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Moray Disease FAQs: Treatments

FAQs on: Moray Disease 1, Moray Disease 2, Moray Disease 3, Moray Disease 4, Moray Disease 5, Moray Disease ,
& by Species: Dragon Moray Health, Snowflake Eel Disease/Health, FW Moray Disease, Morays and other Eels, Velvet & Crypt,
FAQs on Moray Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Trauma, Infectious, Parasitic,

Related FAQs: Moray Disease 2, Morays and other Eels & Crypt, Moray Eels, Morays 2, Moray Eels 3, Moray Identification, Moray Selection, Moray Behavior, Moray Compatibility, Moray Systems, Moray Reproduction, Moray Feeding, Zebra Moray Eels, Snowflake Morays, Ribbon Morays, Freshwater Moray Eels, Other Marine Eels 

Related Articles: Moray Eels, The Zebra Moray (Gymnomuraena zebra), The "Freshwater" Moray Eels, Non-Moray Marine Eels, Snake & Worm Eels

Beware of copper and dye use with Muraenids... Similarly formalin/formaldehyde is very toxic to them.


Skeletor Eel Post Hurricane Sandy    11/11/12
Hope all is well.  Being from the Jersey Shore I was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  I was without power for 10 days however I was able to keep my tanks somewhat operational with battery operated pumps for water movement and portable power supplies to keep the tanks heated.  I made it through without any losses.
<Ah, great news>
  It has been 4 days since the power has been back on and it appears i may suffer my first casualty.  I have a foot long Skeletor eel that is breathing real heavy and is acting very reclusive.
<Don't give up hope... Have seen eels recover from almost certain doom>
  I did a 40% water change on the tank but had no response in the eels behavior.  Water levels check out ammonia and nitrite 0 and nitrate at 15.
Any other options I can try here?  Antibiotics, etc?
<Best to just keep the system stable; no treatment/s. Bob Fenner> 

Honeycomb Moray Eel sick     8/6/12
Hi there,
I have concerns about my honeycomb moray eel and I am hoping you can point me in a direction.  It has been in this tank for over 1 year and I have had it for 4 years.  It was with a previous owner so I am estimating the age of the eel is about 6-7 years at least.  It is in a 120 gallon tank with a canister filter.
<No skimmer? Size of the eel? Looks small on the picture, but I could be wrong about that.>
Salinity, PH, nitrates, nitrites all appear to be in approved ranges.
<Which are?>
Usually gets fed every 4 days with squid or shrimp, scallops with vitamins.
<Sounds good.>
Phosphates have been high even though I have been doing regular water changes every other week and using a phosphate remover in the filter.
<Mmm... so you say the phosphates are high, but nitrates appear okay? I would get another measurement (different test) for nitrates just to be sure the problem isn't simply related to water quality. As a side note you may find the WWM article on phosphates interesting.>
Also, we have been battling red algae for the past 6 weeks. Seven months ago we battled what appeared to be a white fungus that started in between the eyes and grew down the snout area.  We used an Ich treatment (without copper) and everything seemed to be cured. It started eating again and continued to be active.  Now, the moray stopped eating about 4 weeks ago and will not eat even with regular attempts.
Also, where the white disease was in between the eyes on the top of the head...now seems to be red and eaten away....
<Might be bacterial, watch if it appears to be spreading.>
I have seen the eel rubbing its face on decorations and in the air bubbles.
I have attached a photo for you to see.
Any thoughts on what course of action I can take?
<My first thought was water quality. Larger water changes certainly won't hurt here. I'd also check for proper oxygen supply, since you do not mention a skimmer. If you don't have one, consider getting one. In addition provide enough surface movement, canister filters are hardly enough here in general. If none of the afore noted ideas seems to apply and if the apparent infection is spreading you probably should consider using an antibiotic such as Maracyn 2. Good luck. Marco.>

Physical trauma? B
Re: Honeycomb Moray Eel sick     8/6/12
Hi Marco,  I appreciate your response to my email!
<You are welcome.>
I am currently at work and don't have all the test numbers in front of me, however, I do apologize that I didn't include information regarding having a protein skimmer, etc. I do have a protein skimmer on the tank as well as two long cylinder airstones (appox 8 inches) one on either end of the tank.
<Sounds good and should take care of the oxygen supply.>
The eel is just about 36 inches long and I estimate probably 7 years at least. I will start with your suggestions for testing, water changes, medication etc. including referencing that article on phosphates. I want you to know I appreciate your help with my questions. This has been a steep learning curve for me since the eel was abandoned into my care 2 years ago
and I had no prior saltwater experience.  Since that time, I discovered your website and have appreciated using it to further my knowledge.
Again, Thank you to you and your team,
<Thanks for your kind words. Cheers, Marco.>

Eel quarantine period -- 12/15/09
Dear WetWebMedia crew,
<Hello Jason.>
Just a quick question regarding a snowflake moray in quarantine. I recently purchased the eel from a local fish store. It had been at this store for quite awhile, and is currently in a 10 gal quarantine tank. The eel appears to be healthy and is eating well.
<Very good.>
Would a week long quarantine period be too short?
<Depends on the reason you put your eel into quarantine for. If you did that to ensure it is eating captivity the aim has obviously been reached and the quarantine can be ended. If you put it into quarantine to see any possible outbreaks of white spot diseases, one week is too short. However, while moray eels can get those diseases and can transmit them to other inhabitants of your tank, they are very rare within the family. For most other possible diseases one week seems rather small, too. I'd decide also from the situation at the store it came from: Were there other obviously sick fishes in their tanks? How long was the eel at the store and was it quarantined there? If the store is well run and the eel has been there for a few weeks chances for the introduction of a disease are much smaller than if the store carried a number of fishes with white spot diseases or bacterial infections.>
I hope to purchase a Hawkish from a different store that won't "hold" the fish for me for and extended time, and I don't want the eel and Hawkish in the qt tank at the same time.
<I would not want this either.>
Thank you. Sincerely, Jason.
<Hope the notes above help you with your decision. Also see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snowflakemoray.htm  and the linked FAQs for more Echidna nebulosa information. Marco.>
Eel quarantine period II -- 12/16/09

