bag water back, it would straighten up again.  It seemed better after we put some stress coat in, but the same scenario repeats whenever we attempt to put aquarium water in.  Puzzled, I check the salinity of the bag water, it was close to 1.027, and ours was at 1.023.   <... too much difference> Thinking after the super slow acclimation, the fish would adjust the new water parameter, <Mmm, no... a couple of thousandths per day... 24 hours is about right> we patiently took about 5 - 6 hours to gradually acclimate him.  Then, since he looked somewhat OK, we carefully put him into the aquarium (16 gallons), <Too small...> but he lays on the sand, wouldn't move and was breathing rapidly.  So after 2 hours, we carefully put him back into the plastic container.  The next day, we went to the LFS with bottles thinking that perhaps their water was more suitable then ours for the fish.  The guy at the LFS gave us a gallon of Catalina Island water (that's what they use, they claimed it has gone through UV sterilization), <Good quality synthetic is superior> and advised us to check the PH of our water.  We rushed home and checked the PH of our tank, it was at 8.0 - 8.1, and the water he gave us was at 8.3.  We then proceeded with a small water change, put 1/2 gallon of Catalina Island water in, then used Seachem Reef Buffer to increase the PH over several hours to 8.2.  At the mean time, we pour the other 1/2 gallon of water into the container with the fish (nick named YY at this point, since YY means not straight or tilted in Chinese), then proceeded to acclimated him again. At this point, YY would not eat, and spent most of time lay on the bottom of the container breathing heavily.  The guy at the LFS told us that YY would have a better chance of survival in the aquarium then in the plastic container, <Yes> so after a couple of hours later, we put him into the tank again.  This time, he swam a little, and ventured into the cleaner shrimps "clinic".  Both of our skunk shrimps were immediately all over him, particularly over him head.  They were picking at his gills so hard he turned sideways.  One of the shrimp was particularly interested in him, but after a while, YY started running away from the shrimp.  After a few hours, we noticed that he was not only still breathing hard, laying on the sand, he was also scratching constantly against the substrate.   <Perhaps was infested...> It is probably necessary to add that on the same day we bought YY, we also bought a pair of false Clowns from Petco that's only 5 min.s away from home. <To go in the same too-small 16 gallons? Both/all w/o quarantine?>   They were acclimated in similar manner and were transferred into the tank in about an hour.  They are now still healthy and adorable.  Since we were afraid that YY might have parasites and that could potentially pass to the clowns, we took him out again, <... would be too late by then> dipped him in fresh water w/Methylene blue, then put him in a larger glass container with 1 1/2 of water and Kordon's Rid Ich in mild dosage, <Too toxic, much added stress...> also aerated the water with an air stone as suggested by the LFS guy.  Unfortunately, YY left us early next morning. <Am not surprised> Did we do something wrong? <A few things...> Was the travel too long / stressful for YY? Would he be less stressed with the aid of stress coat from the moment he was put in the bag at LFS? <Doubtful> Or was YY sick / too stressed to begin with? <Maybe> Was it due to our water parameter being so different? <A very important contributing cause, yes> We should have checked all water parameters beforehand, but since the clowns seemed OK, and there were so little water in the bag, barely enough for salinity check, we didn't even thought about it.  The clowns were purchased from the same Petco where we bought all the set-up, tank, live rock, & salt water (they use Instant Ocean) prior to mixing our own (with Reef Crystal), so it possible that our tank condition is closer to theirs.  Should we have matched our water parameters close to YY's and all of our future purchases? <Yes... close as you can... through quarantine...> Is purchasing from different LFS a bad idea?  Or just not on the same day? <Mixing new purchases is generally a poor idea, not quarantining most is a terrible one... Not checking the requirements of livestock ahead of time... disastrous. Your tank is too small for what you have placed...> Sorry for all the questions and long description of the scenario, we really loved YY and will mostly like purchased another purple Firefish again, so I really hope to eliminate all the possibilities of our wrong doing to ensure our fishes will have a happy life in our aquarium.  Thank you for your help. Lorie <I've recently "split up" the Microdesmid FAQs... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/drtfshsysfaqs.htm and elsewhere... books, the Net re Firefish Systems... On WWM re quarantine protocols... Bob Fenner>
Re: Purple Firefish passed away, was there anything I could/shouldn't have done? 9/8/05  9/9/05
Thank you for your prompt response.  I'm really sorry for not indicating that our 16 gallon bow-front tank (although was not intended to be a QT) is and will always be the QT (after learning from your site of its importance, I WOULDN'T EVEN DARE write to you if we didn't have one).  It has been up & running since June 12th with the following: 1.  15lb of Fiji live rock (were fully cured & brought home completely submerged in saltwater from Petco 5 min.s away from home),   2.  20lb of CaribSea Arag-Alive Bahamas Oolite Sand, 3.  Marineland Stealth 200 Visi-Therm Submersible Aquarium Heater, 4.  Fluval 304 (with Two Little Fishes HydroCarbon & PhosBan, Fluval foams & BioMax) 5.  Standard florescent light fixture from All-Glass We also have a 46 gallon bowfront tank (equipped with same heater, filter, but longer standard light fixture) that has been used to cure 50lb of Marshall Island rocks since August 6 (they are already cured at this moment).  We are in the process of getting 60lb of CaribSea Arag-Alive Bahamas Oolite Sand for this tank, 6.  AquaC Remora Protein Skimmer, shared between the tanks, <One at a time> and 7.  Reef Crystal with additions of Seachem Prime & Reef Buffer (after reading your site, we will be switching to Tropic Marin Pro Reef), 8.  DI water for mixing salt.  We use Aqua. Pharm. Tap Water Purifier, and were shocked to get only 25 gallons out of each column (sometimes less, that's how bad Los Angeles water is).  Without a trustworthy source of RO/DI water within 30 min.s of drive, this is what we settled with for now. I was told these are all we need at this moment.  We are still learning & researching and will add other equipment, refugium, sump, VHO lights, RO unit, etc., if necessary.   <You are "way ahead of the curve"> The residents in the quarantine tank are as follows: 1.  2 skunk cleaner shrimps that molts every 1 1/2 - 2 weeks (purchased on June 26th, 2 weeks after the set-up), 2.  2 feather dusters (sorry, they were purchased with the shrimps, before we found your site), 3.  A pair of false clowns (purchased on Aug. 20th with the purple Firefish from different source).   Fully aware of the limitation of our tank size, we have been very restrained from purchasing any more livestock.  We were not going to purchase any fish until the 46 gallon is totally complete and filled with live sand, despite the fact that my husband's family thought we were out of our minds for having nothing but pieces of rocks in the tank with only 2 shrimps (no fish?!).   <"Things take time..." An important lesson> However, one of our shrimp has given birth to hundreds of babies the day before we purchased the Firefish & clowns.  We were extremely excited, but after reading your site & breeder's registry, also confirming with the LFS that it is close to impossible to raise the babies, my husband thought it would be a good idea to add fishes to consume them before they die off & possibly foul the water completely.  Thus leads to the purchases of the Firefish & clowns. <I see> We were not aware of the purple Firefish needing a bigger tank.  On Liveaquaria.com, it is classified as Nano fish with minimum of 10 gallon tank size compared to false clowns that need minimum of 30 gallon tank. <Opinions vary> We have also seen the Firefish been placed in 12 gallon nano tank in LFS with corals. Is 46 gallon still too small for one purple Firefish & 2 clowns? <Mmm, likely okay> We are planning to have maybe 5-6 small fishes (no more then 3" in adult size) in the 46 gallon and are well aware of the limited selection of fishes we can keep.   <This does appear so> Can you recommend any reputable LFS in the Los Angeles area for marine livestock? <There are a few... but would rather refer you to MASLAC... the L.A. marine club... and have you "chat" with them re. Can be found on the Net> The quality of livestock in Petco we frequent varies a lot. <Uh, yes... Have followed this co. quite a bit... was one of the early "architects" of their livestock program... The mass-merchandisers have yet to "get right" the pet-fish end> Last time we were there, they had an outbreak of Ich in almost all the tanks that are linked to the same filtration system. Most of the fishes were so infested they looked scary. Most of LFS also has linked systems and we wouldn't buy any livestock from the place if we see any casualty in any of the linked tanks.  We feel that the least they can do is to take the bodies out before it rots and become infested with bacteria.   <Yes> Also, for the feather dusters, is Liquid life BioPlankton a better choice then DT since it claims to be highly concentrated? <IMO yes> Is Cyclop-eeze whole freeze dried (powder) too big for them, or can it be blended down to appropriate size? <Can be mixed... a good idea> Last but not the least, what are the medications will you suggest to keep at hand for emergencies? <Mmm, actually... none if there are stores nearby... too much tendency for folks to "medicate" out of fear, reaction... more harmful than usually is worthwhile>   We currently have Methylene Blue & Rid Ich.  I now know Rid Ich (Malachite green & Formalin) is probably too toxic for most marine fishes (it worked well with our Koi though), so I have ordered SeaChem Cupramine (it seemed milder then CopperSafe) <Chelated and not...> with their copper test kit for parasites, and intend to order Furan-2 (contains Nitrofurazone, Furazolidone, and Methylene Blue Trihydrate) for bacterial infections.  Are there anything else you'll recommend?  I know it is best not to dose medication unless absolutely necessary, but I just want to be prepared.  It is often difficult to find what's needed in an urgency locally. <Much, too much to discuss here re...> Sorry for the long post.  Again, I really appreciate you and your crew's assistance in providing and sharing your  precious experiences in the field, so newbies like us has someone to turn to other then blindly trusting the LFS that are more interesting in making $$ then anything else.  BTW, I finally found a copy of your book last night, great book. Lorie <Ahh, a pleasure to have intelligent, caring people in our interest. Again, thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Dead fish/replacing male clown 6/31/05 Hello Crew, <Linda> I have tried to find my situation in the FAQs but didn't find it.  I have two questions: 1) Can/should I get another male clown for my female clown? <If you'd like. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnfshbrdfaqs.htm> 2) What happened to the male clown and two Firefish? <Mmm...> Here is the story:  I had a pair of tank bred percula clowns that I've had since I started my tank 8 months ago.  They were already paired in the store and got along great.  The male was adventurous and has been found in the overflow and sump several times before I covered it.  He was always fine. <Ah, yes... the classic "Nemo" syndrome>   One day I didn't see him until yellow-headed goby was trying to taste his dead body (I was quite surprised and saddened).  His body was torn up a bit, but I'm not sure if that was after he was dead or not.  On a side note I had 2 fire fish die a few weeks earlier - one had his tail chewed on...then his dorsal fin was gone...then he was floating dead (over a period of 2-3 weeks).  Then the other one just disappeared about a week later (no body found).  I haven't seen any predator at night and no signs of disease/other problems. <The Microdesmids do "just" die mysteriously... but you may have a hitchhiking crustacean... Pistol or Mantis shrimp...> Here is the set-up: 75 gal reef with 90-100 lbs LR 35 gal sump/refugium with LS and 40 lbs LR 1 Kole tang 1 yellow-headed sleeper goby 1 mandarin 2 clowns (male is now dead) 2 Firefish (both now dead) 4 red hermits 2 emerald crabs (removed after clown death) 3 cleaner shrimp 1 serpent star 1 black brittle star 1 crocea clam 1 bubble coral 1 hammer head Zoanthids mushroom corals Thanks in advance! Linda <Or could be from a toxicity... from the Zoanthids... or... I would place a baited trap... at night. Bob Fenner>

