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FAQs about Jawfishes, Family Opistognathidae Disease/Health

Related Articles: Jawfishes,

Related FAQs: Jawfishes 1, Jawfishes 2, Blue-Spotted Jawfish, Pearly Jawfish, & Jawfish Identification, Jawfish Behavior, Jawfish Compatibility, Jawfish Selection, Jawfish Systems, Jawfish Feeding, Jawfish Reproduction,

Jawfish compatibility, taking any and all opinions... Mysterious fish losses, Jaw sel./comp.    2/27/12
Dear Wet Web Crew,
Lindsay here.  I've posted several questions on WetWebMedia before regarding Jawfish.  They are by far and away my favorite fish<es>! 
Anyways, there are really 2 threads of compatibility questions I have, and they're both really to get your opinions.  I'm sure either or both may be a bit surprising.  BTW, my setup was a 55 gallon talk with 3 small Chromis, 2 Firefish,
<Mmm, not totally compatible w/ Opistognathids>
1 rusty angelfish, 2 black clownfish, a chocolate chip starfish, a cleaner shrimp,
<IF a Stenopid, take care>
a bunch of small hermit crabs and snails, about 15 lb live rock, and one very large decorative castle for extra hiding spaces.
My Nitrates are 0-5ppm, 0 ppm phosphates,
<How rendered thus?>
salinity 1.025, temp 75, and my pH fluctuates a bit between 7.8-8.2 (a little acidic).
OK, here's the first thread:
A few months ago I purchased a pair of red-dotted Jawfish, about 3 inches.
They set up a few burrows and were occasionally seen in the same burrow for a few days, then inexplicably the slightly larger of the 2 was swimming in circles as if it was paralyzed on its left side (it was really weird).
<Perhaps a hidden predator at play here... Bristleworm/s, an Alpheid>
  I turned off my power head overnight, thinking maybe he cut himself on something, although I couldn't really see anything, and maybe a little less current might help him settle and heal.  Nope, dead the next day.  Then, about a few weeks later, my cleaner shrimp was found sticking out of one of the burrow holes of the remaining Jawfish.  I was pretty surprised by that, considering that the Jawfish was WAY smaller than the cleaner shrimp, but the molted exoskeleton was also nearby, so maybe it was vulnerable.  Then, about a month or so later, we got a yellow watchman goby.
<Also not very compatible...>
  Now here's where the plot thickens.  The first few days it was sharing a burrow with the Jawfish.  Then, the Jawfish attacked it's right fin pretty hard and the goby was dead in about an hour.  I'm pretty sure the Jawfish killed anything that got too close to burrow, even it was sharing for a little while.  The red dotted Jawfish went back to the store last week.  I'm curious to know if you've heard if this type of Jawfish is typically this aggressive, or if it is likely just the individual Jawfish I had that was bully.
<All Jawfishes are territorial>
OK, now the second thread:
I know that there is a definitive risk in keeping blue spotted Jawfish.
<Yes... not really tropical, not well suited psychologically to typical/aquarium volumes. Most won't live for long (weeks, months) in a 55>
 I know, I know, but they had one at my LFS on Saturday, he was eating frozen and appeared very curious.  I have not been able to even special order the red-headed/ruby Jawfish I had been trying to get ever since I set up my tank the second time (I guess they're just not importing them right now).
Well, that being said, I picked the BSJF.  I should also mention this.  I had noticed that my rusty angelfish had a shortened, slanted tailfin a few days ago.  He'd been hiding in his usual spot a little more than normal, inside our castle away from the light.  I didn't think much of it really.
We removed the decorative castle for the first day we introduced the Jawfish so that it would set up its burrow somewhere we could see it (which worked).  The next day we returned the castle and the angelfish went back to its spot right away.  He had been "displaying" to the Jawfish to establish its alpha status.  We added some ghost shrimp for the Jawfish to eat and some flakes for the other fish.  Perhaps this was a bit neglectful, but I really just focused on the Jawfish to make sure it was eating OK, I didn't pay attention to the angelfish.  This morning the angelfish was found dead, halfway through one of the burrow holes of the jawfish's dwelling, the BSJF was peaking out an alternate hole.  So, now I'm taking opinions, because there are 2 likely and 1 less likely possibilities I can think of to explain the angelfish's demise.  1) He died from an unnoticed Finrot or other tailfin injury and the Jawfish moved him in to eat what's left.  I do not see any problems with my other fish, which are all visibly accounted for BTW.  2) The angelfish was "displaying" again and the Jawfish
made his move for alpha status.  3) A less likely idea, the angelfish swam in one hole of the burrow to bully the BSJF and then got stuck on his way out.
<Don't know that any of these are probable>
 The tricky thing is, the angelfish doesn't have any additional signs of bites or cuts, I don't see velvet, I guess I'm at a bit of a loss.
<Am suspecting "something else" is at fault/cause here... Perhaps some type of anomalous poisoning... hence the question re the HPO4>
Given my experience with the red dotted Jawfish above, I suppose option 2 seems very plausible.  I will need to keep my eye on the other fish in the tank for disappearances!  In the meantime, what is your opinion???
<I'd read on WWM re the use of PolyFilter... to hopefully aid in removing the aforementioned toxin, perhaps give an indication of what this might be... from apparent colour on the pad. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Jawfish compatibility, taking any and all opinions 2/29/12

Hmmm...that's something I hadn't thought about, that the Cyano is masking true water quality.
<Actually, quite common>
  I read this article when we had our bad batch of Cyano, but didn't consider that my test kits would be less useful in reflecting what's actually going on.  I'll switch back to RO water I think and cut feeding to every other day (was 2 days on, 1 off).  Do you think less than this is better?
<Mmm... IF foods are consumed, you rinse away liquids from frozen/defrosted, don't feed junk liquid prep.s period, these shouldn't be a major source>
  I've been going by the rule, all food should be gone in 20 seconds or else you're feeding too much in one sitting.  As for light, I have 150W T5HO, but do you have any suggestion regarding type of bulb?
<... posted on WWM. B>
Re: Jawfish compatibility, taking any and all opinions, anomalous losses    3/2/12

Dear Wet Web Crew,
Things have gone about as bad as they can go.  I lost 1 Chromis the same day as your last reply before I even had a chance to start my water change.  I did a 30% water change with store bought RO, salinity 1.024.  I brought up the pH a bit (Seachem reef buffer) and cleaned the gravel and took out my castle in case it was creating too much stagnant water.  In the morning we could see all the fish alive, then we lost the Jawfish, another Chromis and a Firefish.  I fear I am experiencing wipe out.  I still don't know exactly what started the cascade.  I brought in my water for tests at my LFS.  There was no ammonia, nitrates, phosphates, or copper.  The poly filter is still white.  I still have 2 black clownfish, 1 Chromis, a chocolate chip starfish, a bunch of snails and crabs, and for now, 1 Firefish which doesn't look very healthy.  I will try another 30% water change, but I think things may be too late.  The last time I had my tank set up things went smoothly from day 1 for over 2 years.  After I've moved and set things up again I've lost half my fish in 8 months.  I still don't know what started things going downhill, but something had to be wrong if I had Cyano problems.
  If I can't turn things around (which after everything I think I've resigned myself to think), I guess I should replace my filter components and start cycling again.  I'm not really sure if I should take out the sand bed and rinse it out or leave it alone.  Anyways, thanks for your help.
<Sometimes better to re-do all. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm
and through the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Sick blue spotted Jawfish: Jawfish Health\Compatibility + Overstocked + Aggression + Crypt 7/22/2009
Hello and a "thank you" in advance for your help......
<Hi Trisha.>
I know you're going to ask so here are our stats:
90 gallon with ~75 lbs of live rock, 20 or 30 gallon fuge using bio balls, red sea protein skimmer, 25 gamma watt UV sterilizer (been on for about 2 weeks) stocked with a Sailfin tang, baby hippo, royal Gramma, two clownfish, 6 line wrasse and the blue spotted Jawfish.
<Crowded tank.>
The hippo broke out with some ich a few weeks ago and we started with the vitamin c and garlic.
<Not a cure. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm and
here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichart2mar.htm >
It cleared up and then reappeared, so we got the UV sterilizer and we know that this isn't a cure for it but can possibly help. It has not cleared up and the Gramma has been seen with a few spots on his tail.
<You are going to have to treat the Crypt and soon.>
We are doing ~weekly water changes and our water parameters are as follows:
Ph 8.04 (added a bit of buffer)
ammonia: 0
phosphates: 0
nitrites: 0
nitrate: .5
Alk = 9.2
salinity 1.025 (measured with a refractometer)
mag: 1280
calcium: 410
<All good.>
I have been unable to catch the hippo to do a freshwater dip or QT but now our Jawfish is very sick. He has what appears to be torn fins and something going on with his skin. His breathing is somewhat labored but he is still eating.
<Has he ever constructed a burrow? Your substrate may not be to his liking. Also, are you sure that none of the other fish, particularly the clownfish or the wrasse are beating up on the Jawfish?>
We set up a hospital tank for him with a few PVC pipes so he'd have places to hide and then placed him in the hospital tank after he was sitting in the middle of the tank not moving much. He has ate a bit in the tank and his breathing has somewhat calmed down.
<Likely aggression in the main tank.>
I am attaching photos to see if you can identify the problem. Some are from our tank and some are from his hospital tank.
<He does look better in the hospital tank.>
On an extra note, I'm a little worried about a "emerald crab" we have,
<Another potential Jawfish bully.>
I've seen him a few times and he looks more brownish than green.
<Without a picture, I can't tell, but Emerald Mithrax crabs do have color variations. Further, no crab is ever to be trusted completely.>
I'm wondering if the on-line company we ordered from sent us another type of crab and it is ,for lack of a better word, mean to the Jawfish and does not belong in our tank.
<It is likely a Mithrax crab
Any ideas how to catch this crab?
I tried bating him with a piece of shrimp but he held on to the rock like he was Arnold S. and I wasn't successful with getting him out of there. The reason I'm saying this about the crab is because the Jawfish hasn't ever really decided on a home, he kept on changing and a few times I found him just sitting in the corner.
<This is a clue here: Jawfish need to burrow, and if they cannot, they get stressed. It may not like your substrate.>
I know they need a 360 view so I had set up a few PVC pipes so he could have that but he never adopted them for a home.
<Some will, some won't.>
Currently, he is in a 5 gallon hospital tank with a air-stone and a small hang over filter.
How often should I be doing water changes-if he makes it-and how long should he be in there?
<Water changes daily and he cannot be in there for long.
What should I be giving him as far as medications.
My LFS gave me something for him saying he thought it might be bacterial, but this is just from what we were describing. I apologize that I can't tell you what it is as I didn't go in, I had another fish friend helping me out while I tried to get the hospital tank cleaned and ready.
They said to throw the syringe out and it was amber colored-copper perhaps?
<No, copper medication is normally blue-green.>
I'm sorry-I know I loaded you up with questions. Thank you for your time and response.
<You have a few issues here. First, you have crypt (ich) in your system - you need to get that taken care of. Second, you have a few fish that are inappropriate for a 90 gallon, as they will get too big in time. At this point, I would return the Jawfish to the store particularly in light of how expensive they are, until you get the other issues in your tank resolved.>

