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FAQs on Butterflyfish Parasitic Diseases

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

Related Articles: Butterflyfishes

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

VERY often Chaetodontids have trematode/fluke parasite fauna (body and gills) on import.

Butterflyfishes for Marine

Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Tinkeri with ich
Hello Wetweb Media Crew! I hope this email finds you all well. I currently have a Tinkeri Butterflyfish in QT. I've had him for almost 2 weeks now and have gotten him to eating a lot. This morning i noticed some fine white spots on the black, part of his body. I think its ich.
<Mmm; maybe, may be not. I would NOT be treating w/o confirming this via sampling and microscope use>
What medicine can I use on him as I understand they do not tolerate copper based medicines so well? I currently have him on Paraguard. But a lot of forums say it really isn't very effective against ich?
<Mmm; aldehydes can be effective... like other medications, S.O.P.s, NEED to be administered under propitious/ideal conditions>
Would love to hear your thoughts as I would hate to lose this fish.
<Oh, I do understand. Have spent hundreds of hours looking for Tinker's in Hawaii>
Many thanks!
<I would first try a pH adjusted (and aerated) freshwater bath; moving this fish in the process; either to the main/display or a new/clean isolation system. Please read here Re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm
Bob Fenner>

A Rabble of Butterflyfishes - Please Expand. And getting out to see BFs in the wild          9/29/16
Greetings Bob,
<Hey Sarah>
I thoroughly enjoyed your recent piece in CORAL about butterflies and your experience in the Philippines - what an enthralling time that must have been.
<And still are!>
We've corresponded before regarding Chaetodons I've attempted to keep, some of which have been thriving to date. The reason I write now is in reference to your paragraph about hobbyist quarantine and suggesting to place butterflies immediately into the display.
<I see>
It states, "This standard operating procedure assumes that there are no established bullying livestock...and your butterflyfish is in good initial health. The preventative dip/bath mentioned should take care of external parasites..."
<I'd like to insert the word/s "hopefully (and) most" in front of "external parasites">
I find this conflicting because it is difficult to find specimen in good initial health.
<Mmm; okay... how 'bout another sub... "better" for "good"?>
I don't overdo quarantine, I prefer an established setup with some live rock, will utilize TTM, freshwater dips and deworming, usually Levamisole. But I have found that dips, even those with Formalin do not eradicate all present ectoparasites,
<This is so... esp. more deeply "embedded" Protozoans; some worms...>

leaving enough to potentially take hold in the aforementioned display.
So unless each fish had a skin scrape, I wouldn't be comfortable with the dip and place procedure. For ex, I recently I purchased a trio of pyramid butterflies from DD that had a very aggressive strain of Amyloodinium and dipped them daily as part of treatment and it only resolved 80-90% of parasites attached to the fish. If I would have initially dipped and placed these fish in the display, none of which had torn fins, reclusive behavior, heavy breathing, spots, dusty appearance upon arrival, I would have jeopardized C. tinkeri and a slew of others.
So, theoretically, if all fish are in good initial health this method works and there's no need to further stress a fish
in qt possibly tipping the balance between health and disease, but some high mortality diseases aren't blatantly apparent immediately, even to the trained eye. Please explain your reasoning.
<You're compelling me to be more clear, erudite. Appreciated. My statements are intended for a "general audience" and some sort of "average" livestock, situation...
On the whole I will stick with your careful review of what I've written, presented on balance for the public... AS (I hope to be clearer here) for MOST folks, trials, BFs will be MORE impugned by delaying their introduction than their health guaranteed or restored (by quarantine, treatment there for parasites). Given the opportunity (as we are doing here, or better still in propria persona), I WOULD/DO consider your approach more beneficial, KNOWING/TRUSTING that YOU know "what you're doing". Understanzee?>
Additionally, where are your favorite places in the world to dive, snorkel even and observe butterflyfish?
<Gosh... there are a few.
Hawaii in general (here's that word again) for being convenient, close, known... esp. to see the endemic C. fremblii; all places in the "coral triangle" (Malaysia, P.I., Indo.... N. E Australia) for sheer diversity (and local abundance at times); and a great fave, the Red Sea... for endemism and coloration. Am going to try and find you on
Facebook, add you to our "Scuba Diving Friends" page... to share further.
Do look me up as well if interested, and send a friend request. I am Robert Fenner there>
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Quarantine question       9/15/16
I have a Threadfin Butterflyfish that looks like it is hemorrhaging and some of the scales seem to be separating.
<Mmm, I see this>
Attached is a picture. It is especially evident near the dorsal fin and down the side of the fish. Any idea what this might be?
<Yes; this fish is classically "breaking down"... can't tell exactly from what from the pic (need more information re the recent past... system, handling... AND sampling and microscopic exam to be sure re ext. parasitic involvement. HAVE seen Uronema, Cryptocaryon... Mycobacteria almost always.... w/ such fishes. I would tell you that w/o immediate action (I'd lower spg drastically; like to 1.010) this fish will soon perish. I WOULD remove it, or all other fishes from the same system. There are blitzkrieg type treatments... that attempt to treat all likely pathogens... A poor avenue to take.... Do you have time to study, NOW? Bob Fenner>

Auriga with ick
I have a 180 FOWLR with inverts that has been set up for three years. I only have seven fish: a 7 inch Hawaiian Naso, a 4 inch Melanarus Wrasse, a 4 inch Solar Fairy Wrasse, a 4 inch Magnificent Foxface, a 4 inch Auriga Butterfly and two 3 inch Zebra Barred Dartfish.
I have had the Auriga since the beginning. Tonight I noticed it is plastered with ick.
<Yikes. Wonder what triggered this infestation (from latent, in-tank population)>
There have been no changes to the tank for months. None of the other fish are showing signs yet. I have a 30 gallon that I can quickly set up as a quarantine with water from the main tank Can an Auriga be treated with copper?.
<Yes... are "mid" hardy to Cu++ exposure; but this, along w/ reduced spg is the route I would go here for now. IF the entire pop. of fishes show similar effects, I would switch to CP... Chloroquine; as gone over on WWM>
If not what would be best? The fish is still eating but I do not know for how long. thanks for your help.
<Need to move NOW... run through a pH adjusted freshwater bath enroute. Bob Fenner>

Fluke surviving Muelleri Butterflyfish in QT with bacterial infections (?)    10/13/13
<Good eve Sarah>
A friend of mine recommended you with the highest regard.  I've attached a cell phone picture (I don't have a regular camera, sorry) of the affected area on my Butterflyfish.  I've had him 15 months, he eats live blackworms and a homemade frozen seafood blend.  Parameters are good in the quarantine.
The photo: Below the glare line in the middle brown stripe the lesion like area is visible. There is some redness, the scales are raised, inflammation is visible from the profile view and there are a couple white apparatus' attached next to the inflammation. The white apparatus will begin small and hard like, very bright white and after a couple days grows larger and more flesh like, hangs off the fish (can visibly see it moving as he swims) and then falls off. Above the glare line is an example of one that can be seen moving in the current as the fish swims. A 5 min fw dip didn't seem to affect the area.
<... have you looked at this material under a 'scope?>
I dosed Kanamycin into the water 2 days ago, also have been feeding in frozen food.  It seems too early to know if it's working.  Currently, the fish is eating, but hiding in his pvc most of the time.
Additionally, he had a lower jaw (inside the mouth) infection that is now reoccurring.
Thank you for your time.
<I suspect the white material is simply "mucus" (body slime)... an exudate... from...? Not curable w/ antibiotics, nor quarantine/isolation.
Do you suspect there is a parasite here? I would move this fish back to the main/display system. Bob Fenner>