 Firefish With Flushed Cheeks - 08/11/2005 Hi, New to the questions here:) We have a 40 gallon tank that has two Indo Firefish and today we noticed a red spot on one of them. It's located by the gills on the right side. Our other Firefish doesn't have one. What could this be? <Very, very many possibilities, and too little information....  could be a wound, perhaps from a parasite; could be an indication of bacterial infection; could be irritation from something in the water....  Could be "nothing much at all".  Watch carefully, quarantine if necessary.> Thanks!! <Start here for more:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm .  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Sick Purple Firefish  9/4/05 Hi Folks, <Marshall> I have perused many pages on Firefish and many on illness and still no luck in getting an answer on my question so I turn to your expert advice.  I maintain a 5 month old 180 gallon FOWL system for my uncle that has 240 lbs of very mature live rock.  We have a 55 gallon sump with a protein skimmer, more live rock, live mud and live sand.  My only point of concern for the setup is the lighting.  I have a Corallife Aqualight with only 384 watts of lighting mixed between 10K lights and Actinics. <Mmm, I'd switch the latter out for more "white">   As of my last test everything was at acceptable levels for a FOWL system.  I do a 10% water change each month but as of this month I'm switching to a 20% change. <Better to do two tens at half month intervals...>   For supplements I regularly dose Coralvital, Coralvital Live Sand Booster, Iron, Zooplex, Two Little Fishies C Balance and Iodine. <I'd skip the voodoo "vital" products... they're not (vital)> We have a large cleaner crew but as for fish we have (many), 1) Queen Angel (Juvenile) 2) Emperor Angel (Juvenile) 3) 2 Yellow Tangs 4) 1 Purple Tang 5) Tassel Fish 6) Orange Shoulder Tang (Juvenile) 7) 2 Blackcap Jawfish 8) Purple Firefish (the guy in question) 9) 5 Cleaner Shrimp 10) 2 Bicolor Blenny 11) Coral Beauty 12) Sixline Wrasse 13) Ruby Head Fairy Wrasse 14) and the big daddy a Zebra Moray I know this seems like a lot of fish but so far everyone is getting along just fine (even the blennies).  The only issues I have had was a case of Popeye on one of the Yellow Tangs (which I treated with NoSickFish.com's Popeye treatment) <I do wonder what is in these products> and a case of Lymphocystis on the other Yellow Tang and the Queen Angel which went away on their own. I noticed tonight that my Firefish has what appears to be several blisters forming along his sides.  I don't recall seeing them before today but now he has about 5 of them mainly on his right side and 1 or 2 on his left side.  He isn't lethargic and eats just fine.  I'm not sure what these are and as a result I don't know what to do.  I hoping that you can help me because I really don't want to lose him. Thanks, Marshall <I wish I could... the Microdesmid may have a subcutaneous "worm" or protozoan pathogenic disease... but, w/o removing it (I would not add medicines to the main system...) and trying a few (e.g. Praziquantel, Metronidazole) targeted therapeutics... and the added stress... I would leave it as it is, and "hope for the best", a spontaneous recovery. Bob Fenner>

