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FAQs on Iodine Use, Supplements, Rationale/Use

Related Articles: Iodine in Marine Aquarium Systems by Marco Lichtenberger, Marine System Additives

Related FAQs: Iodine 1, Iodine 2, & FAQs on Iodine: Iodine Testing/Test Kits, Sources of Iodine/Supplements, Dosing, Interactions, Troubleshooting/Fixing, & General Supplements, Calcium

An essential element for almost all aquatic animal life.


Serpent Star? Iodide/Lugol's I have a few questions about a variety of aquarium subjects. First, I received some rock from Marine Depot Live (a very good company in my opinion) <Yes, friends> that was covered in Caulerpa algae. In the midst of the algae I noticed what appeared to be four + arms. These arms appear about .5 mm in diameter, and they are banded maroon or red and white or light blue. The arms seem to radiate from a central vicinity but I cannot locate the exact center. These thin arms are long and stretch out and contract. They seem to move slowly forward and ³feel² in front of them before they grab on (the arms appear to be at least 10 cm long when stretched out). What I was wondering is if this is a serpent star (Ophioderma rubicundum possibly). If no, what would you identify this as? How could I help to keep this alive? <Should be able to keep alive... might actually be a polychaete worm of some sort alternatively...> Now onto other questions about additives/medications: Would you recommend Lugol¹s Solution or the commercially available coral dips to do a protective dip for soft corals and/or other invertebrates? <I do recommend such dips... generally not with Lugol's but simple potassium iodide solution. Please read here: http://www.athiel.com/html/iodinerivers.html> I lost my old e-mails so I need to ask you this again: How would I make citrated copper sulfate solution (percentages, etc.)? <About ten percent (by weight) citric acid, copper sulfate pentahydrate (you can work out percent/weight composition), and distilled, DI or RO water> How would I make a potassium iodide solution to dose a saltwater aquarium (I have some KI crystals ­ I just need to know measurements)? <See the above reference. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Kevin

Iodine for HLLE Hello, I was reading your HLLE FAQ page and you mentioned to use iodine. How do you use this? Is it a food additive, water additive, what is it? <Iodine is usually used as a water additive. Merely follow the manufacturer's directions for its use.> Thanks <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Using Iodine for HLLE II Thanks, does iodine work real good? Just wondering how effective it was. <It is not a cure for HLLE. It can be helpful when used with improving overall water quality, diet, etc. Please read the article and FAQ files on www.WetWebMedia.com concerning HLLE. -Steven Pro>

Iodine Questions? Adam, << The other Adam here, Blundell that is. >> I was reading through the Iodine FAQ, (just out of curiosity) and found a post from 3/22/04 regarding the difference between Iodide and Iodine. As I understand your response, Iodide is usually potassium Iodide KI, which dissociates into K+ and I- ions in aq. solution. where I- combines with Oxy to form IO3 (as you have stated), but 1/3 of the I2 combines with DOCs (or you stated simply Organics) which will then not be measurable via test kit.... now to my question... What causes the I- to from IO3 rather than becoming diatomic I2, and then combining with the Organics???  And for a purely chemistry question, why is I2 more Oxidizing than the IO3 (maybe I should consult a periodic table with Ionization potentials) Or the CRC handbook...... Which leads me to think, If I2 combines with the Organics (which I am presuming to be DOCs in the water column) will this new molecule be extracted by the Skimmer??? IE filtering out your recently dosed Iodine, or does it 'precipitate" (or otherwise remain for consumption via inverts or Algae) to metabolize the Iodine?????  I do not dose KI/I2 because I am uncertain what is proper, but I have heard that the usefulness of KI/I2 is only that which is present within the invert (presuming it is somehow metabolized) allowing them to molt etc, and external KI/I2 is poisonous to the organisms (from the anti-bacterial props).... Thank you for your help. Partly I was thinking on paper, and pardon my spelling, because the corrections usually cause me to break my train of thought..... (tried to correct afterwards) Ben << Here is a submission from a friend of mine, who is much better than I at oxidation states. Hope it helps... I- (-1 oxidation state) -> I2 (0)  -> IO3- (+5 oxidation state) The -1 and +5 are the most stable states for iodine in water.  Elemental iodine (I2) is the form that is used as an antibiotic the other two common forms are not really very toxic. Lugol's solution contains I2 and I-.  The I2 is not stable in seawater at all and converts to I- and I+.  The I+ then presumably reacts with a myriad of other molecules, including organics, to eventually end up as I-.  It is estimated that nearly 90% of the total iodine in Lugol's ends up as I-.  And I'd say yes, if the iodine is complexed with a skimmable organic molecule then it will be skimmed away.  I- is the form to dose in an aquarium, IMO.  Corals and macro algae preferentially uptake I- over IO3-.  Phytoplankton will consume IO3- and release I-.  That is likely where the I- in the ocean comes from.  As you go down in depth all the iodine is in the I03- form (meaning the I- is the more biological active molecule).  Notice the similarity between the IO3- molecule and the NO3- molecule?  The phytoplankton (and presumably even denitrifiers) can extract the oxygen from the iodate molecule, use the I (+5) iodate ion in ReDox reactions and excrete the "waste" I (-1), iodide From what I've read regarding iodine I'd say there's more questions then answers.  There are some very complex reactions that can occur and it's not easy to track them at such low concentrations. I can look for sources to the above info if needed and hopefully I've remembered everything correctly. ... Blundell >> Epaulette shark with goiter I purchased a female epaulette shark yesterday that has been captive raised from a pup. It is now about 24 inches. I currently have a 34" male and am hoping to breed them. I have a 1500 gallon shark pond that is 10'x10'x3'. The female I just purchased appears to have goiter. It is eating well, and I feed with Mazuri shark and ray vitamins. Will being fed a proper diet with the vitamins correct the problem or is there something else I can do. Also can sharks absorb Iodine from the water or is it only through food? <Not much from the water (but some), but I would definitely be administering iodine/ate through the animal's foods> I currently dose the tank with Kent's Lugol's solution and am wondering if this will help at all. Thanks <I would look to dosages encapsulated, the capsules placed inside hand-fed food items here... and quickly. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Epaulette shark with goiter Do you have any idea where I can purchase Iodine supplement capsules? The Mazuri shark and ray tabs don't have iodine listed as an ingredient. <Mmm, yes... at GNC or similar food stores... or you can buy the empty capsules from such places and make your own. Bob Fenner> 

