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FAQs on HLLE, Head and Lateral Line Disease 1

Related Articles: Head and Lateral Line Disease, Algae Filters Articles, Caulerpa Algae

Related FAQs: HLLE 2HLLE 3, HLLE 4, & FAQs on HLLE: Causes/Etiology, Cures, Non-Cures, SW Case Histories, FW Case Histories, Vitamins in Marine Systems,

Extreme HLLE on a Koran Angelfish, Pomacanthus semicirculatus

HLLE on Tang I am about to buy my first 54 gallon saltwater tank from a friend of a friend, which comes with the tank, pump, sump, over flow, live rock, and all I need to buy is the protein skimmer and lights. He said he's keeping the livestock in the tank (a maroon clown and some crabs) but that he'll let me have the tang in there, but that he/she has vertical line disease. He sold his metal halide lights and protein skimmer a while ago, and I was wondering if this may have caused it? <No>  I don't really know much about what the disease is. Is it hard to treat? or even possible? I was hoping for some guidance. <The only way I've seen reversal of this disease (HLLE) is with Ecosystems Mud Filter www.ecosystems.com.>  Should I not take the tang? <I wouldn't take it.>  I'm not sure what kind it is. Please help!!  <Some aquarists have also claimed they reversed it using vitamin and iodide supplements, since it is usually caused from poor diet and water quality. James (Salty Dog)>

Adult Emperor Angel with hole(s) in the head - getting worse Hello, I have a 6 " adult Emperor who has been in a QT for 10 weeks. First he came down with ich, then gill flukes (fresh water dips took care of those problems). For the past 6 weeks he has been suffering from HLLE. He has deep holes just around his head and especially around the mouth (nothing along the lateral line, though) and he is getting worse. QT is a 40 gallon with a Remora skimmer, Penguin 300 filtration, 20% water changes weekly, no meds, his diet comprises of mostly Formula II soaked in Zoe, Mysid shrimp w/Zoe once or twice a week, Nori once daily, occasional shaved prawns. I tried Hexamit and it helped him a little bit for a while, but he is worse now. What is wrong? <It sounds like simple HLLE. I would add sponge matter to this diet and perhaps switch your food additives to Boyd's Vita-Chem and American Marine Selcon.> Thank you. <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Hole In The Head Disease (Hexamita) Please could you give me any advice on treating Hole In The Head disease in Cichlids. I have tried virtually all the tips on your website (vitamins/iodide etc) and also Metronidazole but all to no avail. My affected fish is a Tilapia Butterkoferi (11") that was fine until about 6 months ago.  <sometimes Hexamita is misdiagnosed. In many such cases the condition is simply an infection of the olfactory pores from poor water quality. Weekly water changes are necessary with such predatory fishes to keep DOC levels down. You may be able to cure this ailment with more frequent water changes with extra salt (1 tablespoon per 5 gallons). As such, it will take weekly or better for 6-8 weeks but can deliver success> He is still feeding well (Cichlid Gold, earthworms, other invertebrates, prawns, peas plus catfish pellets) and is behaving normally but more 'holes' are still occurring above his eyes. I have been told that this condition could be due to his age as the water quality in his tank is fine and he has a good diet.  <have you tested Nitrate levels to confirm the quality of the water? Please do if not> I have tried Broccoli as well but he won't touch this. If the problem continues is death inevitable? <not at all.. in fact, unlikely> Any new information that you can give would be greatly appreciated as I am fast running out of ideas. Thanks a lot, Ian Allen <best regards, Anthony>

Tang with HLLE Hi again, How long does it take for most fish to developed HLLE? <It depends on the fish, diet, system, etc.> The reason being is that I have two (one yellow, one purple) tangs and only the yellow has HLLE. The fish are fed a varied diet of Nori, bloodworms (frozen and dried), dried daphnia, krill, a variation of Bob's mix (krill, clams, squid, cod, shrimp, octopus, silversides and Kent Zoe), as well as an omnivore and carnivore frozen mix from San Francisco Bay Brand. <A little too much meaty foods for these Tangs. I would drop the omnivore and carnivore diets first and get a herbivore food.> The tank is grounded and I do a 10% water change weekly as well as topping of the tank with a Kalk mix. Would there be a cause that would only affect one fish? <The time in captivity is your most probably cause.> I have had the yellow fish for a few years, so is it possible that age could be a factor? <Yes> And I have the purple for about a year, so I would think that if there was something I was neglecting or doing wrong, it would appear on him as well. <It may in time.> Any suggestions? <More vegetable matter, Nori fed daily plus some sort of herbivore diet like Formula II from Ocean Nutrition. I am sure San Francisco Bay Brand has something familiar. I am just use to Ocean Nutrition foods. You may also want to soak some of their foods in Boyd's Vita-Chem and American Marine Selcon. Again, there maybe similar products. These are just what I am used to.> Thanks again, Kim <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Sailfin Tang/HLLE Hello, <<And hello to you, JasonC at your service...>> My Sailfin tang has developed a pretty serious case of HLLE. Most of its face is worn away, and his lateral line is worn away too. Is there any way to cure this. He has been living with this for a long time now and is doing fine. It is just ugly looking. I have vitamins, and iodine. I also have one of those metal rods that remove extra electricity from the tank. Is there any way to cure this? <<HLLE is typically caused by nutritional deficiencies. What are you feeding? I'd begin here. Do also read through the HLLE faq on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm  Cheers, J -- >>

