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FAQs about Puffer Disease/Health 2

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

Do NOT Use Copper on Puffers

- Ananda

Be very careful re dosing, testing if using copper compounds with puffers


Porcupine Puffer with Difficulty Eating (12/24/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> My 5" Diodon holacanthus can't seem to eat.   He ate great a few nights ago, and had been for a month or 2 since I got him.   <The fact that he has been eating is good.> He's in a QT still, 75gal bare bottom, PVC, and a large sponge filter with an air pump, and a MaxiJet 1000 with a spray bar moving water.   <So far so good, if you have the water quality up to par (zero ammonia and nitrites, nitrates 20 or less).> He looks 100% healthy, he even chases down the food, he tries to eat it...but he can't open his mouth. <Sounds like what might be a bit of lockjaw, caused by a dietary deficiency, which in turn can be caused by keeping the fish on a limited diet. You may need to give him some B vitamins -- with saltwater fish, it's possible to dose the tank; alternately, research and consider giving vitamins via a syringe inserted into the stomach.> 0 He just chased a piece of krill across the bottom of the tank trying to eat it.  I took the krill back out so it wouldn't tease him. <This does indeed sound like he wants to eat, but cannot. If you are concerned, soak some food in a vitamin-rich supplement, puree it, and feed via syringe.>   Is this a strike?  I would think he would not look anxious to eat if that was that case... Thanks, Mark <It doesn't sound like an eating strike. You might also check the discussion boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk. --Ananda>

Puffer Blinded by the Lights? (12/24/03) Hi! <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> The fish is still OK, but I forgot to mention the fact that I switched the lights off when she started acting funny and yesterday when I turned them on again, she started circling like crazy and acted really strange, as if she were trying to hide from the light. As soon as I turned it off, she calmed down. Apparently, it disturbs her. However, she was quite OK before that, when the lights were on, she never did seem to mind. <I would do something to reduce the light intensity for a while, then slowly build it back up. There is info regarding same on the WWM site.> As for the nitrates I am using a downdraft skimmer, but I still have to figure out what to do with phosphates. I am using JBL's PhosEx, but it doesn't work (or do I have to give it more time?). <Sorry, I'm not familiar with that product. Do try checking the company's website.> The source water is OK, I am using a reverse osmosis system. I'll try to find out more about balancing pH and do something about it, hopefully I'll succeed.  Katja <The pH and alkalinity interaction can seem complex, but is understandable. --Ananda>

Porcupine Puffer Broken Spike? Greetings.   <Hi! Ananda here tonight....> I stumbled across your site while frantically searching for the answer to my problem.   <Yup, that's the way I found it...> I am very impressed with the answers you provide to the huge spectrum of questions posed (particularly about puffers).   <Thanks-- we do our best> So -I reckon if anyone know what is going on with my fish it is probably you guys.  As you may have guessed, I have a porcupine puffer, who is the star of my tank.  He is in there with a black tip grouper and a yellow tang.  All of the fish get along just dandy.  I hand feed the puffer until the grouper decides to get in on it (he splashes a lot taking the food from my hand) but he is well fed. The water quality is kept pristine and I even remove the waste he leaves on an almost daily basis. <Ah, excellent> At first when I noticed the problem and after searching, read the symptoms of Anchor Worms (Lernaea) and Argulus and thought it was one or the other.  However, after more searching and finding some pictures of the diseases -ruled them out.  I donned on my rubber glove captured my puffer to get a closer look at the area in question (he almost seemed to enjoy being held).   <Some puffers do seem to enjoy such interaction with the hands that feed them -- and I am glad you were using a glove!> Holding him a few inches under the water and looking at the top of him -he decided he was no longer having fun and inflated.  I grimaced (I have only seen him inflate one other time and know it really stresses him out) and noticed that the small, thin, non-removable, white, almost egg like growth appears to be coming out of one of his quills.  Upon further inspection (extra 1/2 second before I let the distressed guy go) I noticed the spine looked just a bit shorter than the rest.  I thus concluded that he broke a spine.  Unless he was inflated, the small white "growth" appears to be just coming out of his body.  I have no earthly idea how he managed to do this.   <My guess is that he puffed up and hit something, or that perhaps the trigger was acting the bad boy...> So...  Have you all ever heard of a porcupine puffer breaking a spike?   <Well, not a porcupine puffer, but a Burrfish... look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferdisfaqs.htm and do a page search for "spine".> If so, will it ever heal?    <With good water quality, perhaps.> He is behaving in his peculiar "normal" manner and doesn't seem to be irritated by his problem (until I messed with him). I put two pictures of him in this e-mail and also attached them if they don't show.  Granted they are pictures of him deflated (for I refuse to intentionally make him puff) but I hope it helps. <One possibility is that the whitish area is effectively a scab- or scar-equivalent. In that case, it may come off by itself, eventually. Do keep feeding him vitamin-enriched foods.> Thank you for your advice and keep up the excellent work. Regards, Dan <Hope this helped. --Ananda>

Puffer update Hi Sabrina--just wanted to write and let you know Ralph seems to have recovered.   <Wonderful news!> He is using both gills again on a regular basis, and, he came to the front of his tank and wiggled madly when I came home tonight.  He hasn't done that for nearly two months!!   <Glad to hear it!> I was so happy to see him excited to see me--he's always "greeted" me just like a dog until this last round of whatever ailed him.  His energy level is better although at times he's still laying on his water pump gasping for air but over all seems at least 80% improve and I can see his gill plates on both sides again.   <Do keep an eye open to make sure his tankmates don't harass him, please.> I think  you're right, the medication did nothing except destroy his biological filter, thank heavens for the four bio-wheels.  I think cutting back on his food and improving his water quality helped and I'm slowly removing his substrate too, it's disgustingly filthy.   <That'd definitely cause some problems.  If it's a FO tank with crushed coral substrate, please do try to keep it vacuumed so it doesn't get too gunky.> At the moment he's flashing his teeth at me, begging for food, must be better!!  Thanks again, I've attached his photo from when I got him, bear in mind he's MUCH fatter now-- Janine <So glad to hear from you; I'm delighted that he's feeling better.  And thank you for the delightful pic, a beautiful fish indeed.  -Sabrina>

Dogface sucking fin in gill <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I have added a second dogface to my 100gal tank <Urk! Hopefully you will get them a bigger tank when they get bigger!> .. and they are happy guys for the most part except for a few feeding frenzy attacks, but the newer puffer has been doing something quite alarming, recently while watching the fish we noticed he had sucked one of his pectoral fins into his gill. It was just gone! He has done it on both sides on several occasions. I have never seen Cujo (my older puffer) do this. Should I be alarmed? have you ever seen this behavior?  I just want to make sure. <I finally remembered where I'd heard about this before: the puff in question had parasites in its gills, and was "scratching" its gills. You're going to need to take a look in your puff's gills and see if you can see anything in there.> I absolutely love my puffers and can't believe it took so long to find such an amazing and comical little creature for a pet!  Thanks,  Kelly <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Puffer who put His Pectoral Fin in his Gill... Our porcupine puffer died shortly after we e-mailed you. It turns out they sold us a puffer with a gill disease. But thank you for your help. <I am so sorry to hear that you lost the puffer. I think your fish store owes you a refund. I only wish you could charge them interest for the stress you went through. Hang in there. --Ananda>

Puffer care shopping list (09/01/03) Hey, <Hey! Ananda back again...> Thanks for the quick reply. Well, the rocks are pretty big with algae growing on them but I already took them out of the tank. I got them from the same fish store that gave me the wrong information about my fish. <Urk. I would not want to put them back in the tank for a while yet.> Now I think my fish also has ich because it has white stuff growing on its tail. <Yep, sounds like ich. Salt will fix that.> I can't go to the fish store till tomorrow because its Labor Day today. Can you give me a list of everything I should buy so I don't have to make several runs to the store. <Sure! Hmmm...another thing to write up for the WWM site.> I know that I need to buy a different type of food, snails, some salt, and the SeaTest hydrometer. <That's really about it, but here are a few more details.... Food: frozen uncooked shrimp from the grocery store works; he might also like squid (grate it while it's frozen). (Only one of my five puffs likes squid, so don't get it unless you like it, too.) Also, pond snails, or baby Ramshorn snails, which *should* be free. Do not get him the cone-shaped snails. For a treat, he'd probably love frozen bloodworms (I prefer the Hikari brand); a "worm cone" makes it easier to feed those (drop a small chunk of the frozen stuff into the cone, and the worms won't make a beeline for the filter intake). For freeze-dried stuff, you can wait a bit and order from online; it's significantly cheaper that way. Salt: Instant Ocean is just fine for puffers. The garlic oil may also be available at the grocery store... you want to get the gel caps that are intended to be a human nutritional supplement. Check out this thread for another discussion on puffers, including a link to what I'm talking about when I say "garlic oil": http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=31&thread=12165&start=0&trange=15> I mean, I only have one fish in the tank so should I go out and try to find another one so it wouldn't be so lonely? <Not when he's got ich!!> Sorry if I sound dumb about this, its just this is the first time I'm taking care of fish. Thanks. -Kathy <You're welcome -- and you have a head start on many fishkeepers since you're doing research! :-) Also, do check out the WetWebMedia chat forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk -- we have several experienced and novice puffer keepers on board. --Ananda>

