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FAQs about Puffer Disease/Health 6

FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease: Marine Puffer Disease 1, Marine Puffer Disease 2, Marine Puffer Disease 3, Marine Puffer Disease 4, Marine Puffer Disease 5, Marine Puffer Disease 6, Marine Puffer Disease 7,
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environment, Nutrition, Social, Trauma, Pathogenic, Treatments
<Plus see below re Disease by Category per Puffer Family>
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Group: Marine Puffers & Kin, Velvet & Crypt, Boxfish Disease, Tetraodont Disease, FW Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Disease, Toby Disease, Burrfish Disease,

Related Articles: Puffers in General, A Saltwater Puffer Primer: Big Pufferfish! by Mike Maddox, Puffer Care and Information, (Big) Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo, Small Puffer Dentistry By Jeni Tyrell (aka Pufferpunk), True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, Puffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: Puffers in General 1, Puffer Identification, Puffer Selection, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Reproduction, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

- Ich from Eating Marine Mussels? - Hello, I was wondering if you ever heard of a Dog-Faced Puffer getting Ich from eating fresh marine mussels? <No, I haven't.> After reading your site, I see that I probably should have froze the mussel for a week before offering it, but hindsight is always 20/20 right? <Indeed.> I did rinse it and crack open the shell before giving it to him, and he ate quite a bit before I removed it from the tank a few hours later. The next day he had quite a few spots of Ich on his fins, but the rest of the fish (2 Percula Clowns, 2 Blennies, and a Foxface) were fine. I immediately quarantined the puffer, and the Ich has since subsided. I froze the rest mussels, do you think they will be safe to feed, or should I just scrap the lot of 'em? <I think they're likely safe to feed.> Thanks, Paul BTW great book, it has helped immensely. <Cheers, J -- >

Sharpnose Puffer Losing Eyesight ? Hi. <Hello> I have a Papuan Toby that seems to be unable to see food, even if it falls in front it. The eyes are not cloudy, however, they seem to have lost of that odd sheen that I've notice on these fish, and they look almost dilated. <Good observations> I've had this fish for over two years - could it just be age ? <Possibly... usually these blindness events are tied to nutrition, parasites...> It seems to take it longer and longer to change from its sleeping color ( almost white ) back to its daytime color ( dark with spots ). <Another good fact... relating sight> I recently switched back to half actinic lighting, but I've had it before, and it did not cause eating problems with any of the fish, including this puffer. Thanks, Edward. <I do hope your fish's sight loss is reversed. Do you supplement its food with a vitamin et al. soaking? You might try Selcon, Zoe... Bob Fenner>
Re: Sharpnose Puffer Losing Eyesight ?
Bob, <Edward> Just thought I'd give you an update.   Yesterday and today, I left the lights on for a half hour before feeding.  It seems that it is just taking longer than it used to for the Toby's eyes to adjust.  I'm not sure if this is because of the switch to a half actinic Britelite bulb, but that is probably the culprit. <Mmm, I hope you're right> He is eating better. The fish have always had a rotated diet of good frozen foods ( formula1, 2, and krill ), so I was a little more suspicious of the newer lighting vs. poor nutrition. This Toby has always been a bit of trouble.  His beak was oddly overgrown when I bought him, and I eventually took him out of the water, and gently clipped the beak down so that he could open his mouth up enough to nibble at rock and hard things and maintain a functional mouth. <Good move> BTW - I had always wondered if two Tobies could live happy lives in the same tank. <Mmm, usually not... unless the system is quite large, lots of hiding spaces... and best introduced at the same time... you can try, but I'd make them the same species, get one decidedly much larger or smaller> A few months ago a put a small Valentini in the tank, and after about 10 minutes of posturing (Valentini only ), everything was fine and both fish ignore one another and are often hanging out in the same corner of the aquarium. Thanks, Edward. <Glad to read of your success... As stated, Canthigasterines usually fight/bite each other. One aspect of habitat partitioning behavior. Bob Fenner>

Blind puffer Hello Bob, Hope you can help. I recently noticed that my Golden dog faced puffer appears to not see very well. This actually seemed to happen overnight. One day when feeding, my puffer couldn't see the food. So now I have to put it directly in front of his mouth before he realizes it is there. I feed my puffer fresh squid, shrimp, cockles etc. for variety and he loves it. The only time my puffer wont eat is if I put Vita Chem on the food. <Interesting>   His disposition and color appear to be fine. He does seem to act a little unaware and slow. (as if he cant see)  I tried to find info on the web on fish blindness and it pointed towards a deficiency. <Yes, often poor nutrition, or biological disease are causes here> Is this possible that I would need to buy prepackaged frozen food instead of fresh since my fish will not eat the food with vita Chem? <Not in my opinion. The fresh, variety should be fine. You might try another vitamin/supplement product though, like Zoe, Selcon> My fish has clear fins and eyes and looks perfectly normal. I hope his condition can be reversed, although it seems silly to expect that. Thank you for your help Bob! Liz <I do hope it is reversible as well. I recall hearing of a few cases of temporary puffer blindness over the years, but it is rare. Bob Fenner>

About my sick puffer Hello, thank you so much for helping me out... I have a 6 inches porcupine puffer and was doing extremely well until last week, she bit my finger while I was doing some cleaning of the tank. Due to the pain I pulled out my finger from the water in reflex speed which made her dropped on the floor since she was still hanging on my finger during the pulling. <Yikes!> I immediately asked my husband to bring her back to the tank and for the day after this accident she was doing normal, but two days later she stopped eating and sank to the bottom corner of the tank. The body shape has changed too, with her back "raising up" a little than usual. Do you have any idea what had happened to her and is it the result of the drop? <Perhaps a structural internal injury... Yes> Is there anything I can do to help? (after she was dropped I did not see her inflate, instead she was just breathing rapidly) thank you very much! Pauline <Puffers do at times go on extended feeding strikes... I would offer something large and meaty (like a cocktail shrimp or open clam) every few days... and otherwise hope for the best. No medicines here. Bob Fenner>

Sick porcupine puffer Hi, <Hello there> Just discovered this site - a lot of useful info...thanks! I have a question regarding the use of hospital/quarantine tanks. My 4 inch porcupine puffer has had recurring Ich for a couple months now.  Most of the time it isn't too bad, he gets a few spots and they go away.  But twice he was covered with the stuff (once a month ago and again last week).  Both times, I pulled him out, gave him a FW dip (which he was fine with) and put him in a 10 gallon quarantine tank (all I have space for) which has been running for a few months.  Both times he was miserable.  Within a day of being in the QT, he developed cloudy eyes and his skin color started to fade.  And he just lies there looking listless. <Yes... there is a definite psychological component in confining fish livestock...> The ammonia level in the tank is high, about 2 ppm, but I can't seem to lower it even with 30% water change twice a day. <This is odd... if you change half the water, half the ammonia should be gone... though Tetraodontiform fishes (puffers, triggers...) are large waste producers>   I skipped several feedings to keep ammonia level down, but it didn't help. I know I'm supposed to leave the main tank fallow for at least 30 days, but I'm convinced my puffer would die if he stayed in the QT for more than a few days. <Might... as you so well describe its reactions>   The first time I pulled him out and returned him to the main tank after 1 week, and the second time after 3 days because he looked so awful.  As soon as I put him back in the main tank, he was his happy self again...very swimmy and begging for food.  My question is, are there fish that simply won't tolerate a quarantine tank? <Likely so... unless these treatment tanks are large enough (hint), have some accoutrements (decor, filtration, aeration...) of a main tank>   And how would you recommend I treat the Ich if it must be done in the main tank? <I wouldn't> I've raised the temperature of the main tank to 81 and have lowered the salinity to 1.017.  (I have some live rock and a hermit crab in there. The hermit crab seems to be doing ok with the hyposalinity so far.)   Thanks much for your help! Patty <Please (re)read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferdisfaqs.htm and the Related FAQs on puffer disease, and the articles and FAQs on Crypt starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer 12/29/04 Hi, I'm having problem with my new porky puffer.  I got him last week and the next night he puffed up for no reason.  Nothing that seemed to have scared him.  Couple days later we got a Foxface Rabbitfish as a present and put it in the tank.  After that he started to develop a discoloring of his skin.  It looks like a complete whiting patch near his fin, now it has spread and doesn't seem to affect him.  It makes him look a little wrinkly dry skin look, but no fuzzy, lumps, or bumps on him.  He is eating great and just has this discoloration going on.  Fins and eyes are clear with no cloudiness or patches of spots.  In the area of whiten you can start to see his spikes like the skin is gone from some of them.  It looks a little swollen.  <The mark could simply be an abrasion which more often than not will heal on it's own given a good environment.  If it gets worse, consider treating it with anti-biotics (see that section on WWM for advice).  You may also want to consider sending digital photos.  Puffers don't normally puff unless they have a reason, but as long as it is able to (and does) deflate, I wouldn't worry.> The pH was low at 7.8 and now I got it up to 8.2-8.4.  I dropped the salinity.  It was a 1.021 and now it's down to 1.018.  ammonia was a 0.5 and got that down to <0.25 still working on getting it down with tank changes. <Why was the pH low, and why was there ammonia present?  If this is a fully cycled tank, please verify your results with another test kit.  Raising pH increases the toxicity of ammonia dramatically.  If anything, I would let the pH stay low until the ammonia subsides.  What kind of filtration and skimming are you using?> They are in a 40 gallon, yes too small but it is temporary until they will be in a 75 gallon.  Any ideas on what may be going on? My local pet store thinks it may be due to the low pH and stress.  I was thinking of taking the rabbit out and putting him in to a coral 125 gallon but I'm afraid he will contaminate the other tank.  please help out before I loose him. thanks so much.  Heather <Your pH wasn't low enough to be a significant source of stress on it's own.  I would suspect poor handling in shipping.  Please don't move the rabbit fish to another inhabited tank!  These fish should have been quarantined to begin with, and since one of them is sick you will put your other animals at great risk.  Since they both have already been exposed, I would leave them together until this is sorted out.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Sick Mappa Puffer Hi folks, It's been a while since I needed your help, but I now have a 5" Mappa puffer with some kind of embolism.  It may be the classic air bubble, but I'm not sure.  He floats very aggressively (not sure how else to put it) such that he has to work hard to keep himself off the surface and now spends his time lodged under overhangs to keep himself anchored.  The potentially peculiar thing about his condition that I haven't seen mentioned before is that his buoyancy is very much in his posterior - he floats head down. There may be some body distortion back around the anus with a slight bulge on each side, but there has always been this sort of shape anyway - it may just be slightly more pronounced now. He is obviously not eating.  Given the apparent location of the embolism I wondered if it might be a digestive problem of some sort. Some history now.  He has been in my tank about 6 weeks.  He has been eating well since acquisition with feedings consisting mostly of scallop, mussel, shrimp, blue crab, and Spectrum pellets.  The symptom onset was sudden as he seemed fine yesterday morning, and couldn't swim yesterday evening.  About 1 week ago I began treating the tank with copper for Ich.  Specifically I am using Cupramine that I have slowly ramped up to the recommended 0.5 ppm concentration.  The tank unfortunately has a latent, chronic infestation that I have been unable to eradicate and it bloomed when a new fish was added a couple weeks ago. Please help - I have to go out of town for 3 days on Thursday for Christmas and besides potentially losing the puffer I could do damage to the whole tank if I have a large dead poisonous fish in there for that period of time! |  <Hi there! Sounds like your Mappa has an air bubble trapped inside his stomach, you should try "burping" him.  To do this you need to hold the puffer vertically in your hand with his tale end up in the water, do not lift him above the surface or the condition will worsen.  While the puffer is vertically suspended gently massage the stomach with your thumb and he should expel the extra air.  Your puffer may puff up when you do this and that's fine, it will help him to expel the air along with the water. As for the ick problem, NO COPPER MEDS EVER WITH PUFFERS!!!!  Instead try hyposalinity, slowly lower the sg on the tank a few points for a couple of weeks until the ick is gone (ick can't live in lower salinity levels) when the parasite is dead raise the sg back to normal. Good Luck!  LinearChaos>