Re: HLLE I feed frozen algae formulas, the algae sheets you put on a clip, Spirulina pellets, I also feed brine shrimp that is mixed with Spirulina. I soak the food in vitamins also. Thank you for your help!!! <<Sounds pretty good except for the brine shrimp - less nutrition than potato chips, even with the vitamin enhancements. You might try substituting these with mysis shrimp. The algaes are good, but you might want to try and get some live algal material in there as well. Perhaps more, or renewed live rock... these fish like to pick at the fauna on live rock all day long. Cheers, J -- >>

Diet Recently, I started feeding my marine fish mysis shrimp together with Spirulina soaked in Zoe. Soon thereafter, having switched from Formula One & Two to this, the Purple Tang developed Lateral Line or Hole In the Head Disease. <Probably not the cause, but not helping matters either.> Though the mysis has lots of protein, might this be the cause of this affliction and should I cease using it in deference to a greater mixture of frozen food along with lettuce occasionally? <Lettuce is terrible. Keep feeding what you are, plus add the Formula II back and get some Nori and vitamins to soak your food in addition to the Selcon.> THANKS, Stephen Pace <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tangs/HLLE I have a blue regal and a yellow eyed tang in two different aquariums, both have had HLLE for quite some time now. I have asked many different people on how to help clear this up and have gotten a variety of answers, most stating water quality, diet, live rock, electrical current in the water and vitamins.  <many theories yes... none definitive. Diet is at least contributory... electricity is a weak argument. Live rock with lush macroalgae is clearly a help. Natural sunlight is perhaps the best solution of all> I have tried just about everything I've been told to help clear them up. The blue regal has shown some improvement, however the yellow eyed has gotten much worse. (All of my other fish are in excellent health) They are both very healthy looking otherwise and are veracious eaters.  <what kind of diet?> I saw on your Q & A page about the use of baby vitamins, iodide and vitamin prep s. I have never heard this, what dosage would you use for the baby vitamins? I have 90 and 70 gallon tank. As for the iodide and vitamin prep s, I'm not sure what they are, where they can be found or what dosage to use. Is there anything else besides this that I can do? I try to do the best I can for my pets and any advice will be greatly appreciated, Thanks, Georgia <the best way to dose vitamin supplements is in a prepared recipe to be ingested (much better than putting in the water). I like using the baby vitamins and Selcon (HUFA supplement... an aquarium product). Do use the Google search tool on this site and beyond to discover fish food recipes that suit your fish load (mostly herbivorous fishes). Making your own fish food is a great way to save money and offer high quality food to your fishes. Kindly>

HLLE Permanency I'm not having problems with this (knock on wood), but after reading the FAQs I was wondering. Can a fish with a severe case of HLLE ever fully recover? <Probably not to its full coloration.> Is the best one can do is stop it? or can it be "reversed" (scaring and holes)? <It can be reversed. The amount of scarring and color is going to depend on the amount of HLLE.> Thanks again for your guy's devotion, Mark <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Yellow Tang Problem Hi, I've had my yellow tang for over two years and, a little over a month ago he developed some holes in his top fin just above his body. He eats well; swims easily and seems to have no visible effects from the problem. It doesn't look like HLLE (as I know it). What do you think it might be? <Could be HLLS, but generally starts around the eyes first.> And can these symptoms be reversed? <Definitely, with good food and good water.> Thanks, Rich <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Head And Lateral Line Syndrome/Erosion Hi, I have a XL emperor angel. I had him for over a year now. He is in a 240 gallon tank with some Tangs. Doing great. My water parameters are fine. My question is that I started to notice two small holes on my emps face. Below his nostrils. There are two, one on each side. What could this be?? I notice that my Sohal tang has two holes on one side of his face too. Anyhow thanks. Lee <It sounds like the beginning of Head And Lateral Line Syndrome/Erosion. You can read about it here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm -Steven Pro>

Blue Angel Fungal Infection? Hello there. <Buona sera. Dr. Anthony in your service> My wife and I just (6 days ago) obtained a 5" adult-colored Holacanthus bermudensis. It had been at our LFS for about a week and a half. It was sold to us as a Holacanthus ciliaris, but we have come to the conclusion that it is a true blue angelfish and not a hybrid between the two (based on rigorous research due to the price difference between the queen and the blue, which we are still debating with our LFS, but a completely different story). Anyway, within the last 2 days, it has developed white patches on its left fin and, today, the left flank. They look like baking soda or flour when it is wet and clumpy, ranging in size from salt granule to dime sized. They aren't in any particular shape, rather just blotches. This fish shares a 75 gallon tank with one 3" Odonus niger, one 3.5" Rhinecanthus aculeatus, and one 4" Coris gaimard. It is a fish only tank with 20 lbs. Live rock, a SeaClone skimmer, and 2 large Penguin 400 filters. We have had no problems (that we have witnessed) between the triggers and the angel. In fact, we have seen the Huma trigger roll on its side so the angel could clean it. We have tested everything religiously and the results are consistently just right. Is this a fungus or bacteria, or something else?  <Lymphocystis is quite common with these angels. It is viral, non-contagious, non-fatal and non-curable by most measures. It may grow large enough to break off on its own and scarcely bother your Angelfish... or, it may become so irritating that you will need to do minor surgery (take fish out of tank into a clean towel wet with aquarium water (cover eyes to keep still. the fish... not you) and trim the infected fin tissue and scrape the body with a scalpel or razor (then swab with iodine) and return to tank) Not as bad as it sounds> We are in the process of moving the angel to our 20 gal quarantine (the only thing in it is enough crushed coral to barely cover the bottom). Is there any effective treatment of this disease?  <above... and don't bother with the move to quarantine if it is Lymphocystis... more stress> We had added Mela-Fix (basically tea tree oil) to the 75 gal. to see if that would help without disrupting the ecosystem. It did nothing.  <not for this, my friend> We are very worried about our little angel and hope anyone there might be able to help. <I seriously doubt it will be fatal. Do try referencing the disease with a good fish disease book like Handbook of Fish Diseases by Dieter Untergasser (TFH)> Thanks for your time, Chris & Rachel Koenke <my pleasure, Anthony Calfo>

