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FAQs on Nutritional Disease

Related Articles: Nutritional Disease, Thiaminase and It's Role In Predatory Pet-fish (& Other Piscivores) Nutrition, by Marco Lichtenberger,

Related FAQs: Food Supplements, Shark, Ray Disease, Foods/Feeding/NutritionIodine/ide/ate Goiter Issues,

A question about one specific European fish species having Thiaminase       5/18/17
<Hello Sami>
I have lots of snakes and monitor lizards and I live in Finland. We have a very limited supply of feeder fish here, herring is out of the question but does Coregonus albula have Thiaminase? It is readily available here, I've read a lot of lists with species containing Thiaminase and species that doesn't have it. So far I haven't seen C. albula mentioned on any lists. What do you guys say? Is it safe?
Regards Sami Myllymäki, Turku, Finland
<I do consider Coregonines "safe" re Thiaminase. They are touted as fisheries forage for other Salmonids over other species (e.g. Alewifes) for this trait. Bob Fenner>

Wrasse Problems; anomalous loss, blindness     RMF's go       10/19/15
I have an 80 gallon reef tank which is home to several corals and juvenile fish. It has been set up for 10 months and has had good stable water parameters for quite awhile. Our LFS comes once per month to do a deep clean and spot check all three saltwater tanks we have in the house. I do a 10% water change in this tank every week. Water param.s this weekend were
0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 8.2 pH, between 0-5 nitrate, salinity 1.024 and temp 77 degrees F. Prior to doing the water change, I use a turkey baster to get detritus off rocks and noticed something larger than detritus blown off the live rock onto the sand bed. It was my beautiful mystery wrasse - dead.
He had been exhibiting no strange behavior and ate heartily the day before (we feed a mixture of various frozen foods including mysis, bloodworms,
<I'd skip these last... not so much in marine, but freshwater systems have had troubles w/ feeding these sewer fly larvae>
Spirulina brine, rotifers and krill). I pulled him out and did not see any signs of damage to his body.
<Do you still have this fish? I would cut it open, look at the stomach contents. I suspect this fish ate something that didn't agree with it. Happens>
He looked like he had just died as there was no color loss yet. I did put him into a container with some of the tank water in case he popped up while I was cleaning. He had been with us for about three months. Today my melanarus wrasse seems to be behaving oddly. He looks fine, but I would swear that he can't see. He is bumping into other fish, rocks and corals.
We have had this wrasse for roughly 6 months and he has never had a problem. He looked hungry when I put food in the tank. Looked like he was trying to eat but was 'missing' the food.
<Blindness.... from what? A deficiency syndrome? I would soak foods at least once a week in a vitamin, HUFA, probiotic solution>

He has no clouding in his eyes, they look perfectly clear. I do have a 29 gallon quarantine tank that we keep permanently set up with a couple of Banggai Cardinalfish in it. I tried to catch him today but he hid behind the live rock. I thought I would try to get him tonight if he buries himself in the front of the tank where I can dig him out easily.
Obviously, I wonder if you have heard of this before.
<Thus far... have "heard" of such behavior in small Labrids; but these affects, loss are anomalous thus far>
I also wonder what could cause eyesight issues and how to treat.
<As stated>
Finally...will a wrasse be okay in a QT with no substrate. We have none at all in the QT although we do have three rocks that create a little cave area where fish can get cover.
<I would not move the wrasse>

Any advice is much appreciated!
Tiffany Cannon
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Wrasse Problems Earl's take       10/19/15

I have an 80 gallon reef tank which is home to several corals and juvenile fish. It has been set up for 10 months and has had good stable water parameters for quite awhile. Our LFS comes once per month to do a deep clean and spot check all three saltwater tanks we have in the house. I do a 10% water change in this tank every week. Water param.s this weekend were
0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 8.2 pH, between 0-5 nitrate, salinity 1.024 and temp 77 degrees F. Prior to doing the water change, I use a turkey baster to get detritus off rocks and noticed something larger than detritus blown off the live rock onto the sand bed. It was my beautiful mystery wrasse - dead.
<Sorry to hear. :( >
He had been exhibiting no strange behavior and ate heartily the day before (we feed a mixture of various frozen foods including mysis, bloodworms, Spirulina brine, rotifers and krill).
<This behavior is not unusual...a fish will often eat right up until death with no warning from appetite loss. As a side note, you can just leave out the bloodworms and stick to food of marine origin.>
I pulled him out and did not see any signs of damage to his body. He looked like he had just died as there was no color loss yet. I did put him into a container with some of the tank water in case he popped up while I was cleaning. He had been with us for about three months. Today my melanarus wrasse seems to be behaving oddly. He looks fine, but I would swear that he can't see. He is bumping into other fish, rocks and corals.
We have had this wrasse for roughly 6 months and he has never had a problem. He looked hungry when I put food in the tank. Looked like he was trying to eat but was 'missing' the food. He has no clouding in his eyes, they look perfectly clear. I do have a 29 gallon quarantine tank that we keep permanently set up with a couple of Banggai Cardinalfish in it. I tried to catch him today but he hid behind the live rock.
<Check WWM for designs on traps for hard-to-net species like this...can be made from plastic Coke bottle and such with bait inside.>
I thought I would try to get him tonight if he buries himself in the front of the tank where I can dig him out easily. Obviously, I wonder if you have heard of this before. I also wonder what could cause eyesight issues and how to treat. Finally...will a wrasse be okay in a QT with no substrate.
<On one hand the point of quarantine is that it is completely sterile. On the other hand I am 100% convinced that pure stress is a direct killer or huge contributor to the death of many fish. Because of this, I would absolutely always have some sort of cover for any fish, and none more than a wrasse that uses sand for cover...they do this for a reason and living in a shiny glass box, exposed, is probably a cure worse than a disease.
Bleach/nuke and *thoroughly* flush with fresh water some kind of decor for cover. Be it plastic aquarium plants in a pile, plastic shipwrecks or caves, or just PVC tubing (I get this in black from hardware stores, Home Depot, Lowes and cut it into appropriate sized pieces, heap it up tp give some safe cover to hide and recover in, then toss or sterilize it as above.
QT needs to be a "clean room" not an empty exposed box. You can medicate, observe, feed, and catch a fish just fine in this setup but some kind of circulation (simple airstone is fine). Obviously keep it heated, with clean water prepared separately from the main system, etc.. Sand is a hard call...would the extra stress from lack of a sleeping sandbed be worse than
possible contamination? I would err on the side of the sand but just use brand new sand in a Tupperware pan-shaped dish or what have you. No lights near the tank, a dark background, even a dark towel draped over it partially to obscure most of the light. There is a reason better dealers ship fish in black plastic bags now instead of clear.>
We have none at all in the QT although we do have three rocks that create a little cave area
where fish can get cover. Any advice is much appreciated!
<Excellent. This is what I mean as far as cover. Be sure to sterilize rock between each use of the QT tank or you may be tainting the process...live reef rock is definitely out. As for the root of the problem, what are the other inhabitants of the tank? Hard to make a call without knowing this...coral defense methods are not out of the question (stinging, chemical). May be internal damage from attackers, or parasites. Inspect it closely as you can for any outside marks. >
Tiffany Cannon
Re: Wrasse Problems      10/19/15

We have a very small chevron tang in tank, four small pajama Cardinalfish and a red scooter blenny. I think the corals we have are all fairly benign (hammer, frogspawn, slipper tongue, bubble and a couple of Paly frags) and we have no anemones (although we have two rather healthy looking Aiptasia that seemed to have come with the live rock). There is one trouble-maker in the tank. I have arranged for it to go back to the LFS on trade this upcoming weekend. We have a tube anemone that has really flourished in the tank. It is tucked in a corner and we attempted to 'wall' it off a bit with live rock. It has stung and killed a couple of corals. I had no idea how far out its tentacles were extending until I put a flashlight on the
tank last week in the middle of the night. During the day it's reach is half what it is at night! The fish seem to know instinctively to stay away from it. I knew it was possible that it might catch and eat a small fish, but didn't think the outer tentacles were dangerous to fish? I thought they were primarily for catching and pulling food down toward the center.
Any chance it can be the culprit?
<It's shocking (and fascinating) how much goes on in a reef at night as far as tentacles from "softies". Hammers and frogspawn can send out sweepers with much more reach than you might imagine...a foot sometimes. Anemones most certainly sting and stun fish, it's their entire modus operandi. I would not expect a wrasse to get nailed by them or sweeper tentacles, but it could happen. At any rate the clear but faulty eyes seem inconsistent with that to me...sounds almost like nervous system damage? Unless there are external wounds I would rule out the other fish. This is intended for retailers but serves as a concise checklist you should read through to try to diagnose this wrasse:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aqbizsubwebindex/fishdisho.htm  Hope this is helpful. >
Tiffany Cannon
Re: Wrasse Problems      10/19/15
Thanks for the quick response. Good to know about the bloodworms. Most of the fish don't seem to like them much anyway.
<Good for freshwater, not so much for marine critters. Much better choices abound.>
I will pick up some vitamins tomorrow and start giving soaked food every week.
<Good nutrition is a must of course. I recommend soaking the food in Selcon if you can get it to him. Maybe via soaked mysis squirted via turkey baster or pipette as close to his face as you can manage. Wrasses are big eaters as you have no doubt witnessed and suffer from lack of food more than calmer, less energetic and greedy species in my experience, though a hunger strike of a few days is not something to stress out over unless it starts to show. A extremely helpful bit of info I learned years ago is to observe the "temples" of a fish...signs of starvation are shown there early and clearly by sunken temples. Hopefully this will not be an issue anyway.>
Hopefully our melanarus will pull through. I appreciate your advice not to move him. It is rather complicated navigating a reef tank full of corals with a fish net without doing some damage. And I'm noticing the sickest of fish can move really fast when they are being pursued! I do still have the dead mystery wrasse. I put him in the fridge in tank water to keep him from decaying. I'll let my husband or the LFS perform the autopsy. Ewww...necessary and interesting...but....Ewww.
<Good to have this available though. Keep us posted.>
Tiffany Cannon
Re: Wrasse Problems       11/3/15

Great news...after a week or so of acting completely blind but showing no outward appearance changes to the eyes, our melanarus wrasse started to look like his eyesight was returning.

