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FAQs about Pearly Jawfish Disease/Health

Related Articles: The Pearly or Yellow or Golden-headed Jawfish, Opistognathus aurifrons, Use in Marine Aquariums by Bob Fenner, Jawfishes

Related FAQs:  Pearly Jawfish, & Pearly Jawfish ID, Pearly Jawfish Behavior, Pearly Jawfish Compatibility, Pearly Jawfish Stocking/Selection, Pearly Jawfish Systems, Pearly Jawfish Feeding, Pearly Jawfish Reproduction, & Jawfishes 1, Jawfishes 2, Jawfish Identification, Jawfish Behavior, Jawfish Compatibility, Jawfish Selection, Jawfish Systems, Jawfish Feeding, Jawfish Disease, Jawfish Reproduction,

Fish with cloudy eye and skin-like film     2/16/18
I love all the help you have given people in the past and I appreciate any help you can give me.
I have a 135 gallon reef aquarium with a yellow tang, Foxface, lyretail, potter's Angel and a ghost eel.
About two weeks ago, I purchased a pearly Jawfish. I have read that Jawfish don't do well in quarantine so he was on hold at the fish store for about 4 weeks so I could watch him.
It looked really good, healthy and active so I brought him home. That day, he started digging a home and things seemed fine. That was the last time I saw him. He was gone. I figured the ghost eel had an expensive dinner.
Today, he made an appearance! I couldn't believe it. He popped up out of a hole, actively eating, Yay!
Except, his eye is cloudy and looks like extra skin is laying over the top of it.
Is this a disease? An injury? What should I do?
<An injury...>
My parameters are:
Ammonia 0, nitrates 0, nitrates about 7, Ph 8.2, temp. 76 phos 0.04 and sg 1.025
Thanks for any help you can give me,
Deborah Baran
<I would hold off doing anything treatment/medicine wise here. Too likely to cause environmental issues for all. Instead, do your best to maintain good conditions and nutrition. Should solve itself in time. Bob Fenner>

Re: Fish with cloudy eye and skin-like film     2/16/18
Thank you so much and your reply was super quick. I'm still dumbfounded
that he popped out like that. The eel and him seem to be sharing a home.
<Happens. BobF>