Porcupine puffer with ich (08/28/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I have been reading your puffer FAQs.. but yet to find any help for my problem. I have an 80 gallon tank w/a porcupine puffer fish, a lionfish, a trigger fish and a yellow tang (the latter have been moved to a non-infected tank).  my puffer has had ich for about two weeks now...other than the obvious visible symptoms, and heavy breathing and sometimes twitch- like movements he is eating and functioning fine. <So you have just the puffer in the 80 gallon tank? I would put him in his own hospital tank and let the display go fallow for at least a month.> After calling my local fish store as advised I turned up the heat to around 82 degrees, kept the lights off and have done a few water changes.  The levels test fine.  My boyfriend has gone several dips that while clearing the fish up a bit...still has not gotten rid of the problem. We were advised not to do anymore for fear of stressing them out even more. <Dips alone will not get rid of ich if you're putting the fish back into an infested system.> We treated the tank with Marisol (I believe that was the name) for a week daily, and it seemed to have no helpful effect.  The lionfish has gotten worse w/one clouded eye now, and the puffer's white patches are getting more dense in some areas (make sense)??? <Cloudy eyes are usually a symptom of poor water quality. You might want to check your test kits.> We are trying to stabilize a hospital tank to put them in...but it probably won't be ready for a month. <Good grief, don't bother trying to cycle a hospital tank right now. Get the infected fish in there ASAP. Then you'll do daily water changes to keep the ammonia/nitrites/nitrates under control and bring the specific gravity down to 1.010. And keep the tank temp up.> I really don't want my fish to die...please please please email me back with any suggestions...I will appreciate it indefinitely!!!  Thanks again,  Bonnie <Do check out the ich articles and FAQs on the WetWebMedia site, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm. --Ananda>

- Puffer Problems - I have been reading your puffer FAQs.. but yet to find any help for my problem. I have an 80 gallon tank w/a porcupine puffer fish, a lionfish, a trigger fish and a yellow tang (the latter have been moved to a non-infected tank). My puffer has had ich for about two weeks now... other than the obvious visible symptoms, and heavy breathing and sometimes twitch like movements he is eating and functioning fine. <Twitching isn't a sign of ich...> After calling my local fish store as advised I turned up the heat to around 82 degrees, kept the lights off and have done a few water changes.  The levels test fine. My boyfriend has done several dips that while clearing the fish up a bit...still has not gotten rid of the problem. We were advised not to do anymore for fear of stressing them out even more. We treated the tank with Marisol (I believe that was the name) for a week daily, and it seemed to have no helpful effect. <I'm not familiar with this product as an ich medication.> The lionfish has gotten worse w/one clouded eye now, and the puffer's white patches are getting more dense in some areas (make sense)??? <Yes, I would really be looking towards water quality issues here... cloudy eyes, white blotches are not signs of ich but systemic issues where the fish live.> We are trying to stabilize a hospital tank to put them in... but it probably won't be ready for a month. <Don't be concerned with 'stabilizing' a quarantine tank. Much better to just prepare a lot of fresh saltwater and have it ready for daily, large changes - 25% a day or 50% every other day. Because you know you will be treating a parasitic problem, the medication you will use will hamper any biological filtration... which means it doesn't even matter if you cycle the tank. I would just get the quarantine tank going with a heater, air-lift sponge filter, and no substrate or rockwork - perhaps some PVC fittings for places to hide, but that's it.> I really don't want my fish to die... please please please email me back with any suggestions... I will appreciate it indefinitely!!! <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferdisfaqs.htm > Thanks again Bonnie <Cheers, J -- >

Puffers with Cloudy Eyes <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I have a 75 gallon tank with two porcupine puffers two lions and one dog face puffer. I have been keeping copper in the tank to treat and prevent ich......at least one month...... <I am not a fan of keeping puffers in a tank with copper for so long...> Today both porcupine puffers developed cloudy eyes... worsening as the day went on..... <That is most often caused by poor water quality.> I did a water change about 1/3 of tank....removed all copper....now reads  "0".  ph at 8.2....ammonia at 0.25...nitrites .25 and nitrates 0... <Yup. Please continue with daily water changes until the ammonia and nitrites are at zero. This should help clear up the cloudiness in the eyes.> We love makayla and molly and don't know what to do next.....when doing a freshwater dip, please explain exactly how to do that... tap water with chem.s. removed then what???.... <You need to adjust the pH of the water to the pH of the tank... do see Bob's entertaining treatise on freshwater dips here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm ... Also, when dipping puffers, make sure you keep their noses underwater so they don't gulp & puff with air.> Should I try this?? <If you can still see ich spots, yes. If not, no.> Will they loose their sight and if so how will they eat.... <Improving their water quality should improve their vision. If not, they should be able to hunt by smell. But concentrate on improving their water quality and they should be okay.> The one did not eat today the other did.... <Not unusual for these fish when stressed.> Please respond ASAP... how often is it safe to do water changes???? <Daily or even twice daily, if necessary to remove ammonia and nitrite.> dog face and lions are showing no signs at this time.......thanks....Carolyn <Work on improving the water quality, and keep the copper out of the tank. Best of luck... --Ananda>

Puffer Problem Hi -- I stumbled across your site looking for information about my golden Tonga puffer, Ralph.   <Hello, Sabrina with you today, hoping to help you and Ralph> I need some help with his breathing--I've had him a month short of two years and have treated him for gill flukes at least twice with Paragon with good success.  This time he's not responding at all, I've done four rounds and sometimes he will move it a bit but never really open it at all.   <By 'it' you mean his gills, right?  Well, gill flukes usually cause fish to gasp and have rather labored breathing due to the parasites causing damage to their gills, so the fish can't absorb oxygen from the water as well.  So far, this doesn't sound like flukes to me.> He's about ten inches long, six around and is in a fish only tank of 80 gallons with a pair of fire clowns, a squirrel fish and a coral beauty.  I'm running two emperor 400 hang on filters with activated carbon and a remora protein skimmer in addition there are two air pumps in his tank and I do at least a ten percent water change weekly.   <Sounds good, perhaps increase the amount of water that you change weekly, and be sure to check your water parameters, make sure everything checks out okay.  You're also going to want to consider going larger in tank size soon....> What would you suggest I do next for him?  He's just not a happy puffer--he no longer wiggles and splashes when I come home but is still eating his shrimp like a pig and some algae but not as much.  Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, he's my big yellow baby and I'm just desperate to maximize his life span.  When I travel I even have my family come over just to talk to him, he likes company!  Thanks so much, Janine <It may very well be that the very active squirrelfish is stressing your puffer out, and may be that your puff's just pouting about it, trying to let you know.  Keep us updated - hope Ralph perks up for ya!>

Puffer Follow-up Thanks Sabrina, I appreciate your help.   <Sure thing, Janine.> He is perking up a bit.   <Glad to hear that!!> I've discovered if I make him "bite" at his food through the glass he'll cough and that forces that gill open---so I've been doing respiratory therapy with him and doing that 2-3 times a day <Honestly, I'm not sure if this will accomplish anything - but it'll certainly give him something to be excited about, and perhaps get him out of his sulkiness!> ... and doing more water changes is probably a good idea too.   <Yup, water changes are always good ;)> I've chucked in some Maracyn today just in case it is flukes but I'm with you, I don't think that's it.    <At this point, I'd like to mention that it's always best to medicate in a hospital tank, if you absolutely must medicate.  Many meds will really wreak havoc on your bacteria bed, which will result in ammonia problems, etc., etc. - and especially since we don't know what's ailing your puff (if anything), it'd probably be easier on him to skip the meds for now.> I'm leaning more towards some sort of obstruction and am considering having my vet x-ray him except he won't know what he's looking at once he develops it--- <Yeah, it seems to me that most vets really aren't terribly knowledgeable about fish.  I've seen unbelievably crowded fish tanks at vets' offices before, with incompatible species, even.  But I gotta have somewhere for my cat to go when she's sick!> I'll keep you posted and thanks again for the help--I'm not sure the squirrel bothers him, it's more likely the female clownfish upsets him.  She darts at him when he gets too close to the clamshell she considers her "anemone"-- Janine <It could very well be the clown, then.  I know *I* wouldn't want to get in a fight with an aggressive female clown!  Do keep an eye on your fishes' behavior, as your puff's sulkiness may very well be from compatibility issues.>