Fiji Puffer Needs Help I have an orange tailed Fiji Puffer.  He hasn't eaten in 2 weeks and seems lethargic.  I've read other postings but haven't found any similar to mine because my tank has never experienced infestations. His tank mates are a Picasso Trigger and an Assorted Puffer.  Both fish are eating and responding normally in the 50 gallon tank. <... well, many puffer species do go on occasional feeding strikes... and they rarely are compatible with other Tetraodontiform fishes (triggers, other puffers) in such small quarters... that is, there is likely a psychological component at play here> Tank conditions are ideal, 78 degrees, salinity 1.023 - 1.025, Zero or minimal nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia.  All fish enjoy eating a varied diet of freeze dried krill, frozen brine shrimp, and live minnows.  25% of tank water and filters are change every 4 weeks or so. I've had the Fiji for almost 3 months.  The Fiji's behavior began to change after the last tank change.  I did move the live rock that he normally sleeps on. <Good point... puffers REALLY don't like changes in their physical environment... often return to same sleeping place for years> The fish get along.  The trigger nips once and a while at both fish but never breaks the skin or continues for a period of time.  Any thoughts on what could've caused the puffer to stop eating and become less responsive?  He is relieving himself on a regular basis so I was thinking he might be eating something else.  He also does seem a bit more bloated but he does not have any spots or change in color that would indicate parasites, disease, or injury. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm and the Related FAQs beyond (linked, in blue, at top) Likely, only time need go by, some other food types offered... but in the long/er term, you need a bigger tank. Bob Fenner> Thanks!

Dipping a sick puffer Hi, thank you for telling me. My porcupine puffer has Ich and was wondering how long should you keep him in the bath for and also how often should I do it. I am also going to go buy some medicine for him. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm and: http://wetwebmedia.com/pufferdisfaqs.htm and the Related FAQs files (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

Pete the puffer Hi Bob, I have spent hours on your site looking for Puffer problems. <Plenty here> I haven't found anything quite like what is going on with mine.  I have a porcupine puffer, had him since July.  He was a voracious eater, eating freeze dried shrimp 4-5 day.   <Mmm, this may not be "good for him"> We then lost a couple of clowns which I thought he ate until the last water change, they came out of a shell they were hiding in.  Then one clown died, the other disappeared into the shell again.  We thought he was gone for several weeks and another water change popped him out. <Is there a correlation between what the water changes are doing and the clown/s appearance?> His mouth was swollen open and lighter in coloration around the lips.  Around the same time, Pete began having troubles eating the larger shrimp.  I am now feeding him tiny pieces and spending about 30 minutes a day feeding him.  He still goes after food like he's starving just until the last few days. <Past time to augment, diversify this fish's diet> But we've been doing this for several weeks.   He also got very distressed today, I was trying to feed him silver fish with an object into the tank, he hates things in the tank.  And he puffed up (second time ever)  and freaked out for a while.  I went and got some mini frozen dried shrimp so he could eat those but he was too upset today. <This fish doesn't need to feed daily... twice, thrice a week is sufficient> I'm concerned of something contagious. The star has been acting bad as well the last week (had the chocolate chip star since march).  But the yellow tang is rocking. <Good clues here re what is doing well, not>   Our tank is 250 and is cared for bimonthly by a service who guarantees the tank.  They say puffers just do this sometimes. <Correct> The clown can't eat either, he hasn't eaten for over a month. <That you've seen... this fish is eating>    My puffer was happy until the last few days.  Is it a mouth fungus?  I don't think lock jaw.  It's not his teeth.  It is more like he's lost the suction he had.  The clown is swollen open. Should  I send him back to the service to quarantine? <I wouldn't>   They tell me the stress would kill him anyway. <Too likely so>   He's going to die at this rate anyway.  I don't have the time to spend and I am ill watching him not be able to eat. It will really hurt if he dies. Laurel <I would not panic... this fish can go without eating for a few to many weeks... check your water quality, clean your filters, skimmer... and wait a week or more to offer... a shellfish of some sort... an open mussel of clam... all will be fine. Bob Fenner>

Sick Porcupine Puffer! Need answers! Hello! I sincerely hope that someone can help me out here. My fianc?and I are contemplating the purchase of a beautiful porcupine puffer from the only pet store in town. The puffer is absolutely gorgeous! He is a very bright vivid yellow, and he has the most beautiful blue/green metallic flecked eyes that are perfectly clear. We want to begin the process of getting set up so that we can purchase the little guy and bring him home. There is a slight problem. Over a time frame of a few weeks, the puffer had VERY FEW white spots on his fins, and possibly his body. At this point in time, there are no longer any white spots anywhere on his fins, however there are 2 CLUSTERS of white spots on the upper body, one on each side of him. They almost look like clustered eggs, for lack of a better description. The individual spots that form the clusters are a little bigger than the typical white spots you sometimes find on the fins. They aren't drastically larger though. The owner of the pet store does not know what it is. He said he had asked someone about the 2 clusters, and he was told that it was a fungus of some sort, but now the clusters have stopped growing. They have not depleted either. I don't think the manager is treating him because of the fact of not knowing what it is at all. Anyone have any clue on what exactly this is and how can it be treated???  Thanks in advance for all help!! <I would not be concerned re these cluster spots... even if some sort of worm parasite (likely a trematode), VERY unlikely to spread to other species of fishes. I would buy this fish, place it as it is. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Puffed with Air 11/8/04 <Hi Mike, Pufferpunk here> I suspect my Valentini Puffer has "inhaled" some air. What can I do ? <Try holding your puffer vertically (head under water) by it's tail & shaking gently, until it's burps.  It's ok if it puffs again, as it will just be sucking in water, which is good.  It is extremely bad for a puffer to puff with air.  Please be careful & don't ever expose your puffer to air.  This can kill your puffer.  If you need to scoop it out, use a cup or similar container.  By the way, it is called a valentini puffer.> Thanks   Mike <Good luck, ~PP>

What Else Can I Do? Puffer, Ich Hi guys, <Hi, MikeD here> First of all I want to thank you for all the information you make readily available to everyone interested in learning how to care for their tanks and pets the right way.  That being said, I have a problem and was wondering if you could shed some more light on the subject. Sushi our 2" Porcupine Puffer (  Diodon holacanthus I believe..?) we got from the LFS 3 days ago has come down with a case of the Ich.<This is quite common, with porcupines and Burrfish being quite easily infested> All tank parameters are good (Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate <10, pH 8.1, temp 78-79, SG 1.023). He looked great at the LFS, ate voraciously, appeared to transition well to his own tank (it's all his), and immediately began begging for food.  Tonight when I got home from work he was covered in the evil little white dots, so on advice I gathered from your site, I set up a 20 gallon QT with no substrate to ease sucking up the Ich from the bottom, and dosed it with Methylene Blue. I also gave him a freshwater dip for 20min also with the Meth, making sure that the pH and temp in all three of the environments matched. I mixed a lower amount of salt for the QT (about 1.020) and plan on dropping it gradually with each water change while boosting the temp to about 82-83. He was still eating this evening and considering the stress of the above, he appears to be doing well at this point. With all that in mind here are my questions: How high can I bump up the temp in the original tank and not kill the live rock?<In the high 80's-low 90's F should be fine.> Should I be dropping in some food to rot in the original tank to keep the nitrifying bacteria happy/at current levels since he won't be in there for 4 weeks?<I wouldn't. You don't say how long the tank has been established, bit I would consider adding a non-fish and non-menu inhabitant, rather than food, which can cause a bacterial explosion. Sea cucumbers are often excellent scavengers that are ignored by most puffers and are often inexpensive as well.> How low can I drop the specific gravity in the QT and not affect Sushi adversely?<Slowly....gradually replacing evaporated water with fresh often works until you reach the desired level.> Should I FW dip him again, and if so how often?<I'd suggest against the dips, as puffers should never be removed from the water, as in a net, as they are prone to ingesting air, often with fatal results> Is the Methylene Blue in the QT ok or should I remove it with carbon and a water change?<I'd continue using it at a reduced level from what is usually instructed (about 1/2)> Is there anything else I can do for him?<Just monitor the water for ammonia spikes and do changes as often as is necessary to prevent it.> Oh, and is it normal to get so attached, spend so many hours, and so much money on one little fish? :)<**grin** Often, yes, particularly with "personality fish" like the many of the puffers, often described as "dogs with fins"> Thanks, Jason Porcupine Markings Hi; <Hi, MikeD here>     I am writing about my porcupine puffer who has recently developed what appears to be 2 black dots below each eye. I have not noticed them earlier and was wondering what they where.<From your description, I wouldn't worry about it, other than to keep an eye peeled for any other developments.  With two under each eye, it's likely that it's just normal markings becoming more visible as the fish settles in and gets used to the tank.  Keep in mind that most sold are juveniles and changes in markings are to be expected as the fish grow and mature.  The one thing that you might want to watch out for is a possible marine ick outbreak, as they are quite sensitive to it when young.  If you see white spots on the clear fins, you'll need to remove the fish to a treatment tank, and keep in mind that most puffers don't tolerate copper as a treatment, with the cure often as bad or worse than the disease.> He has been I my 55 gallon for about 4 days. Any help would be appreciated.<You might want to consider quarantining new arrivals in the future, and keep in mind to NEVER treat your tank with medications, removing anything that requires treatment to a separate tank or container.> Thanks Steven

Did I blind him? Hi Team, I have recently bought a star & stripe puffer fish from my ex, whom is moving to Hawaii, about two weeks ago.  he didn't give me any information on how to change the water and how to take care of him.  The night that he brought the tank and fish over, he added 2 buckets of tap water to the tank and the next day I added some sea salt to adjust it.  On 10/17, which was two days ago, I got him some decorations and cleaned his tank and so I added some more tap water to his tank.  Last night when I was trying to feed him I noticed that he's having a hard time finding his food!  Did I harm his eyes?  I'm taking some sample water to the nearest pet store today an I wanted to know whether I traumatized him?  I hope not!!! Thank you, Pardis Memar <Hi Pardis, it doesn't sound like the tank was cycled, if the bacteria necessary for the puffer isn't in the tank he will have all kinds of problems.  I would suggest getting a hold of a copy of The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and other reading materials to read up on SW tanks and their care.  Good Luck! Heather>

