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FAQs on Butterflyfish Environmental Disease

FAQs on Butterflyfish Disease: Butterflyfish Disease 1, Butterflyfish Disease 2, Angels and Butterflyfishes &Crypt,  
FAQs on Butterflyfish Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Nutritional, Social, Trauma, Infectious, Parasitic, Treatments

Related Articles: Butterflyfishes

Related FAQs: Butterflyfish, Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Reproduction,

Need ROOM, aged systems, not too much commotion going on. NO ammonia or nitrite, and little nitrate.

Beware of the ill-effects of copper exposure, algicide use (antibiotics as well)

Butterflyfishes for Marine

Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Klein's Butterfly Heavy breathing no appetite; and no data      4/17/14
Hi I have a Klein's Butterfly been in my tank about 2 months. He is usually a ravenous eater of nearly everything but in the last 24 hours he has stopped eating and his breathing is heavy and very fast.
<Mmm... time for a quick partial water change, wicking off any surface film... Possibly just low DO or high CO2 here>
All parameters in tank perfect.
55 gallon, 6 year old tank? Anything I can do to help it?
Thanks for any help offered. John
John McGuire
<... need more info... e.g. what else is in the tank, gear, maintenance...
Bob Fenner>
Re: Klein's Butterfly Heavy breathing no appetite... Poisoned by algicide use     4/17/14
Hi bob,
Tank mates are marine beta, 6 line and fire shrimp. The tank is at my office and professionally maintained. Have an algae problem and the person who looks after it applied API algae fix
<Uhh, a huge mistake... poisoned the system>

about 3 days ago. Plenty of water movement. Other tank mates are fine.
Refugium, large skimmer etc. thanks for any help offered. John
<.... see/SEARCH on WWM re chemical algicides... CHANGE as much of the water as you can/have... and look into the chemical filtrants in your reading. BobF>

Hello everyone... BF hlth, QT, H2O quality   2/18/10
<Hello Jason>
I have a slight concern here and I wanted some input.
I follow "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and the WWM site faithfully.
I started QT on my Heniochus and Raccoon BF about a week ago. I am battling a small amount of nitrite and ammonia (ammonia only on occasion).
<Yes, common>
I am a month into a two-month fallow period with my 90g display tank so I will have these BF's in QT for another 30 days approx.
Under the profile of Chaetodon Lunula and Chaetodon Fasciatus is states:
"Butterflyfishes as a whole do not appreciate much in the way of nitrite or nitrates. A successful approach to their keeping is to place them in established (six months plus) aquariums...."

My concern is that (based on the verbiage from the fish's profile) this fish will eventually perish from poor water quality.
<It will indeed>
I do everything possible including 25-30% water changes daily, ammonia/nitrite remover, live bacteria, etc. Although the nitrite never exceeds .25ppm and ammonia never exceeds .50ppm
<Both toxic, and the ammonia is high and worrying>
(rarely ever gets this high, only on a day without daily water changes) I am still concerned.
<I would be as well>
Do you feel this is a need for concern or will the fish temporarily be ok for a month in these water conditions?
<No, I don't think so. Something needs to be done here - you say these have been in QT a month like this and you are still getting ammonia? I am guessing that your QT tank is too small>.
I'd appreciate any advice you wish to give and maybe some more ideas of ways to keep ammonia and nitrite at minimal levels.
<Buy a larger QT tank/ vessel for these fishes, even if it is just a large plastic water container (a Rubbermaid or something)>
Thanks a lot
<No problem, Simon> 

