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FAQs on Butterflyfish Social Disease

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

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

In too small, crowded settings BFs frequently get beaten on... by larger, meaner fishes, even by crustaceans.

Too contrary tankmates increase stress to disease status

Butterflyfishes for Marine

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Mueller Butterflyfish       7/29/16
I'm an experienced reef-keeper attuned to fish disease and am looking for insight into this situation:
I have a 187 gal reef with a Mueller, Tinker, Percula Clown pair,
Bristletooth Tang, Melanurus & Pygmy wrasse. All my fish go through Tank Transfer Method, a freshwater dip and quarantine prior to introduction to the display and all inverts/rock/anything wet is fallow for 12 weeks in a qt.
For the past month, about the time the Melanurus wrasse was introduced (possibly related, although, I haven't witnessed aggression) the Mueller has displayed frayed fins and lethargy during feeding. I've had this fish for years and feed it 3x/day (most days) and am aware of its shy feeding behavior and nutritional needs, but something
is off. I see no evidence of parasites aside from torn fins, the gills are functioning normally, fins/body clear, no clamping, twitching, flashing, shaking etc. What I do see is a raised scale and frayed fins, I also see a section of the bristletooth's tail fin is torn, so I suspect a bully, but haven't narrowed in on any of the inhabitants.
<Could be the Halichoeres>
Is it plausible that ectoparasites are the culprit?
<Mmm; possibly, but what? Trematodes? From where?>
This has been going on for many weeks and no other symptoms have developed that would suggest.
In microscopy, is a skin scrape effective or should I take a gill sample or scale?9
<The skin, near the fins>
My other thought is that something is internally wrong with the Mueller, his body weight is ideal, eyes are clear, diet is proper, but I'm seeing this slow dwindling behavior and perhaps the other fish are picking on him for it and it's not something I can resolve.
<If there was a simple way to catch, keep the Melanurus out for a couple weeks; or float in a plastic colander if you don't have other room; this is what I'd do. Bob Fenner> 

Stressed out B/F's... some valuable life lessons in resource limitation  - 03/11/2006 Hello, <Hi there> I'm hoping you can help me out here. I have a 55 gal. with 2 small Perc. Clowns & 2 Butterflies (Pearlscale & threadfin). <Mmm, this sized system for these chaetodonts is problematical...> My husband came home with a new tank mate 2 days ago and my butterflies have gone crazy. He added a Sailfin Tang, very small, still a juv. The Sailfin is doing great, very friendly, but the butterflies & clowns have all crowded into the top corner of the tank. <Sort of like having "Jack the Knife" move into your home here> After the first night, I woke up and both B/F's were covered with spots, on the fins and the body, looked like someone took a salt shaker to them. <Ahh... Cryptocaryon... very likely present in your system in sub-symptomatic level... brought on to hyperinfective state by the added stress...> I called my LFS and they said that was very strange for that to happen overnight and to re-arrange the decor and make new homes. <Mmm, no> They said maybe the sailfin was trying to take over the tank. <Has> What should I do? It is the second day and they look better but still have visual signs of the spots, and are still acting scared for there lives. Thanks, Wendy Thank You, <The Ich/crypt is cycling... going into a soon-to-be much larger stage... Very big trouble likely brewing here... There is a bunch for you to know, and the only expedient way (not knowing what you know...) is to sift through materials on this and related situations: http://wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm and the linked files above. You need also to address the root cause of the troubles here: crowding, the mixing of incompatibles in such a system, and the lack of quarantine... I'd separate the Zebrasoma tang, and get ready to do what you will for your Ich infested system... and soon. Bob Fenner>  

Possible Disease, missing info  10/6/05 My question is 'what is wrong with my Copperband Butterflyfish?' <Ok.> - The chemistry of the water is fine 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite very little nitrate <How much is a little? Please be specific in the future.> - The Copperband was living alone in a 30 gallon tank <Far to small for this specimen.> - A day ago I added a percula Clownfish <With or without quarantine?> - Since then both fish have been hanging at the top of the tank and the Copperband seems agitated <Understandably so, the tank he is in is to small and you added another fish to its territory.> - So I did a 10 percent water change but both fish are still at the top of the tank and seem agitated. <Gasping at the top of the tank is usually an indication of poor water quality and/or a lack of oxygen.> - Prior to the clownfish the Copperbanded was acting very relaxed swimming at the bottom <Only at the bottom? These fish, when healthy, roam the entire tank, grazing on the liverock.> - The temp fluctuates between 78.8 and 80 degree f <Best to be stable but this fluctuation is not to bad.> - Added some copper blue 2 weeks ago but since then have done several water changes <Did you use a copper test kit to monitor the levels? Along with the water changes I would run some carbon.  Furthermore next time, medication should occur within a quarantine tank you may/could have destroyed the beneficial bacteria on nay live rock/filter media you may have.> What could be causing this problem? <Sounds like lack of oxygen. There are a few other ingredients missing that would help to get to the problem. What type of filtration are you using? Is a protein skimmer being employed? Are/What are the fish eating? Are there any noticeable physical differences on the fish? Without QT it could be a number of things. Please read WWM FAQs re: disease to try to identify your problem.  Adam J.>