Prolapsed Rectum and Michael Bolton music 8/7/03 I have a really large white spotted puffer and I just looked at my tank and I saw this pink thing hanging out of his anis area and I though it was is rectum falling out <indeed... a prolapsed rectum> I tried to push it back in but he blew up I think he is going to die what should I do to help him? <not much to be done.. . some folks resort to stitches or tissue glue (medical). In many cases it heals on its own. The key is to get this fish into complete isolation for fear of another fish nipping at this sensitive tissue. Please... an empty QT ASAP> Please e-mail A.S.A.P. Thank you <coming atcha... best regards, Anthony>

Helping a puffer recover from a powerhead encounter (08/07/03) I have a stars and stripe puffer fish that was introduced into my main tank about a week ago. He seemed fine the first day, eating well. When I checked the tank in the morning I found him upside down stuck in the inlet of my powerhead. <Ack!> I turned the powerhead off and pulled him out (I have since put pre-filters in so that this will never happen again). <Other suggestions I've heard include putting a bio-ball in the intake...> His skin on his chin was stretched and was drooping. Almost a week has past. His skin on his chin is falling off and peeling. There still seems to be a sack hanging down from his chin and he has some black marks around his gills. Unfortunately he has not eaten anything since the accident. <It probably hurts to eat.> I have tried live crayfish, fresh shrimp, krill, snails. He doesn't seem interested. What should I do for: a) his skin abrasion b) not eating? <I would put him in a hospital tank and treat with a general antibiotic, like Spectrogram (Nitrofurazone & Kanacyn). Be very, very careful not to touch his chin when you move him -- catch him in a smooth plastic container. For food, maybe try something he can eat without chewing much -- frozen (& thawed) bloodworms soaked in Selcon, perhaps, with live brine for an appetizer. Do gut-load the live brine with something like crushed Pepso food, an enriched flake food, or a good Artemia food.> Thanks <Hope this helps. --Ananda>

Re: Helping a puffer recover from a powerhead encounter (08/07/03) <Hi! Ananda back again today...> Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately he didn't make it. The trauma to his chin was too much. <I was afraid of that.> He hung on in distress for longer than I would of expected. Do fish experience pain and suffering like we do? <Recent research seems to indicate that fish do experience pain, but whether or not they experience "suffering" depends on how you define the term. Most connotations of that word involve emotions, which fish don't have -- though some of their actions might seem to indicate otherwise.> I can't help but think I should of intervened and euthanized him. <That is always a difficult choice. It is human nature to hope that things will get better. I have euthanized fish, and it is never an easy task. When you can, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasiafaqs.htm ... also check out the WetWebMedia forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk and search for "clove oil" to find my experiences with using that for fast euthanasia. --Ananda>

Puffer problems Hello, I am hoping you can help me? <Hi, Ananda here tonight...> I am taking care of a friends saltwater fish while she is on vacation. First, I know nothing about saltwater fish! but she left me specific instructions, which I have followed to the letter. <That's a good start, and emailing was another good start... my apologies on the delay in answering.> The fish were fine the last 2 days, today, I found one of 3 butterfly fish dead, and the puffer has not eaten for 2 days! <I hope you removed the butterfly pronto. Did she leave you instructions on how to do a water change? Puffers occasionally go on "hunger strikes" for a week or so, so that alone shouldn't be too big a problem.> and his eyes are all white and cloudy! <Often a sign of a water quality problem...> can hardly see his eyes anymore, he was swimming around some, but never came to the top to eat. I checked the ammonia levels which seemed fine and also the salt, which was also fine. <Ammonia levels should be zero. If they are not, please do a water change.> Any help or suggestions? Please contact me as soon as possible! Ginny <The good news is that cloudy eyes are a symptom that should abate when the water quality conditions improve. If you don't know how to do a water change, do email back and someone can help you through it, or post on the Saltwater Newbies board at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk and explain your situation. Sometimes, there will be people on the boards who can answer your question before the email servers can get a message to you! --Ananda>

Re: Puffer problems (08/07/03) <Hi! Ananda here again tonight...> Thank you so much for replying! I actually found the problem! or rather, my  smart, fish guy husband did, we did a partial water change but found the problem was with the pump! Sending electric current through the water, poor guys! <Interesting. I hadn't realized stray current could cause eye problems as a symptom. This does illustrate why a grounding probe is A Good Thing(tm)!> But have turned the pump off, and will continue to feed and monitor the ones who made it, which is NOT very many, the puffer died, and so did the yellow tang...we tried. <I'm sorry that the fish didn't make it. Sometimes there is not much you can do, especially when the problem is an unusual one.> But I only hope they did not suffer too much! <As do I.> Thanks for all your help, I do appreciate it. Sincerely Ginny <My sympathies to the fish owner... --Ananda>

Porcupine puffer with eye trouble? <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I just bought a  porcupine puffer had him for 4 days ..now one of his eyes is clear and has a small pupil as the other eye is neon blue and large do you know what this is ? can he be cured? <I haven't seen anything like this before. Is this something that has developed since you acquired the puffer? Is your water quality good? Often, eye problems can be traced to poor water quality. If your water quality is pristine, and if the puffer has difficulty, do send a photo. --Ananda>

Puffers and copper, take 2 (07/26/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I knew that scales fish do not tolerate copper well from experience treating my Sweetlips and powder blue tang. I was reading your website and it said copper is a good treatment for puffers maybe its a typo but this is under the disease section of puffers. "Puffer species are very susceptible to Cryptocaryon and Amyloodinium (as well as the eye, skin abrasion, and gas from lifting maladies already mentioned), but fortunately respond well to copper treatments." <Hmmm. My response to another person who mentioned this recently: 'I always try to steer people away from using copper with puffers and other scaleless fish because they are *so* touchy with copper. While it is *possible* to treat puffers with copper, it is also *difficult* to maintain the copper at a level which is sufficient to kill the parasites without endangering the puffer. ... Add to that the fact that copper will also kill all beneficial bacteria in a setup, and that means the hospital tank is likely to have some ammonia -- which is deadly to any fish. The combination could easily prove too much for a puffer to take. Freshwater dips are significantly less dangerous to the puffers (as long as you keep their heads submerged so they can't gulp air!). And the daily water changes are designed to do accomplish two things: keeping the ammonia levels down and removing any ich from the bottom of the tank.' I've just read too many stories of scaleless fish doing badly with copper treatments to recommend that people treat ich with copper, when it is possible to treat it with freshwater dips, hyposalinity, and water changes. --Ananda>

Puffers and copper (07.25/03) <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon...> I am sad to report that my puffer passed away. <Sorry to hear that.> I noticed that he started to develop ick. I had a quarantine tank setup already because I received a Angel that had been shipped to me with ick. The tank was medicated with copper so I placed the puffer in the tank. <Oh, no... never, never put puffers in a tank with copper. Copper is very dangerous to scaleless fish, as it will pass into the fish's system much more quickly than it would for a scaled fish.> After about 2 minutes the puffer started to go crazy spinning in a circle and trying to jump out of the tank I didn't know what to do I couldn't place him in my main tank since he had ick and he seemed to be suffering in the quarantine tank. <Back into the main tank would have been good, despite the ich. Ich can be treated by other means besides copper (hyposalinity, freshwater dips).> Wasn't sure why he went crazy in the quarantine tank I keep all the stats the same in both my tanks so its a better transition when I move the medicated fish to the main tank. <Yes, that is a good idea... it's just that the puffers can not tolerate copper. Sadly, you are not the first person to make this mistake. Bob, Jason -- could we put a banner or something on every puffer page on the web site that says "Do not use copper with puffers!" or some such? And have it be a link to a short text as to the reasons why? This sort of story is far, far too common, and frequently fish store clerks ignorantly recommend copper to people with puffers. --Ananda>