Blind Jawfish 4/14/2009
Hi All,
<Hello again Debbie,>
I wanted to share an experience I've had with my Jawfish going blind.
<Awe, poor little fish.>
On the morning of December 15, 2008 I was watching my Jawfish and noticed she was running into rocks and obstacles she normally would swim around. She didn't react to my presence backing into her hole as she usually did. And after running into several things she'd just give up and lay still. Her eyesight overnight went from seeing me across the room (I could wave my arm and she would duck into her hole) to not seeing my hand on the glass in front of her. I put food in the tank and she would get excited but couldn't
eat. It hit her in the face, on her body but she couldn't see it. I researched WetWebMedia and found someone else had written with the same issue: the simple suggestion was to try hand feeding the fish.
<There is a wealth of info here.>
So using plastic tubing and an ear bulb I made a long feeding tube, or sometimes used a pipette. She was eating but not getting any better. She began to get used to her disability and would swim around/over an obstacle until she had it mentally mapped out and moved around the tank as though she could see.
<Amazing how resilient life can be.>
She totally rearranged the sandbed moving mouthfuls of sand all day long.
It was fascinating to watch her.
<Much to learn here about life in general.>
During cleaning if I moved anything in the tank even a little where she would run into it, she would get confused, go into her hole and not come out for several hours. Then later she'd come back out and slowly approach the area she ran into and remap it. I had Selcon which I seldom used and decided to try it (about a month later, January I guess). I began soaking the food daily with it, sometimes adding a drop or two of Kent's Garlic Xtreme. Within a week I began to notice a very slight improvement in her.
<Happy to hear.>
It's been four months now and in the last couple weeks she's been able to see food I put in the tank and for the most part can swim up and get a good part of it though a lot still goes by unnoticed or the clownfish beats her to it. So I still hand feed her 3 times a day.
She now sees me when I approach the tank and backs into her hole. Ha, the thanks I get for babying her all this time - she hides from me.
<Heehe! Imagine that?>
The mated pair of clownfish never bothered her, even when she chose to sleep on the sand under them every night for over a month, which I thought to be very odd.... Or when they had eggs and she stayed within inches of their nest. Now with her eyesight somewhat improved she no longer seems interested in sleeping with the clownfish and has moved her hole a bit further away. Although I can't be certain it was the Selcon that brought back her eyesight, I soak the food daily with it anyway.
<Certainly won't hurt! I'm a big fan of Selcon.>
<Thank you for sharing Debbie. I'm happy this fish is in your care.

Blue Spotted Jawfish with white spots. Disease? 02/09/09 Hello WWM, Before sending this email I have searched the pages for Jawfish disease/health and have not been able to reach an answer, so I hope that someone has seen this before. My blue-spotted Jawfish in one of my tanks has been fine for months but recently I have noticed he/she is developing white patches or spots along its body. <I see these> Behavior seems fine, no noticeable changes, appetite is normal also, and respiration seems fine too. I guess his (we will go with "him" for the sake of this email, sex is however, unknown) behavior has always been a little out of character, since he has never constructed a burrow, <Very unusual... and a good clue here... There is something re the substrate not to its liking... too coarse, sharp...> he prefers to hang out in front of, or under the overhang of a piece of live rock he calls home. My ocellaris clown also hangs out with him in this particular location, they appear to get along well. Since these two fish are around each other so much, I would assume if it was a parasite the other would have it, or another fish in the tank, but all others seem fine, including the clown. <Not parasitic> Please look at the attached photograph and let me know your opinion. Is this some form of disease/parasite? <Mmm, no... mechanical injury> Could it be old age? I will say that this particular Jawfish does not look as "plump" as another blue spot that I have in a separate tank (base rear of the skull appears slightly indented, not as "full" as the other fish, it is kind of wrinkled). Thanks in advance, Landon <Do try placing at least a sizable tray of mixed rubble and soft coral sand in the area where this Opistognathid "hangs out" for its use. It does need to burrow. Bob Fenner>

Re: New Jawfish Sick; Treatment Options? 6/22/08 Bob, <Scott> Thanks very much for your reply. I've donated a very small token of my appreciation; the resource you give to us hobbyists is truly priceless. (Everyone else reading, I encourage you to please do the same! Web hosting isn't free, even if great help sometimes is... : ) <The hosting part is very reasonable... and all are volunteers, but I assure you, all monies are spent on worthy causes> I know that when I'm reading the WWM archives, it's more informative to me when there are follow-ups that describe what happened, so that's what this e-mail is for (well, that and another question or two ; ). As usual, your advice has proved spot on. The night you replied, Mandy took up residence in the PVC pipe we put in, making it her temporary home. By the end of Sunday, she was digging out a little hole under the PVC. By Monday, she'd dug a corner hole, and began to act more "jawfishy". She learned quickly that the mysis-bearing baster is her friend, her petechiae darkened and disappeared, and she started to fill out (she got a big tummy, anyway). <Ah, good> That's the end of the good news, though. Unfortunately, your comment on the possible incompatibility with the Ecsenius bicolor ("Wolf", an apt name as it turns out) proved correct. Sometimes I wish you weren't nearly always right. : ) Your prediction took me a bit by surprise, though upon further research, I see that it really shouldn't have. "Wolf" was my first fish I got when I (thought I) knew what I was doing; I thought I was getting a mild-mannered model (as opposed to the fish I originally had in mind, Salarias fasciatus)! But when I introduced Wolf into the 20G from his old 10G (too small, though he was the only fish...), things were fine for a couple days, and then Wolf started attacking Mandy the Jawfish incessantly, on the order of every few minutes. He collapsed her tunnel and wouldn't give any time for her frantic attempts at rebuilding to succeed. So, I separated the tank with a piece of nylon window screen anchored in the sand; Mandy got the sandy part and Wolf got the rocks. That was about a week ago. I hoped that with time, Wolf would get used to Mandy and ignore her. This was put to the test today when Mandy made a new tunnel underneath the netting that extended into Wolf's area (Doh!), and a few hours later one of my Brittlestars was in Mandy's cross-border tunnel and Mandy was panicked, frantically pecking out mouthfuls of sand in an uncoordinated tunnel-building effort. I never saw any actual aggression from Wolf, so I guess it's possible that the brittle star moving in spooked her, but I'm skeptical. It's not helping Wolf's case that I've seen him sample my new Seriatopora hystrix and even a Nassarius snail! (Seems a little cosmopolitan for what is supposed to be primarily an herbivore! Though in his defense, the coral did/does have diatoms on a few branches... but I can't think of an excuse for him regarding the snail.) I'd be heartbroken to have to give Wolf up, but the tank I'm going for is a quiet and peaceful small-fish reef (gobies, Firefish, Jawfish, black-cap Basslet, etc.). I thought Wolf would fit in, but I don't need a bully. Will this behavior go away if I fabricate and move them into something like a 24"x24"x32" (6" sand bed), or do I just have a mean blenny? *sigh* It's so confusing trying to figure out what will mix well with Opistognathus and what won't. I've just finished reading http://www.wetwebmedia.com/jawfishcompfaqs.htm* *, and my head is spinning. I think what I got out of it (the "lowest common denominator", if you will) is that if I am dead-set on zero problems, the Jawfish needs zero tankmates... maybe I should make that bigger tank and hook up the 20G as a Jawfish tank/refugium... (though I guess it's not much of a refugium with a fish in it!). <Not so bad though> Can you could humor me one more question? (I hope that doesn't count as the question! : ) I have been enamored with Pseudochromis fridmani ever since I read about and saw them... I know it's the "gentle Dottyback", but is it gentle enough to fit in with the fish I want without being a terror, or would that force me to move Mandy to the "refugium" and/or omit some of my other would-be inhabitants? <Is a good choice... do make sure you secure a tank-bred specimen> I'm frequently amazed by how much there is to know in this hobby. Thanks so much for making your knowledge so readily available. Without people like you, I'd have given up long ago! Gratefully yours, --Scott Baker <Glad to have you still about! BobF> P.S. I'm sure you've got people already, but if you're ever in need of some technical assistance, feel free to contact me! I'm a programmer by training, and a computer/network/server tech by occupation... <Did not see this, but will do! B>