Re: Fluke surviving Mueller Butterflyfish in QT with bacterial infections (?)    10/14/13
Thank you, Bob.  I've been actively looking for someone to look under a 'scope, although, I'm concerned about increasing the fish's stress level as he's been in hiding except for feeding time for several days.
<You are wise here... life is indeed "a series of compromises", and you are right to consider the trade-off in handling this (or any) specimen>
This fish has undergone 17 days Praziquantel treatment (unsuccessful) followed by 23 days Formalin, which I believe, effectively eliminated the flukes.
<... am very surprised it didn't eliminate the fish>
 I feel the lesions/mouth infection are some sort of secondary ailment - i have read flukes are like portals for other diseases.
<Can be>
 I do not know if there's some sort of parasite at this time. 
<Highly unlikely... grossly appears to be "sores"...>
The fish's name is Ziggy.
<"Ziggy played guitarrrrrrrr" Bowie>
I appreciate your time.
<And I everyone's. BobF>
Re: Fluke surviving Muelleri Butterflyfish in QT with bacterial infections (?)  10/15/13

Good Day Bob,
Took Ziggy in this morning for a biopsy. The man said there is no mucus by the sores (which is bad), so he pulled a scale via tweezers and looked under the 'scope.

He told me there are no parasites (I assumed) and that the infection seems to be coming from the inside out.
All he could say is that it's bacterial and suggested running a full 5 day course of antibiotics, which I have been (Kanamycin - in food too) with today being the 5th day. Lastly, he said to begin treating tomorrow with a Nitrofuracin product because they are absorbed well.
<Yes; better... though best would be to do a rudimentary sensitivity test/run... >

I have a seeded identical QT and could treat with NFP Nitrofuracin green powder immediately or I could wait out the day with the Kanamycin treatment like the man suggested?
<I'd just stop the one and start t'other if you're adamant re such antibiotic/antimicrobial treatment (I am not... most such treatments are more destructive than useful... microbial issues starting w/ other causes... mostly environmental, social, nutritional... and cured by fixing the same. Moving, isolating specimens... is much more likely to kill them>
  I'm reluctant to wait and "see what happens," yet, very cautious.
He also said the fish looks very healthy aside from the bacterial infection.
<Yes; all the more reason why I'd move it... not treat>

 For the past few days, the fish has been hiding in a pvc and reluctantly, (which is a new development) ate a few live blackworms today.
<Cheers, B>
PS - I am very thankful to have found your site, will donate.

SW med. reading, BFs, Velvet, Copper  01/30/10
Hi everyone
Hi again guys lol. Ok, so I am in the middle of a two month fallow period in my 90gal tank due to a velvet outbreak. I currently have my 3..5" Heniochus in a ten gallon
QT tank with a penguin 150 HOB power filter a heater and some sand in a pouch from my main tank to avoid a level spike (or at least help with it). I have medium amount of circulation and an airstone for oxygen. I just made the first dose of Cupramine.
<... I would not expose these, or most other Chaetodontids to copper... Look into/use a Quinine compound instead. Read here:
Now, the label says to dose this for two weeks
<Not w/o testing for free copper daily>
and your good to go (if no signs of spots or symptoms), but do you think this is long enough?
<I suggest you read re Cu use on WWM>

I know for a face there is velvet in the water because it's the same water that was from my display tank. If not two weeks, what amount of time do you feel is safe enough to say the fish is free of velvet and can be placed back into the display? And, how do you feel about the "Prime" product by Seachem just in case I run into problems with ammonia and water changes aren't completely
cutting it?
<Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm
scroll down... Bob Fenner>

Re: Crypto or something else? & BF dis.   11/29/09
Thanks for the quick reply, Bob. The saddleback butterfly, who has been "cleaning" the rock beauty, has a blood-red, swollen mouth now (doom I know for B/F fish!). Wonder if it could be from "cleaning" the rock beauty?
<Mmm, doubtful. Much more likely resultant from dashing around the small system in the dark, banging into things>
Parasite or bacteria that has been transferred, perhaps?
<Mmmm, duet... not really... Most all are omnipresent to extents>
Anyhow, I'll keep an eye on things and treat with Crypto Pro (quinine sulphate) if I feel like the mystery spots are looking like Ich on the rock beauty. Not sure what to do for the poor saddleback.
<Not much can be done unfortunately... Keep some light on outside the system at night. BobF>
Re: Crypto or something else?& BF dis., beh.   11/29/09

Think I have figured out how the saddleback is damaging it's mouth. It seem to "peck" madly at the front glass as it swims up and down on it's side.
Very strange!
<Mmm, actually... not "strange" in the meaning of "uncommon".
Butterflyfishes and many other families display both territorial behavior in detecting their reflections, and "do this" sort of thing in small volumes>
Anyhow, put a fresh oyster in the tank tonight and it went to town on it!
<Ah! Very good>
Continued after feeding to keep going up and down the glass though, which is troubling.
<Do please tape a piece of paper (newspaper will do) on one end and a long side of this tank... Should have a discernible effect immediately>
Thanks again for the insight and quick reply. I won't trouble you any more on this particular subject. Take care.
<Never a trouble Michael. BobF>