- Cowfish Corral - Hullo Crew! <And hello to you, JasonC here...> And a very special but hurried hullo! to whoever is responding today (Bob?  Anthony?)  because we are hoping that you can give us some very good advice very quickly- <I will do my best.> Our juvenile ( about 2") longhorn cowfish got caught in the intake of our powerhead this morning; his head from the eyes up was caught.  We don't know for how long he was in there, except that the tank had been checked about two hours previously, and he was fine then. We immediately turned the powerhead OFF and freed him; he is currently slowly wavering about the tank, fins flicking fairly rapidly.  The only obvious damage is a cloudiness/swelling over and around his eyes, and a somewhat 'bloodied' appearance over the back of his head between his horns.  I'd guess I'd call it a bruise if he was human; there are thin red lines tracing the spaces between his bony skin-plates, he's not actually 'bleeding' from exposed tissues. <Is actually more like a hickey - blood being pulled through the skin.> I'll include a couple of pictures - blurry, but I think you can see what's going on with his swollen eyes; and a 'before' shot for comparison. http://www.deepdarksea.com/pics/trumpybefore.jpg http://www.deepdarksea.com/pics/trumpy1.jpg http://www.deepdarksea.com/pics/trumpy2.jpg http://www.deepdarksea.com/pics/trumpy3.jpg <Ouch...> As of right now, about 20 minutes after we rescued him, the other inhabitants of the tank are acting perfectly normal (no toxin release, thus far), and he is moving up and down the water column a little bit more, and ate a little food. <Ahh good... I've done similar in an attempt to let the fish know, "Everything is cool." Have no clue if it works or not, but good thing that Trumpy ate.> Still mostly hovering in one place, though, and not reacting normally to visual stimuli. <I'm not surprised... could very well lose that eye.> So - what should we do? <Hmmm...> Watch and wait? <Good place to start... you could also add some Epsom salts to help work on the swelling a bit - about one teaspoon per gallon would do.> And if so - what are definite signs that he's going downhill, and should be removed from the tank? <I'd look for it to stop eating for starters.> Add more carbon to the filter? <Yes.> Medicate him? <Not at the moment - might want to do something about that power head so you don't have an instant replay. Peace and quiet would be best at this point.> Any advice here would be helpful - we don't have a quarantine tank, and thus far we've meticulously purchased only healthy fish, so this is our first experience with an invalid. <I think it will be fine in the long haul although things may look worse before they get better. Again, most important to make sure it doesn't get re-injured or hassled by anyone in the tank.> A quick rundown on our tank specs: 29G FOWLR  (YES, we are getting a bigger tank ASAP for the cowfish!  Saving up, saving up.. 8) ) CPR BakPak protein skimmer Eheim canister filter (has a little carbon in right now) 2x55w PC hood Nitrates and Nitrites, 0 Ammonia, 0 SG 1.023 pH 8.1 Thank you thank you, Dustin and Ramie <Cheers, J -- >

- Re: Puffer Questions - Thanks for the reply. The fish is still OK (although still with spots), except for a few days ago when she acted really strange for about 15 minutes or so. A few minutes after she ate she started swimming nervously along the back of the tank and wouldn't come to the front. She then came next to the powerhead and stayed there practically motionless for about 5 minutes and (it seemed to me) was breathing heavily. <Probably taking a time out.> I got really scared and didn't know what to do. <I wouldn't 'do' anything... fish do these kinds of things from time to time.> I checked the water, but it was OK. Then after a few minutes she came to the front and from then on acted normally. Is it possible that she got scared of something and sort of went into hiding for some time? Have you ever noticed such behaviour before? <Yes, typically happens when I wear this bright-yellow t-shirt that I have. I'd just look for external stimuli... have heard all types of stories about dogs and fish facing off from opposite sides of the glass. Puffers are very smart and aware fish. No worries.> Katja <Cheers, J -- >

- Diodon holacanthus Behavior - Thanks for the quick reply. <Always a pleasure.> I feel better knowing that such behavior is not something to worry about. I'll try if my shirt (red-black-beige) was the cause that she panicked. I'll wear it again and see what happens. <Keep in mind that it might not be the shirt, but something else that happened outside the tank, perhaps behind your back.> It's funny, she seems to be doing just fine with cats, never gets scared of them. One more thing I'd like to know. How often and how much (if at all) B vitamin do you recommend? <I've not heard of this application of vitamin B, so I'd rather not hazard a guess.> The fish doesn't need any appetite stimulant, but I read that the vitamin was good for their teeth and jaws. <Perhaps.> Thanks. Katja <Cheers, J -- >

Puffer Ails 7/10/03 Our Mbu Puffer about (12 inches in length) has decided he does not want to eat shrimp anymore. We were always supplementing snails, crawfish. He just will not eat the shrimp. He has been doing something funny with his mouth, after he has bit into something, He opens up his mouth very wide like he is trying to push something out but nothing comes out, its gives us the impression that something is stuck in his gums??? Does that make sense?? <have you checked for overgrowth on the teeth?> He has been eating the snails even though he goes through this ritual. He is not as eager to eat as he once was. We have ordered him Ghost Shrimp, Brown Snails and crab. What else do you suggest? <some Selcon to supplement the diet... also gut-loading the prey with nutritious dry foods and frozen fare that the puffer would not eat alone> My husband pet him yesterday, when he was cleaning the tank. The Mbu "Andy" started to color up and move his fins like this made him happy. I thought he would puff up and act mad but he seemed to like the contact. Cute.   He has tank mates that he has had from the very beginning. A Bala Shark "Cedric"  and 30 small Tetras. When he is finished with his food they all come over and he lets them eat what ever he was having. I don't know how long this will last but it is really cool. I'll take a picture for you guys... We were rinsing the shrimp in filtered water, we should use a little water out of his tank I guess in a cup that belongs to him do you think he may not like his food rinsed in the filtered water?? Could there be too much Chlorine?? <no worries here> We research and read and talk to people we just want to do the right things for our Mbu Puffer Friend. He has become quite the family member. We are getting him that 300 gallon tank so that he can grow very old in it.  Thanks, Vivian   <many FAQs in our archives on puffers... do browse as well http://www.wetwebmedia.com Anthony>

- Puffer Questions - Hi! <Hello to you, apologies for the slow reply. JasonC here...> I am writing again about a puffer with white spots. They appeared again and won't go away, but the fish seems OK (eats normally, doesn't scratch). The water quality is good. If this is ich, how long would it take to spread to gills (does this happen in any case)? <Days to weeks.> She's had the spots for quite some time now, but they appear only on the fins. <Only on the fins... I wouldn't be overly concerned with this unless they begin to spread to other places on the body and/or you see the fish begin to scratch.> I also wanted to ask if there is any rule about when to feed this fish (I read somewhere that they were nocturnal predators, but mine just sleeps in the dark). I feed her about 1-3 times a day (a few small pieces, clams). Is that too much? <I think so... these fish are smart and know how to do the 'feed me dance' and get a response from you. Twice a day could also be too much, so just keep the portions small... this fish will grow according to how it's fed.>  Thanks.  Katja <Cheers, J -- >

Crowded hospital tank? (06/19/03) <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon...> I have a cycled 20g tank that I am moving my pufferfish into to treat for what I suspect to be some sort of parasite.  It is cycled, but I don't know if it can handle the increased bioload of the 4-5" fish (previously just temporarily housed feeder shrimp).   <Probably not. You're going to need to do *daily* water changes.> I have been running back and forth for 5 gallon jugs of RO water, can I just mix up about 50g of tapwater instead?  I would treat the water with Amquel (municipal water) and then mix and aerate for a day.   <Sounds good.> Until I get an "OK", I am just going to keep running.  I will be using chelated copper sulfate (CopperSafe) to treat the parasite, its the only copper I could find. Ryan A. <Ack! No copper in a tank with puffers or other scaleless fishes! You don't give any details on what parasite you think it is, or we might be able to give you some direction on what to use. If it's an external parasite, start out with a freshwater dip.... --Ananda>