Jawfish Question 5/9/08 Hello, <Hi Spiro> First of all I would like to thank you for your website. it has been a wealth of information for me since I have started this fascinating hobby 14 months ago. <You're welcome.> I recently had to renovate the area in which I kept my 90 gallon saltwater tank, so I decided to upgrade to a 120 gallon and place it in a partition wall. The startup has gone great, with a lot of helpful information from your website the second 120 gallon tank startup has gone very smoothly. When my new tank finished cycling, I carefully transferred all my fish into their new home. They seemed to be very happy in their new surroundings, although I did lose one Firefish in the process. He seemed to be doing fine for a couple of days and then he started to remain on the bottom of the tank and breathing heavily. A day or two later I found him half eaten with crabs all over him :(. I assumed he got stressed in the new surroundings and died. <Possibly too new a system for his liking, not aged enough.> This new tank is now home to 4 PJ Cardinals, a Hawkfish, Yellow Goby, a Clownfish, a Yellowhead Jawfish and a Royal Gramma. A Bumblebee Snail plus other snails and hermit crabs. This evening when I came home, I found the burrow where the Jawfish hides in completely covered in empty snails. He had a total of three exits, but they are now completely covered and he is nowhere in sight. He has never done this before and I am wondering if it is a reaction because he may be stressed or has been attacked somehow. Is it possible that any of the inhabitants of the tank may have forced him into his burrow and "seal" it to this extent? Or is it just in his nature to do so? <The snail shells present is quite normal as Jawfish to reinforce their burrow with such.> I have also checked all the water parameters and they are all within limits. <Quite possibly he may have moved during the night and hasn't shown himself, or if new live rock was purchased for the 120, you may have a stowaway Mantis Shrimp present that did this. I'm thinking the Jawfish showed up by now, one way or the other.> Thank you for your help. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Spiro

QT, Chromis wounds, and a dead Jawfish - 3/21/08 Hi crew! Thanks again for your continuous work on this wonderful site. It is truly an invaluable tool in the hobby/obsession. Kudos. <Thank you> I recently moved from a 29 gallon to a 90 gallon. I was fortunate to obtain a free 3 inch established substrate from a friend who cures live rock and have since added another inch of substrate from the 30 gallon and another 1-2 inches of coarser substrate, which has been mixed (total 5-6 inches deep, all aragonite). The sand is also filled with small pieces of live rock, dead SPS, and shells. I currently only have about 40 pounds (50 pounds more curing in my buddy's curing setup) of live rock, but this live rock has been active in an aquarium for over 2 years, and is extremely porous and has great size to weight ratio. The 90 gallon tank has only been running for about 2 months and I added the fish (1" Royal Gramma, 3" yellow headed Jawfish, 1.5" Ocellaris Clown) and invertebrates (2" fire shrimp, 1" Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp, 1" Peppermint Shrimp, 3/4" Randalli pistol shrimp, and an unknown number and wide variety of sized Nassarius snails, Astrea Snails, Blue Legged Hermits, and Turbo Snails.) from my 30 gallon almost two weeks ago. My water parameters have been consistent since cycle completed; 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0-5 nitrate, 0 phosphate, 1.024 salinity, 420 Ca, pH 8.3, mid range alkalinity. <Okay...> Since then I have turned my old 30 gallon into a bare bottom QT which now contains 5 small Blue-Green Chromis, <Mmm, may not be supportable...> which leads me to my first question. One of the Chromis has a maroon colored spot (approximately 2mm diameter) under his pectoral fin on the right side. None of the other chromis have this and all five appear healthy (schooling, eating, swimming, alert to my presence). <Good> I suspect this is a bite wound, though the paranoia is screaming bacterial or protozoan infection. Is there something I can do to speed up healing of said wound, <Mmm, nothing practical, nada I would> if it is in fact just a simple bite wound and not something else? Is it safe to assume that if all 5 fish appear healthy after 4 weeks of QT (day 5), despite the wound still being present, I can add them safely to my display tank or should I wait until there is no sign of the wound (who knows how long it will take to heal)? <I would go ahead and move these Chromis> Can I add the remaining four chromis after QT period is up or should I wait until I feel safe adding all 5? <All> All chromis were given freshwater dip's prior to being introduced to the QT. The main reason for my question today is regarding my recently deceased yellow headed Jawfish. I introduced him as the third and final fish in my 30 gallon (after Ocellaris and Royal Gramma), and it was doing great. As all my substrate in the 30 gallon tank was sugar fine and only 3-4" deep the Jawfish never managed to dig vertical burrows, though he certainly tried in every corner of the tank, and after some time of making 1-2 new burrows a day, finally settled under a piece of live rock where it dug a burrow which it remained close to, but ventured quite far during feeding. Over all I was surprised on how active it was and how much I was able to see and enjoy this fish. On a side note the Jawfish and the pistol shrimp lived together in a shared burrow system for a while. The Jawfish was the second fish to be introduced to the new tank, after a 3 day test with the Ocellaris which had no impact on my water level what so ever (short test time, but substrate and live rock were very well established). This is where the Jawfish ran into trouble. It spent all it's time under the rocks and made no attempt to dig his burrow and not once did I ever see signs of digging (apart from the den of the pistol shrimp) in the time the Jawfish was in the new tank. shortly after it stopped eating, then the heavy breathing started. At this point I moved him to the QT (grabbed it with my hand, no resistance) after a freshwater dip (fearing ich or velvet), which it clearly did not appreciate. It lived in the QT on bare bottom with a good piece of dead SPS for cover for two days before it died. Before going belly up the Jawfish would either lay still on the bottom breathing heavy, or he would attempt to swim (most his tail was pretty limp and it's fins were frayed and torn) t through the surface of the water. After reading the Jawfish FAQ's I am leaning towards stress related death. Does this seem like a reasonable assumption? <Yes... I would guess perhaps something... it ate. Perhaps a too-toxic worm of some sort... A necropsy might reveal...> Environmentally the new tank was designed for the Jawfish, leaving large areas open at the short sides of the tank. Is it likely that the move stressed him out or is it likely that I have a greater problem with my tank such as ich and velvet? All the other fish seem great, even the ones I added before (2 2-3" Firefish, 1 1.5" wheelers goby, and a ¾" ocellaris) the Jawfish became sick. Is there anything in my tank that could have stressed out the Jawfish? <Mmm, nothing "jumps out"... the Alpheid... but you state the Randall's and the Opistognathid were familiars> I have never seen the Royal Gramma harass the Jawfish, however the clown was opening his mouth to the Jawfish on the first day, but never after. <These hail from related/congruent habitats in the TWA... not likely a/the problem here> I was planning on adding a Bicolor Blenny, some small Gobies, a McCosker's Flasher Wrasse, and an Allan's Damsel, and some more inverts, but I suppose that is on hold. <Mmm, I would not be hesitant here> Do you think it is safe to attempt another Jawfish? <Yes... perhaps even two... for interactions sake> I am considering adding another 1-2 inches of coarser substrate and adding a blue spotted Jawfish instead. Any recommendations regarding compatibility or pointers to reduce stress for this species would be greatly appreciated. <Mmm, do keep the tank well-covered... tremendous "jumpers"> Another side note: I wrote to you guys a few months ago regarding a pistol shrimp (randalli) and Yasha goby pair getting separated and the pistol shrimp got sucked up in a filter and lost both his claws. Pistol has regrown both claws and is wrecking havoc on my blue legged hermit population, <What they do> however the Yasha was never seen again. I love this little guy. A hardier invert is hard to imagine. Any chance the pistol shrimp and the Wheeler's goby might pair up? <Yes... patience> Thanks again for the help and I apologize for the LONG e-mail. Sincerely, -Jonas <Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Heavy One Gill Breathing....but only new fish... Too crowded small SW tanks -- 07/03/07 Hi guys/gals.. Thanks so much for this site...I cannot tell you how many times I have had problems solved by searching your archives.... This time I have a strange one..... I have a 24 gallon AquaPod set up as a reef tank... lots of live rock, live sand... etc. I have enclosed a pic for the looking. Currently, there are only three small fish in the tank.... a maroon clown, <Misplaced here... too aggressive a species to keep with other fishes in this small volume> a yellow wrasse, and a pygmy angel <Not enough room...> .... who have all lived well and happily for some time now. A while back I added a blue-spotted Jawfish <Yikes... will likely launch itself out...> for a little personality (love those fish!)....and had about a week and a half of great enjoyment before he started acting funny. He hid more, started breathing heavy (sometimes out of one gill), and became pretty lethargic. <Stress... not enough room...> I removed to a hospital tank thinking it may have been ich, although I couldn't see any external parasites, and attempted hyposalinity. He didn't get any better and went down a few days later. <...> I liked the fish so much that I decided to hope that that was just bad luck and try again.....alas, to the same end result. >...< Both times the fish was fantastic for about a week to a week and a half and then developed symptoms....mainly the breathing heavy out of one gill, slow movement, one of them actually tried to jump out of the tank at one point!... <My friend... these Opistognathids can't live like this... they are "high strung"... need room, a dearth of aggressive, mobile tankmates...> I have now added a small, much cheaper blenny to see what may happen. and I think he is starting to perform the same. I have also lost quite a few of my turbo snails!..... <... Let me skip ahead and try hypnotizing, making strong suggestion to you here: You NEED a MUCH larger system... Like myself, possibly, to either Silicone in your front door and fill your residence up with water! Or, get on out and go diving some times, places... where you can practically realize how little present aquarium you have> I don't understand....water quality is perfect, all the corals and three other fish are rockin...but anytime I add one more. especially a bottom dweller....I have this problem. <... is "psychological" rather than physiological...> Could I have a problem with my sand bed? Those blue-spotted Jawfish sure like to move around the sand...and the blenny splits his time between the top of the rock and in the sand bed...could it be a temperature fluctuation thing? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks Tod <Are you SCUBA certified? Like adventure travel? Either come on out with us, and/or save for that much bigger "world"... Your tank's too small. Bob Fenner>

