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FAQs on Marine Environmental Disease 2

Related Articles: Environmental Disease, Establishing Nutrient CyclingMarine Water Quality, Maintenance,

Related FAQs: Marine Environmental Disease 1, Marine Env. Disease 3, Marine Env. Disease 4, Marine Env. Disease 5, Marine Env. Disease 6, Marine Env. Disease 7, Marine Env. Disease 8, Marine Env. Disease 9, Marine Env. Disease 10, Marine Env. Disease 11, Marine Env. Disease 12, Marine Env. Disease 13, & FAQs on Environmental Disease By Cause/Types: Environmental Deficiencies, Oxygen/Gas Problems, Poisoning, Mis-stocking: Psychological Challenges, ( Aggressive Behavior, Territoriality, ), Physiological Challenges (e.g. Metabolites, Allelopathy, Stinging), & Troubleshooting/Fixing

It's amazingly easy for rust to get into marine systems.

Deteriorating Fins? Hi Dr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I was looking through a pet supply magazine and noticed a product that is supposed to remove electricity from an aquarium. It was only a grounding wire connected to a titanium rod on one end and the other to the grounding screw at the outlet. I had been mildly shocked on several occasions while in my aquarium so I constructed my own grounding wire using a stainless steel rod. So far it has worked. <excellent> My question is, the magazine stated that electricity in the water can cause deteriorating fins. I just removed a fish from my tank because I strongly suspected him of chewing on my 3 Searobins. I have not observed any aggression from any of the other fish, yet the Searobin's fins seem to be getting worse. My water quality tests out excellent. I have been treating the tank with copper at around .25ppm. Do you think the voltage in my water could have caused the problem with the fins, or is it something else? Thank you, Steve Tilotta <stray voltage has been implicated as a deleterious influence on the health of fishes but cannot fairly be said to cause anything so specific. Enough said that it is a stress and can contribute. I think that it is generally wise to have stray voltage grounded but would not rule out the possibility of a pathogen or aggression with your sea robins. Anthony Calfo>

Deteriorating Fins? II Thank you Anthony for your advice. <always welcome> An update: I caught the culprits that were chewing on the fins of my Searobins. They were my spadefish.  <hehe... yes, Cheeky little monkeys!> Butterfly fish seem to leave the Searobins alone. I think I'll fill my tank(135 gal.) with an assortment of them if they don't fight amongst themselves. Thank you again. Steve <eh... you'll get a whole new set of challenges/problems <wink>. Anthony>

Disaster!! Hello, well we had our first big disaster today!! I've e mail a few times with various beginners questions and everything had been going well up until today. As a matter of fact we were finally beginning to relax. We have a new 90 gal aquarium with 100 lbs of live rock. We cycled it and bought our first 2 fish, 2 Percula clowns. They did fine, we lost a few Turbos and one sally light foot, but everything else was fine. Last weekend we added our first new fish, a red lipped blenny. We had algae all over the tank and in one week he chowed it down!! We couldn't believe it. Tonight when we were looking at him, we couldn't believe how fat he was!!  <yes...very cool and useful fish> Anyway, we spent all day in Tampa today looking for a new fish. We wanted to get a hippo tang.  <also known as an "Ich Magnet"... always full 4 week QT for these guys> We finally found a cute small one who ate well. We bought him ( and a r/o unit ) and a few other things, including special food for him. We brought him home, acclimated him and let him go.  <Aiiiieeeee! A quick search of the archived FAQ's on this site will let you know that a blue tangs weight is made up nearly in half by white-spot disease...hehe. PLEASE quarantine all fish without exception... it saves money and lives> He was happy right away, eating the algae, we fed the clowns and he ate the brine shrimp too, etc.  <easy on the brine shrimp too...mostly water... a nearly useless food. Too bad it is so well liked> Everything was jolly . . . until the blenny realized someone else was eating the algae. He starting nipping at him everywhere and leaving marks, we were sooooooo upset!! I panicked, not sure what to do, I wanted to get the blenny out of there. But with all our live rock we didn't know what to do. So we started pulling the live rock out of the tank piece by piece until we got the little bully out. We dumped him into the quarantine tank.  <holy crap... you have a QT tank and didn't use it for the tang?! You guys are killing me! (smile)> But now the whole tank is so stirred up and our two clowns are going nuts and our poor little hippo, is up in the corner I'm sure totally freaked out!!!  <yeah.. a bit of stress there> We took out 80% of our live rock and set it on the floor, it was out for only about 5 minutes and we put it right back in. So we're hoping that there wasn't die off. <no chance of it... that rock is moist and out of water for DAYS on import> What can you tell me? Did we freak out just because the blenny was nipping at the tang??  <yep... some establishment of a pecking order is expected with all new fish. If it amounts to tears in fins you might have reason for concern... but nips and chasing is common> Should we have just let it happen?? I didn't know what to do. The blenny was doing obvious damage to the tang.  <agreed then... someone had to be removed> I'm just hoping we don't lose 2 fish over this. It was so upsetting. The water is very cloudy right now but we've got 3 powerheads going full blast and the skimmer running. Hopefully it'll be cleared up by morning. I just hope the tang is OK. I have a feeling the clowns will be fine. Let me know what you think. Distressfully yours, Katie and John Michael <do relax, friends... you primary concern right know is that you dodge a bullet from the tang getting Ich and taking the whole tank with him for the lack of quarantine... it really is a big deal. Please don't learn the hard way like so many of us. QT is to last 4 weeks for all wet animals brought in (Fish, coral, shrimp, crabs, etc)... conservative but safe and responsible. Best regards, Anthony>

Disaster!! II Thank you for your quick response. I'm a little more relaxed this am. <glad to help> I forgot to mention that we decided not to quarantine this fish because our q-tank was less than optimal water wise, the guy at the store treats with copper and is a reputable dealer but . . .  <to be clear... that does not help much or at all in reality. Copper is only effective against Crypt (Ich) but little else. Gill flukes and velvet bury too deep in the flesh to be phased by copper, as with most other pathogens. Even then, the copper has to be dosed daily and tested to keep up with therapeutic levels and carbon or chemical filtration cannot be run in the meantime. So if they run copper therapeutically at all times, then they never run chemical filtration? That is far worse for water quality in a holding/merchant system. And after all of that, any value to the practice is wasted if new fish shipments are added weekly. A fish held for a month is just as contagious as the new fish in the same tank added the day before you bought the tang (a new potential carrier for exposure... no kill on site for copper)> I still feel bad that anything happened at all. <agreed... you couldn't have foreseen the aggression of the blenny> This morning the tang was behind a powerhead, I thought he was stuck. So, I got him out and he started swimming like he'd be OK but then he went up in the corner and is still there. The clowns are fine, eating this am already.  <good to hear> The tang is kind of "butt up" in the corner but doesn't look like he's breathing hard. Do you think he'll be OK?? What are his chances?? He didn't eat this am, but I didn't expect him to. We'll keep the lights off today. Anything else you can think of that we can do to keep him alive?? <slightly lower salinity (towards 1.018) and very good aeration/protein skimming will help> Yeah, we're still working with our q-tank, we've been having problems with high ammonia and not being able to get copper levels right.  <wow... there is a better way. QTs do not need to run or cycle in advance. Empty QT waiting... have a sponge filter running in healthy main tank at all times and it will stay cycled with the fish load in the display. When the QT is needed, bring the dirty sponge filter and 50% old water down to the QT and top off QT and display with new seawater. Quick and easy. And copper is only useful for Crypt... not much else. I generally don't use it but as necessary. See other posts on Q&A Monday and archived describing this> So we bought a new weird sort of sponge filter for it that bubbles up with an air stone. Unsightly but the store owner recommended it for decreasing the ammonia and getting the copper right.  <agreed... ugly but very effective. My first choice for QT> I guess that's a lesson to us to not buy a fish until the q tank is set up properly. It's a 10 gallon by the way. So, that's why we didn't use it. We had full intent. Do you think that the blenny wouldn't have nipped at him?? <no...probably would have happened anyway... the tang just would have been stronger and recovered faster> OK, our q tank the other day had ammonia of .5 and copper of .4, trace of everything else.  <the ammonia is tolerable (especially with water changes)... but the copper level is inaccurate or deadly!!! over .25 is scary... water changes ASAP to lower or use a poly filter> (I know I know, the blenny is in there, but we had no other choice but flushing him alive and I couldn't bear that . . . )  <how about trading him back to the LFS or finding a local aquarium society... a great place for information> We put this yellow almost clover shaped sponge filter in the tank with an air stone hose bubbling through it.  <I know it well... Jungle brand "Dirt Magnet"... a great little filter> We're going to check the water right now to see if the ammonia and copper are down.  <it will take days/weeks this way> The blenny is still all funny striped and breathing heavily and alive.  <the copper is the problem... too high, emergency> Not sure if he'll recuperate. But . . . what can I do. What do you suggest with this q tank? Put every fish in there for 4 weeks and treat with just copper or copper and some abx??  <4 weeks and medicated only as necessary. Copper for Crypt, Formalin/Quick cure would be better for parasites. Freshwater dips would be best (read through articles/archives on this site/topic)> Please help. Every since we set this tank up the q tank has been a mind boggler. <just needed good info from go. A sponge or extra Power filter running and ready on the main tank is all you need. The QT can stay empty in storage until needed> Thanks for all your help and support. We'll update you on the health of all fish. Hopefully our tang will be OK. Have a great Easter!! Katie and John Michael <our best regards to you and yours, Anthony>