Question on a Firefish Hi, My name is Tara. I was surfing the internet looking for answers to a sudden death of my Firefish. I came across your site and was excited with all the information I found on other topics, but unfortunately, not on my problem. Maybe you could help me----- <I will try> I recently purchased a Firefish (I asked for two, but was only sent one). He seemed to be doing well, then just died all of a sudden today.  <Among other sources of "stress"... you know (or seem to) that these are not "solitary" animals... shame on the folks who only sent you one... they should be held in "solitary confinement" for a while...> I have a 90 gallon reef with a sea clone skimmer, a hot magnum 350 BioWheel, two actinic lights (one white, one blue) and two daylight lights. In the tank is about 50 lbs of live rock with various hard corals, starburst polyps, 2 cleaner shrimp, a false percula, a diamond watchman goby, a bi-color blenny, a Sebae, 2 Condys, 3 tiger-tailed cucumbers, 2 brittle stars, and tons of Turbos and blue-legs. The water quality, at least from what I can tell, is great. No ammonia or nitrites, about 15 ppm nitrate, ph is 8.2 and the salinity is .023. Everything else in the tank is doing perfect. What could have happened? I know that the Firefish like to be in groups, but would that have actually killed him? Any thoughts on it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. <I do consider that the cumulative hardships of collection, shipping, being alone did conspire to result in the loss of this individual. Do try again, more than one, with a different dealer. Bob Fenner>