Puffer Spots or Spines?  10/20/04 Hello all at wet web, how is everybody?   <Hi, PufferPunk here & I'm doing great!> I had a question about my dogface puffer I was hoping you could help me with.  I had this puffer for almost a year now.  A couple of times when I've gone in to look at him he was covered in white spots. They seen to be raised of the skin a little and pretty uniform in there shape and size.  Yesterday he did it again and I had my camera.  Pic 1 is him with the spots,  pic 2 is actually 15 to 20 min. later.  No more white spots.   Is this something normal?  Should I quarantine him?   <Those pics do not really show anything I can see--they are too out of focus.  If they come & go like that, I would say those are his spines.  All puffers have spines, but you can't always see them. He might be flexing them.> Unfortunately I don't have a scientific name for him.  My girlfriend bought him as a DALMATIAN DOGFACE PUFFER ,  I've only been able to find 1 pic of one other than mine, but they looked the same.   <You might be able to ID your puffer here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tetraodontpuffers.htm> Thank you for your informative web site  you guys are the best.    <You're welcome!  Good luck with your "spiny" friend  ~PP>

Porcupine Puffer question I recently purchased my 2nd porcupine puffer, didn't realized its eyes were glazed over with what looks like a white film, should I be worried, can my other puffer "get" this film? <Yes... can be simply "stress" related, or evidence of inappropriate water quality, perhaps a rough scraping (usually with just a net) over the eyes... Should clear up on its own if the animal is in good health otherwise, the tank agreeable> p.s. my original puffer will not eat anything that has a hard shell. what can I feed it to file its teeth down? <Try "cocktail" type shrimp (sans the sauce of course)... these are often irresistible, come in a few grades/sizes, and a good start to weaning this animal onto harder fare> thank you in advance. David shin <You are welcome. Bob Fenner>

Copper + Puffer = Problem! Help!! We've had our porcupine puffer for a year and in last 2 months developed white spots which then started peeling off.  Our aquarium service guy added copper and does partial water changes every 5 weeks.  The dark colored skin is totally peeling off to reveal white skin underneath.  We just removed a trigger fish who was pecking at the dead skin.  Ever heard of this??? <It is most likely a "side effect" of the copper. I would avoid using copper for puffers; instead, formalin-based remedies are safer for maladies like Cryptocaryon. Copper, although quite effective and safe in many instances (when used correctly, of course), can have negative consequences for some species of fishes, such as puffers and Centropyge Angelfishes (as well as tangs, if exposed long term). Do exercise care with it's use. Copper really should not be added to the display under any circumstances, IMO, as it is difficult to control the dosage, not to mention the possible side effects on invertebrates and other animals. It needs to be administered in a dedicated treatment tank devoid of substrate, and its dosage carefully monitored with a test kit. You can help remove some of the copper in this tank by utilizing PolyFilter or Cuprisorb, which both excel at removing copper from saltwater. With use of one of these media, as well as regular water changes (and overall good husbandry techniques!), you should be able to nurse this fish back to health. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Sick porcupine puffer I have had this puffer for about 3 weeks and my water levels are good.  He was eating fine yesterday but was acting sluggish and today he is covered in a   white slimy type coating and is breathing heavy.  I put some Maracyn tablets in the tank and he chooses to sit on the bottom close to one of them as they dissolve.  His eyes are glossed over too.  I'm so attached to this little guy and was wondering if there is anything I can do to help him out, Please help Tami <Hi Tami, it sounds as though your puffer has an external bacterial infection and the most effective treatments are tetracycline, penicillin, Naladixic acid, as well as freshwater baths.  You're doing a good job with the Maracyn.  I would also be doing partial water changes at about 10% every other day.  Good Luck! Heather>

A persistently problematic puffer hello.   <Hello there.> I have a dogface puffer that was scheduled to enter my large display tank from the 40 gal QT tank he is currently making his home in (with a small damsel that lives there to help me monitor the tank).  unfortunately he has been a resident for about three months now in that tank.  <Yikes>  the problem is this- shortly after purchasing it it developed a slight cloudiness in its eyes and a light dusting of Ich.  there are/were about twenty little spots randomly scattered across his skin (he is about 6", so just imagine only a few barely visible spots).  he also pulls his pectorals into his gills when he is sleeping. <A problem I find quite often in dogface puffers just home from less than perfect water conditions at the pet stores.> now the three problems I immediately came up with- first is the obvious one, the Ich parasite- I tried using traditional methods (variety of copper and non-copper based medications, freshwater dip, raised temp, etc.) and nothing works.  then the cloudiness, which appeared right around the same time as the Ich.  but there really are no water quality issues (I've even purchased a new kit just in case mine was expired).  then the gill/fin behaviour- only not a fluke in sight.  I have tried everything I can think of, even formaldehyde which is always my last resort. <I suggest you lower the salinity down in your QT, having a Hyposalinity levels will really help this fish finally get rid of the parasites.  And I have noticed that a Dog-Face in Hyposalinity QT will have a little bit healthier appetite and health system.  I have had a friend keep his Dogface in conditions like that for about 3-4 weeks and it made a definite improvement.   And the best thing was that he did this without using any medicines.  The freshwater dips only go so far, having the fish live in a SG of 1.018-1.019 was a great way to ensure that the more sensitive parasites died off.  Their life cycle tends to take about 2 weeks so give it at least that.> the strange thing is that he does not behave out of the ordinary (I also have a porcupine and a masked puffer whom I use to gauge his behaviour- they are in the larger tank which he *thankfully* never made it in to). <good thing, that is why I ALWAYS quarantine fish before going into my display tanks.   On a side note, I do hope this is a large tank you have.  The fish you mentioned so far will get pretty hefty and will need a large tank as well as good filtration in order to keep water conditions optimal.>   he eats voraciously, constantly active, sees fine, not gasping or in any way respiration unusually.  <That is good, an active and eating puffer means that there is hope for the little guy.>  but this is a serious three month long problem for him.  I have done daily water changes and everything... I'm really at my wit's end here.  it may be worth noting that the damsel fish that he is currently housed with shows no signs of any type of infection.  and I also thought I saw him flick against a rock in the tank (another new symptom!) this morning, but only once and this is the first time, and I have been watching. <When a fish "flicks" against a rock, it's referred to as "Flashing" where the fish is actually trying to rub the annoyance (usually parasite) from it's skin.  This can be dangerous because the fish can cut itself and allow infection to get under the skin.  I suggest you check out some of the articles living here on WetWebMedia.  They should offer more info than what I have given you. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/treatmen.htm> please help me!  sorry to be so verbose, and thank you in advance. <No problem, and I'm much happier to have a long email then an email that severely lacks info.   Good luck with the puffer, I do hope it gets better. -Magnus>

Stars & Stripes Puffer...bloated with difficult locomotion 9-30-04 Help!! <I will certainly try> I have had my stars and stripe for over 9 months now. He is 6 inches long, 4 inches round. My tank is 135 gallons. With him are a dog face, cat shark, porcupine puffer, Dorrie, damsels and small eel. All have done great together. <That tank is small for 3 Puffers, a shark and an eel. The Puffers are big fish and both the Puffers and eel produce quite a bit of waste. > I run know copper of course and always stay up on my water changes. Stars and Stripe seems to be acting strange. He seems to look bloated and stays very still on the bottom of the tank under rocks. Almost as to hold him down. Throughout the day, his size seems to get larger, and he bobs around. Swimming looks difficult, as though he is heavy. It takes him awhile to surface, then goes back down very quickly. He looks like a beached whale. < I have seen Puffers do this after over eating. Mine worked it out on his own in 24 hours or so. If this has been going on for a few days I would hold off on feeding for a couple of days and give his GI system a chance to rest.  Epsom Salt contains Mag sulfate which is a laxative but also helps osmotic regulation in fishes... It is used to relieve some types of bloating in fishes, the fluid behind "pop-eye", and blockage from greedy fishes gulping dry foods.  It is a  very good tonic and harmless if not helpful.  Place him into a 10g tank hospital or quarantine set up with a  either a small power filter or a pump for circulation and a few pieces of live rock from your main tank.  Be generous, add 1 heaping tablespoon per 5g, so 2 Tbsp and observe him for a couple of days. If the problem persists you can add another 2 Tbsp dose. This usually works well.  If the problem persists after this there is some other more serious problem. > Although, he will rise for feeding. <Good sign, but as I mentioned please do not feed him for a couple of days. > Normal meal is frozen krill. <Your Puffer needs a much more varied diet, as do all fish and creatures. Please see the articles on feeding..... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaq2.htm I did try to fresh water dip him in hopes that he would puff all the way up, but didn't seem to help. < I don't think in this case a FW dip or Puffing up would be beneficial. > He looks very unhappy. What do I do? <Try the above mentioned tonic. HTH and best of luck with your Puffer, Leslie>Porcupine Puffer Hiding and Inactive 9-30-04 Sorry to bother you again, <It's no bother that's what we are here for > but I forgot one thing. The porq puffer that I have is eating fine, but when he is not eating he insists on hiding in the live rock. I hardly ever see him swim around the tank. He basically lays around in the same spot all the time. Is something wrong with him? <Hard to say, as I did not see the prior email. My porcupine Puffer has quite a big appetite and when he stuffs himself he lays around. Perhaps you are over feeding your Puffer. Another possibility is that one of the other fish is bullying him. HTH, Leslie>

Dogface Puffer w/Internal Parasites? 9/25/04 Greeting all! <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a possible problem I'm hoping you can offer advice on. I recently purchased a dogface puffer who was very skinny. It was a rescue from a chain store - I know I shouldn't have as it just encourages them to buy more, but the poor thing was in a 10g tank (its nearly 6 inches long) looking at me with sad eyes begging "please, please get me out of here!" Anyway, they said they had trouble feeding it, but were only offering it frozen brine shrimp. Upon getting it home, I discovered he was more than happy to eat Krill, Clam, Ghost and Mysis shrimp, as I suspected. <Brine shrimp for a 6" puffer?  Poor thing.  Brine shrimp is mostly water & not very nutritious at all.  He's lucky to be in your home, eating the "right" foods.  Try whatever you can find in the fish dept of your grocery store (except fish).  I buy a lot of assorted goodies & freeze.  Then I thaw in warm vitamin water, as needed.> Mr. Puff has now been in quarantine for about three weeks with lots of meaty food daily, but isn't getting as fat as I had hoped. He's not nearly as emaciated as he was when I first got him, but is still rather streamlined for a puffer, especially after he poos. I'm wondering if he may have internal parasites, or if I'm not giving him enough time to recover the lost body mass. Would it be advisable to treat for parasites? If so, any suggested medication? <It certainly couldn't hurt.  I have had great success using Discomed, by Aquatronics.  Unfortunately, that company has gone out of business, but there are still some boxes around for sale.  Here's a guy that has some to sell: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=lounge&action=display&num=1095291341 & a thread on alternatives to that med: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1093270673.> I have heard adding Fenbendazole to the food is good, and it is available at the local farm supply store, (though figuring out small enough dosages could be a problem). However, I'd rather not treat unless necessary. <You are correct that the med has to be added to it's food.  Some folks have had some success with garlic, but I think that will just enhance appetite, not rid the fish of internal parasites.> I also had a question related to damsel compatibility. When he's out of quarantine, he will be making his home in a 75g aquarium. I was thinking I would like to add blue damsels for color. I realize it might not work because the puffer might decide to eat the damsels, but that isn't much of a concern for me. Not that I want them to get eaten, but if they do, its really not much different than offering feeder fish. <I don't see any problems with adding damsels with your puffer.  they are quick & can hide out in places the puffer can't reach.  I have had damsels for quite some time with much more aggressive puffers, without any problems.>   What I am more concerned about is after reading about damsels going after divers, that they might turn on the puffer. Is this a reasonable fear? Or would they likely leave their potential predator alone? <I have been "bitten" by many a damselfish while diving.  There is no way those little teeth would be able to do any harm to a puffer's leathery, spiny skin.  Not to worry!> I was thinking of adding five or six blue devil or yellow tail damsels, or even doing three of each to keep their battles for territory occupied with each other and not the puffer. If this sounds reasonably safe, what would the best order to introduce them be? The puffer and the damsels at the same time, or one before the other? <I don't really think it matters, but if you are concerned, add the damsels first.> Thanks so much again for your assistance! <Sure & enjoy your puffer!  ~PP> Take Care, Tami