Cloudy fins II What are your thoughts on the cloudiness, anything to worry about? We are leaving for a week vacation next week, and am mildly worried. <it is too general of a symptom for us to possibly diagnose o a text description and without any history on the fish. Truthfully... yes, it sounds like it is at least mildly pathogenic and worthy of address. In a perfect world, 2-4 weeks in a QT with meds if necessary would increase this fishes chances. Unsupervised while you are on vacation, however, in QT is not ideal. Watch the fish closely for the next several days, lower the salinity very slowly towards 1.018, feed well but do not overfeed and insure excellent aeration/oxygenation. None of these things is likely to effect a cure on a disease, but they are stimulating and favor the fishes natural defenses. Until you can determine what if any pathogen exists, it is not wise to randomly medicate. I wish the symptoms were more conspicuous to be of help. Best regards, Anthony> ~Bill

Disease I have a 4 fish in a 150 (UK) gallon tank, 1 Black trigger, an adolescent Koran Angel, a 10" Starry Eyed Puffer and a Lyretail Wrasse. Yesterday all 4 were in some distress. The Puffer tried numerous attempts at getting out of the tank. His eyes have shrunken back - almost like he is squinting and he also seems shrunken. The trigger spent sometime in the top corner of the tank spitting out water onto the floor and then at the bottom. The Koran - who is going through the change - is scraping it self on the tanks sides - obviously irritated by something. The wrasse is a lot more lethargic than normal. I cannot see any spots or other obvious signs. <severe oxygen depletion due to disease or toxin> I have changed 50% of the water. Put an external filter with Activated Carbon and a couple of sheets of Polyfilter in it. <excellent! exactly as we would have advised> This morning things are just as bad - in fact I haven't seen the Koran at all. Any ideas? Regards Ian Rudge <conduct aggressive freshwater dips promptly (5-10 minutes). daily if the fish seem up to it. Prepare a medicated hospital tank with formalin as per mfg instructions for dosage/strength. Best regards, Anthony Calfo> 

Fish deaths Hello, I recently posted a string of e-mails dealing with my fluidized bed filter and a string of fish deaths I have had. I have a goldhead sleeper goby and a cleaner shrimp still alive in the tank as well as live rock showing good growth. Any new fish I add die within 4-5 days of being placed in the tank even though they seem initially to adjust well.  <old fish/inverts live and new ones die... most always a sign that some aspect of water quality has strayed/accumulated over time to the point where the old ones have gradually acclimated to it, but the new ones are shocked when thrown into it> They eat on the 2nd day, get cleaned by the shrimp and swim actively. I have no idea what is causing this and have checked all water parameters and nothing indicates a problem. Same levels as my recent posts, with ammonia, nitrites, nitrates reading 0, temp. 77, salinity 1.022 and pH 8.2.  <I have forgotten if you mentioned nitrates before and have you confirmed all of your readings on another brand of test kit (test kits are barely accurate fresh, spoil easily and age very quickly (reagents= months in most cases). Don't be surprised if one of your test kits was way off> I was advised to let the tank just run at present for about a month but recently added a damsel a friend was removing from his tank that was in good health. It died within 4 days during the night and showed no problematic signs.  <wow... dying damsels... that's bad.> I realize that this type of diagnosis is difficult to do without seeing the tank but what else could I be checking for?  I am certain that is something to do with my tank and not the fish because I have had long lived specimens also die quickly. I use the usual technique for acclimating the fish but I have no quarantine tank, although I am not sure this would help with the problem in my tank. Any ideas, suggestions or tests you could suggest would be appreciated. <when in doubt... big water changes and good chemical media (Poly filters would help here if it is a contaminant)> I have good water flow from a Quiet one pump hooked to a mechanical,  <whoa!@!? Stop the presses. I love quite ones but they are very problematic on saltwater tanks. Their stainless steel drive shaft is not so stainless. Shut the system down briefly and take that pump apart... look for corrosion> chemical and heater module, an Aqua C Remora pro skimmer and a powerhead for water movement in a 72 gallon tank. I am at a loss as to why two creatures continue to live while all others perish quickly in my tank. Thanks for your input. Jameel <yes, my fried... do large proper water changes (pH, temp adjusted, SG, etc), use small charges of carbon weekly (1 oz week rather than 4 oz month per 50 gall) and definitely throw in a poly filter and not the color change if any to indicate a possible contaminant. Anthony>

A larger aquarium Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Currently I have two FO saltwater tanks, one 55 gallon and one 90 gallon. I am purchasing a 180 gallon in the next few weeks. I want to put the fish from these two tanks into the 180. I have read through the FAQ's about moving aquariums and they have been helpful. Ok for my question. I have had bouts with velvet disease in both tanks the oldies in the tank live through it with scratching etc but new arrivals sometimes die, not always but sometimes. How can I set up this new tank without bringing this underlying disease with it. I want to seed the new filter system from the 90 gallon tank. I would also be planning on using all the crushed coral etc. Any thoughts? <Indeed. Disease free is impossible. But nearly stress free is within grasp. Most common parasites from moved fish occur because of stress due to drops in temperature. Be very conscientious of the temperature of all water in holding (buckets, new tank, etc). And have faith!> Thank you, Mark <Kindly, Anthony>

Re: eye problem, Epsom Salt dose Hi Anthony, <Greetings, mullet friend!> Thanks for your quick reply, but Im not sure on your recommended dosage. Do you mean adding one table spoon of Epsom salt for every 5 gallons?  <yes, but a somewhat arbitrary dose (and not easily overdosed without a shovel, rest assured! Aggressive treatments and marine/hard water loving fish get the mentioned 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of tank water. Sensitive or soft water fishes (fresh) get half of that for starters with a possible follow up> So if I have a 125 gallon tank, would that mean adding 25 table spoons of Epsom salt?  <exactly correct... you can split this dose in half, dissolve it in some tank water and add it in two portions over a 12-24 hour period to be gradual> I think I got right, but sorry for my slowness in math, not my favorite subject, you know. Just a simple yes or no would do fine. Thanks again. Hamilton  <no worries... we all can't be as smart and handsome as Bob Fenner <wink>. Anthony>

Eye problem.. no, growth problem! Hello there Mr. Fenner. <Anthony Calfo in your service> I just got home and was looking at my orbicularis batfish and noticed his right eye seems cloudy, and it looks like a bubble or shield is starting to grow on it. His other eye seems fine.  <almost certainly mechanical injury> What could I do?  <start by adding one Tbsp. per 5 gallons of Epsom salt (Magnesium sulfate from pharmacy) to the tank...one time dose. If stabilization or improvement is not observed within 3 days be prepared for an antibiotic treatment (unlikely). Quarantine with Furazolidone and Nitrofurazone combo is a good start, but not in main display> If there is medication for this, what would you recommend.  <above course plus medicated food if he will eat it (antibacterial pellets or flakes from Tetra> And should I be worried about the other fish in the tank being affected by the medication?  <not contagious in healthy tanks...no worries> I would appreciate your help. This fish has been in my tank for about a month, and I just love it, I want to save it. <Orbic bats are indestructible... your only concern is going to be how to afford a two hundred gallon tank for when it turns 2-3 years old and approaches 2 feet in length... and I'm not joking. It will stunt and die prematurely most likely if you force it to live in a 4 foot tank or smaller> Hamilton  <good luck, bud. Anthony>

Cleaning magnet in tank, Eclipse Modification Hello Mr. Fenner, I just finished reading today's Q&A's & the last one about lighting for the Eclipse system. I started an experimental 25g Eclipse system a few months back & am thoroughly happy w/it. The CustromSeaLife retro PowerCompacts are terrific lights. And very easy to install. I cut the back of the plastic and have added a protein skimmer and a couple of power heads. <Thank you for this input> This little tank is supporting (I know you wont like this)-A mated pair of true Perc's, a Flameback angel (African), a yellow assessor, a orange spotted blenny. All very small fish. Also, a torch coral, a hammer coral, an Alveopora, a frilly mushroom and a small bubble tip anemone. Everything is thriving! I highly recommend this lighting setup. On another note-My brother leaves his algae cleanup magnet in his 180g reef tank, set up in Nov.01, & now he is noticing that the corals are dying or not looking as great on the left side of the tank (where the magnet is). Could there be a chemical reaction of some sort going on in that portion of the tank? <Yes. Most aquarium magnets are safe for leaving in a system... but not all. I would pull these out when not in use... Please have your brother contact us re water chemistry checking, use of Polyfilter... as moves to correct the situation. Bob Fenner> Welcome back & thanks in advance. Craig