Firefish Down!   3/19/03 Hi Phil,<Hey Richard!!  What's up?> Bad news, just had a casualty overnight.<Oh no, I'm truly sorry!  The loss of a fish is never easy!> I've got a 30 gallon which cycled properly.<Good> My first inhabitants were a pair of Firefish. Day one they were out feeding together in the water column day two I introduced a orange spot goby. During the second day one of the Firefish started to stay out of sight it would come out occasionally but wasn't feeding. It would stay under a rock shelf, its dorsal fin was laying down and wouldn't come up. Day three in the morning I found it dead on the bottom of the tank so I took it out, it had a bite out of the neck probably after it died the orange spot took a taste. Any ideas as to what happened, I thought these were hardy fish. I couldn't see any lesions on the body. Should I do anything with the other fish?<You shouldn't really keep two Firefish together in a small tank.  You can keep a pair in a tank say 100g or bigger.  The one will be fine alone.> Thanks <No problem, again sorry about the loss.> Rick <Phil>

Come on Baby Light My Firefish) I recently bought a Firefish goby for my 12 gallon nano-reef. He's the only fish in there besides a scarlet hermit and a peppermint shrimp. After acclimation the fish was doing fine, hanging outside all the time, feeds well and was so for about 2 days. One time the light was off and he was swimming about as I happened to walk by the tank, I guess he felt threatened and darted beneath the rocks...and I have not seen him out ever since. This has been for about 2 days as well. I'm afraid that he's too stressed out and wouldn't come out to feed anymore...Please help. Thanks in advance... P.S. Grateful thanks to folks like you guys for the knowledge you provide which makes this hobby a much easier and fun thing to do... <Firefish are often shy fish which prefer a calm environment. Some fish are known for hiding for weeks before they finally come out to feed. I would do some "night searches" and look for the fish. If you're unable to find him, you may want to take apart your rockwork to locate him. If the fish is alive, it should eventually come out. Continue to feed, although in smaller amounts, for the fact that the fish may still be alive. I've had a similar experience with a Royal Gramma. In this incident, the fish went missing for 9 days before he finally came out to eat. The fish has been doing fine ever since. I hope this helps.> Take Care, Graham Wetwebmedia.com Crew 

