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FAQs about Balistoides (Clown, Titan) Triggerfish Disease/Health

Related FAQs: Clown Trigger Disease, Balistoides Triggers 1, Balistoides Triggers 2, Balistoides Identification, Balistoides Behavior, Balistoides Compatibility, Balistoides Selection, Balistoides Systems, Balistoides Feeding, Balistoides Reproduction, Triggerfishes in General, Triggerfish: Identification, Selection, Selection 2, Compatibility, Behavior, Systems, Feeding, Diseases, Triggerfish Health 2, Reproduction,

Related Articles: Triggerfish, Balistoides Species, Red Sea Triggerfishes,

Time to dust off the old microscope...

Triggerfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Sick clown trigger       8/24/15
Hi again crew,
I have a clown trigger in a tank by itself in a 180 gallon pre drilled tank with a 40 gallon wet-dry sump. I am running both carbon and GFO.
<I'd drop this last>

Salinity is 1.020, ph 8.2, nitrate 20, nitrite and ammonia undetectable, temp 78 degrees. My clown trigger is roughly 6 inches long and i have had him for about two years. He has had two bumps under his mouth for most of that time.
<Not an issue>

My clown trigger has been acting increasingly worse over the past 4 day.
He went from eating well to not eating at all. His jaws appear swollen and when he attempts to bite food he appears to be choking. He shows some interest in the food but does not seem to be able to swallow. He is also breathing heavily and does not close his mouth. He has been acting more and more skittish as well and spends all day locked in the rock work. He
moves to different hiding locations occasionally. When he swims it appears to be normal, but it is rare. I have a 30 gallon tank that I can use as a hospital tank if needed. I have not been able to find any indications as to what i should treat. Please let me know anything I can do to help him. I have also attached a picture taken last night.
<What have you been feeding this fish? I suspect (initially) Thiaminase poisoning.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick clown trigger       8/24/15
I noticed that there was an email sent to my other account that was not allowed through the firewall.
I was unable to read it. Please respond to this email account whenever possible.
<Ummm; we respond to whatever address email comes from>
The fish is still exhibiting the same behavior. I have done another large water change and my nitrates are almost undetectable as well. I have tried feeding clams from our local grocery store, fresh shrimp caught locally, mysis shrimp and purple seaweed which he normally loves.
<See/READ on WWM re Thiaminase... the trouble here IS very likely nutritional>

He still appears to want to eat, but when he tries he bites very gently at the food and does not swallow it.
The large jaw is much more predominant on the left side(his left). it is roughly the size of a small grape under his skin. the right side appears normal. His food is always enriched with Vita-Chem and Garlic Xtreme, with occasional supplements of Selcon and Vitamarin-C.
<Ah, good>
Are there any options that would reduce the swelling such as an antibiotic or any hope of a fish vet able to remove/drain the area?
<There are some "silver bullet" options. Ask your Vet. if they're willing to inject Chloramphenicol succinate...>
Is force feeding an option?
<Not advised; at least not at this junction>

How long can he go without eating in his current state (this is going to be day 5)?
This raised area appeared very suddenly and grew incredibly fast.
<"Inflammation".... a word for our days. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick clown trigger       8/25/15
I contacted a vet two hours drive from where I live. They are suppose to contact me tomorrow. Is there anything I can do in the meantime to help?
<Yes; I'd lower the specific gravity down another couple thousandths (remove water, add just fresh) and add a teaspoon per five gallons of Epsom Salt>
I read about Thiaminase but did not see treatments, only ways to prevent it. I thought soaking the food in VitaChem would be enough to counteract the issue. In the past i tried to feed the him fish without Thiaminase, but he would not touch them. At this point he will not eat anything.
Would raising his vitamin b1 help him and if so how could I do so with him unwilling to eat.
<Welcome. B>

Clown trigger... hlth... reading
I have a clown trigger that I purchased from my local fish store about 4 weeks ago.
-perfect health
-has a diet of purple seaweed
<Mmm, not much>
-clams from our local food store
-blood worms
<How big is this specimen?>
-mince shrimp
I use r.o. water which is 0.00ppm
my tank is a 125 gallon
ph is at 8.2-8.3
temp is around 80
LOTS of hiding spaces lots the clown was eating from a skewer I put the food on also he just stopped eating. it looked like to me that the front part of his body was bloated. I think maybe constipation .. unknown.. I was able to
give him tryciniclene soaked in food. he ate it....
<Tetracycline? Not warranted, or likely useful here>
one day after that he just hides all day long and into the night I had noticed where he was hiding and after 2 days I thought he may be dead.
I was able to get him out from hiding . and found that he was still alive. he then swam into another hiding spot and has been there now for 4 days. what is going on and will he make it . .
I do not have a hospital tank
my main tank consist of
-2 clown fish
-1 clown trigger
-1naso tang
-1 fox face
-4 blue and yellow tipped damsels
-1 cleaner shrimp
-1 blood red shrimp
-20 cleaner crabs
<... the Balistid will eat all these crustaceans, likely the Clowns, Damsels in time>
-1 wrasps fish
no one in the tank picks on him he is a very happy joyful fish. until this happened.
my local fish store said they would give me 1/2 back for the price of the fish . which is great because of the
original cost of 200.00
I thought I was feeding this fish right and now this. is this just a fluke thing.
I thought I could have this fish until 10-15 years. its a big investment and I thought I knew a lot about saltwater fish.
please help
thanks Brian
<This fish may have been collected w/ Cyanide... See WWM re this, and the care of this species period:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Clown trigger dead... Writer didn't READ   8/6/07 My clown trigger passed away this mourning <Maybe you are> it had a red ring around its mouth. At first it was a faint red but when I saw it dead it was a darker red is this the reason it died? If so what was the red ring. Also my tank was very warm at 93 degrees $$$$$$$$ITZ NOT EZ BEING ME$$$$$$$$$$ <... Please, read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ RMF>
Re: Clown trigger dead  8/6/07
Maybe you are ?? $$$$$$$$ITZ NOT EZ BEING ME$$$$$$$$$$ <Mourning... not morning.... Please... stop shouting...>