Who killed my fish?!?! <<Hello, JasonC here doing a cameo out here in sunny San Diego.>> hi, I was just wondering if you could help me find out who ate my long nose hawk fish because it has disappeared and I only had it for a week. <<Oh... I am sorry to hear this.>> in my tank I have a bi colored angel fish, a clown fish, a sea anemone, two blue Chromis, and a coral banded shrimp. I'm really confused and I feel bad because my boyfriend can it to me for Xmas!! <<Bummer. I would hazard a guess that either the anemone got him, or perhaps he might have leapt out. Did you check behind the tank or disassemble the live rock? A week isn't very long and he might have perished for other reasons - perhaps something health related.>>  thanks <<you are quite welcome.>> coralline <<Cheers, J -- >>

Fish, Heavy Breathing <Greetings, Debra. Anthony Calfo here> Hi I own a 120 gallon saltwater aquarium. In the aquarium I have a four inch long Percula clown and two small domino damsels and a three inch long porcupine puffer.  <ouch! rough mix...long-term the puffer will outgrow and eventually may eat the clown and damsel> I have excellent filtration. My water is reading perfect <eh... if the pH is a midday reading, then it is a bit low> PH- 8.3 AMMONIA- 0.0 NITRITE- 0.0 NITRATE-0.15 I do a 10 gallon water change every two weeks.  <please do a little more when the fish load grows> Over the past two weeks my porcupine puffer has been breathing a bit heavy. However during this time he has been eating like a pig. But during the past few days he hasn't been really wanting to eat too much at all. He doesn't show the interest like he use to. <a generic symptom...but commonly the precursor of a parasite infection...look for scratching/glancing and closing one gill while other pumps> IM worrying that his heavy breathing has caught up to him, He still is very active but he doesn't want to eat he just wants put the food in his mouth and spit it out. Do think he has a gill parasite?  <rather, parasites (non-specific) in the gills> If so I want to know If Formulite a copper base formula will cure his problem? Will it? Its a five day treatment. <need to be careful with "scale-less puffer for fear of overdosing...may need longer treatment and possibly weaker dose. If you are familiar with freshwater dips (remember to never pull puffer out of water for fear of ingesting air) that is what I would recommend first.> Can I just add this medicine to my main system since its only copper and because I don't have any invertebrates present in my tank?  <it will be absorbed into the calcareous media...and ruined for any future use. Usually a bad idea. Treat your puffer in a good quarantine tank. Kind regards, Anthony> Please respond back soon. Thank you.

Low Salinity Stress? Hello Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo here...fellow Pittsburgher, and happy Steeler fan today!!!> I am new to the hobby and have about 6 months of experience in saltwater and my 55 gallon tank is also approximately 6 months old. I have read the WetWebMedia boards in search of something related to this, but I could not find anything that I thought could help me. I had a problem a month and a half ago with a Yellow Tang who developed, or was infected with parasites when I got him. I gave him a freshwater dip and quarantined him for approximately 3 weeks and he seemed to be doing good in the qt tank. One morning I woke up and turned on the light and he was dead. Anyhow, the store I bought him from had me do all the tests on my main tank where he originally was, and all the readings were ok. They said to drop the salinity 2 pts per day until I reached 1.10 S.G..  <Severe. Only acceptable in systems without invertebrates/live rock and dubiously extreme. Just because some fish are strong enough to survive it doesn't make it right. This methodology has sprouted from an anecdotal article which included the support of a the old Pittsburgh Aqua Zoo curator who does consult a local store. Very controversial.> They also said to hold it there for a month to make sure that if there were parasites in the tank, they would not survive. < conditionally, but not guaranteed> Anyways, I did that and the fish looked great, but the live rock looked like it was dying and all of the worms were gone. <not a surprise...obviously and visibly damaging to everything but the fish> At the end of the 1 month period, I started on Wednesday slowly increasing the salinity by 2 pts per day. Everything looked ok except now my Coral Beauty seems to be refusing to eat, but my False Percula Clown is still chowing like a pig. The Coral Beauty will not eat flake, freeze dried brine, Pygmy angel frozen food, of Sea Veggies. When the clown starts to feed he swims around with him but will not eat anything. I do not know if my rock is dead or dying and it is causing ammonia to rise and that is affecting the Coral Beauty or what.  <surely damaged your biological filter...to what degree remains to be seen> I am also confused on why my levels are what they are. Could you please try to help me out and tell what I should do. <at this point patience, resumption of normal routine and water changes> Some of the live rock has turned white during the drop in salinity. I thought that the algae dying on the rock could also have led to the Coral Beauty to stop feeding, because he grazed on it a good bit. <a small stress... the salinity was principal and more severe> I don't know if I should pull the rock, or it will come back on its own as the local fish store says.  I would sincerely appreciate your professional opinion on this matter. Thank You, Jim. Pittsburgh, Pa <it will come back on its own. After the water chemistry is assuredly stable, add some fresh live rock to inoculate the damaged rock and all will be OK in time. Best Regards, Anthony Calfo>

Bubbles Have a porcupine puffer here that I'm concerned about... I have two power heads and a Venturi type skimmer so as you can imagine I have A LOT of air bubbles in the water. Well his body is covered in what appears to be air bubbles but at first glance it looks like while ick spots. most of them look like air bubbles up close but a few are hard to tell. I have a lion/a damsel/ and a eel that show no signs of stress. I've seen the bubbles on him for several days now. still accepting food and seems happy. if this was truly ick would he begin to stop eating or what would happen first?  lay on the bottom?  <Not necessarily... am leaning toward an environmental "disease": Emphysematosis...> what also concerns me is when he really flaps his fins the bubbles don't fall off of him. does his stretchy skin somehow trap the bubbles on him? <From the inside out> I did observe him at least once about a week ago inflate himself underwater. <Not a good sign> thanks for the help! <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bbldisease.htm and the FAQs beyond... though this piece is principally about pond fishes... the same condition affects all fishes in captivity. Bob Fenner>

Re: bubbles hmm this is interesting because once in a while I'll see my filter releasing some air bubbles like there was a air leak every so often. <And possibly deadly> but I've checked the filter hoses and impeller. I've gone so far as replacing the cover (includes the motor) to the Rena Filstar and it still does it kinda weird. the seals for the filter I think are on this cover and not on the chassis of it. <Time to trade that unit in> how quick would this env. disease take effect? <Hours to days...> the fish is doing very well. <Relatively> very friendly and bubbly, eats well. no other indications of problems other than that inflation a few days after introduction. <Best to check into the "loose gas bubbles", Bob Fenner>

Re: bubbles yah I'm working on the problem. I've tightened the intake plumbing quite a bit <Perhaps some silicone rubber as a makeshift gasket?> I've done some more investigation with a flash light I don't see the bubbles entering the filter. also shaking the unit seems to increase the air intake. hmm maybe sprinkle some water around some of the intake hose attachment to filter to check for leaks? maybe it would bubble if there was a leak kinda like a tire <Very hard to detect these intake leaks... perhaps you could borrow a dissolved oxygen kit, meter? Bob Fenner>

Yellow Tang getting brown patches Mr. Fenner, I hope you can help me. I recently used a product called Fritzyme #9 to help me with an ammonia problem caused by Maracyn II used for a bacterial problem. It killed all my bacteria causing my ammonia to go sky high.  <Unusual> The Fritzyme brought my ammonia problem down to normal in 2 days. However, I now feel that by not using it after water changes, that my water quality has changed. My Tang has started to develop brown patches. He eats fine and acts normal but looks awful.  <Let's slow down here a bit... you say "recently". How much time has gone on here? Your Tang should improve in weeks, not days...> I did a 10% water change yesterday. My hardness is at 4 and I cannot raise it to the normal of 12.  <Why not? What does this system consist of? What products, methods do you utilize to assure water quality?> My live rock does not appear to be doing its best either. <By this what do you mean?> I thought by doing a very major water change would help. I have just purchased your book and find it thoroughly educational and I thank you for writing it. My problem is not in the book and so I find myself writing you. Please help. <Much to state my new friend. Please augment your reading of TCMA with the numerous articles, FAQs files on WetWebMedia.com Look especially to the set-up and maintenance sections, perhaps give the tank troubleshooting area a read first: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Lois Roseman

