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FAQs on Harlequin Tuskfish, Choerodon fasciata, Disease/Health

Related Articles: Harlequin Tuskfish, Tuskfishes, Genus Choerodon,

Related FAQs: Harlequin Tuskfish 1Harlequin Tuskfish 2Tuskfish, Tuskfish Identification, Tuskfish Selection, Tuskfish Behavior, Tuskfish Compatibility, Tuskfish Systems, Tuskfish Feeding, Tuskfish Reproduction, Wrasses, Wrasse Selection, Wrasse Behavior, Wrasse Compatibility, Wrasse Feeding, Wrasse Diseases,  

Harlequin Tusk Behavior      4/13/16
<Hi there>
I recently purchased a 7" HT from my LFS.
<Dang! I wish the collectors wouldn't gather such large specimens... poor shippers, adapters to captive conditions
Ate fine at the store, exhibited normal behavior. His current tank mates are only a pair of clarkii clownfish and a 3 1/2" juvenile blue throat who is terrified of him.
<Mmm; how big is this system?>

He is currently swimming quite aggressively back and forth along the front of the tank and intermittently putting his head and dorsal fine out of the water.
<What? Bad signs... is this a Philippine specimen? It may be damaged; possibly cyanided. How long did the store have it on hand?
I have dimmed the lights and reduced stimuli as much as possible but he still seems to be quite agitated. I just want to make sure this is normal territorial behavior he is exhibiting. And to ask when I should expect this to subside and when I should become worried it has not.
<I'd be; make that I am concerned. I'd call the store; ask if they'll allow its return, warrant it against loss for a week or so. Bob Fenner>
Re: Harlequin Tusk Behavior      4/13/16

This is a fully cycled 90 gallon QT tank (DT 180). I've not wanted to keep a permanent QT tank but have had poor luck in the past with a temporary one. He's an Australian HT
<Ah good>

as I've also had poor luck with the Indo ones, my last one essentially just died out of no where. The LFS has had the fish for a week or so. I've had it on hold since it came in I wanted it to adjust first before I picked it up. Just picked the guy up today. His breathing is fine, he tracks me well when I'm in front of the tank, took a bite of krill but then lost interest.
<I'd expedite moving it to the main/display. Run it through a pH adjusted freshwater dip/bath if you feel more comfortable, but move it. Bob Fenner>
Re: Harlequin Tusk Behavior      4/13/16

Thank you so much for your help. I will expedite his move.
<Good. Do keep us informed. B>
Re: Harlequin Tusk Behavior    3/14/16
Thank you for the advice!! My new HT seems much happier he's now gently swimming and weaving between the rocks.
<Ah yes; see my notes re this sp. on WWM. Are often caught via bare hook.... in this setting
Still hasn't eaten yet
<Not to worry if it goes w/o food for a week or more. Patience
but I am going to try some live feeder shrimp to get the ball rolling... I doubt he could resist. I apologize if I was frantic as I am just paranoid for his safety. Again thanks so much!
<Welcome. BobF>

Fish disease or issue.        2/18/15
Good evening guess (Thailand time)
Can anyone tell me what those white spots are on the side of his head (only one side of the fish is effected) and some spots on the same side fin.
They are too large spots to be Ich I believe. (or not?)
Could those be blister like spots from getting in contact with a carpet anemone?
Thank you very much
oxbow70's imageoxbow70's image
<Uh... nothing was attached, Dirk; do try attaching photos (nothing bigger than 1 MB, please) to your email rather than linking to other websites, hosts. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish disease or issue.        2/18/15

OK so let me try that again.
Good evening guess (Thailand time)
<Five PMish here now>
Can anyone tell me what those white spots are on the side of his head (only one side of the fish is effected) and some spots on the same side fin.
<Can guess... REALLY need to sample, look at under a 'scope>
They are too large spots to be Ich I believe. (or not?)
Could those be blister like spots from getting in contact with a carpet anemone?
Thank you very much
<Yes to your guess; or other mechanical injury. Bob Fenner>


Re: Harlequin Tusk     10/17/14
Hi again. I have another question. If I do have to treat the tusk, is quinine sulfate ok? I know different fish are affected by different meds. I just want to be prepared.
<S/b fine; Labrids are no more/less sensitive than other fish families. Bob Fenner>

Harlequin Tusk; hlth., comp.     10/14/14
Hi Crew. I his email finds you well.
<Yes; thank you Michael>
I picked up a nice Australian Harlequin Tusk four days ago. Around 5 inches. I have him in a 55 gallon QT. Very active fish. Eating from day one. Eats everything to include Mysis, silversides, prawns, clams, and NLS pellets. This is actually my second tusk I am trying. First one I had for around six weeks and laid on its side for two weeks, then final go straight up and swam a little. I thought it was just a timid fish. Only got him to eat Mysis at night when lights were off. After 5 weeks in QT, I put in the display but within 2 days the other fish got to him since all he did was lay in the open and he eventually died last a week ago. I assume something was wrong. I never saw signs of disease but did treat with PraziPro and Quinine Sulfate.
<Mmm; sorry for your loss>
Now my questions on the new tusk. If I see no signs of disease should I treat with PraziPro and Quinine Sulfate as a precautionary measure?
<I would not. Australian specimens are generally very tough, and clean. No sense impugning its health with medications if not necessary>
I would do the treatments at separate times. I was planning to do two back to back five day treatments of PraziPro, wait a week, and then do a single 7 day treatment of Quinine Sulfate. I just wanted to get your
thoughts on this.
<You have them. By and large am not a fan of prophylactic treatment by hobbyists. Most all "easily knocked off" pathogens should be dealt with by "dealers" (wholesalers mostly, perhaps collectors, transhippers to lesser degrees). Internal complaints... Need to be addressed on a scenario to circumstances basis>
I plan on putting the tusk in a 150 gallon FOWLR. I do have a 8" Red Breasted Wrasse in there that did show aggression towards my last Tusk.
<Yes... not a good tankmate for each other... Cheilinus, Oxycheilinus and Choerodons routinely don't get along>
I also have a 7" porc puffer and a 7" V. Lionfish in there. From what I saw, the puffer and lion fish left the tusk alone. I was thinking of taking the Red Breasted Wrasse out and put in QT for a week when I go to
put the tusk in there.
<Worth trying>
Or I can just put the tusk in and if I see aggression from the wrasse, then try and net the wrasse and put in QT.
<Up to you. I would separate them somehow for a week or two>
This tusk is so active and the way he eats, I think he would put up a fight and deter any aggression unlike the last one. Please let me know your thoughts on this too. The tusk has another 5 to 6 weeks in QT so I am not un any rush.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Harlequin Tusk
Thanks Bob. So in the long run with the Red Breasted Wrasse and the Tusk, do you think I will have issues?
<Quite possibly; yes>
If so, maybe I will give the Red Breasted Wrasse away. It is a nice fish, but I think the tusk is nicer :).
<Better for systems of your size as well>
Also, how long do you think I should keep the tusk in QT? 4 weeks?
<You're at the point of diminishing returns now... more than two weeks is about this; unless there is some compelling concern>
Thanks again.
<Welcome. BobF>

New Harlequin Tuskfish problem     8/16/14
I just have to say, i love your website! Always learn something new.
I have a bit of a problem-i just received a 4" Harlequin Tusk this morning .I drip acclimated him for about 45 min -then placed him into my reef/holding/quarantine tank.(Its only a 34 gal red sea, but its just a temporary home for him. I have a 250 gal but there are 5 angelfish in there and i was afraid they wont leave him alone).
<Mmm; perhaps in time>
So the second i put him into the tank he swam directly into the glass, then turned and swam into the
rock. I mean he slammed into the rock as if he didn't see it. he looks very disoriented turned the lights off and tried not to walk by the tank to give him time to settle and calm down...When came by the tank to check on him he was doing a "headstand" right in the front of the tank. i m not sure what to do. Please help, he is a gorgeous fish and i want to do whatever it takes to help him settle in.
Thank you.
<DO turn the lights off! And cover three sides of the tank with paper...

hopefully the fish will settle in. Bob Fenner>

Harlequin Tusk, blindness   11/24/10
Love your site, I get so much help from all the information you guys have.
I have a Harlequin Tusk about five inches long. I have had him for about 10 months now. He is having a vision problem.
<Mmm, these are almost always a matter of nutritional issues... with some due to environment, biological agents (eye parasites)>
He doesn't seem to be able to see close up. He swims around the tank fine and has no trouble finding his favorite cave but he misses food that is right in front of him. He is in a 125g tank. Specific Gravity is 1.24 Temp is 82f .
No new fish have been added in the last few months. He does get picked on a little by a Purple Tang and a Majestic Angel
<This last needs more than 125 gallons to thrive, grow>
but its just little faint attacks. He has no marks or torn fins or anything. They don't seem to bite him just sort of warn him type stuff.
<Still very stressful>
He swims around the tank without bumping into things and comes out a lot.
<Ah, good>
There are two problems that I have been having trouble with, one is Nitrates in the tank. They are at about 80
<MUCH too high. An issue, contributor here>
before I do a water change of 50% and then they are around 20 to 30.
<Do read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm
and the linked files above>
The other was PH. It had been dropping to 7.8 to 8.0 I have for the last two months been using Marine buffer to keep the PH at 8.3 .
<Mmm, I do hope/trust you're adding this material to new change-out water, NOT directly to the tank>
I have a Coralife skimmer
<Mmm, not a great make>
rated for 125g, a Rena xp4 canister filter,
<A source of NO3>
an Emperor 400 hang on back filter and 3 power heads. I feed the tank Marine Algae sheets, Mysis, Krill, Plankton, Formula Two Flakes and New Life Spectrum Pellets.
<Good foods>
Could his vision problem have been caused by either the high nitrates or PH being too low?
<Are influences, yes. But nutrition is likely missing something here... I would supplement, soak, add a vitamin and HUFA prep. to the water at least weekly>
Will his vision return with these things corrected or will his eyes get worse or the same? Is the damage permanent?
<Might be reversible>
My Picasso Trigger is now having the same problem
only not as bad. The tanks inhabitants are 1 six inch Hippo Tang, 1 six inch Foxface, 1 five inch Purple Tang, 1 five inch Majestic Angel, 1 three inch Picasso Trigger, 1 three inch Lemon Peel Angel, 1 three inch Bicolor Angel and the 5 inch Harlequin Tusk.
<... You really need a larger world for these fishes... at least the addition of a good sized sump, a DSB with sufficient depth of soluble, fine material to maintain alkalinity, pH, and depress the accumulation of nitrate... Do you understand? Bob Fenner>
Re: Harlequin Tusk, vision   11/24/10

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I do have a 75 gallon tank with some smaller fish in it if you think my Tusk would do better in there.
<Ah good>
He would be the biggest fish in that tank by far. It has the same type of set up. Three power heads, an Aqua-C remora pro skimmer, emperor 400 filter and a Marine land 360 canister filter. Both tanks have a two to three inch aragonite sand bed. The 125g has about 50 pounds of live rock and the 75g has about 25 pounds of live rock. Do you think I should make the sand bed a four inch sand bed for helping to keep down the nitrates?
<Yes, I would>
I do add the Marine buffer to a five gallon bucket of replacement water when I add it.
I am going to buy another Aqua C Remora Pro Skimmer for the 125g so I will have two Skimmers on it. Do you think I should get rid of one of the two filtration systems on the tank? ( Is one of them a major contributor to my nitrate problem)
<I would remove the canister... use if for only periodic chemical filtrant applications>
I have planned on getting a 250g tank in about a year. I plan on having the tank drilled and using a sump system with an in sump Aqua-C skimmer and also growing macro algae in the sump to try and keep down the nitrates. As it is now I change out 120 gallons of water in the tank per month.
Two 60 gallon water changes. I have not tried adding vitamins to the water or soaking their food in vitamins yet but will do so if you think that will help. What specific vitamins do you recommend?
<There are a few good brands. Selcon, MicroVit are faves>
I didn't plan ahead for this tank. When I bought the 125g tank I was just going to use it for fresh water and later decided to use it for saltwater.
This tank is not drilled out for a sump style system that is why I have hang on the back style skimmers. I do have a spare 30g long and a 55g tank that I can use for a sump when I get the new tank. I would be glad to use these as a sump now, but do not know how to pipe them without having a tank that is already drilled and set up that way.
<Easy enough to drill, have drilled... Do take a look at glass-holes.com's site>
( I have a 90g that is set up as a sump system).
Last, I have read online that adding alcohol (vodka) to a tank can increase the bacteria that will eat the nitrates in the water.
I have read adding a cap full per day would do this to help get the nitrates under control. Then you stop when the nitrates are down to where they are supposed to be. Have you heard of this?
<Several times, places... Read here:
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/carbondosingfhtm.html
Is this worth trying or is it just something stupid that shouldn't be tried? I have tried adding some nitrate reducing bags, bioballs and ceramics for bacteria in the Canister filter but it seems the only way I can get the nitrates down is by 50% water changes.
<... read where you were referred to last re>
The only thing the Tusk seems to be getting to eat much of is the Spectrum Pellets with a little of the other frozen foods because of his poor eyesight.
<Move it. B>