ID growth on Clown Triggerfish?   12/10/06 I have attached a picture of some growth I have noticed on my Clown Triggerfish.  Whatever it is it seems to grow in small patches. The scales in that area seem to be slightly discolored. There are about 5 patches total.  Can you point me in the right direction for identification and treatment? Thanks! <Mmm, really... to urge you to take a skin scraping, and look under a dissecting microscope and perhaps one with more magnification. I do think this is likely a trematode/fluke infestation... but could be viral... For the former, perhaps a treatment with "Fluke Tabs"... Bob Fenner>
Re: ID growth on Clown Triggerfish?   12/15/06 I started treatment for trematode/fluke using PraziPro.  I couldn't find Fluke Tabs locally.  If it is indeed an trematode/fluke infestation how long should it be before the parasites begin to die off? <Almost immediately... though, depending on what "group"... and species... di- or mono-genes, the removal via this approach may take weeks> Also how does one perform a skin scraping? <Mmm, holding the fish fast (have a friend help) in a net, up near the surface, take a clean glass slide and direct it at an angle along the fish's skin, toward the tail... and smear this accumulated slime onto another clean slide... See Ed Noga's tome here... insert his name on Amazon.com...>   Should a Vet be able to correctly identify the skin scraping? Thanks! <Mmm... no... not usually. Most Veterinarians are well-versed in companion animal matters, not aquatic... You can/could call around to see if there is a specialist in your area though... However, if it were me, mine... I'd read... get an inexpensive scope (I use the QX-3), a copy of Noga's Fish Disease work... and do this myself. Bob Fenner>

Sick clown trigger   12/6/06 Hi.   <Hello there> It's been a few years since I had to bug you with a question (usually I can find the results by search you website), but I have a problem with my clown trigger that I can't cure or find an answer for.    To begin, the fish is 7 1/2 years old.  So that may be the problem.  He has not eaten in almost two weeks. <Balistids not feeding is always a source of concern> No one was around to feed him on Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving (usually not a problem for him to go two days without food -- <Agreed> although he might disagree), when I went to feed check up on him and feed him on Saturday, it was already evening and the light was out in his tank, so I didn't think much of it when he didn't was sleeping behind a rock. <Natural>   However, by Sunday I knew there  was something wrong.  He spent a week "hiding" behind rocks etc. <Not natural> He was very lethargic, would not eat, and when he swam looked dizzy, swam slow and bumped into things.   <Something happened...> However, he did not have any spots, flecks etc. on his skin.  His eyes were not cloudy, and his fins looked o.k. (not rot).   All of the other fish in the tank (a box fish, <Perhaps this...> a dwarf angel, a passer angel and a hawk fish -- all which have been in the tank for months or years, so nothing new has been added) are o.k.    In fact the only thing new that I am aware being introduced into the tank was a partial water change the Monday before Thanksgiving. <Mmm, would've mal-affected the other fishes> Last week I tried a couple of different medications, in case it was an internal parasite or infection --  I tried Maracyn two for a few days, and then Cupramine. <Nah> I have used both of these in the past, but neither appeared to help here. Last Friday, I put the carbon back in the canister filter and put a new bulb in the U.V. filter (the old one had burned out apparently). <I'd check for stray voltage here...>   Over the weekend, he started swimming more and was generally out of hiding, but still not eating.  His swimming was better, but still a bit slow and bumping into things.  On Sunday I noticed him relieving himself.  It took a long time, and a couple of pieces of white feces came out.  The were not long or stringy. <Mmm, what do you generally feed this fish? Anything live that might have brought something in with it? Anything too fatty? Not "feeder goldfish" I hope/trust> Rather, they looked like the gravel from the bottom of the tank, but a bit fuzzy.  At that point, I thought may be he had swallowed some gravel (you know how they like to play in the gravel and spit it out). <Yes... a worthwhile speculation>   I had the water tested by the L.F.S. and they said it was excellent.  They also thought swallowing some gravel could have been his problem.  However, that was four days ago and he still is not eating.  I noticed him relieving himself again today, and all that came out was a small piece of white feces. He was swimming around a lot this morning, but now is resting behind a rock again.  There is still nothing visibly wrong with him in terms of flecks, skin deterioration, ulcers, eyes etc.  One other thing, in the past couple of hours a bunch of small particles have appeared in the tank.  They look about the size of gains of undissolved salt.  Could these be dead (or unattached) parasites, as a result of the Cupramine being added last week? <Mmm, highly doubtful... not likely pathogenic> I am considering tying the Maracyn-two again, on the theory that it was an internal parasite, <Not worthwhile... Minocycline wouldn't treat for this/these in any case> but I really don't like to medicate, especially on guess work.  On the other hand, it's hard not to try and do everything possible to help him. Any thoughts you can share with me will be appreciated.    Regards, Rob <My best guesses are that the Trigger may have consumed a "bug", as in an insect (either a social/venomous one or one that in turn had a substantial pesticide residue)... Or... that it somehow "bugged" the Boxfish enough to get a good bit of its body slime into its mouth/system (very toxic)... At this point, I'd move the fish to other quarters if you have such, treat with Epsom Salt (see WWM re), and soak its intended foods (offer daily) with an appetite stimulant/vitamin supplement. Balistoides niger can live for decades in captivity. I do hope yours rallies. Bob Fenner>
Re: sick clown trigger  - 12/07/06
Thanks Bob, <Welcome Rob> In response to your question about what I feed the trigger, I don't feed it any live food (as I am always afraid they bring diseases into the tank).  I usually feed it New Life Spectrum pellets in the morning, and then frozen (irradiated) food in the evening, such as Formula 1 and 2, frozen cockle, mussels, shrimp, etc.   <Good> Perhaps it got into it with the box fish.  Actually I misspoke, it is a puffer, either a White-Spotted Puffer or a Reticulated Puffer.  I've also heard it called a "Stars and Stripes" Puffer.  I don't see any bite marks on either of them.   It is not uncommon for them to bump into each other at feeding time.  Could this be the problem? <Far less likely... though Tetraodontids do indeed bear a toxin, it is far less "water-borne"... Bob Fenner>
Re: sick clown trigger  - 12/07/06
Bob, <Rob> One other thing.  Unfortunately, I don't have an other separate tank at this time (it's a long story, but tank is 180 gals and is  now in my office, where I don't have room for an extra tank etc.)  I can probably set one up using a Rubbermaid container, but I'm not sure it would be a good idea to put the trigger in a newly established system, even if I took most of the water from the main tank.  Any thoughts? Rob   <I'm in agreement... BobF>