Fin and tail rotting problem Hey Bob, I'm a beginner salt water aquarist (started 7 months ago) and already I have gone through battling ich breakout twice that wiped out all my live stocks.  <A shame... you have learned... the hard way.> I learned the importance of hospital tank the hard way. now even with proper quarantine procedures I'm looking at fungal problems due to bacteria infection. <Unusual... as you will know that actual fungal problems are rare in captivity... most such labeled are bacterial, and water quality, stress prompted at that> I have a 55 gallon tank with 1 maroon clown, 2 Firefish, 1 twin spot goby, 1 cardinal, 2 cleaner shrimps, and 1 coral beauty dwarf angel. It is a fish only setup with no live rocks or sand.  <You would do well to have at least some live rock.> For filtration I have Fluval 404 and a SeaClone protein skimmer. Both my angel and twin spot have fin and tail rotting problem and I was wondering if I should treat the entire tank with antibiotics or treat them separately in a hospital tank. <I would not treat the entire tank... We will begin a dialogue of improving your livestock's' health by improving your system, perhaps your maintenance procedures... Do you have water testing gear?> If I should use the hospital tank how can I make sure the bacterial problem in main tank won't reappear. also my maroon has HLLE problem. I know it sounds like I have water quality issues <This is the root cause of your problems, little doubt> here but when I check my water ammonia(0ppm), nitrite(0ppm), PH(8.3) levels are all fine and my shrimp are molting regularly. is there anything else I should check for? <Not much that is easy to test for... I suspect your nitrates and phosphate are quite high... you really should look into a better skimmer for your 55. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimselfaqs.htm and beyond. And add some live rock: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm and beyond... and a tilt if not "whack" on the side of your awareness: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm ... I see a sump/refugium and live macro-algae in your future... We'll be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner> please help my angel and twin spot looks terrible. thank you. Paul

Re: Ich (More like disease/health equation components) Bob Fish are doing great. I was wondering about the balance between heath/disease. Keeping fish with live rock (and some parasite) Over time if the fish stay healthy and can keep fighting of parasites will the parasites die off or will they always be around looking for the first opportunity to overcome a weak fish? <More often the latter> Will there over time, be a winner, loser, or will balance? <A sliding, more fluid type of balance> Fish have had small signs of parasites on fins and tail but not body for a week now. Do not see any fish getting worse maybe better. No hiding and eating everything they can aggressively. Like all hobbyist, at some point I will want to introduce new quarantined fish to system. D Stanley <I understand... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm elaboration of very useful model. Bob Fenner>

Re: cloudy water (spg actually) Is it better to keep salinity slightly higher? or is better where it is 1.020? <On a permanent basis... the vast majority of systems and livestock are best kept in near seawater conditions (about 1.025)... and much easier to keep clear, non-cloudy> And can you recommend and effective ich preventative/ treatment that will not harm inverts? -Pat <Yes... optimized, stable water quality/conditions, utilizing vitamin preparations in nourishing foods, placing useful biological cleaner organisms. Bob Fenner>

Re: Lemonpeel angel & Kole tang Hi Jason, I have one more question well maybe a few more :) ) After the lemon peel angel stopped eating, I called the LFS owner and he agreed to exchange it for another specimen. I did get a Kole tang about an inch and half long) and did the fresh water dip, then acclimated and introduced him/her to the main tank. At first he was eating fine for a day or so, just like in the LFS did ask to see it eating before I got him) however after that he retracted himself in a mini cave among the rock. I thought that he needed time to get used to the new environment, however last night at around 6pm he was breathing hard/gasping for air, looked weak was bouncing up and down) and I did not bother him assuming he may have had a confrontation with -perhaps the maroon clown fish-?. At any rate, at around 3am he/she passed away. I immediately tested my water and found that ammonia was 0, nitrite 0.50(today it is 0.25), nitrates 5ppm, pH 7.4(today it is back to 8.2).  <Mmm, the nitrite registering at all is a problem, the pH swing way too much... and including the behavior, history cited all point to some anomaly of water quality in your system... My principal guess: low oxygen... due to poor aeration, circulation... I would increase these immediately. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marenvdi.htm and beyond re others' environmental disease experiences> I thought that these readings were a result of adding some live rock into the tank I figured I didn't have enough) .Nevertheless, the fish looked ill even before I added the rock, so I wouldn't attribute the death to the live rock. What strikes me the most is that I added several turbo snails those are sensitive I think) and neither my other fish seem to have been affected by this whatever it is). <They're far less susceptible to low oxygen tension> Any ideas as to what might have happened here? Also, I have noticed some white cottony patches again on my maroon clown's head no scratching symptoms, has been eating fine). A few weeks ago I had dipped him/her in fresh water and those things went away. What would that be? <Secondary expression> Excuse the long letter. I just want to get to the bottom of this. Thank you for your time, D. <Read, act my friend. Add mechanical aeration ASAP. Bob Fenner>

Frayed/Split Fins At my wits' end here...been keeping fish for 10 years and never seen anything like this. <I "see" something new most days... been at it even longer... have only nits of wits left...> I have a 75 gallon tank with a big Mombassa protein skimmer, fluidized sand filter and AquaClear 300 Power filter. pH 8.2, SG 1.021, ammonia nitrites zero, nitrates 20ppm. Inhabitants are a 3" Diploprion bifasciatum, 4" Pristigenys alta (Short big eye), 4" Platax orbicularis, 1.5" Unidentified red clingfish and 4" Lactoria cornuta. <Quite an assemblage> Fish are ravenous, no loss of appetite, no fighting observed between them at all. However, all of the fish have been having recurred split fins over the last few months. The fins will literally separate; it is particularly bad with regard to the batfish's fins, of course. The fins are all heal within a day or two and then will recur. Switched salts from Instant Ocean to Coralife to no avail. 10% of water changed every week, religiously. Tank is 6 months old; this started happening 2-3 months ago. What could be causing this? <Other aspects of water chemistry/quality... related to fluidized bed, feeding...> I suspect the test kit is unreliable and the nitrates are actually much higher, but wouldn't that bring with it loss of appetite, and wouldn't the fins not heal over? Help! Michael Krechmer <Consider adding a sump/refugium: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm with live macro-algae, lighting... and dumping the FB. Bob Fenner>

Disease Hi Mr. Fenner! I was wondering if you could help me with a problem. Is there a fish disease that takes form of bubbles on their body? <Yes... a few that this is symptomatic of. Some environmental, some infectious, parasitic> I lost some fish about a month ago. I thought they might have ick, but really did not know what it was. The sicker the fish got the more bubbles covered its body. I do not know if the bubbles really have anything to do with it or not. I have searched your web site over and over as well as other web sites and have not found any info. that seems to relate to this. <The "disease" sections are very... way too general. Must need make more complete, full... lead folks to other levels of sophistication... including simple microscopes, micro-technique, staining... There are very good reference materials, though hard to find, overpriced (IMO)... look for the name Edward Noga as an author for instance.> I now have a Huma Huma trigger that I just put in my tank last night and it has some bubbles on its belly and around its mouth. I know this probably sounds pretty stupid. I am paranoid after my other fish dying. Don't want a repeat. My tank has been cycled a couple of months, and my first mistake was that I put too much in my tank too quickly after it cycled.  <Very common> In doing this it caused a big ammonia spike which in return weakened my fish and they got sick. Anyway... after the fish died I did a big water change about 50%) and vacuumed the gravel...a few days later I did it again hoping to get rid of what ever could be in there. My tank went about 2 weeks with out anything in it . Last night I added 2 new fish a Lunare Wrasse and a Huma Huma trigger. The water quality is perfect at this point. Any ideas? I did salt water fish a few years ago and I don't recall ever seeing bubbles stick to the fish. I do have a lot of aeration in the tank. Can you have too much? I have a 45 gallon set up with an under gravel filter, 2 power heads , a 303 Fluval canister filter with the spray bar. Any info would be appreciated. Thank you very much in advance! <Please read through the "Marine Environmental Disease FAQs" posted on the WWM site, and the article on "Emphysematosis": http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bbldisease.htm though it's directed to pond keepers, fishes... Due to the rapid onset of the bubble problem you describe I am concerned that you have a "dissolved gas" anomaly... somewhere air and water are getting mixed together... and the fine bubbles, gas getting into your fish... You should investigate, redress this issue immediately... If not this, we can continue our discussion, search for the root cause/s. Bob Fenner> Jenny Fuller

Re: disease Hello! Thank you for replying so quickly to my problem. I read what you suggested and was wondering if I should turn my power heads down so that they do not produce so many bubbles? I do have them going full force and there are a lot of bubbles in the tank( so many that if the fish were swimming towards the back of the tank they are a little hard to see). Should I adjust them so there is not so much? My thinking was the more air the better, but maybe there is too much with the bubbles and all. Thanks so much for your help! <The bubbles may likely be the root of your problem here... Did you read the reference sent to you? Bob Fenner> Jenny Fuller

