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FAQs on Marine Infectious Disease (Bacterial, Fungal, Viral) 1

Related Articles: Infectious DiseaseUnderstanding Bacterial Disease in Aquarium Fish; With a gallery of bacterial infections, a discussion of Fish TB, and a listing of major antimicrobial medications with examples available to fishkeepers By Myron Roth, Ph.D.,

Related FAQs: Infectious Disease 2, Infectious Disease 3, Infectious Disease 4, & FAQs on Infectious Disease: Identification, Causes/Etiology, Cures/Medications, Case Histories: Bacterial, True Fungal & Biological Cleaners, Cryptocaryon

Flesh eating bacteria??? 8/9/05 The other day, I noticed what looked like a fin nip on my pyramid angel (didn't pay too much mind but watched to see who the culprit was). I went to work and when I came home, I noticed the area was almost 3x the size of the "nipped" area and the fish was panting heavily. Over the next 4-6 hours, I could literally watch the area become grey and fleshy and disintegrate away right in front of my eyes. I put the fish in quarantine where it died about 1 hour later. What in the world did I witness? <A rapid necrosis caused by...?> Today I noticed the Red Sea Chevron had it too and I immediately removed him but within hours, the area was 3-4 times the size and once again grey and fleshy and I know that within the next few hours he will be gone also. Both fish came from the same store and were purchased together but now I need to know what I'm up against so I do not lose my whole tank. Please help!!! Thanks, Jeffrey <... very frightening... but it reads like a super-aggressive infection of Mycobacterium marinum, or other bacteria... I would definitely not put your hands in the tank w/o using waterproof gloves... and would try weakening the pathogen by lowering your specific gravity (quickly if you only have fish livestock). You might want to save, bring a freshly dead specimen to a veterinarian that specializes in such diseases, fishes... or a college for examination. Bob Fenner>

UV sterilizer and flesh eating bacteria 7/24/05 Hello, <Hi there> Could you please tell me whether UV sterilizers will reduce somewhat marine ulcer disease AKA flesh eating bacteria AKA vibriosis? <Mmm, indirectly... through water quality improvement, increased ReDox, oxygen concentration... sure> I am treating my seahorses with antibiotics in quarantine. However I am considering a UV sterilizer for the main tank (has live rock) to reduce the bacteria. What do you think? Regards Katja <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/UVFAQs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: UV sterilizer and flesh eating bacteria 7/25/05 Dear Bob, <Katja> Thank you. I have been reading your posts and info sites for two years now. Most excellent help!  I have learnt so much. I asked the UV question because I was not sure whether Vibrio is a free swimming bacteria <Mostly not> and thus destroyed via UV. However I hope that the horses (given they recover) will develop 'more' of an immunity to it. The main tank has been (and will again be) brought up to tip top condition. Hopefully with more frequent water changes I will manage to reduce and keep down Vibrio bacteria populations.  From what I have read, UV is more like a bonus / additional help <A good way to put it/this> and more of a luxury which I hopefully will one day try out. You don't have to reply to this letter, I just wanted to thank you :>. Regards Katja <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sick Polymnus Clownfish 4/17/05 I purchased a mated pair of Saddleback (Polymnus) clownfish about 3 weeks ago. When I first placed them into my 12 gallon QT tank, they seemed very healthy and readily accepted foods including Mysis soaked in vitamins, Cyclop-Eeze and small pellets. However, after two weeks or so, I began to notice some odd behavior in the female (who is about 3x larger than her mate). She seemed very lethargic, mostly swimming near the bottom of the tank without the usual bobbing motion associated with her species. Once in a while, I noticed she would just swim from one end of the tank to the other, sometimes gently bumping into the tank wall before reversing direction. She also stopped eating, but exhibited no signs of parasites or other diseases. The male remains very healthy.  <A. Polymnus aren't the hardiest of clowns and often fail to acclimate to captivity. The black variant seems to do somewhat better. If these are wild caught specimens, I would suggest that you research and rule out Brooklynella (usually indicated by thick cloudy mucous on skin). If it is Brooklynella, both clowns must be moved to a hospital tank and must be treated with Formalin baths.> A couple days ago, I moved the pair into the 60gal reef tank, hoping that a larger tank would perk her up. After several hours, the pair began hosting in my LTA anemone. At first I thought the female had perked up, but it has been two days now and she is still not eating (it's been about a week total since she stopped eating). This morning I discovered that one eye is beginning to bulge out, looks like early stages of Popeye however the eye is not cloudy. There is a small hippo tang in the tank which is perfectly happy and only occasionally hangs around the clownfish and their anemone although I've seen no biting.  <"Pop Eye", especially when only one eye is affected is most often caused by physical injury. However, in her outstanding book on Clownfishes, Joyce Wilkerson describes a very rare fungal disease that often causes pop-eye and the other signs you have described. There is no certain way to diagnose it while the fish is still alive, but she suggests that it can be treated by soaking food in 1% Phenoxyethanol I don't have a brand name to recommend, but it will be marketed as an anti-fungal medication (don't substitute!).> What do you suggest I do? Is her strange behavior just a result of the Popeye she is developing or is there a bigger issue likely involved? Should I move the female (or both) back to the QT tank? Should I treat with Epsom salts or Maracyn as you sometimes suggest? Thanks for your help. You guys perform a wonderful service! Saahil.  <I would not move the fish again. The other fish have already been exposed to the problem and further stress and physical contact with the injured eye could be quite harmful. If the fish is not eating, there is no way to get Phenoxyethanol into the fish (adding to the water is ineffective), so you will have to offer tempting foods and wait it out. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Vibrio  I have looked all over your site, and cannot find a definition for "Vibrio".  Can you hook me up with a link? Kasey DeVita <Mmm, another "as-yet-to-be-done" (of many) parts of the WWM sites... Here's a link to links on this bacteria genus and aquariums: Vibrio Googled.  Can be a "nasty customer"... but almost always a secondary, tertiary trouble... from other root causes. Bob Fenner> 

Blue tang... WWM Hi there, I have a blue tang, which had black spot, everything was going well until the other day, now her mouth seems to appear to be swollen slightly open, I have had her for a couple of months now. I cant seem to figure it out, don't want her to die, anyone with any information is greatly needed, thank you much. Lisa. <Please go to our home page... www.WetWebMedia.com and put in the terms... "Blue Tang"... see the files listed? Go to them and read on! Bob Fenner>

Foxface with one cloudy eye Good evening all: <Good morrow Keith> This evening I noted that my Foxface has one slightly cloudy eye. It does not appear to be swollen. Tank is an eighty gallon with about 70lbs live rock, remora pro skimmer and two other resident fish. A royal Gramma and an ocellaris clown. They are fine. The Foxface has been in the tank a little over a month. Consumed almost all of my micro (hair algae, Caulerpa, Valonia and lord know what else) Now feeding him Nori and pellet food. Appetite is excellent, is very relaxed swimming about the tank and does get on well with the other two. Tank states are good with ammonia and nitrite 0, very low nitrates. In looking through the FAQs I noted that this is often observed in conjunction with Popeye, <Yes... and likely the same root cause here... for one eye... a physical trauma> ...however as above no swelling observed (yet). I am a bit overdue for a water change but will get that done tomorrow. Some recommendations are wait and see, some recommend Epsom salts. What would you suggest at this point? Thanks for your advice and for being there! <Either, both of these. Bob Fenner>

Sick Koran Angel Anthony, <Seems to have dropped off the planet> I have attached photos of my very unhappy Koran Angel. <Good pix> She has been in my tank for about 3.5 years (Since she was the size of a quarter).  About a week ago, she started to get red behind the gills. She has stopped eating, and now has cloudy eyes.  <Trouble> Prior to getting sick, no fish had been added to this tank in about 9 months.  My Blond Naso tang, now has a nasty red patch from the top side of one of his gills. <Oh oh...> In the past week I have done a 100g water change. I also turned off the ozonizer, so as not to irritate the gills.  <Might be better to leave on... to reduce total bacteria...> I added some cleaner shrimps and cleaner wrasses and they were all over her for the first couple of days and then they disappeared (not unusual with cleaner wrasses).  Any thoughts or ideas ? Thanks, Dave B <Something has gone sideways with your system itself... water quality is the first thing I would check... You might want to add antibiotics to your fishes foods... maybe even an injection for the more valuable... all this is gone over and over on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>