Iodine and molting Hi, I have a question about Iodine. I read in the Reef Central that there is no scientific proof that Iodine is necessary for molting and that it could be Iodine is irritating the shell of the shrimps and crabs so they molt more often. Is there any scientific proof that Iodine is even being used in molting process? I think by adding Iodine all I'm really doing is helping nuisance algae to grow.  <Hans, I really don't know if there is scientific proof. But I do know that iodine is present in shrimp. My wife for one cannot eat them unless they are deep-fried. Her doctor told her that the iodine content in steamed shrimp causes her to break out in hives. Also, when I first started using iodine, whether coincidence or not, both my arrow crab and cleaner shrimp molted the same night. Too much iodine can be detrimental. You really need a test kit to determine how much is being absorbed. Recommended levels are 0.06 to 0.08mg/L. James (Salty Dog)> 

Iodide verses Iodine             Hi there, Wanted to know if Iodide is as good as Iodine?  Should I use one over the other, both or just one or the other? Thanks in advance for your advice. <Mmm, I "swear" this is NOT advice... but the beginning of what could become an all-consuming conversation/debate... Do study up re the element Iodine please... and it's practical use in aquarium husbandry... "it" comes in three valence states, is photically and otherwise quite unstable... and hence, solutions of it are presented in mixed formats... for instance, Lugol's. Ingredients: Iodine 5% (I2) Potassium Iodide (KI) 10% and Purified Water... I am a bigger fan of Iodide use... but stock solutions, such as Lugol's are fine. Once again, use only with testing (kits) IMO, or vastly under treat... once per week, twice per week... maybe only with water changes... and be aware of the transient nature of this essential micronutrient. There, have said very little and way too much. Bob Fenner>

Iodine help   11/5/06 Crew, I have a 60 gallon DAS tank with 80 pounds live rock, 110 pounds live sand, 1 small pulsing xenia, 1 branch hammer coral, 4 blue/green Chromis, 1 Red Fromia star and of course my cleanup crew. Who all benefits from Iodine? <Is an essential "micro" nutrient for all listed... and yourself!> How much should I be adding regularly? <Possibly... again as with your own health... through water changes, foods... possibly supplementation directly... with testing if so> Is this something that can be toxic if too much is added? <Yes> Is there a safe amount I can add without testing or is testing mandatory for Iodine? <Mmm... well, dilute amounts can be added blindly w/ not much concern...> We have been adding 8 drops daily for the xenia is this sufficient? Thanks, Doshia Brown <Please search WWM re... there are general stmt.s made/recorded re iodine/ide/ate use, Xeniids... I would not add such daily... would encourage this sort of "blind" adjunctive use with water change periodicity. Bob Fenner>

Lugol's Solution/Dip 4/7/07 James go Hi Mark here, <James with you today, Mark.> I am trying to disinfect some coral before putting them in QT then on into the main tank. I did a long search on how to perform a Lugol's dip but couldn't find anything. I also went out on the web, and mainly only found information on products with no specific directions, or they were vague as to how to mix and which corals could be dipped and which not, except zoas and Acro's and monti's. Im a total newbie at this so please try to be patient and kind I only have soft corals including shrooms, Kenya Tree, and two photosynthetic gorg.s. So I would like to know how to perform a Lugol's dip 1.) How do you mix? How much Lugol's solution to how much water 2.) What corals can be dipped? I am speaking of all softies Kenya Tree, shrooms and gorg.s. 3.) For how long should the dip be preformed for each coral. 4.) After the dip should I rinse in fresh SW temp, PH matched afterwards or not, or straight to QT? 5.) Will Lugol's solution also disinfect macroalgae? <No.> If there is anything else I am missing in my questions or information which I need to know please feel free to add it in. <Mark, I would get this idea out of your head.  Lugol's is a very concentrated solution and is quite easy to overdose.  You may be causing more harm than good.  The iodine content in seawater averages around 0.064ppm.  As you can see, a very low concentration.  Corals absorb this element and it is known to be beneficial to them.  Higher amounts can have drastic effects to their health. Do read/learn more about corals and their health before attempting anything like this.  Is much better/safer just to quarantine the corals before adding to your display tank.  Most dealers do not keep their corals with fish, so chances of any parasitic disease being introduced into the display are low to non-existent.  I have never quarantined a coral, but again, corals that I buy come from dedicated coral systems.> Thank you <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Mark