He stopped bumping into things and seemed to have a better ability to navigate the aquascape and other fish, showing improvement each day. He started eating again after a week. He was picky at first and only went after bigger pieces (presumably because he could see them better). He seems now to have made a full recovery. As for the dead mystery wrasse, we didn't find anything out of the ordinary with him. It's too bad...he was very well-behaved toward his tank-mates and had much deeper coloration than many paler versions we see at the store. Thanks for your advice. We have
eliminated blood worms from the menu and have begun soaking food with Selcon. - Tiffany Cannon
<Ahh! I am reminded by reading Richard Ross's work on freshwater rays, that Thiaminase poisoning can be reversed by addition of B1 vitamin... Is part of Selcon.
Cheers and thank you for your report. Bob Fenner>

Weird fish deaths after feeding       7/1/15
I need some help...
<Troy; name of a tenant currently and an olde fish store here in town "Troy's Tropicals"...>
I have lost two fish over the last 6 weeks under very weird circumstances.
It happens right after feeding. I was feeding my fish a combination of frozen mysis (Hikari brand in the cubes)
<That was defrosted and freshwater rinsed I hope/trust>
and rod's food.
<Both good foods I'd warrant>

My habit was to feed from a cup, thawing the food in tank water and then squirting into tank with a turkey baster.
<Better processed as I've mentioned above. You want to keep the juices out in most all cases... pollution>

Two of my fish, a blue-green Chromis and a Banggai cardinal both began darting around the tank quickly and then went belly up and sank to the bottom. The cardinal recovered shortly but the Chromis was on the sand for about 20 minutes before recovering. I chalked it up to overzealous eating thinking they got a piece of food that was too big. All my other fish were fine.
No re-occurrence for a few weeks until it happened again, this time only my Chromis which died. I began to suspect the food, the turkey baster, or the feeding cup, so the next feeding, I used flake food soaked in tank water in a new cup and poured the food into the tank (no turkey baster). This time, my royal gramma did the same thing as the cardinal and Chromis before but lived. No other fish were impacted.
There didn't seem to be anything in common at this point but outside of feeding there were no anomalies so I figured I would ditch the turkey baster, throw out all my food, and sterilize everything I use for feeding every time I feed.
<Mmm; don't think it's either the food per se nor the feeding device; but as you state, too much food being greedily ingested, too quickly>
Today I lost my Banggai cardinal despite this diligence to the same circumstances. I don't have a clue what could be causing this any ideas?
<I'd take more care in spreading the food items out time and space wise... perhaps a sweeping squirt along the top; or positioning power head, pumps along a top area to broadcast the food better. Bob Fenner>

Thiaminase       2/5/15
I was browsing through your article on Thiaminase (great article by the way) and was just wondering, is there any information on whether cuttlefish contain Thiaminase?
<Mmm; as far as I can tell, no... You can put the string "Thiaminase in cuttlefish" and read some interesting input, esp. re "the bone">
I couldn't get any information on that. Also would cuttlefish be an acceptable food for a porcupine puffer?
<Too messy to use over much>
At least until I can get some actual food for the little guy (Been trying to get some cockles but, none for sale right now, sigh). If not would you have any quick suggestions? Thanks for your time!
<The frozen seafood assortments available at most grocers... for making human stews; are a nice mix.
Bob Fenner> 

Valentini Puffer with Lump in Neck Area     7/24/13
I hope you can help me. My Valentini Puffer showed up with this lump on the left side of her neck 2 days ago. She is in a 30 gallon tank with 1 Lawn Mower Blenny. Initially, I thought it might be air or she picked at a snail, but it has not gone away, nor has it increased in size. It is the lump right under her chin.  I tried the burping method (lightly grasping her body with nose up) and was getting ready lightly run my fingers down her torso, but she puffed up and I have never seen her do this, so I released her quickly and then was not able to grab her again without stressing her out.
PH - 8.2
Ammonia- 0
N02 - 0
N03 - 0
30-50% weekly water changes with Kent Reef Crystals and Prime. Tank has been set up 8 months. Some SPS coral frags, frogspawn and a couple of mushroom frags. Live rock & sand. Lots of Nassarius snails.
She still eats great ( homemade mixture of frozen squid, clams, muscles, shrimp, scallops, silver slides, peas, Nori and vita Chem all blended up and frozen). Once a week, I give her a clam or muscle on the half shell to aid her teeth. Poop is normal and she is acting like she always has.
Any help would be most appreciated!
Thank you & Best Regards,
<This looks like a common goiter... of times effectively treated w/ simple iodide/ate addition to foods. I'll mention the SeaChem product here:
And please do search on WWM w/ the simple term: goiter for more. Simply lace/soak foods with a drop or two ahead of offering, and hopefully this cyst will recede in a few weeks. There are other possibilities/causes; but these call for more risky treatments. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Valentini Puffer with Lump in Neck Area     7/25/13
Thank you very much for your quick reply.  That is what I thought it might be, but couldn't find anything solid info to support it.  I will get this iodine
<Note: instead you want an ionic form of Iodine; Iodide... a different oxidation state. Lugol's Solution will do if you can't find, don't want to order the SeaChem or other commercial preparation>
today and try to get rid of it.  Thank you again.
Best Regards,
<Please do report back your further observations, findings. BobF> 

Saddleback Toby/Valentini Puffer, fdg., hlth.    3/19/13
Hello WWM Crew,
I love your site and spend hours researching and reading through the different topics.  I have a question I have been unable to get any real answer for on your site as well as doing an advanced search on Google. 
I have a 3 inch Valentini Puffer in a 30 gallon tank with numerous Ghost shrimp and 1 Emerald Crab for almost 3 months. 
<The Canthigaster... hasn't been eating the shrimp?>
Water parameters (Ammonia, N02 & N03) are all 0. PH is 8.2, salinity 1.024 and I do a 33-50% w/c weekly.  She has a great personality (aside from her unique sleeping spots, which almost gave me a heart attack the first week).
 She definitely recognizes me to beg and preen when I walk by the tank.  My main concern is the amount of food I should be feeding her.
<Agreed; this fish is too thin>
I feed her in the morning and after dinner and she will eat almost anything I feed her, but never more than 3-4 bites.  She will beg all day and when I get ready feed her, she swims right up to the front where she gets her meal, take 3-4 bites (like she is famished) and swim away.  If I stay there and try to offer her more, she does a couple of laps, comes back to the feeding spot, looks at the food and swims off like she is mad.  This can go on for several minutes until I figure she wants no more.  But as soon as I walk by the tank, she swims right up and begs for food.  In the beginning, I would get the food back out and we would go through the routine again, but never eating anymore food. 
<Mmm, something going on here... likely internally. Alternatively the something could be some aspect of water chemistry>
Her meals consist of squid, clams, shrimp, scallops, snails, worms, peas, shrimp pellets, brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp and ghost shrimp if I provide it. (She won't go after the shrimp on her own??)
 How much should she be eating and what should I be doing to ensure she is getting enough?
<Tobies eat to satiation when healthy, food is available...>
 I initially started out using 10 inch tweezers to keep as much waste from ending up on the bottom of the tank.  I then tried dropping it into the tank, thinking she might prefer to pick at her leisure.  But always ended up having to fish the food out in the evening so it would not spoil.  I even tried taking a variety of frozen pieces of seafood and peas, chopping them up fine and spreading the mixture on waxed paper, freezing and then breaking off pieces to feed her so she would have variety, but 4 bites and she is off swimming. 
Here is a photo of her on her favorite rock taking a nap.
I think she is healthy, but she is just such a pain to feed compared to my Green Spotted Puffers.  I have 2 in a 75 gallon tank and the eat like it is their last supper.  Any help, suggestions or insight would be most appreciated.
Thank you!
<I would try lacing what little food this fish is taking w/ a combination of Metronidazole and Praziquantel... Do search, read on WWM re both...
Barring this, I would risk a single treatment of the tank itself. Bob Fenner>

Fish active and eating, but wasting away.  Praziquantel?    3/17/13
Warmest regards WWM Crew!
<Salud Jas>
I am having a problem in my 55 gallon reef that has been running for nine months.  I am losing fish that are eating and active, but losing weight. 
<Mmm, a few possibilities come immediately to mind>
From what I have read here an in other places it seems that internal parasites are probably the culprit.
<Well, not likely across a mix of species, families... internal parasites tend to be, are more specialized, species-group specific. This is most likely an environmental issue; but again, there are many types of these that might produce this symptomology>
  The fist fish I lost was an Amphiprion ocellaris, and now my new Ecsenius midas is also wasting away.  Both fish went through a two week quarantine where they showed no signs of weight loss or other disease.  I’d like to try and save the blenny (it quickly became my favorite fish).  From what I’ve read, Praziquantel treatment is probably my best recourse, correct?
<This and maybe one treatment of Metronidazole... mixed, laced in food/s>
 Should I treat the display tank or just try to catch and bathe the blenny?
<Best to have ingest... Note that Anthelminthics placed in main tanks will kill most all worms... of times trouble>
 I suspect the parasite might be lurking in a host in my main tank, as both fish were fine in QT.  If I treat the entire tank, should I be concerned about a spike in ammonia and nitrite due to Spirorbid die off?
<Ahh! Yes>
  Other reef inhabitants include 4 Reef Chromis, two Ocellaris Clowns, Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, several snails and hermits, soft, LPS, and SPS coral. 
<I would NOT add med.s to the main system>
The system has a 20 gallon sump that houses a protein skimmer and refugium with Chaetomorpha. 
<In other words, IF used these need to be done in a treatment system, or carefully via foods. Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish active and eating, but wasting away.  Praziquantel?     3/18/13

Thanks for the speedy reply!
I am curious about the environmental issues that might also cause wasting like this.  Could you please share your thoughts on this?  From the research I've done I've never seen this mentioned.  Maybe a closer examination of my system is in order?
<Mmm, major categories include nutritional aspects... avitaminoses; and some chemical/water quality issues; like too high NO3... biochemical possibilities abound... the side-effects of allelopathy twixt and among other life forms here; some microscopic.. There are a few counters to all>
I test often with a API kits and ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all undetectable and stable.
pH is stable at 7.8.
<A bit low>
Calcium is sitting at 380 ppm
<And Mg?>
 and dKH is 13.
Specific gravity in the 1.024-1.025 range (usually closer to 1.024).
Temp is 78F.
Instant Ocean Reef Crystals salt.
Food: Hikari Marine S everyday and every other day I alternate frozen Mysis and baby brine.
Lighting: VHO T5s from for eight hours and my 150 watt halides for 1.
Filtration: around 90 pounds live rock, Reef Octopus 110, 20 gallon
Corals: Discosoma, Sarcophyton, Pachyclavularia, Protopalythoa, Capnella, Pocillopora
Any red flags?
<Always the default large sequential water changes, spiffing up filtration, adding filtrants... See WWM re anomalous issues: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm
the second and third trays down. BobF>

Hypervitaminosis 6/7/12
Hello WWM crew,
<Hello Eddie>
I’ll start with my question.  What is “hypervitaminosis”?  It sounds to me like vitamin overdose.
<Hypervitaminosis refers to a condition of high storage levels of vitamins which can lead to toxic symptoms.>
Here is why I am asking.  I have a marine tank, and I recently began feeding New Life Spectrum pellets because my Coral Beauty Angelfish was suffering from HLLD <HLLE>.
<An excellent food, use it myself.>
I have been feeding them NLS for two weeks and have already noticed improvement not just in the Angelfish, but the others (Ocellaris Clown, Royal Gramma, Six-line Wrasse) as well.  I got the 1 mm NLS pellets, but my fish had trouble eating them.  They were too big and hard.
<Mmm, use the same size myself and my fish do not have any problems consuming them, but I soak the pellets in salt water a few minutes before feeding to soften them up.>
 I have used VitaChem for years, so I tried soaking the pellets in VitaChem and kind of breaking them up into smaller pieces which the fish readily took.  Anyway, I got concerned that with this approach I might be loosing some of the nutrients in the pellets (that they might be leaching out), so I got on the NLS website and asked them if soaking the pellets in vitamin would hurt their effectiveness.  They responded that there is really no need to add extra vitamins to NLS and suggested softening them in water.
<They of course are correct, there is no need to soak the pellets in vitamins.>
 They said they didn’t recommend adding VitaChem or Selcon to NLS pellets due to the potential of hypervitaminosis.  Is it possible to overdose your fish with vitamins?
<I'm not sure if fish have the ability to store vitamins or just absorb what they need.  Perhaps Bob can input here.>
Everything I’ve ever heard on the subject says give them as much vitamin as possible.
<Keep in mind that a great portion of the liquid vitamins will be dissipated into the water.  Thank you so much for your wonderful web-site, and for taking the time to answer my question.
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Thiaminase and shrimp meal    5/15/12
Dear WWM,
There are lots of articles concerning Thiaminase in feeder fish and shrimp on this site and I have a quick question about that!
I don't feed shrimp to my Betta, so I didn't worry about his developing a thiamine deficiency until I realized that one of the foods I feed him has whole shrimp meal in it! Will feeding these pellets have the same effect as feeding unprocessed shrimp? <No.>
My fish gets these pellets one every two days as part of a rotation of foods, so he's eating a fair share of shrimp meal.
Also, do other types of shrimp (Mysis, brine, etc..) have Thiaminase in them as well?
<The issue with Thiaminase applies to live, fresh and frozen foods only.