Dead Moray Affecting Angel Our pygmy moray eel died today of a condition similar to that as described in Cathy's question which was titled sick moray on your question page - though OUR eel had been breathing heavily for the past few days - it was only this morning that we discovered the red patches on her otherwise normal pink skin - we isolated her this morning and following her death an hour later upon examination we found worms coming through her skin in several places as well as thick mucous floating in the isolation tank - we are assuming by what you told Cathy this is a bacterial infection superimposed upon a parasitic infection <Likely so> Our primary concern now is for the ONE other fish in the main tank which is a conspiculatus angel - who at this point shows no signs of distress, eats well, and appears to be in perfect health - water quality is excellent in the 75 gallon tank our question is do you feel we need to take any sort of precautions or interventions to ensure that that angel does not have any parasites or to reduce the likelihood of any subsequent infestation - also is the parasite that affected our eel specific to the eel or can it cause problems with the angel - <Good question and speculations... Very unlikely the problem with the Moray will spread to the Angel, or that predisposing conditions in the same system will mal-affect the Angel>> if interventions are recommended we would appreciate any or all suggestions thank you in advance for your advice and counsel Ken and Steve in Chicago <Glad to render my opinion. Bob Fenner> Sudden Porcupine Death I left for work Thursday morning at 6am, and fed my 3 in. Porcupine Puffer a small amount of Mysis shrimp which he ate. He was swimming around and looked fine.<OK> I came home from work this morning 26 hours later and he looked TERMINAL!!! He had developed a large white "patch" on his back that looked like velvet (I think) only it wasn't fuzzy or anything?, looked like 2 3mm circles, sort of connected?<Question...are there any other fish in the tank? What you are describing is what often happens to porcupine puffers kept with Triggerfish and are bites in most cases> he was disoriented, lethargic, breathing was heavy and labored, swimming backwards then floating vertical, then upside down, bumping into things, etc. What is this?<It sounds exactly like a fish that has been attacked by a tankmate> velvet?<Velvet usually is very similar to Ich, only with the spots much smaller and more compact, thus the name as it appears to be covered with a velvety texture. Often the eyes will be cloudy and the fins milky looking as well> I pulled him from the 90 gallon (no other fish, just 40 pounds of live rock)<The porcupine was the ONLY fish in the tank? If I'm reading this right, then I need to ask one other question...are there any anemones in the tank? Anemone stings can appear similar to fish bites>> I put him in the 20 gallon QT but he looked SO bad. He was gasping (even in the main tank) and looked miserable. I was heartbroken and couldn't stand to see him suffer, and euthanized him by freezing.<Probably a wise decision> I am so saddened by this, I don't understand how this could have happened so fast!? I also don't want my live rock and "good" bacteria in the 90 to go dormant, how do I treat the main tank with no fish in it?<There's no reason to treat your main tank at this stage, with my suggestion being to NEVER treat your main tank> are Porc. puffers this sensitive to parasitic infections?<Actually yes. Porcupine puffers are every bit as susceptible to Ich and velvet attacks as tangs> I want to let the main tank stand long enough to make SURE that any/all parasites are long dead, but spent way too much on marine Bio-Spira and live rock to have that die too, what do I do? I tested all the parameters in the main tank Temp=78 SG=1.022 Ammonia=0 Nitrites=0 Nitrates=2.5 PH=8.2 I don't get it?<The parameters indicate it probably wasn't water quality, while the symptoms you described are NOT normal for a parasitic infestation, and are very suggestive of an injury. Since you state there are no other fish in the tank, my next guesses would be either anemone/coral stings (is this a FOWLR tank or a reef tank?) or lastly, a case of getting itself caught in a power head intake (very common with porcupines and also produces circular "wounds") or possibly even just in the LR itself. Porcupines can be little "bulldozers" that will sometimes force themselves into tight areas looking for crabs or shrimp, and then panicking once they become stuck, then inflating and only making the situation worse. Once trapped like this, it's not uncommon to exhaust themselves to the point of death.> I am beside myself!!<I'd try to just relax, take a deep breath and consider the possibilities, with my hunch going to a power head, since there are no triggerfish>

Treating Fish In The "Hot Zone"- A Happy Ending! HI Scott F, <Hey there!> Yep...you were right! The spot disappeared, all three fish seem very healthy and happy and I have set aside a proper quarantine tank for the future. <Yaaayy! I like happy endings!> Again, thanks a million and happy fish keeping! P.S. Also, thanks for tolerating my atrocious spelling...I re-read what I had written you...yikes! <Glad to have been there for you! As to the spelling...Well- we like to have everything perfect, but I see it as a chance to sharpen my editing skills for "Conscientious Aquarist"! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

- Clown Under the Weather - Bob, I have a saddleback clown that today has got white, off white or gray looking spots (mucus looking) and some stringy mucus on the fins and around the gill area. The fish is not eating, but is in its normal area of the tank. As of last night it was fine. I did spend quite a lot of time in the tank cleaning it after being on vacation for 2 weeks and at which time I did a small water change. The clown was his normal self and eat like a mad man last night. Other variables are: I tried new food last night (Omega One brand) and put some carbon in the tank. The other fish 2 yellow clown gobies and a Lyretail Anthias seem fine. The clown has been the tank for over six months. And suggests would be helpful. Doug <For now, I'd just keep it under observation... the white spots and mucus could be a reaction to something that happened while you were away, and the water change improves its attitude. Keep an eye on the spots, and make certain it is eating. Prepare a quarantine tank in case things take a turn for the worse. Cheers, J -- >

Porcupine Post Mortem <HI, MikeD here again> I don't have any powerheads. I am running an Eheim 2217 and 2 Emperor 400's with reg. cartridges and bio-slabs. No other fish or anemones have been anywhere near him for at least a month (when I got him) I have read over everything I can find in the fad's, I think it kind of sounds like ich? <You're still losing me here. Ich is very tiny white specks, as small or smaller than a grain of salt, and NEVER large circular marks. When I said powerheads, that can include any power filter intake, although it SOUNDS as if your is covered by a sponge pre-filter?> but I don't know? Should I let the main tank go fallow? <You can if you wish, just to be safe, but from what I read it truly seems unnecessary> if so for how long, and how do I maintain the bacteria? I am DONE with Puffers! <WAIT a minute here (please?)!!! Most puffers aren't that susceptible to ich, with the Porcupine and the Burrfish being the worst> I got WAY too attached to this Porc. <That I understand fully...they don't call them personality fish for nothing!> I didn't know they were as prone to disease as Tangs. <Again, not all, just porcs and burrs> I think I will stick with my original idea of a Russell's Lionfish, as soon as I know for sure that it's safe? <I can't fault you on that idea, as they are one of my all time favorites. NEVER, by the way put a small sharp-nosed puffer in with a lionfish, as they are famous for shredding their fins and killing them. Ironic, eh? The smallest member of the puffer family (about 3") is also the nippiest>

Making The Right Diagnosis Hello Crew! <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I did find articles about this subject on your site, but not specifically about Naso Tangs. I have a 75G saltwater that has been perfect for two-plus years.  About a month ago I added a Naso Tang.  He seemed very happy, but a week after being added, he was briefly "caught" by my large hermit crab (who's never caught anything before). <Yikes!> He managed to get away quickly.  I checked him out and all seemed well.  Now about 10 days after that incident, both eyes are very cloudy.  One of the eyes has some of the cloudy material peeling away slightly.  Really looks ugly.  He sometimes goes to the bottom of the tank and props himself against a rock -- I think because he can't see.  He tries to eat, but can't see his way around much. <I don't know if this is the result of "collateral damage" caused by injury, or some type of other problem.> I have a gallon of Melafix that I used on another tank.  But, I'm not sure its the right stuff for this and not clear how long to medicate. <I'm glad that you're holding back on medicating until you make a positive ID as to what it is you're fighting! Do check on the WWM disease FAQs on parasitic illnesses, and see if you're dealing with something similar. That's my hunch...> I had a QT until recently (my son uses it as his tank for now, long story).  So, what do I do folks? Habitants: Red legged crab two Yellowtail Damsels one small clown An aggressive wrasse (but he leaves the Tang alone) Thanks so much! Steve Johnston <Well, Steve- Cloudy eyes and listlessness are symptoms of the parasitic disease Amyloodinium (Marine Velvet), which can be deadly if left untreated, not to mention, highly contagious...Do check on those Parasitic Disease FAQs on the WWM site to verify if this is what you're dealing with, and then begin treatment in a separate tank with an appropriate medication (usually copper sulfate or formalin-based meds, if you're dealing with Amyloodinium) ASAP. With quick diagnosis and rapid intervention, you can defeat this disease...Get to it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Bacterial Infection? (4/8/04)  Hello again. <Hi. Steve Allen with you this evening.> Well I have lost all of my fish. <So sorry to hear :(> I am a newcomer to the saltwater fish hobby and although I read everything I found on the internet about saltwater fish I didn't do something right. I found out (all to late) My tank had a bacterial infected fish which was the Black and White Butterfly. <How as this infection diagnosed? Are you certain that it was bacterial infection. This is far less common that parasitic infestations.> I treated my tank but I guess it was to late. <How did you treat it.> So my question is how do I clean the tank to get rid of the bacteria. I have Fiji rock in the tank. Any help would be greatly accepted. Debbie <I need to know more about what happened (answers to my questions above) and what your current set-up is (size, filtration, etc.) in order to give you any useful advice. BTW, please use periods and capitalization (proper noun "I" and first letter of sentence) so your mails are easier to read. Thanks, Steve Allen.>

Black & White Butterfly Hello, <Steve Allen again> The Butterfly fish had cloudy eyes on the second day after I had purchased it. It also was breathing rapidly and had some black spots on his body. <Could have been a primary parasitic worm infection with secondary bacterial infection. Read about Paravortex or black spot disease.> I searched on the computer and every thing I read pointed to a Bact. infection. I purchased the fish from Petsoultions.com (which was a mistake) Then I went and bought some med called Melafix which was for cloudy eyes and bacterial infections. I treated the whole tank. I have been told since that you do not treat a saltwater tank with any type of medicines. <Melafix may not really be adequate. A real antibiotic in a quarantine tank would be better. Don't beat yourself up about losing this fish. It's really hard to save a fish that's already sick when you get it. The downside of buying online is that you do not have the opportunity to observe the fish prior to purchase. OTOH, the price is right and one can often find fish that are hard to find at the LFS. I'd let the tank sit fish-free for several weeks and run some PolyFilter and carbon to remove any leftover medication. Quarantine any future additions for 4 weeks. Read details on WWM.> Debbie <Hope this helps.>

Hyposalinity And Ich Hi <Hello, Scott F. with you!> I have 2 quick questions if you please: 1. If I want to do a hyposalinity treatment ( for ich ) in my FOWLR tank what is the max temperature and minimum S.G. I can use? <I wouldn't go below 1.010-1.012, and I'd keep the temperature no higher than 82 degrees F. Acclimate the animals carefully, and don't do this in a tank with inverts and coral. Remove them, or do this in a separate tank.> 2. How long should I keep the tank at these parameters for effective treatment? <I'd leave conditions that way for at least 3-4 weeks...Do look at you other treatment options as well, before starting this process.. It can work, but may not be as effective as some other techniques (like letting the display tank run fallow, while treating the fishes with an effective medication. Lots of different schools of thought on this...Consider them all! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Disease question To answer your question, I have seen rapid gilling and scratching. They seem to be scratching near their mouths for the most part. The queen was doing it quite frequently.  <all conspicuous signs of gill irritation from a disease or poison... likely disease in this case since your chemistry checks fine> I did see the grouper's gills before he died, there didn't seem to be anything unusual.  <there is nothing to see with the naked eye my friend... this is no matter> With the lack of other symptoms, what would this indicate? I don't know what else to do besides a water change, do you think this may improve the situation/save the others? <you need to medicate these fishes in a separate bare-bottomed hospital tank. Freshwater dips and Formalin meds are called for. Treating in the tank is not an option as the meds will poison the bio-filter and stain/contaminate all live rock, sand. gravel, etc. QT is to run 4 weeks... tank will go fallow in the meantime. As mentioned before... quarantine is CRITICAL for all new fishes. Under almost no circumstance IMO should a new fish be placed directly into a display with other clean fishes... it risks all of their lives as you have seen. Please read through our archives and FAQs if you need more information about QT and med treatments. Best regards, Anthony> Thanks, Tim