A masked puffer with Ich Hey,   I'm so sad right now. My puffer has Ich real bad. He's a masked puffer, and it came out of the blue. Its all over his body, and he's definitely affected by it. I want to do a freshwater dip with Methylene blue. Will this get rid of it? If it doesn't , could you please tell me what to do. He doesn't look very good. His top fin is clamped, and he is sitting in the corner of the tank. Could I treat the tank with copper? I don't care that ill never be able to get it all out. I don't want this fish to die! What else could I do? Anything would help.   Evan >>>Hi! I normally recommend hypo salinity these days, but an off the shelf Ich med will work, such as Rid-Ich. I'd stay away from copper. It's difficult to keep at proper levels. Yes, a 20 gallon is a bit small for that fish! Forget about dipping, that will not help your situation given the life cycle of the parasite in question. Feel free to send an update. Jim<<<

Sick Porcupine Puffers?  9/20/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hi, I have 3 porcupine puffers and I was feeding them frozen shrimp and live boxer shrimp.  The other day I decided to give them a change and bought live glass shrimp and frozen marine food. I gave them some last night and now this morning the 3 of them are on the floor of the tank panting for air and they are not swimming, just laying there breathing heavy, like they are struggling to breathe. What could I do? Please help! Thank you Candy <It sounds to me like your system may have crashed, due to over feeding.  Test your water for ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes & pH,  then do a 50% water change.  How large is the tank?  How long has it been set up?  How big is the tank & puffers?  Any tank mates?  Get back with all this info & we'll see if we can help.  ~PP>

Puffer Problem Hey, <Hey! Scott F. with ya' today!> I know already that I should have used a quarantine tank, but I was dumb, and I decided he was ok. STUPID ME. <Well- I'm not going to call you stupid... :)> He has little white spots all over his body, teeny tiny, and I'm guessing its Ich. <If it looks like Ich, acts like Ich....> So I gave him a freshwater dip in a five gallon bucket. I treated the water for chlorine, and added 2.5ml of copper. I heard they are very sensitive to copper, so that was probably a really stupid move. <I wouldn't use copper with puffers...Formalin based products would be the weapon of choice, IMO> I'm so dumb. <C'mon...Stop beating up yourself...It's supposed to be a fun hobby. Mistakes are how we learn, unfortunately!> So I get him back in to the tank and he was freaking out because he had ingested some air. So I took your advice on the site, and held him vertically, head up, and the air came out! That was good. He seemed to settle down after this, but I noticed his tail fin is drooping, and his top fin Isn't either. I have a feeling there is some really bad news coming....... but I hope not. I love this fish. What else can I do? Please write ASAP. Thanks you so much. Evan <Well, Evan, if the white dots are still there, you will need to treat the fish at some point. I'd be inclined to let him "rest and recover" for a couple of days before embarking on a new treatment regimen, however. A formalin-based product would be okay. Maintain very high water quality, and observe the fish carefully. Stay in touch...Regards, Scott F>

Help! Dogface Puffer swallowed shrimp shell Hi Crew, <Hey Carol, MacL here with you this evening.> You've helped us so much already, and now I'm not sure if I'm just worrying for nothing or if our Dogface Puffer (Scooby Doo) will have a problem.  Our tank is 100 gal and we have the Dogface Puffer, Maroon Clown, Naso Tang and Chromis.   We did as you suggested, and have added whole shrimp and crab legs (frozen first for 1 week and cut into 1 inch pieces) in addition to frozen squid, all soaked in Selcon or VitaChem to Scooby's diet.  Scooby's about 5" and our Maroon Clown is about 3".  Actually, I think Scooby's gotten a bit lazy because when I initially fed him the crab and shrimp, he really didn't want to work for his food.  However, our Maroon Clown really liked it and would grab it and swim away.  Scooby would track it down and continue eating.  Last night, I gave Scooby some shrimp, and this time the Clown grabbed the food and swam away, Scooby went after and got it back and they went back and forth a few times grabbing the food from each other and then finally Scooby just swallowed the rest of it entirely, INCLUDING THE SHELL! <That's actually not a bad thing.  They need the crunchy stuff to keep their teeth trimmed down. And they eat shrimp in the wild so he should be quite fine.>  He seemed fine and was looking around for more food.  However, today his belly still has that rounded full look and he is not swimming around or coming out to see me as much as usual. <Probably with that big mean he's not as hungry. Do keep a close eye on him as you know your fish and their behavior but my guess is that he's just still full.>  At first I figured this must happen in their natural habitat, but I am worried that he won't be able to expel the shell.  Please let me know if this is normal or what do I need to do to help Scooby Doo. <Let us know again if things don't change Carol. Good luck, MacL> Thanks for all your help, Carol     

Internal Parasites & Trimming Puffer's Teeth Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Sorry to bug you guys again.  If my puffers teeth plates have overgrown is there anything I can do for him?  Also is there medicine to kill intestinal worms?  Thank you for your help. <If their teeth are too long (from not feeding enough hard-shelled foods), you will need to do some puffer dentistry yourself.  Here is a link to info on that: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1085932782  Read through the whole thing, there is also info on larger puffers in there too.  There is also a thread on Discomed (the preferred int. parasite cure, but the company has gone out of business) in that same Hospital forum & the available alternatives.  There is a guy that is offering Discomed for sale there too. --Trent Cupoli <Good luck with your puffer.  ~PP>

Puffer with Worms in eyes, What Do I Do? (9/8/04) Hey guys, I wrote to Mike D and am hoping to hear back from him, but I need to know something pretty soon. <Leslie here this morning, Mike may be out battling the hurricane........hopefully I can help.>    I was observing the dogface puffer that I got in about 2 months ago.    He had small white spots on his fins when I got him in. He has never really gotten better ever since I have had him and I have tried a variety of medicines. <Possibly Lymphocystis believed to be viral due to environmental causes. The best results have been reported from providing good water quality and good nutrition. > Over the last week his health has gone down hill.  I have tried a variety of medicines without any luck.    < For future reference ......It would be useful to know what medications you used, the dosages and time frames as well as in what way the fish has gotten worse, any other symptoms,  what how much and how often you have been feeding and if there is anything new or different in the tank.  Medicating with either inappropriate, to much or to little medication can actually do more harm than good.  > I checked the water and everything seems fine. < Actual numerical water parameter values are much more helpful when one is assisting with these sorts of problems. > But tonight I was observing him and I noticed that he has been squinting a lot lately.  I was looking at his eyes and noticed a small mass of greenish worms actually inside his eyeball.  They were squirming around and actually in the cornea area. < Yuck....I am not a fan of worms. Puffers are often carriers of worms, but I have not seen or heard of anything like this before. I consulted with Anthony and he passed on the following information... "although uncommon, some fish can develop a worm cataract (larvae found within the eye). They supposedly are not contagious/communicable in the aquarium and the fish can live just fine with them believe it or not."> What the hell should I do in regards to this...is there anything I can do to save him or should I just find some method of putting him out of his misery painlessly (and if this is the case is there anything you recommend?). Thanks, Mike <As I have heard Bob say many times "long as there is life there is hope, my friend". Since the Puffer's health had been on the decline in the last week with other meds having no effect and if you have not already tried an antihelmenthic (deworming medication), perhaps one of these is in order.  You may have read some of Kelly the Puffer Queens posts....she has had excellent results with deworming Puffers using Praziquantel AKA Droncit. I have obtained it online and it is frequently used for eliminating intestinal worms in dogs and cats,  so you might be able to get it from a Veterinarian. The dosage according to Dr. Noga's book Fish Disease  Diagnosis and Treatment is 23 mg/pound of body weight. So this would require you weigh the Puffer. It is most effective administered internally via food, so the fish needs to be eating and you have to get the medication into the food. If he is not eating it can be used as a dip or bath. It sounds as if he may have something else going on as well. To be honest though,  if effective in killing the worms my guess is that the only way for them to eliminated from his body  would be for them to be reabsorbed. It is a good possibility that this could leave the Puffer with impaired vision, if not blind but I am not certain..... There is a place called National Fish Pharmaceuticals here http://www.fishyfarmacy.com/.  they have a few broad spectrum antihelmenthics.  I can't really tell you what to do.....I can say if it were my Puffer I would try it. If you need more help with this please do not hesitate to write back. Best of luck with your Puffer. HTH, Leslie>
Review of a Query Response Please ....Puffer with Worms in Eyes Hi Bob and Anthony, Hope you are having a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!! I am attempting to answer a query and would appreciate if you could just review my response prior to my submitting it......re a Puffer with worms in it's eyes.....poor thing.....have either of you seen or heard of this.......if not Anthony if you see Kelly perhaps you could ask her what she thinks and for some input. Here is the email and below my response .... <Excerpted> Thanks so much!!! Leslie <Leslie, I like your response altogether, content and format-wise. The small spots could be a single-celled organism (Microsporidean possibly) or encysted worms of some group... in all cases, with the observation of likely nematodes in the eyes, I would prescribe the same sorts of treatment. Bob Fenner>
although uncommon, some fish can develop a worm cataract (larvae found within the eye). They supposedly are not contagious/communicable in the aquarium and the fish can live just fine with them believe it or not. Anthony back from a long weekend... whew! not so relaxing after all - re-plumbed Kelly's 600 gallon tank. Yikes! Much better now for the tank, but not much sleep for me <G>
Hi Bob, Thanks so much I appreciate the guidance. Anthony also responded and mentioned "that some fish can develop a worm cataract (larvae found within the eye), which are supposedly are not contagious/communicable in the aquarium and the fish can live just fine with them. " It sort of gives me the creeps knowing there are worms in the eye and not treating them. <Yes... reminds me of the Loa loa worm of humans... no thanks> The young man responded. Based on the fact that he has used hyposalinity of 1.010, Rid Ich, then ParaGuard for 3 weeks and now Met for 2 weeks I have drafted this and will send it off if you think it is good advice..... <I do. Bob F>