Lugol's Solution/Dip 4/7/07 Bobs go Hi crew!  Mark here, I am trying to disinfect some coral before putting them in QT then on into the main tank. I did a long search on how to perform a Lugol's dip but couldn't find anything, I also went out on the web, and mainly only found information on products with no specific directions, or they were vague as to how to mix and which corals could be dipped and which not, except zoas and Acro's and monti's. Im a total newbie at this so please try to be patient and kind <Mmm... I would use a "stock solution" of Lugol's... at a strength of two drops per gallon of dip... lower the specific gravity of the dip water (from your current main display)... by a couple of thousandths from ambient (likely to 1.023) and move these Octocorals IN water into the dip water... and out five minutes later... IN water (don't worry re the Iodine move...) to the new digs> I only have soft corals including shrooms, Kenya tree, and two photosynthetic gorg.s. So I would like to know how to perform a Lugol's dip 1.) How do you mix? How much Lugol's solution to how much water 2.) what corals can be dipped I am speaking of all softies Kenya tree, shrooms and gorg.s. <All of these> 3.) For how long should the dip be preformed for each coral. 4.) After the dip should I rinse in fresh SW temp, PH matched afterwards or not, or straight to QT? <Straight> 5.) Will Lugol's solution also disinfect macroalgae? <Can, yes> 6.) Can a gorgonian be dipped or not? <Can> If there is anything else I am missing in my questions or information which I need to know please feel free to add it in. Thank you kindly Mark <We've (WWM) gots to get some pieces on Iodine/ide/ate use penned, placed... including addending the dip/bath files... Bob Fenner> Re: Lugol's Dip and Gorgonians... Bob...  4/8/07 Dear Mr. Fenner, <Mark> An honour that you answered my question about Lugol's solution dips for Gorgonians and other soft corals. My main reason for the question was as follows. I know that after a good quarantine that the risk of transferring  parasites is minimal. <And so much more in the way of benefits> I would like to know more specifically about bacteria, especially Vibrio and Myco bacteria, as well as parasites. <... Please see Ed Noga's "Fish Disease, Diagnosis & Treatment"> I would like to know if the Lugol's dip would have any type of effect on possible bacterial and or parasitic contamination in an aquarium, and if it would help to get rid of any residual bacteria such as Vibrio or Myco bacteria and or parasites which might have been the cause of death to one of the seahorses in my tank. <Mmm, not likely "rid"... but perhaps reduce the incidence, virulence of...> The reason I ask this is at the moment I have a fallow tank that had Hippocampus Kuda in it, and I would like to transfer and utilize the live rock and corals which consist of mushrooms a Kenya tree and two gorgonians to a new tank with a new sand bed. The old tank is fallow at the moment because one of horses passed away from what appeared to be a tumor (we are not sure a necropsy was not done. There were no external signs of infection present and she ate and swam up to the day she died), The one with the tumor died from one day to the next, the tumor appeared the next day she was dead. The other kuda had a fatal accident which was my own stupidity, but was never ill, nor did he develop any of the signs and or symptoms the other kuda displayed. I have been told a range of things from do not to use any of the things from the old tank, to use at my own risk because it is probably full of bacteria and pathogens, <Mmmm, these "come and go"... are like "terrorists"... are more made than borne...> to it is okay to use if I dip everything in a Lugol's dip. All this in order to utilize the live rock and corals from the existing tank. I would like your opinion on this. Should I scrap everything and start new? <I would very likely re-use...> Let the tank stand fallow it has been fallow now for 6 weeks, and transfer all contents except the sand bed to the new tank with a new sand bed. Or should I Lugol dip everything first, place in quarantine and then place it in the new tank. Again it is an honour thank you kindly for your help Mark <Again... I would take (with acquired knowledge) a/the long-term view here... Utilize the existing materials... they are very likely fine. Bob Fenner>