Re: Firefish trouble,,, Thanks for your input, but he died last night when I checked under the rock. <I'm sorry to hear about your loss.> I kinda expected that as he was gasping pretty heavily since the hiding began...I'm suspecting that I did not acclimate him too well and with too little time...I'll try another Firefish and see the difference with a much longer acclimation period... By the way, is common household super glue ok for sticking corals unto rocks as far as toxicity goes? Please let me know...Thanks... <Yes, most super glue is fine for gluing corals. Make sure that it contains Cyanoacrylate. Many of the super glue which doesn't contain Cyanoacrylate will not be safe in your aquarium. For gluing corals under water, I actually prefer superglue gel instead of the standard superglue. The gel is able to mount corals under the water.> Graham Stephan
Re: Firefish trouble,,,
I've heard that calcium levels that are too high can be toxic to its inhabitants, especially fish. I do add liquefied calcium to the tank on a regular basis (to manufacturer's recommendations - 1 drop per gallon everyday) and I don't have a calcium test kit...Do you see a problem? <Yes...I see a major problem. One of the most important pieces of information I've learned in this hobby is that you should always test for what you add. I cannot stress this enough. I would recommend you purchase a calcium and alkalinity test kit as soon as possible and test for these elements. From my experience, Salifert and LaMotte test kits are some of the most accurate kits. Could this have killed my fish? Thanks for your input once again... <I highly doubt so. If you did indeed have an extreme amount of calcium, you would most likely be seeing a calcium carbonate substance building up on your glass/rockwork. I'm thinking your fish died due to excessive amounts of stress rather than from water quality/acclimation.> Take Care, Graham Stephan

Goby Suicide? My dart goby killed himself this morning. I got him on 02/09/2003 so he was almost a year old. The other day I notice he was stressed out lying on the bottom. I placed him in a refugium below the tank. A day later he seemed fine, so moved him back to the main tank. Everything seemed fine. He came out when I started feeding... but the tank needed more food so I put some more in. All of a sudden the dart Goby was in the corner digging wildly. The dart goby stopped and fell half in and half out of the whole he had just dug. He dug his own grave. I don't get it. I removed him promptly to place him in the refugium again but he was dead with his mouth wide open.   Anyone else have a goby commit suicide. It was weird. <I've seen this happen before to wrasses and other gobies. I'm not sure if it is a "phenomenon", or just a bunch of uncorrelated coincidences. When a fish dies suddenly, I'd always launch my own "investigation" as to the cause of death. Often, it can be traced to some specific incident, like a poisoning, lapse in stable tank chemistry, or pestering by another fish. Other times, the answer eludes us. All I can suggest is to eliminate the obvious stuff, then explore the exotic! The truth is out there...Regards, Scott F.>

Firefish In Peril? Well, I have been treating my 2 clowns, two Chromis and Firefish for about two months now ever since they have had Ich. I'm glad to say that the Ich looks like it's gone with no new spots appearing and only a couple of spots left. <Good to hear that> Unfortunately, the Firefish, (who I regret quarantining to begin with because he never had Ich) has stopped eating and hides all day. <As a not- quarantine is the right thing to do. No regrets, okay?> I looked at him closely and on his side there is a reddish bruise forming. This really worries me because I love this fish. I immediately did a water change and I will do another one. I'm just wondering what could have caused this and what should I do? Could it be the low salinity (1.009)? <I doubt it. Could be anything from some sort of trauma to an internal problem of some sort> I have had him in hyposalinity before and nothing happened. Also, what else can I do other than water changes? All five fish are in a ten gallon with hang-on filter and a protein skimmer. Should I treat with a medication, if so which one? <At this point, we are not certain what we're dealing with here, so using medication is not a good idea> Would acclimating him to a higher salinity within a few days and moving him back to the main tank help, or would it make the problem worse due to stress? <If it were me, I'd start re-acclimating the fish back to normal specific gravity, and get him back into the display as soon as possible. I would think that this will help alleviate some stress.> Thank you so much for your help. <Glad to be of service! Regards, Scott F>

