Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Lionfish Health/Disease/Injuries 4

Related Articles: Lionfish & Their RelativesKeeping Lionfishes and their Scorpaeniform Kin Part 1, Part 2, by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner, Dwarf Lionfishes,

Related FAQs: Lionfish Disease 1, Lion Disease 2, Lion Disease 3, Lion Disease 5, Lion Disease 6, Lion Disease 7, Lion Disease 8, Lion Disease 9, Lion Disease 10,
FAQs on: Lionfish Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Infectious, Parasitic, Social, Trauma, Treatments,
& Lionfishes & their Relatives, Lions 2, Lions 3Lions 4Dwarf Lionfishes, Lionfish Behavior, Lionfish Selection, Lionfish Compatibility, Lionfish Feeding


Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Broken Lionfish Fin 12-01-05 Crew- <Hello> I might be a little over concerned about my issue, but I have never dealt with it before. I received a beautiful black volitans a week ago, but he was a little roughed up during shipment and as a result one of his pectoral rays is broken. <Very common.> Will this repair itself? <Yes> Will it look/function "normally?" <In most cases.> Do I need to remove the broken part? <No sir. Leave it be.> I have attached a picture and circled the location of the broken fin. Sorry if I am over concerned, better too much than too little I think! <I agree and wish everyone cared as much for their pets.> Thanks as always, <Glad to help.> Craig <Travis> <<Travis, thank you for remembering where to put the message w/photo!  Marina>>

Re: Vacation and Lionfish and Trigger 11/24/2005 Crew, Follow-up to my situation: My new lionfish passed away this morning and I have no idea why.  <Sorry to hear.>   After the 10 minute fw dip (with Quick Cure),  <<A freshwater dip with Quick Cure..??? MH>> I transferred him to the main display tank in the late evening.  Except for seemingly getting used to his new surroundings, he seemed fine.  However, several hours later -- sometime between 6 am and 1 pm the next morning -- he died.  I noticed the tank was cloudy, and ph had dropped from the usual 8.1 (yes, I know it should be a little higher) to 7.8.  Could this cloudiness and drop in ph have been caused by the possibly 5 hours of having a decent-sized dead fish in the tank?  <Certainly>  Or are cloudiness, drop in ph, and death symptoms of another problem? Water parameters were fine before and after the death (ammonia 0, nitrite 0, phosphates 0).  And actually, regarding nitrates, I was wrong in my earlier e-mail.  I got 25 (vice 50) ppm on my re-measurement after his death.  LFS measured even lower -- 12 ppm -- when I gave it  a post-death water sample for testing. And BTW, the 2 damsels in the tank are still alive and kicking (But I do know that damsels are hardier than lionfish). <<Uh, yeah, if the lionfish is struggling just to maintain its own life processes, it's not going to be very interested in eating.  MH>> Any ideas what could have caused this unfortunate death of the lionfish? <Not with any certainty> Considering the hardiness of lionfish, was it unnecessary and perhaps fatal to subject him to a 10 Quick Cure fw dip? <I don't believe in FW dips if the fish doesn't appear to have any problems.  Can't tell you if that is what caused the death or not.> I've read that fish that can't survive a fw dip probably can't make it anyway, but the LFS had this lionfish for almost 3 weeks.  Except for an eventually cured bout of Ich, he was doing fine in the LFS.  <Sadly, but all fish seem to be doing fine at LFS's until we get them home.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Quarantine future purchases for three to four weeks, if problems arise, treat accordingly.> BTW, I plan to do a 10-20% water change as soon as a new batch of water is aerated, buffered, and salted. Confused (and sad).  There should be a CSI-type service for aquarists.  <Good luck with future purchases.  James (Salty Dog)>

Dead Lionfish  11/16/05 The Volitans lionfish I have had for two months died two days ago. He was found floating with his eyes missing. <... before or after...?> The only "weird" thing I noticed about his behavior was four or five days prior to this. He was observed dispelling clouds of waste from his anus, gills, and mouth. I have not noticed any information specific to these symptoms on your website and am baffled.  <Internal difficulty, doubtful reproductive episode...> I had been unable to wean him to frozen food -- I use Formula one and two, fresh seafood from grocery store, ghost shrimp. He would eat ghost shrimp when I could find them, but mostly live bearers. He would eat about ten of these two times a week. I have a 90 gal, wet/dry sump with new protein skimmer and ample surface circulation. I do a 20 gal water change every two weeks, and keep carbon in the sump at all times. I have live rock, but have recently treated with CopperSafe for ick, <Lions don't "like" copper... esp. continuous exposure> cloudy eye, and fin rot (suspected). I have always had a problem with nitrates (40-60ppm) because of my meat eaters producing so much waste -- <And the wet-dry filter...> any suggestions to lower nitrates would be very welcome, <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wetdryfaqs.htm and the linked files above> but ammonia, nitrite are always zero. I have a 6" yellow Tang, 4" Picasso Trigger (yeah, I know I have read info and now realize that this was not a good combination for the lionfish -- would not have done so if my LFS had given correct advice on this mix), 3" coral beauty angelfish dwarf, small blue damselfish (less than 3"), 5-6" Clark's clownfish, <A big girl!> 8" very docile longhorned cowfish, and a 6" docile dogface puffer.  <... this is way too much of a mis-mix of life for this size/volume> It upsets me greatly to lose any fish because I researched all my tankmates thoroughly for compatibility except I guess the lionfish; I went solely on the advice of the pet store. <... educate yourself> I read and reread the Conscientious Marine Aquarist and highlighted all fish I was getting, never added anything to my tank except starter fish for six weeks. I have had my tank running for almost three years and have only lost three high hats when my first tank leaked twice. I also lost a yellow Tang to a bacterial infection about 8 months ago. Please advise. Thanks, M <Good interval... but would update your filter, knowledge, reading on WWM re. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Dead Lionfish  11/17/05
WWM crew, Thanks for the prompt reply. The lionfish's eyes were missing after death. <As I recall you mentioned> I think I have pinpointed the problem. <Oh?> My pH was about 7.8 a couple of days prior and I raised it to 8.3 over those days -- since have learned that lionfish don't cope well with quick changes like this. <Mmm, no... the pH scale is base ten logarithmic... not arithmetic... a small change in "point" is a large change in actuality> Very sad lesson learned. Also, with my wet/dry I removed the bioballs a very long time ago after reading about their contribution to increased nitrates. However, this didn't help much. You mentioned improving filtration -- I am interested in what type you recommend. Thanks again, M <Mmm, don't see previous correspondence here... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lionsysfaqs.htm.  Bob Fenner> 