Dear Marco,
<Hello Jason.>
Thank you for the reply.
<You are welcome.>
My main concern with the eel is the transmission of disease. It had been at the LFS for about 2 months. The store has 2 saltwater tanks that share a filtration system. I have not noticed any of the fishes in either tank infected with ich.
<Sounds good.>
There was one recently arrived butterfly that looked like it had Lymphocystis.
<Quite harmless as you probably know.>
I checked the other store that carried the Hawkfish on Monday. They have 2 in stock, so I plan on waiting a bit longer before moving the eel to the main tank. Hoping that the store doesn't sell both Hawkfish in the near future.
<I do wish you good luck.>
Sincerely, Jason
<Cheers, Marco.>

Need help about my Moray Eel ASAP 2 -- 10/10/09
Hi Marco,
<Hello Janie.>
We put live shrimps and small fish and nothing.
<Will take some time.>
I have not check the water yet, this new tank got filled with water right from the ocean, we put some fish first and then the eel about 2 days later without checking the levels.
<So this tank is not a cycled, biologically stable system? Water does not carry a lot of useful bacteria for the cycling process, only very porous rock and substrate do. I see from your video you got some rock in there and hope this is live rock. Be sure to check the water for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates as noted in the last email. If any ammonia or nitrites are measurable or if the nitrates are above 25 ppm do larger water changes to bring them down and keep ammonia and nitrites 0. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm>
What should we do about her skin and broken tail ?
<If the water parameters are already as noted above, start an antibiotic treatment with e.g. Maracyn 2 preferably in a hospital tank (no skimming, activated carbon and live substrate or rock) if available.>
By the way, see the attached video clip of the eel, how do you think she looks? How can I cure her broken tail?
<Breathing a little fast'¦ another indicator of possible problems with the water. Do you have enough current and a skimmer sufficient for the tank? I've seen worse wounds heal at this species, so there still is hope. As noted above, I'd first check the water, it is possible an improvement of water quality may be the only treatment necessary. The immune system of this eel seems to be down due to a lack of vitamins and/or environmental problems, opportunistic bacterial infections ('flesh eating bacteria') likely have infected minor scratches. It is possible an improvement of the water will be sufficient alone, this would mean no additional stress for the eel. If this is not the case an antibiotic treatment will be necessary. I'd also offer him more shelter where he can completely hide, the eel does indeed look stressed to me. If you have success with feeding be sure to use vitamins regularly. I do wish you good luck. Marco.>

Re Need help about my Moray Eel ASAP 3 -- 10/12/09
We checked the water and it is excellent
<What are nitrates, nitrites, ammonia and pH at?>
, only the ph is a little low and we started adding the buffer to stabilize it.
<A pH drop can indeed be reason for a moray eel to refuse to eat. Surface current and a skimmer will also help to keep the pH up, so you will need no or much less buffer.>
This tank was already cycled when we got it and yes, those are live sand and live rocks which by the way we have arranged many times but the eels keeps on knocking them down and pushing them so I gave up for now until she is better and we can try to re-arrange the rocks again.
<I use cable wraps in such situation und incorporate pvc pipes, which are gladly used by this and other eel species.>
We do not have a skimmer so we are planning to either buy it or make it.
<I'd urgently recommend to get a skimmer soon. This will help with both -- the pH and the health situation of the eel (by removing bacteria and organics from the water).>
I started putting garlic Xtreme in the tank, since it is a 90 gal I added 9 drops on Saturday, I was told that it is safe for all fish and rocks and the bottle said that it helps on bacterial infections and wounds.
<May help to make the food smell interesting, but the antibacterial properties are rather small.>
Will it be safe for the eel's tail? How often should I put those drops?
<Safe: yes, Useful: I doubt it. Can be added daily.>
She looks a little more calm but still not eating, I am not sure if it is because she is getting used to the new tank or because she is getting weak.
<More likely the first and the jaw will also hurt. What are you trying to feed? Adequate foods are: fish filet, shrimps, crabs (preferred food item of your species), mussel and clam flesh, octopus and squid.>
In regards to the treatment in a hospital tank I am not to convinced in moving her out again due to all the stress she went thru when my husband tried to get her out in which she jumped out and fall in the floor, this happened about 2 times and now every time we pass near the tank you can tell she gets mad and starts going crazy again. Will it be safe to do the antibiotic treatment while she is in this new tank with the live rocks, enenemies and the fishes or should I take her to the hospital tank and do it there?
<It's generally recommended to use antibiotics in a hospital tank. Maracyn 2 claims to 'not interfere with the biological filter', but also notes 'Use of a hospital tank is recommended'. If I had the choice I'd go for the hospital tank, especially if the wounds seem to grow. As a side note, the medication is removed by skimming and activated carbon.>
Can I use the garlic Xtreme at the same time as the antibiotic treatment?
<I see no reason why you could not.>
Are all vitamins reef safe?
<The products sold for aquarium use: yes.>
Which one will be better for the eel?
<Products that have at least the vitamins A, B1 (very important), B2, B5, B6, B12, C (also important), D, E.>
By the way, I was told that eel live about 10 years in the wild
<Can get much older if not killed (this is confirmed by bone examinations and not a simple guess). The oldest one I found in literature apparently got 60, eels in their 20s or 30s are not too uncommon in aquariums.>
and I have had this one for about 4-5 years which was in a friend's tank for another year or so.
Do you think she might be getting old and that's the reason why she is having this behavior?
<No. Your eel simply does absolutely not look like an old eel looks like.>
Thanks again for all your time and help ! Janie
<I'd get a skimmer ASAP, and if the situation does not improve (wounds getting larger, breathing getting faster, other symptoms occurring) use an antibiotic such as Maracyn 2. For feeding I'd try the items listed above with vitamins and live crabs/shrimps. Good luck. Marco.>