Re: Disease question Hi, <Howdy> Well, the grouper died yesterday. I did a 10 gal. water change last night and came home today only to find the Queen Angel all but dead. It is in last stages and going through its death throes. This is very disappointing and frankly not easy to bear.  <tragic, my friend. I'm sorry to hear it> I am confused about what could possibly be the problem since the other fish look fine. The queen angel was fine yesterday and after the water change and almost a day, it is looking this way. The Foxface is eating, but not very well. The trigger and cleaner wrasse are both eating and look fine. If there is something fundamentally wrong with the system, wouldn't it affect all the fish the same way,  <not at all... every fish has a different immunity and tolerance... between genera and even between members of the same species! Just like some people in a household getting a flu and some don't> or at least at the same time? I just did another 10 gal. water change today, so that's 35 gal. in just over 2 weeks time. I would think last night's change would have done some good, instead it seems to have had an adverse effect and very quickly.  <unlikely relative to the water change> I am planning on doing another 15 gal. this weekend just to be sure. But I don't know if that's the answer. It seems to be some kind of illness. The queen didn't have any outward signs of disease, no spots or any growths, just some paleness and cloudy spots on the eyes. <if it is pathogenic... only a parasitic organism in the gills could cause such severe mortality without many symptoms. Have you seen rapid gilling or scratching off rocks?> Fins were a little ragged too. I'd like to be thinking about replacing the fish, but not sure if it would be safe.  <you will be sure to only buy one at a time and put every one through an isolated screening in a proper quarantine tank first, right? It is critical to avoid these problems and show due respect for our charges and life at large to do so. We certainly don't think they are furniture or inanimate <G>> Don't know what else to do or make of this, so again I ask for your assistance and gratefully appreciate your help so far. Thanks for your time. Tim <Tim... since we cannot be there to actually see and evaluate your fishes, may I suggest that you make an investment in a house call from a local aquarium service personnel (look them up in the phone book). These chaps are paid to keep fish alive... find one that has been in the biz for a while for a better chance at some wisdom/experience. Remember... their livelihood depends on keeping fish alive. A good aquarium society would be great too if one is local (or start your own if not!). With kind regards, Anthony>

Questions about Disease Resistance Jason Some other questions. In my main tank I only have a Snowflake Eel that is doing great. In Bob's book, he has a great section on different species and how they do in captivity. He does state that snowflakes are disease resistant. Does this mean parasite or can they be parasite host. <<it's kind of like "stainless steel" - doesn't mean it won't rust or stain, just means it will stain less.>> I hope to put my quarantined fish in main tank in 10-14 days but saw something in main tank that I have seen diving but not in tank before. In my openings (caves) of live rock there were tiny animals swarms. They were only in openings out of direct light. They were swimming, not floating. I don't think they are parasites since I have heard they float. But I have never seen floating parasites as others have said in forum they have seen. Does this sound like parasites or something from live rocks? I do run an algae scrubber. <<could quite likely be beneficial stuff from the live rock>> DStanley <<Cheers, J -- >>

Loving CMA, Hating Torn Fins Hey Mr. Fenner, <<It's JasonC here>> It's been a while. How are things? I know you recently went on a dive. I hope you had a great time. <<actually, he's still out diving...>> Well, I've been sort of quite recently because I purchased your book, "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist." Just, outstanding. <<Bob will appreciate your kind words.>> However, I can't find any definitive opinion on fish that have torn fins and their causes and suggestions. The situation is this: Everything looks great. Leather coral fully extended. Quadricolor anemone doing great. etc. Parameters all sound. All fish have been in the tank for at least 6 weeks and have been healthy and harmonious. Yet, several of the fish are displaying torn fins. I watch the tank for about an hour a day and don't since nor witness any rough horse play between the tank mates. It all started when I noticed a few tears on my (wrongly delivered) Sailfin tang. (He is black and with yellow stripes as opposed to the gray I was expecting, no complaints though, proper ID please?) <<these guys lighten and darken with conditions/mood>> Then I noticed a tear or two on the Kole Tang. Then a few tears on the Scott's Fairy Wrasse. Finally, there appears to be slight tear on the True Perk. In perfect condition is the Hippo Tang (the night aggressor maybe??) . . . Any suggestions? <<even if you haven't seen it, I'd bet on some form of aggression taking place in your tank, perhaps at night, perhaps during the other parts of the day when you aren't watching. If you can, spend more than one hour, and don't sit right in front of the tank, watch from a distance if you can. At night, you can use a red light to see who's lurking at night.>> It will be good to hear from you again my friend. I love your book, and I hope things are well. Chatting, Rich <<Cheers, J -- >>

My fish are under attack Hi guys, please help me. I have a 120 f/o with a Luna lion, porcupine puffer, Annularis angel and a zebra moray.  < a full house indeed> I have had all fish except the angel for over 2 years. The angel has been around for 6 months and was quarantined. I brought on some sort of disease by letting my tank go a little long without maintenance. I have always been religious with monthly water changes but let it go longer last month so I think it is my fault.  <many stressors possible> In two days one of puffer's eyes clouded over with thick white flaky stuff and I could see white areas on lions fins. I did a big water change, lowered spg and turned the heat up thinking environmental disease and preparing to wait.  <hmmm... must be careful with raising temperature when bacterial infections cannot be ruled out... may make things worse. Bacteria thrive in warmer environments> 3 days later and things are much worse, both puffers eyes are infected and the lion has more stuff on his body. It doesn't match up with anything I can find on your site. It has to be some sort of parasite but the white chunks on the lion are much larger than ich or velvet.  <not at all... primary symptoms were not at all indicative of parasites: cloudy eyes suggest water quality or bacterial infection as do white chunks and see turbidity/necrosis on fins. Ich is merely like identical grains of salt...never bigger or irregular as you have observed. Still... there could be another parasite at work causing the skin irritation and sloughing> The angel fish shows no sign of attack on his body but his eyes might be a little cloudy, I can't really tell. Whatever it is seems to attack skin as the angel has nothing on his scales. I have two large refugiums (20 gallons each) under my tank which I can use for treatment or I could put my rocks in them and treat the main tank. I think medication is necessary but I have no idea what kind. I have had these fish for a long time and will do whatever it takes to save them. Thanks Sean from Denver <agreed my friend... do set up bare-bottomed quarantine/hospital tanks with biological filtration (foam blocks from seeded filters are ideal) and/or daily water changes to maintain water quality. In combination, use "Quick Cure" as per mfg dose (or like formalin/malachite combo) a and use an antibiotic with Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone together in it (Like jungle "Fungus Eliminator" at double strength). Dose for three to five days looking for stabilization or improvement (again...do water changes too). Best regards, Anthony>

Fish Disease Book Anthony, <You caught me, Steven Pro, on my shift, but I have the wonderful book Anthony spoke of, too.> I saw your response to someone regarding a book called Dieter Untergasser's Handbook of Fish Diseases. Do you know if this book is commonly available in pet stores or have an ISBN? <Handbook of Fish Diseases Dieter Untergasser, TFH Publications ISBN 0-86622-703-2 Hope that was helpful. Steven Pro>

First time mailer (marine disease situation) Hi Bob, I've had a fresh water set up and now I'm trying a salt water reef tank. Parts of it are currently under construction (i.e.. sump, light hood). Its been running for about six weeks. I started with a 65 gallon tank, 403 Fluval, 300 AquaClear, heater, 802 powerhead for circulation, and 1" of crushed coral. Circulated the water for a week, then added two damsels, then a week later bought 10lbs of live rock. Two weeks after that I bought a flame angel and an anemone.  <This is a little too quick> Then finally after one week more I bought six turbo snails and 24lbs more of live rock. I have the sump nearly complete and now I have trouble. I've been reading info on this site, but unfortunately, did not get though everything in a timely manner and have made some small mistakes along the way. One being that I did not quarantine the fish before introducing them to the main tank. The flame angel has ich! <Yikes... likely sped on by all being rushed...> I knew from past experience that raising the temperature has some positive effects. After reading further, it seems that those are limited. The increased temperature has removed the spots but it seems that this is only temporary. I was ready to add the sump and SeaClone skimmer tomorrow BUT, <I would> Here is my plan...........convert newly created sump (approx. 35gallon) to a hospital tank for six weeks, treat all the fish (3) with copper. Its empty right now because I just completed making it custom, to fit under the corner diamond 65gal main. Use the AquaClear as filtration on the sump hospital tank). The main tank will have increased temperature and reduced SPG. Based on what I've read this should clear my problem. Will the remaining inhabitants benefit from also being transferred?  <Yes... but as I said/state, I would likely (very) try to "treat" the situation by improving water quality, adding a cleaner shrimp and or goby at this point... rather than coppering, quarantining...> The kicker is that I specifically asked the LFS whether it was necessary to quarantine. Should of spent more time reading here! Are there any additional concerns I should have regarding the anemone, snails, crushed coral, live rock?  <Mmm, all sorts... sorry to hear of you having such troubles at this early juncture in the hobby...> Should I reverse the filtration by putting the Fluval on the hospital tank instead? I have a 3 gallon tank which is not cycled ready to use if need be, it has a small light, heater and two small AquaClear filters. I have read many of your responses to other people and look forward to getting one myself. Respectfully, thanks in advance, Roland <Thank you for writing... Please read here if you haven't already: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm and the accompanying FAQs files... I would shoot for some sort of "balance" here rather than an ideal "disease/no disease" situation. Bob Fenner>

Re: First time mailer Many thanks for your speedy reply......... I will take your advice and keep reading and learning! <I as well> Thanks oh so much! <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> Roland