Re: disease (Emphysematosis) Hi Mr. Fenner! Hope you are doing well today. Just wanted to drop you a short note in regards to my bubble troubles. I did what you suggested and pulled the lines and tightened things up. especially the intake line. My fish seem to be doing pretty good, although they are doing some scratching which is not good. The bubbles on their bodies do seem to be a good bit less than what it was. My fish have a few bubbles but the bubbles are smaller and not near the amount that was once on them. <Yes... it takes a while (weeks) to flush out these subcutaneous bubbles...> The appearance of the fish are good besides that. Their color is still great and their eyes are still clear. But the scratching may be a problem. Do you think I should leave them alone or take them out and dip them????  <I would definitely leave them alone... very stressed by the environmental disease already... Maybe consider adding a biological cleaner species or two... posted on the WWM site> They are not scratching all the time at this point just a little bit. I have been giving them a bit of garlic in their food too once I noticed the scratching....I know you do not endorse this....please don't yell at me. LOL! <No fight, no blame> Anyway... I just wanted to up date you since you have been helping me and let you know that it looks like your suggestion may have helped because it looks like the bubbles are beginning to go away... Thank you for helping me. <You are welcome my friend. Congratulations on your success. You have very likely saved your livestock's lives and ended their suffering. Bob Fenner> Have a nice day! Jenny Fuller

Re: disease (environmental, gas-bubble, marine) Mr. Fenner, Hello again! I have read your reference and I have been reading up on dissolved gasses from a book that I have here at home. Seems the more I read on it the more confusing it is.  <Keep reading then... at some point all will become, be less confusing> I feel like I understand what gas bubble disease is now, but still a little unsure of how to take care of the problem. <Discover, eliminate the source of the excess dissolved gas> From what I have read it , I understand that part of the problem is caused by poor circulation in sections of the tank as well as the surface bubbles at the top of the tank. <Any place of higher pressure where air and water are mixed together... typically due to a plumbing leak, introduction of air into a volute (housing around a pump impeller> As far as my aquarium goes... I do have one power head that is weaker than the other which is causing less circulation on that side of the tank and there is a lot of bubbles/foam on the surface. Would a better power head and a protein skimmer fix this problem? <No> Don't really have the money for the protein skimmer at this point...would anything else help? <Don't allow air to be pulled into the powerheads period> Or am I on the wrong track altogether????  <Unfortunately so> My Huma <trigger> does have a few more bubbles on him, but otherwise is acting normal and healthy at this point. I do not see any on the wrasse yet. Please help. <Please read the ref. I sent to you.> I am trying to avoid losing the fish. Not much fun to get fish that are this pretty only to watch them die and not know what to do to help them. I really do not understand why I am having this problem. I did not have these problems a few years ago when I first set my aquarium up. It is the same set up, only a better filter now. I had an aqua clear that hung off the back, but now have the Fluval 303 canister. I have checked all of my equipment for air leaks. Everything seems fine from what I can see. <Pull the lines, connections on the intake side of this filter, re-cut them, re-fasten using some silicon lubricant> Thanks a bunch for the help you have given me so far. I have really enjoyed the web site, I have learned so much from it! <Keep studying my friend. Bob Fenner> Jenny Fuller

Fish loss Hi Mr. Fenner First of all I would like to take the time to tell you that your book" the conscientious marine aquarist" is by far the most useful book that I have read to date....Especially your chapter on marine butterfly's and how you categorized them as good, questionable and bad choices. <Thank you for this. Much good help with that book> I wish more wholesalers and retailers would be influenced by this.... <I have tried (relentlessly) to have such influence... now on our website (WetWebMedia.com). I will not give up> I have been keeping marine fish for over 15 years and I have had 2 instances of fish loss 2 months apart with the fish having the same symptoms. I am forwarding my post describing the conditions and 3 pictures that I took. <A nice Holacanthus ciliaris... with what looks like terrible bacterial involvement...> I know you must be a busy man ,If you had the time to take a look at the above mentioned, and give your opinion on what might be my problem and possible solutions to avert this from happening in the future, It would be greatly appreciated. Since my post I would like to tell you that my red sea Sailfin that was affected has since pulled thru and shows no signs of any problem. His slime coat has completely regenerated and has no markings to the naked eye. I wish I had some pictures to show you how bad he looked). I have also relocated my Rio 1700 powerhead (used to circulate water in my tank) from the bottom of my tank to the top to improve gas exchange. <Do agree with this change... something/s in the way of environmental quality must have been way off here...> I am also thinking of upgrading my sump pump to a Silentsea ss 1200t 1080 gph at 4'.Robert one last question when will the sequel to the marine aquarist be forthcoming?....George <Thank you for this as well... Am hoping my friend/editor/publisher James Lawrence (Microcosm cum TFH) will free up resources to help me here... in the not too distant (years) future... Else wise, maybe another conspirator... much to book-works (layout, editing, sales, distribution) that take more than one erstwhile writer/photographer. Bob Fenner>

PANTHER GROUPER/NASO TANG (Health of livestock related to holding gear) Hi there. I have a panther grouper and a Naso tang that are exhibiting signs of what I can only deduce as being internal worms. These fish eat well but stay thin and swim at a 45 degree angle. They also appear to be struggling with their movements--needing to "kick" their tails hard and rapid to swim around versus using their air bladder and occasional flicks. Do you think this is worms or something else?  <Hmm... could be nutritional... perhaps some other internal parasitic, infectious agent> I am also combating goiter with Iodide in the system and on the food. Would this be related. <Could be... what do you mean by "goiter"? And what sorts of iodine/ide are you administering, and how much? What do your tests for same show?> The water quality specs are off in Nitrates--52-60 ppm and the phosphates at 0.4 ppm. <The phosphates are high... the nitrates... maybe to be expected for keeping large fishes, lots of food...> I have put in a sponge to no avail and do water changes of 175 gallons daily. <How big is this system? You change one hundred seventy five gallons of water every day?> The water is treated with Carbon and RO before entering the system and being mixed with salt. Is there anything else I can do? Debbie Please contact me at:  <Ah! I do know the systems you are working with... am an old time acquaintance of Sea Clear/Tradewind/CASCO... These apparent health problems are almost w/o question due to "water quality" issues. I would utilize a liquid vitamin and iodide preparation (there are a few companies that make these in "jumbo" sizes (like four gallon cases)... and they are on our links pages: http://wetwebmedia.com/links.htm as is SeaClear's (I might contact Craig DeWalt there and enlist his help). Do get back with me re the % water change information... I would do these changes as a higher percent, but only weekly or biweekly instead... do keep up the use of the activated carbon... and let's work on getting you a "lighted refugium and macro-algae" add on sump to reduce the metabolite concentration (much cheaper than throwing away so much water) and improve overall water quality. The mal-affected fishes can be saved through the vitamin/iodide treatments and the filtration help. Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia>

Maybe sick fish? Hello Mr. Fenner! I apologize for sending another question to you within a week's time. (I'm sure you get enough of them as it is and I try to limit them.) But, coincidence leads me to do so. <Okay> I have a 65 gallon high hexagonal fish tank with live rock, a Sally Lightfoot crab and a few hermits and turbo grazers. The only fish I have are four Chromis viridis <damsels, a yellow (lemon?) damsel and a newly purchased Clarkii clown with a long-tentacle anemone (I bought them together). Here's the problem: For the past several weeks, one of my Chromis has been hanging out closer to the surface towards the back of the tank. He wasn't really coming out to eat, though when food passed by, he would attempt to snag it (though, usually without accuracy). Color looks fine and I couldn't see any visible signs of disease, stress, heavy breathing or abuse from nipping. He also didn't seem to be pecking at the surface for air (as he might in a low oxygen situation). But he never moved. After my tests showed no ammonia, nitrites or PH problems, I thought that is was just a symptom of him being picked on, so I didn't think anything of it and I bought the Clarkii and LTA three days ago. Now, within the past few days, three Chromis seem to be near the surface and doing the same thing. They are not swimming around as usual and they are pretty stationery - their heads pointed slightly upward (in relation to their tails). Now, I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but the clown stopped eating last night. (FYI - He started eating very well as soon as I put him in the tank on Sat., so even though I haven't had him for an extended amount of time, that seems bizarre to me.) I also noticed that he is starting to hang out in the same stationery position as the Chromis and as of last night, he stopped going into the anemone. (I even checked out the anemone with a flashlight a couple times during the night and the Clarkii was not in the anemone.) Also, and again, I don't know if it's a coincidence, but the clown has a subtle scaling appearance on one side of his body (almost like when a lizard sheds it's skin - but much, much less pronounced.) Anemone is looks great as do the other inverts. Any clue as to what's wrong?  <Yes my friend. Very likely what you have described so well is anoxia, a lack of dissolved oxygen... simply put, your animals aren't getting enough oxygen. Very common with hexagonal shaped systems (not much surface area per volume), during hot weather parts of the year... A few things. Do add more aeration, water movement (ideally, something like an airstone near the bottom of the tank), possibly lower the specific gravity of your water a few thousandths (gasses are more soluble in lower spg water), and DON'T feed your livestock till all are breathing more easily (more food in the water, wastes will compound your/their problems).> I will include my set-up details below in case it helps! Again, I really appreciate your help! Thank you! (And look forward to your next book!) <Ah, me too!> Filtration: Wet/dry and 50lbs. live rock, fine sand bed, Lighting: 250 watt/10,000k pendant (new bulb just put in last week), PH: 8.2, SG: 1.022, Temp: 82F, Ammonia/Nitrites/Nitrates: 0, Food: Frozen and flake Formula One, Spirulina flakes, occasional frozen Mysid and brine Declan Wilton, CT <Do these improvements, suggestions ASAP... I would leave the MH pendant turned off till all is corrected. Bob Fenner>