Australian Harlequin Tuskfish Help.   10/6/10
Dear WetWebMedia,
First off thank you for all the help you give out to others and me every day. I know you get that very often but it really means a lot. I have two questions about my Harlequin Tusk. First off, he has a small white
bump (between his perching fins and tail on his belly if you can't see the pictures). I Believe it has grown over the past few days by a little bit.
It is a white circular bump with what looks like the hole of a dead barnacle in the middle.
<Mmm, this appears, though your pix are very blurry, to be part of this animal's colon... a bit prolapsed>
I got him a week ago today. For the first couple of days, he would swim on an angle but seems to do it little to none now. The PH is 8.1
(I am going to raise it to 8.3 .1 a day because it is a little low for my corals). The Alkalinity is 4.2. The Nitrates are at 10 as of Thursday because I just added him and a Desjardinii Sailfin Tang. Ammonia is at 0
and Nitrites was at 0.1.
<Should be zip, 0.0>
There was aggression only for the first day or two but the tusk was too big to be bothered. He is about 4 inches long and currently the largest fish in the aquarium. The fish currently in the fish tank are a Powder Blue Tang, A Desjardinii and 4 turbo snails cleaning the diatom outbreak and the tusk of course. The tank is 120 gallon 4x2x2.The fish all school together interestingly enough. I feed the Tuskfish whole frozen
silverfish defrosted in Selcon and oysters. He mooches off the tangs seaweed and the chili coral's brine shrimp and flake mix (until I get rotifers).
Also, why does my Tusk sometimes try to spit water at my face when I look over the top of the tank.
<Perhaps trying to tell you something... "go away" and/or "feed me">
Sorry for the length but I wanted to be accurate.
Thank you for all of your help
Thanks ,
Michael R
<As this fish seems healthy, is eating well, I would not be concerned. Very likely this bit of its body will be withdrawn back in a short while. Bob Fenner>

Tusk gulping for air -- 11/23/09
Dear WWM crew,
First a little background, I have a refugium that is 125gallons, with about >80 lbs of life rock and a DSB (about 5-6"). It's been running for over a year with a closed loop filtration since it's supposed to be tied into a 300 gallon tank but that tank is not fixed yet.
Bought a 5 1/2" Australian Harlequin Tusk and put him in a 20 Gallon QT tank. Used 10 gallons for a established tank and 10 gallons of new water. Added 2 pieces of live rock(medium size) and a sponge that has been sitting in same established tank for about 3 weeks.
<Okay... though, I would not likely quarantine members of this Labrid genus (Choerodon)... they're typically quite "clean", and don't take to being in small volumes well>
1st day, ammonia level was .25 so changed 25% water, second day same thing .25 ammonia so changed 25% water in the morning and hours later still .25ammonia so this time I changed 50% water. That night same thing so I decided to move the tusk to my refugium.
Put a partition (egg crate) in the refugium so it will be easier to catch him later so he has 40 gallons worth of space but a 125gallon volume of water. BTW, there is a Lifereef protein skimmer hooked up to it externally.
All water levels are great, PH 8.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrates 0. Temp 78-79 degrees.
Next day, I noticed by watching him that he likes to swim up and down and a lot of the time his head actually comes out of the water and he is gulping for air. Why is he doing that? Lack of oxygen?
<Behavioral, not lack of oxygen likely, though many fishes suffer from loss of carrying capacity... trauma effects are hemolytic... reduce packed-cell volume/hematocrit...>
I added an air stone to see what happens but doesn't the protein skimmer add oxygen to the tank?
<It does>
Also the RO water that I add to my systems are always aerated while making the water and while aging the saltwater.
I'm perplexed.... is it maybe something he just likes to do? Please advice.
Thank you so much.
<Just time going by, really>
BTW, both my eels (Skeletor and Golden Moray) are doing great together.
Here are some pics.
<Ahh! Wondered why these pix were here. Very nice>
<Bob Fenner>

Harlequin Tusk... hlth.   10/29/09
Hi there. I have noticed my Aussie Harlequin tusk in my FOWLR tank is becoming more and more lethargic and lays in the corner of the tank for quite a while at a time. He does come out to eat greedily, but then returns to his spot.
<Good, natural behavior>
His fins seemed to be slightly ripped,
<... what is in with this animal?>
but has no other signs on his body. He used to scratch on LR, but haven't seen this behaviour in a long while. I am fighting an ich problem by implementing the hyposalinity method
<Oh! The likely cause of the tattered fins>
by conducting daily water changes using RO. Once I get it to around 1.010, I'll put in another dose of Trisulfa,
<.. Sulfa compounds are not effective here>
which I did put in a month ago. I'm afraid it may be internal parasites.
What treatment can I use for this? My other fish, Picasso, Foxface and scribbled, seem to be fine. Thanks.
<... Too much to relate w/o more info. here John. Please read:
and the linked files above... I would not use hyposalinity to treat any parasitic infestation. For the animals you list, I'd be looking into Quinine compounds. Bob Fenner>

Harlequin Tusk's Eyes 09/14/09
He there. I've had my 4-5inch Australian Harlequin Tusk for around two months now. Today I noticed a more obvious green tinge, not cloudiness, to his left eye, as both eyes had a very slight green tinge when I first bought him, trusting this is normal.
<You have good vision; and yes, this color is normal in many specimens>
I know Harlequins are susceptible to blindness, however he is acting completely normal, not swimming into anything and taking food as I drop it in. Could this be an early sign of potential blindness?
<Lo dudo/ I doubt, discount it>
Could it be parasitic related? Should I just ignore it?
<This last>
He has no spots or anything on him. I do weekly 10% changes and check the parameters regularly, all (Ph, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, salinity, phosphate and temp.) of which are within acceptable range. It is a FOWLR set up so nothing could have stung him. My Picasso also has a slight greenish tinge to his eyes, but this hasn't changed since I bought him two months ago. I have spent many hours searching your site, always finding something useful! Thanks,
<No worries John. Is a matter of the aquarium light filtering through the corneas. Bob Fenner>

Sick Harlequin Tusk... Cu   2/3/09 I need you help on fixing our Australian Harlequin Tusk. We have a 60 gallon tank <Too small for housing a Choerodon spp.> with approx. 35 lbs. of live rock and live sand (Caribsea). We have a Fluval 405, <Mmm, am not a fan generally of canister filters for marine system filtration> a Eheim Ecco, protein skimmer (turbo-twist), and two power heads. We have had this tusk approximately 3 weeks. From day one that we received the tusk it had a pleasant personality. It never hid from us, had a great appetite, and would swim out to see us when we came into the room. About a week ago we added a purple tang (small) to the tank. The two of them got along great. The purple tang was always swimming with the tusk. Everything was great until 3 days ago when my husband did a water change. When my husband was near the end of the water change (adding water back into the tank) the tusk went to the bottom of the tank and appeared to be dead. My son touched the tusk and it started to swim around. Since then the tusk will not eat, acts like it is blind because it runs into things, keeps taking vertical positions in the tank, and going to the top and spitting out water (gulping). <Bad signs indeed> We have always keep up on maintenance of our tanks and the perimeters are all within range. The only problem the PH is 7.8 instead of 8.2. <This is a big... huge difference. Likely a factor to a degree here> We have been doing a 15 gallon water change every day to try and raise the ph. The purple tang doesn't seem affected by anything. When my husband did the initial water change the temperature varied 1/2 degree from the temp. of the tank which was 80 degrees. I truly admire this fish and don't want to lose it. Can you offer any suggestions? <I can and will... First, I must ask, make a comment re the origin of this Tuskfish... Many that are collected in Indo. and the P.I. suffer "blindness" issues as you've related here. Can you confirm the origin of this fish? Have you read my article on WWM re this? Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/choerodon/faciata.htm and the linked files above... re: Selection esp.> Also, now when the tusk lays at the bottom of the tank, the tang keeps nipping at the tusk to make it move? <Maybe so> Should I move the tusk in a quarantine tank, and if so, would 10 or 20 gallons be sufficient? <I would definitely NOT move this fish, unless you had a much larger, more established system to put it in... Where it is there are overhangs, areas to get out of the light I take it> Also, both the tusk and tang had ich about a week ago. <... Mmm?> The ich was so bad the tang was really agitated we decided it was necessary to add Copper Safe to the tank. <Ohh!> We treated the tank as though it was a 50 gallon to compensate for the live rock. <... With testing for copper level?> We treated the tank on Sunday and the tang seems to be doing better. I have seen no improvement with the tusk. Please help. Thank you. <The behavior you describe is consistent with copper exposure... The Wrasse is being poisoned... Please see WWM re copper use, Crypt treatment. This can't be done in the present tank, in calcareous substrate/rock presence period. Bob Fenner>

Harlequin tusk scratching behavior -- 10/13/08 Hello all. I have had my eye on a 3" Tuskfish from Indonesia (I think) for about a week now. He is eating krill, mysis, and new life spectrum pellets. The only thing keeping me from purchasing him is that I have seen him scratch on the rocks a few times. <Mmm, "some scratching is natural, to be expected"> His color and appetite are great and I see no spots or abnormalities on his fins or body and he is not doing it excessively. Is this normal for Tuskfish? Thanks, Shea <Yes... though I am adding that I would still at least dip/bath this specimen enroute to the main display if not fully quarantine. Bob Fenner>

Re: Red Sea aquarium fish selection. Dips/baths  7/10/08Just keeping you updated Bob, nothing you have to reply to if you're busy. You've spent enough time walking me through this I figure you might want to see at least some of the results. <Thank you for this> The tusk is OK, I guess... He doesn't swim around and he spends all his time sitting in the corner, face down on the glass. It would be comical if it wasn't a little frustrating. He did eat yesterday, I fed him a piece of shrimp at about 2:00pm. I basically had to tap him on the mouth with it for about 10-15 seconds and he finally ate it. So then around 7:30pm or so I fed him two pieces of raw tuna, he snapped those up almost immediately. The first one I bumped him on the mouth with just once and he grabbed it, the second one he grabbed before I even got to his face. I was only an inch away but still, it means two things to me... One, he can see. Two, he is hungry and eating so hey, he isn't dying yet :) <No> I attached two pictures just to show you what he is doing. Kind of lame because the tank was dirty on the outside and the flash really brings it out, I'll get some clearer ones this evening when I wipe down the outside of the tank. <Mmm, DO place a large (enough) piece of PVC pipe or fitting in this system where this fish can get out of (your) view... It appears to be a very nice specimen, but in a bit of shock... was likely swimming north of Australia less than a week ago...> As far as the Semilarvatus go, they still don't like each other (are now separated into a different tank) but they are very willing to eat. The more aggressive one that was harassing the other B/F snaps up Mysid shrimp and small bits of marine fish flesh real quickly, the second, more timid of the two takes his time about it, but he is definitely eating so that is good news. <Yes> All things considered, all 3 fish are eating, the tusk seems a little retarded but otherwise things are looking up :) I'm glad I have the tusk in quarantine like you advise, if I popped him immediately into my 210 I probably wouldn't ever even see him because he would just be hiding inside the rocks standing on his head. This way at least I can feed him easily until he is ready to start acting like a brave little fishy again. HEY, it turns out you WWM guys really do know what you're talking about ;) Grant <Much, hard "won" experience Grant. Cheers, BobF>