Commercial pellets and flake foods should be 100% safe and are usually enriched with vitamins. The main problem with these dried foods is that they tend to cause bloating and constipation, so you need to provide some sort of fibre from time to time. Cooked peas work well, but live brine shrimp and live daphnia seem almost as good.>
Thanks very much!
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Thiaminase    1/4/12
Hello and Happy New
Year to the Wet Web Crew,
 <Hi Richard and a happy new year to you, too.>
I've been doing research on Thiaminase in fish as it relates to feeder fish and in so doing have contacted a number of fish nutritionist and the author of a study on Thiaminase in Lake Trout.  Here are some interesting facts:
1) Amazingly, there are no known examples of warm water species of fish or reptiles suffering from thiamin deficiency when consuming live prey.  No references period.
<No scientific references maybe, since there is little interest in this topic so far. There is also no scientific study showing that consuming live, Thiaminase containing food has no impact on warm water fishes. What we have is empirical evidence from decades of keeping predatory fishes (including some mostly fed with feeders, although is is done not that often and with a lot of species), which can be linked to malnutrition and at least symptoms similar of those suffering from a lack of thiamin, just have a look on the disease FAQs of the common predatory fishes at WWM.>
Thiaminase became a concern after it was discovered that fish in the Great Lakes and Baltic suffered low fertility rates as a result of consuming non-native species of Thiaminase containing fish.  This phenomena is strictly limited to these studies and it is postulated that it is temperature related and associated with the amount of time prey is in the stomach prior to digestion.  Thiamin is released upon destruction of tissue and will begin to degrade thiamin in the gut. In warm-water species enough thiamin is absorbed in the gut prior to its deactivation to make it a non-factor.
<If this was that simple no animal with a fast metabolism would suffer from eating Thiaminase rich food, but they do, even mammals with much faster metabolisms than warm water fishes.>
Fish that contain Thiaminase are often actually rich sources of B1. It is the digestion rate that effects uptake of B1 in lake trout which is why you see higher thiamin content in Lake Trout in the summer months even though the Thiaminase levels in alewives are at their highest.
 2) Feeding an exclusive diet of frozen fish that contain Thiaminase over many months will be the surest way to produce B1deficiency.
<That's actually what can be observed most often in the hobby.>
This has been demonstrated with mink, foxes and alligators.  All of which were fed frozen Thiaminase containing fish and after a number of months developed beriberi.  However, if someone had to feed frozen, simply using a varied diet of multiple species of fish that included non-Thiaminase species would prevent malnutrition.
<Just what is recommended in the WWM article.>
The mink and fox farmers learned to cook their fish soon after landing to neutralize Thiaminase.  Ice crystals rupture cell structures that then releases Thiaminase into the tissue.  Even in a freezer Thiaminase will deactivate thiamin rather quickly.
 3) Thiaminase does not cross the blood barrier but remains in the gut.
 Some species of fish appear to sequester Thiaminase in special cell vacuoles, but with predatory fish the Thiaminase does not cross the blood barrier and remains in the gut. Thiaminase passes out of the gut with the undigested food.  Thiaminase does not build up in the system and as long as a varied diet is followed that includes non-Thiaminase containing species fed at different times, even cold-water species will thrive. There is no science or evidence that feeding live has ever caused thiamin deficiency in warm-water species. The fish nutritionist that I have contacted, the author of the Lake Trout study and all the literature concur on this point.  Only feeding an exclusive diet of frozen Thiaminase containing fish will cause vitamin B1 deficiency in
warm-water species. And, only if continued for prolonged periods of time.
Your discussion on Thiaminase is extensive and mostly accurate, but I do not believe that it takes these subtleties into mind, which leads to consequential conclusions on the part of the reader.
<We'll add your opinion to the FAQ.>
It is important to emphasize that this is a cold-water disease as defined by the literature, and that there is a monumental difference between feeding live vs. frozen in regards to nutritional quality in many respects.
<See my opinion above.>
Thank you for your time.
<Welcome. Marco.>
Sincerely,  Richard Rombold
Re: Thiaminase    1/5/12

Let me say first, you guys rock that you take this issue so seriously. 
<Thanks for your kind words. My intention was seeing predatory aquarium fish suffering from symptoms known from thiamin deficiency for many years.
Those belong to two groups: A big group being fed frozen food (mostly one type of fish or shrimp or bivalve) and a small group being fed goldfish and minnow feeders. I am not aware of apparently Thiaminase related problems with feeder mollies (as noted in the article), though.>
Let me try to review this article and put some thought into your good points and get back to you in a couple of days.
I greatly suspect that the Barramundi were not fed live fish.
<That's probably right. My point in sending this article citation was mostly to show a scientific study, which in addition to empirical evidence, states if Thiaminase can be a problem for tropical fish, since you suggested their faster metabolism and faster uptake of thiamin would prevent them from the consequences. Based on the cited article and empirical evidence I cannot confirm the idea of a fast metabolism making Thiaminase completely harmless in tropical fishes, and it seems it cannot be confirmed for reptiles and mammals. The digestion period of small to medium sized morays for example is between 24-72 hours depending on the food composition and the activity and size of the fish (much slower than in a mink, which can show Thiaminase related diseases). Inside a tropical fish or warm blooded animal the breakdown of thiamin by Thiaminase can be faster than inside a cold water fish.
With regard to feeding live or fresh fish, I do concur that the relation of thiamin to Thiaminase is better than on frozen food (I stated this in the article). However, I would not claim it to be safe. There is no study I am aware of analyzing the use of e.g. minnows as feeders and thiamin supply. I can only offer empirical hobby evidence of fish being fed goldfish and minnows leading to possibly/probably Thiaminase related diseases with the known results. I did not observe this with homebred mollies as feeders. My resulting measures and recommendations from working on the Thiaminase topic were simple: feed a varied diet, prefer Thiaminase poor food when possible and add vitamins to frozen food. I generally do not recommend feeder fish and rarely used them myself. Neale has a good article about the feeder fish topic: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fdgfdrartneale.htm
I remember another study on tropical groupers, which came to the conclusion that internal organs should be removed of food fishes to avoid Thiaminase, this would also indicate that using feeders is not considered safe by the author, but I don't have it at hand right now. I think it was by Sih-Yang Sim et al., who wrote the "A Practical Guide to Feeds and Feed Management for Cultured Groupers" in which the Thiaminase avoidance recommendation is also briefly noted.>
Thanks for the quick response, Rich
<Welcome. Cheers, Marco.>

bloated fish   12/24/11
Attached are pictures of my female Christmas wrasse that I've had for over a year, and it appears that she is very bloated.
<Mmm, yes>
She is very active, alert, and feeds greedily. I was wondering if this is something I should be concerned about and if there is anything I can do. I was able to observe that sunlight shines through her body except where the bloated area is where it appears dark.
<These situations are typically due to one of a few possibilities... over-eating, gut impaction, gamete retention (egg-binding), and more rarely intestinal parasitic involvement. T'were it mine, I'd just cut back on favorite foods... see if the condition self-improves. If it worsens, do see WWM re the use of Epsom Salt next. Cheers and happy holidays, Bob Fenner>


Snowflake eel-thiamine deficiency?   11/2/11
Hello WWM,
Our snowflake eel stopped eating about three or four weeks ago, but after doing some research online we found out not eating was common.
As we have been watching our eel and trying to feed him we noticed he gets these flashes of breathing really hard and thrashing his body around almost like he has paralysis. We found your website and came with a possible conclusion
that he could have a thiamine deficiency since we have only been feeding him frozen silversides.
<Mmm; yes>
Our tank has been up for over a year. We don't have any numbers for our water conditions but all our other fish and anemones
<Generally a poor idea to house Muraenids and Anemones together; the former being so blind, oblivious that they touch the latter>
are doing great and our eel was doing good <well> for about five months before this started. We were able to catch him and put him in a separate tank by himself with fresh, clean water hoping that this will help him want to eat again. We are going to buy the Vitamin B you mentioned to start soaking his food in.
Is there any advice you can give us about bringing him back to the snowflake eel we had a few months ago or anything else we should/need to do?
<Do look into offering ghost/glass shrimp, live... that you can gut-load>
Is there anything we need to add to his tank that will help him?
<I'd also add a bit of iodide/ate to the foods, water on a weekly basis>
Thank you,
Sharr and Kyle
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Humu Trigger And Others! Reef stkg., fdg.    12/31/10
Good morning! Happy New Year! Greetings from Montana!
<And back at you from (today) sunny (though cool) San Diego, CA!>
Hope its warm where you are-it's --12 here right now and that does not count wind-chill. Oh we also got 12' of snow overnight! Glad fish are warm!
<Wish I was!>
I have a 110 gallon bowfront tank with the following inhabitants: 1-3-4' Humu Humu, 1- 2-3' Green File Fish (who has no taste for glass anemones),
2-Pajama Cardinals, 1-Tribal blenny, and 1-3-4' lawnmower blenny and 3- common starfish and a sand star ( I know, he came in the clean-up crew package and I do occasionally do see him when he climbs the tank wall don't know really why they would include one of these as these are really not suitable for a 110), a green BTA , Haitian Anemone, a cleaner shrimp (who belongs exclusively to the Humu), 4 peppermint shrimp (who do like the glass anemones), 2-pistol shrimp and various hermit crabs, snails etc. All they will eat with the exception of the Lawnmower Man is CLAMS and occasionally they will eat frozen whole shrimp...no two ways around it.
<Mmm, not a good strict diet. I'd train them onto Spectrum pellets: http://wetwebmedia.com/foodsppt1.htm
This is fine as I buy them on the half shell frozen (all my pets are spoiled...you should see my calves who are destined for the table (can't beat Montana beef!). But I am concerned that the clam only diet is not varied enough.
<You should be: http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
They all will grudgingly eat shrimp (fish foods are an absolute no, no and I think they would starve if that is all I gave them) but the frenzy for the clams is unreal. Are they getting enough nutrition with just clams?
<No; and too much of other nutrient groups>
The Humu I suspect is supplementing his diet with my small snails which oh well! They are all getting along well and the Humu and File Fish appear to be good friends and they play all the time together. Actually everyone gets along well, although the Tribal Blenny does harass the Humu occasionally but I think it is more of a game. I don't see any aggressiveness there.
Several questions here: Is the clam diet sufficient for all?
<... not>
I realize the Tribal Blenny is supposed to eat algae, but he will only eat algae IF there are no clams for him. 2- The Humu can be a bit aggressive at feeding time and will at times guard all clams that are put in the tank. Can I use a net and spirit him in there to eat so all others can eat a bit more peacefully?
<Not a good plan long haul... Mix in a higher percentage of the Spectrum brand... highly palatable and complete nutritionally>
The Humu will eat until he looks like he is going to explode (then he goes to bed and takes a nap for about 45 minutes).
<Fishy food coma?>
Oh also, husband found a mated pair of clowns that he wants they are about 3-4 years old. Would this be an advisable pair to put in?
<Might upset the social dynamic here... the size and shape of your system is about "full up"... I'd have a back up plan just in case the clowns don't hold their own... perhaps if they can be isolated with the BTA... for a few days... they'll take to it, be afforded protection>
If he gets them he is NOT getting anything else till he gets a bigger tank.
They are coming out of a tank where they lived with a lionfish and several triggers (don't know what kind, but this was an aggressive tank) Can they fit in?
<I give you middling odds. Using egg-crate, other screening... as mentioned above, increases those odds in your favour>
Thanks for all your help/suggestions!
<Thank you for sharing! Bob Fenner> 
Re: Humu Trigger And Others!  12/31/10