Puffer with Worms in eyes, What Do I Do? Foll0w Up (9/8/04) Leslie, Thanks for the response.   <Your welcome I hope it helped> Tank parameters: Ammonia: 0, Nitrites: 0, Nitrates: <5 ppm,  PH: 8.3, Temperature:  current 79 ( goes from 78-80) and Current Salinity: 1.016 . <Thanks for the info.... All looks good except I would be tempted to bring the salinity up closer to 1.018 and I like to keep my tanks a tad cooler in the 75 to 77 range if possible.  I have found that lower temps help to minimize bacterial populations along with routine water changes. > Medicines and procedures used: Hyposalinity 1.010 as recommended by LFS with half does of rid Ick (per container and Mike D. for scaleless or sensitive fish). <I have had stubborn cases of Ich where 1.010 was not sufficient to effect a cure. As soon as I lowered the specific gravity to 1.008 the visible spots were gone in 3 days and after 4 weeks at that salinity they never returned.> Brought the salinity back up now per Mike D. Hyposalinity needs to be used for at least 3 weeks to allow for the complete life cycle of the critter, with 4 even better. I have used it as long as 6 weeks. > Used Para guard for 3 weeks...improved for a while then came back. Dosage per container. <I have heard varying reports on the effectiveness of this treatment> Currently using Metronidazole.. been using for 2 weeks some improvement until 3 days ago then ick came back and discovered the worms. Dosage 6 scoops every other day as per container's directions <Metronidazole, is an antiprotozoal drug with a antibacterial effects against anaerobic bacteria only. If this is Ich it will not treat it.> The only thing I have been able to find in my own research was the possibility that it is a copepod eye parasite.  I'd send a picture, but I don't currently have the ability. <Oh that's to bad a photo would be helpful as well as educational. > He was housed with a moray when first quarantined.  The Eel never showed any signs of the disease and was removed. <These guys are pretty hearty. Glad to hear the eel did well and has been separated from the Puffer. Good job!> No other changes to the tank.  Tank filtration consists of a Bak Pak skimmer/filter and a bio wheel with carbon removed.  Live rock (7 lbs).  The tank is a 29 gallon quarantine tank. <Glad you have the fish in quarantine. One other thought that comes to mind is that depending on the size of your Dogface Puffer 29g is on the small side unless you have a tiny guy. > The Eel has been moved to the display after separation and observation. Anything else that you need?  I finally did make contact with Mike D. He is in the middle of the hurricane and said he would get back to me when he could. < I had a feeling Mile was in the middle of that storm....hope he and all his critters are safe. Hmmmmm. I think I would give the puffer a break from the meds for a bit. I once had the MOST stubborn case of Ich, near about drove me nuts.  I used dechlorinated  pH, temp adjusted freshwater dips daily for 7 days, as recommended here on the site by Bob,  in conjunction with hyposalinity at 1.008 for 6 weeks. It is imperative that you use a calibrated refractometer when employing hyposalinity.....all the other methods of measuring salinity are far to inaccurate, leaving to much room for error....... below 1.008 is not recommended and much above that you are not really treating the parasite. Scott Michael has a recent article on marine parasites in which he mentions the use of FW dips for up to 30 minutes if the fish is comfortable and tolerating the dip. My Puffer did very well for the full 30 min, he even ate in the dip bucket.   Slight increase in gilling would be normal but thrashing, spitting  at the surface, gasping, rapid gilling  or rolling over on to it's side would all be signs of undue stress and reason for immediate removal from the dip. I have found the following article and FAQs invaluable..... The Three Sets of Factors That Determine Livestock Health/Disease & FAQs http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm Nutrition plays a big role in how any of us fare with illness...enough cannot be said for optimal nutrition all around but particularly during times of stress and illness......if you are not already varying his food and providing a good vitamin supplement you should start ASAP. Bob frequently recommends liquid baby vitamins. Have a look at this article ..... Nutrition: Foods and Feeding for the Marine Aquarist http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm If you have not read the articles here on the site re marine parasites please do have a look at these as well....Marine Aquarium Parasitic Diseases and FAQs http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm Steven Pro has an excellent article called Marine Ich/Cryptocaryon irritans - A Discussion of this Parasite and the Treatment Options Available, Part I & II which can be found here ... http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-08/sp/index.htm  and http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-10/sp/feature/index.htm If it is Ich those should help. However Bob Fenner responded to my request for assistance with this and here is his response..... "The small  spots could be a single-celled organism (Microsporidean possibly) or encysted worms of some group... in all cases, with the observation of likely nematodes in the eyes, I would prescribe the same sorts of treatment" Your puffers spots may not be Ich and may very well be related to the worms in the fish's eyes......I wish I had a definitive answer for you. Once  he has had a chance to recoup a bit from the previous meds and has had some supplemental nutrition in the way of vitamins, all things considered in addition to the fact that Puffers frequently come to us with worm infestations I would be inclined to go ahead and treat for worms with one of the antihelmenthics. It would be important to do this while he is still eating. One of the antihelmenthics from  available from National Fish Pharmaceuticals may be easiest to use. I would also recommend frequent water changes any time one is dealing with pathogens. The water changes function to keep the environment clean as well as reduces the pathogen load, fewer pathogens are easier to fend off than larger numbers would be. Again best of luck with you Puffer and please do let us know how he does or if you have any additional questions. HTH, Leslie>

Sick porcupine puffer Hi! We have had a happy, social, food obsessed pig of a porcupine puffer for several months now, in a 30 gallon tank.  Bad tank size, we know, but he's only about 3 inches long, and we figured we could give him up when he gets too big. <Hi there,  you are right about the tank size being too small.   But, I really don't think that you should purchase a fish if you realize it will outgrow your needs.  Finding larger fish homes is a difficult thing.> Well, about 3 weeks ago, he began to eat less and less.  He starts out looking hungry and excited when it's feeding time, but then just swims around aimlessly, looking at the (freeze dried) krill, maybe swimming toward it, then swimming away.  Now, he is getting weaker and weaker, and spends much of his time sitting on the bottom.   <You are not the only person with a puffer that is doing this.  My old porc puffer would do the same thing for a few weeks during the summer.  Never figured out why, but I thought it might be due to increased heat and a lower amount of oxygen in the water.  Sort of taking his zip.> He is starting to look pale.  Our saltwater fish store told us he probably has "lock jaw."  Does this sound right?   <Lock-Jaw, is when the fish's jaw is literally locked closed (or sometimes open) and the fish is incapable of opening his mouth.  The fish tries to eat, working at the food, but is unable to get it into it's mouth.  Your fish just seems to have a disinterest in the food you are offering it.> At their suggestion, we tried using a clear skewer with mussel meat or the freeze dried krill on the end to stuff the meat into his mouth, but he just gets annoyed and spits it out.   <Good suggestion, and often times that does get a puffer to start eating.   The best trick I have learned with puffers who have turned off of food is to offer them live snails (or if you have the cash, live shrimp).   Live snails are nice, you can purchase a handful from your local reef shop and add them into the tank, the puffer should start hunting them and eating them.  Getting more active and excited for food.  You can also offer ghost shrimp which sometimes are cheaper than SW snails.> I don't know how to tell if his teeth are too long, <if his teeth are sticking out way in front of his mouth like large buck-teeth, that is when you know they are too long.  They literally block his mouth off when he opens it.  and 3 inches, I doubt he would have that problem yet.  It's seen in older puffers that aren't offered the right diet.> and I am sure at this point he would not nibble on anything hard-shelled to grind them down. <Puffers usually don't nibble on things because of their teeth, they eat hard shelled things for food which grinds it down naturally.  To get a puffer to grind his teeth down you have to offer it foods like clams, snails, and other crunchy meals.> What do you think?   <I suggest you check your water parameters, make sure the pH, Alk, as well as you Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate levels are okay.  I'm thinking that something with the tank is bothering the fish.  Puffers are EXTREMELY messy fish, and need a good deal of filtration on their tanks.  If not the water becomes fouled quickly and the fish will become ill and die.> Do we need a hospital tank?  What is that, and how can we set one up cheaply? <A hospital tank is a separate, usually smaller tank that you move the ill fish to so that you can treat it.   It's smaller so you need less medicines, and so that you don't harm any beneficial organisms in your main display tank.   Doing a search on the WetWebMedia forum will bring up many pages on Hospital tanks. >   If he is a lost cause, is their a way to put him out of his misery humanely? <Definitely not a lost cause.  For the time being my suggestions are this: Do a 25% water change in your current tank and do it again in another 4 or 5 days.   Make sure water parameters are were they are suppose to be. If you do set up a hospital tank, I would have the salinity be at around 1.019-1.021, the Hyposalinity always seems to work great for puffers.   Offer your guy some live snails, let him hunt for them.  It will make him happy and active. > Thanks!  Jennifer <Good luck with the Puffer, hope the little guy gets better. -Magnus>

Dogface Puffer's Injured Eye Hi There, <Hi back. MikeD here> Hope you can help us.<I'll gladly give it a try!>  Our dogface puffer, Scooby Doo seems to have an injured eye.<"Seems" IMO you just got 10 points extra for recognizing  this. Well done!>  One eye looks fine, it's clear and you can see the brown color around the pupil.  However, the other day we noticed a mark on the lens of rhea other eye.  It seems to be a small circle in a circle and is located on the lens on the upper part of his eye on the brown iris.  The rest of his eye looks clear and fine.<This may well be anything from a normal marking to a scar from a long since healed injury, and IMO, should be left alone.>  The only difference in behavior that I noticed is this evening he closed that eye a few times.<I've got to ask how you mean this as fish don't have eyelids and are incapable of "closing" an eye in the sense that we would.>  Scooby seems fine, he is swimming around (although he is not an early morning fish, he likes to 'get up' around noon)<This is very common as many dogfaces have nocturnal tendencies and sleep in just as would a teen-ager out partying until 3:00 am.>, his appetite is great<I've got to ask what you're feeding him. To do truly well these guys need meaty foods and will often thrive under the care of individuals willing to utilize a seafood market or section of their supermarket as the primary source of food.   As I've often stated in the past many to most LFS and the whole industry in general is almost criminally lax in not carrying foods required for many/most mid-sized and up omnivores and predators.> and he always comes over to say "Hi". We've been watching him closely and don't see any change in the eye. Could this be an injury (we do have some rock caves for him to hide in) or could it be an infection. I'd say, based upon your description that it's most likely either a scar form a very old injury or possibly even just a birth defect, the equivalent of a birthmark or "freckle" on the eye and should be left entirely alone.  The sea is a rough club, and relatively few specimens survive without a few battle scars. Keep in mind that in the wild, his favorite food would be waiting for him with both claws spread and ready to fight to the death.  While these are often "fish safe" they are very specialized predators that predate  very heavily on crabs, lobsters and other armored and often well armed crustaceans.  In effect, they are living anti-tank attack helicopters and are well equipped to survive in this role.>  His other tankmates are a Naso Tang, Maroon Clown and large green Chromis and they are all doing fine.<That sounds excellent as well.>  We do regular water changes, the PH is 8.2 and the ammonia, nitrate and nitrite are '0'.  Any help or information will be greatly appreciated.  We don't want to treat with meds without knowing what the problem is and if medication is necessary.<this is EXTREMELY wise and probably an area that I, at least, would suggest that you continue, with probably a full half of the medications sold in LFS being un-needed, unnecessary and often the source of the only real problem many people have. If you'll always use increased water changes as the first action to be taken when you notice an anomaly in your tanks and medications only when ABSOLUTELY needed and NEVER in your main tank itself, you'll likely have 95% better luck than the average hobbyist that CAUSES their own problems by knee jerk panic reactions over every little thing. There is nothing or no-one in the sea to treat injuries and the creatures that live there are almost always far healthier than those found in home aquariums which tells you a LOT if you truly think about it!>  Please help our Scooby Doo.<It sounds like YOU'RE helping your Scooby Doo just fine, and if you keep going on the track you're now taking you should be able to enjoy each other's company for years to come. Remember less is almost ALWAYS more in the end, when it comes to medication.> thanks<You're very welcome>, Carol
Dogface Puffer's Injured Eye (continued)
Hi Mike, <Hi Carol...welcome back!> Thanks for your help.  We are taking your advice and not doing anything, just watching him as we usually do and will continue to look for any new signs.  I do think it is new and not an old injury as I pay pretty close attention to him and spend time daily with Scooby.<That's outstanding. As I tell many people, fish communicate through body language and color changes, and once you learn to "listen" they often have much to say>  When I saw him close his eye, it was the first time I had seen him do that and he did it several times.  His eye just scrunched up and the top and bottom of the eye met and it was closed.<He's actually just rotating the eyeball in its socket, and as you suspect, likely because it was irritated.>  But that hasn't happened again. We are feeding him mostly squid soaked in Selcon.<Actually raw shrimp and crab would be better and release less liquid into the water as well, with the Selcon being an excellent idea. I've not seen anything written up about it, but I know that reptiles fed a diet of just frozen foods eventually developed a vitamin K deficiency and I predict that someday you'll see the same thing written about our finny friends>  He doesn't like Krill.<LMAO!! I've never seen ANYTHING that LIKES krill (except for whales, of course) and suspect that many fish eat it because that's the only choice they are given. the reaction to regular shrimp is dramatically different and they'll show you what "gusto" means when given the chance!>  After reading more of your PufferFaqs, I will increase the variety.  I will get him some shrimp and clams which I will wash and freeze as you suggested.  With the clams, does he pry the food out, should I open the clam slightly before freezing.<With shrimp, try to get WHOLE shrimp complete with shell, while with the clams, often a whack with a hammer to break one side is often the best method. Puffers are famous for their teeth overgrowing if fed a soft diet>  Is there anything else you would suggest we feed him.<Frozen crab legs are also excellent and not as expensive as it sounds. I use metal shears/cutters to cut them up into 1" pieces, complete with shell, and live crayfish are also often welcomed as a treat. The protein/fat problem doesn't seem to carry over into crustacean as it does with fish> It is a 100 gal tank and we have a Naso Tang, Maroon Clown and large green Chromis.  Would it be safe to put in another puffer, or would that be pushing the limit.<That's a tricky question.  Both the puffer and the tang get large, but they do it at a slow pace, meaning it should be 4-5 years before it becomes a problem. SOME LFS will gladly trade in large tangs and puffers as both are popular as large fish as well and they often make a tidy profit by giving you the wholesale credit for a small one or replacing the large fish with another small one>  Also, what puffer would be compatible with the dogface?<Most of the Arothron species get along well together as long as each is a different one, and they also get along famously with Porcupine puffers and Burrfish> thanks again for all your help carol