Iodine and HLLE <Rob, Anthony Calfo here while Bob travels in search of new and undiscovered species of microbreweries> I am currently treating my purple tang who has HLLE. The tang has a very healthy appetite and all other fish are healthy. I have a 75 gal FO tank operational for about two years and maintain the tank with weekly water changes. No ammonia , nitrite and 15-20 p.p.m. nitrate. I installed a grounding probe just to be on the safe side. I have been adding iodine( 1ml.) per serving, two servings per day, the last week or two along with Selcon when feeding. Would this constant addition of iodine adversely affect the healthy fish or is it O.K. to keep on using. Or should I alternate iodine like every other feeding? <without qualifying its efficacy for HLLE, iodine can be used consistently as per the manufacturer's full dose recommendation without fear of overdosing...to an extent. The fish will be safe. Iodine is very reactive and does not stay in solution for more than a few hours unless chelated. It will improve Redox and is arguably antiseptic. However.. it is a nutrient, and if abused or added to a system without sufficient nutrient export processes (skimming, chemical filtration, etc.) you may stimulate some nuisance algae growth> Thank You, Rob <best of luck to you, bud. Anthony>

tang I have a purple tang that has developed for lack of better description white snail like trails around his face and eyes. Nobody else in the tank has it and I have been ich free for over a year (it doesn't look ichish to start with). His appetite is good, he is active and doesn't seem to be suffering in any way (at least so far). Can you tell me what this might be. Bob worried fish guy <This is a good description of the "beginnings" of a condition called HLLE, Head and Lateral Line Erosion... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm Purple Tangs are one of the more susceptible species... you will want to augment this fish's diet, improve water quality... perhaps with the growth of live macro-algae. Bob Fenner>

Re: tang Thanks for the reply. My water quality is very good. I have 125 lbs of live rock and add calcium, iodine, nag, strontium and a few others every week. I do not however feed other than prime reef, marine food and clams and shrimp. Every time I try to add frozen veggie type products no one eats. Can you make some suggestions for food. Also let me be blonde for a moment. Live micro algae?/???? <Please go to WetWebMedia.com and peruse the Marine Index and/or use the Search tool there to read about HLLE, Macro-Algae, Marine Foods/Feeding/Nutrition... The site is logically arranged with many links between related matters, tens of thousands of FAQs files... Bob Fenner>

Concerns about stray electricity Mr. Fenner I would appreciate if you could perhaps give me some suggestions. I have a fish only 180 gallon tank, I have a Harlequin Tusk, a Marine Betta, a Blue Face Angel, a X-mas wars, and a black Dalmatian puffer. My pH, salinity, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia are perfect, These fish eat better than I do, I feed them shrimp, squid, krill, and a verity of pellet foods, I have had then for about a year. with out no problem till now, my Blue face has lost all of its blue on his face my X-mass wrasse seems to have HLLE decease along with the Marine Betta. I gave back to the fish store the Blue face so that they hold it for me for a while to see what would happen and the blue started to come back again, the owner of the fish store told me that that probably had some type of an electrical current in my tank, so I purchased a ground probe, took back the Blue Face and the Blue that had returned while it was at his store again came off I grounded the 4MD pump that I have from the wet-dry going back to the aquarium. I have a Rio 2100 pump that goes to my UV, and a Mag-Drive pump that goes to my protein skimmer. My question is this. SINCE THESE PUMPS ARE UNDER WATER HOW CAN I GROUND THEM, AND WHAT CAN BUY WHERE I CAN MEASURE IF THERE IS ANY ELECTRICAL CURRENT INSIDE MY TANK. Please, help me I would really hate loosing these fishes. <Thanks for all the useful information here. The sealed pumps are very unlikely leaking electrical potential into your system. They are grounded through their plugs... and can be checked for ground faults by having them wired through GFCI protected circuits. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gfiuseagb.htm Electricity in an aquatic system can be checked with simple "multi-meter" test gear that measures down to the "milli" range... Now, more to the point. HLLE conditions are attributed to "stray voltage", "poor water quality", "Octomita/Hexamita necatrix"... and these co-factors may well play some role... these conditions are cured with nutritional make-up... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Ramon Donestevez

Blue Tang Hi Bob, I'm, very impressed with your web-site. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. <A pleasurable duty my friend> My Blue Tang (4") has HLLE. I feed him a varied diet of frozen "pop" foods, seaweed & even soak seaweed in vitamins about 2 times /week. It's getting worse & I don't know what to do. The fish guy @ the local store has seen my tank & has suggested the dietary items that I'm presently using. I've had the 75 gal tank since July (got the whole system, fish, water, protein skimmer & all from a guy who was sick of taking care of the tank). Good water quality & no new fish have been added since. I've tried lettuce, they won't eat it. <Don't use lettuce... more troubles than it's worth> My Naso Tang (5") has not experienced any of the symptoms. I also have a Clown (3") & med. size anemones, 6 stripe rasp (2"), Djorinie (sp?) <Desjardinii> Tang (6"), 70 - 80 lbs live rock, several feather dusters, 2 cleaner shrimp & many healthy yellow sponges & ball sponges beginning to grow. What are the ideal water levels to combat this disease & keep the entire tank healthy? <Mmm, minimum nitrogenous wastes like nitrates... more importantly nutritional supplementation... see below> Thinking about feeding broccoli or frozen peas. Any suggestions. <Use Nori, other human-intended prepared algae... you can read about these... maybe use the Google Search feature on the WWM site and the word "Nori"...> Also debating adding a small fish for x-mas. (2") Will this crowd the tank too much? If not, any suggestions that will add color & get along with this group. They have all lived together for about 3 years. <Peruse the selection and organism sections on the site. Please first read through the disease section on marines starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm and commit to a routine of soaking foods in a vitamin and iodide preparation ahead of offering. This and possibly adding macro-algae to your system (maybe even a sump with lighting to culture same?) will turn the tide of the HLLE here and greatly improve your water, system for alls enjoyment. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your help, Jennifer