Pearlscale Butterfly Problem, induced   8/27/08 Hi there, Just want to say thanks for your assistance! Your website has answered so many of my problems over the last couple of months and what you do for others in need is really saying something about you, so thank you. Anyway.. i currently have: 1 Pearlscale butterfly 2 false Perc clownfish 1 Chromis In a 35 gallon tank. <Mmm, too small a volume for this or any other species of Butterflyfish> My concern is the butterfly fish. I know this species does need a fair bit more room i have heard of alot <... no such word> worse, and as a 16 year old this tank is all i can afford. <Then... return the BF> I have had the butterfly for about a month now and after about a week it started to scratch itself on rocks. I noticed a few spots similar to Ich so i turned the heat up a bit they soon disappeared and the scratching stopped. But it has been 2 weeks since and he/she breathes quite rapidly. <Maybe just/simply the increased metabolic rate from the elevated temp. and lower DO at that temp...> And he never used to breath so fast and it is starting to concern me because i don't know what it could be. He eats alot and swims fine. My ammonia and nitrite is 0 and nitrate is 7ppm. The other fish aren't having any problems with their breathing. Any ideas on cause and solution would be much appreciated, thanks so much. Kind regards, Patrick <Could be a psychological component here as well... the Damsels frightening the BF... Again, I'd return this fish, get something more appropriate to your setting. Bob Fenner>

Klein's butterfly I have a 120gal with two Eheim 2229's, 10watt UV and a MagDrive 320gph pump to move water around. Things have been great for over a year with my 3" Klein's Butterfly, 4" Koran Angel, 3" Maroon Clown, 3" Yellow- eyed Tang, 4" Sweetlips and 8 hermit crabs to help with the cleanup.  It's a fish only tank. Just after my last water change of 25% a week ago, my Klein's Butterfly has lost his ability to swim upright. His fins seem to be stuck in opposite directions making him spiral constantly. Now, here's the kicker, he still has beautiful coloring; is eating well and when other fish investigate he seems to regain control just for those few seconds to get away. Now here is what I think. when I changed the water, my thermometer was registering 79 degrees the whole time. After refilling the tank and placing the rocks back in place, I noticed by touch that the water felt very cool. I immediately grabbed my camping thermometer and it registered 74 degrees. I immediately drained the tank a few inches and reintroduced warmer water slowly. I brought the tank up to 80 degrees and nobody else seemed to mind the accident. However, my Klein's butterfly looks like a Top Gun fighter pilot in the tank and it makes me queasy just watching the poor guy. Any suggestions??? Tank parameters are back to normal. Actually salinity is a little low after I reintroduced the warmer water.  Salinity - 1.018 (I just didn't have anymore salt after the water change a week ago). Nitrates - 0 Nitrites - 0 Ammonia - less than .25 but not quite 0 pH - 8.1 Copper - less than 1ppm. residual from a treatment over a year ago (any way to get rid of this without starting over? I have tried lots of water changes and a copper removal solution that was a crock.)  <Richard, when you say salinity is a little low (1.018), that is more than a little low. I'm wondering what your salinity was before the water change. First thing to do is get the parameters back up to normal. You are going to have to get the SG back up to 1.023/024, and see if any improvement was made. Butterflies are a touchy fish in that regard. James (Salty Dog)> 
Re: ailing butterfly thanks -- 6/31/05
have done so and didn't find anything similar to what I'm seeing.  My biggest concern is that he's gone from being a greedy eater to barely picking at the food.  any thoughts?  I was wondering if perhaps he could have a blockage? <I really can't answer the question on the blockage, I'd be guessing.  Being you've read the info and FAQ's on butterflies, you are aware that they are not the easiest fish to keep to start with.  Pristine water quality and a healthy diet are a must.  Live copepods would be a good start in triggering an eating response.  There are places on the web that do sell them.  James (Salty Dog)>