Out, out! Damn Spot! Apologies to Lady Macbeth - 10/9/06 Hi WWM Crew! <Greetings, Emerson with you today> A few weeks ago, I found 3 or 4 white spots on the fins of my clown trigger.  I put him in a freshwater dip for 10 minutes, moved him into QT and, thinking it was ich, started a copper treatment using SeaCure for 14 days. <Kudos to you for moving the suspect fish to QT. Was this the only fish in the display tank and were there any other signs of infestation besides the spots? Also, were you testing copper levels daily? Testing is an extremely important part of a copper regimen and can determine success or failure.> At the end of the two weeks, he still had one prominent spot on his fin so I gave him another freshwater dip, to no avail.  After using poly filter to remove the copper from the tank I let him rest for a few days before trying a 50 minute formalin dip.  The white spot is still there, but he's eating well and looks okay otherwise.  Should I try another formalin or freshwater dip?  What do you recommend? <At this point I would recommend a wait and see attitude. The single white spot that has remained is likely not Cryptocaryon as the Trophont stage only resides on its fish host for a few days. It may be a scar or slowly healing wound among other possibilities. Leave your trigger in QT for a few weeks with excellent water quality (i.e.: large, frequent water changes) and observe, observe, observe! If spots return or you see scratching, hiding, cloudy eyes, lack of interest in food then its time to consider treatment again and possibly rethink your strategy.> Thank you! <You are most welcome, and I wish you the best!> Liz

Clown Triggers...Miserable Store Display Systems -- 09/27/06 Dear WWM Crew, <<Cheers Rache>> You have been very helpful to me in the past so I was wondering if you might help me with a small dilemma? <<I'll certainly try>> On our many trips to LFS I have felt very sorry for two clown triggers (Balistoides conspicillum) one is approx 4-inches in length the other 5-inches, they are of course in separate holding tanks, these tanks are tiny possibly 8-inches cubed if they are lucky. <<Ugh!...so cruel.  I do recall seeing many such 'holding/specimen display' systems while stationed in the UK.  No structure/hiding places, just a small plastic cube (usually one of many in long banks of several rows on a central filtration system) to keep the fish 'exposed'...and all the ills/stress associated re...truly sad>> I cannot bear this any longer as they have been there about a year or more. <<Amazing, would have thought them to have 'succumbed' by this time.  True testament to the sturdiness of the species...but gosh...the developmental retardation these fish have been subjected to...!>> We are setting up two new tanks one holding approx 138 gallons the other 104 gallons. <<I see...think I know where this is going...>> My first question is would you advise that they were the only fish in these tanks? <<Always my friend...many accounts of this fish 'suddenly killing everything in the tank'>> Obviously one in each tank. <<Another necessity, yes>> My second question is do fish suffer mental anguish? <<In my opinion, yes.  I can't point to any scientific data to support my belief, but years of observing the developmental and behavioral issues I now believe to be associated with keeping fish in unsuitable/too small environments leads me to this conclusion>> I was wondering if there might be long term damage done to these two individuals and how do you go about acclimatizing to a much larger tank? <<Mmm, indeed...what would be 'your' mental state if kept in the coat closet for a year?  Wouldn't you just be glad someone opened the door?  I think acclimation would be the same as any other fish, but don't forget the need for a proper quarantine/close observation of these fish before introduction to the display tank.>> I have done lots of reading and know they can get to approx 20 inches but would these individuals be stunted because of their confinement? <<Possibly...or worse>> I am a veterinary nurse and I'm sorry to say I always chose the sorry looking fish so that I can try to help them, it's a failing of mine. <<Not a 'failing' at all...as long as you have the proper facilities to house/care for the fish...and as long as you aren't bringing home fishes better left in the oceans, thus compelling uncaring or ignorant store owners to acquire more of the same>> There would be no problem if they needed bigger tanks in future as we will address that issue when it arises. <<Are slow growers, these tanks will serve for a time but yes, will likely require larger quarters in the long term>> Thank you for your time in this matter, kind regards  Rache Hill ( England ) <<It is my pleasure to assist.  Eric Russell (South Carolina)>>

Stressed Clown Trigger? - 07/04/06 Hello fellas. <<Don't forget the ladies...>> I had a quick question.  I  recently purchased (2 days ago) a small clown trigger from my local LFS. <<A true ALPHA fish if there ever was one>> I just noticed that at the very top near his dorsal fin has lost a little bit of color.  The black behind the top few spots has turned kinda white.  Is this a disease? <<More likely environmental...complicated with collection/shipping stress>> How can I get this little fella feeling better? <<Provide an optimum environment, water quality, diet, et al...and read/research re this species on our site, and the net in general>> Thanks, Josh Henley <<Regards, Eric Russell>>