Disease Diagnosis   11/14/09
Hello WWM Crew,
I am embarrassed to have to write you under these circumstances but I am looking for help diagnosing the problem I have going on here.
<No need/cause for embarrassment>
First, the background information. I have a 160 gallon tank with 120lbs live rock, a purple tipped anemone, two tank raised clowns and a purple tang. I have had all of this in the tank for about 3 years with zero problems. I felt it was time to add to the tank so I set up a QT tank (not sure if you can call it this, as I put live rock in, fed it with water and some substrate from the main display and let it cycle for over a month now. so really it's just a small 'other tank'). I then went to the LFS and purchased a Saddleback BF and a Raffles BF. After staring at them for almost too long in the tanks at the LFS and talking with an employee (here is where the problem starts), he convinced me that they have had these fish for a few weeks, the water isn't shared with the other thanks, they are eating just fine
<Did you see this?>
and are essentially quarantined right there in the store. So I took them home, fresh water dipped them and plopped them in my 160 gallon tank, totally ignoring the fact that I had a perfectly good QT tank beside it (yes I know. lesson learned.).
Here we are a week later, with the Raffles doing wonderfully - eating happily, swimming around with personality, picking at rocks. even happy to see me when I come around with some food. The Saddleback, however, is doing some things that I am not sure about. Last night, for the first time, I saw him rub on one of the rocks -
<Some rubbing behavior is fine>
he would line up his fin / gill area, press against it and then do a swoop off of the rock. I only saw him do this twice at that moment, and after watching them for hours, he hasn't done it again.
Another thing he did last night was move his mouth open and closed quite a bit, and do some very heavy fast breathing while staying still in the water.
He also once in a while does a body shake / shiver.
<Also natural>
He isn't nearly as active as the Raffles, and doesn't pick at any rocks.
<This is bad... this specimen is very thin... has a low index of fitness as we say in fisheries>
He also won't eat (I have been feeding Mysis). There are no signs of white specs on him, and he looks totally fine, other than maybe his gills look a little red (see attached photos). I'm thinking I am going to move him to the QT tank, treat the tank with copper
<I would not do, use this>
(obviously move the LR out before doing this) and if you think it would be a good idea, do 3 - 5 formalin dips on him.
<Perhaps one enroute to quarantine>
However, I am looking for some sort of confirmation that this is Velvet.
<Is not. If so, all your fishes would have contracted it, and likely be dead by now>
as I am now thinking that even though all the other fish are fine, they are going to eventually come down with it too.
<And your system would be infested>
Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention is that when I decided his gills were slightly red, I couldn't believe it as I can't remember the last time I have had water problems in the big tank, but I figured my ammonia or nitrite levels were high. so I did that check and everything is perfect (0 and 0). Nitrate is even fine at just above zero.
So this once again confused me (if the water was bad the other fish would be complaining too I would assume).
So first things first, based on the pictures and the actions described above, what do you think I am looking at here?
<For one, a "bad" specimen... IF it is not too inconvenient, I would simply return it to the store myself>
Is it a parasite I can be rid of by copper and formalin treatments?
<This regimen will almost certainly kill this fish in its present condition. Even when Chaetodon ephippium, actually all Chaetodontids are in excellent shape, they fare poorly if exposed to copper, formalin>
If so, I assume this means the other fish are infected as well and I should treat everyone and leave the main tank fallow for a month or two?
<Again, I don't read or see in your pix evidence of parasitic infestation>
Or should I just treat the Saddleback and see how the others fair in the meantime? Or, maybe I should see how it plays out, which means I should concentrate on getting the Saddleback to eat?
<If you can't return the B'fly, I'd try interesting it in other foods, soaked in a vitamin & HUFA prep. (liquid stimulant) like Selcon... Try adding some new/er live rock, try frozen/defrosted bloodworms, a small opened shellfish (from the human food store or Gamma brand), try even some live brine shrimp. This "upon the horse": ephippium (which for humans is a saddle) is likely just stressed from capture, handling, transport...
starved from lack of nutrition through the process. In future, I would demand that such potential purchases be fed in my presence. Please read here:
Bob Fenner>
Thank you in advance,
P.S. I apologize for my dirty tank - I haven't cleaned it since the arrival of the BFs as the Mag-float stresses them out and I am trying to avoid any unnecessary stress!

A question for Bob, please (since he wrote the article), B'fly fish sel., disease   8/20/09
Hi there Bob. I have learned much from your book, the photos are fantastic, as well.
I have a question on the disease resistance nature of two species you place high on the list of suitable aquarium inhabitants. In one write up on Golden Butterflies, and in a few questions from readers, you state they usually come in pretty clean, and would really only recommend a dip before placing directly in the display, skipping the QT for these.
However, I followed a link you posted to a reader that gave an updated version for the care of these butterflies, and in that article you'd stated they are quite susceptible to Ich and velvet.
Perhaps I interpreted your statement incorrectly?
<Sorry for the confusion... this Chaetodontid is "more susceptible" than many fishes/groups used in our interest, but amongst the Butterflyfishes as a family is very sturdy, typically parasitic et al. disease resistant. Does this make (more) sense? Tough as BF's, but BFs themselves are quite susceptible...>
do not point this out to show a contradiction, for I don't believe there is one...only to receive clarification on the disease prone nature of the Golden Butterfly.
Are they as susceptible to Ich and velvet on the level of a Hippo Tang? Or more hardy (disease-wise)
<Much less susceptible than Paracanthurus... which in turn are relatively tough for Acanthurids!>
like a damsel or a Mac Angel?
<Two notches down from a Mac let's say>
Your approval of them had me put a pair on hold at my LFS.
My second choice for my 320 FOWLER display (that currently only houses an 8" Naso Tang) would be a pair of schooling Bannerfish if the Golden Butterfly is not the best choice. I would like to get a pair of either one. It all comes down to which of the two are more susceptible to getting those marine diseases of Ich/velvet.
<Heniochus of all species are about "on par" with Chaetodon larvatus...>
I am aware that even the hardiest of fishes can succumb to such parasites, but I'd love to hear from you which of the two species you'd recommend on just that one factor alone.
Your decades of fish keeping and wholesale importing have certainly yielded some fascinating files of information.
Thank you kindly,
<Happy to share, Bob Fenner>

We don't want to lose our new addition! please help! (Butterfly Qs) 11/05/08 Hello, <Hi.> I am writing to you in desperation. My husband and I have purchased a long nosed butterfly over the weekend. He looked happy and healthy at the store though we did notice a few spots when we got home. <It should have been quarantined or even brought back.> The number of spots has increased and we are unsure how to treat him. The spots are small and white (possibly looks like Ich, I have attempted to take pictures but have yet to get one that is not blurry) and are all over his body. <Please see here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm  and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichart2mar.htm  and get familiar with the disease, symptoms and treatments described. See here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/forcipdisfaqs.htm  for Longnose butterfly disease cases.> He has taken to hanging out behind some live rock in the bottom right corner of the tank but this evening I noticed he was hanging out near the surface in the top right corner. He started floating with his tail towards the surface and head down late this evening (similar to what our clownfish do), and seemed to be moving slower and floating instead of swimming is this normal? <Floating tail up at the surface? Not normal, I would be concerned, too.> Once the lights when out he went back to the bottom corner (to sleep?). <Probably.> We have a 35 gal tank <Too small for the new addition. Please see here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/forcipig.htm . There is some good disease information found as well.> with 2 clown fish, 2 damsels, 1 chocolate chip starfish and our recently added long nosed butterfly, along with fair amount of live rock. We are looking to expand but due to financial constraints have post boned the expansion (We started with a 10gal saltwater take 14 months ago <If you still have this one running, it would be a small-but-better-than-nothing quarantine or treatment tank.> and upgraded to 35 early last spring, but are looking to upgrade again). Our readings are consistently normal <What's that?> and other then a slight algae over growth lately we have had no problems in the 14 months we have had our reef tank. We have fallen in love with our butterfly (still working on a name for the colorful little guy) and would hate to lose him. How can we help him? <Read where you have been referred to above and act accordingly. Good luck. I hope the butterfly (and your other fish) get well again.> Desperate in Tennessee <Marco in Heidelberg>