Re: Kole Tang sick? Happy New Year Bob, I wasn't going to continue with this( I figured I must be asking many silly questions) however, I took the advise of my LFS and treated the Kole tang/clown fish with Organic Cure in a separate 10 gallon tank. Unfortunately, yesterday morning the tang passed away. <My friend... please use the Google Search feature on WWM and read of not just my opinions re this product, but the results of others use... Irrespective of the name, "Organi-cure" is a biocide...> I immediately tested the water and found Amm 0, Nitrites 0(didn't test for Nitrates). Was that a reaction to the medication?  <What? Not testing for nitrates? The loss? Likely a major contributing cause> I forgot to mention in my previous e-mail that my maroon clown fish was the first fish that developed it even though I have never seen it scratching and has been eating fine). This is the second Kole tang that I lost. Also, I have a 3 1/2 undulated trigger possibly from the Pacific that I temporarily placed him in the main tank and has been behaving ok so far( has neither attacked nor bothered my yellow tang or any of my polyps/hard corals). Would it be too risky to leave him there with the tang and possibly the clown fish?  <Too risky? Define your terms... or ask who gave you the sterling advice re the "medication"> This is a gorgeous fish that I would like to keep, nevertheless, I think I would have to turn my tank into a non-reef environment(?) <Perhaps, ultimately... but it does hail from reefs...> At last, my LFS does not recommend to treat the entire 55 gallon tank, but instead to treat the fish (i.e. clown fish) individually. I believe treating the entire tank for ick would necessitate to remove all inverts etc. into another tank, right? Btw, I am a diver too, and I find diving less stressful than fish keeping. <You are an intelligent person who can/will work into "less stress" by way of exposure... re the illness that is your problems in the tank, I have referred you before to the sections on WetWebMedia.com to review. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your attention, D.

Help Treating Sick Fish Hi Bob, <<JasonC here filling in while Bob is away diving.>> I got your email address off WetWebMedia's home page. I was hoping you could help me with a dilemma. My husband and I are quite new at the saltwater hobby. We love it though. <<ahh, good...>> We have a 100 gallon aquarium with just fish, no live rock or corals yet. We currently have a Naso Tang, Yellow Tangs, a Snowflake Eel, a Mexican Rock Wrasse, as well as a Maroon Clownfish. I have two questions for you. The first is in regards to our Maroon Clownfish. We have had him for approximately one month now. He is the latest addition to our tank. About a week after we got him I noticed white spots all over him. Even though he was still active and eating well I assumed that we had Ich and started treating the tank for it. None of the other fish showed any signs of Ich or anything else bothering him. They were not "picking" on the clown either. <<ok>> After my first treatment of Greenex nothing changed. <<can take weeks for the cycle of parasites to be broken/eliminated.>> The white spots were still there but the clownfish was still acting and eating good. So, I called the local store here and asked about it. They suggested a freshwater/Formalin dip for him. <<also good to adjust the pH of the freshwater to reduce sources of stress - check out the following link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm >> I did that for a week (every day like they said) and he suddenly got quite a bit better! However, after the dip it came back! I was then told that he had this "clown" disease that was very hard to get rid of. <<one of a couple of possibilities.>> Since then I have left him alone, not really knowing what to do next. <<I was just going to say you should leave it alone for a little while.>> It has been a week now and every day he seems to get better and better with me doing nothing! He eats like a horse too! <<so...>> My questions are: What is this disease in your opinion? <<too hard to tell without a microscope, but none of the players in this game are good so...>> Should I not add fish to the tank until it is completely gone? <<I wouldn't.>> Would purchasing a UV Sterilizer (which I was going to do anyway) help the situation? <<No, a UV wouldn't help - if the tank inhabitants would allow for it, I would try a cleaner shrimp.>> My other question is in regards to the Mexican Rock Wrasse. We have had him for about a year. He's always been very healthy and active. He still is. However, he seems to be changing colors! Then he'll change back to his normal color. He does this several times a day. Is this normal? Is he just growing into adulthood? <<not sure, many fish change their color as they age, change their mood - but Bob lists the Rock Wrasse as a cool water species and your wrasse is just not overly happy about the situation. Check out Bob's thoughts on this one: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/halichoeres.htm >> Thanks so much for any help / answers you can provide. I hope you don't mind me emailing you. <<Don't mind at all. Cheers, J -- >>

Ailing Neon Goby Mr. Fenner, Thank you for such a quick response. I read the link (as well as a few more subjects) you directed me to on marine disease. In my hasty response and fear for this fish I think I did not take a breath a think about what is happening with this fish. :(  I hope you can forgive me for not giving your website a once over before I wrote to you. <No fight, no blame. No need for forgiveness> This Goby has been with me for six week now. Three of that were spent in my QT tank. I did a fresh water dip and let him swim about for those three weeks in there. He ate well, was active and I found no reason to keep him any longer from my main tank. He has had no problems since. I do think he has gotten a lot of yellow tang in his face, but he is skilled at avoiding him. My water quality has been stable and he did well when he was acclimated to my main tank. The conclusion I have drawn is that the stress of the power failure brought on a case of ich his body had be harboring. I am sure being weaken just gave this a chance to come to a head. <I agree> My SG is 1.023 but I think it would be best to set up my QT and take my rock apart, net and treat this little fellow. I do wonder if regaining his strength will allow him to naturally overcome this outbreak but as of right now I am doubtful. <I am not.> Thank you for your help again! I'll do my best to think things through in the future. Josie <Aim always to become yourself. Bob Fenner>

Scratching and not sure if this is flashing? Hello Mr. Fenner (again), Thank-you for providing the answers on treating Ick in a fish-only liverock tank. I will definitely invest in a Quarantine tank for treatment. <A smart move... Wish I could convince wholesalers, or at least more retailers to quarantine all livestock... would save many organisms and lost hobbyists...> One final question you may have an answer to is ( I hope I did not jinx my fish ) my 4 inch Lunare Wrasse always seems to bash him/herself into the liverock or against the substrate. Is this normal? <To some extent, yes> It is very active and has an aggressive appetite.. (rips the food right out of my Niger Trigger's mouth) Do not see any apparent marks, scratches or spots (very hard to see though it never stops moving) The Niger trigger seems to be ok; however, I did notice that it has what seems to be like an innie zit, hard to tell....seems to be two on one side and it is kind of whitish The trigger eats very well and seems to be quite active I know that there is info pertaining to fish scratching themselves.....could not find anything on the lunare wrasse. this may be normal for it) <The mark on the trigger is likely nothing to worry about. If it "doesn't multiply" I would ignore it> One last thing (sorry), the definition of flashing seems to be very vague..........could you fill me in on this. I do notice that the trigger swims along the top backside of the tank all day long and as he approaches the left side of the tank he starts to dart really quickly....super fast spurts of speed just for a second or two.....is this flashing? <Mmm, okay... more like periodic glancing (a small part of a second) than vigorous rubbing... but "no marks, no foul"> Really appreciate your time. Thank-you very much! Rob! <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Cyanide question (not likely) I have a 150g tank. I have bought fish twice from Saltwaterfish.com. My first order was and emperor angel, and a baby clown trigger. They looked good for 2 weeks then died suddenly-all the other fish in the tank were fine. So, I ordered again a few months later-same fish except a bigger clown trigger. Looked good for 3 weeks now the angel has what I believe to be Popeye it looks like a cone protruding off his eye but the end of the cone is flat). I started yesterday treatment with Maracyn 2. The clown trigger has a little bit of fin rot and is scratching on coral. Neither of them have ick and they are eating. The clown trigger does breathe rapidly and his eyes are getting foggy), but the angel is breathing fine. My tests are fine for nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, and ph. So, my question is why is this happening. Why would only the new fish get sick? I thought I remember reading one time that fish caught with cyanide look real good at first but don't last long. Help me please! What else should I put in the tank for these 2 sick fish? Thank You Sir, Kevin Ballard <Please save up (but soon) a good period of time when you can read/study the following sections on our site re fish/livestock health. Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm and on to Tank Troubleshooting: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm to livestock selection... associated files, FAQs... Much to say, discuss... that will take too long just asking/answering simple questions here. Bob Fenner>