Re: Maybe sick fish? Mr. Fenner, I really appreciate your help! Thanks SO much for your time and insight! -Declan <A pleasure my friend. Anytime. Bob Fenner>

Jawfish has cloudy eye Mr. Fenner, I got a Yellow-head Jawfish last Wed, and she has been eating live black worms. She is in a 20g by herself. <How do you know the sex of this specimen?> Today I noticed that her left eye is cloudy (or whitish). Should I try to treat her with any medication? <What do you think the cause of the cloudiness is? Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jason Re: Jawfish has cloudy eye I don't know the sex of the Jawfish. My guess is that the cloudy eye is probably stress related, as it was very skittish at LFS in a very small section of tank, without deep substrate. But it has dug some burrows in the 5+ inch crushed coral substrate in my tank since I got it, and eating well, so I can't think of other stress factor. <Perhaps "a bump in the night"?> My other guess is lack of nutrition. It has been eating live brine shrimp at LFS and live black worms in my tank, neither of which provides necessary vitamins etc. But it still only accepts live food. And I've never heard poor diet could cause cloudy eye - could it? <The eyes are more than "a gate to the soul" my friend. Much can be determined by these avenues to the conscious. Bob Fenner> Jason

Re: Jawfish has cloudy eye "a bump at night" is quite possible, as it darts like a Firefish to its hole. so, should I do/treat anything at this point? <No my friend. Bob Fenner> thanks, Jason

Questions on new tank Bob, I've set up a new tank (in Mid-may of this year). Its a 75 gal (4 ft long, 18" front to back) with 100 lbs Fiji LR and a red sea Berlin skimmer in the sump - no other filtration. I'm having a couple of problems with it though: 1) I get fine (pin prick sized) bubbles in my tank from my return. Its not the skimmer (I've tried running w/o it). I've tried different water pumps, and nothing seems to get rid of them. Currently, I have a MAG-DRIVE 7 pump (with prefilter sponge) for the return pump. I thought the sponge would eliminate the bubbles, but it doesn't - the sump doesn't appear to have any bubbles when the water gets to my pump. Any suggestions?  <Yes, and a concern... do check the screws around the volute/impeller with a driver... you may have an air intake problem there... at any length you need to find, cure the source of the intake> My corals (polyps, SPS, LPS, leathers) and Lysmata shrimp are all doing well, but I still want to eliminate the fine bubbles. (they can only be seen when close to the tank glass - within 2 ft). I thought the bubbles would hurt my sps the most, but they seem to be thriving (mainly Acropora). <Not problematical with much besides fishes... read over: http://wetwebmedia.com/bbldisease.htm On gas-bubble disease... an account about pond fishes... same principle> 2) I've lost some fish (2 fire gobies, 1 Kole eye tang, 1 bicolor goby) and I don't know why.  <Oh, oh...> They all die within weeks after starting to work their gills rapidly. The day or two before death they become lethargic - lay on bottom - and get very pale around the gills. (ammonia/nitrate/nitrite all at 0). Oxygen is near saturation (6-7). I have a Australian clown that's doing fine and a mandarin goby that is doing ok also, except for the next item. I always dip (freshwater/blue) all my new fish for 5 - 10 min.s. Could this be some parasite?  <Not likely with such a disparate mix of species... I do suspect gas-bubble problems here> Any ideas on the cause or suggestions to cure? <Find that leak... with a water/damp paper towel applied to sections of the plumbing, fittings mainly ahead of the pump, though could be after... to see where the air entraining stops...> 3) The mandarin goby is plump - when I first got him, he was pretty thin/sickly looking (My live rock has so many amphipods/copepods that they keep plugging my prefilters - a nice prob to have I guess), but he has white spots. It doesn't look like ick, rather, it looks like someone took an eraser and rubbed some of his pigmentation off - leaving white marks - mainly centered around the back of the head. Any ideas on what this is, how to treat? <Need to know more about the appearance, cause... Would treat with cleaners at this point.> Lastly, are SPS corals really suppose to be difficult to raise?  <For some people I guess... given decent water quality, strong lighting, they grow like proverbial weeds for the most part> I've only been in the hobby for a year, and was always under the impression that they were difficult, but in in my experience, they seem to be fairly hardy - much hardier than LPSs/fish/leathers. I've got many different Acroporas and a couple Montipora capricornis and the worst luck I've ever had with any of them is if the Alk/ca drops too low, they stop growing until the levels are elevated - then they take off again. LPS corals always seem to be very susceptible to physical or infectious injury, in my experience. <Such are generalizations re SPS... Bob Fenner> Thanks again!

Questions on new tank - GPD Bob, Thanks for your response on GPD (gas bubble disease being the cause of fish death due to many fine bubble in my tank from my return pump) - I never would have focused on that w/o your advice. I read the article at http://wetwebmedia.com/bbldisease.htm as well as a few other web pages I found after searching for GPD, but they ended up raising more questions/confusion (and here I thought that I was getting past the 'ignorant newbie phase' with my 2nd tank) that I hoped you could answer: <Best to be able to call on the aforestated "phase"... to always remember our child-like behavior... it is indeed always with us... and valuable> 1) I'm assuming GPD is caused by rapid changes in super saturation of gases of all types, not just oxygen.  <Yes... changes in saturation/degassing generally associated with thermal and pressure changes> Oxygen saturation just happens to be the most convenient component to measure in order to determine dissolved gas changes- is this correct? <Hmm, okay... and a valuable measure for other purposes> 2) I'm assuming GPD is caused by 'rapid changes' in dissolved gas levels, and not the absolute levels themselves - correct? <Well, actually too much change in "undissolved gasses"... as in air/bubble growth/expansion within living tissue> If so, how much can the gas levels change in a period of time and still be considered safe (i.e. 1PPM O2 per hour?). <Think we may be talking about two different things here... any over saturation of any gas is trouble though... let's say 8 or more ppm of oxygen in a rapidly warming medium...> 2.5) If its the 'change' in gas levels that's the main culprit, is there a max safe level of 02 - regardless of how gradually it is obtained?  <Ah, both... The analogy of a cold coca cola (tm) on a warm day being opened and shaken is useful here... imagine the inside of your fish (or yourself!) consisting of the Coke (tm)... You'd be better off in an equally pressurized environment, a cold one, one of similar total dissolved gas, or not shaken...> (I found a web article on GPD and salmon that indicated detrimental effects start at 105% saturation and fatalities start at 140%). <Yes, this is so> 3) If its rapid changes in dissolved gas that causes GPD, I'm assuming if I have a leak in a return pump, that I don't want to fix it too fast (i.e., it would cause a rapid decline in the dissolved gas resulting in another wave of GPD on my tank - when the saturation levels drop). Is this correct?  <Not correct. You want to fix it ASAP... the fish are in the unpressurized world they have to be in... the extra gas is "the intruder"...> If so, can you recommend a way to slowly eliminate the bubbles instead of all at once? <No need to do this... repair the source of the air entraining immediately.> 4) Your web page article on GPD indicated that algae/photosynthesis could also cause GPD. Is this something to be concerned about if someone adds macroalgae to a 24/7 lit sump to an existing tank? <No... this scenario is mostly a concern in/with ponds... with very fast changes in lighting (the sun), copious amounts of filamentous algae, rapidly increasing/changing temperatures> If so, how do you add macroalgae to a sump to an existing tank in a safe manner (i.e. start out with a 4 hr/day light period, and slowly increase over a month, or start with small amount of plants and let it slowly grow)???? <Not a concern> Does photosynthesis (via lighted sump/macro algae) only cause GPD in extremely rare situations? <Exceedingly rare cause in aquariums> 5) Assuming that a skimmer isn't returning bubbles in its outflow, can high powered downdraft (i.e. ETSS), and needle wheel skimmers that are skimming 4-6 times the tank volume each hour cause GPD? <Yes... in some circumstances... one of the reasons their discharges s/b directed to a sump w/o livestock, or otherwise be fitted with a diffuser/accumulator of bubbles> Can they cause it if they suddenly break down by causing rapid loss of dissolved O2/gas (if so, how long would this take in an average - sorry for the vagueness - stocked tank - hours, days?). <Can be caused in minutes> 6) lastly, can you recommend a good O2 test kit? I'm using the Salifert kit, but its hard to distinguish between the 5/7 PPM levels (very similar shades). <Hach, LaMotte... better to use titration rather than colorimetric assay. Bob Fenner> Thanks again!