Re: Heavy One Gill Breathing....but only new fish... -- 7/3/07 Thanks for the reply... <Welcome> It sure doesn't appear by looking at the system that its too small...it already appears empty with just the three of them...but hey, you're the expert... <Okay> Doesn't tell me why they would breath out of one gill though? Can that possibly be physiological also? <Not likely... some fishes "do" this at times... for no apparent reason> I am SCUBA certified...in fact Imp an assistant instructor, starting my IDC next month...but not sure I get your reference.... <Ahh! That you should join us... see much of the aquarium world in the wild> Thanks anyway Tod Miller <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Heavy One Gill Breathing....but only new fish... -- 7/3/07 Do you guys do trips with your crew? Where are you based out of? <We do... and the Crew itself is Intl.. I live in San Diego and Hawai'i> Always looking for good dive trips.. Tod <Ahh, me too! Cheers, BobF>

Induction regime for new marine fish ( a la WWM), Jawfish loss -- 06/26/07 Dear Reefers, <Okay> Induction regime for new marine fish ( a la WWM) Sorry for the length of this, but hopefully it covers a lot of useful issues for the Dips/Baths FAQ. As you can see I have based my procedures on your recommendations, so it should be generally applicable. My main reef tank is now 4 years old, so I have some experience, but I have just lost my second new fish acquisition in a row. Both fish died during their first night in my quarantine tank (?QT?), and I am now questioning whether there is anything which I could have done better. The first casualty was in January this year, when Bob Fenner suggested that it could have been caused by accidental venom from the resident Siganus in the QT. During the next 5 months I acquired a pH meter, a new hydrometer and fresh test kits to make absolutely sure that all parameters were stable and correct. I also developed a buffer solution for the RO dip to maintain a stable pH of 8.0 ( NaHCO3, a few drops of vinegar and some Kent RO Right). However, this weekend, in June, I acquired a 2¾? Yellowhead Jawfish, and after RO dipping and transferring to my QT this was dead the following morning. <A "high strung" species... did you have some soft sand for it to burrow in?> I have a permanent 30 inch, 110 litre QT, run at 35ppt salinity, 78 degrees temperature, pH 8.1, 3.0 ? 3.5 mEq/l alkalinity, 380 - 420ppm Ca, with a canister filter containing Siporax and Polyfilter run via a submerged Eheim pump, actinic lighting with 3 tubes, no sand, but surplus live rock and star polyp corals from my main tank, and with a little Caulerpa prolifera and Halimeda. The tank is populated with Stomatella snails, amphipods, isopods, small annelids and a few hitch hiker mussels. The Siganus is now gone, so there are no resident fish, Am I correct in assuming that the livestock in the QT is a reliable indication of good water quality, or is there a ?canary? species which I should add to be sure? <Both are valid barometers> I change 21 litres of water per week, with 14 litres from my main tank and, since January, 7 litres of unused salt mix. I am prejudiced against skimmers and do not use them, but as far as I can tell the conditions are as near perfect as I can get them. To maintain the detritivore and bacteria population I feed sparingly with finely chopped Mysis, and up to 50ml of phytoplankton a day. <Really... fifty millilitres?> I have never had to use any medication, but would use a separate hospital tank if I ever did, and not the QT itself. The last new fish before the 2 casualties was bought just over a year ago and went through the same dip and quarantine process without any problem, but I may have used a bucket for the dip instead of the box. My current FW dip tank is a transparent soft plastic storage box. It contains 10 litres of RO with aeration, maintained at 79 degrees and pH 8.0. On this occasion it had been running for several weeks to make sure that the pH was stable. Is it possible that the RO dip container could have leached out poisonous chemicals into the water? <Not likely> Should I therefore use a glass tank for my RO dip instead? <Perhaps, but the container is very likely safe> The fish was ordered from TMC, the main UK importer, <Ah yes... likely the very best wholesaler in our field on the planet. I have visited there> and arrived in the shop in Oxford on Friday. I collected it on Saturday, thinking that it would be safer in my system than in the shop. The fish was lying in the back corner of the display tank, and clearly a little nervous, but otherwise seemed okay and so I agreed to take it with me. I was concerned that it may not feed with all the other fish in the tank. Was this a mistake ? would it have been better if I had waited a week or two to let it settle in before collecting it from the shop? <Mmm, no... I take it this is/was an Opistognathus aurifrons...> I normally insist that the shop catches my fish with a bag, and does not remove it from the water in a net, as recommended by Anthony Calfo. <Mmm, both means have their plusses, minuses> In this case the shop refused, and as this was a special order, and Jawfish are notorious jumpers, I did not insist. The shop used invertebrate water to fill the bag, so the fish also suffers a change in water as well as being exposed to the air for a few seconds. Am I being unreasonable to insist on bag catching, or was the shop unreasonable to refuse? <I would catch this fish and most all in nets> The shop added a shot of ?Stress Coat? to the bag, and inflated with oxygen. Is this a good idea? The journey home is only 45 minutes, and other shops use neither. <Is fine> I add the fish directly to the RO dip, with as little bag water as possible. I do not attempt to acclimatise the fish to my parameters by adding QT water to the bag over a period of say 15-30 minutes. This is recommended by Anthony Calfo, but Bob Fenner cautions against it as the increase in pH combined with the nitrogenous wastes in the bag water can cause burns. Would such acclimatisation have been better in this case? <For such a small distance, time in the bag, there was likely little nitrogenous accumulation and/or drop in pH... no worries> I left the Jawfish in the RO dip for 7-8 minutes. <This dip had been aerated? RO water has no real gas...> It was breathing quickly and did lie on its side for a while. However, other fish have done this without subsequent problems and I understand that such behaviour is normal with a stressed fish in a dip. I then transferred it to the quarantine tank where it swam to the bottom and hid. I looked in again about 6 hours later at bedtime, and saw it swimming up and down a few times in one corner. It did not seem unduly stressed at that time, and was no longer breathing heavily, so I allowed the lights to turn off as usual. Should I have left the lights on all night for the first night? <Some light, external, yes> The next morning, the fish was dead. A 3 to 4 inch long bristleworm was having a tug of war with the body. I caught the worm ? it had the flat pointed head of Hermodice, but white bristles. Am I correct in assuming that regardless of species it could not have killed the fish? <Mmm, not so sure here... this is a powerful Polychaete...> I tested the QT water for NH3 and NO2, and both were Nil. All the other inhabitants were fine. Steven Pro recommends putting a new fish straight into a quarantine tank, using the RO dip later, between the quarantine tank and the main tank. Would this have been better for the fish? <Mmm, if the animal was in bad shape...> If so, would I need to set up a separate temporary tank for the initial quarantine period, and if so how can I maintain as good water quality in that tank for say 2 weeks before I dip and transfer to the main quarantine tank? <Regular maintenance> Or conversely, is there no risk of introducing those pathogens normally killed by the RO dip into the main quarantine tank as long as there are no fish in it for say 4 weeks between acquisitions? <Some> Bob sometimes recommends adding Methylene blue to the RO dip water, but also says that it is not necessary if the fish is not overly stressed. Would it have helped in this case? <I do think so, yes... carries oxygen, reduces visual stress...> In a similar case in the FAQs Bob recommends aerating the QT and adding ?a hexose simple sugar (about a teaspoon per five gallons) ? I will try the aeration, but what is hexose simple sugar, would it have helped here, and would it be okay for my system's inhabitants? <Monocyclic varieties like glucose mainly (fructose, galactose are others...) Is worthwhile> Bob's final suggestion was to find a better supplier. Unfortunately the wholesalers TMC have a virtual monopoly in the UK, and I'm not sure if the shop itself could have had much impact in this case as the fish was only there for one day, or could it? <Is not the supplier> Many thanks again for all your efforts in providing such a valuable and reliable source of advice for aquarists all over the world, and promoting the best quality of life for their pets. Regards, Eric Brightwell <Thank you for your well-thought out and related message/telling... I do think this loss was likely "coincidental" more than anything... that this specimen did die from simple "over stress"... I would not have this loss dissuade you from trying another specimen... That Jawfishes are very easily pushed over the brink... Bob Fenner> Jawfish That Recently Passed 1/17/07 My girlfriend had a dusky Jawfish in a 15gal tank for about 6 months now (probably stupid but the pet store guy "Capital Pet Food" in Country Club Hills, IL). Other inhabitants are 2 percula clowns. <Yep, probably too much, would have been better off with just the clowns, but you know that now.> Last night I came back to the tank to check on everybody and I saw my favorite jaw upside down on the bottom next to his burrow :(. He appeared to have lacerations across his sides. I assume it was the larger clown. <Most likely the root cause, although directly responsible for the laceration, who knows?> The larger clown started off about 1" but unlike the other one who is still about 1.5" the larger has grown to over 2.5" since we've gotten him. Is this fish abnormal - probably overfed? <The dominant of the pair becomes the female and grows very rapidly after that.> He seems very aggressive and would constantly torment the jaw hovering over his burrow. <Typical female clown behavior.> I believe I've answered my own question but is it possible that the jaw tried to jump and caught itself on the top of the tank? <Could be.> She stopped using the Eclipse tank that I got her and used this horrible little no brand tank (I can figure it what brand it is). <Not terribly important.> I can try to be more specific if needed, but I didn't take any pictures (I was too busy crying - he was my favorite) <Painful to lose a fish this way. Lost my Possum Wrasse in a similar way, except I am guessing to my Gramma's harassment. My guess would be the clown harassed the Jawfish into a situation where it got injured. Most any fish added to a tank this size with a mated pair of clowns will suffer a similar fate. Best to keep these alone in this sized tank.> <Chris>