Re: Need help about my Moray Eel ASAP 4 -- 10/12/09
Nitrate and Nitrite levels were at zero and PH was a little under 8.
<Sounds good.>
We tried to feed him live and frozen shrimps, frozen silver line fish, live feeders or goldfish.
<I'd not try the last two items, the other foods are fine.>
I have never tried any fish filet, mussel, clams, octopus or squid.
I'll get the Maracyn 2 today and treat him in the same tank, my husband is refusing to move it back to the other tank again and since we do not have a skimmer yet it might not be so bad.
<Ok, but be sure to monitor ammonia and nitrite to ensure biological filtration continues to work. If you see severe cloudiness, the surface of the water should be sufficiently moved by filter outlet or a powerhead in order to allow gaseous exchange.>
I will also get him one of those fake rocks with a cave and some clams and squid.
<Ah good.>
For how long should I use the Maracyn 2?
<At least 5 days. You should see an improvement at this point.>
Thanks again ! Janie.
<Good luck. Marco.>
Re: Need help about my Moray Eel ASAP 4 -- 10/12/09 10/14/09

I prepared yesterday the other tank (40 gal) to move the moray today, checked water and everything is fine except that ammonia looks a little high so I let it run through the filter before putting the moray today, I'll check the levels again today. Took all sand out and bought a cave for him. Checks his chin and looks worse, a little tip of the bone is already showing.
<Yes, visible on the pictures you sent in one of the last mails.>
Thanks for everything, I will let you know in a week or so about his improvement.
<I do hope we'll see an improvement. Feel free to add one or two of the live shrimps to the hospital tank if no ammonia and nitrites are measurable. The antibiotic should not hurt them and perhaps a snack might me welcomed if the eel's health situation really improves.>
<Good luck. Marco.>
Re: Need help about my Moray Eel ASAP 6 -- 10/15/09

Hi Marco,
<Hello Janie>
It has been 2 days since I started the treatment with the Maracyn 2, we moved her to the tank in a very peaceful way, at least she did not go thru any stress with a huge plastic bag.
<Sounds good.>
I added to the water a multivitamin solution called Vita-Chem Marine by Boyd Enterprises (see picture attached) and it made the water yellow, I hope this is OK because since the filter has no carbon due to the Maracyn 2 treatment the yellow color is still there.
<Yes, a sufficient product. The color is no problem.>
I tried to give her some frozen shrimp and a piece of silverside fish yesterday but nothing yet, she definitely looks a lot skinnier now. Take a look at the attached video, she is now breathing very slow, what do you think?
<The breathing looks fine to me and the posture of the eel does look good, too. Much better than an eel lying on the bottom and showing labored breathing. It does not look like a death candidate.>
I did noticed that the wound on the chin looks like it is healing, the tail is still a little hard to say.
<Let's hope you are right and the healing starts. Also, continue to check for ammonia daily if possible, especially if the breathing changes to a faster mode again. If you wish add a few live shrimps or crabs.>
Thanks again ! Janie
<Good luck. Marco.>

Re: Need help about my Moray Eel ASAP 7, fdg. & dis. f's -- 10/16/09 -- 10/21/2009
Hi Marco,
<Hello Janie.>
Just an update ... the eel is doing a lot better, the wounds are almost gone
<That's some fast healing. Very glad to hear.>
but she is still not eating.
<Keep on trying different foods and if you have the chance live shrimps or crabs.>
I have a new question ... I noticed she has been yawning (not too often) and when she does her gails <gills?> opens up so much that something red comes out very fast and goes right back in .... is that normal ?
<Does not sound normal. Usually you are able to look inside the gill hole and see some red, but nothing comes out. Clarify if it is just some skin flapping or potentially some parasite. The breathing of your eel is normal, so gill parasites that need treatment would not be my first guess here. Could also be a piece of gill hurt from the now healing bacterial infection. In the latter case the situation should resolve itself. >
Thanks, Janie
<Cheers and good luck with feeding. Marco.>

Re: Need help about my Moray Eel ASAP 8 - 10/21/09
It looks like a bright red flapping skin, it comes out and in very fast, it is about 1/4" or maybe less, I have been trying to get it on video to send it to you but she definitely has a perfect vision now and sees me there but I will catch that and send it.
We put in the tank 2 small fish (about 2"), forgot their names, they are both silver (they were very cheap), she stares at them but doesn't try to eat them.
About putting live shrimps, are bait shrimps good for that?
<Yes, can be used.>
I noticed they are kind of bog and very fast, will that be good or should I use another type of shrimp?
<The best would be live crabs if available. Crabs make most of the natural diet of this species and they are not quite as fast as shrimps or fish'¦ Also keep trying various frozen foods. Another trick to get predators to eat is using attractants for eels from fishing shops. Sometimes it works really well, sometimes it does not, though. >
Attached is a picture so you can see the improvement as well as her body showing her muscles already from not eating, she was very round before and now she looks soo skinny.
<Maybe skinnier than before, but from the pictures it does not look too bad.>
Thanks, Janie
<Cheers, Marco.>