Purple Tang and HLLE Please Help!!! Hello, Please help!!! I am becoming very frustrated. I have a 150 gal reef tank (mostly mushrms. and polyps.) w/ a wet/dry-Prot.Skimmer, along w/ two Aquaclear 500's constantly running activated carbon, and 3 additional Power Heads for added H2O flow. I use Ro/DI H20. I have had my purple Tang for only about 3 weeks and he seems perfectly healthy (eats well, etc.), but just a few days ago I noticed what looked to be the beginning of HLLE (white pocks above the eyes and along the lateral line). Now, only a few days later, it seems to be getting worse. <This species is particularly susceptible to this environmental/nutritional disease/complaint> The strange thing is that I have always kept plenty of Green, Red, and Brown Seaweed Selects in the tank, and I feed Formula Two and MYSIS soaked in garlic, Selcon, and Zoe and he (it) eats it all. I have done this long before I introduced the purple Tang to the tank. The tank is grounded and water chemistry checks out great (Alk., PH, Ammonia., Nit. and Nit.). I am absolutely out of ideas. I have heard that constant use of carbon can cause this, but the owner of my local fish shop (Bruce from Sandy's Pet Store in Louisville, KY, I think you know him) says that that has never been proven and that he also runs carbon in all of his tanks. <Agreed... I encourage folks to switch carbon out only once a month in general, it gets "exhausted" (saturated) within minutes to hours in most cases...> I had to almost totally break down the tank just days before I noticed this to catch a few trouble makers, something that I am sure stressed him out. Could stress suddenly bring on HLLE?  <Might be a contributing cause...> As far as stopping it, I already use all of the suggested Vitamins. and foods. I have heard that Iodine also might help with HLLE, but I already add it, along w/ Str., Calc, and CoralVite to the tank.  Should I try soaking the MYSIS in that as well? I am not sure what else to do, as I believed that what I was doing was the proper thing up until just a few days ago. Any feedback at all would be much appreciated. Thanks, Scott <Please read over the following area, FAQs on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm There are many suspected factors, co-factors to "bringing on" HLLE... your "cure" in this setting is likely a combination of improved nutrition (simple addition of vitamins and iodide to the foods directly, for fifteen minutes or so ahead of feeding, weekly administration to the tank/water) and water quality (growing macro-algae in the main tank, better in a sump, possibly a refugium, maybe incorporating live rock, mud... This condition can take a while to reverse (weeks, months), but can be done. Please peruse our site (WetWebMedia.com) re "Algal Filtration", "Environmental", "Nutritional Diseases"... as the links lead you. You display diligence, caring... show intelligence, compassion here. You will be successful. Bob Fenner>

Lateral line problem, Paracanthurus Bob, first of all I gotta ask, how do you do it? I see all these folks that ask you questions, questions, questions and you always seem to have a thoughtful, patient, response. Great job and God bless you. <Practice, dedication, drive and quick keying my friend> MY question relates to my Hippo Tang. He eats well, and seems to enjoy life. He is quite a character. Recently I have noticed he has a number of small black marks on and above his gills. I have never seen lateral line disease before but have heard/read of it. The photos I find on the internet don't look like what I am seeing. Any hints on how to identify what I am dealing with here?  <Sounds "natural"... there are "races" of Paracanthurus that display such melanization... is it bilateral, that is, "balanced", present on both sides of the fish? If so, I wouldn't be concerned> For all I know these may just be natural markings but they are in different locations on his gills (right and left side) and much more numerous (maybe 8 or 9 "spots") on his left. Any suggestions or ideas? Again thanks for all your hard work and help! <Could be a subdermal protozoan presence... but wouldn't let it bother me/you at this point. Bob Fenner>