Need advice for my lionfish  11/15/05 Hey Guys!!! My lionfish is having a terrible time swimming. It's almost like it's twitching. It isn't eating like it normally does. <Trouble> I got it to eat a small piece of krill and then another small piece of squid this evening. The water readings are: Nitrates 10 to 20 I can't seem to get it lower. Nitrites .25 <... should be zip> Ph 8- 8.2 Ammonia is 0 I haven't added any chemicals to the water, I have been doing small water changes once daily since it's been sick which was Nov 6th. The nitrates won't go any lower, Should I add something to force them down?? <Mmm, no... not a large problem at this concentration. But you should investigate the source of nitrite and solve> I don't see any visible signs of parasites on the lionfish. I have a panther grouper that is housed with the lionfish, they are in a 125 gallon tank with a 55 gallon sump. The grouper doesn't seem to be affected. Can you give me some guidance to what is causing this to my lionfish?? <A loss of equilibrium?> What can I do to prevent losing it?? I want to thank-you in advance for any help you give me. Stephanie <Need more information... I would move this fish to another system if possible. Something undisclosed is at fault or the bass is somehow mal-influencing it. Bob Fenner> 
Re: need advice for my lionfish  11/15/05
Thank-you Bob!! What would cause a loss in equilibrium? <Most notably/likely a lack of nutrition, poor water quality, too-bright lighting...> Is there anything I can do to correct it?? <Sure> I know the nitrates and nitrites should be zero, <Mmm, not the former> I'm not sure the cause of the spike. I've never had a problem with these in the past, it's driving me crazy!!  What other information do you need?? <The history of the set-up, components, behavioral notes...> I could maybe move him to a new tank but wouldn't this cause more stressed than what it's going through?? <No... this is your best chance of avoiding whatever the trouble is here, getting the fish to eat...> I don't have a problem moving him but I want to make sure. :-) <Something undisclosed is at fault or the bass is somehow mal-influencing it.> Like what??? The Bass??? Do you mean the grouper?? Those two hang out all the time and they also have their own spaces to retreat to. Thank you for replying. I don't want to loose my lionfish!! <Lose my friend... not loose... this last is a measure of "poor fit". Bob Fenner>  

Sick lion 10/18/05 I hope to direct this to Mike D as I have spoken to him in the past, but I am in urgent need for some advice. <Unfortunately MikeD is no longer with us> I have had a volitans lion for about 1 year now. I bought him at about 5 inches and he has been a wonderful eater and has grown to about 10" in the past year. up until 4 days ago it was hard to get food to my other fish due to his extremely healthy appetite. He was housed in a 180 with a moray, a juvenile emperor and a couple of tangs. I have run tests on the water with results of amm: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 20 ppm. I took a sample down to the LFS to verify my results and the got the same and found the only thing was slightly low calcium at 430. <This is not low> Temp 79, salinity 1.020. <This is... I would raise your spg back to near seawater strength, 1.025 over a period of a few weeks> The diet has always been frozen shrimp (shell on still), <I'd remove this for feeding Lionfishes, unless the shrimp are very small relative to the fish> mussels, squid, clams, silversides and he would eat some krill and pellet food when I fed the other fish. I tried to keep his and the other inhabitants diet varied.  Now for the problem... he suddenly stopped eating and now simply floats at the top of the tank either upside down or head up. His color is very dark. <Bad signs... likely something "stuck" in its G.I. tract> I read several others with this problem but have found no diagnosis of the problem. He is pretty much at the mercy of the current. He breaths very heavy and I came home from work today to see him stuck to the overflow. I resisted moving him from the display at first as I did not feel the quarantine would be as good of water quality and could possibly stress him out. <Agreed> But after finding him stuck to the overflow today I put him in the quarantine (29 gallon tank). He is not eating, just floating. Any suggestions? This guy has developed into a great pet and I really do not wish to lose him.  Thanks, Mike <I would try the "Epsom Salt Trick"... a tablespoon of magnesium sulfate per ten gallons of water... might dislodge whatever is stuck... Bob Fenner> 