Copper and scaleless fish? (06/19/03) <Hi! Ananda here again...> Things have rapidly moved forward, my main concern was with whether or not the treated water would be fine for my purposes.  I got the info not to use copper, which is a bit unsettling because Bob mentions how well in works on puffers in his TCMA book.   <Puffers and scaleless fish can easily be harmed by an overdose of copper. With the CORRECT dosage, copper is okay -- but it is VERY easy to overdose! Further, copper tests may not always be accurate, and many hobbyists are not willing to test for copper twice a day, every day, for as long as they use it. So the usual recommendation about copper and scaleless fish is to avoid it completely -- there are other methods that usually work.> I have since switched immediately to Formalin to treat what is an external parasite.  Thanks for your help! Ryan A.
<You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Diodon holocanthus with white spots Hello. I am writing to you as I am rather desperate. For about three weeks my puffer has had white spots (only on the fins). They appeared about a week after I bought the fish. I tried different treatments (lowering salinity, administering various medicine, FW baths). I am avoiding copper as I read that it was not good for puffers. <Agreed> Currently the fish is in a quarantine tank, being treated by a mixture of formalin, Methylene blue and some other thing (I forgot which).<would make sure you figure out what this "thing" is> The problem is that as soon as it seems that she is getting better, the spots reoccur. They have never disappeared completely. I am not even sure that this is a case of ich, as the spots seem semi-transparent. Otherwise the fish is great, she doesn't scratch and has a very healthy appetite. Any advice would very appreciated.<Well if he/she is eating and otherwise acting "normal" then I would stop the treatment of these somewhat toxic chemicals, BTW it doesn't sound to me like ICH. IanB> Thanks,

Re: Porcupine puffer spots >Sorry Marina, just wanted to clear up that I must have had a typo and there are no nitrites in the system.  I have moved forward with treatment....thanks for your input! >>Ah!  Great, makes *much* more sense now.  The only thing I could think was that you might have been taking the tank apart and cleaning it thoroughly on a regular basis, thus creating a new cycle with each cleaning.  I know, I know, but there really are folks (way back in the very earliest days I was one of them) who do this!  I hope the fish will soon be on his way to recovery.  Marina

Porcupine puffer spots It's been three days since I sent this message.  I don't know why I continue to not get responses.  I spoke with Anthony before about this and he mentioned that puffer responses get directed to a "puffer person".  I don't know if something is happening then, or if the person is just really busy.  But this long is unusual and I consider this an emergency. >>I'm sorry, don't know what's up with our puffer lady.  The message title doesn't indicate any emergency.  We apologize. ----------------------------------------------------------- Hey guys! >>Greetings, Marina here. >I have had my porcupine puffer for about 6 months now and things have been going great.  I had one small issue with a growth on its tail but that has since handled itself.  Within the past few weeks though, I have noticed white spots on his skin beginning to develop.  They do not resemble ich, as in on the skin, but rather the skin itself seems to be spotting.  The water tests fine--NH3=0ppm, NO2=2ppm, NO3=5-10ppm, PH=8.2, SG=1.025.  I have no idea what this could be, nor if it is a problem.   >>I'm a bit concerned that you are still having *any* nitrite readings, especially with a system six months old.  This is a problem, and consistent, long-term readings can lead to stress.  I would surmise that this may be the issue with your fish. >I have included a picture to help identify what may be wrong. >>It's a bit difficult to tell, but they appear "dusty".  If you agree with my assessment of their appearance, then I suggest your fish has marine velvet.  Please see the following links: >> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amylloodiniumart.htm >> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm >> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffersysfaqs.htm I do hope this helps.  Marina

Re: puffer Thanks for your reply, I'll do precisely that and give her some garlic with the food and see what happens (hoping for the best). Katja <Hope everything works out ok, IanB>

Sick Puffer? Hi, I have 2 figure 8 puffer fish. They both have fin rot but are recovering after I addressed some medication.<good to hear> At least I think they are recovering because the opaque on their fin seems to have lessen.<would still keep close eye on these little guys> However, one of them deems to always stay on the bottom, and on top of that, it curls itself so much that its tail practically touches its nose, and seems to be very unstable and losing its balance. Is it sleeping or sick? <sounds sick/stressed out-maybe from the previous illness, would not treat with anymore medication, if all water parameters test good, would just sit back and keep an eye on these fish, IanB> <keep reading about these puffers on WWM> I have checked the Ph, Temperature and Ammonia level and all are ok. Please advise. Thank you, Stace Re: Sick Puffer He seems to be getting worse. After the water change he went to a corner of the tank and didn't move for the next 16 hours. This lack of movement seems to have inspired deterioration to begin on the edges of his fins. So I have bought some MelaFix, and after the dose he moved around a little and settled in the back of the tank. I tried force feeding him with a turkey baster with no luck, he expelled it as fast as I could put it in, which I tried to do slowly. I made a mix of blood worms, scallops, garlic, and baby vitamins (poly vitisol). Is it at all beneficial (and safe) to just put these vitamins straight in the tank? If so, how much/how often? It seems I've only made things worse, for now he wont even swim up off the gravel, when I lift him he just sinks back down.<does not sound good, would not add anymore vitamins to the water-does almost nothing for the fish, keep doing water changes-and keep checking water for nitrites, ammonia, nitrates. The only thing you can do now is keep almost perfect water quality and wait and see, Good Luck, IanB> Dogface Puffer Problem >I have searched through your site, but I have a couple different symptoms, although I fear it may be too late.  I have a dog faced puffer (about 8-10") in a 40 gallon tank, which I have had for 5 years, I have been using the same bottle of prime for this entire time. Once the Prime Dechlor has been opened, does it have a certain amount of shelf life? >>I can only assume that it has a limited useful life, but I couldn't say that it would do anything worse than be ineffective.  I'd treat it like certain toiletries, give it anything from one to three years (?), just a guess. >Since it always smells bad, its hard to tell if it's actually "gone bad".  His usual diet is tiger shrimps and smelts (which I now realize is likely not a good enough variety. I used to give him scallops too, but his teeth started overgrowing, and his increased size also made it harder to feed them to him). He recently has slowed down on eating, over the last month to only about once a week. (I had been on holidays with someone caring for my tank, and when I returned there was a slight elevation in ammonia and nitrites, which was quickly alleviated with a water change) He seems to be breathing differently, and over night his eyes have sunken in. His teeth don't seem to be overgrown, although his lips seem to be 'pulled back', and I'm not sure about the lock jaw, he kinda holds his teeth open, but I think he can close them if he needs to. I usually do a water change of 5-6 gallons every 2 weeks, I had done one last Saturday, and am doing another tonight. >>First thoughts are that he's reached the limits of suitability in housing.  I really think your fish needs a tank at *least* double the size currently housed in.  Also, you can do larger, more frequent changes, they never hurt (as long as you're not going vacuum-mad on the gravel). >While I live in a city where there is no one that has saltwater knowledge, I visited a larger center today, and the sales rep didn't think i had anything to worry about yet, although at that time I hadn't noticed his eyes to be sunken. At the same time I bought a new bottle of Prime, and I think there is a slight difference in the smell - could this be the problem? I asked the rep if liquid vitamins would help if he has a vitamin deficiency, and he didn't feel they would do much good. >>It is my opinion that the sales rep was remiss for discounting the true importance of nutrition.  I feel that you should use supplements, especially on this fish.  There is one (available online) that is *very* good, called Selcon.  Other folks also speak (and there does appear to be some proof validating the claim that garlic (or extract thereof) induces feeding response in poorly feeding fish.  It is indeed known for the antibiotic properties of Allicin within garlic.  You can crush it, and soak food in it, see if it inspires any increased interest in food. >If they would help, is there any substitutions since its unlikely any pet store here would have them? Would it be worth it to try to force feed him, or with the sunken eyes is it already too late? >>I'm honestly unfamiliar with anything other than malnutrition that would cause a fish to look like that.  I might suggest a parasitic infection, for which garlic is also purported by some to have internal anti-parasitic effects.  Since this message is a few days old, please email me back so I have time to do some research, and to see how he's doing right now, then we'll move on.  Marina >Thank you for your help, Shawna Ogonoski

Sick porcupine puffer: Hold the shells for this one, please... <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> We have a 72 gallon tank with just 1 damsel and 1 porcupine puffer.  The puffer was doing well, until I read on your website that it is not healthy to feed them goldfish.  I have tried everything from frozen mussel, to frozen krill, to shrimp, to silversides - but he will only eat live foods (live goldfish or crawfish).  Today, I purchased some mussel on the shell for him from the grocer.  He actually went for it and begin nibbling...shell and all!  Only afterward, he appeared sick and sat on the bottom.  Now he is not looking good or moving around.  Please help me!  We are new to the saltwater aquarium hobby - but I truly enjoy this fish and do not want to lose him! <This one's another case of "I saw it on the forum first and answered it there"... with this one, the forum worked better, as we were both online and I was able to get questions answered more quickly via forum than through email! Here's the thread in the 911 forum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?nav=false&forum=31&thread=9403 --Ananda>