BF spot, Dottyback color loss, Centropyge feeding in QT   7/12/06 Thanks for your prompt reply, <Please include prev. corr...> I have done as you said and given my Copperband with a freshwater dip mixed with M/Green. He has a parasite attached to his front left fin, I hope it will come off after a few more dips. But he is looking much better after the first dip, the itch has receded significantly. And he's eating well as usual. <Mmm, a parasite? Might just be a "spot" from bumping into something... I'd try a purposeful cleaner organism... perhaps a Lysmata sp. shrimp... Gobiosoma goby...> Now onto my Dottyback. He has lost a lot of colour, when I got him he was a bright magenta and yellow, now he's faded to a dull purple and yellow. I have been told this is due to him not being the dominant fish in the aquarium, as the Anthias don't seem to like him too much and chase him sometimes. <Possibly a/the factor here> I feed him Mysid shrimp, brine, algae flakes, angel fish mix, ocean plankton, pretty much whatever I can get my hands on, and he is still showing no signs of his original colour. Any suggestions? <Spectrum pelleted food/s> My final question is about my eibli angel, which is refusing to eat Mysid shrimp, marine algae, brine shrimp and flakes. He is in my QT tank atm, and I'm worried that he hasn't eaten for 2 days. I am not treating the tank with any medication so I am thinking of buying a small piece of live rock for him to nibble on. Would you suggest Nori too? <Do add a good deal of ready-cured live rock with obvious algal growth> I'll just like to add that you guys provide a valuable service and your advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks. Albany <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Heniochus acuminatus with Ich 6/23/06 Hi WWM crew!! <Hi> I have an Heniochus acuminatus that show symptoms of ick. <Uh oh> It has white spots, that look like salt. It doesn't have that much but it still concerns me. <It should> It is still eating well. It doesn't breathe rapidly. All the other fish are healthy. <All other fish are infected with Ich, just not symptomatic.> I don't want to treat the main tank, because I have some invertebrate. <Almost always a bad idea.> I am not able to set up a hospital tank, I don't have the space for it, since I live in an apartment. <Really need one, doesn't need to be always set up, can be taken down when not in use.  Without a QT/hospital tank expect to continue to have problems with communicable diseases.> Yesterday, I have give it a freshwater bath( specific gravity: 1.008) with blue Methylene for 10 minutes. <Provides temporary relief, not a cure.> But, today, it still shows symptoms of ICK. <Most likely will continue until the Ich life cycle is broken.> What should I do to treat my fish? <If you are unable/unwilling to get a hospital/QT tank and remove and treat all fish and allow the tank to run follow there is not much you can do.  Provide good quality water and food and hope the fish's immune system and fight off the Ich.> I have bought a Formaldehyde - green malachite solution to use it in a bath, but I am not sure if it is a good idea and how much should I use and for how long. <Toxic stuff, I'm not a big fan of it.  Baths will help temporarily, but when the fish is returned to the tank they will be reinfected.> Could I use copper in a bath that would last for a long time? <Not effective.> If yes, how much should I use and for how long? Any other treatment I could try? <Not that wouldn't nuke the tank.  Medications are not specific enough to kill the Ich and not destroy the live rock and biofiltration.>    Thank you very very much!!! I hope my fish will be fine, I really like it!! <Hope so.> Steve T. <Chris>
Heniochus acuminatus with Ich Part II 6/30/06
Hi Chris, <Hi> As per your advice, I am actually looking to setup a hospital tank for my fish, to help to get ride of the ick problem... I have 2 clown fish, 2 green Chromis, 1 neon goby, 1 six line wrasse and the Heniochus. What size of hospital should I go with? <Good to hear, at least a 20 for all those fish.  If easier you could go with a couple of smaller tanks and split up the livestock.> Today the Heniochus have stopped to eat... :( <Uh-oh> What is my best bet with it? Should I give it a freshwater bath until I set-up the hospital tank? Any other ideas? <A bath may help, make sure its ph adjusted and the right temperature.  Try adding either Selcon or garlic to the food.  Both seem to stimulate the feeding response.  If it goes too long try some live brine shrimp.> Thank you very much... Steve <Good luck and remember to QT any new additions to avoid these problems in the future.> <Chris>
Heniochus acuminatus with Ich Part III 7/1/06
Hi again Chris, <Hi> Sorry to bother you again, <No bother.> I promise I will quarantine any new addition to my tank in the future. <Good> But, I just have a idea of what I could try to cure my fish from ick and get it out of my main tank. I know that the WWM crew are not big fan of hyposalinity, but could I just buy a tank (the one I would use in the future to quarantine any new addition) and use it to put all my hermit crab. They are the only invert I have in my system. I would put many pieces of live rock with them. So I would not kill all the zooplankton in LR and the crabs would be more safe... Could I lower the SPG in the main tank to kill the ick in it? I would keep the hermit crab apart for 6 weeks. Would it be effective? If yes, at what SPG would it cure the fish without being stressful to the fish? I have read from ATJ (the only name I have found of that guy) that the SPG should be at 1.009 to kill the ick. You can see this article here : '' http://www.petsforum.com/personal/trevor-jones/hyposalinity.html'' What do you think of that? <Well, it will get rid of the Ich if kept at that salinity long enough.  However, it will also kill off most of your live rock, and in the process cause a huge ammonia spike.  If you remove all the LR there will probably not be sufficient biofiltration and cause the same problem.> Thank you very very much for your help. If I found that the better treatment is the copper in a hospital tank, I will do it... Honestly, I don't feel confident about my capacity to keep them all alive in a basic none established system, though. <With lots of water changes should be fine.  Could also use Bio-Spira to jump start the biofiltration.> Steve <Chris>
Heniochus acuminatus with Ich Part IV 7/3/06
Hi again, <Hi> I just wanted to say that I should have listen to you one week ago. I mean I should have treated it as fast as I could. Even if the Heniochus had finally eaten yesterday, I have found it today in my overflow box dead. <Sorry to hear.>  I just feel like crap. The worst thing, it was my girlfriend fish... It was her birthday present. <Yeah, I learned that lesson the hard way too, no fish for gifts.>  I don't think she will like the tank anymore... I feel right now like I would give up too... It is sad that I had to make that fish die just to learn a so simple lesson!! <Been there, done that.  Almost quit after losing my possum wrasse, loved that fish.> So, I know that I will sing the same old song!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TO EVERYONE, don't be damn stupid like me, DO QUARANTINE YOUR FISH!!!!!!!! <A convert, and ready to give others the advice, some good out of a bad situation.> So now that the only really sick fish is dead (the wrasse only had 2-3 spots and it is now gone), should I just wait 1 week or 2 before I start to treat them in a hospital tank? <Start immediately.> I mean that way I could let some sponge in my tank to have some biofiltration ready for the quarantine process. <See if you ca find some Bio-Spira to kick-start the biofiltration.  But do not buy it if it hasn't been kept refrigerated, some stores don't and without it the bacteria will die.> Should I start using the biofiltration right at the beginning or after the copper treatment so, the copper would not kill the biofiltration?  <From the beginning.>  Can I use filter pad that absorb ammonia with a copper treatment? <No, all will also remove the copper as far as I know, just have lots of new salt water ready for water changes.>  If not, would it be better to use hyposalinity, so I could use absorbent resin to help to maintain good quality of water ? <Most of the bacteria cannot survive the salinity change anyway, so copper is probably the better way to go.> Again Thank YOU VERY VERY MUCH for your patience Chris!!! <Anytime> <Chris>