Re:  Lugol's Solution/Dip 4/8/07 James... Thank you James for a very nice, clear and precise answer. <You're welcome.> You mention that any chances of a parasitic disease being introduced into the display are low to non-existent. <No, being introduced by the addition of corals as mentioned below.> I am very well aware of quarantining everything before placing it into the display. I would, however, like to ask another question regarding the transfer of disease and that would be in the area of  bacteria, especially Vibrio or Myco bacteria. Is the risk of transferring  the same, higher, lower, and or does it fall into a grey area which is not really clear at all. My intent with the Lugol's dip was to kill bacteria. <The amount of Lugol's you would have to add to be effective would more than likely kill the animal you are trying to rid of bacteria, if any are present at all. I think you are going overboard here.  If good maintenance practices are carried out, and your tank is not overstocked, you should not encounter bacterial problems.  Bacterial problems generally develop from poor water quality.  My policy is, do not treat an animal that doesn't need treatment.> Once again thank you very much in advance for your time and energy, as well as your insight. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Regards Mark Re: Lugol's Dip and Gorgonians, Pete, will you take a look at, refer? & bacteria f', human dis.   -- 4/10/07 <Yowsa Pete! Thanks as usual for this dissertation! BobF> Dear Mark: Bob forwarded your email to me and asked me to lend a hand with your dilemma.  It's very difficult to say what may have caused the demise of  your H. kuda but I would be happy to share my thoughts on the matter with you  for whatever it's worth, sir. Like all fish, seahorses do occasionally develop various granulomas, malignant neoplasms, tumors and fibrosarcomas associated with certain diseases  or the aging process, but these primarily affect internal organs.   Furthermore, such growths are not characteristic of vibriosis and, judging from  the symptoms you described -- or lack thereof -- it seems unlikely that a Vibrio infection was involved in this case. I am more concerned about the possibility that the tumor may have been a granuloma symptomatic of a Mycobacterial infection.  Granuloma disease is  caused by gram positive, acid-fast bacteria from either the genus Mycobacteria  or the closely related genus Nocardia invading the tissue and internal organs and organ systems. Both of these bacteria can affect the skin as well as the internal organs, causing nodules and granuloma. And both Mycobacteria and Nocardia can be transmitted to man, causing a localized, unsightly skin rash  after entering through a cut or break in the skin. Here is an excerpt from my new book (Complete Guide to the Greater  Seahorses in the Aquarium, TFH Publications, unpublished) that discusses mycobacteriosis in more detail, Mark.  It may help give you a better idea  whether or not the tumor you noticed could have been associated with granuloma  disease: MYCOBACTERIOSIS, A.K.A. PISCINE TUBERCULOSIS Mycobacteriosis is also known by the following synonyms: fish tuberculosis, piscine tuberculosis, granuloma disease, swimming pool granuloma, fish tank granuloma, and acid-fast disease (Aukes, 2004; Leddo, 2002a). Like all fishes, seahorses are susceptible to Mycobacteriosis. It is not uncommon in wild-caught  seahorses obtained from pet stores and is the second most commonly seen  bacterial infection of syngnathids at large public aquaria after Vibriosis (Bull  and Mitchell, 2002, p20). Cause: Fish tuberculosis is caused by pathogenic Mycobacteria, of which two different species are the primary culprits: Mycobacterium marinum and  Mycobacterium fortuitum (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Unlike most bacteria the plague  fish, these Mycobacteria are gram-positive, and take the form of pleomorphic  rods that are acid-fast and nonmotile (Aukes, 2004). When cultured on solid  media, they form cream-colored to yellowish colonies (Aukes, 2004). Mycobacteriosis is worldwide in distribution (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). All fish species are considered susceptible to it (Aukes, 2004). Although this disease can in fact infect almost all fish, certain species are more vulnerable than others (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). The most susceptible species are freshwater tropicals such as black mollies, all gouramis, Neons and other tetras, all labyrinth air breathers, and most species of the Carp family (goldfish and koi, for example), Aukes, 2004. Mycobacteria are ubiquitous and waterborne, and the aquatic environment is considered the disease reservoir for fish tuberculosis (Aukes, 2004).   Mycobacterium marinum has been cultured throughout the world from swimming pools, beaches, natural streams, estuaries, lakes, tropical fish tanks, city tap  water and well water (Aukes, 2004; Leddo, 2002a). Human epidemics of  granulomatous skin disease have occurred from swimming in infected water, and in  fact, this mode of human infection is far more common than infection from  exposure to infected fish tanks (Aukes, 2004; Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Clinical Signs: There is a very severe or peracute form of this disease, in which fish can simply be found dead without showing any telltale signs or symptoms (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p20), but that is quite rare. In my experience, Mycobacteriosis  is a chronic disease that progresses quite slowly in aquarium fishes (Giwojna,  Sep. 2003). It may take years for an infected fish to develop any symptoms of  apparent illness and much longer before it becomes fatal (Aukes, 2004). The  glacial progression of the disease makes it difficult to diagnose. Some early  signs to look out for include lethargy, fin loss, emaciation, skin inflammation  and ulceration, edema, Popeye, and peritonitis (Aukes, 2004). There may be  superficial skin lesions that take the form of small subdermal lumps or pus-filled nodules of granulation tissue (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p21). These  are simply the outward manifestations of a systemic infection that may already  involve many of the major internal organs (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p21). In  later stages, nodules may develop in muscles or skeletal structure and deform  the fish. (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). As difficult as slow-moving TB may be to diagnose while the infected fish  is alive, once the victim expires, postmortem examination will reveal clear, unmistakable signs of Mycobacteriosis (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). The telltale granulomas will appear as gray or white nodules in the liver, kidney, heart  and/or spleen (Aukes, 2004). There is often black, necrotic tissue eating away  at the internal organs, and there may also be skeletal deformities. Diagnosis is then confirmed by the presence of acid fast bacteria in tissue sections (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Treatment and Control: There is no practical method for treating mycobacteriosis or granuloma disease at the hobbyist level.  As discussed below, good aquarium  management can prevent Mycobacteria/Nocardia from becoming problematic.   Prevention is the watchword for this condition. Transmission: The bacteria can be transmitted through the water from open ulcers, through contaminated food (including live foods such as shrimp or molly fry), via feces  of infected fish, or through the consumption of infected, dead or dying fish in  the tank (although the latter does not apply to seahorses), Aukes, 2004. Contributing factors: This disease is not highly contagious and does not seem to spread from fish to fish readily (Aukes, 2004). However, fish TB it is often associated with poorly kept or dirty tanks with poor water quality (Aukes, 2004). Chronic stress  from factors such as overcrowding, malnutrition, or aggressive tankmates often  plays a role as well (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Mycobacterium, the causative organism, is believed to be ubiquitously present, making it very difficult to eliminate it entirely. However, if good aquarium maintenance and management is followed, including vacuuming of the  gravel along with good filtration and regular water changes, combined with a nutritious diet and the addition of an enrichment product rich in vitamins, the problem can be minimized and eliminated as a cause of mortality (Aukes, 2004).   Any dead fish should quickly be removed and disposed of properly. Diseased live fish should be isolated and treated in a hospital tank (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Transmission to Man: The seahorse keeper should be aware that piscine tuberculosis is one of the few forms of fish disease that is communicable to humans (Leddo, 2002a). This transmission usually manifests itself as an unsightly skin rash involving one or  more granulomas on the arms of the fish-keeper (Leddo, 2002a). In severe cases,  these nodules of inflamed tissue can become large and disfiguring. They can  spread and be very difficult to eliminate. The granulomas often take some 2-4  weeks after exposure before manifesting themselves, so the individual is  frequently unaware of how he or she contracted them and the condition very often  goes undiagnosed (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). The Mycobacteria that cause the disease  typically gain entry through a break in the skin such as a cut, scrape, or  abrasion on the hand or arm of the aquarist (Leddo, 2002a). Although unsightly,  the granulomas themselves are not a serious problem and are almost always  localized and most certainly curable in healthy individuals. But for those of us  whose immune systems are compromised by AIDS, kidney disease, diabetes, liver  dysfunction, chemotherapy or the like, the infection can sometimes become  systemic or, on rare occasions, even life threatening (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Awareness is the appropriate response to the risk posed by fish tuberculosis. The seahorse keeper should be aware of the remote possibility of  being exposed to Mycobacteria via his aquarium, and take appropriate  precautions, but there is certainly no need to be overly concerned (Giwojna,  Sep. 2003). The aquarist should merely remain aware of Mycobacteria and follow the  usual sensible precautions. Nets, aquarium accessories and equipment, and any other items that may come in contact with the fish should be sterilized between uses to prevent cross-contamination (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Avoid mouth-siphoning of the water in a Myco-positive tank (use a hand pump instead).    