Re: Need help about my Moray Eel ASAP 10/21/09
Got it...
I did a partial water change last night due to the nitrite and nitrate levels were a little over "0" plus the ph was low, I guess due to the medicine, vitamins and garlic Xtreme plus had no carbon in the filter. She seems a little more active, I put 2 dried krill
<A mainly dried krill diet is one of the main culprits for health problems with moray eels in my opinion.>
that she used to eat a lot, she started moving around and looking up like if she smelled them but did not tried to eat them so I think she is trying to get back on track.
<That'd be good.>
I'll keep you informed and if I get those gills on video I will send it to you right away. Thanks again ! Janie
<Welcome. Marco.>

Re: Need help about my Moray Eel ASAP 10/21/09
Last question ... what types of crabs should I get ?
<They mostly eat Xanthid crabs in nature. Personally, I'd try beach crabs or - if I had no access to the sea - live rock hitchhiker crabs, which some fish stores give away for free. If such are not available I'd go for the shrimps. Marco.>

Help... Moray hlth... no useful info. 4/4/07 Dear bob <Angie> I have a golden moray eel and would appreciate your help. He is about 6 months old, and his symptoms are; He has lost his teeth <!?> His mouth is red and sore where his teeth were He hasn't eaten for approx 3 weeks <I can understand why!> He has lost a bit of colour only on his head and neck I am having great difficulty in finding somebody who knows anything about eels. The place where I bought him from have given "SeaCure" copper treatment, <Mmm... see WWM re Muraenids and Cu... not generally a good idea> however I have read a book on morays and specifies that you should never use a non- chelated copper- based medication. <Not good with Eels, no> I am not sure if sea cure <A proper noun... product of Aquarium Systems... is capitalized> is chelated or not. <Is not... is copper sulfate... As stated on WWM... their website...> Although the main tanks water parameters have always been fine, <... uninformative> we have moved him now to a quarantine tank. We have given one dose of the medication so far we are supposed to give it a further 2 days. <Of what?> I would appreciate any advice you could give, and also do you have any contacts in England whom I could telephone as I stated before I cant find any one and don't really no where I should be looking. Alex Symcox <Need much more information than you have presented here... How did this animal lose its teeth? What have you tried to feed it... what re its system, maintenance... I would not expose this animal to Copper compounds (for what purpose?), nor keep it in quarantine... too stressful... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/moraydisfaqs.htm and the linked files above... Am hopeful this scanning will reveal to you the sorts of data we're looking for... that you'll have a clearer understanding of your options... Read, act now. Bob Fenner>
Re: help... Moray hlth... Still no useful info. 4/12/07
HI in Answer to your questions we do not have any idea why or how he lost his teeth we are trying to feed him gamma <A Brand... still a proper noun un-capitalized...> fish which is what he ate before. We put him in his own tank so we could give him the medicine that the shop suggested because we did not want the other fish to be exposed to it. What do you think we should do to try and get him to feed ? <What? Apply yourself... Please read where you were referred to on the 4th... There is still nothing useful in the way of data presented here. BobF>

Re: Snowflake eel, blue tang, convict tang III; need a hospital tank for proper ich treatment; how to catch an eel 03/06/07 Hi WWM, I treated the blue tang with tri-sulfa and some spots disappeared, but he started scratching again. I do not have a hospital tank, so what else can I do and are corals classified as invertebrates. <See last email. Your corals are invertebrates and without a hospital tank, there is not much you can do without harming or killing them. Please read the WWM link sent in the last email. The life cycle of marine ich and the so far known methods of treatment are described there. Another good article is http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/swich/.> If I choose to do hyposalinity what should I lower the salinity to? <Specific gravity of 1.009 for four weeks, but your corals will not enjoy that. Only use hyposalinity in a tank without invertebrates.> I am going to try and catch the eel, and are there any other ways of catching a snowflake eel then pulling apart the rockwork? <A clean bottle with a small piece of its favourite food and an opening large enough. Bury it in the substrate. Watch at night. Chances are good you will find your eel sitting in the bottle. Close the bottle under water without getting bitten and transfer him carefully to a plastic bag for transport.> Thanks, Maison <Welcome. Marco.>