Volitans ate a suction cup - Take Extreme Caution When Handling! 10/18/05 Bob, I wanted to share a story with you and your readers. My 10" Volitans Lionfish, Leo, got himself into quite a predicament this morning, but luckily he survived it. Leo, you see eats EVERYTHING. He eats frozen cubes normally but this morning as I was cleaning the tank a blue suction cup came lose (about 1/2" diameter) from a tube. I saw it and shooed him away.  Before I could grab it he went in for seconds and ATE it. I was beside myself on the web trying to find a solution. All I could find is that they do not regurgitate and basically he would die. I refused to give up and planned to trap and catching with clean, new rubber kitchen gloves and pluck it out of his mouth (which was open) with long surgical tweezers.  The ending: as I was chasing him around the tank he expelled the item and I grabbed it this time quick before he could go for thirds. He seems no worse for the wear. The suction cup was kind of slimy though, as if he was trying to digest it. He had it in him for about an hour. Would my plan have worked? I was desperate to save him. Chrissi <Mmm, I am very cautious around pteroine fishes, having been "stung", poked a few times... the spines in question will go right through gloves... Am very glad yours chose to cough up the object. Bob Fenner> 

Lionfish is sick 10/9/05 Hello my lionfish has not wanted to eat in a couple of weeks I have offered him it on feeding stick (krill) but he will just swim away from it and hide. He also has these little white spots on him and his eyes are kind of cloudy.  <Something/s wrong with the environment> But he swims fine and does not act out of the normal. I have a clown fish and a coral beauty in the same tank and they are fine and they have been with him ever since I noticed this in the lion. What is it and what could I possible do to help him? Thanks for taking the time to answer me back or just give me a suggestion. Thank You Mike <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/liondisfaqs.htm and the linked files above... esp. on Disease, Systems... check your water quality, begin some ten, twenty percent per day water changes... Bob Fenner> 

Lionfish mouth problem  8/30/05 I hope someone can help me! I have a nice size lionfish (probably 8-9" long) in a 55 gallon. <Too small...> He has been in the tank for 2 years. I feed him frozen and dried krill, and feeder guppies occasionally. Yesterday I feed him some feeders and he did his usual routine of stalking his prey and thrusting his jaws open swallowing. But this time something happened that I have never seen before. It appears that his upper jaw is partially stuck out. <Happens> He went up to other feeders in the tank and attempted to swallow, but it was like he could not open his jaw. I will describe what it looks like the best I can. there is about 1/4" inch of  white tissue on his upper lip that looks like it belongs inside his mouth. ( I am sure is does, I have seen his mouth and jaws expand out and forward then back to there normal position). He is now sitting on the bottom of the tank and unable to eat his prey. Any ideas on the problem or a solution? thanks for your time Eric <Time going by might heal this joint... otherwise (caution here) there may come a time when you want to catch and VERY CAREFULLY hold (in wet towels) this fish and massage, manipulate the jaw/joint back into place... fold the fish's dorsal and pectoral fins, pinning them backward, along the body... If it were me, mine, I would wait a week or two (the fish will not starve in the mean time, but will shrink a little and this may "do it")... I would look into larger quarters (by at least double) and eschew live foods. Bob Fenner>

Nitrites rising? Lionfish dead? 7/26/05 Great site crew! I truly appreciate all the  incredible information. Now for my problem; I have had a fish only marine setup  for 5 months. 220gal with approximately 225lbs of live rock. Natural sand  substrate (approximately 1" deep). Current inhabitants: 1    Yellow Tang 1    Purple Tang 1    Hippo Tang 1    Juvenile Emperor  Angel 1    Green Bird Wrasse 1    Harlequin Tusk 1    Panther Grouper 1    Stars and Stripes  Puffer 1    Snowflake Moray *** 1 Lionfish - just moved to quarantine today -  Had not eaten in 3 weeks and simply floating around the top in the current. Have  not treated yet as looks dead with exception of his HEAVY gill movement. No  signs of parasites, etc....**** After the first month of setup, began slowly adding  the above. Everything tested perfect (on Sea Test test kit)! Ammonia &  Nitrite were "undetectable" and Nitrates ranged between 25 and 50. pH steady at  8.2-8.3. With the exception of a few outbreaks of Ich on my Hippo, everyone is  extremely healthy. However, 2 weeks ago I ran out of tests with the Sea Test  test kit so purchased a Red Sea Marine Lab test kit. Nitrates still run 25-50  and Ammonia is still undetectable. However, the range on the Red Sea  Nitrite test is much lower (0.05 increments) than the Sea Test Nitrite test  (0.20). The first test with the Red Sea test the Nitrites read 0.1 and has  remained this way for 2 weeks now. I have done 25-50% water changes every other  day for the last week or so and still no improvement. Should I be concerned?? Is  it a "bad" test? <Mmm, how to put this? For what you have invested I would have better test kits. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/martstkitfaqs.htm... Salifert, LaMotte, Hach...> I went back and picked up a refill on the Sea Test Nitrite  test and it shows "undetectable". Everything continues to do well (with the exception  of the Lion Fish) and am simply stumped. Could this affect the Lion and nothing  else? <Possibly> Any suggestions for the Nitrites or the Nitrite test?? What is your  recommendation for potential treatments for the Lion now that he is in  quarantine - I had read copper is not a good option for a Lion?? Thanks for the time!!! SLOVOG <For what? Starving? Please read on WWM re Lion care... Bob Fenner>