Gill Irritation: water quality or Disease? 3/2/05 I've tried posting this at WetWebFotos board but no one has answered. Here's the thing: I've had a double saddle butterfly for 2 months and he recently began exhibiting a strange new behavior.  After evening feeding time, he occasionally (not all the time) starts swimming oddly on his side and kind of charging abruptly on and off at the live rock and glass. <this is called "glancing" or "scratching" and is a sign of gill irritation caused by parasites, disease or water quality> Like he's confused or addled. He also develops an instant fright/night coloring, and breathes rapidly. It only happens after feeding (an hour before lights go out). <sounds more like parasites that handicap its higher respiratory (excitement from food, etc) periods> I've been trying to pinpoint the cause but can't determine it. It seems to happen when I feed foods he's not fond of (for variety purposes) and hence maybe he's angry he hasn't gotten enough to eat(?). That sounds nuts I know. He's a pretty aggressive eater when it comes to foods he likes. <parasites are mostly likely... and being expressed not surprisingly after some weeks after import (very stressful). Hence the critical need to understand and apply proper quarantine to all new fishes (4 weeks minimum) to prevent these things from contaminating your tank as well as having a better shot at curing them (in bare bottomed QT)> Just recently he's been breathing rapidly and presenting himself numerous times to the neon goby for cleanings. Should I freshwater dip him or wait until other classic Ich signs emerge? <do dip promptly... and do so once daily for 8 consecutive days for the best chance at breaking the larval cycle> I have just added a coral beauty and yellow watchman goby after a 4 week qt (the cb had Ich in qt and I treated with hyposalinity) <if this BF was in QT for a 4 full weeks... I wonder if it wasn't the addition of some snails, algae or live food (without QT) to the tank that infected this fish?> tank 100 gallons 8.2 pH ammonia, trite and trate 0 salinity 1.024 Thanks kindly, Angela <best of luck! Anthony>
Re: weird butterfly behavior
Thanks for the quick reply Anthony. <Antoine's out till the 7th> The butterfly was in QT for 5 weeks before introducing him into the main tank.  He, like all of my fish, got Ich immediately in the QT and I treated him with hyposalinity (1.009) for 2.5 weeks in a bare-bottomed tank then raised salinity slowly over the next 2 weeks.  <Sounds like the Crypt was in your system...> He was fine up until the weird addled behavior started a month after introduction to main tank (he doesn't scratch on the rocks but looks like he's lost a bit of control over his swimming ability and the change in color is spooky) I will dip him now as I fear he may have gotten Ich from the recent tank additions (even though they were QT'd for 4 weeks). I don't see any spots or scratching yet, just rapid breathing and the constant begging for a cleaning.  <Bob Fenner> 

Butterfly with gill flukes? My double saddle butterfly has been breathing rapidly for a week now. It's not Ich or velvet as I'm familiar with these diseases, and all of my fish have been QT'd for a month before introduction to the main tank. The bf isn't scratching, there are no spots on him, just the heavy breathing. I'm pretty sure he has gill flukes... <Stop! Where would these Trematodes have "come from?"> ...so I've been administering 50 min formalin baths (2 teaspoons Kordon's formalin/gallon) everyday for the past 3 days. Is this a sufficient treatment? <Possibly... there are more efficacious "de-worming" medicines... as you will see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fshwrmdisfaqs.htm> I've read that it's better to treat with formalin as a bath rather than constant exposure in a qt tank. <Yes... please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/formalinart.htm> So far, the butterfly is still eating well, not hiding, but still has the rapid breathing. I've also noticed that he has thread-like poops. Could he have internal parasites as well? <Yes... but very much more likely this is just symptomatic of the toxic formalin exposure> All other fish are fine, although I noticed a long stringy poop coming from the coral beauty (I've never seen her poop like this). Are internal parasites contagious? I've attached a photo of the coral beauty poop. Ammonia, ni trite, nitrate, 0 Salinity 1.024 pH 8.2 79º Thanks, Angela <Angela, I would suspend the formalin treatments, look into Praziquantel... what you are doing is too toxic to continue, not likely helpful... the fish do not have monogenetic Trematodes... unless you've observed these under a microscope I strongly suspect there is not a pathogen involved here. Bob Fenner> 
Re: butterfly with gill flukes?
Ok thanks for the reply Bob. I actually went and bought Prazi-pro yesterday and administered an hour long bath as directed. I plan to do another bath 3 days from now. Are the baths ok or should I just treat long term in a qt tank? <I would take the latter route> So far no breathing improvement. <... sometimes these fishes do "just" breathe hard... perhaps environmental influence/s... maybe social... I would not panic re> He's still eating well. As far as the stringy poops, the BF has always had them (I never saw him poop in QT, and was suspicious of that. It's because the thread-like poops are very hard to see) I figured he had gill flukes because of the internal parasite signs...  <I do wish everyone had ready access to a decent microscope (I have a neat, but cheapy QX3 Mattel/Intel unit... that's fabulous) to LOOK before using toxic chemical treatments... as I assure you that orders of magnitude more livestock is "bumped off" by well-meaning aquarists than dies from actual pathogenic infection/infestation> ...but also I'm at a loss as to what other pathogen would cause the rapid breathing (he has no spots or other signs) -a <As stated... there is almost certainly not a pathogen present. BobF>
Re: butterfly with gill flukes?
Again, thanks for the quick reply Bob. I'll let him be for the rest of the week and then QT him on the weekend. I do wish I could help him! He's also constantly begging the neon goby for a gill cleaning (which he never did before), that's another reason I suspected the flukes. -a <Mmm, well "general irritation"... a zillion possible causes... will elicit the same behavior. Bob Fenner> 

- Pearlscale Flashing - I have a 90 gal with a dwarf lion and a Pearlscale butterfly. The Pearlscale has been scratching on the rocks for a few days now.  <Uggh.>  I have only had him for about a week.  <Does this mean you did not quarantine or at least give it a freshwater dip on the way into your tank?>  He does not scratch all the time. <May be ok, but if it happens several times in a five minute period, then you likely have a parasitic problem looming on the horizon.>  My pH is a little low and my alk is low also.  <Wouldn't worry as much about the alkalinity as I would the pH, although they are related. Do work on your water quality... poor water quality is a big source of stress and will lead to other problems, susceptibility to disease.>  I don't see any spots on him what so ever.  <No so easy to see spots inside the gills... keep a very close eye on things.>  He is not eating anything I put in there only the algae on the rocks.  <You may want to try this... find a lumpy piece of live rock or a dead brain coral. Thaw out a Formula One or Two type of food and then press into the spaces in the rock and re-freeze. Once the food has set back up, put the rock in the tank so the fish can employ its natural feeding habits on some real food. This will acclimate it to your various foods and will also [more importantly] get it eating.> So my question is, is this Ich?  <Could be... scratching can often occur before you see spots so I'd keep a close eye on things and get that quarantine tank ready to go.>   TIA <Cheers, J -- >
- Pearlscale Flashing, Follow-up -
Thanks for the fast response.  <My pleasure.>  No I did not do a freshwater dip. I am getting ready to get a QT tank. The main tank is only 1 month old so I thought there was no need for a QT tank yet, but I should have done the fresh water dip.  <There is ALWAYS a need for quarantine.>  Anyway thanks for all the great info and I will try the rock thing you talked about feeding him. <Cheers, J -- > 