Poisoned Jawfish/Poor Method Of Acclimation? 9/27/06 Hi Everyone, <Hello Caitlyn> Recently I purchased a pearly Jawfish online. When he arrived today in the mail he was in a tiny amount of water and looked near dead. I acclimated him anyways but decided the fish would have the greatest chance for survival if I didn't put it into a bare bottomed QT tank so instead I put him right into the display as the only fish. The Jawfish is in an established 12 gal nano cube with a 20 gal sump, protein skimmer, four inch sandbed, live rock, with WQ as follows: temp. 78F sal. 35ppt Ammonia-0 nitrites-0 nitrates-0 pH-8.3 Here's the deal, when I released it into the tank it was breathing heavily, had dark lines around its gills and a badly burned tail. It spiraled, did the "death roll", laid upside down and gasped for about four hours. It then settled in a rock cave breathing normally right side up. Now twelve hours later it is able to scoot around the tank sand similar to a goby but still no tunnel building or hovering. I have heard that ammonia poisoning can cause damage to the central nervous system. Is it likely this Jawfish will act normally ever or did the shipping damage him for good? <Shippers generally will not feed fish 24 hours prior to shipping to minimize ammonia poisoning in the shipping container. Whether this was done is anyone's guess. I'm thinking this behavior was due to a poor method and/or too quick of an acclimation. Don't believe any permanent damage was done. I'd keep the lights off until normal behavior is noticed.> <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks,

Sick Jawfish? 6/8/06 Hey guys. I have a question about my Jawfish. He's been in the tank about two weeks, and just today I noticed two white clumps under his eyes. They look like either a break in his slime coat or just an accumulation of slime. Otherwise, he's fine, eating well and relaxed breathing. <Good signs> No other fish in the tank has these white clumps-see the two pictures attached. <Mmm, hard to make out...> About a week ago, I introduced some new mushrooms and got some flatworms with them- I don't know if this is relevant, however. <Maybe...> The tank is running great on stats-no ammonia, nitrate or nitrite (but red algae...yuck) <This might be at play... the areas in question could be from the BGA mal-affecting the Jaw...> and a 1.025 salinity. I read a little in Conscientious Marine Aquarist and it said this is one of the symptoms of a protozoal disease... which I really hope it's not. But, you guys say Jawfish are exceptionally slimy, so it might just be some extra slime. Thanks for the help. <I would not over-react here... If this fish is feeding well, behaving actively, it will likely self-heal... I say "stay the course" in doing your best at keeping the system stable and optimized and all will likely be fine. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Jawfish? And BGA effects 6/9/06 Well, he's better today. You've piqued my curiosity-how would BGA affect a fish? <These bacteria are known to produce a wide array of toxic materials... that poison systems to their sold advantage. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Jawfish? 6/18/06 Well, against my hopes, the Jawfish got a lot worse all of the sudden. I woke up today to find him swimming at the top of the tank, breathing hard with cloudy eyes. <Bad signs> It looked like some of his slime coat was shearing off (small amount, if really at all) and the ends of his fins were either frayed or white. I put him in my QT tank and I'm going to try a low salinity treatment. On a side note, I noticed something odd. I had a rose BTA a while back <Oh oh...> that was doing fine for a week, but suddenly turned for the worse after I changed its diet to silversides. It died, and I chalked it up to my being a novice and anemones' tendency to crash. I tried feeding my Jawfish some silversides, after refusing scallop- and he ate them with relish. And, now this happens. These are the only two fish who have eaten the silversides. I think I see a connection here... <Methinks there's more of a connection to a common deficiency or poisoning in this system. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Jawfish? 6/19/06 I don't know what the "common deficiency" would be. <Me neither Sam... will need to review your set-up, history of testing... but the "cloudy eyes, body slime" statement and lost anemone point to something likely amiss here> This tank tests zero on all the metabolites, and is about 1.025 SG with a 8.2 pH...And my Clark's clown is doing fine, as are the mushroom corals. The hermits and turbo snails, too. <Again, whatever this is, favors these other groups of organisms, disfavors others... BobF>

Re: Sick Jawfish? 6/19/06 This tank started as a freshwater tank, and about three months ago I converted it to salt. I cleaned it out thoroughly, put in live rock, sand and some Miracle Mud. <In the tank itself?> I buy water from my LFS and change it every week, about 15%. The system has about 30-40 lbs of live rock in it. The live rock was cured well, so the metabolite cycling was finished early. <Mmm, this is more like "concrete curing"... not really "done"... as evidenced by your BGA incident> I have the same set-up in a 24 gallon Nanocube, sans Miracle Mud, and the system thrives. Now, this just struck me as odd. I realized that for some reason, some of the gravel in the system, and white bits of the live rock, have turned a neon green. You mentioning poisoning makes me wary...doesn't copper show itself as a green tinge in things? <Mmm, more like a light bluish sheen in very high precipitation incidents... In other words, no... I would take a "long-term view" here and let this system keep "aging" before carefully re-adding livestock, after this is quarantined. Bob Fenner> Was Sick Jawfish? Now cycling, SW 6/20/06 Well, by cycled I mean "no ammonia or nitrite and some nitrate." It took about two weeks to get it there. Is that what you consider "done?" <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Jawfish going blind 2/22/06 Hi Thanks for this help. I have had a pearly Jawfish in may 30 gallon tank for over two years. The tank is mainly a seahorse tank and I feed the Jawfish mainly the same food as the seahorses- Mysis shrimp and Vibrance1 enrichment from Ocean Rider. The Jawfish used to have good eyesight ducking into a barnacle whenever someone walked by the tank and swimming up to food first. Now he has gone partly blind and finds food more by bumping into it. His eyes look clear and bright though. He has also increased his respiration rate. I am worried he will soon die. Are these problems likely old age or is there something I can do to help him become his old darting self again. <The food and supplement you list should provide all essential nutrient...> Are there common Jawfish diseases that cause these symptoms. Also if the problem could be dietary could you recommend the ideal frozen food for the Jawfish and who supplies it? Best, Jim <Am at a loss to explain these sorts of apparent blindness... Perhaps with using a plastic baster, being very regular re food offerings, this Jawfish can be accommodated. Bob Fenner>