Ruptured belly on Jawfish     1/27/18
Greetings crew at WWM.
<Hey Jonas>
Last night my pearly Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) did not show up for the last feeding which is highly irregular. When i dug up her burrow this morning after the first feeding to check for life/avoid ammonia I found
her stomach was the only thing that was very damaged other than some lightly torn fins. The stomach looked like it had ruptured like a balloon.
As far as I could see there weren't any animals eating it. There is however a Randall's pistol shrimp who shares part of the burrow with it, though they had separate entrances. I did also find a very flat/thin 4-5 cm diameter
sized dark brown Nudibranch with rustic brown spots on the rocks inside the burrow I have never seen before.
<Turns out such borrowing fishes, worms, crustaceans.... often co-habitate>
I have had this Jawfish for 6-7 years. From what I could tell it was a fully grown female when I obtained it. It started in a 300L with a 12+cm DSB until about a year ago when I moved into a 672L display with only 2-5cm
sand bed in the display, the rest of the sand went into the refugium. To be able to keep the Jawfish in the display without spending a fortune on more sand I glued some live rock to the underside of a flat shelf-piece of live
rock set at an angle to make a support cave which i dug into the sand and added a crescent shaped piece of rock in front to create a "J/L" shaped burrow.
<Very good>
All of which I mostly covered with a mound of sand and various sized and shaped pebbles a little distance away from the rock structures in the open area of the tank. The Jawfish took to this home immediately and had finished constructing the burrow less than half a day after being moved. Compared to other Jawfish I have observed over time she was very bold/confident and seemingly secure in her environment.
She has had a protruding stomach for years that seemingly has grown very slowly over time. Because she had it for so long, I had stopped worrying but kept an eye out and tried to limit the amount of food she could get
each feeding. She has always been a ferocious eater able to grab more food in a single feeding than any other fish i have had. She had no issues crossing the 160cm tank to get into the "frenzy". The last 6 months the sides of her stomach had been expanding and taking on a plumpness reminding of an oblong grape. It has not shown any other signs of being ill as far as I can tell, but it did have a ~2mm long darkish brown line about 1/3 of the way from the tail to the head in the fleshy part under the skin of the body when I got it. This line has remained the same the whole time with no visible change.
From what I can gather she got older than most Jawfish, but the nature of her death has me worried about parasites or bacteria/virus that could spread to other fish now that the stomach ruptured.
<Mmm; not likely... many such parasites (worm groups in particular) are species, genus limited in host specificity>
I have only seen similar bloating happen in freshwater fish, usually with less than ideal water, and that usually ended in death within a week or two. Is there something i can/should do to prevent spread and should I be concerned?
<I would not be overly-concerned here>
Do you know what might have caused this?
<Not know, but have insight that could be tumorous, some sort of long-term parasitic issue... perhaps a "punch" from the Alpheid, the consumption of Polychaete worm/s...>
I was originally planning to add more fish this coming week when my order finishes quarantine in the LFS.
<I would go forward here>
I have had fairly stable parameters and never had problems with high ammonia, nitrite or nitrates. I have had a spike in nitrates (~10-5ppm) the last 2 weeks as I have had a failed attempt at introducing a small harem  of Lori's Anthias (ordered 6 but ended up with 4x P. lorry's and 2x P. flavoguttatis) where one by one went into hiding and starved due to the much larger dominant P. lorry's aggression. This happened about the same time my Ca/Mg hose plugged and Ca dropped causing a moderate bleaching vent in about half of my SPS which are starting to recover.
I am still at a very light bioload. 1x ~7-8cm yellow tang and 1x similarly sized blue/hippo, 1x small female spotted mandarin, 1x fairy and 1x flasher wrasse, 1x nearly fully grown P. lorry's and 1x juvenile(ish) P. flavoguttatis. Few snails, 3 different shrimp, a couple of hermits (various Clibanarius).
Chaeto is growing well and fills most of the volume in the refugium not occupied by sand. I harvest 20-35% of the Chaeto mass 2-3 times a month.
Only pest I have (to my knowledge) is a dwindling population of brown flatworms.
<Not a worry>
Tank: 160x70x60cm display SPS/LPS/Zoa dominated reef tank with a relatively open scape. Live rock and <1mm Fiji pink sand was seeded from dry/clean state 7-8 years ago. I added a few pieces of new live rock a year ago.
Sump: 160L volume. skimmer etc section with extra live rock filter ->
50x40x40cm Refugium/Chaeto/18+cm DSB section -> Return/ATO.
Lights: Dimmable ATI 8x54w
Additives: Ca, Mg, KH from Aquaforest using dosing pump. Also Bio S now in the period that I have a bit more nitrates. I run carbon 1 week on 1 week off (ish) in a sock fed by the vacuum/siphon drain from the overflow.
Flow: 1x gyre on pulse + return
Food: Typically 2-3 small feedings a day with Selcon and vitamin infused Mysis, Artemia, or marine mix (various small particle marine eggs and meat, Spirulina etc), with some larger single feeding days. once a week i add phytoplankton to refugium and some frozen rotifers to display.
Feeding quantity is being reduced in favor of live foods as the refugium matures.
Water: 35ppt salinity, kH: 9.5 (bringing it back to 8-8.5), Ca: 425 (was down to 390, still bringing it up a bit very slowly), pH: relatively stable @ 8.2 (+-0.05), Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: 5ppm (falling), Phosphates: 0.02 (0.04 max)
Any help/info/tips would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
<I wish you lived closer... so we might look at the Jaws body under a dissection scope together.
Again, I would not be hindered in adding your waiting livestock to the  main/display. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ruptured belly on Jawfish        1/28/18

That is very good news indeed after a sad start to the day. I will add the fish once the system has fully stabilized again for a week or two. My wife and young daughters will be very happy, not to mention me : D
<Ah, good>
A guided autopsy with you would have been a great learning experience. The local fish store has expressed plans/desire to purchase a dissection scope for such occasions as this sometime this year.
<Excellent. Great for shops to have such tools to share... PAR/PUR meters et al. to lend>
Hopefully I won't need it for a while but it would be nice to have it available for the next mysterious death. My Synchiropus picturatus and Cirrhilabrus naokoae have been with me a good 6+ years as well.
In your opinion, what kind of life expectancy can one expect to get out of a O. aurifrons?
<8 years is a good long while, ten, exceptional>
The A. randalli lived with it's mate and a S. yasha for many years, but only the largest A. Randalli survived up until the move. It was in a species tank after the move and just recently got added to the main display. This pistol was one of the first inhabitants and has been with me for 7+ years. I have no idea how long they live in captivity, but if it's not past its "due date" I will be ordering another S. yasha for it. Unless it is capable of delivering a killing blow to the Jawfish it seems unlikely to me and my limited understanding that it had any part of its death. I have seen it knock out small hermits to use them as bricks, but they tend to walk away after a while leaving a hole in the new construction.
Thank you so much for taking your time to look at my problem. It is very reassuring having some real expertise to guide decision making when dealing with potential pathogens in such a closed system.
<Very glad to share w/ you Jonas. Bob Fenner>