Fallen Butterfly (Sick Butterflyfish?) 7/29/04 Hi, I have a Teardrop Butterflyfish (Chaetodon unimaculatus). <One of my favorite Butterflies...Somewhat challenging, but a great fish!> I noticed he started to lay on his side and his "skin" on his sides started to slowly come off. <Not good at all> He did have a small puffer bite on his tail, but I know that wouldn't cause this. <Doubtful- you're correct> Also, I do have a lionfish, but I don't know if he was stung or not. There are no signs of disease except for the skin. He rapidly degraded in 20 min, from rapid breathing to skin peeling in those 20 min, I think he is gone as I write this. I didn't know if you guys knew what had happened. The Ph and alkalinity were a little low at 8.0 but I immediately corrected. No ammonia or nitrite, and nitrate at 5. I couldn't find any diseases relating to peeling skin and rapid breathing, but I cannot tell if it was harassment or not. Thank You <Well, I'd be a bit concerned if a fish declined this rapidly. I suppose that you cannot rule out some kind of toxic water condition (although not likely if the other fishes seemed to be unaffected), or even a sting from the Lionfish (a long shot, though IMO). However, if the fish in question had been declining over a period of days or weeks, then disease is certainly the best possibility. Virulent parasitic diseases, such as Amyloodinium (Marine Velvet) manifest themselves with the victim sloughing off tissue and showing "dissolving" skin and tissue, as it is liquefied by the causative protozoa. Rapid labored breathing and lack of appetite are also signs of this illness. As far as harassment from other fishes is concerned- I suppose it is also a possibility, but the fish must have been severely beat up prior to this rapid decline. if the whole thing happened in a matter of a few minutes, then these may be valid possibilities. I'd do a careful evaluation of the overall tank environmental parameters (you mentioned the low pH- ask yourself what caused this...), husbandry procedures (quarantine?), etc. Look for the obvious-then look beyond. The answer is there! Regards, Scott F.>

Butterfly Problems, Disease? Hello fellas... 90 gallon 95lbs live rock live sand salinity 1.024 temp 77f 2 percula clowns 2 watchman gobies (yellow & orange spotted) 1 fire goby 1 cleaner shrimp 1 pistol shrimp 1 coral banded shrimp 1 emerald crab 20+ blue legged hermits 25 snails I originally had 3 Auriga Butterflies... they last just over a month.  I assume that they were fighting and later died of their wounds...  Almost two months later, I tried a Pearlscale Butterfly.  He's been doing great and has made good friends with the cleaner shrimp.  He has been feeding actively as well.  I noticed last night that he seemed 'maybe' a little more docile in that the cleaner shrimp was aggressively cleaning him and he tolerated it for longer than usual.  Usually he gets cleaned for maybe 10 second intervals... off and on...  Last night it was almost like the cleaner shrimp had him pinned against a rock and was really working him.  Anyhow, 24hrs later I saw his tail sticking out from under a rock.  I pulled the butterfly body out. I'm pretty sure that the cleaner shrimp had nothing to do with his death... and I am pretty sure the pistol shrimp dragged him under the rock.  Any thoughts?  Wouldn't think the pistol shrimp would've attacked and killed him (being a larger fish and all - although he was perhaps a medium sized butterfly).  Perhaps the emerald crab could've snagged him originally?  My emerald is about the size of a Canadian two dollar coin.  Whatever it was, I'm pretty sure it was a creature because he was feeding aggressively as always last night.  I did a water test right after and it was fine. Dave  P.S.  Not having the best of luck with butterflies... <Geez Dave, sorry to hear about your problem.... You don't mention a quarantine, do you have a QT tank and did you use it?  It's really difficult to try to guess what happens in these situations. You would be surprised how fast fish die and how guilty scavengers look for doing what comes naturally. Never-the-less, you do have a group of animals that can be a problem if large enough and perhaps unfed.  This may be to the point that the Coral Banded shrimp attempts to or does eat the cleaner or the Pistol or vice-versa. Both disease and predators are a possibility, but my money is on disease/parasites. Velvet can kill very quickly. I think the fish was weakened when you saw it being cleaned by the cleaner....and for a reason. Keep an eye on your clowns, the Gobies tend to resist Ich etc. fairly well, but I would keep a sharp eye out for signs of parasites like velvet.  There is more on quarantine and parasitic disease at WetWebMedia.com, just type quarantine or parasites into the Google search engine.  Craig>

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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