Sick pearly Jawfish not eating/choking on food 10/5/05 Hello, I hope you can help me with this. I have a 55 gal. tank with 2 Sebae clowns, 2 damsels, lawnmower blenny and 2 clown gobies and a pearly jaw fish. I moved this tank to my new house about a month ago, every thing was doing fine tests were all at correct levels and everyone has been eating and looking good. But I noticed that my Jawfish was looking bloated in the stomach so I did a test on the water my ammonia was up just a little, so I did a water change and added some stress enzyme and the next day the ammonia was gone. But my Jawfish still looked bloated and only ate one tiny piece of food, usually he will eat until he is stuffed to where his stomach looks the way it does now. I just wonder if he has swallowed a rock and it is stuck because when he does go to eat a piece of food no matter what I feed him he will try to eat once if it can get it down he will try to eat something else but he acts like he is breathing hard and looks like he is choking on the food that he does eat then loses interest in the food as it just passes by him. I just don't want to loose this fish he is my favorite besides the clowns and blenny. This system had been set up for over a year before I had to move it due to moving myself. I called my local fish store and was told to put 1tsp. of Epsom salt in the tank incase he has bloat for being constipated or something like that I have not done so yet I wanted to get a second opinion. But my worst fear is that he has a rock stuck in his throat I can't see anything when he coughs the food pieces back up I have also noticed that at night he doesn't put the rocks back over his tunnel with his shell door that he found in the crushed coral. It is amazing how organized fish are. I hope you have some advise on this situation. Oh this has been going on for the past 4 days. <Time frames are different for poikilothermic aquatic animals... let time go by here... a week or so... to have the system, livestock heal itself. Bob Fenner>

Help -- Yellowhead Jawfish is sick Mr. Fenner, I've had this Yellowheaded Jawfish for a little over 5 weeks in my 20g tank by itself. (5' crushed coral substrate, LR, power filter). It has been very shy since the beginning, always staying under a cave in its borrow. <Very typical> I have been feeding live black worms and a variety of meaty food, including shrimp, squid, clam and scallop. I noticed that it has something brown growing on its lower lips. It stopped eating since 2 days ago, although it came out more. This morning I saw it swimming outside of its borrow for the first time -- is that a good or bad sign? <Likely yes> I'm not sure if this brown color thing is 'mouth fungus' or 'cotton mouth', or something else. I'm treating the tank with Melafix, I suppose that couldn't do any harm. What kind of disease is it? <Maybe nothing more than normal coloring. Look at pix of this species on the Net. Particularly fishbase.org> What should/could I do? <I would "do" nothing here. A larger tank (at least something four feet long), live rock, others of its kind... all would be better... Bob Fenner> Thanks. Jason

Blue spotted Jawfish Hey guys. Just got a blue spotted Jawfish. I usually quarantine all my fish for a minimum of 3 weeks. <excellent... 4 weeks/better> Anyhow, the quarantine tank is a bare bottom tank. Is the Jawfish ok, for a few weeks in a bare bottom tank (some PVC) ? <PVC tubes of varying diameters are likely fine. But if the fish back into a corner of the aquarium... offer a butter dish of new dry sand to reduce the stress> I know they like to burrow, but just curious if this is an innate need, or something they like to do. <eh... really a big deal for their behavioral needs/stress> I don't have substrate in the tank since I occasionally need to medicate in there. <agreed...all QT must be bare-bottomed> Should I set up something small and put substrate in there, or is he ok. Thanks for all the help. Jim <good thinking overall... kudos to you. Anthony>

Treatment stress versus illness First, as with so many before me, I'd like to express my heartfelt thanks for all the conscientious advice you've (all) given on the subtle art of salt critter care. _The Conscientious Marine Aquarist_ has been my unfailing guide for the several years I've been in the hobby, and I've found no other printed source that compares favorably to it. Likewise, this site is extremely helpful. However, having read the FAQs and many letters and responses on parasitic diseases and troubleshooting, I remain in a quandary and hope you can help. <We'll try> The set up: I am transitioning from a 3 year old 30 gallon small peaceful fish and live rock tank to a 60 gallon fish and hardy invert/tolerant corals tank with a plenum, deep (over 4") aragonite/live sand bed with a separator at 1 1/2 " depth to protect the plenum from diggers, more intense lighting (240 watts of pc lighting, 50% white and 50% actinic), approximately 100 lbs of live rock, brisk (20x/hour) circulation divided between several pumps, and air-driven skimming (which seems to kick the tar out of our finicky Venturi skimmer in terms of skimmate production). <The usefulness of various skimmers labeled as "Venturi" type is huge in variance> The new tank has been cycled for a few months and is maintaining good, stable conditions (zero ammonia and nitrite, falling nitrate as the plenum comes into effect -- it seems to have a longer maturation time -- pH 8.2, salinity 1.0235 at 78 F, dKH 8. <Yes... a general "rule", the larger the system, the longer to establish> The tank went through a diatom bloom and a little red slime production, both of which were eaten by the cleanup critters (a variety of snails and small hermits) or passed away naturally as conditions matured. Once everything looked good, we started moving stock. Sadly, we had little old stock to move as the switch was catalyzed by the fact that the lighting on our 3 year old Eclipse hood had been shocking our old system, quietly killing our fish. We put a stop to that when we noticed frayed fins, heavy breathing, and some slight lateral line erosion on our pair of true Percula clowns and psychedelic mandarin goby, all of which have been with us for the whole three years (yes, we bought the dragonet before we bought the book that told us not to, but with 60 lbs of live rock in a 30 gallon system and lots of live brine enriched with Selcon and VitaChem he was thriving until the electrocution began. The dragonet was the first to move, as the critter-rich waters of the newer system seemed to offer his best chance of recovery. He has been feasting there for several weeks and is very active and slowly fattening again, but has a bald (colorless) patch on top of his head which neither recovers nor worsens. <This will hopefully improve with time> It is not as "dimensional" as the hole in the head pictures I've seen, but I assume it's a combination of nutritional issues and electrocution. Nonetheless, he's doing well and really pigging out on enriched brine and all the life in the new tank. Next we added a store bought royal Gramma. We dipped him but our treatment tank was already occupied by the Percula clowns, as their electrocution damage evolved into a very deep-seated and stubborn fungal infection of the mouths, which we are still treating. The Gramma was bright and beautiful for almost a week, then developed a heavy whitish slime and -- since we were totally unable to catch him -- died in two days. We waited in terror to see if the dragonet would show signs of infection, but none developed. So we bought two Banggai cardinals, dipped and quarantined them with the clowns for a week and a half and then added them to the tank. All was well, and still is with the dragonet and cardinals. Here comes the dilemma. After a month of looking, my reef retailer was able to acquire a blue-spotted Jawfish -- my long-time dream fish -- for me. He suggested that the fish would undergo less stress if dipped and placed immediately in the system he was destined for. Since the hospital tank does not have a sand bed for him, I agreed and so after a long dip and acclimation I placed him in the tank. After a scary while of sitting in stun on the floor, he set up a deep little burrow for himself and moved in. On the second day he started eating hungrily (flakes, strangely enough, ignoring all live food offerings). But he is extremely noctophobic, leaping out of his burrow and cowering when the lights go out, so we've had to give him a "night light" to keep him from freaking out. <Good idea> Anyway, morning of day three (today) he is sick, with clumps of very dimensional (over a millimeter high and wide and somewhat uneven) white clumps and a few "strings" of white body slime as well, which I presume is a reaction to whatever's eating him. He's still eating, and given how stressed he is I'm afraid to stress him more by moving him to a treatment tank or dipping him. However if we're looking at Oodinium or Brooklynella it seems from reading your site that he has little chance of recovery, none without treatment, and has probably already infected the whole system. So, what do you think the disease is, and what would you do were you in this situation (given, yes, that you would never have put an unquarantined fish into your tank in the first place). Sorry for the length of the inquiry, but I feel that detailed information is crucial to looking at things in a whole-systems approach, as you advocate. Thank you in advance for your help! Ananda <At this point I would try adding a cleaner species or two, and otherwise "hope for the best". I agree with your assessment of the role of stress here and the likelihood of improvement with further movement. Bob Fenner>

Sores on a Jaw Fish I have a blue spot Jawfish that has 2 small sores on near the base of his tail fin. Due to the nature of a Jawfish, he spends mush of his time with his head out of his dugout when I am at the front of the tank. Of course, if I back up, he'll hover in the column, but then I can't see the injury well. I'm sure you get the idea. <I think so, yes.> So far this problem has existed about a week, but I do not see the wound healing or getting worse - it seems to be on the balance, in limbo. <These types of things take time - more like a month.> I have a Q-tank that is unoccupied, so I could move the fish BUT, is the difficulty and stress of trying to extricate a Jawfish worth the move? <Probably not unless the spots start to spread.> (tank is 30" deep and the Jaw is well dug in) Is there a greater risk of damage in trying to get the Jaw to the Q-tank than the risk of the sore getting worse? <I'd be concerned about both.> Thanks a lot. BTW. I got my signed book the other day, "Reef Invertebrates". It's quite impressive. I'm soaking in every page, and letting my children check out all the pictures! You did us all a favor with this book! <I'm glad you are enjoying it.> Bill <Cheers, J -- >