Mycobacterium cannot penetrate intact skin -- it only causes infection after  entering through open wounds or source, so make full use of aquarium gloves and  don't place your hands or arms in the aquarium if you have any cuts or scrapes (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Handle sick fish carefully, dispose of deceased specimens properly, and scrub up afterwards. Do NOT dispose of dead fish by flushing them down the toilet, as this is a prime way to spread disease. Place the fish carcass in a plastic bag or wrap it in some foil and dispose of it with the solid waste of the household. And don't feed dying fish to larger carnivorous fish, since this an excellent way to spread infection (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). One thing hobbyists who are worried about fish TB can do to allay their concerns is to get their seahorses and live foods (crustaceans such as shrimp  are known vectors for Mycobacteriosis) from a High Health facility such as Ocean Rider rather than from their local fish store (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Seahorses at  OR are routinely screened for pathogens and parasites by independent examiners  from an outside agency (DVMs with the Department of Agriculture), and I know for  a fact that Mycobacteriosis is one of the diseases they specifically check for  (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Thus far, multi-organ histopathology has found no  granulomas and tissue sections have revealed no acid-fast bacteria -- conclusive  proof that Ocean Riders are free of Mycobacteria. <Close quote> That's the rundown on mycobacteriosis or granuloma disease, Mark. The very similar Nocardia is a gram positive, acid-fast, filamentous bacteria and is even more insidious than Myco. Nocardia is closely related to  the Mycobacteria that cause piscine TB or granuloma disease and, like  Mycobacteria, it can affect the skin as well as the internal organs, causing  nodules, granulomas and pyogranulatomous cysts. And like Mycobacteria, Nocardia  can be transmitted to man, so be sure to take appropriate precautions if you  suspect granuloma disease may have caused the death of your H. kuda. Here is some information from Paul Anderson explaining how professional aquarists typically deal with Mycobacterium/Nocardia: Fellow Seahorse Enthusiasts: Mycobacterium is a genus of bacteria that are ubiquitous in almost all environments. Mycobacterium infections occur in many (if not all) vertebrate  taxa (e.g., mammals, birds, fish, etc.). Some studies that have looked at prevalence of infection of Mycobacterium in wild animals have often found that a small percentage of wild animals are infected, even without clinical signs. The most common Mycobacterium species found in seahorses are M. marinum, M. chelonae, and M. fortuitum. There is currently no cure for mycobacterium infections in fish. The options available are to 1) depopulate and disinfect the system, or 2) maintain the fish but prevent cross-contamination by observing strict biosecurity protocols. The second option is often chosen by public aquaria with long-standing displays, when aquaculture/production of the infected  fish is not an issue. Many mycobacterium spp. can cause disease in humans, especially if the species is a rapidly growing one and/or if the person is immunocompromised. Of  the three species mentioned above, M. marinum is a slow grower, and grows at 25 degrees Celsius incubation, but not at 37 degrees Celsius. The other two are rapid-growing species and grow at both temperatures of incubation. The significance of 37 degrees is that it is human body temperature. While most infections of otherwise healthy people are limited to lesions on the extremities (even with infection by a rapid-grower), there is a greater risk of the rapid-growers to cause systemic disease (especially in immunocompromised  people). In a Myco-positive tank, the best option is not to come in contact with water or fish; wear gloves (sleeved gloves if necessary). Avoid mouth siphoning (use a hand pump). Having said that, in an aquarium situation mycobacterium only  causes infection if it enters a wound; it cannot penetrate intact skin.   Effective disinfectants against mycobacterium include spraying with 70% Ethanol and allowing the equipment to air-dry, and bleach baths (I use 50ppm bleach baths with a minimum contact time of one hour, this has been reported to be effective against M. marinum) followed by sodium thiosulfate neutralization baths. Ultraviolet light sterilization is also recommended in Myco-positive systems. If you've got Myco-positive tanks among other systems, common sense suggests performing husbandry on these systems last in your rounds. A note on ethanol: I have found in my experience that seahorses are very sensitive to ethanol, so I advise being very cautious to avoid overspray into tanks (while we're'¬"¢re on the topic, has anybody else observed this?) Check out the following for more information about mycobacterium infections in fish/aquaria: <_ http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VM055_ ( http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VM055) > <_ http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/Extension/finfish/FF9.html_ ( http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/Extension/finfish/FF9.html) > Mainous, M.E., and S.A. Smith. 2005. Efficacy of common disinfectants against Mycobacterium marinum. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 17:  284-288. Paul Anderson Ph.D. Candidate Department of Fisheries and Aquatic  Sciences University of Florida That's the situation when Mycobacteria is confirmed in an aquarium,  Mark. As long as you observe the proper precautions and practice good  aquarium management, it's a problem the aquarist can sometimes live  with...   Nocardia is a different matter.  When Nocardia is confirmed in an  aquarium, the only real recourse is to break down the entire aquarium, discard  the live rock, substrate, and invertebrates, sterilize everything, and start  over from scratch.  The problem is that Nocardia is saprophytic -- it  doesn't require a host to survive and it will persist in your system  indefinitely. These bacteria live off any kind of dead or decaying organic  matter; in nature they are commonly found in soil and wastewater -- in your  tank, Mark, they are no doubt entrenched in your substrate, live rock, filters,  everything -- where they act as a disease reservoir, ready to infect any new  fish and invertebrates (or careless humans) they encounter when the opportunity  presents itself. The risk of cross-contamination of your other tanks and specimens is great, compounded by the fact that human health (primarily yours, Mark) is also at risk  from this organism.  If your H. kuda was infected with Nocardia, then everything in your 25-gallon aquarium has been exposed to these bacteria and is potentially a source of infection. Leading the tank lay fallow indefinitely will  not help with Nocardia whatsoever.  If Nocardia killed your kuda, you must consider all the equipment, decor and specimens in the tank to be contaminated,  Mark -- treat them like you would toxic waste or any other biohazard. Even your  invertebrates are a risk. Your coral, macroalgae, etc,. are all sources of  organic matter, and can therefore harbor Nocardia and carry the infection. Do NOT disperse your live rock, substratum, Gorgonia and soft corals, macroalgae, equipment or accessories from the 25-gallon tank to your other aquaria, Mark, or you will be inoculating them with Nocardia and spreading the infection to all your tanks! And you must be extremely careful to avoid accidentally cross-contaminating your other tanks from your 25 gallon aquarium.  Any nets, hydrometers, or other equipment used in your 25-gallon aquarium should  be sterilized after every use and not placed into or used in any other tanks. Avoid working in infected aquarium with your bare hands, scrub/disinfect your hands and arms thoroughly after working on the tank, and do not place your hands in the 25-gallon tank and then place your hands in another aquarium. These bacteria can even be transferred from one aquarium to another by splashing water  droplets or as an aerosol via the mist generated from a protein skimmer or an  airstone. Be careful! That is what I typically advise hobbyists when Nocardia has been confirmed in their aquaria, Mark.  I hesitate to recommend such drastic measures when Nocardia or Mycobacterium have not been confirmed.  And the tumor that you described is not typical of the pyogranulatomous cysts that characterize Nocardia.  They most often present as greyish-white pimple like lesions on  the skin.   They are often motile when manipulated and may release a cheesy  exudate when compressed.  That does not sound like the hard mass you  detected beneath the skin near the vent of the H. kuda. So you're going to need to use your own judgment, Mark.  To be 100%  safe, you could discard the contents of your 25-gallon aquarium, sterilize everything, and start over from scratch.  Or you could dip the live rock,  Gorgonia, and corals with Lugol's solution as a precaution and then trust to  good aquarium management to keep the seahorses in your 40-gallon aquarium  healthy and happy.  Since Mycobacteria and Vibrio bacteria are virtually  ubiquitous, and normally only become problematic when the seahorses have been  stressed and their immune systems have been impaired, I might be inclined to  take the latter course in your case.  If you can provide your seahorses  with optimal water quality, a nutritious diet, and they stress-free environment,  the chances are good that your livestock will not be affected by granuloma  disease or vibriosis.   Starting out with seahorses from a high-health  aquaculture facility that you obtain directly from the breeder will further  increase your chances for success.  As an added precaution, you may also  want to consider installing an ultraviolet sterilizer on your 40-gallon seahorse  tank after it has cycled completely and the biofiltration is  well-established. Best of luck with your new seahorse tank no matter how you decide to proceed, Mark! Respectfully, Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech-Support