More then HLLE? Dear Mr. Fenner, I am wondering if you can help me understand something I have read in your book about Yellow Tangs. I have a 80 gallon reef aquarium, 20 gallon sump/refugium. Berlin Skimmer, 70 pounds of live rock. The only fish who calls it home is my yellow tang. My water quality after months of fiddling around has reached a perfect balance. No stray voltage (had it tested.) I am treated this tang for HLLE by way of Zoe vitamin supplements and Iodine. It is a slow process but thanks to your web sites support, as well as your book, I feel I have made progress. <Ah, good to read of your continuing progress> My question to you is about a passage in your book about an unwanted variety of yellow tang. A yellow-white morph. the kind that has the white band across the body and is rather startling to see at night. The tang I have now falls into that description. A gift from my husband who knew I wanted a tang for many years, and now he is having a guilt problem thinking he (the tang) is a sickly doomed fish. I wonder if you could go into further detail about what causes this. <Very, very likely what you are observing is "fright", night coloration... not the novel genetic anomaly mentioned in CMA> Is it the same factors as HLLE?  <No> If not is there anything I might do to benefit this fish? <Certainly. Most any/all things that benefit water quality, nutrition, the mental/emotional well-being of this animal and its tankmates. Principally the addition of live rock and macro-algae here... Or in a tied-in sump/refugium... would stabilize water quality, add foods... Please read over this and related sections on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/yellowtf.htm> The tangs I see at the fish store are a golden yellow (going by the Crayola crayon color scale) and mine is a pale lemon yellow. I hope that if you are able you could send an answer or direct me to a book or web site that could help. Any advice is so very welcome.  <Yours color will come back... through an understanding of the underlying causes of such loss... water conditions, nutrition. As stated, please read through the WWM site> Pictures of the Tang can be provided as well. Also I must add the white band that runs across her body is visible during the day (4X96 watt power compact lights) Thank you Chris <Your intelligence and caring show through your writing. You will be successful. Bob Fenner>

Re: More then HLLE? Mr Fenner, Your quick response to my inquires about the health of my yellow tang was greatly appreciated. I have just gone through you FAQ about yellow tangs again as well as the section devoted to Macro-algae. Our water quality is as good as it gets. We only battle Alk. levels falling too low at times. <This is quite common... captive systems are reductive environments> We test our water three times a week and we are always able to correct any problems ASAP. We have not thus far had any dramatic rise or fall that has given cause for concern. Our sump has LR (our tank has 70lbs, well seeded) and different forms of macro-algae. None of which our tang has accepted as a meal.  <Have you tried strips of Nori algae... can be had from oriental sections/food stores> We will endeavor to order from FFX new cultures of macro that we find that tangs enjoys (have learned more of those on your web site.) I think one area we have grossly misjudged has been the environment of the tank. Not speaking of the water quality but more of the arrangement of the LR. This afternoon when my husband gets home we will rearrange the rock in hope of providing a more natural reef appearance. More caves and overhangs, etc. We also plan to add three green Chromis. <Very good ideas> The yellow tang is the only inhabitant in the tank right now. We have gone so slowly when building this reef that we were blinded to the fact the she might actually need "friends" sooner rather then later. :) <Yes> Your advice has been taken to heart and will be implemented. I hope you are not apposed to updates in the future. Thank you again for all of your help! Chris <A pleasure my friends. Bob Fenner>

Dying Fish Dear Bob. My room mate has a large fish tank with 5 salt water fish. These are exotic fish of many colors. Most of the fish are losing their color around their face. The face area looks fleshy colored rather than the radiant color on the rest of the body. One fish is discolored over the entire upper half of his body. The main concern is the lion fish, who has not eaten in more than a month and sits in one corner of the tank always. The tank seems to have a layer of reddish algae over much of the bottom and some of the rocks. <Yikes... thank you for writing... this description totally fits a situation of "poor maintenance"... The fishes' loss of color and "pitting" (called HLLE for short in aquatics, see: http://wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm) are due to a mix of variables... mainly a lack of essential nutrition coupled with "poor water quality"...> Can you please help and/or tell me what to do to save the fish. Thanks, Roxanna Brock <Please have your roommate contact me re this situation, or at least have a nearby aquarist friend come look over the system. Someone needs to show renewed interest in this aquarium, its inhabitants, and restore good husbandry practices... It will/would be hard for you to "take over", so much to know, do at this juncture... but water testing, changes are likely in order, supplementing of foods with vitamins and iodide... Do have a read over our site, www.WetWebMedia.com for much more on Marine Maintenance. Thank you for your concern, involvement. Bob Fenner>

Head and lateral line erosion disease Hi -- <Hello> I have a 55 gallon salt water tank with only three fish, a Sailfin Tang, a Yellow Tang and a maroon clown. The Sailfin had HLLE about six months ago, and I was told to keep better care of my water conditions. I did more frequent water changes, and she looks better, though I think she is scarred (?). <Yes, possibly permanently> Now the yellow tang, who has been in the tank for about three months has developed HLLE. The Sailfin is not showing any signs of it. I have a 2-biowheel penguin filter and an external venturi protein skimmer. The ammonia is zero, the nitrites are zero, nitrate is between 5 and 10, and pH is 8.2. The temp is a little high because of the recent heat wave (82 in the tank). Spg is about 1.022. I don't know any other levels but am going to buy a test kit with other measures. I'm feeding dry food (not really flakes, more like little red pebbles), I put dried seaweed into the tank once or twice a day. I've read your advice to give vitamins, and I'll do that too.  <Yes> Any other suggestions?  <Read over the entire WetWebMedia.com site> How often is too often to change the water?  <http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm> How much water should I be changing at a time? Does it sound like I need to take better care of the water, or does it sound like a nutrition thing (which is what I'm beginning to think)?  <Mainly nutrition, but water quality may well be involved...> And what is a grounder?  <Use the WWM Google search tool> If there were electrical current causing the problem, why wouldn't all the fish have it? Are tangs particularly susceptible to it?  <Yes, differential susceptibility> If it is viral, then how could one ever get rid of it anyway? Similarly, if it is viral, is it inherently in my water, or is it inherently in the stock I am buying? <Likely not> And if it is viral, then it is probably always lurking and the fish will become symptomatic under any stressful situation, right? <No, but you're thinking... I like that> And the next question -- what can I put into the tank next? I wanted to get a purple tang, but I read that they are particularly prone to HLLE. This seems to be a problem for me, so what can I do? I want to keep this a fish-only community tank. <Read about "Algal Filtration"...> Other problem -- The tank has bristleworm (probably from the live rock I bought before I knew what to look for in live rock...). A guy at the pet store suggested I get a cleaner wrasse since I can't use copper because I have a hermit crab and a sally lightfoot. But he said that as soon as the wrasse eats all of the parasites, it will die, since it will not eat anything else. It seems morally questionable to buy a fish that I know will perish in my tank. Suggestions? <You have a good mind... just need more education, rumination over ideas...> Thank you so much for helping me! Tahl Saidel Eric M. Saidel <Be chatting my friend. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm After you've studied. Bob Fenner>