- Running on One Gill - So sorry to bother you again but I'm concerned about my Raccoon Butterfly. As I wrote before, he, along with 2 perculas are in a QT with CopperSafe as treatment for Ich. This is day 5.  I haven't seen spots on any of these guys for 4 days now. However, the b/f is only using one gill to breathe today. The clowns are fine. And the information I read about this problem on your site was in regards to smaller fish doing this because of Ich. He is 4" and has been in the with the CopperSafe. Could this still be Ich?  <Or worse, Oodinium... both infest the gills but Oodinium tends to spread very quickly and is fatal if not addressed.>  If not, what else could be going on?  <Well... butterflies are sensitive to copper, and I would have treated with formalin. Likewise, if this is Oodinium, it is not particularly responsive to copper and would have to be treated with formalin.>  He definitely is doing double time with the other gill.  <Is not a good sign... the best I can say is that if the fish is still with you by the time you get this mail, I'd run some activated carbon on the quarantine to remove the copper. Then I'd set up a pH-adjusted, freshwater dip for this fish and a follow-up bath in tank water with a formalin solution. Once the fish is returned to quarantine, I'd begin re-treatment with formalin and work on keeping the water quality as good as possible. Follow the instructions on the formalin bottle to the letter - formalin is bad news when overdosed. Because both copper and formalin are toxic, they will make it impossible to keep a running biological filter so you'll need to have several days worth of water changes ready to perform perhaps 25% every other day, perhaps more. You have a set of compounding problems here that will keep you on your toes... keep the water quality as high as possible... diligence will prevail.> Thanks once again, Christy
<Good luck. Cheers, J -- >

- White Spots on Raccoon Butterfly - I have a small raccoon butterfly in my main tank - FOWLR.  I had it in quarantine for 2 weeks and now in my main tank for 2 weeks.  I see some tiny white dots on the tail.  It's eating normally and acting fine.  Should I put it back into quarantine tank with medicine or is it nothing and will it go away? <I'd leave it be for now - a few spots on a fin shouldn't be an extreme concern and better at this point for the fish to resume a "normal" life rather than quarantine. Do keep an eye on those spots and make sure they don't multiply - if they do then you know what you'll need to do.> Thanks. Mitch <Cheers, J -- >

Hello, <Howdy> Some background: 55 gal saltwater reef tank approx 14 years old. Wet/dry filter, protein skimmer. Lots of live rock, Sailfin tang, Regal angel... <Pygoplites?> ...Squarespot Anthias, flame angel, blue devil damsel, cleaner shrimp, leather coral, fluorescent green carpet anemone, some plants. <All in a 55?> Regular water changes, addition of trace elements and calcium. Today we (my wife and I) purchased a Longnose butterfly from a shop we have done business with for years. In the store the only thing noticeable was a small bump on one side that an aggressive damsel was picking at. Feeling sorry for the poor guy we bought him and he is now in our reef tank. Here's the catch. When we got him home we went thru an acclamation period of about 3 hours, floating the bag, mixing tank water with the bag water, lights out in the tank, etc.  When we finally did put him into the tank, and later turned on the lights, we noticed small (very, very small) white spots on his head, and fins. His body looks clean, and the spots don't appear to be raised. These were not at all evident in the store's lighting, but seem to be enhanced by the blue actinic lighting in our tank (my guess).  Not sure if this is early stage of Ich or what, so here we are.  Please look at the attached photos and give us your opinion.   Thanks very much in advance. Look forward to your reply.  Michael & Gulnar - Bethel, CT <Mmm, looks like Cryptocaryon rather than "normal" stress coloration markings to me... I would (have) quarantined this and other new specimens if you had a larger system... as it is, with such a tiny tank, so much life already, I would NOT have added any more... possibly upsetting whatever magic dynamic you had... What will you do now? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm  Bob Fenner> 

New Copperband BF with Ich 3/29/04  I woke up this morning and see that my Copperband is starting to get s few spots of ICK. As mentioned before, it's in a 10g QT by itself w/LR/LS. Should I give it a fresh water dip?  <I do believe this will be very helpful. 3 minutes bare minimum to be effective... towards 5 minutes at least ideally. Do be sure to adjust the temperature and pH of the FW dip water very accurately to match the tank water. Aerate this bath several hours in advance too>  Should I medicate the dip?  <Formalin would be fine, but any of the organic dyes (Meth blue, Mal green, etc) or Copper/metals may take their toll on this sensitive fish>  Should I just treat the entire tank?  <if it is bare bottomed (glass) QT, then this may be an option.>  If you recommend medication, what should I use?  <Formalin and FW dips gets my vote. Daily or nearly so for the next week>  I'm giving this fish my all - I don't know who's stressed more - me or the fish (fish I'm sure). Thanks again, Dennis Nolan  <best of luck. Anthony>

- Non-Ich-magnets - Hi all, Hope things are going well.  I have several questions for you.  I have a 75 gallon saltwater FO tank with no live rock.  I had considered getting a Klein's butterfly as I have heard that it would be good for a beginner. <Very hardy once established> However, I recently heard in a local fish store that ALL butterflies are prone to parasitic infections and that I should stay away from them unless I was very experienced at dealing with that type of thing. <Sounds like more of a problem with the fish that THEY get. There are several very hardy butterflies that you should have no problem with, including the Klein's.> Please tell me what you  think.  Also, I currently have a pair of false perculas and a royal Gramma.  I had thought of getting a yellow tang at one time, but am scared because I have heard and read that they are all very inclined to Ich and also usually bully other fish already in the tank. <Tangs are a little more susceptible to Ich than some other fish, but provided that the fish is well acclimated and quarantined in a different tank (check out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm) you should have no problem.> Are chances good that if I get one I will have to deal with Ich, even with proper care; and would I have problems with them picking on other fish? <If the store you are dealing with consistently has parasitic problems with butterflies and tangs, you may want to find another shop! Simply quarantine and you should be all set. Should something happen it is very easy to treat in the QT.> Also, are there any types of tangs that are less susceptible than others to this disease? <Check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangs,.htm> Any recommendations as to a  fairly peaceful and hardy fish I could add to what I already have that shows itself a lot? <How about building up a good amount of live rock and going for a Centropyge angel? ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/index.htm) Tangs and pygmy angels will benefit tremendously from the addition of live rock (the algae and critters are excellent natural food sources). Otherwise, be sure to feed these guys small amounts of a variety of algae based frozen foods several times per day. Good luck! -Kevin> As always, thank you so much for your help and patience with all my questions, James