Sick Firefish-Or Funky Behavior? My purple Firefish has been in Cupramine for nearly two weeks.  I treated it because it looked like it was flashing.  On occasion it would dive down, touch its belly on the bottom and then dart up.  It did this again today after 12 days of copper. Could this be something other than Ich?  It never rubs its gills, always the underside.  Also, would it still be doing this after 12 days in copper?  I know that these fish bury themselves in the sand and I'm wondering if the behaviour I saw is normal. <Good thought...I have seen similar behavior in Halichoeres species wrasses, and it can easily be mistaken for "scratching". If the fish is otherwise appearing healthy, without other symptoms commonly associated with Ich or other parasitic diseases, then I'd back off the meds and observe the fish for a few more days. If all looks good, I'd repatriate him into his display tank> If you think it is Ich, after 14 days should I do a water change with display tank water and try formalin in a few weeks? <May not be Ich, as stated above. I'd opt for observation before another round of stressful medication.> Many thanks, Peter <My pleasure, Peter! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Firefish On The Mend! Hi Scott / Crew <Hi there!> Thanks for your prompt reply. <You're quite welcome!> The Purple Firefish seems to be its normal self again. Heavy breathing is getting less obvious and it is also eating the fresh shrimp that we fed. <Excellent to hear. as I always say, "A fish that eats is a fish that lives". It's true!> I will continue to monitor. <Good...Stay on top of things!> Thanks. Ai Kun <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

Firefish Feeling Ill Hi. <Hey, Mike G with you this afternoon.> I purchased a Firefish 11 days ago and have been keeping him in a QT since the moment I got him. <Very good, QT is always the responsible way to go.> Unfortunately, I noticed he had Ich, so I brought the salinity down to 1.009 over the course of three days. He was eating for the first three days I had him but he has not eaten since then. A day or two after he stopped eating, I noticed his belly looked swollen. He was also acting lethargic. <Those symptoms just cry out "Bacterial Infection!"> I waited a day to make sure I had an internal bacterial infection on my hands, something that is said to be common among fish with an immune system weakened by Ich. His belly continued to enlarge during this time. I then went out and purchased Maracyn-Two and am now on the sixth day of the treatment. His belly is no longer swollen and he seems a bit more active. <Wonderful! That is always good news!> However, he's still not eating. <Not-so-good news, but at least the swelling is gone.> I've tried feeding him multiple kinds of shrimp, pellet food, and flake food but to no avail (I even soaked some of it in garlic). Do you think his lacking appetite is due to the hyposalinity and medication? <I think that would be safe to assume.> Is there anything else I can do or should I not be concerned about this? The quality of the water is very good\u2014No ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates, pH at 8.3. Another thing I've been noticing is his tendency to swim along the bottom of the tank. He will rarely swim out in the open and seems to prefer having his body grazing the bottom of the tank at all times. Is this normal swimming behavior or is it a sign of something? Thanks in advance! <Well, I personally would continue with the medication, and try feeding him several times a day. Stay on top of your water changes, and keep the conditions right. I would also begin to raise the salinity once I was positive he was free of pathogens. Hopefully you will be rewarded with a wonderful and healthy Firefish! Good luck, Mike G>

Firefish I haven't received a reply to the last two emails I've sent to you guys, but hopefully this one will get a response. My Firefish has been in QT for 25 days, 22 of those in hypo. I am currently in the process of raising the salinity to 35ppt. He had Ich and an internal bacterial infection, both of which seem to be gone, thanks to the hypo and Maracyn-Two. I stopped the M2 treatment about a week and a half ago and added the carbon back into the filter. He hasn't eaten prepared foods in 22 days. I don't know what he's living off of, but occasionally I see him biting at the sand. He doesn't show any interest in the multiple kinds of food I've presented to him. Flake food, brine shrimp, Formula One pellets, raw shrimp, etc. All with and without garlic (I would try Mysis but I can't find any around here for the life of me).  For the first couple days I had him, he was eating the flake food just fine. I feel as though I'm running out of options. Right now, I'm just trying to get him into my display as quickly as possible, hoping he might gain an appetite once he's in there (he has never been in my display; he went straight into the QT the moment I got him). He's getting skinnier and skinnier and it's really hard to watch and not know what else to do. I would really appreciate any help on what to do here. He's still swimming around the tank some, and he actually seems more active lately than he has been. Thanks in advance! Heather <Heather, I would try some frozen Cyclop-eeze.  There are not too many fish that will refuse this, small fish that is. Also might want to find some live adult brine and try that. <James (Salty Dog)>  

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