- Clown Trigger Questions - Hello, <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I've recently set up a semi predator tank with inhabitants including a clown trigger (3.5 in), snowflake eel, <My friend, with these two creatures alone, the word "semi" does not belong - this is a true predator tank.> formosa wrasse and a recently added Imperator Angelfish (4.5 in) and my triggers colors have been fading since his addition I am not sure if this is a sign that he is stressed out from the new arrival or if it might be related to either a feeding or disease issue. <Could be any one of those - how big is this system?> About 6 weeks ago, I noticed spots on him and corrected by treating my tank with a mild based copper treatment (killed my cleaner wrasse) which seemed to correct the situation and regularly am checking for signs of return <Egad... this is not a correction by any means. Treating your main system with copper will likely stall your biological filter and could even lay it to waste. You should do some rudimentary water tests to make sure ammonia and nitrite are not building up...> In regards to feeding I try a few goldfish/ghost shrimp twice a week and for the balance of the week feed the tank brine shrimp and frozen krill. At what size can I feed him crayfish and what size should they be in relation to him <I would stick with frozen foods like Prime Reef and other meaty foods, shrimp, krill, squid, etc. Live foods tend to cause too much aggression which this clown trigger doesn't need to have encouraged.> All assistance is greatly appreciated <I would encourage you to browse and read the Wet Web Media site - all of these animals and their captive care requirements are covered there in addition to quarantine and treatment procedures for ailing fish.> Chris <Cheers, J -- >

- Baby Clown Trigger - I got my baby clown trigger in today from fishsupply.com. I must say I'm not very happy. The fish came with TWO CLOUDY eyes. My wishful thinking is telling me that maybe its normal for Clown Trigger fish for their eyes to appear cloudy? <Cloudy eyes are not normal.> But I know its probably hopeless. <Not so... make sure it's eating, has good water quality, and isn't being hassled by other fish or getting sucked into the filter and it should pull through.> Only reason I say that is because I remember having a HUMU HUMU and his eyes always appeared cloudy but they really weren't. <I know what you're talking about but the clown trigger eyes are not the same as the Huma Huma.> That's just the way the looked and if u looked closely they were a real pretty blue. You think this is the case with the Clown trigger? What can I do? I have a 5 day guarantee on him but I'm sure he'll live for at least that long. <I agree with you there... might want to at least talk to the folks where you bought it and report its initial condition - perhaps ask what happens on the sixth day.> Cheers, J -- >
Re: Baby clown trigger... gentle... for NOW!
Thank you so much for actually writing back to me. I know I'm a pain, but I love your alls feedback.  OK my baby clown trigger is eating fine. He comes out anytime I put food in the tank.<yes, they are hungry all the time> He is rather shy though, is just because he is like this or is it just cause he is new and still getting used to his surroundings.<He will turn into a menace soon enough!> He still has the cloudy eyes but do you think THIS IS A BACTERIAL thing or FUNGUS?<Not fungus, bacterial... it should get better with good food and good water quality> Or was it just a shipping thing that he'll get over.<should get over it, but not a shipping thing-could be stress, this doesn't always happen when fish are shipped> I wrote to fishsupply and the owner personally called me last night kinda shocked about the fish I received.<ok> He said he picked it out himself because he knew I was so anxious to get it.<ok> He told me it was the most active one and he was perfectly fine when bagged.<ok> He also assured me that the cloudy eyes would go away and that it was just a stressful shipping. WHAT DO YOU THINK? <could be the truth, I didn't see this fish before it was shipped so I really don't know its original condition> I mean he was positive it would go away.<It should> This is my favorite fish, my prize fish..<Are very nice fish, but choose its tankmates very wisely. You might not believe me now but clown triggers become very, very aggressive fish (I know from experience)> I don't want him to get away.  Also he was scaring me today because when I get real close to the tank and he sees me he just lies down on the live rock.. COMPLETELY motionless, PLAYING DEAD.... Is this normal? <yes, they exhibit this weird behavior... they lock their dorsal trigger and they are almost impossible to remove from the rocks> Is this a trait of this clown triggerfish? <of all triggerfish> Or is he in fact dying? <He is ok> PLEASE WRITE BACK, your feedback means the world to me <well your trigger should be alright. He is eating so that's a good sign. I would not be too concerned about this, Good Luck, IanB>