Butterfly Problems, Disease Thanks...  Actually a few more comments.  I read that the Butterflies were a schooling fish... so my initial experience was with purchasing 3 Aurigas that looked healthy and placing them in my 90 gallon tank (no quarantine) in October.  They lasted about 6 weeks before any signs of problems.  Those fish seemed to frequently rub themselves against my live rock and I never witnessed them fighting or anything bothering them.   <Rubbing on the rocks "Flashing" is the primary symptom of Ich and other parasites.> Finally, one day I noticed one with a puncture mark... it died two days later.  Perhaps a week >later I noticed another Auriga with a slash mark on it's side... it began to deteriorate.  A couple of days later it was missing and it took me almost two days to find buried under sand under the live rock.  By that time, there was higher levels of ammonia in my tank and my remaining Auriga and my small yellow boxfish seemed to be doing not so well.  I then setup a quarantine tank (way too quickly) to get my Butterfly and Boxfish in their own tank. It was obviously a rookie mistake... temp was too low... both fish died within 3 days. <Maybe not temp, but Ich, temp, overall stress certainly.> Of note, I used Detox2 in my canister filter and would recommend it to anyone with high ammonia...  It cleared my 90 gallon tank of any signs of ammonia within 2 days!!  The rest of my tankmates are fine and I have never had any problems with them. <Yes, the fish named are somewhat hardy but can still be Ich hosts.> So... my tank has shown signs of stability from Nov to January.  I introduced the Pearlscale Butterfly and my Fire Goby to my quarantine tank with a new piece of live rock (another rookie mistake... didn't know anything about the curing process).  I noticed after two days high ammonia and nitrates in my quarantine tank in addition to some cobweb like matter all over my live rock.  In order to save my fish I put them in the main tank. Both fish were fine.  I have since cured my live rock and know for next time. There were no visible signs of disease or parasites on my Pearlscale Butterfly.  If anything, perhaps the fish was a little darker toned in around the face area.  I didn't think it was unordinary.  My other fish are doing great.  The deceased Pearlscale body didn't have any apparent attack marks on it and my water quality has been top notch since the ammonia outbreak in November. <Except you still have had hosts in main tank, no QT for new fish, and then release of un-quarantined stock into main. Dude, it's your money, but you need to figure out the quarantine deal, and to do one thing at a time, slowly, so as not to cause all sorts of confusion and mistakes. As I posted before I think this is a typical parasite problem. The Gobies can be resistant to Ich, but if you turn an Angel or God forbid a Tang loose in there it is all done but the crying. The Gobies may actually be the hosts.... I strongly advise you go to WetWebMedia.com and read the quarantine section thoroughly, esp. about no rock or mineral containing items in the QT and esp. about parasites, how they are transmitted and their life-cycle so you can avoid them in the future. Remember, nothing good happens fast in this hobby! Slow down and be methodical in your approach. It is slow, but much more enjoyable! Thank you for the kind words, we really try to help folks out. I sure hope this helps you!  Craig>
Re: Butterfly Problems, Disease
Ok... thanks for the info.  But...  I have only ever seen my Butterflies 'flash' and I have seen Butterflies flash in all four aquariums in Calgary, Canada. <I'm not shocked or surprised!> I thought it was behavioral? <Nope.><<Yep. RMF>> My Pearlscale perhaps only 'flashed' once or twice that I saw in the 2 months that I had him... whereas my 3 Aurigas were 'flashing' daily.  None of the Butterflies have ever had peculiar markings on them in the way of spots. <This isn't necessary, look at your picture of the cleaner and the Pearlscale...cleaning his gills, not a good sign! The flashing may only be an indicator of infestation, including gills.> As well, no other fish have spots or marking or act weird.  How does one detect Velvet Disease? <Usually listlessness, rapid gilling, perhaps flashing at first. Fairly rapid demise without treatment. Please go to WetWebMedia.com and completely read the parasite articles for all the info you really need. Far too much to answer here!> So, given that I have fish and invertebrates that appear very healthy...what should I do?  Trust that they are ok... wait a month or so and add my Royal Gramma?  I intended to quarantine that Butterfly but made the live rock mistake. <I understand.> From now on all my fish will be quarantined for the 21 days. <Please do read the QT articles as well. 2 weeks can be enough to spot problems, but then treatment may take longer. I am a big fan of some of the treated anti-parasite foods like Tetra (discontinued and some not so nice reader bought ALL the stash at my local store, greedy and unnecessary) so you may want to order Seachem's Metronidazole food additive and use it to treat all your fish. Follow the label, but it is something like two weeks. Use it judiciously.> Do you think it is safe to add another fish in a month? Or do I have to fight some disease in my tank that is not visible? P.S.  Did you like the pictures? Dave <Loved the pictures, helped me a lot in seeing what the shrimp was after, likely Ich or velvet on that fish. If you get your fish eating medicated food with Metronidazole, then I would be more confident in adding another fish after treatment and during any possible flair-ups.  Best of luck! Craig>