If you have the time Dear Mr. Fenner, I have sent along an attachment to this e-mail. I would have sent it through this form but yahoo does not support the length of the text. Please don't let that scare you !! :) <Never my friend> If you are uncomfortable downloading a file from a stranger (I would completely understand) I will find another way to send it, if you would like. Thank you for the time and the chance to have you read my letter to you (the attachment.) Best wishes, Lenore Dear Mr. Fenner, There has been many times in the past three years that I have wanted to write to you. Not to seek advice (through sorely I have been tempted) but to express my deep gratitude for your contributions to marine keepers like myself.  <Ah, you are certainly welcome my friend> I am twenty-three years old and started keeping aquariums at the age of eleven. My father loved his 75g. reef system. It was his pride and joy and was housed in his den for as long as I can remember. I think I caught the aqua-bug early on in life.  Your book T.C.M.A. was a gift from my father to myself one Christmas, and has become invaluable to me. I have gone through the book so often that the corners are faded and the pages no longer bonds to the spine. I don’t know how many times I have read certain chapters, or the book on the whole. Each time I see a passage in a different light (personal experience maybe) and learn even more from it. <Yes… a potential quality of book-length writing… the capacity to “elaborate”, tie ideas, future memories together.> I would like to tell you about a project (a hobby within the hobby) that I have taken on in the last sixteen months. Forgive me if this becomes a lengthy letter, I tend to babble. I have seen from reading WWM daily Q&A as well as most FAQ that you are a man of patience. I hope I will not push you past your limits. <A rarity> A year and a half ago I went to my LFS to purchase a new powerhead. As always I caroused the livestock to see if anything caught my eye. I came across a Bubble-tip anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor, in a small tank housed with two other soft corals. It was the most pathetic sight to behold. Most of the tentacles were flaccid when others looked to be disintegrating. Signs of a bacterial infection, as well as an open wound along it’s badly broken foot. Even my untrained eye could identify all that. Grayish white in color in certain sections as well. I asked the clerk why it had not been taken out of the tank. He said it was for sale for $45.00! I probably had no business flying off the handle like I did at their audacity. Here I am a 21 year old blond skinny little thing getting in this mans face (who probably had no idea that there was anything amiss with the animal. Still if you are in the business for any length of time.) When he pulled it out of the tank (the smell, augh*#@!!*) I told the man I would pay five bucks for it just to see it taken out and not given to unsuspecting customer. He went to his supervisor (who I am sure overheard my opinion) and that was how much I paid to walk out with it.  <Good for you, and it> I was going to go home and straight to the freezer with it, but my QT was up and running so I thought I would take a better look at the damage. I sneaked some LR and sand from my 55g. FOWLR system and put it in the 20g. QT. I did a very slow acclimation. I also did not treat the water in anyway because my gut told me it would be lost at that point. I looked long and hard and knew it was in bad shape. It looked like its mouth was encrusted with what appeared to be salt (not sure to this day what that was.) I thought I would just let it go in the QT. For a week solid I made sure my water parameters were of the best I knew how to provide. Lower light and soft water motion for now, less shock I thought. Changing portions of water each day because of Amm. spikes. Staying on top of temp, pH, spg and O2. No feeding or additives for now, I just though it would die anyway.  I went to your book and learned quickly how often they parish in home systems but that the bubble tip is one of the more hardy of the anemones. Shipping, stress, and all poor environmental conditions reap havoc on these animals non-the less. So I was in for a shock when after three weeks I could notice no more die-off. What was left seemed to be recovering. Some of the better tentacles gained in strength and after another week became almost turgid. It had become well attached to some LR and the foot that had open sores seemed less angry. I boosted lights and water motion at that point. A few days after that more of the anemone came to life. I thought, what the hey, lets give a very light feeding and see how that goes over. Talk about action!  The next step was a bunch of more research about natural habits. I slowly increased the Alk. In the water (was running 1.9meq/liter) to 3.5 and began to see it gain a light pink color. After two ? months in my QT it became a whole new anemone. Fully extending and only certain tentacles had developed the bubbles. Its mouth looked far healthier then I ever expected, and could do well with a minimal amount of feeding. I added a cleaner shrimp to the tank and he went quickly to action. Cleaning the foot from skin that had sloughed off. I would also like to think the shrimp helped clean any lingering bacterial or parasitic infection that might have remained. I could see it gaining in strength and color as well. You would have thought I had won the lottery I was so pleased. J It stayed in my QT for a total of three months before I thought it would be safe in my 80g. reef. After that it just took off. It regenerated and grew in the most brilliant way. Originally it was about 5 inches, now after a year in my reef tank it has grown to nine to then inches. I am sure my small success caring for this animal is not uncommon. Yet it’s affects on my life have been phenomenal. <Outstanding> That was how my current hobby started. Kind of like going to the pound and adopting a sick puppy. I will go to LFS for livestock (far too often then I would like) that were ill and in need of urgent treatment. I would strike a deal with the store and purchase them at a low price. Now after they have realized what I am doing and why the often give me specimens that they know are doomed. A Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavescens suffering severely from HLLE and an outbreak of Ich. A crushed Open Brain, Trachyphyllia geoffroy. A Flame Hawkish, Neocirrhites Armatus that has gashes along its side with secondary infection from scrapping along the LR. Corals with trapped air bubbles. As well as fish who were O2 depleted and suffering poorly from it. The list thus far is extensive. I could go on & on. <Indeed, you should record your experiences and submit them to a worthy hobby magazine… Would be of considerable interest to the readership, and likely save many animals, hobbyists.> Often nothing I could do made any difference. The treatments would be wrong for the injury/illness or things were too far-gone. I am proud of the many animals that have made it though. J As time goes on and I acquire more specimens, my interest and devotion increases. I have gone to tag sales for tanks and hunted down every sale on equipment for new quarantine tanks. My room and garage look like an infirmary. The livestock that do make it are give to people I know who will care for them well. I have a good friend Marcus Steele who runs a marine maintenance for businesses as well as residential homes. I give him many specimens.  I often wonder if you would condone what I am doing. <Absolutely> I have heard from many people who think that I am just supporting stores as well as suppliers who treat livestock poorly.  <Ignore these ignorant, cynical statements. Above all, be true to yourself, your values.> I always come back with the thought that I have yet visited a store that has never had a sickly arrival. <There are none> The downside of capturing wild animals I think. <Of life itself> I like to say that at the very least I have been sparing the other livestock who share tank space in the stores more suffering. I do not condone the raping of endangered reefs and livestock. Or taking animals I know should never be put up for sale. I just feel good doing what I can. Though it is small and insignificant to others. <No my friend. Every effort, any improvement, is significant> I have known that I would like to make a living with aquarium keeping. How to do that has always been up in the air. There is so much to learn and I am not book smart.  <There are many ways of learning. Consider this deeply.> By that I mean I have only gone through high school. I would like to take classes in marine biology but that means college. That would cover Math, History, & English as well, a prospect my dyslexic mind cannot take on. Perhaps in the distant future I could handle it.  <Do ask your friend/cohort Marcus if you might accompany him… to help, learn. Perhaps enough business can be found, made to support both of you. I suspect so.> I have dreams of a vagabond lifestyle, picking at the brain of people who have knowledge in this hobby. How I would fund this dream is beyond me. J Maybe I could become the fish doctor who houses the ill aquatic life no one can help. Could that give me an income to sustain a decent living? <More than this it could/would “earn” you a living> I’m not sure, maybe. I would love nothing more then to be at home, doing what I am doing now and make a living from it. It is a lovely idea.  I guess I have written all of this (so sorry for it being such a long letter) to let you know what you have given me. A goal and pride in myself that I have never had before. I have your book and now website to thank for giving flight to my dreams and the tools to fuel my passion. Even if you do not condone my actions I know you can appreciate wanting to better oneself and marine keeping. I hope my contributions now and in the future will be (though never equal in my mind to yours) distinguished and welcome by others.  I hope that one day if you are ever speaking or visiting my area I can shake your hand and thank you in person (I’ll probably embarrass you and myself and cry or something to that affect) for what you give to me.  Best wishes and warmest regards, Lenore Dawson <I look forward to this day. Bob Fenner>

Salt water system feeding Hi Robert, I'm worried about introducing diseases if feeding live brine shrimps should I give them a "dip bath" with Methylene blue etc? or simply rinse them under tap water?  <The latter is a good idea... no other protocol is advised> before feeding them to my fish? I just got this new fish yesterday morning and he has not eaten yet. I read that giving them live brine shrimp will help getting them started. <Good idea. Bob Fenner> thanks, Marc

Sick fish . . . Arg Hi Bob, Wanted to just say that I have been watching the development of the site, and as always, I am amazed! <Me too!> Sorry for the book to follow, I just wanted to make sure that you knew what I've done, I've been trying to do things right: <Ah, good. No worries> Well, I had a 25 gallon eclipse hospital tank. I started thinking (first mistake) that it was really too large for a hospital tank, that I should use it for fish! So, I ordered 2 clarkii clowns and 2 citron clown gobies from FFExpress after it cycled, and the tank was doing quite well. I set it up with 35 pounds of live rock, upgraded the lighting to compact fluorescents (I think 32 watts, half white and half actinic bulb), added a CPR Backpack 2R to the side, and from my large tank took some mushrooms, macro algae, yellow soft Fiji leather (sarc. family -- which hadn't opened since I got it 3 months ago, it was open the first day and every day after since the move, maybe don't like as much light?) <This species, elegans (?) doesn't do well much (too much) of the time...> , gorgonians, sun polyps and button polyps into it (not all in the same month, btw!) I also moved a red spotted hawk to the tank as well. Everything was fine until last week, when the clowns stopped eating. (I feed a combo of flake, frozen soaked in Selcon, and the shrimp/fish/spinach mixture each day) They had what appeared to be white patches on their sides, and their eyes were foggy.  <Yikes... water quality checks?> They would hang out either at the top of the water, or lay at the bottom and not move, gasping. It broke my heart -- for one day the male would grab food and take it to the bottom to the female, but she would refuse it. Then the next day he wouldn't eat either. So I did freshwater dips on them with Methylene Blue -- forget how to spell the name <Methylene> -- raised the temp to 82, (from 80) dropped salinity (slowly) to 1.020, added another air stone, and checked the stats on the tank: Amm 0, Ni 0, Na 0, and the pH is 8.4. Added a huge cleaner shrimp (called all over the city and no one had a cleaner wrasse except for one yellow tail cleaner wrasse which I read do not do well in captivity) and within an hour something (the hawk??) had bit him in half and spit him out. <Yes... one of Hawkfishes fave food items are cleaner et al. shrimps> Fed the tail and body to my bubble coral. Did a partial water change of 3 gallons anyway (which I do every other week). After the dips, they looked good for 24 hours, then were worse then before, fins now clamped, color quite pale, open spots on their sides. Nothing else in the tank showed any signs of disease, and were active and moving around. Readings were the same. Desperation -- figured it was clownfish disease.  <Brooklynellosis> Caught the clowns and dipped in freshwater with 1 drop of formalin in it, then placed in the new 10 gallon quarantine tank. Treated with Maracyn every day. They then resumed eating (YEA!) and have been clean for 5 days. But, there are still issues in the other tank: 1. The red spotted hawk has gotten more and more aggressive since the disappearance of the clowns, chasing everything in the tank. Thinking I should remove him. <Maybe... this tank is one the small size for such species> 2. The gobies now have spots, but are still eating (when the hawk lets them). The one it looks like ich, the other looks like ich raised up off his body, fuzzy. Tried catching and I don't have a chance of that -- too fast. Will have to break the entire tank down, or treat it. The LFS said to put the clowns in the tank and take the gobies out to treat, but I didn't want to put the clowns back until the tank is safe. <Agreed> He suggested adding the Maracyn to the tank, that it wouldn't hurt the invertebrates, and it says it's invertebrate safe, but not for which ones, I don't trust it . . . <Pretty safe for all> also was suggested to add an anemone to the tank, <No! Not now at least> that it would help keep the clowns clean? Don't understand that and not sure that I have enough light even with them being compact fluorescents . . . any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again, for both the wonderful website and the excellent help! Cari <Let's see... multiple variables... shades of ANOVA testing! If it were me, mine, I would trade the Hawk in (probably)... would take the tank down (I know, a big job...) and remove the other fish livestock, run it through the "anti-protozoal" dip the same as the clowns. The invertebrates I would just return to the re-set up tank... Place some non-living habitat (like PVC pipe, fittings) to keep all happy (especially the Hawkfish if you keep it in with the others), let the main/Eclipse tank go for a month w/o the Clowns... In fact leave all fishes out for a good month, while keeping the temp. at/near 82-84 F. and maybe lower the specific gravity a bit more (perhaps 1.017-8... watch your invert.s... Wait a month, hopefully the fish parasites will be sufficiently weakened and your fishes will end up well. Bob Fenner> Cari Renneker