Clown Trigger With Ich 7-25-30        Hi my name is Paula <Cody here, sorry for the delay.>and I purchased a tiny clown trigger from the company I work for. I never acclimated it to the system when it came in at work. I brought it straight home and put it into a twenty gal. with 15 pounds of live rock and 2 maroon clowns the clowns do not bother it. I noticed the trigger clown had ich on it's fin  before leaving work and was hoping that being in an established system the fish could recover on it's own. Before going any farther my ammonia is 0 ppm my nitrites are 0ppm and my nitrates are 10 ppm and salinity is 1.018. I purchased the fish Thurs. it's now Tues. (5 days) no better no worse eats great a little shy unless he's being fed but is doing well so far. My dilemma is do I wait or treat with CopperSafe now. I have a 75 gal. with a Foxface rabbit, regal and yellow tang, blue fin angel, yellow headed goby, bi-color and lawn mower blennies, snowflake moray which will eventually go in with the trigger, and a Percula clown with two cleaner shrimp and a fire shrimp. The only time I have ever had a problem with Ich is when I first brought the 75 gal. home stalked with 1/2 the fish in it now, bought from individual already set up. That was a chore in it's self I carried 60 gal. of water back with me and kept all rock submersed separate from fish. This is the last fish I am buying for a long time I have wanted a clown trigger for several years but knew it was not reef safe and it gets so large I wasn't ready to tackle that feet until my reef was complete. Anyway I haven't dealt with triggers much I know what they eat and what they are like but am concerned with how the clown trigger will react to the CopperSafe. Also I don't like using this with out knowing a little more about how to mix it, I have purchased a copper test kit but CopperSafe doesn't have the number amounts just teaspoon or what ever. What is the amount I should achieve and how long do I keep it their. I have read .35 and others .25 and others as high as .50 although I feel .50 is probably to hi what amount will actually kill the parasite after it falls of the fish? Or should I try something else? wait it out? Lower salinity How low is low enough? I thought 1.016 but I have read 1.010 is that to low? I have a 2 1/2 inch cleaner would a 2 inch or less Clown trigger  kill him? I fear yes if not I will try the cleaner shrimp first?<The trigger would probably eat the cleaner.  Just add copper until the correct level is reached, put about 15 drops in the tank, if you are using the 20 gal.  Then add more drops as needed.  I would shoot for copper levels around .2-.25.  Also if you want to keep the LR live you will need to take it out before treating.  It would be best to also have no substrate as it can absorb the copper.  The rock will need to sit in a separate container for at least a month before it can be put back in with fish.  It would be best to also have no substrate as it can absorb the copper. Also if you use copper I would keep the salinity up to normal levels.> What do I do???   Help!

- Clown Trigger Problems - I have some pics of the clown trigger fish, also the queen angel is in another tank along with the tusk.  Right now in my 125 I have the Emperor angel, clown trigger, and some damsels,  I am thinking about adding a powder blue tang to the mix though. <Please hold off on this choice for a little while - is best to stock very slowly and let the fish get a chance to get to know one another before you add any more neighbors. Also, the Powder Blue is a notoriously ich-prone fish so you should quarantine FIRST, before adding the fish to your main system. More info on those tangs here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/powdbluetg.htm > Anyway here you go, hopefully you can tell what it is that's on my clown trigger, thanks a lot. <Hard to make anything out very well from those photos, but I think it might be a mechanical injury - perhaps from trying to work over one of the other fish - wouldn't be too concerned.> Rene Brunetti <Cheers, J -- >

Help!  Sick Clown Trigger Hello, <Hi, Mike D here> You guys have been nothing but helpful before, so I'm back again in need of   your expertise.  I have a 2 year old 55 gallon saltwater tank.  It  contains some live rock, a large sailfin tang, large maroon clownfish, a rainbow   wrasse, a medium-small lionfish, and a medium-large (4" or so) clown  trigger.<Ouch! You are already maxed out on population with some major growing occurring as we speak...you have some hard choices ahead in your immediate future>   Everyone in the tank is doing fine, eating well, swimming around  . . . except my clown trigger.  I've had him almost 2 weeks, and he's been  doing great.  A few days ago, I noted some suspicious white spots that  looked all too familiar, so I dipped him for 10 min. in a HydroPlex freshwater  dip.  The spots have not returned (my UV sterilizer should have kept that  from happening to begin with).<I assume you're referring to ick and 1) the spots disappearing doesn't mean that the freshwater dip worked, as it's part of the lifecycle of the fish, with each "spot" that disappeared falling off and splitting into up to 200 new smaller parasites to re-infect your fish. Often what happens is this second, stronger infection begins where it's not seen, in the gills! Another fallacy is that the UV sterilizer will cure/control ick, which it almost universally does not. Read the FAQs on UV sterilizers and I think you'll find what I mean.>  Last night, I notice the trigger did not  have his usual appetite, and did not eat.  I just got home from work today,  and he's lethargically moping around the bottom of the tank, breathing rapidly,  and again, refusing to eat even when the food is in front of him.  The  water has had a recent change, tests appeared normal, all other fish are doing  as well as usual.  What might be wrong?  Is there anything I can  do?<I'd suggest removing to a separate hospital tank and begin your treatment of choice for Ick (there are many.. hyposalinity, dips, formalin treatments, etc.>  This is my prize fish!  I just got him at a once a year store  sale for 50 bucks off!  That won't happen again . . . . any ideas that can  help me?<Again, hospitalize/Quarantine and treat for Ick as it's likely infesting his gills (often new fish that have been stressed will be parasitized while healthy, established fish will remain largely or completely normal due to their immune system and slime coats functioning at 100%)  Once you've beaten this problem you need to start considering that both Sailfin Tangs and Clown Triggerfish get HUGE in a fairly short time (2-3 years) and will need a MUCH bigger tank ASAP.....imagine a full sized football painted the same color as your little clown trigger and you're looking at a 2/3 grown specimen, keeping in mind that marine fish do not grow only to the size of the tank they are in like some freshwater fish. Good Luck!>   Thanks a billion, -Dave

Sick Clown Trigger Thanks Mike. <You're more than welcome> Sadly, I awoke to day to find my clown trigger has gone on to a better   place.  Yet, thank you kindly for your advice.  You're advice about  tank size with the animals I have will be a major factor in future  considerations. <At least he didn't die in vain then. Clowns in particular are actually well known for being extremely delicate as small juveniles and indestructible as adults, where they BECOME the major cause of death for other tankmates> Thanks again, -Dave