Upside down Eel Gymnothorax miliaris 1/21/07 I really appreciate your site. Your effort has created an excellent resource. <Thank you> I have a 12" Fire Coral Eel (Gymnothorax miliaris) in a 50 gallon refugium attached to an 80 gallon reef tank. Salinity 1.022, Nitrate 0, Phosphate 1, Calcium 450-500, dKH 13, PH 8.4 temp 72-77 After a year and a half in the tank alone (ok well you are never really alone in an algal scrubber) he has come down with some odd disease, injury, or who knows what. I came home to find him laying upside down in a rock crevice writhing a bit. I thought he may have caused a rockslide in the medium sized outcropping he lives in, but I am not sure. He did manage to wear the flesh off on his rostral ridge (between eyes and tip of nose). He has a hard time swimming upright or forward, loves to be upside down, tends to bend his body in half and then swim forward. Very lethargic and breathing heavy, but not too heavy. Faded white when lights come on, then color returns. (normal I believe) I think its diet may be a little narrow. I was able to feed him one silver side two days ago. I have since procured some shrimp and scallops that he has yet to accept. Just trying to keep him eating if I can. I took this creature in to save it from a friend's horde of monster eels in his show tanks. It has been a great pet and will rest in one hand and eat from another. Also likes to be pet. perhaps I have a dog and need new glasses ;) Something is just jacked up with this poor guy/girl.. I have addressed the temperature swing so as to keep it stable at 76-77. I may have had a small PH drop after a large algae export and water change. I did introduce a few Mithrax crabs in the main tank about 3-4 weeks ago. Really nothing has changed that significantly in the tank in a while. a long while. Not sure what to do beyond trying to make him as comfortable as possible. his erratic behavior has led me to actually try to grab him. he looks dead sometimes but is always breathing. When I have grabbed him he had the energy to give a strong fight and get out of my med-light grip. Of course then he is hacked off and I try to shove some food in his open mouth. Other than the missing patch of skin he looks fine. Eyes are clear, yet seems a little blind. more so than usual. Wondering when I should pull the Ginsu out and make some smoked eel sushi. Just kidding. although it is really good ;) Any advice is greatly appreciated. Have a great weekend! Shaun Drutar <Spaces twixt your sentences, the beginnings capitalized... Don't know what has gone wrong here Shaun, but the symptoms you list are definitely bad... If possible I would move this fish to another setting... in the hopes that if that something amiss is environmental, it will be solved thus. I do think changing the diet up is a good idea... and I would soak such foods with Selcon or equivalent. Bob Fenner>

Re: upside down Eel Gymnothorax miliaris 1/23/07 Hello and thanks for the reply below. I have uploaded a few pictures...kind of blurry...to : http://www.drutar.com/weblog/blogger.html Perhaps this might be more helpful... I really appreciate all that you guys do! Shaun Drutar <... looks bad... You have read on WWM re Moray Disease and systems? Bob Fenner>

Re: upside down Eel Gymnothorax miliaris, & Formalin use 1/24/07 Hello, <Hi again> I have read through Moray diseases and systems, but at that time the Eel was not displaying symptoms as visible as these and I was on a different path. <I see> I am off to dig some more...wish me luck...or better yet the Eel... <I do> ...ok...Looks like he may have a secondary crypto infection... From what I have read formalin may be the way to go. <Mmm, no> I have dealt with ich a number of times in the past few years... seems one local shop's livestock is regularly contaminated. <Mmm, yes> I usually raise temp, drop salinity, soak food in garlic, etc... <Good> This incident seems to warrant formalin treatment as this poor guy is so weak... <Maybe...> I can't seem to find data indicating the compatibility of formalin and corals, <Assuredly they are NOT compatible... See WWM re formalin period> I am going to assume it is not reef safe... so I will have to disconnect this refugium from the main tank. Still digging though. Thanks again, Shaun <Press on my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: upside down Eel Gymnothorax miliaris 1/26/07 Good day Bob, <Shaun> Looks like my recent removal of a significant amount of algae from the refugium may be the true culprit. <Really?> I found one posting about similar situations and the idea that low oxygen concentrations hit me. I added an air stone this morning and while he is not out of the woods yet it seems that his breathing may be getting stronger and more rhythmic. <Better> This may be the explanation for the zombie like behavior and lethargy...plus its desire to leave the tank...he tried to enter the main tank through the overflow pipe...after almost a year and a half of residence. I am holding off on any other changes at this time. I do not plan to medicate. <Good idea> Thanks again, Shaun Drutar <Thank you for this update. BobF>