Re: Lugol's Dip and Gorgonians, Pete, will you take a look at, refer?  -- 4/10/07 Dear Bob: <Pete!> I'm always happy to help when I can, sir. <And you do a fine job of it, I assure you> When I receive inquiries from aquarists regarding Mycobacteria/Nocardia, I feel it is very important to provide them with as much information as possible because of the possibility of human transmission and because they may be confronted with the decision as to whether or not it's necessary to depopulate their aquarium, sterilize everything, and start over from scratch.  So I  make it a point to try to arm them with all the facts they need to make an informed decision in that regard. <Yes... and one of the principal reasons for my encouraging the publication of your book, your articles (as well as others... including my own!) to get "complete answers" to folks... in a speedily manner> Hopefully, once we get my new book on seahorses published and into the  hands of the hobbyists, there won't be a need for us to devote so much time discussing these issues on the forums. <Heeeeee! You'll see...> Happy Trails! Pete Giwojna <And to you, Bob Fenner, out in HI, at times visiting with Carol and Craig and their (now four year old!!!) boys, Dylan and Cooper>

Re: Lugol's Dip and Gorgonians  -- 04/11/07 Dear Mr. Fenner, <Just Bob, please> I would like to personally thank you for all your help and the wealth of information which you were able to provide to me. It was very kind and thoughtful of you. <Velkom> I have three last questions and I hope this will be the last time I need to consume so much of your valuable time. I take it by stock Lugol's you mean anything off of the shelf made by any of the well known companies like Kent etc. Correct? Do you happen to have a brand that you prefer? <No... all Lugol's are the same> Dosage is 2 drops per gallon of pH, temperature matched water. Total dip time for all things be it  live rock, Kenya tree, shrooms, and gorg.s is 5 min. Correct? <As previous...> My last big question is, is it possible to dip invertebrates such as Nassarius snails, Cerith snails, Nerite snails and scarlet legged hermit crabs? If so for how long? <W/o the lowered spg the same> If you were to dip macro algae how long would you dip that for? <Not at all> Once again thank you for your time and patience, and pardon the redundancy on my part, it is not with mal-intent, however, more out of wanting to do things right the first time around, and secondly not being totally familiar with this system. Highest regards Mark <B>