Porcupine puffer with ich and eye problems <Hello! Ananda here this afternoon.> Hello, My Porcupine Puffer "Yoda" has been very sick for the past couple of weeks He has all the symptoms of Ich...When I started to treat him in a new 10 gallon hospital tank "PH- 8.1 NH3- 0  SG- 1.023 " with quick cure his eyes started to fog up at first I thought It was just stress but they have continued to Fog... <Are you using the Quick Cure at full strength? That may be aggravating the problem -- puffs and other scaleless fish should be given their meds at half strength, for double the length of time. Also, do you know what your nitrites and nitrates are? Cloudy eyes are usually indicative of poor water quality.> now it looks as if he is totally blind with a thin layer of skin covering his eyes...He also wont eat 3 days now.. <Probably due to stress. These puffs will occasionally go for a week or longer without food. Try feeding him freeze-dried krill soaked in garlic oil (from the "soft gel" garlic supplements at the drug store -- the dried/dehydrated krill will soak up the garlic oil quite well).> I added carbon to the filter yesterday and did a small water change to remove medication from the water I was going to start treating him with Mela fix today <What kind of filtration have you been using in this tank? Melafix won't hurt, but I'm not certain it will help, either.> Have you seen these problems or can you recommend additional/different treatments? <Yes to both... do read up more on saltwater ich on various pages of the WWM site (use our Google search tool and look for "ich" and "porcupine").... let me know how it goes with the krill... --Ananda> Thanks for your help, Brian

Ich? on Yellow Boxfish <Hello! Ananda here tonight> We have had our boxfish in our tank for about a month.  He has been very healthy with no signs of disease until today when we noticed about 30 or more white dots all over his body.  We suspect ich, but the dots do not seem to be clustered around his fins....yet?  He is still eating, breathing and swimming as usual.   <Those are good signs.> We know not to treat him with copper since he is a scaleless fish, and we know he secretes a toxin, which could kill everything in our tank, when he becomes stressed.   <Yup.> Our concern is will he release this toxin if we try to remove him from the tank to do freshwater dips?  Should we do freshwater dips?   <Yes, it's possible that your cowfish might release toxins if the freshwater dip stresses it sufficiently. You can minimize the stress of a freshwater dip by ensuring that the dip temperature and pH exactly match that of the display tank, and by aerating the dip tank. However, some people prefer to save freshwater dips as a last resort for these fish.> Is there any other way to treat this fish?  We have already started to raise the temperature to 80 degrees and are starting to lower the salinity as well.   <You've already started on the primary treatment: lower salinity and higher temperatures. These would be best carried out in a bare-bottomed hospital tank, along with daily water changes, siphoning from the bottom of the tank to get the greatest number of ich cysts. I've read that people with cowfish are more likely to use UV sterilizers -- which are good only against the free-swimming stage of the parasite, mind you -- to help combat ich. Another favorite of the crew on the Cowfish, Puffers, & More discussion group seems to be StopParasite. I have no experience with that particular product, so I suggest you check the Cowfish etc. discussion group for peoples' opinions: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CowfishPuffers_andMore/ > Is it possible that this is something other than ich?  His tankmates are a Foxface, a damsel, a Kole tang and a couple of snails.  Thanks for any advice you can give. <More on Boxfishes here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfshfaqs.htm ... --Ananda>

Mystery Disease (puffer) Hi Bob, <Hi Theresa, Ananda here... I often handle the puffer questions for the WetWebMedia crew.> This is Theresa Ulrich. I don't know if you remember me, but we spoke a few times in the past. <I recognize your name from the Cowfish site...> I was hoping you could guide me on how to get information for some people in my discussion group. These people are experiencing fast die-offs of balloon puffers. Here are the systems they quote and treatments thus far. <Okay... could you send me a link to the root post of the thread?> ------------------------------- I have an aquarium maintenance biz up in Portland. Porcupine (Balloon) Puffers are very popular so I order them frequently for clients. For the last month every single Puffer I order comes in looking fine but within 3-5 days they develop a blanched area around one or both eyes that spreads rapidly and they die within a day or two. <Are there photos of this? It might help.> YIKES! HELP! I never lose fish I hate this. I know it is not a water quality issue because I have several tanks on four different filtration systems. I have tested and tried quarantining in all of them with the same results. And my wholesaler, who also has a retail store says he has had the exact same thing happen....he can't keep them alive either. <I wonder where and how these fish are being collected.> He has suggested formaldehyde...nope, no help. The usual antibiotics don't help. I don't know what I am dealing with so I don't know what else to try. Furazone? I am relatively certain that this is not injury related. Here is what leads me to that conclusion. The puffers (8 in all) were purchased over a 2 month period from 2 different suppliers, both of them very very careful with the fish. <Who/where did the suppliers get them from?> The problem does not start in the eye, rather above the "eyebrow" area always. <Hmmm. Right about where the brain is. If this illness is something that attacks the brain, that might explain the very rapid demise.> Here is the clincher. I stopped purchasing puffers all together thinking something must be going on with the Puffers at a particular collection site and I did not want to contribute to the loss of any more. <Good idea.> Two weeks went by and I took in a Balloon to "baby sit" for a client while the floors in the house were being refinished to protect their fish from chemical aerosols being used. I placed the Puffer in a tank that had previously had one of the sick Puffers in it but had sat empty a full 14 days. I also placed all of their other fish of various species in the tank. This was a perfectly healthy Puffer. No injuries...I never net and only transported about 1 mile under optimal conditions. Within 3 days the Puffer began exhibiting the same blanching of color above the eye. Within 2 days the eye turned white and the Puffer was dead despite hospitalization and antibiotic treatment. The other fish were and are fine. Same in all the other cases...only the Puffer was affected when there were fish of various other species in the same tank. I think it is some type of contagion and I would think from the behavior bacterial in nature. I have never seen anything go so fast before from on-set to death though that was bacterial??? As far as treatment I tried what my supplier recommended with the first two which was Formaldehyde at a 37% solution 1 drop per gal daily for three days with the Puffers only getting worse. Next time I tried Erythromycin 1 capsule per gal with no results continuing treatment until the Puffers died. I also mixed Erythromycin into their food until they stopped feeding. Next shipment I tried Furazone Green and triple Sulfa. The last Puffer I went so far as to give 100mg Erythromycin injection 2 times per day until loss. In all cases there was no improvement in the fish at all before death. Yes, I do also keep a copper drip on all the quarantine tanks except the invert tanks so antiparasitic agent was also being employed throughout the treatment. <Okay. So we know the bacteria or parasite can live for more than two weeks without a host. It's also specific to the porcupine puffers. It did not respond to two medications normally used to combat gram-positive bacteria, nor to an anti-microbial medication. It didn't respond to two anti-parasitic treatments -- though I usually don't suggest copper for puffers. One thing that wasn't covered is a gram-negative bacteria.> Thanks so much for taking on the dilemma. I wish I had gotten a picture for you because in 20 years and a ton of Puffers this is a brand new one on me! I was just so frantic to try and save them. ---------------------- Another member posted this link to show the progression of the disease. http://platinum.yahoo.com <There must be more to this link....> -------------- The first person indicated that her balloon puffers progressed in the same manner as the fish on the link. ------- Theresa! this is it!!! look at the pictures forwarded with this posting Gabriel found. That is exactly what keeps happening to my Balloons. A bruised or blanched looking area starting just on one side behind the eye back. ------------- Bob, I know it is hard to hard to make an exact diagnosis with a sample viewed under a microscope, but can you offer some guidance here? <I'd like to see the original thread and see what else people have tried. I'm particularly curious to know the results of any treatments that target gram-negative bacteria.> I have tried contacting public aquariums with no luck. Although some of my references indicate some possible disease scenarios that are similar to this, it doesn't account for why the disease seems specific to only the balloon puffers. <I'm not a microbiologist, nor do I play one on TV, but I've heard of things specific to a single species before.> I appreciate whatever you can do. <This has been a stumper that I've been mulling over since it turned up in my inbox. Kelly the Puffer Queen is going to be at this Saturday's meeting of the Chicago Marine Aquarium Society (www.cmas.net), so I'm going to print this out and ask her about this, too.> Thanks, Theresa Ulrich www.cowfishes.com <You're welcome. And thanks for running the cowfishes site! --Ananda>