Butterflies Aren't Free Mornin fellas... <Hey there- Scott F. here!> Am getting a tad frustrated with my saltwater tank. 90gallon, live sand, huge canister filter, etc.. Creatures:  2 small clowns, shrimp goby, mandarin goby, small little boxfish, pistol shrimp,  coral banded shrimp, cleaner shrimp - yep, he still hasn't become a cocktail for my CBS, 2 emerald crabs, 45 hermit crabs, 25 snails, had 3 butterfly Aurigas. Everyone is doing just peachy except for my Auriga Butterflies.  I have read on your site that they are pretty hardy fish that are easy to keep. <It certainly has the reputation of being one of the hardiest butterflies for aquariums> Anyhow, I introduced 3 butterflies together 3 weeks ago.  I introduced them appropriately to my tank but did not quarantine them ~ yaya, I know, I just bought a doctor/quarantine tank and will quarantine all new creatures from now on. <Good! You spared yourself from the lecture...  :) > One of them died overnight while the other two were fine.  I then replaced the butterfly with another Auriga.  All 3 were doing well for a week or so, when one day I noticed what appeared to be a criss-cross laceration on the side of one of the butterflies.  He survived a couple of days and then died.  The other two were doing fine... 4 days  after the death of the aforementioned, I noticed another butterfly sitting upright, but at an angle at the bottom of the tank.  He had a small laceration in the bottom of the middle of his side.  Called Big Al's to ask what was up with the Butterflies they were giving me.  Before I even mentioned their behaviors to the guy at Big Al's, he told me that the Butterflies were probably scraping themselves against my liverock because of an itch and that that was the likely cause of their lacerations. <A possibility, for sure...but what's the cause of the "itch"...?> He didn't think anything in my tank would go after the largest of my fishes (the Aurigas).  Ya, my butterflies and only my butterflies over the past two/three weeks had been swimming slowly up to a rock and then quickly slamming their bodies against the rock.  Their is perhaps tiny little bubbled skin marks behind the gills... not sure if it is a bacteria or if it is just the fishes appearance. <Nope- not part of their appearance...under normal circumstances> So, I bought a 20gallon hospital/quarantine tank and used my main tank's water.  Water seems to be ok and now my last two butterflies are in the tank.  I bought "REEF SAFE KICK-ICH" to treat it. <IMO, this stuff is better used as salad dressing than a fish "medication"...and please don't use it in your main tank! It's really a "pepper sauce", intended to make the fish slough off body slime in the hope that the parasites go with it...Also- are you sure that Ich is what you are dealing with? Please verify the illness (assuming it is an illness, not just an injury) before using any medication. Sometimes, administering the wrong medication can be worse than not medicating a fish at all.> This morning, my butterfly with the small laceration on the bottom middle of his side is laying on my hospital tank bottom.  It looks like he has a newly developed sore on his dorsal fin (it's a little reddish).  He can't  swim upright but seems to have a lot of energy.  I left him there while I go to work.  I expect him to be dead when I return from work leaving me one butterfly with no lacerations (but the guy still seems to rub against rocks as I described above). So... questions: a) do you think it is the 'ICK' causing them to rub against the rocks...thus causing the lacerations?? <A possibility- Ich definitely can cause fish to scratch> b) is this REEF SAFE KICK-ICH a good treatment??? <Umm...I don't really have anything nice to say about this stuff...> c) are butterflies really easy to keep?? <IMO, not really! Butterflies need very stable water chemistry, lots of space (Aurigas can reach almost 10 inches!), high oxygen content, brisk circulation, and an established aquarium. They are usually the first fish to decline if your water quality falls off. Aurigas and Long Nosed butterflies are considered the easiest to keep of a rather touchy group> d) any idea why I have had such bad luck with JUST my butterflies??  All other creatures are happy campers. <As above...The species we're discussing are not "difficult", but I would not classify them as "easy", either!> Is their anything I haven't done that I should be doing???  May I have overlooked something?? Please help...Dave <Well, Dave-Quarantine, of course, is the best thing that you can do. Apart from that, selecting good, healthy specimens is very important...These fishes don't always ship well, and can "break down", as Bob likes to say, quite easily...These fishes need lots of space, too-a very important and often overlooked factor in the husbandry of these (and many other) fishes, IMO. Don't be discouraged by this experience. Do review all water parameters, recheck your husbandry procedures (i.e.; water changes, feeding, skimming, etc.), study your future purchases very carefully, and choose healthy specimens that are eating at the store. Go for it. but do read all you can and be prepared for a better run at it this time! You can do it! Good luck!  Scott F.>
Butterflies Aren't Free (Cont'd.)
Thanks for the info... <Our pleasure-that's why we're here!> So how does one know if they are paying $39 for "Pepper Sauce" as opposed for a viable treatment (re: REEF SAFE KICK ICK) ???? Is there a better treatment for 'the itch' or 'ick' whatever you call it? <If you are indeed certain that Ich is the malady that you're dealing with, then I'd use (in a separate treatment tank) a proven, "mainstream" cure, such as copper sulphate, properly administered and monitored for concentration.> The only signs my butterflies have is that they rub themselves against the rocks... they may have slight imperfections like a few missing scales behind the gills... but this is also where they are rubbing themselves.  So, from what I can see... all signs point to some sort of skin irritation /itchiness??? <Well- itching is an Ich symptom, but there are other symptoms to this illness as well. In the absence of signs, it could even be a different parasite of some sort. You really need to check the FAQ's on marine parasites on the wetwebmedia.com site for more info. than I can touch on here regarding the identification and treatment of parasitic conditions> My water has been tested on average twice a week and I have just bought my own water test kit.  My test last night showed a pH of 8.2-8.3, 0 nitrites, ammonia level was pretty close to 0 (I need to cut back my twice a week frozen shrimp feedings, as it is not all consumed), and my nitrates were between 0 and 4.From what I have read, this is a pretty good test... and as mentioned before, I can get the ammonia back to  zero with feeding more carefully. <I am concerned about the ammonia reading- it really should be completely undetectable on a hobbyist-grade test kit...You are correct in re-visiting your husbandry techniques...and do try a different test kit to confirm your results> So, should I stick to treating my one surviving butterfly with this KICK ICK?  He does rub on the rock, but has virtually no scales missing and no cuts... he is the last 'healthy' one??? <I really don't like this product...but that's just me, of course. I'd make a positive ID on the condition that you're dealing with, and treat accordingly> This guy is in my 20 gallon doctor tank alone. <Good procedure> Should I do anything with my main tank? Do you think my main tank might be carrying something??? Even though my two gobies, two clowns, and my boxfish are doing fine? <If you are dealing with a contagious disease, such as Ich, you really need to get everyone out for observation/treatment (even if all inhabitants don't show signs), let the main system go "fallow" for about a month...If it is Ich that's in your tank, you must take aggressive steps to treat it, IMO> What's a better ICK/ITCH medication?? <I like copper sulphate for Ich, as mentioned above> I am fully expecting my remaining butterfly to do ok... should I grab another butterfly and pair them up after he has been quarantined??? <That can work, but there can be some aggressive behaviour between the two fish on introduction> The only other thing I can think of is my Coral Banded Shrimp getting nasty with my butterflies as they do bother him in hopes that the CBS will clean them.  On the other hand, the CBS doesn't bother my mandarin goby that will sleep right in front of him... and the CBS hasn't bothered my Cleaner Shrimp either. <Hey- you never know...> I guess the butterfly is a fairly cheap fish that I don't mind experimenting with, but I don't want to risk the rest of my tank. Opinion??? Thanks guys! Dave <Well, Dave- I encourage you to keep trying, but do study their needs and prepare for them. Good luck!  Scott F.>

Interesting Parasite Bob,  I thought I had seen every parasite until today. A large golden butterfly  with brown spots shaped similar to flat footballs spread pretty evenly  throughout the body (many, many of them). At close glance, you could  actually see them doing 180 and 360 degree turns. They are not on the  outside. They are actually under the scales as you can see the scales raised  some. The fish is going nuts trying to shake them off and you can see a  couple of blood spots from where I guess they have been. What is this? Are  they a type of leach or a flat worm? None of the other inhabitants appear to  have any on them. I immediately treated the entire tank (210 gallons, Fish  Only, No Live Rock) with Clout. Any ideas? Thanks for any help you can provide. >> Likely some sort of body fluke, aka trematode... a group of largely parasitic flatworms (Phylum Platyhelminthes)... There are many of these that infest marine fishes... DO dip the animal in freshwater (dechloraminated, with maybe a teaspoon of baking soda... don't worry about the dosage... it's safe) for now... and as fast as you can, get your hands on some formalin/formaldehyde and re-do the freshwater dip with a stated (look on the bottle... a few drops per the dipping volume if it's full-strength... i.e. 37%) for a good ten minutes... do this soon, as the butterfly is on its way out... and don't worry about the helminth (worm) getting on to your other fishes... these tend to be quite species-specific in their hosts. Bob "Yamaguti" Fenner

Butterflyfishes for Marine

Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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