DOA Lionfish 7/22/05 Hi,    <Hey, Mike G with you today.> we  have  been having  very bad luck with our  dwarf  lion fish  being  shipped to us.   we have  a  online fish store GODSCREATIONSUNDERTHESEA.COM     the strange  thing is   lately    I have  ordered lion fish from 3 different  suppliers  wholesalers/   each time  the lion fish arrives dead?   dwarf lions  are  suppose to be hardy   what do you think the problem could be  . the  heat? <Are you sure they've arrived dead? Often, a fish will look dead upon arrival, only to "revive" once acclimated to their new home. In my experience, smaller lions are notorious for this. Did you acclimate the supposed corpses? If so, and they arrived dead, I really cannot help you unless you provide more information. Best of luck with your problem, Mike G.>
Re: DOA Lionfish 7/26/05
yes they were dead  and  one  I received the other day we put him in the water in our  tank, he  was upside down and never recovered. defiantly dead. <Interesting.> I thought  maybe they were delicate shippers? <Actually, no.> or  two much heat    or  temp change . where  can I find  a list of  all wholesalers    ? <Doubtful. There is no real compiled list of all wholesalers on the planet.> lol I have tried to get  a dwarf  lion fish 3 times  for  a customers  each time  it is DOA or  shortly after   being put n the tank/ . <I am beginning to suspect your water over the quality of then fish you are receiving.> on one  order I bought  3 at one time   and all three died  one   made it a little longer  but it look like there was something wrong  with his eyes. pop eye maybe  or something . were thinking  about  direct  importing ourselves . <Perhaps. What are you parameters? Mike G>

Sick Volitans Lionfish? 7/12/05 Hello <Hi there> I've written to you before regarding my Volitans Lionfish.  He's a little over a year and is about six inches in size.  For the past few days he has not eaten, has been giving off a "slimy substance", <Happens> and seems to be breathing very hard. <Other livestock? Water quality? Water change?>   However, all of his water parameters are correct - (ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate at zero, salinity at 1.021, and temp at 76 F).  His pH is elevated though - 8.8 - and I can't seem to bring it down! <?> He does also have a little bit of cloudiness in both eyes starting - I noticed that today. <What... is the cause of the high pH? You are adding something...>   He seems fine otherwise, although, something very odd happened this morning when I was doing a water change.  I switched salt brands the last time I did a water change on his tank - <Ahh! Could be just the new salt mix... I do hope you mix and store it a few days to a week in advance of use> last week and this was when I noticed the symptoms mentioned with him.  He didn't even move the last time I used the "Oceanic" brand.  This morning when I changed the salt I went back to the Instant Ocean which I have used with him since day one and he went wild!  He was up at the top, swimming around like usual, but then goes back down and sits like he's in a slump!  His breathing is also very labored still.  Could it be the salt or the pH or is it just something these guys go through every once in a while? <Is at least pH "shock", poor water quality at play here> Any advice you can give me would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks! <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm and importantly, the more recent (larger numbered) FAQs files linked above. As you've found, all salt mixes are not alike... and some are dangerously inconsistent in addition. Bob Fenner> Re: Sick Volitans Lionfish? 7/12/05 Dear Bob, <Wendy> Thanks for your help.  Unfortunately, I think my lion is on his way out. He's been almost seizing in the water, doing back flips and then stops breathing for a second, then takes in one big breath.  I still cannot get that pH down. <This makes no sense at all... what is your alkalinity, alkaline reserve. Lower this by simply changing out a good percentage of the water with a mix that has a lower concentration. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above till you know what you're doing> I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks again for all your help.  Your site is really wonderful. <I wish it was more "approachable"... even user-over-friendly! Bob Fenner>