Puffer "lump disease" (04/21/03) <Ananda here tonight. Teresa posted this on the WetWeb chat forums, in the 911 forum, and I replied to it there. I am posting this to the WWM Dailies as a message and warning to others....> I recently purchased a medium/large dog faced puffer (maybe 7 inches in length) he looked a little depressed at the LFS and has had a difficult time encouraging him to eat.  Otherwise he perked up considerably in our 125 gallon tank.  48 hours later I noticed what looked liked nickel sized lumps on the top outer sides of his head.  They did not look enflamed and I actually had to think whether they had been there before and if it was just natural on him.  I came home from work that afternoon and those nickel sized lumps had increased in size a little but worst yet they seem like open wounds now with little tendrils of white stuff coming off the top.  As well there is a large rings outlined around each of the lumps. The inner part of the outline is very dark (darker than normal skin tone) the ring itself is lighter than his normal coloration and outside of that is normal.  He is also breathing heavily and still not really eating.  I have an emergency tank set up but have no idea what to treat him with.  Any ideas would help.  Teresa <Teresa's puffer died. By the time she got the puffer, it was beyond help. I talked to Kelly the Puffer Queen, and she said there was nothing Teresa could have done to help this puffer. Unfortunately, the story didn't end there. Teresa has since lost a valentini puffer that was in the same tank. The bacteria that causes this disease can live and thrive in the tank substrate, and get passed to other puffers that might sit on the substrate -- as many puffers will do after a good meal. We are really hoping that her porcupine puffer has not caught this yet. I have suggested that Teresa quarantine her remaining fish and live rock -- separate tanks for the puffer, the other fish, and the live rock! I have suggested that she sterilize her tank and substrate. After a lot of work, and a lot more time, she might get her tank back to where it was a week ago. A plea to all who read this: never, ever buy a sick fish, or a fish that is not eating, or bring it home to your display tank. Always, ALWAYS quarantine. The fishes you save may be your own long-term companions. --Ananda>

Dogface puffer with ich (04/03/03) <Ananda here tonight...> I have an 8O gallon tank. I have a dwarf lion, dogface puffer and a green bird wrasse.  My dogface puffer has ich. I don't really want to do a copper treatment because I have live rock. <Oh, good -- because your puffer won't tolerate the copper very well at all.> I have a quarantine tank but I heard moving a fish from an 80 gallon to 10 gallon can do more harm than good. <A 10 gallon tank is definitely too small for a dogface puffer for any significant length of time. But it sounds like the right size for a freshwater dip.> Do you have any treatment that's safe for my other fish and I can just treat the dogface in the 80 gallon tank. I am using Kordon's prevent ich organic but it doesn't seem to be working please help. <The best first treatment for ich is a pH-adjusted freshwater dip. There's a lot more on treating ich on the WetWebMedia site. Try using the Google search tool at the bottom of the front page (it's also on the Daily FAQ page) and search for "puffer ich" to find some more insight into dealing with puffers with ich. --Ananda>

Re: Porcupine puffer having problems (04/03/03) He/she really looks good / normal.  Eyes are clear and he/she is now very alert and swimming like normal.  However, still will not eat.  Goes to the food, but doesn't seem to be able to open mouth wide enough to swallow any food (even the very small pieces). Like I wrote previously, had never, ever turned down a meal. <Ah. This sounds like it might be lock jaw. There are a couple of things to do here. First, start adding a vitamin supplement for marine fish to your tank. Even if the puffer can't eat, it must drink the water and will get some benefit from that. Make sure the supplement has vitamin B12 in it, as a deficiency of same can sometimes cause this problem. If the puffer gets too thin, you might, as Bob suggests, "force feed it a slurry of animal based material and vitamin mix (perhaps Selcon (tm) as well) via a plastic syringe." More on the Puffer Feeding FAQs page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm> As for tank mates, one dwarf angel (2in), one med yellow tang, and one domino damsel.  My Porc is about 3.5-4.0 inches long.  The tank is a 40 breeder. <You'll need a bigger tank eventually, but you probably know that...> Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have. Eric <Glad to help. --Ananda>

Re: Puffer with Swallowing Difficulty? 04/03/03 Ananda, thanks for getting back to me on this. <You're welcome> I should probably explain something first.  Since I wrote that first email.  The porcupine only wants to eat shrimp (from the market).  He can pack this away like nobody's business.  He beats up the smaller spotted puffer to eat his share.  He no longer wants to eat the freeze-dried krill (used to go nuts over the stuff). <Ah. My puffers sometimes get tired of their food. Quite possibly the same thing is happening here.> Whenever I give it to him, he brings it into his mouth, chews it up and spits it out.  He goes after the little pieces, but doesn't swallow them. Usually the little puffer cleans these up. <Thank goodness for small favors...and small puffers...> Neither puffer will eat the squid, octopus, or scallops.   <I'm not that surprised. Out of five puffers, only one will eat squid.> They did eat a fresh clam and a cleaner shrimp, that sucked.   <Yep, that bites. (sorry... PUNishment will now be administered via slapping with wet noodle...)> About the vent issue, I think the porcupine was just too skinny.   <Whew> Since I've got him, back in December, he never filled himself like the spotted puffer does, until recently, with the Shrimp.  Since he's been eating it so well, I've been feeding it to him soaked in Selcon and/or Garlic.   <The Selcon is definitely a good idea; the garlic can't hurt.> His body has filled out nicely.  I can no longer see his jaw bones under his mouth.  It's a nice rounded look.  And since he's gained weight what I thought was a distended vent, now blends nicely with the rest of his body.  He has a tapered look from head to tail.  He also doesn't swim around "hunchbacked" like he used to.  I guess I just wasn't feeding him properly. <Live and learn... good to hear that he's doing better.> I am very new to the hobby and the LFS told me that they do great on freeze-dried krill. <Which, presumably, they want you to buy at their store... yes, puffers usually love freeze-dried krill, but it should not be the only thing in their diet.> Out of curiosity, a few days ago, I took a shrimp tail and threw it into the tank.  The shrimp was about 1/3 the size of the porcupine and went down very easily.  He looked ridiculous. <I can imagine... a nice shrimp-shaped bulge in the belly...> He did not eat the next day.   <If I ate something that was 1/3 my size, I wouldn't, either!> I'm trying not to overfeed or let them (puffers) stuff themselves, but also don't want to underfeed.  Also, I've tried to get them to eat other things, but they just starve themselves until I give in (I'm weak).   <Heh. Maybe try some small in-shell clams? You might want to check through the Puffer Feeding FAQs for more ideas: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm> Anyway, sorry to ramble on like this.   Thanks again for answering my paranoid email.  You "guys" are doing a wonderful service to all of us. Vince <The reward for doing this is the letters like yours, with the good news about the fish we try to help... thanks for the update. --Ananda>

Porcupine puffer having problems (04/01/03) Thanks for your site.   <You're welcome...Ananda here tonight...> I have a porcupine puffer.  He was born with only one eye.  I have had him/her for about a year, and it has been doing great.  However, last night he would not eat for the first time ever, and this morning he appeared to be near death...sitting at the bottom of the tank, breathing rapidly.  He was barely able to swim against the current.   There are no visible signs of disease, and all the other fish in the tank are acting normal (and look good too).  I have no idea what is going on.  Could it be something genetic being that he/she has only one eye?  It seems like a stretch, but I am at a loss. I did a 20% water change right away.  Any further suggestions, advice, and comments will be greatly appreciated. <Have you tested your tank water parameters? Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate? Another possibility, since you say the other fish in the tank look okay, might be copper. Puffers cannot tolerate copper at all, while many other fish can. Have you treated the tank for anything lately? Have you added any new decorations to the tank lately -- especially anything green or blue? (Copper is used in both green and blue colorants.) I would run a copper test on the main tank to check; if you find any, get some Polyfilter tomorrow to get it out of the tank. Meanwhile, your puffer should go into the hospital tank. (No hospital tank? Don't panic -- go to the main WetWebMedia site and use the Google search tool with the term "hospital tank" to see some of the things people have used in a pinch.) Also, get another batch of fresh saltwater ready for another water change for the main tank.> Thanks in advance, Eric <Let me know what you find out... --Ananda>