Sick Copperband (7/19/04) Hi, there! <Steve Allen with you tonight.>  We've had a beautiful Copperband for about 2 months.  The fish has been fine, eating very well - we have even been able to feed him by hand.  We had to rearrange the tank the night before last to access a LTA who we couldn't reach to feed.  Our Copperband hasn't been the same since. Last night his appetite was decreased but he seemed fine.  This morning he was laying on the substrate rapidly gilling and floated upside down for a moment.  Earlier tonight he was at the top of the tank "resting" but breathing better.  Now, he is laying at the bottom again, gilling hard and I don't think this fish is going to make it.  Tank parameters (oxygen, nitrite, ph, ammonia, temp, alk) are all normal with the exception of the nitrates  which are between 40 and 80 ppm (we haven't been able to get it down since we started the tank 7 months ago). <You will want to search for ways to get this down through natural nitrate reduction or frequent water changes. Search the FAQs.> We did have a salinity spike up to 3.0 last week <what are your units of measure here and what instrument are you measuring with?> and lost two shrimp.  We did a 30% water change this morning and the Copperband seemed to perk up a little after that. <Smart move. At first I though he might just be stressed, but your further description sounds toxic from some source.> Now, he's back to laying on the substrate looking about to die.  All other fish seem fine. We have a 120 gal reef with 2 clowns, 1 yellow tang, 1 Pseudochromis, 2 cardinals, 1 coral beauty, 1 lawnmower blenny, 1 arrowhead crab and one hippo tang.  Also 2 brittle stars, one of each: LTA, BTA, hammerhead coral, one elegance coral, pumping xenia, galaxy coral, frogspawn, green star polyps, Rasta leather, Zoanthids and yellow tip torch.  Please help as we desperately love this fish and don't want to lose him.   Thanks so much in advance for your help! <If he's still with you, move him to a hospital tank and maintain excellent water quality. This hospital can consist of a simple large Rubbermaid container with a heater (if needed this time of year) and a sponge filter. Copperbands are not very hardy. I had one that was several inches long, ate heartily and was very active. I found him leaning dead against a rock one morning. He was fine 8 hours earlier.  Also, mixing anemones and corals (especially stingers like torches) can lead to chemical warfare with all sorts of toxins. You might want to run some serious carbon and/or PolyFilter for a while. Hope these ideas help.>

Butterfly In Peril... Hi Scott <Hi there!> How ya doing, How was your weekend? <Two days to short!> I have had a saddleback butterfly in my tank for about two months now and it has been doing fine. I did a water change on Saturday like I normally do week in week out. Yesterday, I saw the butterfly struggling, swimming on his side and upside down, etc. It was pretty late in the evening so I didn't have time to act and since it was the first time I saw him this way I decided let me leave him be and see how his doing in the morning. This morning I found the guy flat on his side in the one corner of the tank hardly breathing and I had no time as its Monday morning and I had to get to work so I left him. He still is alive as I was leaving home I noticed he was not on the same spot. I do not have a quarantine setup but I have a drum powerhead etc where I mix my water where I can quickly setup for the butterfly. Should I get home this evening and he is still alive I am gonna do the quarantine setup and get him out of the tank. <A good move!> I regret not getting him out last night, so I pray that he makes it through today. If he does make it how long should I leave him in the quarantine? <Well, it's hard to say. If you notice other "obvious" disease symptoms and need to medicate, you should leave him in long enough to affect a cure and allow for some recovery time.> I am regular with my water changes, etc., but before I go getting any more fish I think I will play it safe and have my water tested. <Very good idea. Sudden negative reactions by fish that were previously healthy could be caused by water quality problems, such as ammonia, etc.> I have done this a few times and its always been clear, so I kinda have taken this for granted. <A good lesson to learn: Never take anything in a marine tank for granted, as things can and do change! Best to test regularly> Now I realize that I should still check my water at least once a month, especially as I increase fish load, as I have added two new fish in the last week. <Well, the biological filtration needs time to adjust to an increasing fish load, so you should pace your new fish additions accordingly> Thanks. I probably will only get your reply my time tomorrow so I am gonna have to act and get the butterfly out, that's if he pulls through today. Thanks Again, Ziad <Well, Ziad- I hope that he makes it. I would definitely review water conditions as quickly as possible to determine a possible cause. Provide excellent water quality and plenty of aeration, and he might make it. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Butterflyfishes for Marine

Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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