Sick Fish? Hi, I noticed something strange on both my tomato clown and flame angel (only fish in tank...55g, new reef converted from FO). On the one side of both fish, about midway on the body, there seems to be a mark. It is whitish-clear and almost looks like a scale. It be a scale and appears to be lifting off the fish. It is weird that both fish have this in almost the exact location. Just one small patch on each fish. <This is strange... perhaps coincidental mechanical injuries...> In addition, I notice the color of the flame's head looks strange. Looking straight on and above the eyes, there seems to be some discoloration...almost looks purple. It looks like it is underneath the skin and not on the surface. Any ideas? I just switched the tank over to a reef in the past month or so. I added 45 lbs LR, 4" DSB and last week a PC hood (4x55 with 2 actinic). The lights at this time, unfortunately, are not on a timer. Could this be some kind of cause for the symptoms? Maybe the adjustment/lack of exact light cycle has caused problems? <Maybe... more likely due to stress of the change overall... I would "just" keep the system optimized and stable for now... Hopefully your live rock will continue to improve water quality, offer a mix of foodstuffs, and the fishes marks will resolve. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Susie

Disease <Everything I know about marine aquarium keeping I learned the hard way... from the Net> Hello Robert...I looked through all the faq's on disease and still am at a loss. a couple weeks ago I had a cloudiness to my tank. I cleaned it really well, water change, and carbon and now everything is crystal. I noticed my puffer and lionfish seemed to have a powdery coating on them. My tangs have had ich so I know it's not that. It's like they swam through a light mist of flour or something. Anyway I set up a sick tank and my puffer got better but my lionfish died this morning. It seemed like his fins were melting it was really strange. I'm really freaked out about this. My 2nd lionfish has the powder on his tail. And his eyes don't seem right there seems to be a light cloud. I know that dipping is stressful but I did it and when I put him back in the tank he looked like he was peeling. Please help. I looked at the faq's like I said and there was nothing that sounded the same as what I see. Thank you Jenn <Does sound like the other/twin scourge of tropical reef disease, Velvet, aka Amyloodiniumiasis... this is covered on the site... you would do well to start further back... at Tank Troubleshooting...: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm And there is a need for haste here. Bob Fenner>

Oh bother [Ich, methinks] Well, here's the real question, straight up... given that ich is parasitic, parasites *need* hosts to thrive - is one's ability to beat this thing mostly tied to an individual's health?  <"Mostly"?... somewhere between the host/s health and the virulence of the pathogen and the "suitability" of the environment for both/either> It was the contention of a wildlife bio teacher of mine that all animals in the wild have parasites - all of them. <This is so> Obviously the stress of a captive situation sort of stands this on it's head, but... if the captive animal is in outstanding health, is it more able to resist a given parasite like ich? <Your thinking is way too linear here... you would do well/benefit from a class/study in eastern philosophies> I've noticed a traveling white spot in my tank which was brought in by an individual [a PetCo percula clown - gift from friend - bah!] pre-refugium who was healthy and clean and then two days later it was an ich-bag and the next day it was dead because I killed it; I had nowhere to put it and it seemed a much smaller sacrifice than the whole tank. <Too late.> Since then, there's been the Huma's odd scratch but no bad signs. The puffer is still on the mend and eating well, but yesterday has what looks to be the initial stages. The smallest of three damsel fish had one spot on what would be his forehead - that figures due to stress of being lowest in the pecking order... gone in two days . I knew I was in trouble so I kept up the observation and roughly four days later [yesterday] the puffer has some signs which persist until today. The Huma and puffer are interactive and eating well. The damsels [blue devils] have been working out territory issues for past week and have been chilling for the past two days - haven't seen them eat since live brine day - but the look fat and the color is good, albeit darker from time to time [a defensive thing?]. <Perhaps> So - I'm in a snafu with my UV as the model I ordered is not arriving for some odd reason, and that whole thing is an odd scene anyway. Suffice to say that I'm waiting for an Aquanetics 25w UV to arrive and it will go into the sump at a slow enough flow rate to kill just about everything [ roughly 250 gph]. This is one of those devices that served me well 14 years ago and Aquanetics was a brand that I remembered so I got ordered. Since then I've read your comments about their leakiness which was not my experience, but I I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed as the money is spent. As a side note, I'm also using the Aquanetics fireplug heater which seems to be working quite well. In any case, the water "is all good" and the new EV-150 is pulling incredibly foul-smelling motor oil out of the tank in bulk quantity - shameless plug for Aqua C. Makes me feel good about making sure those fish eat a well balanced diet. So... am I screwed on the parasites? Can I overcome these types of problems through good water health, nutrition and UV? That seemed to work in the past but that experience is rather singular and I'm looking for a broader-experience answer. TIA. J -- <You may well now have a "more" parasitized system than before... and a/the UV will not "kill everything" no matter how slow water passes, or even stays in it... Reflect on what you have written here... some important lessons for you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Oh bother [Ich, methinks] I've been accused of linear thought before, and interestingly enough I have done some study of eastern philosophy and as such am only seeking enlightenment. <I as well> On the other hand, I've yet to spot "The Tao of Marine Fish Keeping". Other than that, hind sight is 20/20 or always look a gift fish in the mouth. Yeah, I figured that things weren't in my favor but, I had to ask. <Many paths...> I have learned a few lessons and at this point I'm really in a mode of spending money on equipment to sustain the big system rather than trying to stock it. It's my own folly for not getting a refugium together sooner than the percula introduction, but foresight is 20/400. <Yes my friend> So... your own text on the site says: > At the very least, allowing the system to "go fallow" without hosts for a month (or more) has proven to reduce numbers and disease-causing-strength (aka virulence) sufficiently. At the worst, you're looking at tearing down, sterilizing and re-assembling the entire system. > Now are you convinced as to the value of prevention, particularly quarantine? Yes, I'm convinced... it will never happen again. Am I hosed or will time only tell? <Mostly the latter... with some optimization on your part, your fishes should be fine> TIA. J -- <Bob Fenner>

80 gallon SW tank Hello, I'd just like to say that I enjoy your web page very much. I look forward to buying and reading your book. I have a question if you have time to answer it. (I understand that you probably get a billion e-mails). <Not that many... a couple hundred per day...> I have an 80 gallon SW tank that I started at the beginning of January. I have very limited space under my tank, and I could not fit a sump under there, so I decided to try hang on stuff (despite many people telling me that I'd be wasting my money).  <Hmm, not so... as you likely know by now... much hang-on gear is superior to non-hang on...> On the tank I have a Rainbow Lifeguard 300 fluidized bed filter, an Emperor 400 BioWheel filter, a Fluval 340 (containing carbon), and a Remora Pro protein skimmer. I also have about 30 lbs of live rock (Fiji - I think). After it cycled I had some damsels, a yellow tang, a bicolor blenny, a maroon clown, and a dogface puffer. Well, I had a few bouts with Oodinium and ich and eventually everything died except the tang and one damsel. After that I treated the tank (with the tang and damsel) with Formalite II (as recommended by someone on an e-mail list). The Oodinium and ich seemed to be gone so I added a Valentini Sharpnose puffer. After I put him in he scratched a few times, and I didn't want him to die so I treated again for another week with Formalite II.  <Very toxic material... hard on all... live rock, fishes... deadly to invertebrates...> The tank now looks good. I added 2 more damsels (that were in a reef tank that looked really healthy from my LFS. My water quality is good - ammo 0, nitrites 0, pH 8.1, and nitrates around 15 (according to my Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Salt Water Test Kit). The puffer and the damsels are looking good, although the puffer scratched once the other day. The tang looks bad. His lateral line is red, and his color is faded, but he eats and swims around fine. I also bought a new heater (Ebo-Jager) in case of temperature fluctuations being an issue. So, here is my question. Do you think that my filtration is sufficient? <Should be, yes... not a big fan of Rainbow's products period, including their "open" filters... but in an ongoing system... with the Remora skimmer... no worries> If not, what would you suggest I do (for the minimum cost). Thank you for your time. Jim Moss <I would put your hard-earned money into more live rock, a small (ten gallon) quarantine/treatment tank, perhaps more lighting... and keep studying. Bob Fenner>

Flame Angel's Hazy Eye Dear Bob: Sorry to bother you again so soon....my Flame angel that had the cloudy eye from what I presumed to be a too high copper level(.6), is worse today. I did a 50% water change yesterday after a 2 week copper treatment for "ick". Her eye is even more milky looking today, <Know this... that poikilotherms like fishes "respond" differently than "warm blooded" animals (like ourselves let's say)... in that "treating" them, changing their environment rarely causes/brings about immediate change... there may be nothing further wrong with this Angel, but its eye may continue to disimprove... Take care not to over-react...> so I did another 25% water change and added 1 tsp. of Melafix to the 10 gallon treatment tank.....is this product okay to use?  <Sometimes effective... generally safe.> When might I expect her eye to improve? Is there something else you can suggest if improvement isn't seen soon? She is still eating great and looks so good except for her poor eye. Makes me feel terrible every time I look at it.....thanks for your help in advance. Janey <Time going by. Bob Fenner>