Puffers and Copper: Which is it Yes, Absolutely NOT or with Caution Under Certain Circumstances.... FWIW... I too am a big fan of hyposalinity... and Formalin. For fishes not sensitive to metals and organic dyes, the popular Formalin-Malachite cocktails are quite effective. Usually my first choice of medicant. For sensitive fishes, just Formalin with FW dips. And then for some infections (principally Crypt), there is the theoretical daily water change for 8 consecutive days in a bare bottomed QT tank to siphon the buggers off the bottom (unseen) and break the life cycle. Gratzek/Blasiola have/had prompted this heavily (particularly for food fishes and breeders where medicants were feared harmful)... and I must say, I've tried it more than a few times (back in my old importing wild discus/uaru days... and wanting to spare them medications for fear of interrupting breeding inclinations/possibilities)... and I have to say, it worked brilliantly. A combo of Formalin based meds, FW dips and small freq. water changes in bare-bottomed QT is likely to help most parasite infected critters IMO Ant-

Puffer with Marine Velvet (8-16-04) Bob, <Leslie here for Bob today> I just came across your site through Yahoo, searching for info to help my sick fish.  I think they have Velvet.  I have a 150gal tank, with 150lbs of live rock and a 2 yr old Dogface Puffer (we bought from someone months ago) and a Miniatus Grouper and Lunar Wrasse (we bought about 2 months ago).  Things were going great, until I brought home a Bluejaw Trigger 2 weeks ago.  I didn't know enough to QT. <Sounds like you are learning one of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn. > After 2 days in the tank, I could tell something was wrong with the Trigger.  She wouldn't come out of hiding, even for food.  After 3 days of not seeing her, we moved the rocks around until we found her and pulled her out into a bucket, intending to take her to the LFS to see if she was sick and what we should do.  Her top fin was completely ate away and she looked beat up.  I never saw any of the other fish even glance her way, so I felt certain they hadn't done this to her and thought she must have been diseased.  She died before we could get her to the fish store.     About 2 days later I noticed my puffer looking odd. He was more lethargic than usual, his gills were pumping pretty hard and he had a goldish powdery appearance on about 1/3 of his body.  Kind of a shimmery powdered makeup look.  My wrasse seems unaffected, but I have noticed my miniatus turning very pale when at rest.  She looks all washed out and faded until she takes off swimming and then she seems to darken up to her usual color so I wasn't sure if she was sick or if that is normal.    Anyway, I rushed to my LFS and got there right as they were closing.  I hurriedly looked thru their medications and settled on Mardel Copper Safe because the Velvet symptoms seemed to fit.  We dosed the 150gal tank with the recommended dosage yesterday.  Today I noticed puffer laying on the bottom under a section of live rock, which is very rare for him and he is unresponsive to my visits at the glass (normally he chases me around the tank and loves to be watched).     I posted to a place called the Puffer Forum and they responded saying that Copper Safe is not safe for puffers or for my live rock and I really screwed up. < You have made some mistakes and unfortunately that is how we learn....... > So I'm asking for your expert opinion on what to do from here, so I can try to rectify my mistakes and have the best shot at saving him. CopperSafe is one of the chelated copper products . so, safer and more stable.  I have no personal experience with copper, except what I have read.  So,  I perused the WWM Puffer Disease FAQs and found conflicting information re treating Puffers with Copper. So, I called upon Bob and some of the other crew members  for their valuable advice. Here is what Bob had to share..... "Most stores use copper compounds, mostly the safer, more stable chelated formulations to treat most all species of marines... though more carefully such groups as the puffers, clown Anemonefishes, tube-mouthed fishes (e.g. seahorses)... with a decidedly certain degree of risk. I liken copper use with the old (though not absent) human use of Mercuricals, arsenicals (compounds of mercury and arsenic) in human medicine... these chemicals are toxic... and hopefully more harmful to the causative agent than the patient/s... Some have a narrower range of efficacy than one would like... that is, (as you know but others reading this may well not) the difference between an effective dose and disaster is close, too close to not use test kits, a separate treatment tank w/o interfering influences like carbonaceous substrates, and close observation... All this being stated and weighed, in the trade folks overwhelmingly utilize copper... many on a continuous basis" Adam Cesnales uses Quinine based meds with apparently good success.....here is what he shared.... "Quinine based medications are pretty effective against velvet and offer very rapid reduction in parasite load.  Chloroquine Diphosphate (Aquatronics Marex, not to be confused with Murex!) is the first choice, Quinine Hydrochloride (Aquatronics Quinsulfex) is a close second and is much easier to find.  One or the other of these two drugs is always on reserve in my house.  They can be combined with Metronidazole (Flagyl, available from SeaChem and Aquatronics) and/or hyposalinity. These agents are in several popular but ineffective fish medications.   IMO, they are ineffective due to dosing recommendations that make them "reef safe". Dose either of the Quinine agents at 35mg/gallon one time dose for a treatment period of 7-14 days with low light and hyposalinity if desired and no water changes or carbon and then move to standard quarantine. Hyposalinity is decidedly ineffective against velvet, but I employ and recommend it because it gives the fish some metabolic advantage.  Also keep in mind that dosed at these levels, these agents are decidedly not invert safe! I have brought a couple of fish back from the brink with this regime and recommend it strongly over copper which is both a PITA and quite hard on the fishes (especially herbivores and those that are scaleless)." Please do read the following articles starting with Marine Velvet/Amyloodinium ocellatum: A Discussion of this Disease and its Available Treatment Options by Steven Pro here: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-07/sp/feature/index.htm Velvet Disease/Amyloodiniumiasis: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amylloodiniumart.htm and Puffers : http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm > I read about FW dips at your site, but am unclear how to safely achieve this with my puffer, and don't know how to go about balancing the PH in the FW to match the tank water.   < If after reading the links provided you decide to use FW dips this is how I do it....Freshwater dips are not too difficult....a bit time consuming to set up and adjust the water. The best way to match the ph is with some baking soda to increase the ph or some white vinegar to decrease the pH. If using tap water be sure to dechlorinate it. You have to experiment by just adding a little of which ever  until the desired pH is achieved. Most likely the pH will need to be increased so you will be adding baking soda. Take a fixed amount of water and add small amounts of baking soda until you get the desired ph......say 1/2 to 1 gal of water. Try an 1/8th of a tsp at a time. Mix the water well and test the pH. Keep track of what you did so you can repeat it the next time should you need to. When you get the desired ph add some dechlorinator. Take a container or good sized plastic bag and float  that pH adjusted dechlorinated water in the display tank. If that is not possible then put the bucket of FW into the kitchen sink....adjust the temp by either floating a plastic baggie with ice in it or filling the sink with hot water, until you get the desired temp. Remove the fish in as little water as possible so it remains submerged and gently place it in the bucket. You will need to keep a very close eye on the fish. IME puffers handle this very well. I have fed them in the dip buckets. I have left mine as long as 30 min without any signs of stress. 7 to 15 minutes is recommended and Scott Michael in a recent article mentioned as long as 30 min if the fish shows no signs of stress. I set a timer and place the bucket beside me where ever I am. Signs of stress include gasping at the surface, side lying, trying to jump out, and spitting at the surface. Every Puffer I have ever dipped has laid quietly on the bottom looking quite content. Some increased gilling would be expected. When the dip is complete I empty as much of the dip water into the sink as I can being sure to keep the fish submerged. I gently alternate adding tank water and pouring water out until I think most of the dip water has been eliminated. I return the puffer to the tank in a container with as little water as possible so that he remains submerged at all times. > I also have an empty 55gal tank that I could use to QT but wanted to find out exactly how to set it up, what temp/salinity/ph etc to shoot for. <I use a bare bottom tank with several chunks of live rock. pH would be the same as any other marine tank. I like  to use temps that are on the low end of the temp range for the particular species.....as bacteria love heat. Unless I am treating Ich then I raise the temp a bit which speeds up it's life, cycle. If the fish is showing any signs of increased gilling then I use the lower end of their temp range. Cooler water has more oxygen available. I like good circulation in my Q tanks with shelter and hiding places. More on Quarantining..... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm> And then what to do with my show tank and live rock/live sand.  Did I just ruin them with the CopperSafe or can they be salvaged? < Copper is absorbed by rock and carbonaceous substrate, which is leached back out into the water. Please have a look at Copper and Copper removal FAQs... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaqs.htm and Live Rock FAQs... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrfaqs.htm As for treating the tank allowing it top go fallow for a couple to a few of months works well.....see the following  FAQs on treating marine parasites.... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marparasitcurefaqs.htm You help and guidance would really be appreciated. Barbara <Glad to help best of luck with your puffer, Leslie>