Iodine drip   6/13/07 Hello Bob and crew. <James> I wanted to add my thoughts on dosing with iodine and pose the idea of using a pre-made solution and drip it in as one use calcium or Kalkwasser (assuming proper testing for need of course!). Does this seem a more reasonable approach than just adding a dose at a time? <Mmm, marginally so... there are a few factors to consider... One is the transient nature of the various valence states of this halogen in biological marine water... Dosing "all at once" likely results in getting some to all parts of the system...> Reading of the FAQ(s) led me to the conclusions: iodine is depleted quickly and is sometimes accidentally overdosed. <More the former than latter by far> Preparing a stock solution with DI water <Distilled is best... and dark bottle storage...> ahead of time seems to be a reasonable way to control the dose and the frequency of addition into a system. I would believe that before one would attempt to do this (or add at all) they should do some vigorous testing with a baseline of iodine at time of addition of the new water, water in the tank before and after addition and then periodic tests over a given frequency (hours/several hours) to measurable depletion in order to ascertain the baseline need of iodine in the system given present parameters and stock. <Yes> This information can then easily be graphed and documented for future reference using Excel. <Mmm, actually, need to continue to test each time... to be sure...> It would also be good to note the components of and residents (known) of the system as these conditions do change over time (replacement/new fish, corals and equipment). <Ah, yes> I spent a great deal of time reading up on iodine when I came up with my idea of dosing as a preventative antiseptic for an injured fish knowing that iodine is poisonous. It pays to read up before good intentions send our tanks to possible oblivion. I have to believe that as an antiseptic the levels needed would be harmful to any main tank and also so in quarantine. The chemistry responses in the FAQ(s) were cool. <Well... of a necessity, and by plan, very scant... One must need be so on the Net... Too easy to "give" folks some fact/oid that they can/will cling to as useful, actionable, w/o enough understanding here> Is there any news of an article coming regarding the chemistry of iodine in our tanks in the near future? <Actually... I'd like to have you pen this... Gather the pet-fish literature (even just the Net) together, a quick read through a public library's holdings on I2... compile, syncretise, toss in a few aquarium examples...! There are extant good works by the likes of Randy-Holmes Farley et al... but we could use a reminder, update... I'll help you sell this into the print mag.s and here on WWM's CA> Additives are a touchy subject but the debate makes us all the wiser or perhaps more cautious in how we treat our aquatic charges. Sincerely, James Zimmer <What say you? Bob Fenner>

Re: Iodine drip -- 06/14/07 Bob. <James> I would be delighted to give this a go. I don't recall whom you had charged with this task (no small task at that) in the FAQs previously. <Yes. Never done> Salt water is an ionic soup and reveals few clues to the naked eye. <Well put... perhaps the opening line of your next article...> I imagine the further I dig the more questions I will find myself asking. <A joy eh?> I mentioned this endeavor to my boss and he would like to collaborate on this as well. <Great!> We are presently discussing setting up our own test laboratory which would help us do research at our whim in the near future. It would be nice to contribute to the hobby and hopefully help some folks out of the confusion that the shelves full of bottles (advertising claims) can instill at the stores. This could be a lot of fun too. <I agree> I want to keep this project an easy read but I also want to dig into the chemistry and mine some data for my own peace of mind. Sincerely, James Zimmer <"Make it so"! BobF>

Re: Iodine drip; back from vacation and beginning work on this endeavor -- 7/3/07 Hello Bob. I have returned and am beginning work on this endeavor. I am discussing the test regimen and specifications with my boss/associate and we are lining up our test parameters and tank types. This should be interesting. I am also trying to define a focus of the article past summary of present literature and (though I love the chemistry) make this a both a worthy read and one people will actually read and understand without a degree. <Good> Thinking back on passed <And past?> experiences: people not wanting to spend money on protein skimmers as opposed to spending identical money on livestock I have to conclude that exotic, intricate and or expensive test kits go straight out the window. <Or more likely, never come in in the first place> I am digging out my chemistry and biochemistry books and will list all references. This is fun. Thank you very much for asking me to do this. LOL, this may end up becoming a research work and a basis for a further science degree. Sincerely, James Zimmer <I look forward to seeing your synthesis. Bob Fenner>

Iodine Article part 1 07/27/07 Bob. I think we can call this done for part 1. This version of part 1 is still longer than I wanted but I am 'more happy' with this version than the previous writes. With some editing we could break it down further if needed. However, when fully completed it should accomplish these goals: Testing is critical The halogens are some serious chemicals that should be handled with care Each aquarium is different and needs to be viewed as such Livestock hail from different places and have needs that evolved (separate from our tanks) Some of the common and repeated terms are in charts for easier reference Should clarify the FAQs we have already as I went through these line for line looking for common themes and concerns Part two will be easier. I purchased both the Seachem and Salifert test kits (this is the tough part: getting all the testing I want done without buying more kits). I am going to try and contact both of the companies tomorrow and see what I can dig up from them before I start. I also want to contact Kent so when I test their products I don't get surprises on the data from stabilized iodine species. This part also is where I can get into the types of dosing, technique and some lab tips from years of experience to help reduce error. I have had little contact with my old boss and can assume he is not on board here. This is what forced my hand on the testing regimen. I did want his input and wanted to write this with him but have no response. Email me any changes or questions you see fit. As for pictures I had considered some shots of iodine containing items such as foods (labeled and not), supplements also containing iodine and the iodine test kits (or iodine additives I will use- both from Kent: Lugol's and the Iodide). I also know full well now why this was not done sooner by anyone'¦ don't get me wrong it has been fun, but a nightmare to arrange! ; ) Sincerely, James Zimmer <Well done James. Will review the first section hopefully later today. BobF> Re: Iodine Article part 1 07/27/07 Thank you Bob. <Thank you James. Have just finished reading through pt. 1... I do like the brief coverage of the chemistry here... as well as the tentative nature of your statements...> This was a tough topic. It would very easy to only say 'add x drops of Lugol's for a 100 gallon tank.' However, this would be irresponsible, I simply don't believe we know what could be a realistic depletion rate or how the element is converted and or reconverted in so many different settings. For instance, do I have a phytoplankton population at all or are my corals consuming it? <Yes... as all "broad topics", particularly ones outside the general public's background, it is dangerous to make sweeping statements... Am sure you sense this precaution in my brief remarks to folks on WWM, in articles et al... Of a necessity, one can only state in this category that "following directions", testing, and non-continuous use are suggested> The addition of a halogen should be well thought out and thoroughly understood. I never forgot the precautions we took in fume hoods working with bromine and iodine. The hazards for those reagents were well understood for those of use in the chemical field. Over time many have died or had shortened lives from not knowing the full effects of the reagents they handled. <Yes... all they want is one more electron... and they WILL steal it from most anything else> I find that there are more questions one should as about there own tank than general answers can provide. I had a series of questions that each aquarist should ask in one of the versions. I think I will include these in part three. <Mmm, okay... though I would try to limit this to two parts...> I simply believe most people know very little about the marine animals they purchase. This was the point for the one section on livestock. We may not be able to get satisfactory answers in great detail. However, all these ocean treasures deserve better than the mandarin fish get being stuck to starve in so many tanks by those who just don't know better! There is a lot of 'wrong' to be seen in any given fish store when you are not in the know. <Yes... agreed. But, to the point. What are we going to do about it/this? I say keep writing, sharing... > I think the best thing I did for both myself and my salty pets was reading your book before I ever started. I may have made some mistakes along the way but it kept me on a good path and my little wet friends as healthy and happy as I can make them in their captive homes. <Hence our efforts. Cheers, BobF> Sincerely, James Zimmer