Saltwater questions: Epaulette and Snowflake Eel 2/23/06 Hi Bob, <Joseph> I have a few questions to clarify some issues which I have not been able to find an answer to on your website. Firstly, the article on Zebra Moray Eels suggests a simple freshwater dip for new arrivals, instead of the usual 2-3 weeks quarantine. Can this general rule-of-thumb be applied to Snowflake Eels given their close relation with each-other? <Mmm, I wouldn't actually dip either one of these. Muraenids in general don't have difficulties that freshwater dips/baths help with... are generally "too slimy" to have external complaints coming from the wild... I would quarantine unless the specimen/s appeared in perfect health> Secondly, I am considering buying a juvenile Epaulette Shark for my 850 Litre, 8' tank. I was hoping you might shed some light on what quarantine procedure I should use. <Mmm, most sharks I'd skip actual quarantine on in hobbyist settings (different from much larger commercial, public settings)... as the likely damage from such is probably much more than it's worth> I have a 40 litre (10g) quarantine tank however I feel that the stress caused from placing the shark in such a confined tank may outweigh the benefits gained from quarantining. <Agreed> From what I have learned, keeping stress to a minimum may (arguably) be the single most important factor in a successful introduction of livestock. <Most cases, yes> Am I on the right track??? Perhaps a simple freshwater dip is enough? <I would skip dipping most sharks, most scenarios as well> And how should I handle the shark when placing it into the tank? Should I use a large net, or gently lift with gloved hands? <Yes... this and/or a wet-towel> Thirdly, in regards to my quarantine tank, is it reasonable to expect to be doing small (10%) water changes (with main system water) every few days to manage the water quality (i.e. ammonia/nitrites/nitrates)? <Often, yes... daily...> I understand that small tanks are almost guaranteed to be highly susceptible to a large variation in water chemistry in a short period of time? <Unfortunately, yes.... To be guarded against> Finally (thanks for putting up with so many questions), when carrying out freshwater dips I use a product called Bactonex from Aquasonic and each mL of this solution contains 1.66mg Aminacrine Hydrochloride and 0.025mg of Methylene Blue.. In your opinion, is this a suitable dip? <Is more helpful than none> Thank you immensely for taking the time to answer.. Joe (Sydney, Australia) <And you for writing, and so well. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Sick Moray We have had a snowflake eel for about a year and a half, and he was about a year and a half old when we got him.   He is about 24". We have a 150 gallon FOWLR (with a little coral in the refugium/sump). The water gravity/salinity is around 1.021, nitrates are around 20ppm, nitrites 0, ammonia 0.   About 5 weeks ago we noticed that the eel had lost his normally voracious appetite.  We waited for a week thinking maybe it was some sort of hibernation behavior.   Then we started noticing red/bloody patches appearing on him, at first lightly and then more severe.  He started turning pale and breathing hard.  Although the water quality was not that bad, we began doing bi-weekly water changes of about 20%, thinking maybe there was something undetected in the water.  An aside note: in the sump, we have some polyps and some other coral, about 20 small feather dusters, 15 small starfish, a *lot* of Chaetomorpha Sp. Algae, and a few snails that still seem to be thriving. Now, five weeks later, the eel hasn't eaten anything, he is noticeably emaciated, and he is breathing harder.  The red "scabs" and streaks are prominent, and he is faded.  We don't know what to do.  There are only three other fish in the tank, and their appetites seem to be intact. We're at a point where we don't want the eel to suffer, and we have no idea how to treat him. We also noticed a couple of growths that looked suspiciously like small worms protruding out of his skin along the side of his body, but we weren't sure if these might have been small pieces of skin sloughing off from the sores. Just a little history that may or may not be pertinent:   1.  We purchased a new RO water purifier a few weeks before the problem occurred.  I've noticed a film that appears on newly filtered water while it's still in the plastic water container (before mixing it and adding it to the tank), but when I test the water with a TDS meter it shows 0 ppm.  The water tests absolutely soft as well, and I treat it with a Ph buffer before mixing the salt and adding it to the tank. Could there be chemicals from the DI part of the system that might be causing the eel problems (the film on the water) and that isn't detectable by a TDS meter? 2.  We also purchased a new batch of salt right around the time that we purchased the RO/DI system.  Is it possible that the salt may have contaminates in it or possibly have been prepared/fortified improperly? FYI, the last water change out, I went to a pet store to buy pre-mixed saltwater, but the eel has not improved.  The next couple of change outs, I'll probably continue buy water from the pet store to see if it makes a difference.  At this point, though, I doubt the eel is going to last much longer. Any advice you might have to offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. >>>Greetings Cathy, Sounds like a gram negative bacterial infection to me Cathy. More interesting than that though, is what could have caused it? Overcrowding, parasitic activity or poor water conditions are often to blame. However it doesn't sound like you have these issues. If those "worm like things" are actually worms, and not sloughing skin though, then you have your answer. In this case the reddening is a secondary bacterial infection, and the parasite is the primary problem.  Moray eels in general are EXTREMELY hardy, and in my 20 years of doing this, I've never seen a sick one, let alone a snowflake which are as hardy as any of them. Anyway, as I said a gram negative bacterial infection is probable based on your description of the symptoms. If this is the case than an appropriate antibiotic would be a drug such as tri sulfa. Kanamycin, neomycin, may also work. These are very powerful, and you need to follow the directions carefully, and use a hospital tank. If a parasite is also present, (which you need to determine) then you need to manually remove the parasites as the first step. Then a commercial anti parasite med such as "Clout" should be administered first in the hospital tank. After that, follow up with the antibiotic. Good luck Jim<<<

Sick banded moray eel/red sores I have a 3 1/2 ft. I believe a Banded Moray eel. <Gymnothorax zebra?> I recently did not add enough salt to his tank and burned him w/ the fresh water? <Not likely> He now has red bloody spots around his face & neck approx 4 of them, also very white around the face as well. I have since corrected the problem w/his salinity and ph is ok as well. It has been about a week since this has happened. Have you ever heard of this before? Thank you for your response. Stacey Swanson <Have seen moray eels with burns from poor water chemistry, physical damage from scratches on decor, jumping out... if yours is still alive after a week it will likely cure up. Bob Fenner>
He's a tough guy, and is still alive and kicking!
<Ah, good> Thanks for the quick response! <Welcome. Bob Fenner> Stacey Swanson :)

Spotted Snowflake Eel Hello, first time poster here, I have just recently noticed that my snowflake eel has developed a white spot on the lens of each on of its eyes.  My other fish do not display any signs.  My eel has been for the last couple of months, inactive.  It does not appear to be eating and has areas of redness on its skin which appear capillary or vein-like.  His nostrils or breathing tubes are now pointed downward instead of up and out.   << Very good description.  Thank you.>> He also appears to be thinning.   << Is he eating?  Two parts to that question, are you trying to feed him, and is he accepting the food?>> What is going on?  Is this ich?  And, as I have read, in your other postings, is a garlic treatment warranted?  Thank-you. << It doesn't sound like ich, but it does sound like a water quality issue. Is this a fish only tank, or a reef tank, and how are you filtering the water? I don't think Garlic would hurt, but I'm not sure how much it will help.  With eels I don't recommend medications or freshwater dips or things like that.  I do think that feeding him is the important first step, so if you have to use a pair of tongs to hold the food right in front of his face, then do that.>> Jonathon Jones << Adam>>
Re: White spot only on each eye of my snowflake eel
Tried feeding him, but he just wouldn't take it.  Used a feeding stick too.  Next I plan to go buy small live shrimp to see if he'll take that. << Live food is a great idea for fish that are not otherwise eating.  It really induces a feeding mechanism in them.>> It is only a 85 gallon 2 stage tank.  I have taken steps to improve the water quality, and it appears better.  What about fungus? << Without a picture I wouldn't want to guess on that.  Either way, good water quality is the key. >> The red vein-like areas are worrying me.  They appear mainly along his ridges and tip of his tail. << I've seen this before and it was usually a sing of poor circulation.  Actually it was over circulation like the fish has too much adrenalin in them.>> He is definitely thinning.<< Do try the live shrimp first.  Also, if it is possible to easily remove the fish, then moving him to a hospital tank is always an option.>> << Adam Blundell >>