Thanks for the quick response. Should I use New Life Spectrum Thera-A Large Fish Formula, Sinking Pellet Food, New Life Spectrum Large Fish Formula, Sinking Pellet Food or Floating or can I use what I already have New Life Spectrum Marine 1mm Sinking Pellets? Sinking or Floating which is better?
<Whatever size will fit all your fishes, and some floating and some sinking (mixed). No garlic necessary>
Should I soak in Garlic Guard? Can I soak the clams in Seachem Reef Plus vitamin liquid and that would nullify the loss of thiamine?
<Won't nullify>
Would it be OK
to feed the clams and shrimp say once a week?
<I would mix just some in at this interval>
We have been feeding every other day to try and keep phosphate and nitrate at .01 and 0 respectively.
This also makes everyone hunt around the tank for any uneaten food. Maybe good maybe not?
<Mmm, better to feed twice a day, small/er amounts>
I also feed the clams and shrimp to my BTA and Haitian Anemone and starfish, should I be doing something different for them?
<Please see WWM re... these issues are archived/covered>
Uh-Oh! Husband is now tanking about a 250+ gallon tank!
<Welcome! BobF>

Rhinecanthus aculeatus Trigger, hlth., nutr.  3/8/2010
We need some advice. We have a twelve year old Rhinecanthus aculeatus Trigger who until a week ago was extremely active and healthy. Last year he broke two teeth and ended up knocking them out.
<Happens, but still... ouch!>
Since then he has eaten fine and been a great fish. Last week the teeth that have been gone a year started to come back in. He got until he wouldn't eat. We saw no signs of infection but treated him with Maracyn for one week. Just in case there was an internal infection. At the end of the treatment he seemed only slightly more interested in food. Now he seems to be having issues seeing. He runs into rocks and isn't eating at all.
His mouth is still swollen but from looking at other postings when a trigger goes blind it is due to vitamin issues.
<Mmm, could well be a "nutritional deficiency" at play here. Do you supplement foods with vitamins, HUFAs, iodide? I would add these periodically to foods, and the water if the fish/es aren't eating>
Is this the case or could some of his vision issues be tied to his recent re-growth of teeth.
<Interesting to speculate. I do not know>
Any information would be greatly appreciated
<Do see WWM re the nutritional items listed here; their supplementation for marines. Bob Fenner>

Re: Rhinecanthus aculeatus Trigger  3/8/10
Thank you for replying. After reading some of the posting about nutritional deficiencies we did go to our local aquarium store and ask about supplements that could be added to the tank. They didn't really have a lot of knowledge about this but suggested that we try "Vita Chem" made by Boyd Enterprises. Is this a good choice?
<It is a good product>
We have dosed the food as well as placing a small amount in the tank. I will go to WWM and look over the suggested supplements list. We will keep you posted. Thanks so much!!!!
<Welcome! BobF>

Fishes Losing Color (Inadequate Nutrition) - 01/26/09 Hi Guys, <<Hey Brian>> I have a 330g reef tank fairly well stocked with 70g sump, weekly 50-60g water changes, ozone, skimmer, Kalk reactor, 4 x 400w HQI MH 20k. <<Cool>> I maintain good water quality and stable conditions. I have noticed many of my fish have slightly lost the vibrant color they had when introduced to the tank, mostly: Lyretail Anthias (the male and females), purple tang and Sailfin tang. The color is more faded on tangs, and on Anthias the appearance of slight darker spots on them. My blue/green Chromis, orange clownfish, and Pseudochromis still have very good color. I have been feeding: Bio-Pure Mysis shrimp green seaweed <<Ah! This alone is not enough to adequately meet the nutritional requirements of your fishes and is very likely the reason for their loss of color vibrancy. Food additives can help (Selcon/Selco, Vita-Chem), but these often are abused or simply not provided due to the cost/hassle. Offering a wider selection of frozen foods would also be of benefit…but if you do nothing else, I VERY MUCH suggest you add New Life Spectrum pellets to your fish's diet. This pelleted food is very palatable and amazingly nutritious and wholesome. I have a 375g reef display housing five Tangs from four genera. Along with an assortment of frozen foods, I provide daily offerings of the Spectrum pellets and the colors of these and all the fishes are (admittedly…my opinion) spectacular>> I have recently switched to PE Mysis due to higher protein content (although I am starting to wonder if they get higher simply due to less water mixed into cubes) and brown/green/red seaweeds. <<Still not enough>> Rarely do I use Vita-Chem and garlic additives. <<Okay>> I have also recently stopped using carbon due to suspected involvement w/ lateral-line on my tangs. <<Mmm…this will also likely be "cured" with better nutrition>> I am wondering if this is likely a nutritional deficiency or what exactly is the cause? <<Very much an environmental issue…and in this case a lack of adequate nutrition, I do believe>> Thanks a lot as always! <<Happy to assist>> Best, Bryan <<Cheers, EricR>>
Re: Fishes Losing Color (Inadequate Nutrition) - 01/27/09
Thanks a lot! <<Quite welcome Brian>> What's your opinion on plankton cubes, brine, and bloodworms? Worthless and not beneficial? <<The Brine Shrimp is of questionable value, but both the Plankton and Blood Worms are of benefit>> I'll look for those pellets. <<Please do… The Spectrum food will be of great benefit to the health, vigor, and color of your fishes>> Should I continue Vita-Chem and add Selcon also? <<These can also be of benefit (the Selcon more so than the Vita-Chem, in my opinion). I use both on an infrequent basis>> I always had read brine is useless except to entice feeding initially. <<Depends… Adult Brine Shrimp are mostly water with little nutritional value, but if "gut loaded" before feeding if live, or freezing by the food manufacturer, they can be of some value. Even so, I don't think they should ever be the primary food source. Regards, EricR>>
R2: Fishes Losing Color (Inadequate Nutrition) - 01/27/09 BTW I failed to mention I feed a mix of Formula One, Two, and Reef Blend w/ an automatic feeder 4 times a day. Does this change anything? <<Mmm, no… Our previous discussion on the color and condition of your fishes would seem to indicate it is still not enough/is not "doing the job." Make sure the fish are eating this offering…and that you are providing "enough" of it. And I can't mention this enough, but if this were me, I would replace these with New Life Spectrum pellets in the auto-feeder. Cheers, EricR>>
R3: Fishes Losing Color (Inadequate Nutrition) - 01/27/09
Got it, the flakes are horribly messy in the auto feeder anyway. Best, Bryan Heitman <<Ah yes…and don't keep their nutritive value well, either. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Majestic Angel Getting "Thin in the Head" - 01/28/07 Hi Crew, <<Hello Jeff>> Love your site and all the wonderful information!! <<Good to know>> I have a beautiful majestic angel that is getting a little thin just above the eyes. <<Likely a nutritional deficiency>> He seems to be very healthy otherwise and eats well.  The aquarium is a 210-gallon FOWLR and (with the exception of a little hair algae), is very healthy.  I have been enjoying this hobby since the early 80's and to help finance it I worked part time at the LFS for several years.  While working at the store I remember the manager always telling us to avoid fish that were "thin in the head" so now I am getting a little worried. <<Indeed>> I have been feeding this fish with a number of foods including frozen angel formula, Nori, Mysis shrimp, plankton, and herbivore pellets. <<A good mix of offerings, but...>> He seems to enjoy just about everything I feed him.  Can you tell me what causes this problem and offer some suggestions? <<These type maladies can sometimes be secondary to environmental issues (e.g. - poisoning/less than optimum water conditions...you may want to consider adding some Poly-Filter to your filter flow-path) but this is almost assuredly a case of malnutrition.  Even though the fish eats well, there is something (vitamins/essential fatty acids) deficient in its diet.  I would continue feeding what you have, but I would make the addition of New Life Spectrum pellets soaked in Selcon to its diet.  I can't tell you what it is, but there has been anecdotal proof of the Spectrum pellets allowing some advanced aquarists a measure of success with difficult even impossible to feed (nutritionally) specimens such as Zanclus cornutus.  I would also get a vitamin supplement (Boyd's Vita-Chem) and alternate this with the Selcon...the vitamins can also be simply added to the system water and will be taken up as the fish "drinks" its environment>> Thanks, Jeff Jones <<Happy to assist, Eric Russell>>

Blind clownfish?   1/24/07 I have had a maroon clown fish for almost 3 years, he is about 4 inches in length. During the last week we noticed that he would not eat, all though it looked like he was looking for food. He hangs out under a rock ledge, seems to be  swimming fine and shows no signs of any kind of disease.   He usually chases a small clown and flame angel when they get to close, <Mmm, this system is too small... beh. anomaly... these fishes wouldn't get near the Premnas otherwise> but over the last two days  they swim right up to him with no problem. My wife called me today and said I  don't think that clown can see, <Possibly> so I tried to feed him by hand and can put my  finger right I front of him and him does not even move. Do you have any answer.  if he does not star to eat I don't think he is going to make is? Mark <Again, maybe... Do you utilize vitamin supplementation? Along with periodic iodine/ide addition to foods, the water, this may reverse the blindness here (avitaminosis)... Please see WWM re. The search tool, indices... Bob Fenner>

Blindness...Three Blind Mice Or Fish  - 05/22/2006 Hi Everyone  <Hello Robert> Here's a question I'll bet you've never had before. Is there a disease that marine fish get that causes them to go blind? I have had several fish who appear fine, just waste away and die and the only symptom I can see is they appear to not be able to see the food when it's put in the tank. They bite at it as it floats by and act like they want to eat but can't seem to get it to their mouth. I feed brine shrimp, marine flake and for the tangs seaweed select plus what they can pick off the rocks whenever they want. <Robert, there are bacterial infections that can cause blindness and the fish need to be treated at the first sign with anti-bacterial medication.  This can be triggered by poor water quality and nutrition.  Your diet of brine shrimp and marine flake isn't helping much.  Do consider adding more nutritious foods to the remaining fish.  Check out the following link.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm> Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Robert