Oil on top of water maybe from yellow head Jawfish?? Iodine article almost complete. 9/13/07 Bob and or crew. <James> Sorry for the delay on the iodine article. I have had a summer of tank issues as had my associate (mostly temperature fluctuations but also the following question). I have lost some frogspawn colonies and his corals have seen better days with a dramatic temperature shock when the heater burned out attempting to maintain tank temp on a cold night with a fan left on from the hot day. <Yes> Before going away I prepared some frozen food for my mother-in-law to feed the fish. I used the usual thaw and decant the pack liquid method and thought I did a reasonably good job of removing the excess pack juice and oils. Upon return there was a layer of oil on surface of the 24 gallon tank (the 75 gallon tank cleared up much easier). I first blamed the food as one brand of frozen matched the general consistency and odor/color. This was discarded. It has been two plus months and the problem continues to persist. Despite skimming the oil off with a plastic container and letting the top layer drain into the cup the oil continues to return. I parted ways with the Condylactis anemone (to reduce tank load) and have increased the frequency of small water changes. Temperature fluctuations have been a big issue all summer with inconsistent air flow and 5 degree F temperature swings sometimes occurring despite my best efforts and abilities to keep the upstairs air conditioned or windows open when conditions allow. Could the oil on the top of the water be from the Jawfish (stress response perhaps)? <Mmm, no... Could be from another endogenous source but much more likely from an exogenous... Simple cooking oil use, aerosol in closely contained indoor environments very often entail such coatings... Can be an important impediment to gas exchange... I'd keep wicking off with plain, white, non-odorized paper towels...> Bob, please send me an email with some contact information to send the iodine article. <Oh! Can send along here as an attachment or my personal addr.: fennerrobert@hotmail.com> Writing it has been a struggle to keep it both an easy read yet stay true to the science behind the halogen family. <Ahh!> My associate has done the testing and is less than impressed with the test kits thus far. <Heee!> One of his former occupations was water testing in an environmental lab. Again, sorry for the delay. Thank you. James Zimmer <No worries. Bob Fenner>

Re: Oil on top of water maybe from yellow head Jawfish?? Iodine article almost complete. -- 09/14/07 Actually, there are fewer worries (about it going to happen) since I got laid off this past Monday. Now it is done. <Okay...> I now have quite some time to get the sources and rewrite (hopefully final on this one) once again. I love/hate the article as is. It almost tells it like I want to impart the knowledge. I keep asking non-technical people to read it and let me know what is and is not clear. <A good technique> I am also concerned about giving the green light on any amount to just pour into a system. Any dose amount is easily conveyed out of context in the form of "oh, I read use X drops of AAA material for 50 gallons... sure that should be fine." The fish and coral within a tank are very much captive and stuck in case of an overdose. <I am in total agreement...> I keep wicking and skimming the oil. I will continue of course. Odd it is just the one tank if it is external; otherwise why not both from cooking oils or grease? Different flow and filtration dynamics might come into play there. James <This and different biotic make-up... Bob Fenner>

Re: Oil on top of water maybe from yellow head Jawfish?? Iodine article almost complete. -- 09/14/07 Yes, very true. Hmmm... I underestimated just how much different the two tanks could be on a biological level (I felt that more a capacity issue) since they share so many similar substrates, live rock and inhabitants going back and forth (vacationing... lol). Here again, many dynamics are at work in similar systems even under the same roof. It is little wonder how much things can and will then be changed going from different source waters and areas of the world. This gives a true appreciation for just how different our little aquatic worlds can potentially be and why so much time should be invested in research. <And valuable insight to our perceptions of reality... finite and infinite... games> This is yet another data point for why indiscriminant applications of tank additives are generally a mistake. <Yes> I have to think the best value/dollar spent is on more salt mix and water changes. We really all manage an import export business in tank nutrients when we get down to it. <One way to look at this> However, no matter how well we perform, there is no way to manage this as efficiently as the currents of the seas to which all our pets (aside from tank/captive raised) adapted to over the ages. It never ceases to be amazing to learn about the little worlds we create. <One way...> It is also nice to see the visual cues and behaviors when you manage to do things they all like and do well with. James

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