What's The Deal About Copper With Eels? Hi, after reviewing several other questions, I'm still not sure that I have one basic question answered fully. Can you put copper in a tank with a moray eel? <No, it is deadly to most eels in a non-chelated form! And I would not use copper in a display tank> I have a 90-gallon fish only tank with a 20 gallon wet dry sump.... housed in the tank are a 4" miniatus grouper, a med. Foxface, a med. Bird wrasse and a 1' Goldentail moray eel. <Wooahh! Quite an animal load for this tank...Larger quarters are in the future, I hope?> After adding the bird wrasse 10 days ago, he's come down with ich or some sort of parasite.... a freshwater dip revealed several things falling off of him. <Sounds like a parasite...FW dips can be remarkably effective in attacking parasites...> I do NOT have the capability of setting up a quarantine tank for introduction or for disease treatment, so I'm left hearing several different things about copper use in an aquarium housing in an eel. Some say NO SeaCure, use CopperSafe. Some say NO copper period.... My first question is.... can I use SeaCure copper for 14 days at .15? What about the other type of copper? If you do not condone any copper use... What is your suggestion? <Well, as mentioned above, chelated copper is your safest bet if you go the copper route. Freshwater dips are a safe bet...Hope this clears up things a bit...Regards, Scott F.>

Our snowflake eel and copper treatment 09/10/03 <Hi Cheryl> "Flakey" (how original) our snowflake moray jumped out of the tank the other day and flopped around for awhile (2-3 minutes) until he went limp.  I plucked up the courage to throw him back into the tank.  I'm afraid the experience may have injured him as he hasn't eaten since (3 days ago).  Or could it be that I began a copper treatment for our lion fish (who has a parasite) the same day that Flakey jumped out and he's affected by that instead?  He's not his usual perky, swim around the tank self.  Just wants to stay in one spot and refuses his favorite food....shrimp. Any advice gladly taken, Cheryl Cooper <From the page on snowflakes, "I have had go-arounds with other pet-fish writers, culturists, public aquarium staff re "remedies" involving Muraenids. They are sensitive than most fish species to these treatments. Copper and malachite IF utilized MUST not be overdosed NOR treatment periods extended for these species. I know this from hard-won first hand experience, re-collecting Morays killed by "No COPPER" treated tanks in San Diego, and readings of other to-be-trusted writers experiences. " Go here to read the rest. Unfortunately, copper is pernicious in aquariums, permeating and contaminating the rock work and sand. Here's more on copper: www.wetwebmedia.com/copperus.htm , I suggest you go and read up on these two subjects. At the least, he should be in a QT till you finish the treatment, you may also want to look at using PolyFilter when you're done the copper treatment, it will help remove it from your system. Good luck, PF>

Sick eel... Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I would greatly appreciate your advise. I've had my Gymnothorax funebris for about two months, and I thought he was doing great until I noticed some dark gray spotting on the lower portion of his body and fin. These spots almost look bruise like. He eats like a pig, and I do my water changes weekly. Unfortunately, Charlie did escape briefly about one week after coming to live with me. I'm wondering if this episode could be the cause of this problem, <quite possibly... eels are prone to true fungal infections and similar looking bacterial infections.> and what (if anything) can I do? He is in a 125 g tank with live rock and several pieces of coral.<little or nothing to be done in the display tank. A QT tank with a Furan based medication may be necessary if the patches do not abate within a few days or if they become more turbid. Do be alert and prepared to remove to QT promptly if necessary, bacterial infections with scaleless fishes like your eel can be quite difficult to navigate/cure> Thank you so much, April <best regards, Anthony> Ok. back to my eel. I am trying Maracyn can't tell if it is working, <it is a useless and outdated medication... gram-positive Erythromycin. Even if effective, most bacterial infections in fishes are gram-negative> it has been 6 days now. Thinking of trying Spectrogram by Aquatronics, how long should I wait? <you must always finish the full antibiotic treatment (5-7 days)> I tried to look real close with a flashlight at the spotting and I thought maybe it wasn't bacterial or fungal at all. But, maybe it was a break down in the slime coat. Do morays regenerate this slime coat if the slime coat is damaged? <indeed... but they also get skin infections easily. Please be sure to only medicate in a QT tank as the antibiotics will wreck your displays bio-filters. Use a broad spectrum antibiotic next if necessary> Thanks once again. <best regards, Anthony>

Zebra Moray Eel Looking ill help required Hi I am quite concerned about my 2.5ft Zebra moray eel over the last couple of days he has been spending a lot of time laying with his whole body upside down with his head flat on the floor of his cave. <Not a good behavior> He seems to be eating fine on his present menu of tiger prawns and the water tests, aeration and circulation are all good. <Real values please> One thing I have noticed is that his breathing is a little much shorter but more rapid, I may be worrying about nothing but could you just confirm if this seems normal. <Moray breathing rates can/do vary> His tank mates are a sail fin tang and a French angel in an 85 UK gallon tank. <A bit crowded... I would check on the alkalinity (aka alkaline reserve) of the water. Easy for small volumes with large bioloads to lose such in short order> As always your help would be much appreciated Kind Regards Darren Adams <Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Zebra Morey Eel Looking ill help required
Thanks for your reply, the water readings are ammonia 0, nitrate 40ppm, <Would like to see the nitrates kept below 10 ppm> nitrite 0, and ph 8.4, I always us RO water and do a water change of 7-10 UK gallons a week, would there still be alkaline in the water. <Likely so, gauging from your high, constant pH.> The eel is still swimming round at night, but again today he was laying upside down. The tang is just 3 inches and the angel 5 inches. If you think I should test for alkaline it will get a kit tomorrow but if that is fine do you have any other suggestions. <Perhaps to try changing the diet a bit (to other crustaceans) and maybe augmenting this with a HUFA, vitamin and iodide mix (available through TMC in the UK... by Tropic Marin, Microvert. Bob Fenner> Kind Regards Darren