What should I do about my Comet/Roundhead that has a lump in its throat  - 03/09/2006 Dear Reefers, <Okay> I have a successful (with your help) 4 foot LPS reef tank with 3 fish. It was set up in August 2003, is a natural skimmerless tank, with 3.5 inch DSB, ample LR and a reverse lit Caulerpa sump. As far as I am aware all parameters are ideal. The first fish introduced in April 2004 was a Comet ( C. altivelis) . It started at 3 inches and is now approximately 6 inches long. In September 2005 I introduced a One Spot Fox Face (Siganus unimaculatus) in order to control Caulerpa and other algae in the main tank, which it has done superbly. Since then the Siganus has grown considerably and is now larger than the Comet. The Siganus has venomous spines (lots!) but as far as I know there are no other venomous inhabitants. The only other fish is a harmless little Kole Tang. The problem arose on 29 December 2005, when the Comet appeared unsettled and would not eat. Up until then it had fed every day. The next day it was hiding behind the rocks and did not come out at all for 5 days until 3 January 2006. It was breathing heavily, with its mouth permanently gaping. It also had a noticeable lump on its throat. <Good observation> Ever since then the Comet has remained in this apparently distressed state, and it appears that the lump is growing - it is larger than a pea. The Comet now only eats every 2 or 3 days, and its mouth is in a permanent gape. The other fish, corals, snails and hermit are all fine. I originally thought that the Comet had rammed the Siganus and been caught by one of its venomous spines. If so, would this not have cleared up by now? <Likely so, yes> Could it be that the Comet swallowed a Cerith snail or a crab and still has this stuck in its throat? <Possibly> If the lump is a cancerous growth, why did it appear to happen almost overnight? <... Another not-too unlikely possibility is a thyroid (actually diffuse Chromaffin tissues in fishes) anomaly... analogous to "goiter" in humans... From a deficiency (or surprisingly from an overdose) of iodine/ide... Do you dose Lugol's? Do you test for?> Please help me decide what to do now. How long do Comets normally expect to live in captivity? Is the Comet likely to recover? <Can live several years, can recover> Should I carry on feeding it until it dies naturally, or should I attempt to intervene and apply euthanasia? If so, is there a recommended method for fish of this size? Many thanks, Best wishes from the UK, Eric Brightwell <I would soak some of the types of foods this animal is feeding on in an iodide prep. prior to offering. Bob Fenner>

Bamboo shark in a too-small world, goiter 12/21/05 I had a  10" brown banded bamboo shark in a 55 gallon tank <...> with a hang on remora pro protein skimmer and hang on emperor 400 filter.  I also had a 12" snowflake eel, yellow tang, tomato clown and small goby.  I have had my shark for over a year and a half.  He had eaten very well and been a wonderful shark.  He had grown a lot recently and I just bought a 240 gallon tank with a 65 gallon sump as a new home.  A few days ago, the shark started swimming around a lot and kind of erratically.  He would dive into the sand and turn to rub his body on the soft sand bed.  I thought that he was just enjoying himself <Uh, no> as he first did about a year ago when I first switched substrate to the soft sand.  His breathing was also very fast but thought that it was because of the increase in activity.  Then today, he slowed down his swimming and then his breathing started to slow down.  He then died not even an hour later.  When I took him out to examine him, he has a good sized bump about an inch behind his gills.  It kind of looks like a tumor or a parasite or something. <Actually, very likely a goiter... most due to a lack of nutrient... iodine...> I do know that I never saw any sort of scratch or injury that I noticed and up to two days ago, he was eating very well.  He filled his belly every night or two. I am very sad and just do not know what happened or why he died so rapidly.    Any information would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you for your time.   Respectfully, Dustin LeCave <Please take a read through WWM re Shark, Ray Disease... you can use the words "goiter, sharks" in the Google search tool on the homepage. Bob Fenner>

See Food Seafood Fresh and Frozen  12/9/05 Hi- <Hello... John here with you today.> Recently some of the fish in my tank recovered from some type of illness. (These are very hardy guys who never get sick.) I feed them a variety of food: frozen smelts, fresh calamari, shrimp, salmon, other filets, as well as pellets. I was wondering if maybe these fresh or frozen foods could be carrying germs, illness or fungus from when these foods were alive. <Possibly.> <<Don't ever feed fishes other fishes, for just this reason!  Stick to invertebrates.  Marina>> Maybe this is what made mine sick. I just heard on public radio yesterday that a lot of the fish we buy in markets for ourselves could have had health problems because overfishing is causing fishermen to have to be catching less healthy sea creatures. <Undoubtedly.... we are fishing the seas almost dry.> <<This is not entirely true, what is far more problematic (especially in the case of salmon) is the current state of fish farming practices.  Much has been written, reported, and the data is showing that aquaculture can be QUITE detrimental - to the environment, to the livestock being raised, and to the wild stock that comes in contact with farmed stocks.  Much more of a problem in presentation of disease than overfishing.  Marina>> Whether this is true or not, is there something we should be doing to make sure the food is healthy for our aquariums? Cooking it can't be the answer, I'm sure. A very long time ago a vet said that freezing fish for at least three months can kill germs and fungus. What are your thoughts on this? <I freeze all fresh food for at least 24 hours, and then thaw it out in a cup of tank water before feeding. This should kill most of the parasites.> <<Use human consumption standards - freeze to ZERO degrees Fahrenheit at MINIMUM.  Marina>> Thank you so much- Dana Mardaga. ps- my fish are doing much better. I did lots of water changes, upped the temperature, and added some salt to the tank. Tried a couple antibiotics, but I don't know if that helped. <I would avoid treating fish if you cannot clearly identify the ailment. Do check your water parameters - ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, and perform water changes accordingly. Do not over-feed, especially with such messy, meaty food. Best regards from Shanghai, John>

Crown Squirrelfish Dilemma Hello all: I have a question regarding my Crown Squirrelfish. We have a pair and it is great fun to watch them interact...a much underrated fish, IMHO. One squirrel has developed what may best be described as goiter under his mouth. It looks like he has developed a huge chin. He is breathing rapidly and seems to hide in a cave most of the day. However, when it is feeding time, he eats like a horse! <Good> I would appreciate any advice that you can provide that may remedy the condition. By the way, the other squirrel is A OK. Thanks,       Mitch <Such fish goiters often respond favorably to iodine/iodide treatment. I would add such a supplement (they come in a few formats) to the fish's foods and directly to the water. Please read here re this atom and its use: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/iodfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

French Angel Hi Bob how are you?  <James for Bob today>  I have a concern involving a 6.5 inch French angel in a hospital tank. I just revived this angel about two weeks ago from a local fish store and he's doing fine other than a pinched stomach and some fuzzy white spots all over. I am currently treating with formalin and malachite green after searching the FAQ's/forums. But, what I can't find is how to treat a pinched stomach besides foods and supplementation. I have tried numerous foods including frozen marine angel food, marine algae, and all types of shrimp and supplementing these foods when I feed with Selcon, vitamin C, garlic, etc. and nothing seems to make this pinched stomach go away. Any suggestions? Right now water quality and levels are just fine, and I am putting him in my 150 gal after the ich is gone so the water quality will be better there. What should I do? He's beautiful with a nice personality and I spent a lot for him so I don't wanna lose him. <Christine, Is the angel actually taking food, or are you trying all these foods with no success? Also read the link I will post here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/pomacanthus/paru.htm . James (Salty Dog)>
Angel/Pinched Stomach
Thanks James, but quite frankly with all due-respect, that article really doesn't answer any of my questions. I guess I wanted advice directly from the source (the more experienced aquarists like yourself). And, yes my angel is eating VERY well, very hearty eater of almost everything I feed him. Can you help me or no?  <Christine, now that I know the angel is eating, the only other thing that comes to mind is that your fish may very well have internal parasites. Here is another link you can scroll through. http://www.google.com/custom?q=Pinched+stomach&sa=Google+Search&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com. Hopefully you can find some info here on the problem. I'm thinking you may want to try a medicated food. I've never experienced a problem like this so I am at a loss. I will direct your original question to Mr. Fenner, He may have additional input. James (Salty Dog)>
Re: Angel/Pinched Stomach - How to Handle?
Mon, 7 Mar Bob, forwarding to you for any more suggestions. Christine replied to this stating a link I posted didn't help her. She has given me a little more info but my only thought on this was internal parasite(s). I stated this to her and sent another (Pinched stomach) link to her this a.m. James <I would have suggested actual force-feeding at this point/juncture... with a plastic catheter... two people (one to hold the fish...)... a mash of meaty foods, Selcon or equivalent. Bob Fenner>
Re: Angel/Pinched Stomach - How to Handle? II
Bob, Said the angel is eating like a pig. James <Ahh, did not see this. I would suggest adding Metronidazole/Flagyl to this fish's foods then... very likely a digestive protozoan at play... and this will "get it". BobF>

Disease from fish food? Hello Crew. I have a quick question for you regarding disease from a food mixture that I made. I took an oyster, several clams and several mussels and ground them up in a blender, and then froze the mixture for maybe 12 hours before feeding some to my tank. I know freezing is supposed to kill parasites, but my coral beauty angel fish has a dusty looking rash on his face the day after feeding. My other fish look fine. I was wondering if I should have allowed the mixture to be frozen longer than 12 hours to assure that there were no parasites or disease in the mixture. It has been 2-3 weeks now and besides the rash there is no heavy breathing or other sick behavior by the angel.  Thanks for your help. I know if anyone can help me you guys can, and I really appreciate all the help you give all of us who read your web site. Cord. <Half a day should've been long enough to kill all pathogens... Perhaps the food influenced your water quality negatively... Or could be entirely unrelated... Am tempted to write that you could try an experiment with another tank, feeding this food to see if there are similar results... Good observations, writing. Bob Fenner>

- Citron Goby Losing Color - I can't find an answer on your site, or anywhere else on the web. I have a yellow clown goby in a 20 gallon hex. Parameters are near perfect (nitrites-0,nitrates-10-15, ammonia-0, ph 8.2, temp 76, salinity 1.024). I run a magnum 350 at 100gph through a 9w U.V sterilizer. I'm feeding him frozen vitamin filled Mysis. He's in the tank with 2 seahorses, a green clown goby, 2 peppermint shrimp, and a cleaner crew of hermit crabs and snails. He seems to get along quite well with everyone and is eating well, so I don't understand why he would lose his color. Its happened over the past week.  I've got a net in the tank now to try to catch him unaware, to get him to a qt tank, but he's very swift. Your help is greatly appreciated. <Think it could be a couple of things... 20 gallons is a small marine tank and as a result subject to pretty strong swings in any one of many directions; evaporation, overfeeding, water changes all will make changes to the water chemistry that the animals within will feel. If I could encourage you to do anything, it would be to at least double the size of this tank, if for no other reason that to stabilize the environment. Also, do try to sneak some other foods in there... I realize the seahorses will mostly eat Mysis, but the fish need a more balanced diet. Imagine eating your favorite food three times a day for the rest of your life... how long before you lose your color?> Jonah
<Cheers, J -- >