Fish health (euthanasia) Dear Bob, I hate to have to write this. I had contacted you a couple weeks ago about my emperor angel that had fallen ill. Well, a few minutes ago I found him laying on his side at the bottom of the tank still breathing. He looks to be dying of exhaustion (breathing too hard for a week or so). What is the most humane way to dispose of this fish? <Ahh, sorry to hear of your loss... IMO the best method of euthanizing such specimens is to place them in a fish bag (or doubled) with little water, and freeze them.> BTW Thanks very much sharing your insights and knowledge. I wish I had found your website sooner! I found your CMA book at the LFS and picked up the last copy (not counting the store's own ref copy) :) <My thoughts are with you. Bob Fenner> Sadly, Jason Lockhart

Marine Disease Question for you Bob... Here's my problem.. I have a 250gallon fish only system... Approximately 100lbs of liverock.. (Berlin Protein Skimmer) Ocean Clear Canister Filter Wet/Dry along entire length of rear of tank.. 60watt UV sterilizer.. I have checked water quality, and all is well.... <What? How much nitrate? Phosphate?... What are your supplement practices?> But 4 of my 5 blue tangs are looking "different" Now, they aren't breathing hard, nor are they "rubbing" against anything.... But their bodies appear to be dotted with what looks like "black" spots... Now, they look more like bite marks, which is entirely possible, since these tangs are always sparring.. But these spots worry me... Like I said, they appear black in nature, almost scar like, I have noticed that the other fish in the tank all seem to be fine, no noticeable spots... The dorsal fins on all my fish seem to have almost transparent whitish dots.... one here or there, by no means are they covered in this... Is it Saltwater ICH?? What can it possibly be? I just don't want to crash the whole System... I thought my 60watt UV would take care of it.... <Hmm, could be a parasite or two here... there are some "worm" diseases that do look like what you describe on the Tangs that are to a large degree species-specific (mainly flukes, trematodes...), and the "transparent whitish dots"...? Who knows? If this were all I knew about the system, the livestock, situation I would likely "just" add the vitamin prep. "Selcon" to their food, and a few Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata species), and see if this will generate a cure... You can read over the "Biological Cleaners", and "Marine Parasitic Disease" sections and associated FAQs posted on our site, www.WetWebMedia.com for much more. Bob Fenner... who would not bring in environmental manipulation, or chemical treatments at this point> Thanks for the help.. Paul Aljets

Finding the sick ones Dear Bob, I will soon begin to place fish in my new 100 gal reef tank after 3 months of planning and assembling and a month of water preparation. Many thanks for your wonderful book and your advice on the web. You have helped this fresh water guy move into the world of marine life. I also have converted two small tanks to marine for quarantine of fish and one for inverts. <Ah, you're welcome and thank you...> In keeping fresh water fish I know that when one is not feeling well it hides in the quietest, darkest corner of the tank. <Very often... and this can be a similar warning sign with marine fishes> My question is, are reef keepers doomed to disassemble 200 pounds of living rock and inverts to find a fish that isn't seen for a few days? With state of the art filtration, U/V, and skimming along with a quarantine program we hope to have nothing but healthy fish but stuff does happen. Howard Cooley <Not generally. In most cases, should a system be large enough, the corpse small enough, aeration/circulation/filtration sufficient the "remains" of such a passing will "disappear" (through decomposer, predator, physical/chemical processes) without detection. Marine environments are surprisingly bio-active to the less-initiated, as you will find soon. Bob Fenner>

Fish in trouble - need help, please. Robert, I'd first like to state that I have "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and I love it. Thank you for writing such an insightful and useful book! <You're welcome. Thank you for your acknowledgement> Here's my dilemma: I have a Banggai card, a true perc, and a bicolor blenny in a 9 month old 55 gallon tank. Recently the perc and the blenny were scratching on rocks. The perc would flash occasionally too. The cardinal didn't seem to be affected at all. I didn't see any 'dusting' or cysts at all. But I thought it may be the start of Amyloodinium. All three were eating great and seemed to be in good health aside from the occasional scratching, etc. I was in contact with 'Biosystems' from ReefCentral.com who is a marine biologist and he recommended I hospitalize them and treat with copper. I put them into a hospital tank which, of course, was hastily setup. They have been in there for a few days and are PISSED! They haven't eaten since I put them in there and I'm getting worried that they won't make it. <Where would this presumed parasite problem come from?> I have been trying to identify the 'stressor' and I think that overfeeding may have put the water out of whack. I've done 2 10% water changes over the last 2 weeks and ran carbon for a few hours yesterday. <Good moves> I was thinking about a Formalin dip and returning them to the display. I think the combination of copper exposure and enduring the nitrogen cycle of the hospital may be too much for them. <Possibly... but I would likely do about the same... maybe just freshwater (pH adjusted with baking soda) dip and leave out the formalin/formaldehyde> If I do return them to the main tank and they do have Amyloodinium, what are the chances they'll recover without medication? <I doubt if the root cause is parasitic... if so, do read over the marine fish disease and treatment sections posted on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com> What should I do? Please let me know what you think ASAP!!! Matty <Sorry for the late reply... Have been on Heron Island in Australia. BobF>

Hello!! My fish the past two days are developing light white spots on their fins and tales and some look like they are eaten away. What can of treatment do I need. Do I have, Ich, flukes etc? Also since I change my water last time about 40%,my Ph jump from 8.0 to 8.5.how can I reduce my ph or even raise it sometimes when I need to? Thank you in advance for everything. >> <Yowzah, much to say... re the apparent disease, do take a quick, and I mean right now read through the infectious and parasitic disease sections of our website: Home Page and if it's not clear to you what's going on... get someone nearby to come (ASAP) to take a look/see. Re the higher pH... going forward don't make as large a water changes.... for now, just let time go by and your pH will drift down on its own. Bob Fenner

Expert Advice Needed! Dear Mr. Fenner -  First of all, I would like to state how much I have learned from reading your book and on the WWM web pages. I have read all of it several times and learn more each time. <Great to hear it.> Now for my question. I have three tanks, 30g, 75g, and 180g. All my fish have been quarantined for at least two weeks (not dipped?!?!) before they arrive in there new homes. I am now having a minor outbreak of ick in the 75 and 180. All my water conditions are good, and I am pretty meticulous about my maintenance routine. I do have live rock in them, so in-tank treatment is out of the question. I would like to quarantine and add copper, but here is where my problem starts. As my 29g hospital tank, that I operate in conjunction with my other tanks, as per your advice, I have a Tuskfish, a Maroon Clown, and a Snowflake Moray Eel (no ick, yet!) Is ick something true eel can get??).  <Yes, unfortunately... though not usually the same susceptibility... but once contracted... a mess.> In my 75 and 180 gallons I have these: 75g - Regal Tang, Percula Clown, Clarkii Clown, Picasso Trigger, Rectangle Trigger, Clown Trigger (really small and who gets bothered, but the Regal Tang is the first to show signs of ick, in case you are curious !!), and a Emperor Angel: 180g - Lunar Wrasse, Yellow Tang, Purple Tang, two blue damsels (their proper name escapes me), and 5 misc. hermit crabs (the two tangs have a few (under ten) noticeable spots that are visible on their tails). My question is this: in order to let the systems go fallow for a month or more), I need to move all the fish. How would you divide them up? And since I don't want to add to a tank with a problem already, I can't really move the ones in the hospital. I have in my basement another 29g and a 10g. I know that the eel and clownfish are sensitive to copper, so what would you use to help them? As I stated earlier, the ick is in a very early stage(?), just a couple of white spots on the fins (and not on all the fish). To further complicate things, Bismarck, North Dakota does not have much of a selection of cleaner shrimp/gobies (none to be exact) and would take at least a couple of weeks to get them here, even if his supplier had them. I would like to solve the problem rather then complicate it. My goal is/was to move the inhabitants of the 75g to the 180g, but I need to clear the problem up the best that I can before that.  <I think I understand... would proceed with environmental manipulation (lowering spg., raising temp. and the use of Cleaner organisms... would order them over the Net, maybe Flying Fish, FFExpress.com, or elsewhere, but do it now.> And, for the record, in my 30g is a 7" Clown Trigger that has lived there over a year, by him/herself, with no new additions, and is disease free (knock on wood). So that rules that tank out for ANY other fish after a copper treatment of two weeks! Also, how often would you do partial water changes on a 29g hospital tank that would be under that much of a biological load?  <As necessary... maybe daily... use sponge filtration, hang on back that you can keep adding conditioned media to... and watch ammonia...> Not that water changes are a problem, as I have salt water premixed in a 39g Rubbermaid? garbage can with a heater and airstone (and per your advise again!). <Good... and I might add the new water to one of the established/clean of ich tanks and move the older system water to the quarantine for make up...> Thank you very, very much for your advice in advance. I know your answer will be well thought out and through. I thought it best to seek some professional advice before jumping to a possibly fatal conclusion. (Only after I get new fish would this happen. Talk about Murphy's Law at work!) <Always in our interest!> Thanks again, Josh (Not going to let ick frazzle my nerves to the point I want to quit hobby I love so much!) Hewson <Thank you and good luck my friend, Bob Fenner>