Discolored Clown Trigger... poor mix, environment (Marina Looks for Photos..) I have a 4 month old Long 30 gallon tank. heavily filtered. Prizm (H.O.T.) skimmer, old school gulf stream wet dry filter, 8 lbs live rock, phosphate absorbing media, carbon, PolyFilter. Also left in the undergravel filter, (covered by very little gravel) with 2 powerheads to pump the fish waste back up to the skimmer (ideally.) <Mmm, am sure you realize the requirements of substrate with UG filters, their shortcomings/strengths> I have more bio balls on order to increase the nitrifying bacteria for the system. I currently fight the nitrite with heavy skimming and a 1/3 water change weekly. currently levels are 2.5 PPM nitrite and 30 ppm nitrate. everything else is ideal. <... any nitrite is dangerous...> I have 1 Niger trigger 2.5 inches, 1 nano undulating trigger 1 inch, <<A what?>> 1 Royal Gamma 2 inches (lives in barnacles) 4 brave and fast damsels 3 Emerald Crabs (clean up crew) and a 2 inch clown trigger. <... crazy to have this much fish life in an uncycled system> everyone gets along. <Mmm, for now perhaps... apparently> - I know that your recommendations are for huge tanks with triggers, but I live in NYC and the triggers live as we do, in well laid out, small quarters. sleeping places for all and a good circuit to do laps. I do not want to reduce stock or trade in until they grow too big 1+ inch growth.  I purchased the clown trigger 3 weeks ago. The clown trigger survived and ich infestation 10 days ago. I treated with a 5 minute fresh water dip, and then treated with copper. When I bought the clown it had some discoloration, but was eating well, and was an excellent price retail at $49.00. I decided to bring it home and with TLC bring it back to fighting strength. After undergoing medication, the clown is eating well, although only brine shrimp or Mysis. Does not seem to have the desire to attack the krill like the Niger. On one side of its body the colors are perfect. The photo attached is of the other side. There are white discolored patches. under close observation, it does not look to be fungus. Although the fins have some white bits forming, perhaps bacteria attacking post ich? <Mmm, no, at least not immediately, directly the problem... the source of troubles here is/are environmental... nitrite, likely transient ammonia, too much stress from unnatural assortment, crowding> Also the pectoral fins appear to be enduring some rot. I am going to the LFS to buy some Maracyn, is this the best course of action, given I am dedicated to not making tank size change or destocking? Also how long should scales take to grow back if scrapped from netting or shipping? <Mmm, no... antibiotics period are not a good idea in main/display systems... this one, Erythromycin is not a good idea period> Thanks for your help, your site is very interesting. - JR <Keep the nitrite down below 1.0 ppm... through huge water changes, careful feeding, add more substrate, get a bigger tank/s. Bob Fenner>

Large clown trigger Hi Bob, Glad to hear from you again, how was your trip to Cooks? Were you there on assignment? <Fine, and "self-sponsored" assignment this time... making pix, visiting hashers and Chip Boyle...> I will collect my trigger tomorrow morning ( 14/10/00 ).I'm a bit excited because I was told that it is a fine specimen and over 8" ( cost me about US55+ ). <A bargain.> Bob I read your articles on acclimation and I want to ask you why usually when I tested the shipping water it is always towards acidic ( 7.4 )? And I have to slowly bring it up to 8.4 level before I dip it in fresh water with same PH and added with Methylene blue for 2 minutes, am I doing the right thing ? <The pH drops due to a combination of a loss of alkaline/reserve and respiratory and waste product production... best to very, very slowly raise the pH... through acclimation and to not allow any of the shipping water (laden with ammonia typically) to be transferred in the process... Take a look on the site: Home Page re "Guerilla Acclimation"> Or is it better to dip in salt water added with Maroxy ( Mardel ) for a couple of minutes? Was is your advice? Hope I hear from you in time. David. Trigger Happy!!! >> <Better to lower pH of the mixing water with a dilute soln. of HCl, and know what you're doing here... and aerate the mixed solution, allowing the pH to rise over an hour or more time, while aerating the mix water, and use either the Methylene blue and/OR the Maroxy... Bob Fenner, who warns all, this is for MOST types of marine fishes, not all, and NOT invertebrates>