Ray goiter pic? Looking for image for new reef fishes book Date: Sat, 8 Jan 2005 17:36:08 -0800 (PST) Bobster... I have a note here to follow up with you on a pic of a Ray with a goiter you mentioned having. Can you check for/scan this image and send it along to Jas/I? thanks, mate Ant- <Yikes... I think the only such pic I/we have is one a querier sent to WWM... I suggest we place this msg. and hope for a response. BobF>
sting ray goiter picture WWM crew, A while back I wrote to you about our California Ray's goiter problem.  It's getting a lot better with the addition of Seachem's Iodide treatment just over the last few weeks.  Anyway, I thought your readers might be interested in seeing what goiter looks like, since it seems to be such a common problem with elasmobranches.  This picture is of Norma the Ray at the height of her goiter problem. <Thank you for this pic and progress report Sherry. Good to hear of the improvement. Bob Fenner>

Sight problems I have a Harlequin Tusk and a Lion Fish both whom I notice are having a  problem seeing the food when I put it in the tank. This is leading to them not  eating. I notice the Tusk and The Lion fish go after the food but miss it.  <Is the food too fast? Can they truly not see it? What type of lighting is on the tank, very strong lighting can mess with lionfish eyes.>  Is this a disease I and treat?  and what can I treat it with?  <Are they just lethargic in general or is it only with the food? Let me know MacL> Thank you <<ed. note... sight problems with such predators after some months in captivity is often a sign of dietary deficiency and is very serious, for having allowed to advance this far. Immediate correction of diet (improved variety) with vitamins and lipids is critical. Fishes allowed to eat only one or two types of frozen foods and/or live freshwater feeder prey are likely candidates for this problem. I like using Dick Boyd's Vita-Chem and Selcon together with my fish foods for vitamins and HUFAs. Anthony>>

Lionfish eye problems So I assume both the Lion and Tusk will DIE? how can I help  them? ....""I have a Volitans Lion Fish and a Harlequin Tusk and it seem as if  they can't see the food they are trying to eat.  They go after the food I  put in the tank (freeze dried Krill, Frozen Krill, plankton, algae flakes, etc) however it seems as if they are biting at the food but missing it. I have  checked there eyes and there doesn't seem to be signs of  cloudiness or any  pop eye, or anything for that matter. <This is a classic situation.   Predators, especially lions are known to go blind when fed exclusively of or  high in krill.  It is hypothesized that this is because of a missing  nutritional element.  To the best of my knowledge, this is not  reversible.>::: << Well it may not be looking good, but I'd still be trying things.  I'd start feeding them other foods, and maybe use a skewer to hold the food in front of them until they finally do get it.  It may take a few minutes, but if they don't eat they'll die.  So really, you have nothing to lose by trying other things. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Nutritional Diseases (5/23/04) I know this is last minute but I'd like some information ASAP. tonight would be FABULOUS! <Sorry for the delay.> I can't find any information on nutritional diseases anywhere! there have to be some, and I have some ideas as to what they might be but believe me, they're very uneducated guesses. please if you can, any information and websites including any information on fish nutritional diseases. gratefully, Sally Skerys <I am sorry that I am unaware of any specific info. I'd suggest a Google search of terms such as "fish nutrition," "nutritional diseases of fish," "nutritional deficiencies of fish," or related terms. You should be able to find a lot that way, but it is work. Here are three books that might be of use if you can buy them or find them at the library: Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment by Edward J. Noga; Tropical Fishlopaedia : A Complete Guide to Fish Care by Mary Bailey and Peter Burgess; Manual of Fish Health by Dr. Chris Andrews, Adrian Exell, and Dr. Neville Carrington. Hope this helps. Steve Allen.> 

Damsel Getting Better (4/13/03)   Hello,   Steve Allen responded to my question regarding a sick Damsel a week ago, and I thank him. The bugger (the damsel, not Steve) didn't eat for a week and was acting vaguely strange--but no clear symptoms. I decided to add some Epsom salt just in case that was it. (This fish had that problem before--clearly--but acted, well, differently.) Not sure if it was that this time, but the damsel slowly improved and began eating again. My new question is about foods. Could bad food cause illness and/or constipation? I have very few fish, and the food in the too large containers lasts longer than the expiration dates, I am sure. <Hard to say what "expiration" dates really mean. It's highly doubtful that the food becomes harmful, but its nutritional value goes down gradually over time.> Why do they make the food containers so large? (Yes, rhetorical :-)  Should I freeze some of it upon opening? Thanks to all! <You might consider adding frozen foods such as Mysis, squid, etc. Variety is important both for nutrition and to prevent constipation. Another option would be to buy seafood in the grocery store and chop it finely (partially frozen in a food processor should shred to an edible size. Then freeze in in small portions in snack bags or one of those mini ice-cube trays. I buy a seafood mix at Albertson's that includes squid, mussels, octopus and other disgusting things that fish love. There's also a great recipe for frozen food in Bob Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist." Hope this helps, Steve Allen.> Lance

- Strange Wrasse Affliction? - We have a green bird wrasse that has been in our tank for about 9 months.  The wrasse has seemingly thrived up until recently.  He is still eating well and actively swimming but has come down with some sought of white, almost washed out look on the sides of its head.  Could this be the bird wrasse equivalent of HLLE? <Doubt that.> Any possible help and insight would be greatly appreciated. <Well... provided you haven't added anything new as of late, then I would guess this is probably a nutrition related blanching. Do you feed this fish the same thing for every meal - or is the diet more diverse. This fish should be getting a mix of meaty foods with the occasional green seaweed item thrown in.> Thanks Al <Cheers, J -- >

Treatment Duration and Carbon Hello, <Hi there> My false Perc clown has an apparent intestinal blockage and I have placed him in a treatment tank and applied Epsom salts in 1 level TSP per gallon as per Bob Fenner's recommendation I found on the FAQ's. He seems Ok but I haven't seen any change or 'movement' yet in several hours. It might be hard to see when it happens anyway. The question is: How long should I leave him in there? Hours? Days? Any help would be appreciated. <Days should be fine at this concentration. Do monitor aspects of nitrogenous build-up (ammonia, nitrite) and have water, media available to mediate their accumulation> Also, I have a general question about carbon. Does anyone know exactly what chemicals it is supposed to remove? Specifically, does it remove calcium, carbonate, and iodine? Is there a list somewhere? Should I expect to add more calcium and buffer than normal when using it? <Of the materials listed, only iodine is removed appreciably. You can use your search tools to find much, MUCH more on activated carbon use in aquatic husbandry on the net. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Rob Douglass

Oh My Belly! Hello Mr. Fenner! <Howdy> My fiancé? and I are pretty new reef tank owners and have been successfully managing our little 38gallon tank for about 2 years. We have a problem with "Lenny" our Bicolor Blenny. Lenny has been with us for about as long as we have had the tank with no issues. He shares the tank with a Yellow Tang, 3-striped Damsel, a Percula Clown and a Cleaner Shrimp. Everyone has been pretty happy together for nearly a year (no new additions) but in the last few weeks Lenny has been getting a HUGE belly. He can hardly fit into his favorite holes in the live rock. I have poured through your site trying to see if there is anything similar mentioned but only came across the following options: - Pregnant (not unless he can do it him/herself :) - Too fat (perhaps, but why now?) - Constipated (could be but there are no "lumps" as mentioned in an FAQ about a similar issue with a Blenny so I was wary of trying the suggested methods without asking) - Illness Could you point us in the right direction to read or even a proper course of action to help him? We live on an island in Canada and unfortunately there is not much of a reef community to draw upon for help. We've been struggling using the Internet and books! <My vote is for some sort of gut blockage or constipation here. I advise moving this fish (hard to catch!) to a separate quarantine/treatment tank and administering a level teaspoon per gallon of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to the water to see if this "moves" the blockage. Additionally, while the animal is there, do feed it Artemia/Brine Shrimp... a laxative type food if ever there was one. Frozen or live. Bob Fenner> PS: You site is a great help to newbies like us and we frequent yours very often. Thank you for making the information available and for any help you may give to us :) - Joe and Deanna

Yellow Tang I have a yellow tang in my 90 gallon tank that appears very healthy (aside from his tail), eats well and is very active. Other fish in the tank include some percula clowns, a 6 line wrasse, and a coral beauty.  Its tail is about a third of its size when I got it about eight months ago.  Although I've noted the larger of the two clown fish take a run at it every now and then, I've never actually seen it nip the tang's tail. I have heard of some sort of tail erosion, but have not been able to find much reading material on it. Does this sound like erosion, or is it some other malady I should be looking into? <Perhaps nutritional in origin rather than the Clown (or perhaps hidden by day hitchhiking crustacean) at play here. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangfeedingfaqs.htm and those on Tang Disease, Yellow Tangs... linked (in blue at top). Bob Fenner>

Re: Koran Angel Problem Hi! I stumbled upon your website and I hope you can help me. I have a Koran Angelfish, about 4 inches in length. It is in a 60 gallon live rock tank. This fish has always eaten well and been in perfect health but for the last week or so it  stopped eating and I don't know what to do. It seems very interested in all types of food but mouths them without ingesting anything. So far I have tried marine flake food, algae flakes, red algae, frozen angel formula, and brine shrimp. I'm not sure if the angel could actually have a physical problem with swallowing. Everything else looks good although I did notice it has reached the stage where its coloration is beginning to change and his stomach is looking rather thin. Please help, I appreciate any advice you can give....I really don't want to lose this little guy. Thanks! <Do you have live rock in this system? (I would), a protein skimmer? What sort of readings for water quality are your tests giving you? What sort of filtration do you employ? What other livestock in the same system? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/pomacanthus/koran.htm and the Angel Disease, Feeding FAQs (linked, in blue at top). Bob Fenner>

Re: Koran Angel Problem Hi, Thanks for your reply! I checked out that website and it was really interesting. It didn't say much about disease though, do you have any idea to what his problem might be or what I can do to help. The people at the petstore suggested he might have a throat tumor but I can't find anything about fish getting them online so I wanted to see if it was possible that it was anything treatable. Could this behavior be associated with the color changing? To answer your questions: Yes it is a tank full of live rock, I have two millennium 3000 filters one on each side, I have a protein skimmer and a power head. The salinity is at 1.022, temp is at 81F. The tank mates are: a small Chromis, two chalk Basslets, a small target goby, two cleaner shrimp, a green abalone, a pencil urchin. a maroon clown, and a bulb anemone. Thanks! ~Neosha~    <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/MarInd3of6.htm skip on down to the marine disease area, and read starting from the top articles, FAQs. Bob Fenner> Re: Koran Angel Problem Hi Mr. Fenner, I checked out the FAQ and I did gain a lot of valuable information from it but I did not find anyone with a similar situation to mine. All of the other fish that wouldn't eat had problems but my fish has no white spots, no cloudy eyes, no gill flaring, nothing I saw on the site. So what I really want to know is...have you heard of any problem that might make a fish not be able to physically eat even though the have the appetite for it? <Yes... there are several cases like this noted on WWM> Do you recommend a freshwater dip for the fish? <No, won't help here.> Many thanks, Neosha PS I just noticed you are the author of  "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" which I just bought a few weeks ago, well done, great book! <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Koran Angel Problem <Yes... there are several cases like this noted on WWM> I did not see any in the FAQ, are there any solutions you can recommend or is this terminal? Thanks <The most likely benefit will come from adjuncts to nutrition. I would try addition of iodide, vitamin and HUFAs to the animals foods. You can use the search tool on WWM to find out further how this is done. Bob Fenner>

