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FAQs about the genus Dascyllus Damsels: Health/Disease

Related Articles: Dascyllus

FAQs on: Humbug Damsels 1, Dascyllus Damsels 2,
FAQs on: Dascyllus Identification, Dascyllus Behavior, Dascyllus Compatibility, Dascyllus Stocking/Selection, Dascyllus Systems, Dascyllus Feeding, Dascyllus Reproduction, Related FAQs: Damsel Identification, Damsel Selection, Damsel Compatibility, Damsel Feeding, Damsel DiseaseDamsel Reproduction


3 stripe damsel labored breathing and turning colors 01/22/09 Hi my name is Brandie. <"Oh Brandie... you're a fine girl, what a good wife you would be! But my life, my love, my lady... is the sea!" Sorry... I love that song.> I'm new at this, I just started my salt water tank a few weeks ago. I have read all throughout my book and online but can find no answers. I have a 30 gallon tank and all I have in it is 2 blue and yellow damsels and 1 three stripe damsel. <Poor choices for a 30g tank. They will get big and mean and kill each other or die.> Today when I got home I noticed my three stripe was belly up at the bottom of the tank. It now has labored breathing, the white parts of its body are turning gray and it is completely still but just jerking occasionally. I am very paranoid and I check my water daily and it is fine so what could this be? <What do you mean by "fine?" What all did you check? How long has the tank been set up? What do you have for filtration? I'm sorry, but I need a lot more information to help you.> Is it a disease? Please help soon! <I suspect toxic shock of some sort... but again, I need more info please. Best, Sara M.>
Re: 3 stripe damsel labored breathing and turning colors 02/23/09
Well it died last night , but I'm still afraid to put fish in there now because I want to make sure it didn't have a disease first. <Well, it had something. But I haven't seen the fish, so I can't guess for sure. The symptoms you describe are common to any number of fish diseases/problems. Here are some good readings to help you start to figure out what might have happened: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/fishdisho.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amylloodiniumart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm> The pH was 8.3, Alk was about 200, salinity was 1.023, temp was 80, and my ammonia test was 0. I have an Emperor Power Filter 280 and a SeaClone 100 protein skimmer (yes, yes, yes I know). The tank has been set up for about a month (just live sand/live rock) the fish have been in there only for about a week. <I suspect your fish died from stress. But it might not have been all your doing. The fish could have been caught using explosives or cyanide, etc. The fish could have been in poor health when you got it (this is common among marine aquarium fish). Best, Sara M.>

Damsel bent, and holy fatness!! 10/1/07 hi crew, if it isn't one tank it's another! I have 3 black and white stripped damsels (Humbug aruanus). I've had them about 2 weeks. 1 of them, after my water change yesterday bent like a banana and became really fat! <Unusual> Looks like he (or she) swallowed a marble. The only thing I can find with that as a symptom is fish TB, and skinny is a symptom there, not fat. I thought that only affected freshwater fish. Then I thought some sort of internal parasite, but no luck on finding anything on that with these symptoms. There are no other symptoms. Scales appear fine, all intact, no spots or dots or holes. Tail and fins are intact. Color is great. Just all bent in the spine, fat and swimming sideways, like swirling. sometimes does a summersault. <Bad> He'll rest on a plant for a while. I watched the tank for a long time, And the other damsels and the clownfish appear to be worried(?). Seriously. They are hanging close to him and if he hides in a plant someone will swim and hover by him or swim between him and the glass. Almost an encouraging/comforting type thing, <Are social animals, both species> he stays in the open water half of the time, no one is picking on him or anything. I've tried to chase him with the net to move him to the nursery tank, Then he swims almost normal across the tank and hides very quickly, but still bent. His breathing doesn't seem to be erratic, but the poor thing is working awful hard to stay upright. He's only a 4 dollar fish so I won't be devastated if he doesn't make it, but if it's something contagious, I need to know what it might be, if it'll spread to my other critters and how to treat it. All other tankmates appear to be normal. Water parameters, 55 gal. Temp. 78 Salinity 1.024 Nitrate 0 Nitrite 0 PH 8.4 Ammonia 0 Calcium 480 <A bit high... are you boosting? How?> Phosphate 0 Carb. Hardness 8-9 (should this be higher?) I don't try to raise it if it's in the normal range. Alk 180 Thank you once again, I'm so glad you here for all of us. Rochelle <Perhaps a gut blockage... From? All one can do is wait, hope here. Bob Fenner>