Lion in trouble...help  07/02/05 Hello, first of all thanks for all the time and effort you put into this website, greatly appreciated and your doing a great job. <Thank you> Now I have somewhat of an emergency with my lion but first I'll give you the basics.     60 gallon vertical tank, fish only with a bunch of rocks and gravel. PH 8.0 ( a little low I know but consistent for the time being) salinity 1.022, temp 79 (but fluctuates due to the terrible heat up to 81-82) the tank was originally at 75 but because of the heat I slowly raised it up to 79 so the change would not be so stressful on my little fishy friends.     I have a lunar wrasse, Koran angel, red Dottyback , Volitans Lionfish and yellow ribbon eel in a wine bottle (who is the tank veteran being in the tank for about 8 months-and I've had the tank for about a year)....still new at this anyways to the problem at hand..     The lion is having some issues, in the last 3 days he has been acting weird, he did the whole jolt thing twice where he excretes this slime from his skin which I know is from stress. But now he is having a tough time breathing and is freaking me out. Basically he is belly up against the glass, head up and his gills never really close ( it's like he can't take a deep breath just little breaths almost like he is hyperventilating or something) and because of the positioning I can't help but constantly stare at the red in between his gills. Not looking good....     I've been reading up on this site about the lion and you've said not to just feed him only feeder fish which is all I've ever fed him ( as well as the eel) , oh yeah and I have a UV sterilizer and a penguin bio-wheel filter. But I am stressing and was hoping you guys could help. I put some bio-coat stress defense in the tank and I just got a deionizer/reverse osmosis filtration unit but I haven't hooked it up yet because I am moving in a month, but then I will hook it up but Thanks for your time, and looking forward to hearing back, Erik  <Erik, your 60 gallon tank is overstocked.  The biological filtering isn't able to keep up with the fish load.  I'm guessing the red gills of the lion is largely due in part to ammonia poisoning.  You really need to reduce that load or get a larger tank.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re: lion in trouble... help
7/5/05 Hello again,    I forgot to mention that the ammonia levels are pretty much non-existent, therefore I don't think it is the ammonia. I read somewhere that as a rule of thumb that there should be no more than 1 inch of fish per gallon of water <That sounds like a freshwater calculation, much different in saltwater.  Rule of thumb is one cubic inch of fish per five gallons of water.> in the tank and therefore I did the math and including the eel I am around 48 inches to my 60 gallons so I feel like that might not be the problem. Do you have any other ideas that could help out the lion, he is still hiding in the back of the tank, breathing hard and fast ( definitely on his last legs), thanks for your help it is greatly appreciated. <I can only suggest removing him to a tank by himself where the stress level will be greatly reduced. If a tank is not available, I would change 25% of the water.  James (Salty Dog)> Erik

Blind Lionfish? 6/31/05 Your website is fantastic.  Thank you for all the help.  I have read prior questions and answers about lionfish blindness, but still have a question. Here's my situation:  I have a Volitans lionfish in a 250 gallon fish-only tank, with six other fish.  He was the first fish in.  They all get along fine, although the lionfish does get intimidated at feeding time by an over-eager puffer. <Happens> The lionfish from the beginning ate frozen krill, silversides and assorted chopped seafood pieces very easily.  I would simply drop the meat in front of him from a pair of plastic tongs and he would snap it up.  Lately, he has not eaten as eagerly and when he does snap at food, he often misses it completely.  His actions look as if he is having trouble seeing the food.  The largest part of his diet has been frozen krill, and lately, that's all he will eat.  A couple of krill each feeding is pretty much all he is getting.   <Mmm, I encourage you to bolster the nutritional value of offered foods by soaking them in a vitamin preparation... like MicroVit, Selcon...> I have two 84" VHO fluorescents lighting the tank, with total wattage of 320, I believe.  The lights are on for approximately 6 hours a day (4:15 to 10:15 pm), with moonlights on for a couple of hours after that.  There are plenty of places for the lionfish to hang out of the main light.  The water chemistry is good, though the nitrates will creep to above 40 between cleanings. <Not due to the lighting here> Do you think my lionfish is going blind?  If so, is there anything I can do to stop or reverse it?   <Try the vitamins, check your specific gravity... keep it near natural seawater strength (1.025)> (He still seems to be able to swim to his favorite spots so I don't think he's completely lost sight.)   Thanks a lot - this is a favorite fish and I'd hate to watch it slowly starve. Mike <Bob Fenner>

A shocked lionfish 29 Jun 2005 Dear WetWebMedia crew: <Gary> Thank you for putting together such a wonderful site for marine enthusiasts. I have one quick question. A few days ago I dropped my cell phone into my 175 gallon marine fish only tank (and it was turned on at the time) <Yowzah!> and ever since then my lionfish has not been eating and is breathing very hard. The other fish are all ok, and the water parameters came out fine. If the fish was shocked what can I do to help it get better? <Mmm, just maintain optimized and stable water conditions... and add a bit of chemical filtrant in the water flow path... to remove possible metal contaminants> Is it in danger of death? <Possibly... this group of fishes is generally very tough though> The lionfish is about 8 inches and my most prized pet. Please help me help him in any way possible. Thank you in advance for your time and efforts. Best regards, Gary <Try a unit of Boyd's Chemi-Pure or Polyfilter... Bob Fenner>