I think I have a Diodon holacanthus. <Common Porcupine Puffer, Very cool fish!  One of my favorite.> I have a very urgent problem with my fish. His back tail fin has been eaten away by something. I'm not sure if it is an infection or if the other fish are attacking him. <First off, you need to let me know what other tankmates are in there.  If your fish is being nipped at or if it isn't, the damaged fin is vulnerable to bacterial infections and fin rot.  So, you will need to start thinking about working medicating the fish.  I Highly recommend you set up a quarantine tank for this fish.  This is good because you can medicate the fish without worry about harming other tank inhabitants.  Also, if you do have something attacking the fish you will remove it from the situation so that it can heal itself.> Today I saw some blood drop from his tail and I am extremely worried about his health. <Damage this much isn't a good thing.  I suggest you look at a couple of great sites to give you some more help besides the articles here at WetWebMedia. http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi  this is a whole forum devoted to puffers.  Nice people that are willing to help.> The tank has not had a skimmer for some time (maybe three months now), as the aquarium belongs to the landlord and he never got round to replacing the old one that broke. Anyway we finally have a new skimmer, but I am seriously worried that it might be to late for my puffer fish. <skimmer doesn't help the problem of a damaged and attacked tail.  It's nice that the tank doesn't have excess nutrients, but the problem of the tail damage is most likely due to something attacking it.  Either another fish, or bacterial/fungal attack.> Can his tail repair itself? <Yes, provided it doesn't have extremely deep damage and the fish is given a safe and clean environment to allow it to heal.  A Quarantine tank with clean water.> Does he need some medicated food? Even if we arrest the problem with his tail being eaten away by something, will it ever be able to grow back to the way it was? <doesn't need medicated food since the problem is external.  A treatment of a medicine designed to stop bacterial infections will be better for this fish.  Be sure not to use anything with Copper in it, because Puffers are extremely sensitive to this element.  The medicine I have found to work the best on my marine fish is Maracyn by the Mardel Medicine company. Read the instructions and follow them to the letter. I had one of my smaller puffers completely regrow his tail. I have also found that offering a porc puffer a 5-15 minute freshwater bath to be helpful in fighting most things that ail the fish.  Or even having a longer term hyposalinity environment.> Please help, help, help, as he is a lovely fish and I have grown very attached to him. <I hope that helps.  But, I would definitely worry that another tankmate is picking on the fish.  Triggers and other aggressors are known to pick at, and kill puffers by tearing at the tail.  If not, then check your water parameters, something must be really off.  Offer the fish a cycled quarantine tank and medicate with Maracyn, it should bounce back with hopefully a full tail.  -Magnus>  

Boxfish Ostracion Cubicus sick after powerhead injury (8/9/04) Hello All, <Just Leslie here this evening> I have had a tank for almost 3 years now and the boxfish nearly that long. Two days ago he was stuck in the intake to my overflow box. <OH no :(  so sorry to hear that.> His skin injuries are minimal, but he is growing steadily weaker. < I think there is a good chance you are dealing with internal injuries> This morning he was on the bottom of my tank, but I nudged him and he went swimming around. Not very well I must say. He does not seem to have any external parasites, he has always had an Ich spot or two. He also ignored food the last two days. < Oh not good I am afraid. > I am thinking of treating him with antibiotics. < I really do not think antibiotics will help your fish...it sounds like he sustained internal injuries. IMO antibiotics will just add insult to injury and stress him further. > Do you have a suggestion as to what to treat him with or is there something else I can do? . <These fish possess ostracitoxin a positions  substance which they can and do release when stressed.  This toxin has been know to wipe out entire tanks and it's effects are not reversible. I think your best bet would be to isolate him in another tank. > The tank parameters are pristine, the other fish are behaving normally. < Well that is excellent news.  My preference would be to error on the side of caution and remove your boxfish to a nice quiet tank by himself. This would serve 2 purposes.....keep your other fish out of harms way and give your boxfish a nice quiet place to rest and if you decide to medicate him the best place to do it. > Thank you for your time. Michael <You are most welcome, best of luck with your boxfish, Leslie>

Puffer Dying Hi, <Hi Jacki, MacL here with you tonight.> this is so sad-----I got this small porcupine puffer about a week ago, and it has been eating krill and brine, everything seemed fine, even though the tank is newer, just the damsels.....anyway my boyfriend came home today and discovered that the puffers guts were ripped open. <Ouch, that's definitely not good.>  The aquarium said that he must have puffed up. <I have to say I have never heard of a puffer blowing up enough that he blew himself to pieces. This is a new one on me.> What happened????? <My guess would be he died and the damsels chowed down unless you have something else in the tank that could have killed him.>  Please help! I did also buy a baby clown trigger, which only made it 1 day. <They are usually very hearty. Have you checked the levels in your tank? You don't give any of your readings. Do you have any type of ammonia or nitrate raise?> We have been good about removing uneaten food.....I just sold my big reef tank and downsized to this tank to buy the puffer. <Puffers are great fish.> There wasn't anything like this in your forum. Also, will this poison the tank?<Definitely cause an ammonia rise but depending on how the fish died it could have put a poison into the tank.> Thanks for your input! Jacki Veler : )((((((((><

Spike TV is sick, Oh, Spike the Puffer 8/2/04 Hello... My wife and I have a Porcupine Puffer named spike.  We have had him almost 4 years, and he is our good friend.<They do have a special personality, eh?>   He is in a 120 gallon tank with a stars and stripes puffer, a look down <It's a large tank, I hope?>,  and a Large clown fish. The temp is 80' and the PH is 8.3-8.5   A couple months ago  we had an outbreak of Ich. We treated it with Organicure. During this process spike developed a fungus on his eyes.  We treated that with a anti-fungal/antibiotic.  He still has a bit of fog on his eyes... has not been eating<a very bad sign>... And today has started to tilt sideways.  Like he cannot control his ability to stay straight up and down.  We love this fish!... and any help would be greatly appreciated. <The only suggestion I can offer is a bath of 7 ml hydrogen peroxide to one litre of tank water.  Bathe Spike for 11-13 minutes, repeat in 48 hours if necessary. The not eating is a very bad sigh,  and you might be too late.  I'd also suggest stepping up partial water changes,  as I suspect long term high nitrates is the doom of many porcupines> -Marc

Dogface Puffer Questions <Hi! MikeD here> Recently my stars and stripes puffer died after a long and healthy life.<Sorry to hear that, as their endearing begging makes them the favorites of many, which unfortunately leads many into an early grave, having been "killed with kindness" like many 20 lb. Chihuahuas.> I replaced him with a dogface puffer ,as an aquarium without one of these amazing animals is just no fun <I have to agree here>. I have had the dogface for 8 weeks now and I am concerned re: his health. He was a dark chocolate and honey color when I got him . His eyes were a beautiful green although not as clear as I wished. The LFS insisted he was fine . I checked at another LFS , they had similar specimen and again his green eyes were not clear<Sometimes this is a trick of lighting and not always to be depended upon. Each different species has eyes with their own peculiar refraction properties>. Against all common sense I had to have him.<Well, of course, I mean how could you NOT get another puffer? Some people are just not understanding enough!> He has been extremely shy coming out only for food . When I softly speak to him, he stops swimming away but is nothing like the wonderful stars and stripes. After 8 weeks his color has lightened (? less stressed?)<Sometimes. It also has much to do with the way your tank is lit and the lightness or darkness of the decor> he eats well, gets along with other fish , but his eyes continue to be cloudy<Again, I suspect this MAY be a refraction thing> . At times when he moves his eye around I see a thick circle of white tissue around the outer circumference , like a cataract but not over entire eye. -Is this normal?<Without seeing the fish in person, it's hard to say, but if the entire eye is not filmed over, I wouldn't worry about it> It is definitely inside the eye , not something like ick that sticks to the outside of eye. His eyesight appears good. I know high nitrates can cause cloudiness but what else may be problem?<There may not be a problem, just an insecure owner paranoid from a recent loss. It happens> What is solution?<Learn to except him for himself and just watch and enjoy him> Also, if I am able to get good look at him feeding the interior mucous membrane of his mouth is blood red, not healthy pink like the rest of my fish. Could you comment , I am afraid he has internal disease and fear for the life and well being of my many lovely fish.<I truly suspect that you're just being overcautious, and should try to relax. I sense that you are paranoid about losing him and probably feel guilty about the loss of the last one, with a little transference going on here.  In my opinion, to treat any fish without being certain that there's something wrong with it is the first step towards another sad story. Remember, all medications are poisons of one sort or another and used in the hope that it will be fatal to the causative agent without killing our pets, which often is NOT what happens. Un-needed treatments are, in my opinion, one of the highest causes of death around, with far too many fish keepers more than just a little pill crazy> ( I have a 180 gallon fish only.) Thanks for a great site.<We try...folks like you are WHY we try.>

Frantic fishy pacing 7/29/04 Mike, <Yep, I'm here again!> Thank you for the directive.<Well, it was more of a suggestion really **blush**  Sorry for not having written back sooner, but I have been spending every free minute making sure that Gizmo is handling this emergency well.  I took your advice and began a formalin/malachite green treatment (Quick Cure) at 1/2 dose and kept an eye on the water chemistry.<Many people are hesitant to use this on porcupines, but it's the only thing I've had consistent success with>  My ammonia has stayed at zero for the past four days, but the nitrite has been steadily creeping up.  It hit 0.2 this afternoon, and I did about a 75% water change at which time I vacuumed out what little substrate material remained in the tank after my last water change.  I now have absolutely no substrate remaining in the tank and it is as reflective as a mirror at the moment.<Well done, my friend!>   After stopping the freshwater dips, Gizmo has calmed down and no longer paces the tank in a frantic fashion.<Many people swear by the dips, but they just haven't yielded all that much success for me>  He comes to the front of the tank to greet me each morning when I wake up and each afternoon when I return home from work.  He is eating very well again, and I have been alternating between chopped clam and shelled shrimp sections, both of which I purchase fresh from the seafood section of my local grocery store.  Gizmo seems to enjoy eating the meat out of the shrimp shell, and then chewing on the remaining shell.  He is taking care of his teeth, no doubt.<You couldn't be doing it any better!> My intentions are to continue to keep an eye on the water chemistry and do water changes as often as necessary for another week and a half.  I am adding medication at 1/2 strength each time that I do a water change, and there is no activated carbon in my filtration system.  I have been artificially cycling another tank for the past two weeks, and anticipate that it will be ready to receive an Ich free Gizmo once I am done with his treatment.  I then intend to drain the tank that he is in now, refill it with new water, and artificially cycle that tank until it can process a 5 ppm concentration of ammonia in an 8 hour period.  The tank that I am currently cycling can accomplish a complete conversion of a 5 ppm concentration of ammonia into nitrite, but my nitrite levels are still through the roof, so I'm assuming that I have another week left before that tank is ready to receive Gizmo.<Probably. You're using the chemical method? I've always used crustaceans to cycle tanks, as it doubles as a live crab holding pen while going through the process, and there's nothing porcupines and puffers like more than small live crabs>   Once I have cycled the tank that Gizmo is currently in, I will use it as a quarantine tank for all new acquisitions to prevent having to deal with this problem again.  I learned some serious lessons from this event, and I thank you very much for your assistance.  I'm confident that Gizmo will pull through this without issue.<It sounds like he's in the best of hands and you two will have much enjoyment to look forward to. If you ever feel up to a challenge, Burrfish make excellent tank mates for porkies, similar and yet distinctly different and with every bit as much personality> Lou Hoffman