Gill inflammation We have a juv. Chrysurus Angel who is currently changing colors. The yesterday I noticed that the fish's gills on one side look red and inflamed. The fish is not having any breathing difficulties, and appears to be healthy otherwise. <Hmm, one of my favorite species... for beauty and toughness and intelligence...> We had to treat our tank with copper about 5 days ago. Our tangs had a severe outbreak of Ich. I think it was in reaction to a Lemonpeel angel that we had added a few days before. <Probably the reason for the apparent inflammation... and you do dip at least (if not quarantine) all incoming livestock? My protocols, rationale for the same (as well as Chrysurus pix) on our site: Home Page .> The tank is a 100 gallon fish only tank. All of the levels tested in the normal range. The occupants of the tank are: 3 green Chromis, flame angel, purple tang, a blue hippo tang, a dragon wrasse, a royal Gramma, and the chrysurus angel. The Lemonpeel died after refusing to eat. <Not unusual... many of these are doomed from the start... from trauma of capture, handling, transport... not a good species/bet currently> Is the something we should worry about? Or should we just observe the fish carefully to see if it will go away? And if we should be worried, what should we do? We would really hate to loose this fish, because they are hard to find, and also very expensive. <Keep up water quality, feeding... and hope for the best for now... environmental manipulation is what I'd go to next... lowered spg, elevated temp... as listed on our site... then copper if parasitic problem surfaces/resurfaces.> Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Dena Andrews  <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Bob, Is DIP-AWAY a decent product and safe? Reason I am asking is I have a bad outbreak of, getting near death point, so I dipped the fish (huge angels, that was a pain!), but it seems to have cleared up somewhat. That was 5 days ago. By the way, my queen did get its gill swords caught in the net (could this be what removed the tissue? explained in previous email). I hate trying to dip because it really stresses the fish, but I must admit it may have saved them. Thanks again Bob >> I do like Dip-Away... it works. And the opercular spines do get caught and/or puncture folks hands... real often... and flesh torn from them... And it generally regenerates in days to weeks under propitious circumstances. Bob Fenner

Fin damage I recently bought a maroon clown and he now resides in a q-tank. He is finally after a week starting to feel comfortable and coming out into view and showing himself off . I have now noticed that one of his lower front fins looks to be "frayed" on the end . There is no sign of parasite build up, he does not seem stressed . the water is within tolerances. He is in the tank with 2 small purple Firefish , but there seems to be no hostility that I have noticed . Before they were put into the q-tank they all received a freshwater/Methylene blue bath. My question is do I medicate , with no obvious to me ) signs of parasites or fungus? just keep a watchful eye? your help is appreciated . Jim bell >> Just the watchful eye at this point... maybe adding a biological cleaner (like a Lysmata Shrimp)... but no to the "medication" or catching/dipping the animal... more to be lost by such actions than gained at this point. Probably nothing but "stress" from being new. Bob Fenner

Fish and live rock tank with ich << I have struggled for about 3 months attempting to eliminate an ich problem in my fish and live rock tank. I added a raccoon butterfly, small undulated trigger, and a large regal tang about 3 months ago, carefully following your recommended dipping and quarantine procedures. Everything seems fine for a couple of weeks. I have seen indications of ich on the butterfly and tang since then. I raised my water temp to 82degrees and have lowered the salinity to 1.018. My other water parameters are good (0,0,15). It seems to be impossible to catch these fish to move to my hospital tank with all the rock in my tank (more stress on the fish?). This is a 150 gal with a Berlin skimmer and a wet/dry, and I do a 15-20 % water change 2 - 3 times a month. Their diet consists of a good variety of frozen food and algae. Everyone seems to be eating normally and to be pretty active. I am at my wits end trying to get rid of the ich without copper, but all it appears I am doing is somewhat holding it at bay. I have considered ordering a UV sterilizer, but have not done so yet (cost). Is it time to go ahead with copper in my main tank?? How much damage would that do to my live rock (no inverts)? Any other suggestions? I really enjoy your question and answer - I have learned a lot about our interesting hobby! >> Ich problems even after dipping and quarantining all new fish livestock for two weeks? Yikes... Well, if the ich problem is not so virulent as to have killed off the fishes in the first days to weeks, I think you might be a great candidate for using biological cleaners. Get a pair of Lysmata amboinensis shrimp, and a trio of Gobiosoma oceanops gobies (am specific today!) and they may well tip the balance in your and your fishes favor.... I would not try to net the fishes out, nor definitely introduce copper to the system (don't do it). Bob Fenner

Oodinium I have a 55 gallon reef tank with about 35-40 pounds of live rock.  Although my ph, nitrite, ammonia, all seem to be in check I have had several outbreaks of Oodinium that seemed to have come out of no where.  Right now I have moved all the fish (Gramma, Chromis, clown, flame) to quarantine tank where they are being treated with copper. the question being. If I leave the reef without fish for a month will it be save to put fish back in. Some one recommended treating the reef with Greenex (malachite green) but there are a lot of inverts in the tank. This is the second parasite infestation, the first one wiped out all the fish. The tank went without fish for two months before I restocked. I am worried I will never be able to keep fish in this reef tank. Whatam I doing wrong. >> What you "did" wrong is allow this nasty algae parasite into your system in the first place... use that hospital tank for quarantining your new fish livestock... after dipping them henceforth. What I would do now is wait till you have placed either Cleaner Shrimp (some Lysmata amboinensis would be my first pick) and/or a couple of Gobiosoma cleaner gobies... for a week before returning your fish livestock...  I would definitely not use the Greenex... this stuff is outright toxic... poisonous... and don't worry about telling whoever suggested you might pour it in your main system with your invertebrates that I stated so. Your friend (though cranky today) in fish, Bob Fenner

Reef Bleaching? Dear Bob,  I recently discovered bright white spots appearing on my live rock. It looks as if something has eaten all the coralline algae off and even part off the rock. At first I thought it was my Chitons doing this but over a matter of one night a pretty big spot appeared so I thought it must have been something else. I talked to my dad about it and he said it might be a form of bleaching. If you could give me any information on what might be happening I would greatly appreciate it......PS my phosphate levels are a little high lately 2.0 ... Thanks >> Hmm, well, there are many types and causes of bleaching... but you may have hit the proverbial nail on the head with your last sentence in this case. The phosphate being as high as it is may well be depriving your coralline algae of their capacity to utilize calcium... I would do what you can (water changes, better skimming, selective/non-selective uptake by living matter, chemical filtrants...) to get that reading down below 1.0 ppm... Bob Fenner

Can plants introduce parasites or other pathogens? I am starting a refugium for my reef tank. My plan is to use a 10 gallon tank under the main tank, tied in with an overflow and return pump, with reverse-daylight pc lighting (a 27 watt quad white and a 9watt actinic), a 3" layer of live sand and a lot of live rock, Caulerpa, shrimp, crabs, brittle stars, snails and sea cucumbers.  Should macroalgae like Caulerpa rock be quarantined or dipped before being added to the system? Can plants introduce parasites or other pathogens? If so, would a freshwater dip damage the algae and can you recommend a good dipping protocol? Any other suggestions? >> Sounds like a great addition. And, I wouldn't be overly concerned re the Caulerpa... but a freshwater dip should do it no harm either. Some plants and algae have introduced pests, parasites and pollution... Ten minutes in dechloraminated, pH buffered fresh tap should do about all the good such a procedure would/will do. Bob Fenner

Re: cleaner wrasse .....just read the article Dear Bob, Thanks for the tip about iodine for my imperators HLLE. One question : what do you mean about "mud filters" ........ what are they ? <A technique, sort of an addition to a/the Berlin Method, of having your system water run through a sump that has "mud" on the bottom, live rock, macro-algae (usually Caulerpa spp.) and either an alternating (with your main tank) or permanently on (24h) lighting... The algae take up most nutrients... limiting other algae growth in the main system... and do many other things (some too well, so you have to periodically "harvest" the algae) to boost water quality.> Just checked out that pic of the Larabicus (spelling) cleaner wrasse. That is definitely it. I have never been able to find any specific info on these fish. That is the first pic I've seen. Is there any articles on the net about it ? <None that I know of... maybe you can pen one? I'll help, and give you some images> Do you think one will be ok in my tank ? <Yes, no need for more than one> What sort of size will this little guy get, and will he keep on his cleaning tendencies as he grows ? <A four incher is enormous, probably closer to three... and cleaning will drop off with the fish growing, changing into a female, and if you had more than one, the male one would change into wouldn't clean at all> Thanks for your help and advice ....... I hate it when folks buy fish which they know will most probably perish, especially when removing them from the reef is so detrimental to the reef itself. Thanks Matthew Silvester >> <Me too> Bob Fenner

Question: I work at a fish store and do aquarium maintenance on the side. I have recently (in the past few months) come across a rather interesting (yet very bothersome) phenomenon. The first is with wrasses, especially with those of the genus Anampses and Coris. What happens is that within a week or two of getting the wrasses in, their lips appear to roll back exposing their teeth, the refuse to eat (or eat very little) and die within the same week. Are you familiar with this condition and do you know how to treat it? My other question is that I have seen (for no apparent reason, water quality checks out on all counts) black spots develop on a tang the size of Oodinium dots. Fresh water baths help to remove the ones off the fish, but when the fish is put back into the tank it is totally covered again within a couple of days. In advanced cases the fishes skin appears as though it dehydrated and wrinkled and is about to fall off. It seems to only affect tangs. Do you know what it is, why it starts up, and how to treat for it in a reef type environment? I would appreciate any help you can give me on this matter. My reputation as a professional is at stake here. I am having great difficulty at locating any information on these two conditions. Thank you for any help you can offer.

Bob's Answer: Rob, the prognathal genera of wrasses you mention are dying as a consequence of being shipped for too long in too small a bag from the source or your supplier... very common with Anampses and Coris spp. They need to be put in large enough bags to easily turn around and either have fine sand shipped with them or the bags laid on their side so the animal can't rub its face in the corner. On arrival such animals should be quarantined and treated topically and/or via antibiotics (orally if they're eating). The black spots are a not so free living turbellarian flatworm of the genus Paravortex. A simple freshwater dip/bath will eliminate them BEFORE being placed in the main display tank... once the critters are established, biological cleaners may keep them in check otherwise.

Question: Bob, my wife and I have an adolescent Imperator who is suffering lesions induced from poor water quality. We were using a source which contained some metals for about 6 months. We've since switched to a cleaner source and have been using in for the past three to four months. However, over the time we were using the poor water our Imperator developed some severe lesions on and around is facial area. What is the best treatment to help him heal these wounds? We are currently using vitamin supplements with feeding. Also, he has stopped scratching completely since the change to the cleaner water.

Bob's Answer: Do check out that supplement packet and make sure it has boodles of A, C, D,  vitamins AND useable/assimilable iodine. Additionally, want to give a big plug for TMC (Tropic Marine Center, UK) new carbon product. This stuff is amazing and well worth utilizing for removing phenols, scatols and short chain fatty acids associated with HLLE (Head & Lateral Line Erosion) and general water quality lesions...

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