(and HLLE) Bob: Also, I wanted to thank you greatly for all of your advice on this site. I found HLLE on my juv. Emperor one day and freaked out. After reading all of the advice that I could find, I followed all of your advice and am happy to say my angel is almost 100% recovered in less than a month. Thank you! Ken <Ah, good news. Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Salt Water Aquarium addict w/just questions this time (HLLE) Hello again, The facts again... I currently have set up: 55 Gal SWA w/ UGF w/ 4 power heads (250 Maxijets) w/ 1 Eheim 2213 CF w/surface extractor (it works!)<Oh yes> w/ 1 Sea-clone Protein Skimmer 40 lbs crushed coral 15 lbs crushed shells now up to 75lbs of live rock (upped it as per your suggestion, thanks!) In the tank are: 2 Yellow-tailed Damsels 1 Clarkii Clown 1 Yellow Tang 1 Blue Hippo Tang 1 Banggai Cardinal 1 Mushroom rock( 6-8 Mushrooms) 1 Feather duster. 1 Scooter Blenny 1 Sailfin Tang Clean-up crew include: 2 Emerald crabs 15-20 Scarlet hermits 10-15 Blue leg hermits 6 Trochus snails 1 Horseshoe Crab 1 Haitian Anemone 1 Yellow Anemone 1 Sebae Anemone 2 Cleaner Gobies (your suggestion, very helpful!) 1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (also your suggestion, also very helpful!!) 1 Mangrove Plant Conditions: Ammonia: 0 Nitrites: 0 Nitrates: 40 PPM PH: 8.2 Salinity: 1.024 Phosphates: trace Questions: I am getting some fish through a friend: 2 Feather Dusters and 1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp. I believe he has either hole-in-the-head or lateral-line disease in his tank. Is there a danger of the above fish bringing over the disease and contaminating my tank? <Hmm, no... this condition is really a matter of environment and nutrition... not parasitic or infectious disease... Please read through: http://wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm> If so, will a fresh water dip help or quarantine tank with medication? If quarantine, what medication? <None> Also, I am considering going to Metal-Halide lighting. What would you suggest as far as wattage, Kelvin, # of bulbs? <Posted on the WWM site under marine lighting... and you should join the new Chatforum there for others input about what's available and in their opinions best.: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/> Meanwhile I'm hanging in there and loving my fish! Thank you in advance, Brian Bottarini <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

getting around the website Hi Bob, I've been looking around your website for answers regarding HLLE with my juvenile Emperor Angel and I can't seem to locate the article on Environmental Diseases regarding HLLE you also mentioned <http://wetwebmedia.com/marenvdi.htm> iodide and algae filters it seems I am only able to access FAQ's <Ah, yes, sorry. This is all that is currently posted... these articles/book sections are pending publication elsewhere... and just serve as place markers for the FAQs to date... these FAQs are what I am encouraging you to peruse> I know I'm doing something wrong but if you would be so kind, could you explain or direct me how to build this filter and the brand of vitamins and iodide to give my angel? <See "Oz's Reef" link on WWM Links pages re the filter, the vitamins: Selcon, Zoecon, Microvit are my faves> Thanks so much, Tom <You're welcome my friend. Sorry for the confusion. Bob Fenner>

Koran Angel with HLLE disease Hi Mr. Fenner; <Hey there> I have spent many many hours reading your web site and I am very impressed with the magnitude and quality of information available there. <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words> I am also amazed by your efforts to help us less knowledgeable fish keepers. <An honor and privilege to serve> I have also order your book THE CONSCIENTIOUS MARINE AQUARIST which should arrive any day. I am really looking forward to receiving it.  <I believe you will greatly enjoy the work, and become more of yourself by it.> Thank you. Now for my question. My Juv. 3" Koran angel seems to have developed HLLE disease. <A too common complaint of this species in captivity> He is in a 72" x 24" x 24" tank with a 4" Naso Tang, two Banggai Cardinals and a Royal Gramma. I have a Rainbow 900 Fluidized bed filter, two Magnum 350 canisters with water polishing elements and a Aquaclear 500 with foam. I am currently not using charcoal but usually do.  <Please read over the section on "Chemical Filtrant Use" on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com here... for activated carbon...> I also have a overflow running to a 55 gallon Brute container <A superb product... of the Rubbermaid corporation... I'm feeling like Paul Harvey today... now, "the rest of the story".> where I have the heater & protein skimmer. Return is by a Little Giant 4QX pump. All water readings are where they should be. I only have 10 lbs live rock now but am adding to it when I can. The local fish store recommended Melafix and Tetra medicated flake food. The angel eats very well and other then the colour loss and small holes on his face, seems unaffected. He does scratch once in a while but I contribute this to the HLLE. Does the prescribed medication seem to be the correct route to take or would you suggest something else to help this fish. Again, thank you for all the advice and input available at your site. <Thank you for writing so completely here. I would not use the Melafix, Tetra medicated food... Please read over the "Environmental Disease" section on the WWM site, in particular the FAQs posted on HLLE... though this condition is stated by different sources as variously caused by "stray voltage", "poor water quality", perhaps microbial or parasitic involvement, it is curable by supplementation of the animals food (and water, as marines do drink quite a bit of their surrounding environment) with vitamin and iodide (sometimes stated as iodine) additions. Do consider this route and also do add as much live rock as is practical (look for the "whole box" deals through the on-line etailers... many of their links are posted on the WWM links page). Or try to make a "whole box" deal with your retail outlet. Do write back if any of this is unclear, incomplete to you.> Your fellow fish keeper Rick <Be chatting my friend. You can, will beat the HLLE on your Koran Angel. Bob Fenner>