Jawfish Trouble (1/2/2003) This morning I made a beeline for the fish tank to see if the yellow head is still in the world of the living, when I saw the peppermint shrimp on its side being the main course for 2 blue legged crabs. <Not unheard of. Hard to say if the shrimp died first and the hermits are scavenging or if one of them killed it, which is distinctly possible.> Please help me if you have a few minutes. <I'll try. Steve Allen tonight.> The mandarin and the yellow head <definitely have personality> are my absolute favorites and we're attach to them which probably sound stupid since they're just fish. <Not stupid at all. They are interesting creatures. Though their brains are tiny, they do have individual personality traits. I worry about aquarists who do not have some sort of "bond" with their charges.> Dear WetWebMedia, My husband gave me a 10 gallon tank, sand and live rock as a gift a year ago. <Kinda small & harder to maintain. Requires constant vigilance to water quality. What additional filtration do you have?> With the exception of 1 clown fish and a shrimp way in the beginning, I was fortunate enough not to loose any other fish. Heaven knows I'm no specialist and just enjoy watching them. <You don't have to be a "specialist." Just be a "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and acquire the level of knowledge you need to responsibly care for what you have or eventually intend to have.> We just came home from our New Year's party in a happy and good mood when I noticed this ugly covering on my yellow head Jawfish. It looks like something you can just swipe off, like the whole body is busy to change its skin. Also at the 2 small front fins their is 'n red line where the fin attach (like a bruise) as well as next to the mouth and 'n thin red line that goes to the eye (like the veins are filled with red blood and you can see it). <Worrisome signs indeed. Has his behavior changed at all? Is he lethargic? breathing fast? eating OK?> I can send a photo first thing if this does not sound familiar. <Pix always help if not blurry.> We have a Mandarin <How long have you had this fish?>, the Jawfish, Peppermint Shrimp and 2 Clown fish lots of crabs and snails. <Too much bioload for this small tank. Give back a clown as noted below> I desperately am trying to get rid of the 1 clown since he's really aggressive these last few days and does not allow the fish (with the exception of the Mandarin) to come out of the live rock - I just don't know what to do with him after I got him out! <Most LFS will give you 50% of what they can expect to sell it for> Do you think the stress can cause the white stuff. <possibly contributory> I thought is might have been Ick, but apart from being a novice I really could not see separate little spots. <Ich can start out with whit spots and cause mucusy slime. Another big concern would be Brooklynella. Do look up some pix of this on WWM & other websites to compare. Bacterial infection may be part of this, too. Time to consider removal to QT and treatment. Consider posting your dilemma in the 911 forum on wetwebfotos.com to get some suggestions from others with experience of similar problems. Also read more about diseases on WWM.> Please help, the Jawfish is my personal favorite <understandable> and he's been in the tank for almost a year and no problem. He still eats (less though), he does come out of his cave, but he looks really bad covered in that white slime/muck. His eyes are clear . The water tests seemed normal <I trust this means zero ammonia & nitrite> with the exception of the Nitrate which seemed a bit high <number, please> - I'll do a water change first thing in the morning. <always a good idea> <I also fear for your Mandarin. Your jawfish's problem is probably contagious. Keep an eye out for sliminess or rapid-breathing. Additionally, it is very rare for a Mandarin to survive in a tank like yours. Does it eat frozen foods?> Ps. By the way - a very happy year to all of you. <Thanks, you too.> Thanks for helping us newbies enjoy our saltwater tanks without having Marine Biology as a major. <a labor of love> Kindest regards - Ronel Uys. <hope this helps>

Re: Please help my Jawfish does not look good 1/5/03 Thanks for answering back. As per your question on the Mandarin, we have it now for almost 7 months and it ONLY eats frozen bloodworms and picks off the rocks. <This is very rare and fortunate. Most mandarins refuse all prepared foods in favor of feeding exclusively on live microcrustaceans.> I have to admit our LFS warned me it might not make it, but so far so good and he stole my heart as it is. (The fish not the LFS) <They are quite irresistible (the fish, not the LFS!)> I use the Quick Dip sticks to test the water - Nitrate is 40 (mg/L) the Nitrite is 0.5 the PH is 7.8 <Please do repeat these tests with suitable test kits. I would hesitate to trust the accuracy of dry test strips. If accurate, those values are quite worrisome. If you have Nitrite present, I would suspect that you may also have some ammonia present, ammonia/nitrite toxicity would explain your jaw fishes symptoms. Your low pH is indicative of a problem too (should be 8-8.4). After your current problem is solved (see warning below), this can be fixed with water changes and/or the addition of buffers.> Also I took a chance and put "Rid Ich+" in the tank (I have no idea how to get a Jawfish out of a live rock tank.....without removing the rock) <In such a small tank, removing the rock is a perfectly ideal way to remove the fish as is draining the tank down to 1-2" of depth.> I treated the tank (1tsp every 24 hours) for the last 2 nights and none of the fish seems to be affected, but I'm not sure if it is working either and what about the organisms in the rock we don't see?? <From the photos and signs you described, I doubt that ich is the culprit of your Jawfishes problems. Any medication poses some risk to the organisms in live rock, so I would discontinue it's use.> I've tried to catch a clear shot of the Jawfish, can you see the yellow is fading from its head? <The photo isn't super clear, but color loss is another symptom of ammonia/nitrite toxicity.> The tanks' been great for almost a year and the only new addition I've done about 3 weeks ago is live plants and a shrimp. Can the tank develop its own sickness or is the likelihood for that coming from new stock you add to it? <It is always possible to introduce disease with new organisms, and that is why quarantine is so important. I suspect that an animal died (could be just a snail, hermit or shrimp) or part of one of the plants your introduced died or contained some dead material and caused an ammonia spike.> Thank you for taking the time to answer back. I really appreciate your input, we really want to pull this little guy thru. <If you correct the problem, the fish should pull through just fine. As a quick fix, you can use some Amquel+ to eliminate any ammonia or nitrite (after confirming their presence with a good test kit) and then do a couple of large water changes (25% or so) and look for and remove anything that is dead or dying. Do not do a water change or add buffers without testing for ammonia!! Raising the pH dramatically increases the toxicity of ammonia. If ammonia is present, only add buffers or do water changes AFTER adding Amquel or allowing the ammonia to naturally come back down to zero. HTH. Adam> Ronel

Jawfish Question Hi,<Hi there! MikeD here> I have a 50 gallon saltwater acrylic tank. In the tank I have a maroon clown fish, a Pelewensis Butterfly, a Yellowheaded Jawfish and a chocolate chip starfish. I have had all the fish for at least 4 months<Wow. That's pretty close to a full load>. As of the other day, my Yellowheaded Jawfish started eating less then usual. Also, the Jawfish had been hovering over her/his hole, but has started (again as of the other day) to swim all over the tank. Is this normal behavior or do I have a problem?<That's hard to say. It's common for them to relocate on a regular basis, but they ARE sensitive to high nitrates, so it could be either. You don't mention whether or not you have a skimmer, but I'd suggest changing about 5 gal/per week to keep nitrates at an absolute minimum> Please help. I am still a novice and am afraid I will always be. My water parameters are: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, pH 8.2, Nitrate 40, Salinity 1.022.<The parameters appear OK, but yellowheads are more of a true reef fish, thus tolerate change poorly, the reason I suggested weekly, rather than monthly changes, as many people do> Thanks Lou

Jawfish Question (continued) <Hi, Mike D here> Thank you for your quick reply.<You're welcome> Currently I do water changes every three weeks, about 30%.<The problem doing it this way is that you're allowing a build up, then doing a large drop, all at once. I do 5 gal/week, making it a 5 minute job that too easy to even bother putting off and have been having great results, utilizing nothing but dechlorinated tap water> Would adding bio-Spira help at all?<Is this a product? If so, I'd probably advise against it> Is there any living being I could add that would help to keep the nitrates down?<Sure. Any type of macro-algae utilizes nitrates and phosphates for fertilizer, so any that you encourage to grow are a big assist. Many people install a lighted sump with lighting that's on 24/7, while I prefer to grow the fauna in the tank itself, which the fish seem to love.> Thank you.