Stress induced ich? Hello Bob, I really was hoping this topic wouldn't come up so soon.  <Oh, oh... bad premonition> My new (7week) 135g FOWLR (80lbs) spg 1.020, temp 77-78, test levels optimal, currently has 7 green Chromis, 2 false clowns, 3 PJ cardinals, 3-1/2" yellow tang, 2 neon gobies & 3 cleaner shrimp. Encouraged Caulerpa growth by purchasing plant rock while tang was in quarantine. All has been fine until last night (4th of July). Teenagers blew off M-80's nearby and the tang went nuts...swimming erratically and definitely freaked out.  <The force of such explosions is likely incredible to the fishes> Dimmed and turned off the lights a few minutes earlier then timer to calm him. This morning, no visible signs of anything on his body but he was occasionally acting hyper and rubbing against rock. He has spent the day visiting all 3 shrimp and the 2 neon's who are all worth gold now to me. He seems a lot more relaxed and is still visiting them although less than first thing this a.m. and isn't scratching and is acting fine again. My question, after all this, pertains to it being wise to giving medicated foods or wait and see as there are no signs of anything on his body due to the cleaning crew yet I really don't want it to get out- of -control. Don't know if there's anything adverse to medicated foods too soon or wait to see what if anything I'm actually dealing with. Hated to bother you but this "newbie" has read up all day on all sorts of options and wringing my hands wasn't helping! Thanks so much, Barbara <No worries on "bothering me"... and no problem with preventative feeding of medicated foods. Bob Fenner>

A stray volt... Dear Mr. Fenner, I am sorry for not writing back sooner. I spent the last three days decorating a very elaborate wedding cake for this Saturday. It took most of my time.  <Wow, that must be some cake!> This afternoon I puttered around with the aquarium, testing some of your suggestions. Each day this week I preformed an oxygen test to make sure it was consistent. It was 7 to 7.5ppm each time. I did that just to reassure myself that it could be ruled out as my problem. I went through the whole tank looking for any metal parts, clips, or parts in my pump & powerheads that could rust. I took everything apart and looked everywhere. Nothing inside the tank, no rust or corrosion inside or on the thermometer, heater, and all is well in the sump and skimmer. My LFS ran a test for abnormal iron in my water and found nothing. The fish I have now, the three Damselfish and Yellow Tang, are well mannered fish. When I have put new fish in they have never ganged up on any of them. Just a chase here and there but nothing to cause concern. I'm not so sure if they behave as well when the lights are out. I can say that the fish that have died when I pull them out are intact and are not, to my untrained eye, damaged by the others. <Well-stated> That leaves me with the stay voltage idea. How would I test for something like that? <Most folks use a conductivity meter> If that is the problem wouldn't my other fish burn up? <Hmm, yes, they would all be mal-affected> I will be sending some pictures of my aquarium soon so you can have a look. I hope that with your help I can solve this mystery soon. :) <Yes> I know that I will not get any fish until this is taken care of but do you think that it would be safe to add some Live rock? About 15lbs. Take care & thanks! Josie <Absolutely... as a matter of fact, this is likely the single best approach to preventing "anomalous losses" as you've suffered. That is, the live rocks presence will optimize, stabilize conditions in your system... and much more. Bob Fenner>

Hi Annularis update! <bad eye> Hello Robert I want to ask if you would find it appropriate to move to a different medication on treating this eye infection. It has already been a week and 2 days since we started the Melafix treatment. All I feel it has done was stop the infection from getting worse it also seems to have regained some roundness to eye with a slight reddish brown color in the center. There is no sign of itching or jerkiness in any of fish's swim patterns. Salinity is at 1.010, and they all have a very healthy appetite. I called Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, they make the Melafix, and they suggested their other product Furan-2, They also said it could mixed into the Melafix already in the water. How do you feel about it? JET <You don't need furan compounds... this fish's eye/s will repair with just the return of the system to near seawater conditions (like a more normal specific gravity) and time going by. Bob Fenner>

Brown algae (environmental disease file) Bob Fenner: At a store I go to, I have noticed brown algae around the intake and output of the water system and on the rocks in the bottom of the tank. The fish are dying and are covered with white algae. This is a freshwater aquarium and I am wondering whether this is a neglect problem, a disease problem or both. <Much more neglect than anything else... the white "algae" on the fishes is likely some sorts of "secondary" bacterial, possibly fungal involvement... the primary cause/s are very likely "poor water quality". Please do refer these folks to me, the website: www.WetWebMedia.com for assistance.> Thanks, Sean <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Annularis Angel update! (ich treatment by hyposalinity, eye cloudiness...) Hello Robert! We exchanged a few e-mails last week, about the Annularis and wanted to ask you few more ???? 1. Can ick only be killed when it is floating free from its host? <Virtually yes> 2.Have you heard of this Hyposalinity method in fighting parasites? <Yes... have a FAQs section on the WWM site re> Here is a link some else gave http://www.wyx.com/iheo/tank/hyposalinity.htm 3. Will this method rid me of ick on it's own? <Not usually> My tank is fish only. I recently took copper medication out after a over 4 week treatment. I let the system run clean for a week and everything tested good. So last week end is when we bought the Annularis. His behavior is mixed to me. He eats like a hoarse yet hides from most of the other tanks mates. He really does not like the light on. When you come to see him, and if he sees you, he will come over to check you out.  <Yes, a timid species... avoids divers in the wild as well> The 2nd day in my tank he developed an eye infection (cloudiness) By Mon. it moved to just one eye. I was told by my LFS to just let it adapt to his new environment . They also said they have seen this before and especially with angels, They did not seem overly concerned! <Usually resolves...> When Weds came around, it was definitely looking worse. It looked like the infection was eating into the eye. I started treatment with Melafix that night. When I checked Fri. I found no real improvement yet it didn't get any worse. However I discovered almost every fish in my tank Itching and scratching (jerk swimming). I was so pissed!!! I see no strong evidence of a parasite or White dots. Last time I could definitely tell! All I see are 3 or 4 white particles on the Annularis, but can't tell if it's debris from the sand or ick.( nothing on the fins or Tail of any fish.) <Might be from the Melafix use> Here is a link to some pics taken this past Thursday http://logos-and-graphics.com/angelfish/ I don't want to use copper, and I can't because of the angel. <Why?> Plus I don't want to mix medications. So I started the Hyposalinity treatment on Fri. at 1.020 and now I'm at 1.015 on Sun. As I took some water out and replaced it with fresh RO water I noticed the itching and scratching fading away. Could I have put to much Melafix in and caused the itching? <Yes> Will this Hyposalinity kill any of my fish when it gets to 1.010 for 4 weeks? <Possibly> I appreciate the Help Thanks Jason <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Chromis viridis - blindness Hi Bob, Thank you for your prompt and informative reply. I will take your advice and begin adding vitamin/iodide supplements to their food starting tomorrow.  <Many folks have been astounded at the positive results of such application...> I have recently altered how I feed them, so I imagine that the cause is indeed due to a nutritional deficiency. This is unfortunate, and certainly unintentional, as I was following someone else's advice to wean them down from the 3-5 feedings per day to only a single feeding. Their argument, which still makes perfect sense to me, was that because the Chromis are in a reef tank which has a very healthy population of copepods/amphipods that they should be able to find quite enough to eat. Perhaps I was trying to wean them too quickly? <Very possible. Many fishes are apparently much larger "creatures of habit" than folks presume.> Again, thank you for your assistance! You'll be the proverbial "first-to-know" if the treatment works. <Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner> Best, Steve

Bubbles on fish? I have a 55 gallon tank with damsels and a puffer in it and the last couple of days the fish are starting to appear to have what looks like tiny bubbles on them but not sure what it is. forgive me if this is a silly question but I am not sure what to think. <No such thing as silly questions (though not so sure about responses...) Bubble like appearances are not a "good thing"... would look into images on the Net of parasitic diseases, the possibility that you have a situation of high dissolved gas (Emphysematosis) going on... Article on the www.WetWebMedia.com site re this last complaint (about Koi on the Pond Index in this case). Bob Fenner> thanks for the help Todd