Dwarf Zebra Lion and Foxface, not happy 30 Jun 2005 Dear Bob and WWM crew, Thank you so much for the job that you folks do!  It's because of Bob's book and this site that a total newbie like me has gone 6 months with a FOWLR tank and only write to you with a minor problem and not an emergency.  I did a LOT of research on this site before I bought the tank and continued to read for the next couple months as I was acquiring my charges.  I still am an avid reader of the daily faq's.  I know this is something minor, but the fish are not doing as well as they could be and this bothers me!  I apologize for the length of the letter but felt I had to be as detailed as possible in order to make a serious effort to help my finned friends. <Glad to help> My tank setup:  6 months up and running 75g AGA, 60lbs live rock, 3/4" of crushed coral.  A CPR HOB 24" (it's about 5gal) fuge with 3" live sand bed, live rock frags, grape Caulerpa (24/7 lighting 20 watts), tons of pods and some filter-feeding fan worms (best I can describe them).  I use an Aqua C Remora skimmer with the maxi jet 1200.  Two additional MJ 1200's for water movement and a Magnum 350, sans bio-wheels and media for the same purpose.  I use 2, 200 watt Ebo Jager heaters.  Weekly small 5 gallon water changes (low bio-load right now), and topped off with RO/DI buffered water.  The lighting is standard el-cheapo (2x60watt) bulbs that came with the hood, 8 hour photoperiod. <All sounds good> Current Inhabitants:  1 3" Siganus vulpinis, 1 2" Dendrochirus zebra, various pods. Tank History: Cycled the tank with 10lbs of live rock.  Quarantined the Foxface for a full month then added to display.  I ordered 50 more lbs of live rock off eBay and cured it in a tub for a full month.  As I was adding the LR I smelled it, it was not rotten and had a good briny smell.  I tested for ammonia for the next few days, none was detected.  The Foxface seemed put out by all the disruption but was soon back to normal.  It took some time to get a lionfish in at the LFS that would fit my tank, WWM steered me away from a Volitans in a 75 with any other fish.  The lion was QT'd for a full month and everything went fine.  I tried and tried to use this time to wean him off live foods but to no avail.  I tried everything I could find on the internet about how to do this, nothing worked.  I even went so far as to deny him food for 7 days, but I just couldn't bring myself to starve him for any longer than that.  He still turned his nose up at silversides, krill, clam, mussel, etc.  I feed the Foxface a small 2x2" square of marine algae every morning and alternate in the evenings between formula 2 and Spirulina flakes.  The formula 2 is occasionally soaked in Selcon.  I have been trying to train him to not miss pellets. <Try the Spectrum line... impressive> I only feed them when he comes to the top (one at a time), and if he misses a pellet I stop.  He's gotten quite good at getting them all! The lion I feed ghost shrimp 3 times a week, two small or one large at a time.  Every few weeks the Foxface gets some of the Caulerpa out of the fuge.  I can tell it's not his favorite but I just tell him to be quiet and eat it cause it's 'free'.  About two weeks ago it seemed the fuge was filling up with this Caulerpa so I removed about two fistfuls of it.  I know a lot of pods and some of the red centipede looking worms came out with it. <Mmm, you may want to switch genera, even Divisions of algae here... perhaps Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria... would be better> Water test results:  ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate <5ppm, Alk 9.8dkh, spg 1.0255 - 1.026.  The spg varies a half a "point" from evaporative cooling during the day.  I put a small fan blowing on it to keep the temp in check, was increasing 2 degrees in the daytime. What is the greater stressor, the temp or the spg? <Spg shifts in most cases, circumstances> Here is my problem, the lion's right eye is a little cloudy and definitely bubbled.  I read in your FAQs that one eye cloudy means that it was some physical damage and not some sort of infection. <Generally, yes> I occasionally see him scrape himself along the bottom.  Most of the time he scrapes the right side, I have seen him once or twice scrape the left.  I looked at some pictures of him when I first got him.  The right eye was perfect as was the coloring around it.  Now the brown bands near the eye, especially the ones on the gill slit are noticeably abraded and dull in color.  His left eye and color bands look perfect.  He is still eating his shrimp and swims around without a care in the world.  Sometimes when he is sitting on top of a rock he will suddenly lurch forward a half inch or so like he was startled, but then settles back down. I've been watching the lion as I've been writing and he has twice just laid on the gravel on his right side for a few moments, but did not do his scraping.  I read your FAQs, changed some more water (2x5 gal in the last 4 days) and have added Epsom salt per the faq.  He is still scraping that side, and it has become more frequent. <Should be fine> The Foxfaces color behavior has changed as well.  He was QT for a full month.  He was added to the tank first and had it all to himself for a couple months till I got the lion.  After he acclimated and got settled into the tank he would always revert back to his bright yellow with just a round dark spot in the rear.  I've seen pics of other Foxfaces on the web and this is what they look like too.  Now his upper half will remain a constant mottled brown, with the lower half reverting to bright yellow.  To me this says the fish is not as happy as he was. <Yes> This has been going on since the lion was added, I thought he was just settling in again but it's been 4 weeks since his roommate moved in!  The bottom line is that I don't think I'm doing a very good job of keeping these fish and that upsets me! <Actually, my assessment is that the tank, with all the new live rock is "just new"... taking a while, as it will, to "settle in"> I want to provide them with an excellent home.  It is the least I feel I can do for my friends.  What am I missing here?  What can I change to help these fish feel better and look better? <Mmm, a bit of activated carbon, and/or Polyfilter, added to the filter flow path, will likely remove some of the organic content to the water that is mal-affecting your fishes> Are my water changes not enough even though my water params seem ideal?  Is the spg shifting during the day a major stressor? <Not much> Any light you can shed on this will be greatly appreciated.  Thank you to the whole crew for the work you do! -Sam <Do try the chemical filtrant/s... maybe a unit of Boyd's Chemi-Pure. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish fins suddenly missing Hello, Yesterday I noticed problems with the fins of our 3" volitans lionfish. In the tank we also have a 3" fairy wrasse of some kind (came with another tank, not sure what it is exactly), it is pink with a white underbelly, and a 10" banded moray eel that came as a hitchhiker in a piece of liverock. Our tank parameters are: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate <5ppm, calcium about 400, phosphates < 1ppm, temp 78, ph 8.3. salinity 1.23 We got our lionfish about 1 1/2 months ago.  He has eaten well since we got him.  I feed him every couple of days a piece of silverside or raw shrimp.  His fins have always looked perfect until yesterday when I noticed he had a tear in his tail fin.   Then I was looking closer and noticed that the rest of his fins looked like they were dissolving.  This morning I noticed that his fins had further "dissolved" and are now very small, and his tail fin has been eaten away.  I am wondering if the wrasse is possibly doing this, if so he is going to another tank or being sold. <Maybe... may be even the eel... How large is this tank? Are you sure re your water's pH?> We love our lionfish and want him to heal.  He still acts like he always has though. Please help. Thank you, Andrew Morgenegg <Well, something is amiss here... am curious re your water quality. The other two fishes listed do not typically pick on Lions. Bob Fenner>