Ongoing re Opistognathids <Hi, MikeD here> Concerned over the welfare of my yellow headed Jawfish..... Tank 125g, ETSS reef devil sump, skimmer combo; Mag 18 driving return flow; 122# of live rock; ph 8.6; ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and phos all undetectable on tests; 1.022; temp 79-80.8....Alk is mid-range on red sea test; calcium 350;<it sounds perfect!> Inhabitants are: many small hermits; many small snails ; 2 Turbos; 2 blood red and 1 coral banded shrimp; 2 sally lightfoot; 2 Mithrax crabs; in addition to the 2 jaws, I have 3 small yellowtail damsels, a large lawnmower blenny and a juvenile Pinktail trigger.<The trigger could be a problem eventually, if not sooner. While Pinktails are considered among the milder members of the family, they can and will decimate your crustacean population, possibly quite soon.> Although both the jaws had made 2 dens each, they are both now living on the surface. one under a large mass of Chaeto and the other in a "cave" under a piece of live rock...one hasn't eaten (even after turkey baster treatment) in 3 days....<This sounds stress relate, as if they/ve been evicted, possibly being hunted.> neither is in his/her den.....the trigger took over the one's den (but he/she is OK under the Chaeto and eating well)...the other abandoned his/her den on the west end of the tank....and there are no other fish within a foot of his/her den "porch" on any regular (if any at all) basis...... Should I be concerned?<Yes. These Jawfish are under extreme stress>....these jaws have been in the tank since mid May...the "new arrivals" entered the tank about 10 days ago (trigger, blenny, shrimp and 4 crabs)...will the jaws settle in? <That's difficult to say, but I strongly doubt it as they were already established when the others were introduced.> By the way, my substrate is a mixture of oolitic, reef sand and crushed coral, with plenty of shells and rock fragments to build with...at least IMHO....the depth ranges from 2.5 to 4"....plenty of open sand surface as the LR is stacked to 16" in places...<again, sounds like an admirable set up.> The original dens they constructed were quite nice, or so I thought.....<Yellowheads and many other Jawfish species move on a regular basis, so that's not unusual.> Your input would be appreciated...<While the most probable culprit is the Pinktail, without actually seeing him harassing them I would suggest that you watch your tank carefully. Blennies, too can be very territorial and also like dens and tunnels, thus could also be the origin of the Jawfish's anxiety, but it's almost certainly one of the two, possibly even both. As I see it, in the near future your going to need to make a choice and find new homes for somebody(s?)> Grunfeld in Detroit (Home of the NBA Champions)<Good Luck>

Sick Yellowhead Jawfish Hello. <Hi Ray, MacL here.> I think I know the answer to my question but I want your opinion to see if there is something I am missing. <Lets find it then.> I have a 55-gal mini reef whose inhabitants (until this morning) were all doing wonderful. One of my fishies is a Yellowheaded Jawfish (Joey). He is one of my favorites with his behavior and his little hole. <They are wonderful fish.> Today, he is just not acting right. He is sitting in his hole, breathing very hard and fast. When I did my daily feedings, he did not even seem interested in food. Usually, only my percula clowns eat more than he does and this is the first time he has not eaten anything since I got him 4 months ago. I cant see any spots or splotches on him, but then again most of him is in his hole. <Good point!> NOTHING new has been added lately and nothing has been added without being QT'd since Jan. All other inhabitants (fish, corals, inverts) are all accounted for and doing fine. I did a full water parameter check and it is great (zero ammonia, nitrite, silica, phosphorus, nitrate 5, Ca 320 (little low), pH 8.25, dKH 10, SG 1.025). <SG is a tad high and nitrates should be a zero so a water change might be in order.> The only thing I can think of is that his hole is below and slightly to the left of my growing rose anemone. It has tripled in size since getting it in early March and the tentacles are several inches long (GREAT rose color) and the anemone has not moved an inch since putting it in the tank. <They are lovely creatures but can be horribly deadly in reefs.> Could my little Joey be suffering from an anemone sting? <Definitely a possibility and if so might be a huge problem.> If it is a sting, from what have read in the archived FAQ's, I don't think there is anything I can do but wait it out and watch him closely. <Provide the best water conditions you can and I would add some stress guard.> Is there anything I can do about it? <Not really, but if you seriously suspect that to be the problem, one of them has to be taken permanently from the tank.> I am in the process of mixing water for my hospital/QT tank just in case I need it (should be ready by tonight). Also, any ideas for getting him out of the tank should I need to? <That one is going to be a toughie, he'll hide in that hole.> If you have any ideas, please let me know. It really saddens me to see any of my beautiful creatures sick or suffering. <I agree, mostly at this point its just a wait and see but the problem is that one of them needs to go, the anemone or the Jawfish. Good luck, MacL> Thank you very much.

Update on sick Jawfish 16 Aug 2004 Thank you for the quick response and the feedback. <Hi Ray, MacL here. This bounced back to me with most of my reply gone so let me try this again. I guess my computer had a brain . . .well I'm sure you can fill that in.> Sadly enough, my sick little Jawfish Joey did not make it though the night after my first question. <sooooo sorry to hear that! I know what its like to loose a great fish.> When the lights went off, he was still in his hole breathing very hard. When I found him in the morning, the few hermits I have, a few bristle worms and the shrimp had already done a job on him. <They will sometimes converge on a fish not doing well. But it really sounds like he got enough of the anemone to take him down. I'm very sorry this happened.> I could not make out from what was left as to the cause of death. All that is left is a big, empty hole in the middle of my tank, and my heart. <I truly do understand this.> All other members of my tank look the same (got a Featherduster and a few mushrooms looking a little sickly but I think I moved a powerhead slightly last cleaning so current is interrupted). <Possibly but keep an eye on them just in case.> The nitrates are between zero and 5 (slight color tint) before I do my weekly 10% change so that is nothing new. I did not change the water as scheduled because I was preparing to set up the hospital tank and needed the water. <Might be a good idea to go on and do one now if you can.> I will continue to keep a close eye on all other inhabitants but as there is no sign of illness or infection in any of them, I highly suspect the anemone is the culprit. <They can really pack a wallop which makes it even more fascinating that the clown fish love them so much.> All the other fish stay clear of it (clowns come close but tend to ignore it) and I think that Joey just had his hole too close and may have accidentally gotten stung. <Possibly the change of current as well? Sent the tentacles closer to the Jawfish.> Thank you again for your help. I just wish there was a happy ending to this one. <Me too, definitely.> Sadly, this will be my last Jawfish until I get 2 more tanks (planning a Lionfish tank next) but they are just so wonderful to watch there will be another. <I saw the most amazing tank in Nagoya, Japan with only Jawfish in it. Was a big deep tank and quite lovely.> I have gotten lucky with my anemone (it's happy, healthy, growing, colorful, hasn't moved in 5+ months, and my other few corals are nowhere near it) so it is staying in my tank. I don't want to risk loosing another Jawfish to it. <Very smart, stay away from things like mandarins as well that probably wouldn't know what an anemone is. Good luck, MacL> Thank you again.

Yellowhead Jawfish lifespan Hi, I have had about 20 Yellowhead Jawfish for roughly 2 years now. I was wondering if you know the expected lifespan of a Jawfish in captivity and/or the wild. I would just like to know in case I try to rear the fry, or if I'm going to need to restock my tank anytime soon. Thank you for your help Mark Olsen <If memory serves, some public aquariums have had this Opistognathid in captivity for more than eight years. Bob Fenner> Sick Jawfish First, I would like to thank all of you for this wonderful service you provide. <Welcome> I would never have been able to get my tank running without your website. Here is the problem, my Jawfish has come down with some type of fin erosion. His tail fin is severely eroded and parts of his body seem to also have (skin/scales) erosion. I have searched through your website and it seems sometimes you recommend that people place the fish in a hospital tank and dose with antibiotics, sometimes you recommend improving nutrition. <Mmm, not me at least... the root problem with these circumstances is almost always environmental... I encourage folks to check what they can, and even if nothing is detectably wrong, to execute large water changes> Not being an expert myself, I have attached a photo of the Jawfish to see if you agree with the diagnosis. Also, if you do recommend treatment with antibiotics can you recommend a brand? Also, do I have to worry about his tankmates catching it? <No and no> Will adding some iodine help? <Won't hurt, not likely help> Is it at all possible to treat with antibiotics in the main tank (I know it will be bad for the beneficial bacteria, but it will be difficult to remove the Jawfish due to his extensive network of caves. I do want to add that he has been in the tank for about 3 months now and he is still active and eats well. Please forgive the multiple questions, but I want to make sure that I do the right thing. <I understand... a few things will definitely help... to bolster the fish's immune system by soaking its food in a supplement like Selcon, doing the water changes... and having looked at the photo (but still wanting to know what the other fish/livestock are) am more concerned that you have a predaceous problem... looks to me like your Gramma is being brutalized... by? A pistol shrimp? A mantis? Other?> Here is the usual information. -Nitrates/Nitrites 0 -P/H 7.9-8.1 (I have problems maintaining p/h above 8) -specific gravity 1.025 -temperature 79 -29 gallon tank established for 8 months tankmates are as follows -2 clownfish (ocellaris) -6 line wrasse -1 queen conch -assorted snails and hermit crabs -xenia -star polyps -Live rock <Ahh, am more convinced of the predator possibility...> As for nutrition, I alternate between these foods Formula 1 Formula 2 Vitamin Enriched Krill Vitamin Enriched Brine Shrimp Thank You for all of your help! -Charles <Do keep a flashlight handy and take a look by night for goings on in your system... perhaps (I would) try a baited trap of sorts (described on WWM) for finding the bully here. Bob Fenner>

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