I found out what was wrong with the California ray Bob, After seeking your help about what might be wrong with the California ray, I took your advice and attempted to find someone here who could help identify the problem. No one could give me a definitive answer, which is probably due to the fact that I live in Oklahoma, and we just don't have a lot of marine experts here. So, I looked through books and websites, and finally came across what her problem is. She has goiter.  <Ahhh, not atypical...> Purina, test diet division, has a multivitamin that I'm going to try to use. <If it doesn't include iodide, do add this... through the food> I just wanted to thank you for trying to help and let you know what I found out in case it might be of some use to someone else. Rochelle <Thank you for the follow-up... Will post your findings, intentions on WetWebMedia.com... Over time, you will have saved many losses, other trouble for folks. Bob Fenner>

Re: Puffer "Lock-Jaw" Hello again, Bob you keep referring me to your website and all it says is to use b12 as a stimulant what can I do about the lock jaw? I could see just prying it open but wouldn't it just break his jaw or would this be possible on only a 2-3 inch fish? Is there any chance to fix him or what? <What can you do about "lock-jaw" as in a fish? Depends on the root cause... am sure that in some cases these unfoldings are principally genetically disposed (have seen such deformities in the wild)... others are nutritionally mediated, resultant from traumas... What species, history do you have on this animal? Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer "Lock-Jaw"
The fish I have is a porcupine puffer I would say it is from nutritional because when we first got him he would only eat 2or 3 different types of food but now he just cant open his mouth more than about 2 mm if we used the fish anesthetic would I be able to pry his mouth open or would this break his jaw. The reason we couldn't feed him other stuff because he wouldn't eat anything else. <Mmm, to its apparent detriment. I would do the extreme here, Dremel tool (tm) the puffers teeth down (not painful to the animal) and force feed it a slurry of animal based material and vitamin mix (perhaps Selcon (tm) as well) via a plastic syringe. This is about the only path I know of to try to restore the health of this fish. Bob Fenner>

Re: Black tang w/ intestinal blockage? Thank you for the information on using the Epsom Salt, because it worked very well. The tang passed whatever it ate and is now eating and back in the reef tank. <Ah, great news... Epsom/magnesium sulfate can work wonders. Bob Fenner>

Sick Scopas Tang and Clout? Hello Bob! I've been reading the information on your website and really appreciate the detail you provide on the various species. I'm hoping you can advise me on how to improve the health of my Tang. Her problems are two-fold; She's become malnourished since I brought home a Striped Sweetlips 2 months ago that will only eat PE Mysis. The tang loves the Mysis so much that she stopped (from what I can tell) eating the Dried Algae I've been hanging up for her every day. Well, she had a fin turn red and acquired red blotches on her sides, and her back end is reddish in color. Thanks to helpful posters in newsgroups I have been getting her to eat Spirulina flakes for the past week and the red fin is no longer red, and the blotches are faded though her back end is still reddish. Hopefully by continually feeding the Spirulina she will get better? <Yes... and do add a vitamin preparation (Selcon, Zoecon...) to the food ahead of offering and directly to the water once a week as well...> The main problem is that for the past 3 weeks or so she has been breathing rapidly/heavily, darts her gills against the rocks, is reclusive (hiding between rocks) and today she is skittish. Based on my questions on the news groups she may have gill disease.  <Or these may be more manifestations of malnutrition...> There are no white spots so I know it is not the ICK, which I've suffered with in the past. My tank parameters are as follows: 55 G SW FO/LR (only 6 lbs so far), UGfilter, Penguin Biowheel and Hot Magnum 250 which will replace the undergravel, and a Belkin internal Protein Skimmer. SPG is 1.020, <I would raise this (slowly, no more than a thousandth per day) to near seawater, 1.025... this is a contributing mal-influence> Temp is about 78 F, 0 Nitrites, 8.2 PH, very minimal Nitrates (can't seem to get rid of them) 0-.25 ammonia (in the safe zone).  <S/b and stay at zero...> Other tank mates are Coral Beauty Angel, 6 line wrasse, 2 percula clowns (all show no symptoms) and a Sweetlips that keeps scratching himself against the rocks - seems to breath normally though just has abrasions on his side - where colors have faded from scratching. <Very difficult species to keep in the long run...> Some people on the newsgroups suggested to use "Clout" by Aquarium Products to kill off the gill disease. This would require moving the live rock into a bucket during treatment, and I understand it is harmful to host and parasite, but shouldn't make things worse. I am on a very limited budget and picked up the Clout for a great price.  My question after my long-winded story is; would you suggest treating the tank with "Clout"? <No... there is small likelihood that this "medication" will help in any way... and doubtful your Tang has "gill flukes" or other such parasitic disease... I would spend the same money on Selcon, maybe some more live rock, raise your Spg back to NSW as mentioned... and leave all else as is...> I am unable to have a quarantine tank (I know, I know, it is a very good idea - limited budget here). I've had this tang for over a year now and she was the sole survivor last summer when a horrible case of ICK destroyed my then-established tank. I hate to see her suffer. If you think "Clout" is a very bad idea, what else can I possibly do for her? Thank you for bearing with my long story here. Thank you in advance for your advice. regards, Wendy Preuss <I assure you, this fish does not have a wild-imported gill parasite... simply on the basis of how long you've had it... It's behavior is likely resultant from avitaminoses and prolonged exposure to low Spg... All of which you can correct... the results will be slow in coming, but will come. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Scopas Tang and Clout? Thank you so much Bob for your quick response. :^) > <Yes... and do add a vitamin preparation (Selcon, Zoecon...) to the food > ahead of offering and directly to the water once a week as well...> I have been adding Selcon to the Mysis for the past week which everyone eats. How does one add it to the flake food appropriately? <A few drops on the flakes for about five minutes ahead of offering> How much do you suggest adding directly to the water, and how will adding it directly to the water help?0 <Both and yes> > <Or these may be more manifestations of malnutrition...> It took me too long to realize how malnourished she was. I feel pretty crappy about it. <This will not change the future> > <I would raise this (slowly, no more than a thousandth per day) to near > seawater, 1.025... this is a contributing mal-influence> I've had the SPG low because I had been dealing with ICK about a month ago, and actually ever since the tank was set up since I was informed that 1.021 was the perfect place to be. I've been reading on the web and found out that contrary to everything the LFS's I've consulted have ever said, the specific gravity should be 1.024-1.026. I found myself a bit confused. I will start increasing it as you've suggested. <Easy to be confused about many aspects of our hobby... much varying information...> ammonia (in the safe zone). > <S/b and stay at zero...> I have a hard time keeping it at zero and I do 20% water changes every week. Until last week I was not over feeding the fish, but I am now so that I can be assured that the tang is getting enough of the flake food. I used to feed twice a day, and now it is four times a day. I even resorted to dosing the tank with Amquel to kick the ammonia back to zero from the "safe" zone, but someone told me that was stressing my Tang out. <I would not use Amquel in this way... pre-make and store your water... use more live rock, more substrate to reduce ammonia...> Sweetlips > <Very difficult species to keep in the long run...> I will have to read up on them to find out why they are difficult. Thanks for giving the heads up - As usual the LFS doesn't say a word. <Hmm, take a look on our website... under "Grunts, Haemulidae, subfamily Plectorhinchinae..."> would you suggest treating the tank with "Clout"? > <No... there is small likelihood that this "medication" will help in any > way... and doubtful your Tang has "gill flukes" or other such parasitic > disease... I would spend the same money on Selcon, maybe some more live > rock, raise your Spg back to NSW as mentioned... and leave all else as > is...> Thank you, I am not keen on medicating a full tank - been there done that - sort of thing. > <I assure you, this fish does not have a wild-imported gill parasite... > simply on the basis of how long you've had it... It's behavior is likely > resultant from avitaminoses and prolonged exposure to low Spg... > All of which you can correct... the results will be slow in coming, but will > come. Bob Fenner> Can you approximate how long results may take, a month - two? <Two or more...> Anyway I am so glad a fellow newsgroup post-er directed me to your site. The information you provided has been so helpful already, and I am feeling a bit hopeful again. Thanks! regards, Wendy Preuss <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

RE: Percula Clowns...and more! Hi Bob, A slightly delayed reply... Snail Story: Remember I told you a while back I had noticed a proliferation of small snails? Most were in my overflow in the back corner of the tank. They were piled up in there, with some on the glass. I wanted to clean them out and move them to the main part of the tank, but didn't know which were dead and which were alive. So, I scooped them into a drinking glass and placed the glass in the tank. It took only a few minutes for them to begin climbing the glass and back down the other side and into the tank! There is still a large pile at the bottom, but more are climbing up. It seems to be working. <Ah, good> Sick Tang: Our Yellow Tang has been in the tank for almost 2 years. Over the past month or so, we have noticed that the top of his spine, when raised, is no longer smooth. Is this a sign of injury or disease?  <A disease, yes... in a general sense... likely mostly borne of "old age", less than satisfactory water quality, a lack of some nutritional component or more, or... a combination of these and other influences... many things might help... Selcon to soak its food in... using Nori sheet as that food... growing Caulerpa et al macro-algae to feed it and improve water quality (in an algal filter as detailed on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com...> I see no other signs of illness and he still behaves normally. Clowns: We've decided to get the Clownfishes and place them in the tank without quarantining them. After a couple of months, we will entertain the idea of getting a the flame angel and Longnose Hawkfish. <Good to go slow. Bob Fenner>