Eel scratching Dear WetWebMedia Crew, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a quick question about my eel. I recently (about 2 weeks ago) purchased a chain link moray about 9" long. It is in a 10 gallon quarantine tank with an empty conch shell, two small pieces of live rock, a heater, and small outside power filter. The eel has been eating small pieces of raw shrimp since the second day I had it. Within the past few days, I have noticed the eel seems to be rubbing itself against the shell, the glass, or on the rocks, usually in the head area. It acts as though the gills may be irritated. There are no visible signs of external parasites. I was wondering if maybe there is some parasite that is living in/attached to the gills and this is causing the scratching? If so, what course of action should I take? Thank you. Sincerely, Jason <possibly, but you must be sure before medicating... eels and other scaleless fishes can be quite sensitive to various medications in water. Are you sure that there is absolutely no ammonia, nitrite, nitrate etc.? This could just as easily irritate the gills. If the water quality is confirmed stable, then you may have a parasite infection. Begin medicating with Formalin or Quick cure at half dose for twice the time to be conservative. Look for stabilization or improvement in 3-5 days or be prepared that another cause/course of treatment is in play or should be. Kindly, Anthony>
Re: eel scratching
Hi Anthony, <cheers, Jason> Thanks for the advice. Both my eel and email are at work so I didn't respond sooner. Tank conditions are: temp. 78F, ammonia 0 mg/l, nitrite 0 mg/l, nitrate 20 mg/l, pH 8.2, salinity 1.023.  <all reasonable...just don't let the pH get any lower> I change about 1 gallon of water per week.  <still a larger water change would be more appropriate> I have noticed the eel gets real active, almost agitated, immediately following a water change. It swims all around the tank before settling down after about an hour. I have also noticed the scratching symptoms seem to occur most often after I feed the eel. It eats well, then a few minutes after the feeding, it starts to rub up against the tank walls/bottom or the decorations in the tank (maybe it doesn't chew its food enough).  <admittedly... consistent with a gill parasite. Becomes obvious in cases of increased respiration like after feeding> There are still no signs of external parasites.  <they do often start and can sometimes stay in the gills> For now, I think I will wait and see how the eel does.  <yes, despite above... I do agree. They are hardy in general, but sensitive to meds> I do not have the particular medications that you suggested on hand but can order them. I do have Greenex (I know is not a favorite), OrganiCure, and CopperSafe.  <none of these for the scaleless eel please> Thank you again. Jason <best regards for you and your eel. Anthony>

Weathering the Storm...Fish Disease Bob, <Actually, Bob is out of town and Anthony Calfo and I were asked to fill in.> Hope all is well. My tank is still in fallow stage (I assume by reading reply you know what my situation is). Going on a month. Salinity 1.017 and temp 84 Deg. Quarantine fish doing great. Let me tell you what I have actually done since 12/24 and you can be critical if warranted. I ran copper for the first three weeks, fish cleared up but were sluggish and not eating very well. After 3 weeks and 2 freshwater dips, removed copper, with water changes and carbon. The difference no copper makes. The fish follow me around tank and would probably nip at my finger if I let them. My reason for removing copper was two fold. One, I think copper is a necessary evil. The less the better. Second, I knew that the fish were going to be quarantined another month at least (Your input) and would have time to observe them and make sure they are rid of parasites. I really don't think I could be doing all this without healthy fish. My point is what you consistently preach, finding healthy specimens and then quarantine is undeniable. You wouldn't have to read all this if I had bought your book and found your website before my first introduction of fish. Back to situation. The eel that you suggested I remove did not happen. I removed every piece of live rock to catch him and could not find where he was hiding. He was actually out of water probably 15 min, put rock back in tank and assumed he had perished. About three days later, there he was, waiting for me to feed him. My question, how does this effect things. Has my month of going fallow been a waste (I didn't understand what you meant in last e-mail by "space-vector". Sorry, but I took it that he was going to be a problem with hermit crabs etc. He has never had or seen any sign of parasite on him, so I was hoping he would not act as a host for parasites. He is the one thing that lets the kids stay involved will I go through this down time. One last thing, since I removed copper from quarantine tank (do you think I should put it back in Q tank?) <If the it refers to copper back in your quarantine, my answer is no. You said yourself the fish are "doing great".> my Q tank does not have Ammonia problems, and in fact, it was if the tank immediately cycled (it had been up and running for about one month), hence that fact I don't have any major problem with longer fallow time if you suggest. Finally, I don't want to take up your whole weekend, is there any way to know how parasite free main tank is after fallow time? <Eels are notoriously tough and generally disease resistant. Keep a close eye on him and examine him as best you can. If he is parasite free for a three full weeks, with you watching him closely, he is probably OK and so is the tank.> Thank you for all your help I wouldn't bother you if I didn't really want to care responsibly for livestock. My kids and I are big divers and have great respect for the fish. David

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