Clown Trigger Hi, I started a new tank and it has been cycled for 2 weeks now. I have a clown trigger that has taken a turn for the worst in the past couple of days. He has gray patches that have started to connect and his color has been fading. He is breathing very heavy and his fins have cloudy patches he has had these symptoms for the past 3 weeks. I first thought it was ick and threw in some medication for ick that did not help. I then threw in Melafix that did not work and then tried CopperSafe that didn't work and now someone told me to use copper power which I threw in but has not worked either.  <Yikes... this is a bunch of toxic medications... your Clown Trigger may have originally been reacting to most anything behaviorally... environmentally... You state that the tank has only been cycled for two weeks, and yet the Trigger was exhibiting "symptoms" for three weeks? This time frame is too short to be placing fish livestock...> Before adding any new medication I ran my filter system with carbon for 2 days to get rid of the medication I previously used. <Good idea> Last night I did a 25% water change and turned on my 15 watt U.V light. I also tried giving him a fresh water dip but he started to go on his side in a minute and a half I got scared and quickly put him back in the tank. The numbers for my tank are Gravity - 1.22 Ammonia - None PH - 8.4 I have been using PH 8.2 but my ph keeps on rising it was at 8.6 <Do have your test kit checked... and try not to worry if the pH "only" gets this high... that is, I wouldn't try to "correct it"... in time the pH will start to drift down of its own accord> Nitrite - none Other fish in tank include 6 damsels and one panther grouper they show no sign of anything. I don't know if I'm making any sense but if you can help me I would greatly appreciate it. <Is this Trigger still eating? How large is this tank? Do you have live rock in it? Filtration/aeration? I would increase the latter, add some live rock and leave all else alone. Patience my friend. Please read over the Marine Set-Up and Maintenance sections of our site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>
Re: clown trigger
The aeration that I use is coming from the return. should I be worried that this is a disease or just stress related. <Mostly stress> I do not have any live rock in my tank just 1 piece of moon rock. <As stated, I would add some> I'm sorry but I forgot to mention in the previous email that 3 weeks ago he had a small open sore that looks like its all healed. should I be worried about a disease in my tank and if so why have none of the other fish contracted the disease. Thank you for your quick response. <I wouldn't be concerned about this previous sore> I just wanted to get your opinion on what I did and if you have any other suggestions regarding my clown trigger. I removed the moon rook from my tank Because of the high effect it has on raising ph. I also but 3 pounds of live rock I have a 90 gallon tank should I buy more. <Yes. Look for "whole box" deals from e-tailers... or make a deal with your local fish store for same... much cheaper> The clown has not eaten for about 4 - 5 days. I performed a water change like I told you 3 days ago should I do another one in a couple of days or not. <I would hold off on water changes. Do try placing an entire "cocktail shrimp" (sans sauce of course, or a piece of frozen/defrosted krill... Bob Fenner>
Re: clown trigger
I also noticed that the clown triggers stomach looks swollen but he hasn't eaten for 4 - 5 days is that of any concern. <Yes... perhaps this Clown Trigger is eating something... Bob Fenner>
Re: clown trigger
I'm sorry for being such a pain but this morning I tested my water and my numbers were as follows. Nitrite - 0.20 Ammonia - 0.50 PH - 8.6 Nitrate - 40 I know I did a water change and the numbers go up but that was 4 days ago is their anything I should do or just wait it out. <Something is not right here... you ammonia and nitrite s/b zero as in nothing... Please read through the www.WetWebMedia.com site re "biological filtration", "marine set-up", "ammonia", "nitrite"... Hopefully what is wrong will come to your awareness by this process... in the meanwhile don't feed this tank, and do change your water (with pre-made... do read the "synthetic seawater" sections as well) if the NH3 or NO2 approaches 1.0ppm. Study my friend will save your livestock. Bob Fenner>
Re: clown trigger
The fish has not been eating for the past couple of days. Should I be feeding him certain food right now I am feeding him Formula 1, Krill, and frozen squid I like to switch it up.  <Good idea... this is enough types for now> My tank size is 90 gallons I have a wet dry filter 15 U.V a 303 powerhead for circulation I also have a Prizm skimmer that I have not hooked up yet. <I would... good, better water quality is a definite plus> The aeration that I use is coming from the return. should I be worried that this is a disease or just stress related. <Mostly stress> I do not have any live rock in my tank just 1 piece of moon rock. <As stated, I would add some> I'm sorry but I forgot to mention in the previous email that 3 weeks ago he had a small open sore that looks like its all healed. should I be worried about a disease in my tank and if so why have none of the other fish contracted the disease. Thank you for your quick response. <I wouldn't be very concerned re actual parasitic or infectious disease here... Please read through the following: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm on tank troubleshooting... Keep studying my friend. Bob Fenner>
Re: clown trigger
A quick update it looks like the end is near for my clown his colorful leathery skin has no been reduced to what looks to be smooth chalky skin. His gills look to have disintegrated and his breathing has gotten heavy from his gills not being able to take in enough oxygen. He no longer can swim when ever he tries to he falls to the side. I know this is a dumb question but is their anything else I can do. I can't stand to see the fish suffer like this if the end is near I would like to flush him down the toilet then watch him suffer. <I understand, and share your sympathies. If you are assured that the end is nigh for your Clown Trigger, a humane way of bringing its suffering to an end is to place it in a small volume of water (let's say half a cup) in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer. Bob Fenner>

Phosphates Hi Bob, Glad you're around to help!!! I'm having a problem with my LFS. I bought a clown trigger from him and two days later he died.  <Mmm, what sort of symptoms? Did the fish eat... ever? What else do you have in your system that is doing well? Need more clues...> I went back for a refund and he tested my water. My ph is 8.0, ammonia 0.0, nitrites 0.o, nitrates 15. He also tested for phosphates and said I was at 10.  <Yeeikes, this is HIGH!> I thought phosphate problems were mostly related to algae, I don't have an algae problem.  <Unusual that you don't have a bunch of algae growing here... I would test your water elsewhere/wise> This tank also has a lion fish, snowflake eel, valentini puffer and a damsel. No problems with them. I also found out that my LFS keeps his ph at 8.8. <What? Really... strange... not easy to do, safely... and many downsides in event of other troubles...> I harden my fish for 2 hours, slowly mixing my tank water with the LFS water before I release. So needless to say, he refused the refund. Is the high phosphates the cause of death or possibly the big change in ph? Thanks again for your help........Paul <Maybe a bit of both... this whole situation doesn't add up though... Ten ppm of soluble phosphate is very unusual period... w/o enormous algal problems almost unbelievable... a store maintaining a pH (likely with Kalkwasser and careful use of calcium chloride) to maybe precipitate phosphate (?) is unprecedented/unknown to me otherwise... and to lose what appears to be such a tough species of fish so easily in the face of the other livestock you list... anomalous to say the least. I would ask for at least partial credit or be shopping elsewhere. You are welcome to forward, show my opinions to your dealer. Bob Fenner>

Help with clown trigger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hi Bob! I realize by the time you respond my fish may be dead, but its worth a try. I have a seven inch clown trigger which I've had for three years in a 75 gallon tank along with a Arothron puffer, purple tang, and a wrasse. I just noticed my trigger is on the bottom of the tank laying on his side, breathing normally, maybe a little shallow. When fish approach he flaps his fins but cannot swim. When he tries he remains bent and has no control. He has been very still for a few hours now. I fed the other fish, they are perfectly normal. This is the first situation I've had in five years so I'm a little caught off guard and don't know where to turn. I hope you can help and at least give me some preventive knowledge. Do fish die of old age? <They do, but this one is not old... May have eaten something "that didn't agree with it"... or be "pulling your fins"...> Thanks Bob, I know you are very busy but I don't trust anyone else's expertise. <No worries... I would do the S.O.P. of a water change, add carbon to the filter flow path, check water quality... Hopefully the fish "swallowed a bug that fell in" or is just "clowning around"... and will recover soon. Bob Fenner>