queen angel update/HLLE cure/Caulerpa Culture dear bob, back in November I e-mailed you about the HLLE problem I was having with my queen angel. you were kind enough to respond right away with some suggestions that I add a macro algae culture and freshen the live rock. <yes, I recall> well since that post I wanted to let you know that my angel has improved dramatically! the lesions that once ravaged here face, eyes, and lateral line are now limited to her "cheek" area. it seems that she has a ravenous taste for the Caulerpa and I provide it to her 3 times a week. thank you so much for your suggestions. <Ah, great to hear of your success> the fresh algae is costing me close to $10.00 a week in addition to all the other frozen goodies, fish eat better than I do! As such I've tried numerous ways to grow it myself but with no luck. several times I tried placing a fresh harvest in a floating acrylic breeder in the display tank but the algae deteriorated in 4 days. my 75 gallon tank is lit with 2 Coralife 10,000k fluor. and 2 actinic lights. I have also tried cultivating the algae in my 100 g reef system equipped with power compact lighting. however, a $25.00 "bush" attached to a piece of live rock turned my tank green and then died in as many days. now as a last ditch effort I have placed some freshly harvested cup, blade, and grape specimens in a 20 g undergravel filter set up. 12 hour light with Coralife reef sun and a generic incandescent plant bulb. there are 3 small fish in the tank to fertilize - so far it seems that the algae is also dying in this tank too. what could be wrong? <A few things... I would go back to/with the compact fluorescent lighting, use just some live rock for attachment, and boost both alkalinity and biomineral content (mainly calcium)... keep these above 4 meq/l and 400ppm respectively> I am seriously considering installing an ecosystem refugium from Leng Sy's website however if I'm unable to grow the algae what is the point? your thoughts? Gisela <The miracle mud systems are also very good/worthwhile. Bob Fenner, who would also look around, ask your local marine hobby club, perhaps the stores if they know someone who has the opposite problem... that is, too much Caulerpa... not uncommon.>

"Autopsy For Head And Lateral Line Erosion" Hello Rob, just a quick question? my regal tang has got craters all over his head and face, what would be the diagnosis for this kind of infection and or disease? I was thinking, fish solution manufactured by ecosystems for "HLLE" what do you think? or there is another one made by Tropical science also. I would appreciate your diagnosis in this matter. and another thing what causes this type of malfunction? thanx again my friend in fish, Carlos Padilla, out in Salinas California <Yikes. Read over my section on Environmental Diseases, HLLE... posted on the website: www.WetWebMedia.com and look for a real solution here... nutritional component and water quality are the real root causes usually... no bottled fix to be had. Bob Fenner>

Have prob with HLLE I have a 90 gal tank with a blue throat trigger, a purple tang, a lion, a snowflake eel, a damsel, and 2 clowns. after about 7 weeks I added the fish slowly, like 1 or 2 fish per week. after about 3 weeks my purple tang and lion started developing HLLE, right now the purple tang has it severely, but the lion isn't as bad, and cant see it that easily cause it blends in. I offer the tang, frozen formula 2, frozen green spirulina cubes, lettuce, and once broccoli, and it eats krill. I feed the lion nothing but goldfish, he wont look at anything else, I've tried to feed him frozen krill, but didn't work, he doesn't even eat newly dead fish. I have 2 sandman, and 1 Amiracle wet/dry running on it. hopefully I will get a better filter than the sandman's like a Eheim or Fluval. this is a basic fish only tank with dead corals. can u give me any info on how to help cure this disease? <Stop feeding the lettuce and feeders... and read NOW, the sections on these fishes, HLLE, Live Rock, Filtration, Feeding Feeders, Algae Filtration and FAQs associated with these pages archived on my site: www.wetwebmedia.com> and do ground probes have any effect on HLLE?  <Very rarely, inconclusively... mostly a nutrition, water quality problem... i.e. environmental, and correctable> I also have a skimmer running on it. please email me as soon as possible at XXXX I am planning to add live rock slowly to my tank.  <Very good idea> this will improve my water quality. what specific requirements do live rock need, like lighting, nutrients, etc. thanks for your time, im new to saltwater, 4 months experience. and 1 year FW experience. <Keep reading my friend, Bob Fenner>