Strange symptoms - domino damsel   11/19/06 Hello Crew! <Eva> Thank you for this site, I am constantly on it and reading up on everything that I can! <Me too!> I have a problem with my domino damsel, I've had him for about 5-6 weeks and he has always seemed okay health wise except for his characteristic aggressiveness and nipping at a couple of my other fish. He developed something strange around his mouth, it looks as if the skin around his mouth was either stretched out or cut, it is a lighter color than the rest of him. <Mmm, good observation. Can be "nothing" but sign of rapid growth... Or might be indicative of a physical injury... swimming into something> Two nights ago he was exhibiting some weird behavior in his QT tank, swimming really erratically and thrashing himself against the sides of the glass. He was breathing really heavily and his gills were going nuts (for the lack of a better word) and his gills seemed a bit red underneath. This only lasted for about 20 minutes (the breathing), the thrashing was only for about one minute. Since then he hasn't done either of these behaviors. Two nights ago, he also had a inch-long white string-like thing coming out from where he poops. There was a few shorter pieces of this stuff on the bottom of the tank but they were not moving anymore. This also has not happened yet. He is in water treated with Cupramine. <Mmm... I would introduce a bit/dose of Metronidazole/Flagyl into this fishs food/s... perhaps a vermifuge later if this doesn't "do it"> The parameters of the water that he was taken from, my main tank (48 gallon long), is the following: salinity 1.023 ph 8.1 ammonia 0 nitrites 0 nitrate 20 kH 13 (!!) calcium 400 temp 80 My other livestock is: two false percs one yellowtail damsel one blue damsel one peppermint shrimp one snail inverts and a red firefish that succumbed to Ich yesterday. <... if this one fish... your system itself is infested. This might account for the listed behavior as well> anyways, thanks for your time in reading this and hopefully you can help! I wasn't able to get a clear picture of the thing around his mouth or else I would have provided one.   Eva <Mmm, please see WWM re the mentioned protozoacide. Bob Fenner>

Domino damsel/s sick  - 03/12/2006 Hello, I was hoping you could help me. I have never had good luck with domino damsel fish for some reason and this one is no exception. <Unusual> I bought him about 3 weeks ago and he was doing fine but now I noticed his color is fading and he is breathing rapidly with reddening near his gills. This has happened to my previous dominos last year when I was starting my reef tank. Now I have a wonderful established reef with near perfect water, 0 nitrate, 0 ammonia, ph 8.3 checked weekly. Everyone else is doing fine my rusty angel, blue and zebra damsel, and 2 small Chromis are thriving. Is there something dominos specifically need or do I just have bad luck with them? <Not luck> What would you recommend as a medicine to help his problem? Are there any non-copper medicines I can use or than won't damage the inverts? Any help would be great. tank 29gal <Oh... this tank is too small..> 30lbs live rock many inverts and corals Prizm protein skimmer magnum canister filter with bio-wheel water usually near perfect condition with temp at constant 80 <Something is wrong with your system... Can't really point to it from what is posted here... Was the Domino the last one placed? Bob Fenner> Re: domino damsel sick  - 03/13/2005 Yes, the domino was the last fish put in the tank along with my two baby Chromis. <This size system is unsuitable for all these damsels or just a large Dascyllus... they're likely being harassed to death...> He seems to be doing ok, he eats vigorously and spends most of his day swimming in the high current off the protein skimmer. He just has lost his color and has reddened gills, I've seen this happen before and about a week after I notice it the fish dies. for now he seems to be holding on, all my other livestock are doing great I just can't figure out this problem with my dominos.   <The problem here is principally with the stocking... Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm ... the linked files at top... Bob Fenner>

Damsel fish respiration/breathing rate  1/11/06 Hi, <Hello Chris> I have 2 humbug damsel with what I think looks like high respiration.  I know lion fish normal respiration is 30 breaths per minute, could you please tell me what the normal respiration for a damsel fish is per minute, thank you <The humbug is rather active and what you are seeing isn't abnormal.  I really don't know what the respiration rate is, never checked.  Please do not ask what the blood pressure might be:):) <James (Salty Dog)> Chris

Dying Dominos Hi guys, hope this email find all of you well! Here is my question today: I've had 3 Dominos for a year. They are turning white and 2 of them have suddenly died. What happened? Thanks for your time. <the paling color is not symptomatic of a given condition or pathogen... just stress. Were there any other symptoms? Rapid gilling, erratic swimming, scratching or glancing, etc? Do look through WWM disease archives and FAQ's for illumination, please> Pamela Mary <kindly, Anthony>

Sick Domino Damsel I have a 29 gallon marine tank with a Domino Damsel (approx 3 inches long) and a Blue Damsel (approx 1.5 in long). The tank has been established for about 7 years which is how long I've had the fish. <outstanding!> About a month ago the Domino developed what looked like an eye infection (cloudy and protruding eye) which I treated with penicillin. The eye cleared up and the fish returned to apparent normal health. However, over the last week the Domino has been off his (her?) food and seems to be disoriented. I use flake marine fish food and the flakes will float right past him and he makes no attempt to eat. He doesn't appear to be gasping but he does spend more time languishing near the bottom of the tank, whereas before he was actively swimming all over the tank (and was very aggressive toward the Blue). The Blue Damsel seems to be taking advantage of the situation by swimming close to the Domino and flicking his tail against him in an aggressive manner. The Domino appears unaffected by this. I have looked closely at the Domino and cannot see any obvious signs of illness. What could be wrong and how should I address it? Thanks in advance, Graham Welling, <alas, my friend... even without knowledge of the age of the fish at the time of capture, the additional 7 years makes this fish a candidate for old age. Without specific symptoms, please do not medicate. If anything, a quiet hospital tank might be nice to evaluate and let the fish heal or die peacefully. Best regards, Anthony>