Sick clown triggerfish? I have a clown triggerfish that is about 4 inches long. He still eats well and swims around all day, but, his color is fading out in spots all around him! What is this? Please help, and quick!!! Thanks, -Kevin <Mmm, either nutritional deficiency, "poor" water quality, or behavioral display/mal-adjustment. Please read through the Triggerfish materials archived on our site, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/index.htm on to the linked files, FAQs in blue above. Bob Fenner>

Clown Trigger with Digenetic Trematodes <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob travels> I have to say that I am a HUGE fan, I have read your book at least twice cover to cover, and is my bible for aquarium keeping!!  <yes, we are in agreement> I recommend your book to everyone interested in keeping a saltwater tank, and can say you have a lot of fans on Saltwaterfish.com's message board! Now to my question, I have a Clown Trigger, that I have had for three years, very recently my impeller on my filter broke and the filter stopped working, for at least 24 hours; shortly after this incident the trigger developed small white spots on both pectoral fins, they did not seem to bother him, I did not worry to much, as I thought it must be a small bout with ick, which I was sure he would fight off. Now, two months later, he still has them; they still do not seem to bother him (by that I mean, he is not darting about the tank, or scratching on rocks) however, he has had some unusual behavior , such as hanging around in the bubbler and after eating, finding a place to rest on the bottom.  <yes... one of the signs of some kind of parasites in the gills> I am thinking after a lot of reading, he may have some type of worm (digenetic Trematodes). I do soak the food in Kent's Garlic Xtreme, and would like to know if I should take further measures of treatment, and if so what type of medication would work best. Thank you so very much. J. Marshall <treatment in a quarantine tank specifically (not in main display) with Formalin is recommended. Follow manufacturers recommended dose as per instructions. Best regards, Anthony>

"Spot" the clown trigger Dear WWM crew, I don't know if you will remember, but have emailed you before about my clown trigger, thought he had Metacercaria.  <I do> However, now I believe it to be more than just the encapsulated worms, I think he may also have internal worms, need your help to diagnose.  <Of a certainty all fishes and humans do have internal worms of various sorts... are they of number, kind, placement, size to be of consequence is the question> I have had spot for 3 1/2 years and only in the last six months has he shown symptoms like periodic loss of color, resting on the bottom with slow breathing. He is becoming less active by the day, although he is always on the ball when it comes to feeding time. I currently feed him FD krill soaked in ZOE vitamins, trigger formula, prime reef formula, formula 2 and use garlic additives to the food also. <Do add more/other whole fresh or frozen/defrosted meaty foods, drop out some of the prepared formulated foods> He appears to eat well, but spends most of his day on the bottom of the tank. After he eats his belly seems to be full, but by the end of the day his belly looks emaciated, almost like he is starving. <Good description> His tankmates include a zebra lionfish (2yrs) a Huma Huma trigger (4yrs) and a sunset wrasse (1yr). The other fish have absolutely no symptoms, and are eating healthy and active, with bright color. I pride myself on water changes and keeping my tanks clean. I have tried a few meds with Spot, but they seemed harder on him than what was actually bothering him. I have used formalin and Praziquantel in addition to feeding the garlic. Right now, I feel like Spots quality of life is not what it should be, and feel like he is suffering and it breaks my heart. I have read your site on disease and also the book by Gerald Bassleer "Diseases in marine aquarium fish" and just cannot find anything that fits his symptoms completely. <You know... you might try "floating out" a fecal sample (can be collected easier in a bare tank (quarantine/treatment), and looking under a scope for eggs... perhaps definitive. I would consider trying lacing the foods the specimen takes readily with Flagyl/Metronidazole... for three days or so... and see if the "wasting" subsides... other... Vermifuges might be tried as well (Piperazine, di-n-butyl tin oxide... and more modern compounds... from/via a veterinarian)...> Truly I am stumped with this one, and was hoping you might have a miracle cure. I just finished setting up and cycling Spot's permanent home a 240G, but he was to be the last fish added, as I was afraid any fish introduced after a healthy "Spot" would be harassed to death.  <A wise arrangement/precaution> Would it be worth it to add him to the 240, just to see if he would perk up, should I just keep giving it the wait and see approach, I guess really I want to know, how do I know he is suffering and when it is time to say goodbye, which will probably be one of the hardest things I could do. <Not likely "suffering"... as in pain, remorse. Not to worry> Thank you so much for your time and your knowledge, from an extremely grateful hobbyist. J. Marshall <I would wait, try the anti-protozoal, perhaps the deworming materials... and see if this animal retains mass, before moving. One last item/question back to you: Is there live rock in this system? I would definitely add some if not... in the hope that "something" missing in the animals diet or water quality might be restored. Bob Fenner>

"Spot" the clown trigger Just some more info on "Spot", the night before he had lumps on both sides of his abdomen, they were considerable in size and oval shaped. He seemed to have to struggle to swim, not necessarily had an equilibrium problem, just struggling to move himself through the water. The next morning both lumps were gone, and he was waiting at the top of the tank to be fed. Then last night, had another lump approximately the same size, but only on one side, seemed again to struggle through the water, and again this morning the lump is gone, and he is anxiously awaiting to be fed. Thought this info. might help you make a diagnosis.  <bizarre... and rules out an actual growth(s). I'm wondering if this silly or greedy fish isn't gulping or snapping at bubbles at the surface or otherwise ingesting air?> Will be looking for your reply, and again Thank You!! J. Marshall
<very curious! Anthony>

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