Yellow Tailed Damsels Hi Bob! <Hello there> Let me start off by saying it's nice to know there are people out there that enjoy Blazing Saddles as much as I do. You mentioned this in a response to an FAQ a few days ago. Your reference to the campfire farting scene brought tears (of laughter) to my eyes. <Me too, Mr. Taggart> Anyway, my real question is this: I have a 75 gallon tank with 100 pounds of live rock. The tank is about 2 months old now. I added 5 yellow tailed damsels about a week ago. One of them has disappeared, probably in fish heaven while his body is wedged in the live rock somewhere.  <Dissolved... very quickly> I kind of expected this since my tank is so new, but the other 4 seem to have some white patches on them. It looks like they may have injured themselves on the rock or something. It doesn't appear to be a disease, and they act normal. Is there anything I should do for them? <Hmm, maybe... better at this point, because your system is so new, therefore unstable, and these are your only fish livestock (and your system would be parasitized anyway) to just "wait" and see if this patchiness "goes away" on its own... if it were a month further along, I would try lowering the spg, raising temperature... to see if this would help...> My tank parameters are: nitrites less than .05ppm, pH 8.4, nitrates about 5 ppm, temp 82. Ammonia is up a little at .25 ppm. <Ammonia and nitrite should be zip, zero, nada, zilch... these readings may indicate the root cause of the white patches... "environmental stress"> I have about 22 snails and 2 sally lightfoot crabs that are doing fine. Do these crabs ever eat fish?  <Yes> I've looked and I can't find the missing damsel anywhere. <It has contributed to the systems establishment of nutrient cycling. Bob Fenner, who suggests re-reading through the wetwebmedia.com sites sections on "disease"> Thanks for your help! Dave Hopkins

Cloudy Eyes  Hi Bob,  I am an inexperienced marine hobbyist having a problem in the last year or so. I am getting several fish that develop a cloudily eye after being introduced to my tank. This usually develops in to a cataract which sometimes clears up. My water conditions are very good. Is there a  medication that you can recommend? I enjoy your writing very much. Thanks.  Vince  <Hmm, no medication... but maybe a chance here for us to discover what the cause/s may be... source/s of livestock, rough handling, perhaps (most likely) some aspect of your water quality. Please see our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for more (under "Environmental Disease FAQs" to start with)... Bob Fenner>

Yellow Tang Turning Red. Why???? hi, I am new to this hobby, 6 months and unfortunately have not heard of you. but the great people at ReefCentral message board told me to ask you this question. Here is the thread to what has been said I would appreciate it if you can take a look at it and tell me what you think: www.reefcentral.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?threadid=20967 <Hmm, many good suggestions offered here... on the why's of your Yellow Tang being "reddish"... Do agree that this sort of "petecchial" markings are often directly related to poor water quality, nutritional deficiencies, possible bacterial problems internally... and the suggested choices for improvement: pre-mixing and storing your new synthetic seawater, improving diet.... I would do both of these, suggest you soak Nori, other human-intended algae in a vitamin preparation like Selcon... ahead of offering... Possibly add a Cleaner organism as well... Please do read over the "Yellow Tang", "Environmental Disease", "Foods/Feeding/Nutrition" sections and FAQs on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for background, and hopefully some things there will jog your memory/observations as to primary causes.> thank you very much and I hope to learn about you and info from you thanks again Brian a.k.a. stars360 <Bob Fenner>

Re: Yellow Tang Turning Red. Why???? thank you very much I will look at that section later on today. but what type of cleaner organism do you suggest. as I can not get a cleaner shrimp because my trigger or eel will eat it.  <Too likely, yes. Look into tank bred Gobiosoma spp. readily recognized by most fishes as helpers... not food... Covered on the WWM site> and the only other organism I can think of getting is a cleaner wrasse. but from what I hear they are impossible to keep. so what do you recommend. thanks again Brian <Bob Fenner>

Low oxygen? Hi Bob, How can you tell if there's enough dissolved oxygen in a system? <Hmm, a few ways... the best is to carefully observe your livestock... their breathing and swimming behavior is indicative... There are also meters and test kits for this vital material in solution... And the lack of gas exchange, dissolved oxygen is a very common problem in captive systems... from lack of aeration, too little surface area, films at the air/water interface, too high temperature (increasing metabolic rate, decreasing gaseous solubility).... many more> I've got a 55-gal FOWLR w/ 1 maxi-jet powerhead, Eheim canister filter, and CPR BakPak skimmer. The top of the tank is pretty well covered with glass so I'm concerned that there's not enough opportunity for gas exchange with the air. Do the bubbles in the protein skimmer take care of the aeration?  <They help tremendously, yes> Will improving circulation (with another powerhead) de facto increase the aeration? <Yes... especially if it is oriented to disrupt the surface, entrain air...> I tried using the airline attachment for my powerhead, but it put out too many bubbles. Thanks for your help. Suzanne. <I like your curious mind and attitude. Press on. Bob Fenner>

Cloudy eyed tang Mr. Fenner, Thank you for your help last week with my 44 gal that always has a little bit of nitrite. I added a small pump to circulate water in the lower back of the tank. I also noticed small black "branch" looking items on one piece of LR. They were about the diameter of a no.2 pencil lead and about 1/4 to 1" in length with 2-4 branches each. I'm assuming they were dead pieces of a macroalgae and were dying and contributing to the nitrite so I removed as many as I could.  <A very astute observation and act.> They were stuck pretty good to the rock and snapped like small sticks. Hopefully this should help my nitrites go away finally! <I'd bet it will.> My question is regarding a 4" yellow tang that I have in my 75 gallon tank. The last couple of days the tang has been seen hovering near a cleaner shrimp quite a bit and getting a fair amount, but not a lot, of cleaning. There are not any signs of parasites or any other skin maladies that I can see.  <The fish and shrimp know what they're doing...> Today I noticed that one eye is fairly cloudy and the other eye is ever so slightly cloudy. The tang ate today, but not as vigorous as it has been. The water is good, and the other livestock is ok. (3 damsels, 2 maroon clowns, bubble tip anemone, clean up crew and lawnmower blenny). What, if any, action should I take to remedy this? Should I change the temp (78 and steady) or salinity (1.023), or try some vitamins for the food? Or should I just give it a couple of days?  <I would try the vitamin mix/soaking of food and addition to the water at this point... Selcon if you have/can get it... and a unit or two (bags) or activated carbon in your filter flow path (like Chemipure)> I am dreading trying to get the tang out if I have to, since I have about 65 lbs of LR. I am also using an ozonizer entrained into my skimmer. The only thing I can think of is that the two maroons and the bubble tip were added 2 weeks ago. They were ordered through an internet supplier that I've had good luck with in the past (not FFExpress, whom I'm also very happy with for my LR and clean up crew). When they arrived, one of the maroons bag had been punctured and the water had leaked. Not only did the one clown only have about a shot worth of water, but the water that had leaked had soaked the hot packs and the other clown's and anemone's water was pretty cold (I live in northern PA). <Hmm, I'll be out in PA soon to give pitches...> This is an office tank, so I didn't have access to a quarantine tank and I put the fish in the tank.  <Hmm... how about elsewhere...?> The clown with little no water appeared dead until I placed some tank water in his bag. He really struggled for a couple of days, and got bullied by the other fish, yet he amazingly enough started eating about a week later and now appears fine! (this should be a testament to the hardiness of these fish, despite their aggressive nature!)<Yes> I'm wondering if this distressed fish contributed to the affliction that the tang now has. <Again... agreed> (and yes, now my quarantine tank is up and running and if I get through this I've learned my lesson!) <Ah, good> Any suggestions help will be greatly appreciated! Also, I've noticed that you mentioned you will be in Pittsburgh. Can you provide me the dates and location you will be at? <Yikes, just took a look at the Pittsburgh Marine Aquarist Society link on the WWM site... not there yet... pls enter the name and find the URL... or look at www.WetWebMedia.com in an hour or so... sheesh. Actually... their site hasn't been updated since the last time I was there... What the? But the link/email to Steve Pro is there to contact... let's see, the big calendar on the wall... May 19, 20 is the pitch on Sat... for marines> As a final note, I previously mentioned that I would try to move my green mandarin from my 44 gal to the 75 since it had more live rock. (the mandarin has been in the 44 since about the 1st of January-a success I guess by most standards) I've been eluded by him for a week now, they are quicker than they look!  <Ahh, yes> Although the lady at the pet store-and yes myself- was not knowledgeable enough to not sell the mandarin, she did tell me that when caught and bagged they release a toxin into the water.  <Well, fifty percent... still a failing grade in most schools...> This was very evident in a clear slime that was in the bag when she sold him to me, and I was careful not to introduce the slime into the tank. I have read through a lot of FAQ's on these fish and never once seen any mention of this. Are you aware of this, and could this in part contribute to the poor adaptability/survivability of this species if they are poisoning themselves during shipping??  <Am very aware of this trait of Callionymids... and yes, a principal cause of loss> Just curious. <A good characteristic> Thanks again, and I don't know how you keep up with this sight and the questions through FFExpress! It's a great asset to our hobby! Kris <Thank you... have an abiding regard for others, the life entrusted to us, desire to "make things better", good internet connections... Bob Fenner>   

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