Sick Lionfish I have had a lionfish since 1995. Always been healthy and very active. About two months ago we noticed a large amount of strange critters on the back of the tank. I questioned a few people and the thought it might be Ich <Mmm, no... humans can't see "Ich"... a single celled protozoan...> and told us to use CopperSafe which unfortunately after reading your column was not the thing to do. <Correct...> He became sluggish, wouldn't eat etc. After reading your column we got the CopperSafe out, did a water change, got some live ocean sand and he seemed to be getting better. We then noticed his eyes were clouding up. We got some MelaFix and started treating him for this but again he stopped eating. treatment is over eyes look better but still doesn't want to eat. Is there anything we can buy such as vitamins etc. that will help? He has become a big part of our family and I hate to lose him but he appears weak. Any help would be appreciated. thanks,   Linda <Vitamins, added to foods and/or directly to the water, and a slightly reduced specific gravity would help... as would leaving a space between your sentences. Bob Fenner>

- Sick Lionfish - Ok guys I have a big problem that I cant seem to figure out it seems like every time I think my tank is doing good something goes very very wrong. I'll start from the beginning my tank was doing great I had 2 Perc clowns a few damsels a snowflake eel and a Volitans lion in my 120 gallon tank all of a sudden everything just died, I had been doing regular water changes (20% every two weeks) and my water chemistry was perfect. <Seems odd that everything would just die without signs... what does perfect water chemistry mean?> after this happened I let the tank sit with nothing in it for 1 month. then I added 4 damsels and 2 Perc clowns they were doing great so I went and got another lion which ate the 2 clowns and 3 of the damsels but I figured this would happen and thought it was a good sign that the lion was willing to eat. yesterday I noticed the lion was acting funny and his eyes looked a little cloudy, I did a 50% water change this morning and went to work, when I got home he was really bad with little white spots all over him and his eyes were very cloudy and he couldn't swim at all, I put him into the hospital tank, but I'm not sure how I should treat him, I was reading in one of my aquarium books about giving fresh water dips so I was going to try that today, I wanted to consult with you guys first though... please help I really don't want to looses another lion <Would try the freshwater dip although there may be more going on here than just a sick fish. I'm very curious about the event where everything just died one day... I'm also curious about what you mean by perfect water chemistry. Many folks who write us tell us their water chemistry is perfect as this somehow absolves them of any problem... in fact, there can be many things wrong with tank water that are difficult to see and/or test for. A fresh water dip may help your fish, but given the reactions you describe, I do believe that it is reacting to a condition in the tank and not necessarily a parasitic disease, which is the only thing a fresh water dip would remedy. Do examine your husbandry carefully and consider the possibilities.> thanks in advance Paule <Cheers, J -- >