Blind Tusk An Accident Waiting To Happen 10/27/07 Morning... not so much a good morning... <Oh?> When bad things happen, it all seems to happen at once. <This is not just a subjective appraisal. Events in the universe are indeed clustered> I'm heading out of town for the weekend for a family emergency... as I'm ensuring my tanks will be set for two days, I notice my Harlequin Tuskfish is not right. I've had him since May and in mid June I treated him with Cupramine and he's been fine ever since. For the past week or so I've noticed that he hides more during the day but is still feeding. This morning I was in the aquarium room with the lights on/tank lights off, and i noticed him swimming around bumping into things and he had a very sandy face. I don't think he can see the liverock or sand bottom. I even had to rescue him from swimming into a small space leading to the overflow. I did a quick patch together using magnetic cleaners to seal off the space. Anyhow, he proceeded to swim right into the Snowflake Eels' lair... there was some sand flying and the Tuskfish darted out apparently unscathed. He then proceeded to swim into a small cave where my Magnificent Foxface is sleeping. He was poking around trying to find an exit thus was running into the freaked out Foxface. In short, I think this plump 5" Tusker is an accident waiting to happen. Reading through your FAQ's, i realize that this isn't 'uncommon', but I think he's going to injure himself. My quarantine tanks are being used up holding livestock and quarantining my sick/dying Blue Tang. From previous posts.... my Regal Tang in my 24g quarantine had developed a lump on his right side after 1 week and was hardly using the associated side fin. He was eating well until yesterday when i found him breathing rapidly but upside down in the tank. This morning he is stuck to the top drain leading to the filtre system of the nanotank. I used the surface skimmer application so that he won't be sucked up against it as easily..... but he is still swimming. The lump has apparently split open and is brownish/red. Fish is still alive... I've kept the lights off in the tank for the past 24hrs. Additionally, my air conditioner crapped out on me and I'm not sure how my temperatures will be in my aquarium room, guess I'll have to leave the door open and hope for the best. How's your day going?? *Sigh* Dave <Better. BobF>

Re: Blind Tusk An Accident Waiting To Happen... Now Snowflake eel as piscivore?  -- 10/30/2007 Hi there Bob?? <Yes, Dave> Ok, so I realize I wrote this in a mad panic as I'm about to head north to visit my ailing relative. I'm back now. Amazingly, Tuskfish is not 'blind' and apparently has eyesight. IF... he is going blind, I've already read your suggestion at frequent uses of Selcon which I was doing about once a week... I will up this to three times a week? <Okay> So yes, Tuskfish seems normal again and lo and behold... I am missing my remaining 6" Bannerfish. If you recall, last week I wrote about my missing 4" Bannerfish. The 4" fishes bones washed out of the Snowflake Moray's den three days after he disappeared and I removed them. I think together, you and I assumed he perished because of his strange behaviours ~ maybe some ailment~ and the eel simply fed on the remains. Anyhow, I can still see the 6" Bannerfish body in the Snowflake's lair. I think my opinion may have changed now... how about yours? <Might be a fish eater...> Remaining in my tank, the eel, Longnose Hawkfish, 5.5" Magnificent Foxface, and my Harlequin Tuskfish. The two bigger fish are $100+ fish. I'm a little uncertain now, as it doesn't appear the Bannerfish's body has been consumed... or if it has, only partly. I fed the eel a large tiger prawn before I left and he ate most of it ~ more than he's eaten in a few months for sure. He couldn't have been starving or even hungry. The Snowflake has been with these fish since May and has always had fish in the tank without an incident. Perhaps both my Bannerfish perished and he dragged them into his lair? As mentioned in my post last week... the eel has ALWAYS shied away from these aggressive eaters. <Perhaps...> Do you think it is time to remove the Snowflake Eel? Or would you recommend waiting to see what happens? <This latter> The water parameters seem in check with the question mark being Nitrates at 20ppm. A few people on message boards suggested it's difficult to ever get Nitrates below 20ppm with a larger eel because of the burrowing and stirring up of sand? <With proper/adequate filtration (denitrification and absorption/biological...) and circulation, is possible> I realize you don't have a crystal ball... but, when fish perish in a tank with an eel... we can't always assume that the eel is guilty, but from your experience will eels bring bodies back into the lair after a fish has died? Thanks a million, tell me where to send the Christmas present! Dave <I do NOT suspect the Echidna as a/the primary cause of demise of the Heniochus. BobF>

Re: Blind Tusk An Accident Waiting To Happen... 10/30/07 Thanks... as always very helpful and I appreciate the feedback and opinions. <Certainly welcome David> Re: my Tuskfish. Can fish be 'groggy' in the morning so to speak with vision improving after a few moments of lighting? Or would the scenario I presented suggest early signs of blindness? <Mmm, could be either> While I have your attention... would a brown serpent star with black bands (no picture on your website that I could find) the size of my open hand be a threat to a pair of yellowheaded Jawfish in a 90gallon tank? Do these or any Jawfish have an escape exit to a burrow? Thanks for all your help! <Could be trouble... if nothing else, an annoyance to the Opistognathids. BobF>

Lymphocystis    6/30/07 Hi, <Dave> A quick one here. I read through your FAQ's on Lymphocystis and the consensus seems to keep water parameters optimum (which I do my best to do anyways) and let the virus run it's course. <This, along with bolstering nutrition, possibly using a purposeful cleaner organism, and maybe pulling off the bulk of the material (thinking this may "trigger" the animal's' immune system/s) is about "it"> I have a Harlequin Tuskfish that has been in quarantine with 2 Bannerfish for treating Crypt. I always thought the white spot on my Tuskfish was sand debris, etc. but while extensively reading through your website on parasites, etc and from reading Bob's book. it sounds identical to Lymph. <Appears to be this to me as well> Small white cauliflower like growth on the tip of one fin only. I've attached a link to an article I read on the subject. Certainly not challenging your general consensus, but the article seems to imply that this virus is somewhat infectious. <Mmm... is/are... just "to a degree"... depending on prevailing circumstances...> I already have the three fish in quarantine. Would you be of the opinion then that this should not spread to my Heni's? <Mmm, not likely> Once it disappears, what has been your experience of reoccurrence? <Can, does... once again... a lesson in the variability of our awareness more than a relative yes/no didactic understanding of the universe...> http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/management/Lawler_Lymphocystis.html As always, thank you for your comments and all your help previously.. Dave <Dang the torpedees, full-speed ahead... Focus on what you're trying to achieve Dave... Let this drive guide your consciousness, activity (here and everywhere); you'll do, are doing fine. BobF>

Re: Lymphocystis   6/30/07 Thanks for the response, hope you got my pictures in the subsequent email. <Yes, thanks. All posted in today's Daily FAQs> I did read something about pulling off the growth and the chance that it would leave somewhat of an open sore which would increase the chance of a reinfection of sort? Or the opportunity for something different to take effect? <Mmm, not likely... seems to stir recovery if anything> I was thinking potentially of leaving it until my quarantine period is up in 2 more weeks... introducing just the Heni's back to my main display... and then removing the growth while the Tusk is in isolation... <Or in transit better...> and then keep him quarantined for another 2 weeks? Would pulling the mass off and then introducing him to the main display be advised or shall I just do it now while he has 2 more weeks of quarantine? <Ah, yes... I would remove the material in moving this animal thus. RMF>

Lymph. again...   7/31/07 Man, I wish I was you.... Out diving. I'm writing you from my office 9 stories up in Calgary, Canada... Although it's a balmy 31oc here the past few weeks. <Nice!> Are you in Hawaii? Last summer, I had the opportunity to follow the first Snowflake Moray I'd ever seen in the wild. He was hunting in the shallows of Hanauma Bay, Oahu. Very intriguing to watch. <Am out on the Big Island with friends... Chris and Jor of WWM e.g.. And do see Echidna nebulosa quite often... along with many other "puhi" in the rocks> If you recall, I had also sent pictures and comments on my Harlequin Tusk fish and his cauliflower-like cottony growth on his fin (Lymphocystis??). You had suggested removing the growth with a fingernail when I was transporting him back from the quarantine tank he was in at the time... Back into my main display. He actually shed the fungus <Mmm, actually viral> a couple of days before I moved him and appeared to be 100% ok. Within a week of moving him into the main display, he now has smaller sized cottony clumps along the edge of one side fin. He has two large clump masses on his tail, and one small cluster forming along the upper edge of his body. He still swims around and feeds aggressively, however I can tell that unless he expects to be fed, he'd perhaps rather not swim as I have found him a few times sitting in the rockwork during daylight hours resting. There is no growths anywhere near his gills and he is breathing normally. I'm also leaving on vacation tomorrow for 10 days. Under the circumstances, would you recommend leaving him alone to see if he once again sheds the growths on his own? <I would not move this Labrid> I'm not sure if I'd have the time to catch him in that tank to remove by hand... And even if I did, I think I'd want to be around to monitor him in case of problems occurring with potentially open sores??? <I would try bolstering its immune system... soaking foods in a HUFA/Vitamin mix... and adding Spectrum food/s here> Of note, the Bannerfish seem interested in nipping at the growths which is a good thing, but the Tusker darts away. Also of note, the Tusk fish is flashing the odd time... I guess I don't blame him... Anything to get rid of those little veggies growing off him. David Brynlund
<Please read re Lymphocystis... RMF>

Harlequin Tuskfish Problem   5/13/07 Hi I <...> have a problem with my Harlequin Tusk. I purchased him about two weeks ago and after a few days I noticed his stomach getting larger and what appeared to either be his skin tearing around his anus or the scales protruding out. It seems like he's having some type of digestive problem and I'm not sure what to do. I treated the tank with Mardel Maracyn 2 <For?> from the advice of my LFS but conditions only seem to be getting worse. All my parameters are normal, Ph 8.3, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10. Temp is at 80 and salinity is at 1.023. The tank is a 100 gallon fish only with protein skimmer, canister filter, and air pump. The tank also contains a lion fish and a snowflake moray eel. I do weekly water changes of about 15 percent and feed a combination of krill, Mysis shrimp, and flakes. Thanks for any help you can give me I greatly appreciate it and think your website is awesome.                                 Sincerely,                                                    Jeff <No pic? From the description... I strongly suspect this is a poisoned specimen (Choerodon et al. large wrasses are often collected with such in the Philippines and Indonesia... hence my strong bias in directing people to buying this species from Australia... where it is hand-collected assuredly...). Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/choerodon/faciata.htm and the linked files above... Your specimen was likely cyanided... I would take it back to the dealer, and have them demand credit in turn from their supplier. Bob Fenner> Re: Blind Harlequin Tusk  4/26/07 Hello Again Olly, <Hello Greg> Please see the thread below. In addition to correcting my first email yesterday (the pH numbers are 8.2-8.3), I will also add the tusk did not appear to have any damage or infection in the eyes. The eyes were clear with no film on them, and they appeared to be moving and functioning normally. <Hmm, very odd, normally with externally caused eye infections there are clear symptoms> Finally, the harlequin tusk died during the night, <Genuinely very sorry to hear this> But I would sure like any ideas on what could have caused the Copperband butterfly and the Harlequin tusk to go from looking healthy to going blind and dying so quickly. <I really would like to help more but from all the figures you have supplied and your techniques described I'm struggling to find a definite cause. It could be something parasitic resident in your tank but as the effects in both fish sound different -- complete loss of eye compared to loss of sight. Is there still a notable amount of Aiptasia in your tank as a very slim chance might be that your Harlequin's eye came into contact with one in the night. Also, did the fish swim into things? Or just appear non-alert to the point where it struck you as being blind as it may have been in severe shock with caused it to be very distant -- again a slim chance I feel. Bob may have more info on this as I'm finding it difficult to pick anything out'¦.? It may be that it was two very unfortunate unconnected incidents!> Regards, <Hopefully Bob or someone may input a little more here, add another view but I'm sorry I couldn't help more> Greg <Good luck to you into the future, you deserve a little. Olly>