Rapid mortality of a Domino Damsel Mr. Fenner-- I have learned a great deal from your site and those you reference. Hopefully you will be able to lead me in the right direction regarding the death of two damsels in my system. This is a tiny setup (actually only 5gal) and it is in the nascent stages of cycling. It contains about four pounds of very healthy live rock (polyps and sponges evident, growing, and happy for three weeks now), a pound of live sand, and some crushed coral. I started it at day one with some crushed coral and water from a known healthy system. Water circulates 15x per hour through activated charcoal and over a bio-wheel. pH is constant at 8.3 and salinity is maintained constant to give a specific gravity of 1.025. Ammonia levels have never risen above 0.25 ppm.  <Sounds like a nice, though small as you know, system... but the transient ammonia...> I have not monitored either the nitrate or the nitrite levels because I do not own kits for those ions. The system is thirty days old; I have lost two damsels in a row. The first was a yellow-fin that developed an infection (2-3mm long crescent-shaped white velvety body located anterior to the right pectoral fin) and was dead within 48hrs. The second was a domino damsel that showed no symptoms other than hiding itself in the live rock approx. 24hrs before its death. It did NOT present rapid ventilation or any visible infection like the yellow-tail. I last saw the fish six hours before its death; when I found it, the fish was considerably emaciated (whereas it had before looked healthy), faded (its black had reverted to a muted grey), <Good observation skills> and lost its right eye entirely. There is a healthy population of some small white creature in the aquarium since the addition of live sand (presumably copepods-- not more than 0.25mm or maybe even less-- I know what copepods look like, but have not yet examined these under a scope.) I found three of these creatures on the carcass, though that alone is certainly not proof of crime. This damsel was the only fish in the aquarium. I would love to hear what you may think is my problem if you have time to ponder this. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Darren Freree <Thank you for writing... do consider that these losses and difficulties may well be "simply" the result of your system being so new... as well as artifactually unstable due to newness and size. If it were me, I'd wait another month or so before trying other livestock, and would not try Damselfishes, especially the larger species like Dascyllus (the Domino, D. trimaculatus grows to more than six inches in the wild)... Perhaps some smaller species of gobies, blennies...  Bob Fenner> BOB thank you for your response sorry about all the caps. I will try the net thing and let you know how it went thanks again oh and those damsels ate my baby stalk of silver tip xenia's now I'm really determined to catch these guys >> >> One incident re these saltwater "piranhas"... A Domino/Three Spot (Dascyllus trimaculatus)... in a four by four by four foot system... that bit the Dickens out of everyone, including yours truly... that necessitated dumping the tank to get rid of... Good luck and good fishing! Bob Fenner

The "bad boy" is now the "dead boy" The domino damsel did finally succumb to death. I didn't find him until tonight when I got home from work and when I did he was covered with a white mucous like film. It looks similar to the mucous substance I see on a few parts of a piece of live rock (it definitely looks like something is decaying). I know that these two things are probably not related, but I just wanted to make sure. The other two damsels seem to be doing fine... for now. Oh, and by the way, BOY did that dead fish stink!!! WHEW!!! I'm sure that's normal, but man, I could hardly stand taking him out! Anyways, just looking for insight as always. Thanks! -Matt Lindstrom >> Do agree with your statement about the "white" stuff on the rock and fish being unrelated... Whatever really was the root cause(s) of the fish going, the whitish material was merely decomposition after the fact... hence the stinkiness as well. I would just keep moving forward myself... wait a few weeks to see how the other damsels will fare... Bob Fenner

Domino distress I am relatively new to the marine aquarist realm but have been studious and diligent in the maintenance of my 72 gal. fish only system which includes live rock and all of the usual chemical parameters are within normal limits. I have recently added a "domino" to the community and within the first 24', have noticed a bilateral, symmetrical blanching type of quality to this otherwise black colored fish along the sides just posterior to the operculum. It also appears to be soughing somewhat. It has taken up residence within the live rock system. I have not witnessed any gangland type of behavior by the other tankmates (clowns and damsels). do you feel this is a stress reaction, abrasion or could something more pathological be at hand. My review of the current literature does not reveal any obvious diagnosis. Thanks in advance for any help you may provide >> Well, sounds like just a bit of "newcomer" reaction thus far... In the wild and in captivity the Three Spot/Domino (Dascyllus trimaculatus) is a tough customer... In fact, I'm surprised all the other damselfish family members (inclusive of the clowns) haven't been hiding a bit too. In any length, I wouldn't be overly concerned. This fish will come out soon, become so bold as to even bite you!  Bob Fenner

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