Hi Bob,  I wrote to you the other day about some hair algae in my main reef tank, which has no fish in it because they are all in a small quarantine tank being treated with copper for ich. You had previously advised me to keep all my fish out of my main tank for 2 months to let the ich die on it's own. I have my temperature raised and my salinity lowered in my main tank and all of my fish in the quarantine tank look fine now.  <Sounds good> Last night I went to my very favorite LFS to get the Mithrax crabs and Caulerpa you recommended for the algae in my main tank. This store is very nice. It is owned by a man and his sons and they have an amazing selection of invertebrates and fish, as well as a 200 gallon reef tank that is absolutely beautiful. It is full of dozens of kinds of stony and soft corals and lots of neat fish. The water is always shimmering and clear and everything in it is so colorful and healthy looking. That tank is the main reason why I got into this hobby. I'm only telling you all of this because I want you to understand why I always want to think that these people should know what they're talking about, since they can obviously maintain their own tanks so beautifully.  <No one knows everything... and there are many paths to the same destination> The problem is, their advice is usually fairly contrary to yours. When I told him how I was approaching the treatment of the ich, he said that leaving the fish out of the main tank for two months won't help, and that I should put my fish back in right away.  <Hmm, how would you treat the live rock.... in the main tank... to rid it as a source of recurring ich?> He said the ich will continue to live in the main tank  <Possibly... but not probably after lacking hosts for two months... especially with the lowered Spg and elevated temperature...> and that it only attacks fish when they lose their slime coating, that and they only lose their slime coating when they're stressed. <No to both... a hyperinfective presence of external parasites does infest fishes that are stressed more than not-so stressed... but will/does attach, feed on all> Therefore, if I maintain a very stable, healthy system, my fish won't get ich.  <Agreed, if you also have excluded the causative mechanism (the presence of disease-causing micro-organisms) in the first place... via dips/baths, quarantine> Now, I agree that a very stable system is definitely what I should be striving for, and probably will prevent a lot of problems, but is that the one and only way to control ich? What do you think of this guy's advice? <Take a look at the disease parts of my site: www.wetwebmedia.com, particularly the piece on "The Three Sets of Factors That Determine Livestock Health"... there is a triad of groups of contributing causes to health/diseased states: initial state (genetic, developmental), suitability of the environment (many, many factors here), and the presence, degree of infectiousness of pathogens... It seems what you have heard is a heavy emphasis put on the first two factors and not much on the last... I have the "advantage" in responding to this point of view at this point... ask this gentleman to take the time to read over the referenced article...> I usually go with your advice because of your obvious credentials and the fact that your answers always make a lot of sense, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on this one.  Thanks for your help, and sorry I pester you so much! >> <Please don't misunderstand me, but do not rely on my or any one else's advice on such important matters as the husbandry of your livestock... listen to input, and take on the final synthesis yourself. Bob Fenner>

Re: brown splotches on yellow tang ammonia is down to zero this morning; nitrites are still .25. not feeding is not a problem with our grazers, they are not eating much. We have a fairly mixed tank, along with the tangs we have 2 small damsels, a Jawfish, a Cuban hog (who is also moping) and a mandarin (who seems to be doing just fine). how long can they go without feeding?  <Days to weeks> The anemone and corals are ok. We only have about 40-45 lbs live rock, which was what our local store suggested for the tank when we originally set up. Is this too little?  <For how big a system? More is better in most settings... a pound to 1 1/2 per gallon...> We also have a real bloom of brown diatoms on the glass (snails are still trying to help). I know we have a problem, I just don't know how to solve it. >> <And I can't tell much more from the above... keep alert, studying, talking about your apparent situation... many ways to bring it (back) into balance... including the ever-necessary ingredient "time". Bob Fenner>

I hope you can help . . . Hi Bob, I have a have a 29 gallon "fish-only" tank running for about 6 months now so I'm pretty new to the hobby. I have a Coral Beauty in the tank that has been doing great up until about 2 days ago. Right above it's eye (on both sides) something is eating away at it's skin. It looked like little tiny white spots at first then a few days later it was a lot worse. There is also a line of this "stuff" forming from it's head all the way to it's tail fin. The fish is be eating and behaving normally. Do you have any idea what this is? or if it can be treated? I definitely don't want his spreading to the other fish, but I don't have a hospital tank. I can try to get a pict with the digital camera if that would help. Thanks, Brandon >> I do indeed have a very good idea of what you're (keenly) observing. Your Dwarf Angel is beginning to show the signs of a disease (any deviation from a normal or healthy state) called HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion)... that various folks consider a nutritional (lack of vitamins, iodine), environmental (stray electrical potential, poor water quality), and/or parasitic (a protozoan, Octomita necatrix) problem in etiology (causative mechanism)... Some of this discussion may well be a matter of a "chicken and the egg, which came first" question... but there are definite incidences of "cure" by improving water quality and nutrition... So, I would seek to improve both the food quality through diversifying foodstuffs, soaking them in a vitamin, iodine prep. (these are made for pet fish, or you can mix them up with materials made for human consumption)... And do what you can to make your water quality high and stable... This is a BIG topic... but basically, you want to achieve low phosphate (less than 0.1 ppm) and nitrate (less than 10 ppm) readings (two "windows" that are easy to measure)... This "high and steady water quality" state can be achieved in a few ways... the best are biological... like algae/mud filters... through the use of live rock... refugiums to house, culture these... Doing nothing... your fish(es) will continue to worsen in their pitting, loss of color... and perhaps perish. Bob Fenner

I hope you can help . . . Hi Bob. After reading your reply, I am thinking that is the nutritional problem that you mentioned. The guy at the pet store said that the OSI Spirulina Flake is all I need to feed it. (before they closed down) What would you recommend? I really want to save this fish if possible. As for water quality - I do a 20% water change every month and for filtration, I use a Magnum 220 canister filter with charcoal as the filter medium. I will start the vitamin treatment that you suggested. I've also noticed that the Coral Beauty like to be cleaned a lot by my pacific cleaner shrimp, I'm hoping that it just likes it and that it's not something parasitic. Anyhow thanks for you help and advise on this matter.  It's sad really, there is NO support for marine aquariums around here.  -Brandon >> I wish that "guy at the fish store" could be locked in a box and fed nothing but "nutritious" cereal (Hey, I'll even let him name the brand!) exclusively for weeks to months... Try a mix of frozen (defrosted) foods and some fresh greens, even live rock... And the vitamin/iodine mix on them.\ And you do have a protein skimmer? Don't see it listed. And good news re that shrimp's attentions... obviously they (the shrimp, angel) realize something is wrong... At least you can count on total support for marine aquariums from here! Bob Fenner

Koran angelfish Oops, forgot the question. I've noticed a great fish that is really cheap that the LFS. It's 3.5 inches long and will cost me $15. It's net caught and is eating really well. The problem with the fish is that it has spots on it's skin that aren't perfect and has a few pits. (possibly the onset of HITH or LYLE?) Anyway it has no Ick, but seems to swim fairly well. Should I buy this? If I do how should I deal with it? Thanks . David, >> Ah, a moral/ethical dilemma (rather than a cerebral/economic one?)... Yes, I've bought/had outright "ugly fish"... that had "personality", other traits going for them. I would "deal with it" the same as other fish purchases... quarantine, at least a dip/bath before placing it. If you suspect it is developing, further developing a case of HLLE, I'd seek to reverse the trend by supplementing (vitamins, iodine) its foods, and providing excellent water quality. Bob "not so symmetrical himself" Fenner

 Lateral Line Disease Bob, why is it Purple Tangs are so susceptible to lateral line disease? I had one die about six months ago after getting to look pretty bad. I now have two with the same condition, one much worse than the other. All the other fish are fine. They are all well fed with plenty of vitamins and variety of food, including greens and dried algae. I have a grounding probe which I have been told is essential to prevent this from affecting all my fish. Do you have advice that can help me clear it up and prevent future outbreaks. By the way, I have removed them from my display tank and have them in a hospital tank for better control.  Thanks, Sincerely, Carlos Machin  >> Some folks think that Purple Tangs are just genetically/developmentally more pre-disposed to this disease-condition (head and lateral line erosion)... I have a firm co-belief that it is much to do with nutritional deficiencies (usually some of the vitamins, A, D, E or B's are cited, as well as iodine), rather than the usual "other suspects" of HLLE (stray voltage, "poor" water quality...). Here's my take: most all Purple Tangs are collected out of Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) in the Red Sea. Most all of them are treated the same, with low Spg and copper... and the treatments result in killing off a bunch of the beneficial microbes that live in the Tang's alimentary canals that aid them in processing their food (much like E. coli and humans)... this disruption ultimately leads to the disfiguring HLLE. The larger Purples are less likely to develop this complaint, as they are less affected by the collecting stations treatments. Bob Fenner, who says there is evidence (from other Zebrasoma kept in captivity and "treated" the same, that the beneficial micro-fauna can be "picked up" by tangs that have been "wiped clean" via their ingestion of fecal material from "healthy" (inoculated) tangs (sort of like the argument for breast vs. bottle feeding in humans).

Question: I am having a problem with keeping my algae eating fish alive (gobies, one tang, scooters, [also snails], etc.) They will typically flourish for about six to eight months and then die, with no outward sign of problems, with the possible exception of becoming lethargic near the end. I have had no problems with the other fish such as damsels, tomato clowns, and Dottybacks. Water quality parameters remain in the normal range, with zero nitrates and nitrites and only a trace of ammonia. I have had red algae in the tank that I vacuum out. Is there something that I am missing that might be affecting these particular fish?
Bob's Answer:
David, your fish are most likely perishing from one of two problems or a combo. of the two: Slow starvation and/or some type of chronic toxicity. Both problems are common and both easy to solve. The best, most easy route to suggest is the addition of as much good live rock as you can afford. The really low density, high-branching stuff from places like Fiji and Tonga is what I'm getting at. Discounting any deficiency in your set-up or maintenance, the LR will ameliorate all sorts of chemical and physical inputs into your system that might be slowly poisoning your bottom dwellers... and at the same time, offer them some ready food organisms that will to a degree be self- replenishing... No room in your tank for (more) live rock? Build or buy a refugium sump and link it to your main/display tank. Maybe check out the archives of Aquarium Frontiers on Line for some ideas on how to arrange the latter. Don't give up my friend.

Question: I sure hope you can give me some advice on this one. I have a (nearly) adult Pomacanthus Imperator, approximately 12-14 cm long. I acquired it from FFExpress last fall. Within a month or so of introduction to my tank, it began to develop a few small, 'pimple' like pumps, slightly discolored. They have continued to appear and spread in patches on the fish, and are getting worse. Most of the earliest patches have now gone away, and left only faint scars. What's more, they don't seem to bother the fish, with the exception of one time when a particularly bad patch developed a secondary infection. I treated that with SW Maracyn, and it quickly recovered. It seems to be a strong fish, and is an outstanding eater, although I have a tough time adequately varying its diet, as it will not take angel formula or any other gel-cube food. It does eat brine, bloodworms, lettuce, kelp, and hair or macro algae greedily. My attempts to treat (and prevent the spread of) this malady have consisted of lowering the salinity in my 150 gallon tank, where this fish is kept, to 1.011 SG (this is a fish only tank), and then treating with CopperSafe. Neither seems to have made any difference, and it has not apparently spread to any other fish. The fish is now in isolation, following the bacterial infection noted above. Is this, as I fear, some sort of parasitic worm? If so, why have lowered salinity and copper not killed it off? Is there some way to eliminate this? Some of the patches are getting pretty bad. One is so inflamed that my wife suggest I remove the 'bumps' with tweezers! I'm really at a loss, and I have never seen anything like this in 10 years of marine fishkeeping.
Bob's Answer:
Hey Jim, thanks for writing so clearly and completely of this malady and your involvement. I too have witnessed similar happenings with large pomacanthids... and am more or less convinced that the "root" of the occurrence is mainly a-nutritional. There is anecdotal evidence of various vitamins and Iodine lack being a/the causative factor and I encourage you to take a multi-prong attack at making sure these essential inputs are not limiting: I'd utilize a supplement mix (vitamins C, E and A at least) applied to your foods ahead of their being offered and administer Iodine in a useable format as well... And do look into putting in some live rock (cures many ills along with full-time supplementation of diet) after raising your Spg back to something reasonable (1.018-1.021 plus). BTW the Emperor/Imperator gets much larger, to about sixteen inches overall length in the wild, and at least a foot or so in captivity.  

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