Blind Harlequin Tusk   4/24/07 Hello Crew, <G'day> All your past answers have been a great help and much appreciated, but my previous questions have been benign compared to my current problem - loss of sight in my fish. I added a 4in. harlequin tusk and a Copperband butterfly to my 75-gallon tank and everything was initially fine. Both fish were at my LFS for one week (in the same tank together) and were eating well and looked very healthy. On the fifth day the Copperband was missing an eye and it died the following day. On day nine, the tusk went blind (he ate and acted fine the previous night). In retrospect, the Copperband may have gone blind and lost the eye in a trauma with live rock. The tusk is now going on 36 hours with no sight and I am looking for anyway to save him. Here is some tank information to help with any remedies/suggestions. The tank has been up and running for 3 years with only one fish and one coral loss in that time. I sold off all my fish, inverts, and corals to change my tank to a FOWLR tank. The lighting is 260 watts of PC with 130 watts actinic and 130 watts 10,000K white. I rearranged my live rock (75 lbs.), removed and replaced ½ my substrate (crushed coral), and added an additional inch of sand to my DSB in my sump. Additionally, I reduced my salinity to 1.010 for 4 weeks in an attempt to rid my tank of Aiptasia (it didn't work) and then raised the salinity to 1.020. During the changeover to FOWLR the tank of course went through a mini cycle and the new fish were not added until the water parameters were stable again for 2 weeks. For the past month the water reads: ammonia 0, pH 7.2-7.3, nitrites 0, nitrates 0, and temperature 75-76 degrees. <Please say the pH reading is a typo? If not, then here lies your problem for this and likely anything else you encounter. If this is a typo please reply and verify then we'll try and help further> Any help is greatly appreciated. <Look forward to hearing from you> Regards, Greg <Olly>

Sick Harlequin Tusk, not fdg., not quarantined, dropped into low spg...    8/13/06 Hello,   Last Saturday I purchased  a 4" Harlequin Tusk, the LFS said he had been eating krill, <Mmm... a good idea in general to ask to see such expensive purchases eating first-hand> and I have no reason to doubt them. His stomach did look full. I put him in my 265 FOWLR <No quarantine?... You'll learn, are learning> and he seemed to be doing fine at first, he swam around and even ate a few pellets and some shrimp the first couple of days. Then he seemed to not come out as much and was not interested in food at all. <Could be "just new"> He kinda scratched himself on the rocks (which I read can be normal for these fish). But the more I watched him he seemed to be breathing harder and his stomach still looks very full even though he hasn't eaten in days. Do you think he could be constipated? <Not likely> Or is this some sign of a disease? <By delimitation, likely so> I moved him to a 15 gallon quarantine this morning, which I know I should have done in the first place and will from now on. <Yep> The salinity in the QT is 1.017, I thought it would be better low in case of parasites. <Not good to lower all at once...> Do you have any suggestions on procedures or medications I could use, I do love these fish and would be very appreciative of any advice you can give me.      Thanks for your timely response,      Jeremy <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/choerodon/faciata.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Harlequin Tusk    4/8/06 Hey guys, I bought a Harlequin Tusk about 5 inches long from a LFS 5 days ago.  He is not eating yet and acting strange.  He goes to the top left corner of the tank in a vertical upright position and stays there for a while. <Not atypical behavior for this species, genus> I don't see signs of ich and no one is picking on him.  My tank is 140 gallons with plenty of live rock.  I have 4 tangs, solar fairy wrasse, and 4 green Chromis.  My question is should I remove the Harlequin and put into a separate 10 gallon hospital tank and try to acclimate him alone, or leave him be and give more time?  Thanks for your help. Walid <I would have quarantined this animal from the get-go (in subdued lighting, with something to hide within) but now that its been placed, would not chase about and move for the reason/observed behavior stated here. Bob Fenner> Harlequin Tusk Dilemma   4/1/06 Hello all: <Mitch> I scoured the various FAQs that pertained to both harlequin tusk disease and diseases in general, and I could not find a query that specifically addressed my situation. I humbly ask for your assistance. <Glad to proffer> I have had my Aussie Harlequin Tusk for about 4 months and he has been a great fish from day 1. Just this week, I noticed some redness in the center of one side of his body, toward the bottom. It is roughly 1 inch square. It appears that his flesh may have been damaged, as I see some markings that would so indicate. I thought that he perhaps injured himself against some live rock.   <Could even be resultant (yes) from those months ago travails in capture, handling, shipping> He is not active as usual, now either staying in a lower corner or in the flow of a power head. The fish is not eating as ravenously as he typically did. In fact, I did not notice that he was eating last night at all. I will try again tonight with mysis shrimp and silversides, some of his faves. I have noticed that my hippo blue tang has been chasing him, but I think that this is more playing on the part of the tang.    <Likely so... and not really/generally "that" disturbing to Choerodon/Tuskfish> I was thinking of soaking the food in Metronidazole. Please let me know if this is a proper approach or kindly offer your words of wisdom. <I would hold off on using this protozoacide... too toxic to "just try" and I doubt if it would do much good here. I would keep trying the favorite foods, perhaps execute a water change, change-out of chemical filter media (my/our S.O.P. in such anomalous cases) and continue careful observation. Bob Fenner> Thanks,              Mitch Poris

Re: Harlequin Tusk Dilemma    4/3/06 Bob: <Mitch> Thanks for your prompt reply. Unfortunately, the tusk succumbed yesterday. I can see why people exit this hobby. I had saved the extra bucks to get an Aussie Tusk, had procured a nice animal and then for no apparent reason, saw him die. It is very frustrating, but I understand this is part of both the wonder and the intrigue of this pastime.   Regards,     Mitch <Mmm, sorry to read/realize your loss. Know that these are wild-caught (mostly hook and line) animals... and that a small percentage do seem to go for nothing other than latent stress. Bob Fenner> H. Tuskfish / Vision Problem  11/10/05 Dear WWM, <One of us> I have enjoyed your advice for years and typically can find what I need somewhere in your site (unfortunately not this time). I have a 135 Gallon tank with 2 Clowns living in 2 Bubble tip anemones, 1 Condylactis anemone, 1 Heteractis magnifica anemone (large), Lunar Wrasse, Purple tang, Falco's Hawkfish and my prized fish - Harlequin Tuskfish. All inhabitants have been together in this tank for approaching 2 years. No health issues to date. Salinity 1.024, Temp 75-77, 0 Nitrate and Nitrite, 0 Ammonia. Every other day I feed frozen seafood from my local market that I cut up and freeze monthly. <Good> It includes - Softshell Crab, Salmon, Shrimp, Oyster, Tuna and other white sea fishes. Dry food is used every other day. I feed on rotation Formula 1 pellet, Formula 2 Pellet, Omega one Super Veggie, Spirulina Algae Flake, Kent Reef Carnivore Pellet.  <<Wow, can I come over to your house for dinner?  Excellent variety (better than I saw at LBAOP!)  Marina>> 4 weeks ago I noticed the Harlequin Tuskfish "missing" food. He would snap at a food piece and miss - wide left or wide right. He would try over and over again, usually getting one or two pieces after many attempts. The problem got progressively worse to the point that he could no longer take the food out of my hand that I occasionally hand fed him. He would snap in every direction around the food dangling in the water - never connecting with the food piece. My impression is that he can see but his vision is 45 degrees off.  During the day he seems to be able to navigate fairly well. At night, however, he slams around the tank as if completely blind - often running into the Ritteri anemone which has left him scarred up. At night he finally "gives up" and lays flat on the bottom until morning comes and he can see again. <Do just lay on the bottom at night out in the wild, generally within rock, coral cover> His eyes are clear and he has no sign of disease (I think I have experienced most fish diseases at one time or another and have a good idea what I am looking for). He continues to act normally during the day and wants to feed. He is beginning to lose weight and I would guess he will die within the month due to physical trauma or starvation. All other fish and anemones are thriving and seem unaffected. Thank you very much for your help and let me thank you personally for the excellent website. Your website has saved many of my sea creatures lives over the years. <Blindness in Choerodon wrasses is not uncommon... and don't know whether the cause is environmental (e.g. bright lighting), nutritional or pathogenic... But I would try adding vitamin supplements directly to the water as well as soaking some sorts of foods that you can offer directly to the fish via a "feeding stick".> Thank You, Buck Holden <Wishing you success. Bob Fenner> 

Blind Harlequin Tusk?  9/21/05 Howdy Crew, I've recently purchased a 4" long Harlequin Tusk. After about 5 days in QT it was showing signs of ich. I waited a couple of days to see if it would clear up on it's own and it did not. The fish never stopped eating and was acting normal. So I read up on treating them for ich and saw on WWM that you can use copper but that in too high of a concentration, will cause them to go blind. <Can, yes> I decided to go ahead with the copper as the ich wasn't getting any better. I used Mardel Copper Safe and treated with less than the bottle prescribed hoping the tusk wouldn't go blind. This was yesterday and at feeding time last night, the fish was swimming around looking for food but wasn't really finding any. I think he's gone blind. My question is, can a tusk regain their sight? <Highly unlikely this fish is blind, was blinded... Very likely it "doesn't feel like eating" due to copper exposure> I immediately put a bag of carbon in the filter to remove the copper and did a 1/3 water change with RO/DI water. Thanks for all your help. <Mmm, you'll have to devise some method of treatment... Bob Fenner>

Treating Tuskfish I have an 80 gallon saltwater tank. I have an emperor angel, blue  tang, and a Tuskfish the one that looks like a tiger, and a dwarf  lion fish. My reason for writing this to you is I recently treated  my tank with copper treatment because my emperor had ick and the  blue tang has a skin disease. The emperor is better now but the  blue tang is about the same. Now my tusk fish has not be normal at  all. Its like he's blind he runs into things all the time and sits  up in the corner or the bottom corner of my tank. I've done a couple  of partial water changes because a lady at PetCo told me that my  copper level should be around .3 to treat these diseases the box  says it should be between .15-.20 . I'm thinking that the high level  of copper is the thing to blame for my tusk. He's been like that for  a week and he's still living. Please help, I don't want to lose this  beautiful $80.00 fish. <Hi Nathan, Yes, this can happen sometimes with copper and certain fish. Nate, please do get your Tusk fish out of copper treated water and then surf on over to WetWebMedia.com scroll to the Google search at the bottom of the page and type in quarantine, copper, and parasites. There is a ton of free info there to help you. Follow the directions and suggestions there for using and testing for copper, a quarantine tank, etc. In the meantime, a dark copper free tank for the Tusk, raise temp to 82-83, make him comfortable until his sight gets better. All else being okay they usually recover sight. You will need to continue copper for the others but buy and use the correct test for the type of copper you are using. More info on WetWebMedia.com. Craig>

Harlequin Tuskfish Found Dead Hey guys, I hope everything is going well for you! <<Greetings, I things are going better...>> Last night I noticed my Harlequin Tuskfish laying on its side, breathing rapidly, and this morning he was dead. I was wondering what might have killed this hardy beast. He was an aggressive eater and an occupant in my 180 for 6-9 months. During this time, he was a great fish, always out and about. <<I'm sorry to hear of your loss.>> He was about 5-6" in length. The tank conditions are normal and stable. Temp is at 80, no ammonia or nitrites, nitrate test reads at 15 (needs a water change). System as a 1/2 HP chiller, commercial BioWheel, Ocean Clear filter, 35 watt UV sterilizer, Berlin protein skimmer. When I found him, his gill coverings wide open, but the gills themselves were flat/closed. No discoloration on the body that I could see. No bite marks, or signs of fungus/ick. Could it be that this fish was cyanide caught? I've heard that fish caught in this fashion can live 3-6 months and then die. <<And that would be my guess too... unfortunately, many of these specimens caught in/around the Philippines are caught with cyanide. You might want to ask the people you bought it from where they got it, and insist on getting the replacement from a more reputable source. You might also consider spending the extra money on an Australian specimen - these are caught with bait and a barbless hook, the way they are supposed to. Sadly, capture with cyanide does more than leave you with a dead fish, it also takes a terrible toll on the reef where the fish was taken from.>> I'm asking because I would like to get another one (they're great fish), but first want to make sure that I didn't kill this one. <<I doubt it, like you said - all other things being equal, these are very hardy fish, and not likely to just drop dead unless they were compromised during capture, which sounds like it was the case here. Again, very sorry about your loss.>> Thanks, Craig <<Cheers, J -- >>

***Need help with my Harlequin Tusk*** Hi, <<Hello to you.>> I just received a Harlequin from my wholesaler and even when he was in the bag he seemed like something was wrong. He was vertical instead of horizontal and looked like her was biting the top of the water. I put him into my tank (had no other fish in it) and he swam over to a corner. I looked at him later and he was almost on his side. Then about an hour later her was on the other side of the tank mostly leaning on a piece of coral but some of him was on the bottom. Is there anything I can do to help him out? <<Not at the moment...>> I have never had a Harlequin before and I don't know if he is alright or what. <<These fish react poorly to being caught and shipped... they'd rather be back home. That being said, after two or three weeks, they usually get over it and get back to doing fishy kinds of things. Until then, vertical posture, resting on things, not eating are all part of the protest you can expect from your tusk. Most important is to get this fish eating, and second most important is to make sure it's not being hassled - you did quarantine this fish, yes?>> Thank you very much, Andy <<Cheers, J -- >>

- Spots on Harlequin Tusk - <Greetings, JasonC here...> Dear WWM crew, I have a Harlequin Tusk (Tigger), I have had him since 11-22-02. I quarantined him for two weeks with no problems, and added him to my 240 gallon tank with 70 pounds live rock.  Currently Tigger is the only fish in the tank, mainly because a few weeks ago I noticed some spots on Tigger's pectoral fins, the spots did not appear to bother him, he was not scratching or darting about the tank, and had no abnormal breathing.  His colors look good and he has a very healthy appetite.  Tigger still has spots on his pectoral fins, although now I have noticed some spots on his body as well, still they do not seem to bother him.  I have a VHS tape of the spots, and I would truly appreciate it if I could send it to you to view, I am hopeful you will be able to determine what these spots are, or if they are harmful to my tank and/ or Tigger. <Just by your description alone, this is probably a very mild case of ich, but these fish are very durable and capable of dealing with this on their own. I have a Harlequin tusk myself and it's not at all uncommon to see a spot on the fins every so often. I wouldn't bother with sending the tape.> Tigger has been in this tank by himself for quite some time, and I am wanting to add new fish, however I am reluctant to do so until I have some idea of what these spots are, and some direction to take. <Keep up the quarantine protocols. If you can, try to keep the fish in quarantine for a little longer, but no longer than is practical for you and the fish.> Your help would be greatly appreciated.  Thank You,  Jen Marshall <Cheers, J -- >

- Harlequin Tuskfish Dilemma! - <Hello, JasonC here at your service...> Well, I have 3 possible theories for my Harlequin Tuskfish's (Big Momma Kamayeness as I call her) odd behavior as of late. It started about a week ago when I noticed her being active @ night time and sleeping in her cave during the lighted hours. I'm not sure if she's eaten in the last 3 days or not...I haven't seen her eat, but yet she's still fat n' plump. Anywho, this is how she's acting now and its freaking the heck out of me cause she's my baby. She swims only in the upper 4 or 5 inches of the tank...mostly skimming the surface. She doesn't smack into walls or nothing but I can literally reach in and pet her and she doesn't react (which isn't normal in her case) <Oh... that isn't a good sign, very possible your fish is probably blind - knowing what [little] I do about these fish, it would be the rare occasion to be able to pet one with its consent.> She shows no parasite infection and all my other fish and inverts are doing fine. My tang and majestic angel are sound as a pound and Big Momma is usually one tough cookie so its odd that she's the only one stressing. <Indeed.> Here are my levels: Tank size: 90 gallon Ph: 8.3 Salinity: 1.022 Temp: 79 Ammonia: 0 Nitrate: 0 Nitrite: 0.07 Now, I do have a small nitrite reading but its not even a whole PPM yet and I just started my first round of 20% water changes till the problem is corrected. And I don't think this would be a problem for her since she's been OD'd on copper before and been in a much worse QT tank with high nitrates and ammonia problems before w/out a hitch. <I wouldn't sweat that amount of nitrites, but do continue with your planned water changes. On the other hand, OD'ing on copper isn't really good news - Tuskfish are copper-sensitive and have been found to go blind from too much exposure to copper. Does the timing of the copper treatment and the blindness coincide?> So here is my other two hypothesis of problems. I have read somewhere that the Tuskfish can suffer from improper collecting and shipping... could this be a cyanide reaction? <Doubtful...> I've had her for about 8 months now and this is the first time she's acted up on me. <If cyanide was a problem here, more likely the fish would have dropped dead by now.> 2nd one is that I might have some stray voltage in my tank. <Possible, but not as probable...> I replaced my heater which I was suspecting of malfunction yesterday...and its still too early I assume to notice results. So how would I go about figuring out if I have a voltage problem or not? Can you actually feel being shocked in the water? <I can if I'm standing barefoot in the basement, but I think everyone's sensitivity to this is different.> Is there a way to test certain equipment like pumps and what not to see what might be going on? Could it be getting some voltage from my lights? I'm using PCs and there is nothing but wood touching the tank, but could voltage still be transferred from them? <From the PC's? No. If your tank equipment is plugged into a GFCI outlet, then 'stray' voltage would cause the GFCI breaker to trip, so I wouldn't really give this much concern.> Well, as always, any suggestions will be taken in w/ a warm heart. I should have the nitrite back down to 0 in a matter of days. Thanks again. <Well... there are some other possibilities. Blindness in fish can also be caused by nutritional problems - often parasite related where the parasite is out-competing the fish's digestive system for certain nutrients. Usually in these cases the blindness is reversible. As I mentioned before, there is also the known sensitivity in Tuskfish to copper, and this may be the more likely cause and unfortunately not reversible. You can probably get a better idea by closely watching the fish's eyes, which are normally very active - shifting to see all that is going on around it - if the eyes aren't moving, then likely it cannot see. Having a blind fish is not the end of the world for you or the fish, but will require some specialized attention. If the fish is settling down in one consistent spot, then use a feeding stick to place its favorite foods right in front of its nose when it is in its resting place and try to feed it that way - clams, shrimp, and squid should do the trick. Work with the fish and it will get the hang of things.> oh, I am also going to start using garlic juice again to stimulate her appetite. She used to be such a pig! <Do also keep up hope and efforts - these fish also have mood swings and can go several weeks without eating. Keep up the close observation and hopefully things will turn out for the best.> Thanks again! <Cheers, J -- > - Harlequin Tuskfish Dilemma! Follow-up - oh, and one other thing....if perhaps she might be blind from malnutrition...what do you suggest to reverse that? She's been on a steady diet of high protein krill and Mysis and occasionally takes in some of my angel's food. Any suggestions will be appreciated. <They like most any meaty food, but it is also wise to try and get some green things in there. My Tuskfish eats krill, squid, clams, Mysis, and pygmy angel formula. I also like Spirulina formula although it is not as easy to find. I go for the 'kitchen-sink' approach.> :D -=-Pat-=- <Cheers, J -- > - Re: Harlequin Tuskfish Dilemma! -   Hey, thanks for all the advice. <My pleasure.> As to respond to your questions of blindness, I don't think its the case. Her eyes still dart all over the place in normal Tuskfish fashion and the whole OD'ing on copper thing happened the first month I had her, and she's been in a copper free world for 7 months now. <Ok... sounds better.> I'm moving her to my QT tank just to see her reactions and perhaps there was something else afoot in my other tank. <Good plan.> Could it have been possible chemical poisoning from some other creature? <Possible, but not likely.> Perhaps my mandarin goby was spouting out things? <Doubt it.> A few of my other fish started showing signs of stress today so I moved them to my 2nd QT tank for proper treatment. <This is probably more because you've been more present in the system in the last couple of days - petting the tusk, what not.> Perhaps an anemone was releasing some sort of chemical. (I know, Tuskfish and inverts...but I had just reason cause my main reef tank sprung a crack so I had no other choice) <I would be less concerned about Tuskfish and anemones than Tuskfish and shrimp. Even so, the anemone is a more likely source of pollution in your system than the mandarin.> I did pull out a Long Tentacle today cause it was struggling, perhaps it started poisoning my tank? <Perhaps.> Well, thanks again! -=-Pat-=- <Cheers, J -- >

- Tuskfish Distress - <Hello, JasonC here...> Hi crew of WWM, I sincerely thank you for your past assistance, you guys are priceless to me.  Well now I am confronting a new ordeal.  I've just recently bought a 5 inch unknown origin harlequin tusk 5 days ago and he's been laying down (as if he's dead) and breathing heavily all the time.  When I bought it, I noticed that it was already breathing heavily (but swimming around), but I configured that it was normal since he had just been shipped. <Hmm... really should have left it at the store a little while, just after shipping. These fish are caught in the wild with a barbless hook, so they tend to be pretty annoyed when first shipped. Even after getting the fish from the store, you should be quarantine this fish for at least two weeks before placement in the main system. These fish need time to adjust to captivity and in the main display can be too stressful.> But when I brought it home into my 180 gallon tank, he swam for a while, ate a bit, got chased by my powder blue tang for a while, and laid himself down in a corner ever since.  He is still breathing heavily as before and since he hasn't been moving around, he couldn't of ate.  I know that harlequin tusks tends to rebel at first and hide themselves for weeks when they are first introduced, but my concern is that my harlequin is laying down as if dead all the time and breathes rapidly. <I'd be concerned too, but again... you may have selected compromised live stock... hard to tell for certain at this time. Would do all I could to help ease the stress for the fish - leave lights off, etc.> My water parameters seems to be fine.  I currently have two medium size tangs, two angels, a Cuban hogfish, a puffer, a Copperband, and two damsel in my 180 gal. Could you please explain what his problem here?  It appears that this problems will most likely spell doom for my tusk, but could there be any hope that it will survive? <There is always hope...> I know that like fine wine, patience in this hobby is the key, but assurance is a better stress reliever and that is why I am seeking your help. <Work on the patience thing.> Thank you and sorry for the lengthiness.   -PHT- <Cheers, J -- >

- Harlequin Tuskfish with Problems - I just purchased a Harlequin Tuskfish 2 days ago.  When I first got him home much to my surprise I noticed a tiny white spot on his anal fin.  I called the pet store and they said that it was probably from moving stress and it would go away so I have just been keeping an eye on it.  Then this morning (two days after) I go to check on him and his left eye has become puffy and clouded and he is laying behind a piece of coral breathing heavily, but his right eye looks normal.  I freaked out and immediately called the pet store and they asked me what the salinity was.  I have it at between 1.024-1.025 and he said it was WAY too high so I removed some water and am doing a drip of freshwater into the system. <I disagree... 1.024 - 1.025 is actually ideal - is what the salinity of the ocean is.> The Tuskfish is the only fish in a 55 gallon with crushed coral substrate and some live rock. Stats on the tank are: salinity 1.024-1.025 (but I am lowering it now to get it to 1.022) pH - 8.0 ammonia - 0 nitrite - 0 nitrate - 40 ppm (I have had the tank up 2.5 months with 15-20 gallon water changes 1X per week and am now doing them every two days to lower the nitrates) phosphate - 0 alkalinity ~ 2.2 Is there anything else I can do? <I'd give it some time, and work on your patience. I know it's stressful to see these issues with your fish, but I can give you reasonable assurances that it will work out all right. First the spot on the tail is not really abnormal - these fish often have the odd spot or two on their tail or pectoral fins - in fact, I bet if I go look at my Tuskfish right now, it will have a spot or two. Nothing really to be worried about. As for the swollen eye, this is a condition called pop-eye and is typically the result of bumping into something... the result is swelling of the eye. You can add a little Epsom salts to the tank which will help the fish deal with the swelling, but it will take many days to a week or so for that to remedy itself. As long as the fish is on its own in that tank, I'm sure it will be fine.> I am panicking and don't want to lose this beautiful fish. <Don't panic.> Please tell me if there is anything else I can do. <Breathe deeply... relax.> Thank you Vivian <Cheers, J -- >

- Harlequin Tuskfish with Problems, Follow-up - Jason, <Hi.> Sorry to bother you again but I have just one more question.  What about the fact that he doesn't really want to move and is laying on the bottom against a piece of live rock breathing heavily.  Because of this heavy breathing I thought it was something more than Popeye. <Oh... well, you didn't mention that before ;-) > I lowered temp to 78 and salinity to 1.022 to get more oxygen in the water and there is a Skilter and 2 BioWheels on the tank and there are two pumps pumping air into the under gravel filter which add a little more oxygen hopefully. <Oh, for certain.> He is still eating some though if I put some good food right in front of his face like some squid.  And about Epsom salts, how much should I add and is it safe with live rock in the tank? <One teaspoon per five gallons.> Anything else I can do to help with his breathing? <Give it some time - these fish are typically caught with a barbless hook and line so when they show up at the wholesaler and eventually your house, they are WILD! with perhaps more exclamation points than that - they are quite freaked out, and take several weeks to come down from all the excitement. I think your fish will come around too, but will take some time. I'd leave the lights off on the tank and just make sure it is eating - squid is a great choice along with some clams or other meaty seafood.> Thank you SOOO much for your help, I really want to save my little guy <Me too.> Vivian <Cheers, J -- >

- Ich and New Tuskfish - I've read everything on Tuskfish and ich on your site, and would love to get your thoughts on my dilemma - I got a new harlequin Tuskfish, apparently very healthy and ick free, and introduced him without quarantine, may I burn in hell forever, ill never do that again...had trouble sleeping last night I was so bothered by what happened (ok I may have over-reacted)... My conditions are: 75 gallon fish only live rock (110 lbs liverock, some live sand) - 2 dwarf lions, 1 maroon clown, 1 Tuskfish, 1 Sailfin tang, 1 clown trigger - 77degrees, 1.023 salinity, ph 8.1, nitrate 2ppm, ammonia and nitrite zero, alkalinity 4mg/ml (cant remember the Alk unit, but not dKH) - protein skimming, hang on filtering <My friend, your tank is full... you may need to do something besides hang on filtration for these mess makers.> A day after the Tuskfish arrived, I noticed that he had what looked like light ick on his tail... I know he didn't have it 24 hours previous b/c I looked really closely when he was in the shipping bag when I bought him... I freaked out because I don't want him infecting all my other fish... right now he is in my 10g quarantine/hospital tank (where he should have started), with a sponge filter, a few lbs of live rock, and some charcoal.  All the other fish are chugging away like normal in my main tank. I emailed my question in last night, but have since studied your Tuskfish section and am a bit more confused... My questions are: - Should I treat the Tuskfish in the hospital tank with Copper, give him a FW dip, or what? <I'd start with the dip - if you do get to the point where copper is necessary, you'll need to remove that live rock.> Should I let him just chill and relax for a few weeks to see if he kicks it on his own? <Well... a few spots on a fin are really nothing to be super concerned about. I'd leave the fish in quarantine for now - as you observed, this is where you should have started - and keep the fish under observation. My prediction is that this won't get any worse.> - Is it OK to leave the liverock in the hospital tank during copper? <No. Will absorb copper and hamper your ability to get a proper therapeutic dose. Do use caution when using copper around Tuskfish - they are known to develop blindness from copper overdoses.> Thought it might help with ammonia... <Address the ammonia with daily large water changes with new water.> - After the hospital, does that liverock get tossed, or is it safe to reintroduce to the main tank? <As long as you don't dose it with copper.> - Does the copper get removed by the charcoal, and therefore should I remove the charcoal? <Yes and yes.> - Are Tuskfish hypersensitive to copper if dosed and tested for properly (saw some mentions of that in your site)? <I wouldn't say 'hyper'-sensitive, but will go blind if exposed to too much copper or for too long.> What are my non-copper ick treatment on Tuskfish options? <Formalin and malachite green mix.> - If I don't treat him at all, just let him wait, when do I know he is safe to reintroduce? <A couple of weeks to a month.> Thanks so much!  You guys are my saviors... Noah <Cheers, J -- >

- Tuskfish with Lockjaw? - We have had our Tuskfish for several months in 125gal tank along with a pink tail trigger and a Cuban hogfish.  The Tuskfish is about 8'' long.  About a week ago he stopped eating and started hiding, the fish comes out at feeding time and looks like he can't open his mouth. Having had a puffer that finally died from a locked jaw I am wondering if Tuskfish are prone to this as well, or is something else going on? <Doubt this is the problem. Puffer "lockjaw" as you call it, is really due to the fact that their teeth grow constantly, and need a source of roughage that will keep their teeth worn down. In absence of shelled mollusks and crustaceans, the puffer's teeth grow together until they are no longer able to open their mouths. Tuskfish do not have the same type of dentition so will not have this problem, but are prone to hunger strikes... often based on mood, social pressure [over-crowding or harassment], water quality, or all of the above. Just stick with the fish, they can go at the very least a couple of weeks without food. I would also check that this fish is actually able to see... there is a known condition with these fish losing their eyesight from copper overdoses, so do make sure this fish still responds to visual stimuli.> We have checked the water and it is as it should be. <Do keep in mind that there can be other issues with water quality that will not show up on any hobbyist test kit.> I am fond of this fish and hate the thought of losing him.  I even offered up live ghost shrimp, the other fish loved it but the harlequin ate nothing. Please help and thank you for whatever you can suggest. <Stick with it.> Myke <Cheers, J -- >

- Sick Tuskfish? - Hi, I have an Australian Harlequin and something's wrong with it. I've had it for several months, and just the other day I heard some splashing going on in the tank. I looked over and it was my Harlequin. After his "spasm" of splashes, he swam around the tank (kind of in an unusual way) and now he's been sitting in the corner for the past 2-3 days. He's not eating - but he is still breathing! His left fin looks a little torn as well as his tail. He's not known for having problems with the other tankmates (Huma trigger, Niger trigger, Puffer, Pinktail trigger). Also, one of his top tusk looks like it's been broke. <Well... it sure sounds like someone in your tank has hassled this fish. Would try to keep a better eye on things to see who the antagonist might be - with all those triggers around there's very likely to be trouble. When I kept triggers, they never liked my Tuskfish. How big is this tank anyway?> My water levels are fine (0 nitrites, 0 ammonia, 20 nitrates - usual level). Do you have any idea what may be wrong and what I can try to do to bring him back around? <You may need to isolate this fish to help him convalesce... get calm away from those triggers. In the meanwhile, do try to spend a lot of time watching the tank to see who the trouble maker is. It's hard to imagine with a tank full of smart fish that someone isn't getting out of line...> Thanks, Donna <Cheers, J -- >

Sick Harlequin? Thank you for your response. Actually, I think what happened is the Harlequin and the Puffer were going after the same piece of food and Harlequin bit the Puffer (he now has a scar on his back; that probably explains the broken tusk). Not only that, my Harlequin has a Popeye now. He's still alive and slowly coming back around. I guess I'll just have to wait out the poison that may have gotten into the Harlequin from the Puffer. I've had these fish for almost a year and the only two who mess with each other are the Niger and Pinktail triggers. Thanks again for responding! <Welcome. Bob Fenner>  

- Stressed Tusk - Dear Bob, I live in the Detroit Area of Michigan.  During the summer like right now the temperature can reach the 90s-most people don't believe this.  Well... a few days ago my thermostat on my air conditioner burned out.  Yes it was the first "scorcher" of the season 90 degrees.  My tank temperature rose to 86 degrees.  It then fell back to 80-82 degrees at night.  Of course this abrupt change in temperature did not help my fish.  The next day my display tank was covered in ich.  My tusk was lying at the bottom covered in ich.  So I gave him a 30 second dip (I know very sensitive).  I also treated the display with Malachite Green. <Uggg... this was a mistake - a very potent chemical that has the potential to destroy your biological filter.> This was two days ago.  So far the temperature has remained stable at 80 degrees.  All other water parameters are fine. <Keep your eye on those basic parameters... the malachite green may yet cause some problems.> The rest of the infected fish are eating and looking better.  Although there is no more ich on the tusk he still is at the bottom not eating.  Will this wear off or is he doomed? <Hard to predict - these are generally hardy fish but don't respond well to environmental stress. Keep some large water changes ready to go and be prepared to use them. The best thing you can do at this point is to try and keep the water quality in excellent shape.> Thanks for the reply Sam <Cheers, J -- >  

- Tusk Problems - Hey again... I recently purchased a Harlequin Tusk from my LFS.  A week has passed in QT, and he is adjusting well.  Eats everything I throw in the tank, and although he hid for the first couple of days... he comes out and cruises quite often, getting a good look at me... and in turn letting me get a good look at him.   All is well except for one thing.  His mouth gapes.  It seems almost as if he can't close it.  I tried to see if he had any patches on his mouth to indicate any disease, but he doesn't. The rest of him looks fine, and he seems to be breathing at a normal rate. No scratching or anything else going on... I was just wondering what could be causing the gaping, and if this is normal. <Not really typical - could be for any number of reasons... perhaps a genetic defect. As long as it eats well, it doesn't sound like this will impair him and he'll likely do just fine.> I looked at some pics of other Tusks on the web... they all have their mouths closed.  Please let me know if this is cause for concern. <As long as it eats, I wouldn't be too worried. Typically these fish are caught with a barbless hook and this could have caused some damage to its mouth parts which may heal. Would give it time.> Also, my tomato clown came down with what I think is fin and tail rot.  His fins first seemed tattered, and it got progressively worse before I could catch him. He had a white patch on his tail, and he seemed to have lost all of his tail fin.  I FW dipped him, and the patch fell off. I currently have him in a 5 gallon bucket and am treating with SW Maracyn. He's still eating and swimming, that tough bugger.  He's survived a battle with Ich as well.   I want to keep him alive as I have become quite attached, I've had him for 2 years.  What else can I do to speed his recovery? <Be patient, these things take time - wouldn't mix anything with the Maracyn but just make sure the water quality is tip-top.> Also in the main tank is a bicolor blenny and a yellow tail damsel who show no signs of any illness.  Should I be worried that they will contract whatever the clown has? <Not necessarily.> At first I thought it was fungus, but have read that tail rot is a bacterial infection. <Agreed.> tank parameters are all 0, except nitrates are around 15 ppm.  PH is 8.2, temp 78 degrees.  I do 10% water changes once a week.  What did I do wrong for my clown baby to get sick? <Hard to say.> I feed a good diet, formula 1 and 2, prime reef, pygmy angel formula, two different kinds of pellets, 3 different kinds of flakes, frozen krill and prawn....I think my fish eat better than I do!! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  I want to get both my Harlequin and my clown better, so that eventually they can become buddies. <Be patient - it sounds like you are doing the right things.> Thanks. Karina <Cheers, J -- >

- Tusk with Cloudy Eye - Hello Crew: I had a question regarding my Tusk. One of its eyes has been cloudy for over two months now. During this time I have dipped the fish numerous times (fresh water, quick cure, and ParaGuard...). The fish does not display any flaws in its body/color, besides the eye. In addition, I treated the tank with Maracyn (1 week treatment) for my Look down who had a bacterial infection. Throughout this time, I did not notice any improvement in the fish's eye. I was thinking a copper treatment might be a good bet but am reluctant since a have a zebra moray (Been told they are sensitive to copper). In addition, the fish has been behaving totally fine and has had a hearty appetite throughout the duration of this. What do you suggest, besides an eye patch? Hehe... I would greatly appreciate any recommendations or  suggestions!  <I'd work singularly on water quality. Your Maracyn treatment of the tank may have had an effect on the biological filter so you should be testing for the various nitrogen compounds. Cloudy eyes are not necessarily an indication of a disease per se, but more often a reaction to something amiss in the water. If you don't already, I'd step up to weekly water changes of at lest 5%. I'd avoid the copper as your Tuskfish has its own set of sensitivities to the stuff - can go blind - and I'm sure this is not what you want. Think quite possibly all the stress of the dips and the Maracyn treatment have postponed the healing of this eye. Do give it some more time and concentrate on your water quality.> Cheers, Dan V. <Cheers, J -- >

- Mystery Tuskfish Death - Hello WWM crew, I bought a 4-5 inch Harlequin Tuskfish two days ago. It was in a 180 gallon tank with a large maroon clown and a black volitans lionfish. All the parameters are excellent. When I first put him in the tank he was doing great swimming around and he even ate that day. I thought this was strange because Tuskfish aren't suppose to be so active right after being introduced.  <Not always a good indicator - is always individual variation.>  The next day he was still doing great he ate some krill and was swimming around well. He was a healthy specimen. I said good night to him and the next day I went to say good morning and he was upside down on a rock.  <Very sad, sorry for your loss.>  There is absolutely no signs of disease and when he was living his breathing patterns were fine. Please help me figure out why he died or if there is something about my setup bad for Tuskfish because I would like to get another one.  <Well... I'd be talking to the store where you got the fish. Typically, Tuskfish are pretty durable and they rarely just "drop dead". That being said, it's quite possible this specimen was collected using cyanide or similar harmful compound which would have accelerated its death. If this fish was from the Indo-Pacific, then the likelihood of cyanide collection is higher than it should be. I'd spend some time talking to your LFS, explain to them your system, husbandry, and the fact that this fish just dropped - see if they can help you out on the next one. In the future, put a hold/deposit on the fish - let the store keep it for a week or two before you take it home; this will transfer the risk onto the store who has better means for dealing with the loss than you will. Also you might want to pony up the extra bucks for an Australian Tuskfish which are caught with barbless hook, they way they should be.> Thanks, Louis <Cheers, J -- >

- Sick Tuskfish - Hi WWM crew, <Hi.> Let me start off by saying that the site is a great resource of info. that has helped me grasp a better understanding of our hobby. My question today concerns my Australian Tusk. About one month ago I heard some splashing in the tank (55 gal FOWLR - tankmates are stars & stripes puffer, 2 damsels). I soon discovered that the tusk had made a leap of freedom and was laying on the ground. He looked fine after putting him back in the tank, but the next morning he had a pop-eye. At the time of the incident I was having a difficult time controlling nitrates (40-50ppm). I QT'd the tusk in a 20gal tank, 0 amm 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, temp @ 80 w/ a salinity @ 1.021 & pH @ 8.0. I treated the tank w/Epsom salt, but it didn't make a difference (1 tablespoon per 5 gals). After three weeks (w/o eating), he began to develop some fin-rot. I treated the tank for 1 week w/ Maracyn-2, which has helped w/ the fin-rot, but the eye has not improved! He is now beginning to eat a little food now (krill soaked in garlic supp.), but I'm worried that his eye may never heal.  <This is quite possible I'm sorry to say.>  This has affected his swimming and eating habits as well. I'm cycling a 140 gal tank which will be his new home, but I'd like to take care of him before placing in the new tank. Suggestions??  <You're on the right track. Patience, excellent water quality, and a quiet place to convalesce are the best things you can do for this tusk... could take months for this problem to abate, if at all.> Thanks, -Andrew <Cheers, J -- > 

Harlequin Breathing Hard This morning, I realized that my Harlequin Tuskfish in my quarantine tank (with copper) is coming up to the surface to breathe. His breathing pattern is normal and he has just recovered from ich. Any idea why? Just to avoid any loss, I had him transferred to another quarantine tank without copper and with a lower SG level of 1.015. Am I doing the correct thing? Thanks.  > Sounds very much like the animal is having a hard time "breathing"... either the copper and whatever else stressing it is impairing it's respiration, and/or there is insufficient aeration/circulation in the system... I'd check on both quick... probably lower the specific gravity of the water a couple of thousandths to improve gas solubility and ease of gas transfer... and take care to not overfeed, or otherwise add to the fish's woes. Bob Fenner

Peeling tusk? hey, I've recently bought a harlequin tusk. and I've had it for two days now. and I noticed its mouth looks like it's peeling back, well the skin on the upper lip. I'm thinking he cut it on something? It's in a 240. not sure of water parameter yet though. <Read through the files on this species listed on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com (Choerodon fasciata)... likely an artifact of capture and/or shipping. Bob Fenner>

Blind (Harlequin Tusk) fish. Hi! Bob, I hope all is well in your life. Well, I did something really stupid and I am not sure it is something fixable. Well here is the story. A H. Tusker developed some kind of parasite and would not move or eat.  <For browsers, this is the beautiful wrasse Choerodon (nee Lienardella) fasciata, the Harlequin Tuskfish> So I treated him with copper and formalin. Unfortunately, I was impatient and kept adding  <Too common, sorry to hear> Anyway... I changed water and all that, and he seems physically fine now, but he has not eaten in four weeks. He is a big fish, about a foot long. He is in a huge system with good water parameters now. The problem is, I think he might have gone blind. Is this possible? If so can I treat him? Also how long can he survive without eating? <The poisoning can indeed result in blinding... and not much longer... see below> You know I could kick myself for not getting an UV system earlier. I have a thousand gallon system so I had put off the UV because of expense but I finally got 160 watt unit. Hopefully I will not have to deal with a sick fish again. It is a shame when we decide to be responsible for one of these beasties and fail miserably. Thanks again for everything..... <Agreed on the "pounds foolish" note... But don't dismiss the power, practicality of simple quarantine and dip procedures for excluding such problems from the get go...> P.S. On a different note, I have been traveling around the world taking videos of public aquariums. Someday in the near future I will put together a two hour tape. Its actually quite interesting to watch over and over. <Much to discuss on this last note... Have associates, desires to produce such works (for myself just to post on the Net for free viewing, others for sale on the TV networks...), but let me state what I would do re your Tuskfish. Do rig up a plastic "feeding stick"... a dowel or length of rigid tubing... and split the end such that you can secure food items to it... and Do offer shrimp of different sorts (cocktail on down) to your Wrasse about where it hangs out... right in front of its snout... Soak these shrimp for a few minutes in a 'baby vitamin' mix (this will act as a feeding stimulator)... I am confident that this is the way to get this animal to resume feeding. Bob Fenner>

Re: Blind Tusk fish. Hi! Bob.... My tusker is still not eating. I have isolated him to a 100 gal sump, since he was getting picked on by the emperor angel. Couple of days ago I put on a plastic glove, caught him and tried to force feed him some scallop and even pushed some "Selcon" down his throat with a dropper. However he spat out the scallop. <Good effort, try...> He is a gorgeous fish and he is over a foot long. Is there anyway I can get him better? His health seems better but he has not eaten in over a month now and he used to be a glutton. He also seems blind. Other than that he is o.k. When do I decide to put him to sleep? Should I just let him be and hope he will come around? Is blindness reversible? Is copper poisoning reversible? Thanks again for your time. If you have any suggestion on force feeding the fish please do let me know. <All tough questions... I would not give up just yet. Do provide a large enough dark area (like a cave) for this Choerodon to hide in... and no to the likelihood of the blindness being reversible... or copper poisoning for the vast majority of cases. I would wait and do hope as you do that it/he "will come around" in time. Force feeding for such animals is best tried with a flexible tubing attached to a "turkey baster" type arrangement (watch your fingers around this animals jaws!), with the animal in a net supported on a wet towel with your hand firmly about it, barely underwater and the tubing inserted far into the throat/buccal cavity. Blend/mix meaty foods and some of the Selcon into a chunky slurry... Bob Fenner><And one other suggestion: if you can find them, place whatever species of edible shrimps (bait types are fine) in with this Tusker... in the hopes these will stimulate it to feed, and otherwise keep the system tidy. Bob Fenner>

Re: Thanks, Drug Caught Tuskfish? Robert, <Anthony Calfo in your service> It's me again! This time I have a question of a different sort. I have purchased over the last 2 years 4 Harlequin Tuskfish for my 75 gal.. tank. Each one at around 5 months in the tank croaks! He will be eating excellent and swimming all over then one day he's dead. I checked the gills on the one that died today they (gills) were bone white.  <pale gill tissue is often a sign of drug caught fish> This one was about 4" long and robust and still had his juvenile fin spot. Were these 4 fish cyanide collected in the Philippines? Could you please give your best guess on this one, I'd hate for the same fate if I purchased another. <do yourself a favor and spend the extra money on an Australian Tuskfish... they are MUCH more colorful anyway and hardier by far. Do expect to pay more. Anthony> Thank You, Gary p.s. The blue ring and golden puffer are doing excellent!!

Tuskfish with Ich Mr. Fenner, <Spencer...Anthony Calfo here... author, veteran aquarist and friend helping out with the queries> Please help me. I just put a harlequin tusk in my 125g w/ a lunar wrasse and my harlequin looks like he's starting to get ick. <how long have you had him and do you have a quarantine tank that we can use (please be sure to quarantine all fish in the future... it spares lives, saves money and heartache)> It's mostly on his side fins. I've read their eyes are sensitive and that they are kind of hard to treat. <only moderately so. They are extraordinarily hardy fish. I have one correctly that arrived at 2 1/2 inches with hole in his side...disappeared in the rockwork of a reef for two weeks(!) and emerged just fine (now over two years captive). Tuskfish, like most wrasses, are particularly irritated by freshwater dips. It doesn't mean that they will not tolerate it or benefit by it... but they do stress more and must be watched carefully with such treatments. You need a gentle treatment. Your best bet with this fish is a bare bottomed quarantine tank. Stable water quality and small daily water changes for eight consecutive days has been demonstrated to eradicate common white spot by removing larval forms (tomtits) before they have a chance to rise from the seafloor an re-infect the host. Feeding medicated food at this time may also be helpful. Medicating the main display would just be no fun. The wrasse family can be sensitive to copper and like meds and the calcareous media will absorb much of the medicant.> I want to do something immediately, but I thought I'd ask a true veteran marine biologist first. My temp is at a steady 79 to 80 degrees and my lunar is completely unaffected. What can I do? I love this fish!!! Thanks, Spencer <do keep us posted. Best regards, Anthony>

Tusk with Ich? Dear Mr. Fenner: "An Adventure In Fish Stewardship" I have a 165gal with approx 90lbs of live rock with originally three yellow tailed blue damsels (2months), one south seas devil (2 months), one Sohal tang (2 weeks), and one harlequin tusk(2 weeks). All fish were freshwater dipped with blue for 5 min before introduction. The damsels were  continually getting chased by the devil so much that two of the damsels only came out to feed and then back in the rocks. They had split tails and impact bruises. <This happens... wonder why they're commonly called "devils"?> I think all this commotion caused the tusk to get ich. He had spots on his side fins and tail and a few on the back end of his body and forehead. <Possibly> I was told that this tusk does come from Australia. To alleviate this situation I removed all three damsels - by taking out all the rock and finally netting them. <An adventure in itself> I then gave the tusk another blue freshwater dip for 10min. When I put him back in he didn't even swim - sank straight to the bottom. I immediately grabbed him and put him in the current from the return line. His breathing was slow but steady. He did eventually swim out of my hand and to the rock. The next day swam and ate normally. Three days after this (mistreatment he seems to be developing spots again on the tail and side fins.  <Yes... likely from generation/s of the parasite as part of the system...> He also went to the top of the tank and seemed to get air - but only a few times. His breathing seems steady and he still eats and swims normally - no scratching on rocks but does pace the glass every now and then. I've been told by my LFS to wait and see. The remaining Sohal and south seas devil don't show any signs. Should I wait and see, lower spg / raise temp, get a cleaner Gobiosoma, or add garlic to food, remove the tusk to quarantine tank and tread, or.... worse? Thank you again for your time and patience with me. I'll be reading all the FAQs I can find on this. <I would likely try all of these... and look for an Australian specimen if there is another occasion for a try. Bob Fenner> Steve Morvay

Got ich? Garlic won't really help much... Tuskfish <Greetings, JasonC here...> Sorry to bother you again, <no bother>I am sure you are pretty busy. Your never gonna believe what happened. I woke up this morning, 2 days after getting my tusk fish, and he has come down with ick!! I have never had a breakout of ick in my system since I have had it set up which was about a year ago. <do I detect you did not quarantine the tusk first?> I had been supplementing his food with garlic-elixir which is a garlic and iodine supplement and he seemed to have been doing fine until today. <certainly not a guarantee of much, as you now know..> I checked my water and everything is in check, my nitrate was a little higher than usual at 10 ppm. My specific gravity was 1.021 until the breakout (now at 1.018) and my temp is now at 85 (from 78). The tusk fish is now in a 10 gallon Q tank no substrate and one piece of coral. I have copper running in that system at the recommended dose and a small powerhead and AquaClear 200 running on it without the carbon media. There is a light on the system but I leave it off to reduce the stress. He has been in the Q tank for about 6 hours now and seems to be doing fine. <that all sounds good, could probably use a larger tank - like a 20L for quarantining a small tusk. You could/should probably return the display system to NSW conditions if no signs were seen on other occupants.> Is there anything else that I should be doing? <making sure it eats, and that you change 25% of the water every other day. You really should have started off like this, perhaps withholding the copper, and letting the tusk "hang" in quarantine for two to four weeks so it can get used to your rhythms, and you can get used to it - how they behave, what makes them happy, and what stresses them out.> and what kind of chances does it have of recovery? <all other things being equal and provided it was from a good source, I know from my own experiences with Tuskfish that they are amazingly tough. And I really mean that - like Rambo or Terminator tough. If your tusk has good girth - not skinny - then it will most likely weather this storm, no problem. Don't exceed the recommended dose on the copper.> I know your busy but I have never lost a fish before (aside from a few damsels) and would hate to loose such a wonderful (and expensive) one, anything you can direct me in would be greatly appreciated. <well, keep the top on the tank... how's that for some tusk advice? This I also know from personal experience. That and always, always quarantine all new arrivals along with a pre- and post- quarantine pH-adjusted fresh water dip. Don't place for several weeks. Any fish that doesn't make it out of quarantine, wouldn't have made it anyway.> ~Matt <Cheers, J -- >

Ongoing Tuskfish trials Well it was for sure the biggest mistake of my aquarium experience to not quarantine the tusk fish, but after only being in the quarantine tank for 24 hours all the ick from his pectoral fins is gone!! I'm treating with CopperSafe at a concentration of .35 ppm. That seems to be working well. I also have a neon goby in the tank as well that may be helping clearing the ick off his body. Would 2 weeks be a long enough time in the quarantine tank? <Should be> I am heading back home from school in 2 weeks (3 hours away) would it be a good idea to quarantine him again after I get home to the new system he will be going in? <If the fish looks "iffy", yes. If not, I would pH-adjusted freshwater dip/bath and place it> and if it would be a good idea do I need to treat him with copper still or should a 20 L with water from the actual system he will be entering be enough? <Not IMO> He is eating well in quarantine, I am feeding him twice a day, in the morning Mysis shrimp and in the evening he is getting urchin and squid (all of which sitting in garlic and iodine for an hour) I want to thank you again for all the help you have given me, and my tusk thanks you as well! ~Matt <Do take/allocate the time to read over the Marine Fish Disease areas of WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Quarantining the Tusk Hello, Received my Australian Harlequin Tusk 3 days ago. He is one of the best I have seen so far and is now my favorite. It is about 6" and is very bright in colors. I have placed him in a 55G quarantine but don't know how long am I supposed to keep him in there. <Well.. it varies from fish to fish. The tusk I have was in quarantine for six weeks.> Also, he is not eating and stays in a dark and hiding place. This is expected per your articles and FAQ on this species so I am not yet getting my blood pressure high. I am checking my water and it is Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0, Ph=8.2 & Nitrates=10. Temp is running 78-79 and he seems to be breathing normal with no signs of stress or ick at this time.  I have tried frozen shrimp & mussels but he has not yet even looked at them. Bough 6 live feeder shrimp today as they can live a couple of days if not eaten by the tusk. This should help me keep my water chemistry intact as there will be less food left over. I have no seen him going after them either. I have tried feeding him by the feeder stick and at one time the live feeder shrimp was swimming right next to him but the tusk did not even looked at it. Is this normal even after 3 days. <Yes - these fish get really freaked out but the whole capture and transport thing, barbless hook in the mouth, etc. My own tusk didn't eat for two weeks, which is about as long as you would want to wait. These fish are quite hardy, and as long as it's not already skinny can go quite a while without food.> He is the only one in quarantine tank but stays at the bottom of the tank, hiding behind a PVC pipe that I use for hiding places instead of LR. <Is all normal - no worries.> Please advise if this is normal and if there is anything that I can do to help him eat. <Whole krill, Mysis shrimp, clams - all favorites of my tusk. You might also ask the people you bought it from what they were feeding.> What if he eats after another week and goes on a hunger strike again when I move him to the main 150G? <I would predict that a second hunger strike, if there were one, will be shorter. These fish actually like to eat.> Should I move him in another 4 days to the display tank if he shows no signs of disease? <No... give it time to get used to captivity and get used to you. Be patient. Quarantine is as much about easing the transition as it is about treating disease.> Main tank has 4 damsels in there with corals. Water conditions are normal except that the nitrates are 20. <Sounds good.> Regards, Razi Burney <Cheers, J -- >

Re: Quarantining the Tusk Many many thanks for your fast response. <My pleasure.> Tried feeding him today again but no luck there. <I know the feeling... make sure you do daily vacuums in the system to clean out this food.> I will wait for 2 weeks per your instructions. All water conditions are looking good and temp staying normal. <Good.> Saw some spots of ick on him and that just made my heart sink. I see them on the tail and back where the blue shade is. They are not very many but looks like he is getting it. Seems to me that it is in early stages. Thought about it for 30 minutes and finally decided to not take any chances and move him in a 10G copper treatment tank. 10G is just too small for him but that is all I have left now. I figured that leaving him in a tank with ick is not the best choice and usually copper starts showing results within 2 days if ick if detected in early stages. Also made this choice as he is not eating yet and his immune will just not have the kick to fight it off if I let him stay in the 55G quarantine. Is this the right thing to do? <I wouldn't have moved it... it's the whole moving thing that is stressing your fish, which is why it isn't eating, which is why you now see a spot or two. These are very tough fish and a spot or two or even five is not really a cause for concern on a tusk fish. He'd be better off back in the 55.> How many days should I keep him under copper treatment. <I wouldn't treat with copper at this juncture, but if I recall, copper treatment should continue for 15 days to be useful.> Usually spots go away within the first 2-3 days. Should I buy another tank about 20G or so and use something like turbo start to cycle it and treat him there ? or leave him in 10G copper tank during the treatment? <I thought the 55was a quarantine tank? Here's the rub, quarantine is supposed to be quiet-time. Time for the fish to do get back on its fins, so to speak... someone caught your fish with a barbless hook, and you can probably imagine the fight it put up - hook in the mouth and such. Then it's been shipped from down under to three or four destinations to get to your tank. If you were your tusk, you'd be wiped out... tired, and would want to be left alone. Moving it around just stresses it out. Quarantine is as much about relieving stress as it is about observation and treatment.> Does a copper treatment tank have to be cycled or a Ph and salinity adjusted fresh tank (non-cycled) can be used ? <When you start running a dedicated treatment tank, you also have to dedicate yourself to very frequent, larger than normal water changes. 25% at least every other day, or every day if you can pull it off. Recall that all fresh-mixed salt water should sit at least 24 hours before use. The copper will make establishment of a nitrogen cycle impossible.> Can't understand why all was fine for the first 4 days and now all of a sudden this problem started. <Stress... is all normal. Be patient and trust that this is really a very durable, albeit expensive fish.> Everything under my control stayed within guidelines and steady. <No worries...> On top of that I am more concerned because he has not eaten anything since 4 days in my quarantine tank. <Four days is not a long time. Like I said before, my own tusk went for two weeks - I was nervous too but it's not a anemic fish... a good supply of reserves to live on.> Bought him online from The Marine Center and they tell me that he was in their tank for more than 3 weeks and was eating. <And I would tend to believe them. I've had nothing but good experiences with Marine Center.> No hiding places for him in the 10G tank now but will add a PVC pipe if spots look any better. <Large PVC pipes are good. Tusks do like places to keep out of site from you.> I plan to change about 4G of water in the copper treatment tank tomorrow as nitrates were 30. No ammonia or nitrite were present. Please advise. <My advise - chill. I wouldn't be so quick to treat this fish. The capture and transport thing really winds these fish up and they just take a little while to come back down. The spots are most likely a symptom of the stress, not eating, etc. Be patient - it's only been five days.> Razi Burney <Breathe deep. Cheers, J -- >

- Blind Harlequin Tusk - JasonC, <Hi.> Thanks for the quick reply. <My pleasure.> To answer your question about reacting to my presence, no he doesn't. <Oh, that is a bummer.> In fact, it was easier to net him out of the tank than it has been on the rare occasions that I have to retrieve an expired fish. <Yeah... that is a pretty definitive sign. These fish are typically very hard to catch.> To address the point you made about treating the display tank, I definitely agree with you, in principle. In practical terms, there is no way I can set up and maintain a quarantine tank big enough to treat the fish that were infected with ich. <I hear what you are saying, but quarantine is really your only good option.> Seven of the nine fish has ich to some degree.  This was our first experience with ich and it went "unrecognized" until my Purple Tang had shared it with his fellow tank mates. <Is the nature of parasitic infections, and why quarantine before addition is so important.> (Temperature fluctuations were the likely cause and I have since replaced all of my thermometers with Ebo-Jager).  The hospital tank was purchased and set up with future problems in mind.  The whole reason I used chelated copper is because it is less toxic than copper sulfate and it does not get absorbed by the materials in the tank.  This was a point Bob F. raised in his book. <I would suggest that you re-read that section. I have a copy here and checked... the book says nothing about absorption of chelated copper by the substrate. And in fact... Bob is sitting right here and I asked him to make sure... chelated copper is for certain absorbed by your rock and substrate.> I appreciate your input and any other advise you can provide would be much appreciated. <As far as the tusk goes... a blind fish is at a serious disadvantage. You have only a couple of options... your best bet now, if you don't want to euthanize the fish you will have to give it very close, personal attention. Personally, I would try and stick with the fish... I'm a real huge fan of Tuskfish and I just wouldn't want to give up so quickly. Do try using a feeding stick to offer its favorite foods - put them right in front of its face to make sure it can smell them. With any luck it will start eating again in time, but I'm sure right now it's adjusting to having just lost its eyesight. Can't be fun... sorry to hear of this. There are other sensory systems - lateral line, etc. - that will help this fish, and at some point in the future you might be able to reintroduce it to the main tank, but for now it's going to need a lot of help from you.> Bob Jones <Cheers, J -- >

- Tuskfish Follow-up - Jason, <Good morning.> Thanks for the frank, open input.  I've reread Bob's book and you are right (as is he).  I over-interpreted what was written.  Chelating agents only act to keep it in solution better than the sulfate form.  He made no reference to preventing absorption.  My quarantine tank is set up and although it is a small one (10g) it will be used to quarantine all new fish. <Fair enough.> As for Monty the Tusk I struggled to see a future with him that was not going to be cruel.  He would have been tanked with a French Angel and a Sunset Wrasse.  I fear he would have been mercilessly bullied so I tearfully (quite literally) put him down. <Oh... I am sorry to hear of this tough decision.> I, too, love Tuskfish and will be replacing him some time in the future. <Ah good.> Thanks again for you help with this and for all future help I know I will need. Bob Jones
<Cheers, J -- >

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