Re: Porcupine puffer having problems (04/02/03) <Ananda here again...> I am sorry that I neglected to mention that all water parameters were checked and came back good.  No treatments.  No decorations except for live rock, and that has been there for over a year.  I only use RO water for changes, so I hope I didn't get any copper from that, but I will check. <Keep an eye peeled for ich or any other parasites. It may be that the puffer is showing signs of something before it causes stress in the other fish. Another possibility I thought of is stress caused by aggressive tankmates -- what other fish do you have in the tank? And how big is the tank?> Thanks so much for your quick response. Eric <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Porcupine puffer post-mortem Good afternoon and I appreciate all the info on the website, has been very helpful, <Ananda here tonight, apologizing for the delay in responding (I was out of commission for a while). Thanks for the kind words about the site.> My issue has to do with the recent death of my porcupine fish.  It was housed in a 30 gallon tank( while I get my 55 up and running) with a yellow tang. <The tang will appreciate the bigger quarters, but do consider a larger tank...> The tank has about 27 lbs of LR, hang on type filter, counter-current skimmer.  There is one Condy anemone and some green star polyps, the tank has too much crushed coral at the bottom app 1"( I learned this after reading info on website).  Sorry about being long winded.   <Ah, you're not even close to long-winded... :-) > The parameters are 8.1-8.3 pH, 0 ammonia and nitrites, and the highest measure of 20 for nitrates (now at 10).  My porcupine fish had been healthy since he arrived in our tank, 3.5 inches long-had been held at the pet store for 2 weeks.  Was fed shrimp, Formula 2, and live feeder fish.   <Uh-oh. The freshwater fish that are used as feeders are not part of this puffer's natural diet. Feeder fish are often kept in abominable conditions, which contributes to their ill health -- frequently including any of several diseases, which they can pass on to the fish that eat them.> However, 5-6 days ago started acting strangely-hiding under LR, laying on bottom, etc.  Ate until yesterday, he refused shrimp w/his garlic.  This morning was curled up at bottom white as a ghost, twitching and breathing heavily with one gill swollen, no spots on body or otherwise, contacted owner/friend at LFS and then tried freshwater dip.  Sadly did not make it.   <Sorry to hear that.> Lost two false percula clowns in similar manner 2 1/2 months ago, again no real water quality factors.   <But possibly something in the water... unfortunately, the Uber-test for water-borne pathogens has not been developed yet.> The entire time tang and anemone have thrived.  Once again sorry to be so long winded, but hope to solve issue so as not to see fish suffer again. 20+ years of freshwater experience and less than one year of crazy saltwater adventures. <Onward, Captain Nemo... wait, wrong type of adventure...> Thank you for any info that might help, Most Respectfully, Joe Bales <You're welcome. --Ananda> Puffer with Swallowing Difficulty? Hello again crew, I have a question re: my porcupine puffer.   <Hi! Ananda here -- sorry to take so long in answering; I've been out of commission for a while...> I recently had an outbreak of either ich or velvet.  I'm leaning toward velvet because the spots were pretty tiny and the puffer had them everywhere.  I have two puffers: a porcupine puffer and a green spotted puffer (brackish).  The spotted puffer has never had any problems.  He never showed any signs of ich/velvet and has never had any problems eating.  The porcupine is a different story.  When we first got him he ate fine and never spit anything out.  We've had him for about 3 months now.  Two months ago he started with what seemed to be a hunger strike.   <I've heard of these puffers doing this before...usually, they start eating on their own. Sometimes a bit of vitamin B12 or garlic helps.> He would take food into his mouth chew it up and spit it out.  He did this for about 3 days.  We went on vacation, and the person watching him said that he no problems feeding him.  I normally feed him freeze dried krill and shrimp.  I've recently tried scallops, octopus, clams, and squid.   <Many of those are puffer favorites....> Anyway, six weeks ago i put the two puffers and my late O. Clowns into a QT for Ich/Velvet treatment.  Since the fish were in a much smaller environment I could observe them better.  Towards the end of the QT the puffer started spitting out his food again.  It looks like he is having trouble swallowing.  I can see the lump of food start down, but then it goes right back up into his mouth, he chews it up and then spits it out.   <Almost sounds like a blockage in the digestive tract... perhaps a too-large piece of something?> My spotted puffer seems to be able to swallow anything he can stretch his mouth around, and his body looks distorted afterwards. <Sounds familiar!> The porcupine doesn't seem to be able to do this.  Also, I recently noticed that his vent seems to maybe be a little distended.  Could you please give me a couple of clues as to what could be wrong with him/her.   <Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot you can do for a distended vent -- but the problem may solve itself. I would keep the porcupine puffer separated from the green spotted puffer to make sure the spotted doesn't cause any stress. And continue trying a variety of foods.> Also, there has been no signs of ich/velvet since they were reintroduced about two weeks ago.  The fallow method seems to have worked, thanks. <Ah, good to hear. --Ananda>

Puffer Problem I've been treating my Porc. puffers for ich using hyposalinity, and while its suppressed the ich, it hasn't gone away yet. They seemed okay until this afternoon, when I noticed one of the puffers looks like he has a bruised side. He looks miserable and I don't know what it is. Is it possible that the ich has caused blood vessels to burst under the skin, or is this possibly unrelated and just really bad timing? <Most likely, an unrelated (but poorly timed) problem> He also doesn't seem to want to move the fin on that side very much. Right now, I'm thinking of starting copper treatments with CopperSafe in a hospital tank because I'm sick of messing around with hyposalinity and it not working (there is a good chance I just don't have the salinity low enough, but now I don't want to wait to try to keep adjusting). But I'm worried the copper will be bad if he's in a weakened state. Please, any advice would be appreciated. <Well, I'm not a big fan of hyposalinity...Lots of hobbyists use this technique to combat ich and parasitic illnesses, but it seems to be better at preventing ich than curing it. I believe that medication does a better job. If not copper, then you may want to use a commercial cure containing Formalin..> If he is injured somehow else, I don't know how. He's in with another porky, a hawkfish, and a ruby headed parrot wrasse. The tanks primary filtration is a canister filter, and the intake is covered. There are rocks, etc... in the tank, but nothing with small holes he could have gotten stuck on. <Hard to say what the cause might be...Could possibly be a trauma of some sort...But I don't believe that it's a disease at this point...> You can also see more pictures of the bruise here: http://wetfish.terminus13.com/misc/puffertrouble/trouble.html <Good pics, but I couldn't get a good feel for what it was...My advice: cure the ich with a reliable medication (in a separate treatment tank), and continue observations and effort to maintain good water conditions...I think that getting rid of the ich is he most important thing to deal with at this time....Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Re: puffer with a possible prolapsed colon? Hey Bob, <Kelly> Sorry it took so long to get back with you. I have seen prolapsed rectum/colon in puffers. Often these puffers have internal parasites or mycobacterium marinum. I have found that if the prolapse portion does not return to the abdominal cavity within a few hours, the intestine often becomes edematous and then blood supply is compromised. I have tried using MS222 and manually reducing with an occasional success story. The problem is that it will always reoccur unless the underlying problem is corrected.......which internal parasites has a better chance of cure than mycobacterium. I have also seen the rectum/colon been injured by wrasses and other puffers. As you know, if you don't chew your food well, it comes out just like it went in and for other fish.................well I am sure you get the picture! <Yes> Hope this helps. Kelly <Thank you. BTW, is there a URL where we can refer folks to for your teeth grinding work? Bob Fenner>

Golden Puffer Hi to the WWM crew.   <Hello! Let me start by apologizing for the delay in replying. Our resident puffer expert has been ill so I'm standing in for her. Your problems may have already worked themselves out since it's been nearly a week but I'll reply anyway.> I have been waiting for about two months to receive a golden puffer (Arothron meleagris), finally received the puffer on Tuesday morning.  The puffer is about 9" and was shipped in about 7 gallons of water. His color is awesome, his eyes are clear, and he appears to have been eating well. <Very nice> I expected the puffer to be stressed, so when he spent the first day on the bottom of the 55 gallon QT, I was not concerned.  However it is now Thurs. morning and I have not seen any improvement in his demeanor.  Even though he does not appear to have labored or heavy breathing he does not close his mouth, is this normal?  He basically is just floating at the top of the tank, and holding himself stationary.  I do not see any signs of parasite or infection.  I have not been able to tempt him to eat anything, but that does not surprise me as of yet.  He seems fairly alert, watching things around him.   <This could be normal. If there's no sign of disease, I'd guess that he's just timid and is still adjusting to his new surroundings, both inside and outside of the tank.> My concern is that since he is in a QT, and there is nothing in the tank that looks even close to anything he has ever seen, he is that much more stressed.  Is there anything I can do to make his two week stay in the QT more comfortable for him, so he can relax a little?  He does not seem to be handling the adjustment well. <Leaving the tank lights off and reducing the traffic near the tank will help reduce stress.> When would you expect to see improvement in his behavior, basically when should I really worry or intervene?  Your help is greatly appreciated.  Thank You, Jen Marshall <If he hasn't improved by now (3/26) I would begin to worry. Check the articles and FAQ's at

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