Re: a word of praise, a request for adviceI found your site thru the NGs. First, have to commend the excellent job you've done putting together a comprehensive, quality site. As I fish-phile who takes the responsibility of ownership seriously I have book marked your site for future references <High praise indeed. Thank you>That being said I'd like your advice on HLLE.  I own a queen angel (about 3 months).  She is 6 inches in length and was in immaculate condition when I purchased her this year.  I quarantined her for 3 weeks prior to putting her in my display tank. But about 4 weeks ago I noticed the "classic" pitting, erosion pattern of HLLE in its early stages. She has a voracious appetite and seems otherwise unaffected.<Let us hope I may be of assistance in reversing this trend... I'm sure you have read my opinion on this erosive condition... Likely an "environmental" disease... of the sort, mainly of avitaminoses... with some general stress from capture, handling, captivity... And the principal approach to its treatment? To augment the fish's diet with iodine (actually iodide) and Vitamin complex (baby vitamins are fine) applied to the food a few to several minutes ahead of offering it... It would also be greatly beneficial to augment your water quality with the use of live rock and macro-algae culture. And do please read my friend, Leng Sy's pages about such culture at ecosystemaquarium.com>My display tank is a 75 gallon SeaClear system II with trickle filter, canister/carbon filter/ and protein skimmer.  I also have a yellow tang, maroon clown, damsel, a small wrasse, a few crabs, snails, and a starfish and what once was live rock.  I use 12 hour lighting with primetinic florescent bulbs.  The nitrite, nitrate, ph levels are within normal limits.  I change about 10-20% of the water every 2-3 weeks replacing it with Catalina ocean water purchased at the LFS.  I also keep the specific gravity to about 1.023 with weekly additions of RO water. The tank inhabitants appear vibrant, healthy, and happy ( I've owned some of them for close to 7 years now!).<Do add new liverock... and the macroalgae of the genus Caulerpa... to the main system, and/or the sump (a little difficult in this sort of built in system>They are fed dried nori, mysis, frozen angel formula 1 & 2, brown worms, squid, mussel, fresh spinach, and tetra pellets 2 x daily (careful to rotate and maintain variety). <Sounds good>When I first noticed the HLLE I read as much as I could and decided to launch a multi-pronged attack to thwart its progression.over the last two weeks I have:1)Added Salifert Iodine supplement 10 ml.s/25 gallon (dosed every 4-6 wks). <Add this to the food rather than the water>2)Began feeding SERA Iodine enriched fish food, fresh broccoli,3)Removed activated carbon from the canister filter (to avoid leaching of iodine)4)added grounding probe to eliminate stray electrical currentsNow, I didn't expect an immediate reversal but I am distressed to see that the tell tale pits are progressing!As I said before, I take my commitment to these beautiful creatures very seriously and want to be certain I exhaust every possibility.  Is there any thing else I can try here? <The rock and algae... assuredly> A fish store suggested Hexamit but I am hesitant to pursue this. <Not really... I doubt if the causative mechanism is a protozoan... (especially Hexamita necatrix) and this anti-protozoal (Flagyl to humans, metronidazole generically) is not without severe negative side-effects... I would NOT use it> You see, last year I lost a green bird wrasse to this wretched syndrome because I didn't know what it was and my local fish store gave me bad advice - treat it with copper and Maracyn.  Because I was misinformed, I watched him slowly waste away.  Not wanting that to happen again - I spent countless hours on-line reading as much as I could and implemented the changes above.  Your thoughts? Gisela aka "loonsanzflute" PS Several months I wrote to TFH magazine and have so far been ignored -- therefore I really would value your informed opinion.<Glad to be of service my friend in fish. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Lateral Line disease I have several fish in my 185 gallon Aquarium that have a line that runs from their heads to their tails. This line curves with the curve of the body on both sides and is only located on the top half of the body. I had a friend tell me that my fish have lateral line disease. I read some articles that mentioned to much electricity in the water will cause LLD. To give you some info I have this problem when I touch any one of four fluorescent tubes or the metal housings I get electrocuted. I have a electrician buddy who was going to come by and take a look at it to fix it. From what I described is that LLD? Is it fatal? I read I need a grounding pole what is that, where would I find one and how do you install it? What do I do? I also read that diet affects LLD, I feed my fish frozen plankton, formula1 and some vitamins every day along with some nori. I also give them occasionally some flake (tetra) and pellet (nutri fin). <Thank you for writing, and so lucidly. What you describe may just be your fish's lateral lines... the expansion and erosion of same are HLLE per se... and the loose voltage question should be addressed immediately at any case (as I'm sure you're aware)... Do read the "environmental disease" section and FAQs section of the marine index on our website: www.wetwebmedia.com for coverage of this condition (HLLE)... I would fix the electrical and supplement the foods you're offering for now. Bob Fenner>


Head & Line Lateral Disease I have a 55 gallon fish only tank containing a Blue Line Grouper, a Sohal Tang, and an Emperor Angel. The water parameters are all well within acceptable limits, with excellent water clarity. I do frequent water changes. I have been feeding 4 times a week a varied assortment of frozen and freeze dried foods including Marine Supreme, Krill, Mysis Shrimp, Squid, supplemented with Spirulina and sheets of Marine Algae. The problem - my Emperor appears to be developing H&L Lateral Disease and is losing some of his caudal fin. From what I have read of this disease, it is attributed to diet and/or water quality. I am going to start feeding more frequently to see if that has any affect. The Emperor is very active with a VERY healthy appetite but this is starting to concern me. I have been trying to reverse this for about three months with no luck. Do you have any suggestions?  >> Two principal ones, both related to the probable causes as you list them:\ 1) Supplement the animal's diet. It's widely held that HLLE is tied to/directly attributed to avitaminoses... Apply a liquid vitamin AND iodine additive to the Angel's food prior to offering it. These preparations can be bought "for fishes" or made from human-intended materials. 2) For improving water quality, do try an "algae and mud" filter in a sump if you can (versus right in the tank)... In a sump, with its own light, some live rock, and Caulerpa Algae... leave the light on continuously IMO, or put it on a reverse light photoperiod... this growth will greatly improve water quality, adding some necessary items to the water... that your fishes drink continuously. Bob Fenner

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