Longhorn Cowfish with Ich  (7/25/04) Hi there  <Hi there to you as well Leslie here this evening!> I have a Longhorn Cowfish that has Ich. < Awwwww bummer I'm sorry.  It's  not unusual for these guys to get Ich. They are Ich magnets. > I have tried the kick Ich treatment and it doesn't seem to be working. < I have not had much luck with this product either>  I was wondering if there is anything that I can do for my fish. <  My preferred treatment is hyposalinity I find it quite effective and the fish seem to do very well. The nice part is the fish can be treated in the main tank as long as you have no critters that will be adversely effected by hyposalinity. The following links will tell you all you need to know to do this..... Hyposalinity: http://petsforum.com/personal/trevor-jones/hyposalinity.html and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/martrthyposalfaqs.htm Marine Ich: Fighting The War On Two Fronts:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm Ich: http://petsforum.com/personal/trevor-jones/marineich.html and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm Please also see this article and the associated FAQs The Three Sets of Factors that Determine Livestock Health http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm If you can help me out that would be great. Michelle < I hope this helps, best of luck with your Cowfish, Leslie>

Puffer Slivers Hi Bob, <Hi, MikeD here> I recently purchased a Golden Puffer. He is very healthy looking and has a killer appetite. The day I introduced him into the main tank he decided to take some bites of some sharp corals skeletons that I had in the tank<very normal>. The first day he did this almost nonstop. The coral fragments were breaking off a bit as it normally would. The next day when I got home from work I noticed that he has a small bump around his mouth with a little red dot in the middle.<It sounds like he got a sliver of calcium from the coral as you surmised> It looked as if had been bleeding slightly. I observed the tank mates and there was no bullying at all. The rest of the night the puffer would occasionally rub up against coral or the substrate by his mouth. He was actually doing it on both sides( not favoring the one with the bump). The next day the red had turned into a white and the bump remained.<Just as would your finger with a sliver in it> The bump is not discolored at all. The bump itself is about 1-2 mm and the dot at the center of the bump is about the size of a pen tip. Today the white spot is still there and it has grown slightly. He is still rubbing around the mouth also. I was wondering if maybe he had jammed some coral into his skin and it trying to rub it out or if what I have described could be anything else. I do not want to cause him and unneeded stress. Should I continue to monitor him or take action now?<For now I'd continue to monitor the situation and keep your fingers crossed. The sliver has apparently gotten infected and with luck the rubbing will cause the cyst to rupture so it can heal. The only real options are medicated foods (antibiotics) and a fish vet, if possible who will likely lance it. If it doesn't clear up on its own and you have no fish vet available you may have to lance it yourself, intimidating but actually easily done. The problem, of course, is that doing it yourself means sans anesthetic, which is stressful on both of you> Also my water parameters are excellent. Thanks for your feedback.<Good luck> Dennis

Sick porcupine puffer Hello there... <How goes it?  Maddox at the helm tonight> I'm new to this website and new to SW tanks...I've got a bit of a problem on hand...first of all my tank specs: 2 month old 54 gal FOWLR SW tank, Fluval 404 Canister filter, 1 Aquaclear powerhead, 1 Ebo Jager heater 1 porcupine puffer, 1 lawnmower goby, 1 blue damsel, 1 yellow tang....15lbs LR, live sand substrate. <To start off with, that tank will be much too small for it's current inhabitants as they grow, definitely look in to acquiring a 150+ gallon aquarium in the near future> Now the history...about 2 weeks ago, my yellow tang got ICK, my puffer got it 2 days later, that's when I really noticed it. Went to my LFS for advice and was told to use Cupramine (Seachem). <NO! Never use copper or die based medication for semi-scaleless fish like puffers, gobies, boxfish, cowfish!  It can\will kill them!>  I pulled out my LR and carbon filters and treated my main tank as per instructions on the bottle (I didn't have a QT tank ready, sorry!) The yellow tang got better a few days later, and the puffer seemed to be getting better....meantime, I got an outbreak of diatoms (brown stuff all over the substrate and rocks)...so I went back to my LFS and had my water tested. <Most likely due to the Cupramine's impact on the biological filtration as well as removal of chemical filtration...definitely perform large and frequent partial water changes, and put in new, high quality activated carbon> My Nitrates and Ammonia were a little bit high, <Further stress on already stressed fish> and they told me to do a 30% water change. Did that, and added more Cupramine (I calculated how much I needed to add based on the water change amount). Since then, it's now day 10 into the initial treatment with Cupramine, my puffer is gotten worse, not better, <Most likely due the Cupramine and deteriorating water quality> he sits at the bottom motionless pretty much all day breathing heavily...I went back to the LFS today to test my water again. The Nitrates and Ammonia is still high, they say it's because I removed my live rock (hence biological filtering) and not to worry about it until the treatment is over. I also got a copper test kit since I suspected my copper levels were not correct as the treatment is not working. Tested my copper level (a crappy test kits I got, only one they had) and they were LOW LOW LOW...less than the first marker of 0.25ppm...almost colourless. This is strange since I thought I had the correct dosage which should have shown it at 0.5ppm as it says on the bottle of Cupramine. So I added more and retested...more and retested...each time it reads quite low. I've now added about 1 more full treatment dose (the instructions initially call for 2 doses, so now I think I have about 3 doses) and the copper is testing at about 0.25ppm. <Could be because Cupramine isn't just copper, it's a chelated copper mixture that may not read correctly on a standard copper or chelated copper test kit - I wouldn't worry about it though, as your copper readings should be ZERO> Questions: should I keep adding more Cupramine until the test comes out at 0.5ppm as it says I should be at for treatment on the bottle? Or just leave it as is. Also, why am I testing so low when I have the equivalent of 3 doses in my water? does the substrate absorb it? <see below> I'm afraid my puffer will not get better if left as is. I also just started him on FW baths today (once a day) but he doesn't like that much as he's all PUFFED up when I put him in. But I'm also afraid to overdose the tank with Cupramine. Also, is it correct that the copper reading should be at 0.5ppm as it says on the bottle, cause I read somewhere that more than 0.3ppm is toxic!!! What to do! <Ouch, I hope this is still a salvageable situation.  First, put in a lot of high quality carbon, such as Seachem's matrix carbon and\or Cuprisorb, AND a poly filter from poly bio marine if you can get one on short notice.  After you detect no traces of copper, immediately put back in your live rock.  Perform several large partial water changes as well (possibly more than one a day if necessary) and make sure to replace with water with the same pH, temperature, and salinity.  If you still aren't able to keep the ammonia under control, get a bottle of Kordon's Amquel or Amquel+ and dose accordingly to keep the ammonia at ZERO.  Do however many water changes and Amquel dosages it takes to keep ammonia at ZERO!  Cannot stress this enough.  Hopefully, your tank won't cycle again due to the live rock being removed from the aquarium.  Dose Marineland's Bio-Spira for marine if you can find it.  NOW, read the FAQs regarding freshwater dips.  Dip the puffer for as long as it will tolerate (without inflating\thrashing) in either a freshwater or a hypo solution (1.012 or lower).  Make CERTAIN the water is the same temperature and pH!  Use a high quality marine buffer if necessary, and make sure the water is dechlorinated, preferably with Amquel.  This will hopefully kill the parasites currently on the puffer, but won't get rid of the infection in the rest of the tank.  Without a quarantine tank, this will be extremely difficult.  Read out extensive FAQ's\Articles regarding Cryptosporidium treatment ("Saltwater Ich"), as there is more information there than I can supply.      As a side note, I would seriously consider upgrading your current filtration.  There's no excuse for not having a protein skimmer, to start with.  Definitely purchase a quality skimmer ASAP (as in, today)!  Look into getting an AquaC remora, I've had excellent luck with them, and they're not that expensive.  You may also want to consider adding additional biological\chemical filtration.  Hope I've been of some help, keep me informed, and do me one favor:  Do not give the store that recommended Cupramine for your aquarium your business again.> Michelle Wong <You've your work cut out for you, so get cracking, and good luck - M. Maddox>
Re: sick porcupine puffer
Thank you for your advice! <Glad I was able to offer some assistance, I hope it pays off> I actually read through some more of you FAQ's and discovered that copper is terrible for your puffers! IT'S TRUE! <Yep, I don't misinform if I can help it :) > I pulled my Porc puff out and into a emergency QT...he's doing WAY BETTER.....I think we may have saved him just in time all thanks to your website! <Excellent, a QT is just where he needs to be.  Thanks for the compliments, I'm honored to play a small part here> No one else told us that copper is bad for puffers so we had NO IDEA...we even asked at several LFS and other forums! <Sadly, LFS are often the worst places to turn to for advice> Thanks again for all your advice.....The puffer and tang still have ICK, but at least I can try to treat them slowly now that the danger of death has been averted. NO MORE CUPRAMINE!!!! <Quite so, not for scaleless fishes> I'm going to try the hypo-salinity and FW dips instead. <I wouldn't lower my salinity below 1.016 if I could help it with pufferfish, but freshwater dips should help a lot> One more questions though....can LR tolerate low salinity levels? How low can they tolerate and how low should I go? I've read some conflicting info on how low to go, so can you tell me exactly how low the SG should be? 1.010? Can LR take this? <I assume you're talking about the live rock in your display tank...I wouldn't risk lowering the salinity below 1.016, or you risk killing off the life on the rock.  I would move all of your fish to a QT and treat there, leaving your main empty for two weeks.  That should cause all of the parasites in it to die without hosts> Thank you again,....you're my PUFFER SAVIOR! <Believe me, we've all been in a situation like yours at least once - glad I could help.  M. Maddox>

Porcupine Still Sick Oh NO! My porcupine puffer is sick again! <Did he recover from the Cryptocaryon yet?> I don't know what happened, but suddenly yesterday, he turned all pale (lost his colour) and his eyes were all cloudy white. I read in your FAQ's that it's a sign of poor water quality so I did a 50% change....my sg is about 1.017 now...today he's not better. He's still very pale, breathing hard, and eyes are cloudy...I'm afraid to do another water change since I did such a big one yesterday. Any idea what it could be and how to treat it? It almost looks like he's got a film of something on him....please help!  <The color change sounds like a stress related reaction, the cloudy eyes could be the same, or a biological infection.  What are your other water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, temp)?  Do you have him in a quarantine tank still?  Let me know.  M. Maddox>
Re: Porcupine Puffer Update
I'm sorry to report that my puffer didn't make it. He looked pretty bad this morning with his eyes almost completely clouded over. Very pale and breathing hard on the bottom. <Sorry to hear that.  Most likely a bacterial infection of some sort, velvet looks like a goldish dusting> I still don't know what happened as he was on the road to recovery from a very close call...something, a secondary infection must have gotten hold of him and progressed really quickly. Although there's nothing I can do now (except cry!!) I would still like to find out what happened so next time I'll know what to do right away. <Yes, a weakened immune system is never a good thing.  Sorry about your loss> If you have any ideas on what it could be, I'd really appreciate it. I'm almost certain it's not the water quality....white dusting all over with white film over eyes. thick white film....I'm thinking velvet but I heard velvet is more like a yellow dust not white. Any ideas? Thanks. BTW, I really appreciated all the help your website has given me over the past few days...I just wish I could have done something more for him. Before I go out and get myself another puffer...can I ask if you think porcupine puffers are particularly susceptible to disease and problems? I know only people with sick porcs write, but compared to other fish? Thanks. <Before you purchase a new specimen, make sure you your display tank is COMPLETELY CURED of any diseases.  Also, make sure to quarantine your new puffer for 4 weeks.  I've had a porcupine ~5 years and never had him catch anything (but I never add new livestock to the tank).  Make sure you have a heavy duty filter and an oversized protein skimmer, and do plenty of water changes.  A varied diet is also a must.  Definitely peruse our FAQ archives some more.  M. Maddox>

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