Lion acting odd Hi James,  <Hello Mike> Mike here, I asked you about the emerald crabs a couple months ago. He's still doing great. He leaves everyone alone, probably because I give him scraps of krill once a week.  I finally got all my fish into my 150G tank and they are LOVING it now! The stingray has all the sand he can bury himself in, and the puffers can swim to their hearts content.  Now my problem...About 2.5 weeks ago, my stingray got poked by my Volitans lionfish while I was feeding them. My lion always puts his spines down when he is near me, or when he is near any of the other fish. My stingray absent-mindedly swam up from behind the lion and into the "laid flat" spines. There wasn't anything more the lion could have done to prevent this, his spines were flat as they could go. Well, needless to say, the stingray freaked out and had a bad shock. He had a good 3 punctures on his belly and disc. No damage was done to the lion at all, the stingray didn't do so much as extend his stinger the entire time.  I'm happy to report that the stingray is back 100% normal, and was eating normally the next day. Problem is, since that happened, my lion hasn't eaten at all. He has been stressed out by this, not sure if it's due to hurting his tank-buddy or what, but it is very odd to me.  <I don't believe he really cares about his tank buddies.>  It seems my lion was the one that went into shock after sticking the ray. Have you ever heard of this before?  <No>  He hasn't eaten since March 31st and has become a very dark color. He isn't interested in any krill, squid or even live feeders. He isn't very active now either.  <Are you sure the ray didn't zap him?>  I have been putting him into a large net and squirting diluted "Selcon" in his mouth area to give him at least some nutrition. I don't really know what else to do. I know this really follows into "there's not much you can do to help him" category, but do you have any ideas? He's supposed to grow to the king of the tank size. Thanks again for your help, I really appreciate it.  <If you could get a hold of some baby/small mollies, I'd try that, some small live food. By feeders I'm thinking goldfish, not a good live food for lionfish. Other than that I really don't know what to tell you, Mike. James (Salty Dog)>
Lion acting odd - II
Hi James,  <Hello Mike> Thanks for getting back to me.  <You're welcome>  Another day, another day without eating, sigh. I am about 100% sure the ray didn't stick the lion, the lion didn't have any wounds on his body. Of course anything is possible. I thought maybe the lion's body was under stress after releasing the poison. I couldn't find anything regarding that anywhere. I would never feed my lion goldfish. I have read horror stories about that. I researched that before I bought him, I wanted to make sure I could take care of him (and all the others) before picking them up. As far as live feeders, I give him baby gut packed Danios. I can only hope that the Selcon will help him get better, to the point where he is interested in eating again. On a side note, I picked up a little 1.5" angler to put in my 20G. He's in there all by himself. I'm still trying to get him to take frozen krill. His last meal was at the store Sunday when I bought him.  Thanks again, I'll let you know if my lion gets better.  <Mike, hope everything works out. Unfortunately, this is part of hobby everyone faces at one time or another. You sound like you are doing the very best you can to take care of your stock. James (Salty Dog)> 

Lionfish Dorsal Spine - Fish Stuck Itself? Hi, <Hello there> First I would like to say your website is a great source of information and I seem to find myself browsing your pages constantly just to gain knowledge of the hobby. <Glad it is of service> I have checked the FAQ's and so far have not found an answer to my problem. I have a 46 gallon bow front, fish only tank. The tank is has an undergravel plate with two Aquaclear 20 powerheads (no aeration), a Marineland Penguin 200 bio-wheel filter, and a four inch air stick with a suitable sized Rena pump. The only fish in the tank was a Blue Damsel that I used to get the tank cycled.  At this time the Ammonia is at 0, Nitrites are 0, and Nitrates are less than 20ppm.  A few days ago I received an Antennata Lionfish through a mail order company via overnight UPS. I planned on him being the only fish in the tank as I figured it was too small to house anything else. Unfortunately the clip sealing the bag must not have been fully closed as the water leaked out during the last few minutes of shipment (I am guessing at the timeframe since it was a 40 minute flight from the main drop off to my local UPS dock and the fish was still alive). The local UPS supervisor called me immediately when they opened the box and discovered the fish was only in a quarter inch puddle at the bottom of the bag. They had a driver hold the bag and keep it at a tilt in order to at least cover its mouth to help it stay alive while I was on my way over.  I had to immediately drop the fish into my tank once I got home as there was definitely not enough water to do a proper transfer. I had kept the lights off for the first two days, only letting the room lighting illuminate the tank. I also fed the Lion a piece of krill on a feeding stick on the second day, which he took almost immediately. This morning was the first day with tank lighting on. He immediately found a place in the rocks I had built as a cave like structure to provide some shade for him from the lights. The lights are the standard lights that come with All-Glass aquariums, I didn't think it would be too bright, but I wanted to be on the safe side and hoped it would help the fish feel more comfortable.  It was then that I discovered that he has a lump just behind and between his eyes, right where his first dorsal spine is located. It is large enough to stand out from a distance as it disrupts the normal curvature of his back. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the first dorsal spine, which I thought was broken during his transport, seems to be pushed into his body. The reason I think this is that it is shorter than the spine behind it (by half the height). It is also protruding at an odd angle, although this may be because of the inflammation. I am wondering what kind of action I can take to help the Lion recover from this. I would almost expect the Lion to be dead if the spine were pushed in.  <Mmm, really only keep the system stable and optimized> As I have just gotten him, and that Lions are sedentary to begin with, I can't tell if his behavior is off. He is still moving to different locations, but he is definitely not as active as the Volitans I had several years ago. Any suggestions your group may have as to what this may be or how to treat this condition would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you very much for your time, Lyle <Hang in there Lyle... these fishes are tough... may well recover in time, regenerate the spine. Bob Fenner>   

Lionfish ID, health This is a two part question. First off I have what I thought was a Volitans Lion-fish in my 125 gal tank. Some friends have seen him and think he looks more like a Russell's lion. What exactly is the difference other than size? <Some meristics... please see fishbase.org re> I've seen pics of both and he can be either. I will attach pics for you to see. Also, he has a major growth on his fin that looks like a darkened swelling. You can see it slightly in the pic included. Is this Lymphocystis? <Mmm, doesn't appear so to me... likely a growth from a "bump"... hopefully will heal of its own accord. Bob Fenner>

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: