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FAQs on Leopard Wrasses, Genus Macropharyngodon, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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Macropharyngodon geoffroy with Mysis head stuck in mouth/throat. – 5/26/12
I believe that I must have some of the worst and strangest things happen to my fish. (Literally, PERIOD.)
Well, good morning and a happy Memorial Day Weekend to Bob and Friends at WWM!
I've had two leopard wrasses in their 20 gallon reef "Quarantine" for the past two months. They have both been eating very well (brine, Mysis, and Frozen Formula One). One is a M. bipartitus who I've had for three months, aptly named "Sleeping Beauty", and the other, M. geoffroy who had been a voracious eater - I've seen her eat huge pieces of Mysis,
<The genus doesn't come very "giant">
and believe me, these fish know the concept of size and the geoffroy is the one who goes after the huge pieces of food that gets placed in there. Well, I'm thinking that this may be the reason for her current condition. For the past couple of days, I've noticed that her mouth is stuck in a strange open position and she appears stressed by this but otherwise no obvious signs of injury or infection. As I sat there repeating to myself, "why is her mouth stuck open" phrase over and over, I remembered years ago when I kept fancy goldfish, one inadvertently tried to eat an Albino Corydoras, and ended up with the Cory's skull stuck in his throat. All that was needed was getting a pair of small forceps to remove the skull. Okay, I thought, go get me some forceps and get to work, but hey! The Geoffrey's mouth is SMALL!
I remember that my mom used to tell me to gargle with vinegar if you get a fish bone stuck in your mouth. I remember learning the Heimlich maneuver in med school. But you don't do that to a little leopard wrasse!
What should I do?
<Leave all as is... the Leopard Wrasse will work out this bit of stuck material and/or it will fall off>
On a side note, my 220 display is getting fresh water baths to rinse out the chlorine as I type. I poured 2 cups of bleach in whilst the tank is half full as I agitated the sand and scrubbed/moved rocks around - Whew! I think I got my respiratory tract cleaned out!
<Do leave your windows open! This should have been mentioned in the article I referred you to>
Thanks as always, I think at the end of this hobby, I may be able to pen a book named, "All the strange things that occurred whilst I tried to be a Conscientious Marine Aquarist"!
Sincerely Yours,
<Cheers! BobF, twixt three cook-a-thons... this one after seven biking stops at local breweries.>
Re: Macropharyngodon geoffroy with Mysis head stuck in mouth/throat. – 5/26/12

Bob, have a safe and wonderful weekend!
<Thank you. B>
Re: Macropharyngodon geoffroy with Mysis head stuck in mouth/throat.    5/31/12

Good news, Bob!
The wrasse has made a turn for the better. A few days ago I was sure that she wasn't going to make it because I believed that the stress of having a big Mysis head stuck in her throat caused her to have something like dropsy that you see in freshwater fish...the illness where the fish's scales look puffed up.
<Mmm, likely injury due to abrading side... trying to dislodge the shrimp>
 Now thinking back, I'm wondering if she was stressed and produced a thicker slime coat which gave the strange appearance of puffy scales. You couldn't imagine all the thoughts going through my head in my panic! She continued to eat with the mouth issue, mind you, literally sucking in much smaller pieces of food. Two days ago, I noticed that she was able to move her mouth some. Today, I was happy to see her with her normal mouth and the puffiness gone! She is happily swimming around and comes up to the glass, wagging her tail, wanting me to feed her. The funniest thing is that in the past, she would rush to get the biggest piece of food and swallow it and now, she will take a look and if the piece is on the larger size, pass it up for her friend, Sleeping Beauty, who is most princess like when it comes to eating!
<Ah good>
Lesson learned - sometimes, you must give the fish's immune system some credit and let nature take its course.
<Yes; almost always best... better than "treatments". Providing good habitat, suitable foods, congenial tankmates... is really all we can and should do as aquarists>
 I know that I adore my little fishy friends, and likely caused harm in the past by trying to do something to help them. I realize that with the couple of recent situations (remember the story of the Bicolor Blenny who grew a beard? Or killing my Powder Blue Tang who survived "Crypt" for three years with medicine?) Slowing down and taking note, not to panic and react, but to reflect and think logically, then take action. These things I am capable of doing daily in my life, but I seem to think that the fishes are so "helpless". I need to change that concept and realize that fishes are strong too!
<Indeed they (almost all) are>
I am learning with your help and guidance to be a better "mother" for them!
I will keep on reading and try to share brighter and happier stories with you and friends at WWM!
Thank you!
<Thank you for your upbeat update. BobF>

One fish that's barely alive!!!!! Help!   Leopard wrasses, beh., fdg.    02/27/2008 Last month we bought a Macropharyngodon meleagris wrasse. It then disappeared for I don't know how long. Presuming that it had swum into an anemone, we went out on Sunday and bought two Macropharyngodon geoffroy. When they were introduced to the main aquarium, the pair swam about. When I put my hand in to clean the tank they bolted into the sand. No one saw them at all on Monday, that is until I tore the take apart. <<Yes, I can understand this, its their self defense mechanism which is to bury themselves in the substrate. What size of tank is this and how long has it been running?>> I was cleaning the gravel under the larger anemone's rock, when the supposedly dead wrasse flew out of the sand like it was being chased by the devil. It was barley thicker than three pieces of paper. Then it dove behind the largest rocks and into the sand. I frantically drained half of the tank, put the corals and coral covered rocks into the other aquarium. I got all of the fish out, and began my search for the three leopards. Once everything was back to normal, I tried to feed the starved leopard. It ate one Mysis shrimp. I then resorted to a trick that always works. To weak to swim away, I used my gloved hand to hold the fish. Using a needleless injector, I placed the wrasse's mouth to the injector, and fed it daphnia. It ate, it was almost like feeding a baby dolphin. But I have no idea what it does want to eat. The guy at the store fed the fish flakes. But how can I feed them, if they never come out? <<With this fish, its a case of do whatever it takes to feed until it has generated enough strength to do this for itself. These fish should only be introduced into a "very" well established full reef which has a refugium. These feed on natural foods from the sandbed like pods etc etc..If you can get this to readily accept prepared foods, then all the better, however, I would not solely rely on this as its food source>> <<Thanks for the questions and good luck with these "very" delicate species. A Nixon>>

Macropharyngodon bipartitus (Blue Star Leopard Wrasse) Leopard Wrasse- In A Refugium?  11/26/07 Hi Everyone, <Hiya! Scott F. in today!> I've been reading through your site for a long time and found it to be a great help. I have a 90 gallon SPS/LPS display tank with a 30 gallon sump and a 36 gallon refugium. As of right now, the refugium has 20 lbs of live rock, a deep sand bed, and assortment of various macroalgae. I've been looking into adding a fish into the refugium. I was wondering how a Blue Star Leopard wrasse would work in the fuge. I have searched many sites regarding this wrasse, half of the sites state that this fish cannot live in a tank smaller than a 50 gallon and others say no less than a 30 gallon. Is it the total volume of water in the system or the overall swimming space? Being the system has more than enough volume of water for this in particular fish, Will this work out ok or am I better off looking into some other fish? Thank you very much! Erika <Well, Erika, it's not so much a function of physical space with this species. Yes, it needs ample room- but "space", in this example, is more of a measure of the ability of a system to support the fish's nutritional needs. Larger systems typically generate larger populations of natural food supplies (i.e.; copepods, amphipods, Mysis, etc.). The real challenge with the Leopard Wrasses is supplying them with the quantity and type of foods that they need. You might be able to get them to take prepared foods, which is a plus. However, if they need to depend on natural food sources, at least at the start, an established system of decent size is a plus. Another thought that I had: The function of a refugium is to provide a source of nutrient export/processing for the display aquarium, and to supplement the display with natural foods. As such, you want to maximize this potential productivity by eliminating predators form the refugium! Why would you want to diminish this process by placing a (predatory) fish in there? A healthy foraging Leopard Wrasse can have a significant impact on the refugium's total productivity. Better to see if the fish can be accommodated in your display aquarium. If you're up for the challenge, this fish can be a spectacular addition to your system. Select a healthy specimen, acclimate and quarantine carefully, and you may enjoy great success! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

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