Sick pearly Jawfish   2/18/13
Hello crew,
I have a sick pearly Jawfish on my hands and I am not sure what his ailment is. 
<Mmm, been stung it looks like... or bitten... by? Could well be some type/s of worms in its tubes (I'd bait and remove; see WWM re>
I've attached a photo and hope you can help me identify the problem.  He has white, subcutaneous lumps on his left side and one is starting to rupture.  Unfortunately, I do not think he is long for this world but I do want to know what is going on before introducing any other animals to my tank.  I have two yellow clown gobies and they are starting to show some white spots as well.
<What types of stinging-celled life is present in this system? Euphylliids, Oculinids?>
Thanks for your help!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner> 


Re: Sick pearly Jawfish     2/20/13
Hi Mr. Fenner.  It is an honor and privilege to receive an answer back from you!  Thanks for taking the time.  By the way, I'm enjoying your book (2nd ed), lots of great information and knowledge.  Thank you for sharing that with all of us.
<Ah, welcome>
Unfortunately, Curtis, my Jawfish, did not survive.  Not too long after I wrote you, I found him on the sandbed dead.  I have almost no stinging-celled life in the tank yet.  There are only four small mushroom corals and one is near his burrow but not in a place where he had to come in contact with it.  There are several bristle worms in the tank, however. 
Could a sting from one of them cause that kind of injury and kill a Jawfish?
<It actually could. The "podia", the leg-like extensions along each body segment, can pack a very powerful sting in many species. Hence the common name for some of "fire" worms. I'd bait out, remove the larger ones (and watch your hands if handling!). See/search WWM re "Polychaete Compatibility FAQs">
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Sexing a dead yellowhead Jawfish... 9/22/11
I purchased a pair of yellowhead Jawfish online but unfortunately one of them didn't make it. I am able to buy another pair, but I still have the single yellowhead Jawfish. As my tank is a Nano, though, I do not think
it's a good idea - I've heard they can be very territorial (3 in 20g would fight, I'm assuming?).
<Too likely so, yes. Even two might be trouble in such a small volume>
I read on your site that it is possible to sex yellowhead Jawfish:
"<true. Its not reliable, and best done with a group to compare to. Males have larger skulls, thicker lips and larger buccal cavities (chin-pouch so-to-speak). Rather like sexing FW cichlids. Anthony>"
This got me to thinking if it's possible to pair them up without having to buy a pair and take the one I have to the LFS - perhaps I could have the vendor sex one for me as they have so many to compare to? I still have the body of the one that died in the freezer (sounds creepy even when not taken out of context!)...would it be possible for me to slice in an area and find what sex it is, therefore knowing what sex the one I current have is?
<Mmm, possibly. Though if the reproductive organs are atretic, not-developed, not easily done>
I understand this sounds a little weird...thank you!
<No worries Jane. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sexing a dead yellowhead Jawfish...   9/26/11

Thanks for all your help!
<Welcome Jane>
I might consider looking a bit later...first I'm going to ask the vendor a few more questions. I do have a concern with the Jawfish that is still alive though. He is doing showing fine, normal behavior for a new Jawfish (relatively reclusive but has started burrowing the second day). He even started eating Mysis the first day he was introduced. However, ever since I have received him, his breathing has been labored.
<Happens... handling/shipping stress, damage... fishes have quite high pack-cell volumes (hematocrits) for their blood... and often lose significant RBC/carrying capacity in human relations... and the saturation of O2 in seawater, a measly 7 ppm or so... Hence the belaboured respiration>
My substrate is a mix of crushed coral and relatively fine aragonite sand with large pieces of rubble on top for construction. That being said, he is eating quite well all things considered. He is all alone currently (of course). Any idea of what this is or should I just continue doing what I am doing (feeding him and watching)?
I was thinking that it might have been because the vendor packaged the 2 Jawfish in ONE bag...
I live all the way across the country from them, too - could something in the water quality (ammonia, lack of oxygen) he was in have caused this?
<There was, little, teeny doubt>
Thanks for all the help!
<A pleasure madam. BobF>
Re: Sexing a dead yellowhead Jawfish...    10/2/11

Hi again,
The Jawfish has actually gotten much, much worse these past 6 days. I was surprised he even made it through the night. Since my question, he has stopped burrowing all together and for all but today simply had his head out from under a rock, breathing rapidly. He ate but not voraciously by any means - I was even feeding 2x a day with garlic-soaked food to try to keep his weight and immune system as high as possible. Since yesterday he has stopped eating altogether, not even interested in newly-hatched cleaner shrimp babies. Today I woke up to find him out on the sandbed, just breathing very fast and very pale and skinny. I turned down the flow for him and eventually decided to try a freshwater dip (I was suggested to by the only "quality" LFS near me and by someone online) with matched ph, temperature, and well-oxygenated water. This didn't work out so well: I had to stop after 1 1/2 minute. I have done a fw dip on a fish before but he responded particularly badly, darkening to a grey color and almost not even breathing. When I put him back in, he stayed at the top gasping for air and has gone back down onto the sandbed, acting just as before. Here's a video of him:
I am seeing nothing on his body.
<Me neither>
His fins are very, very lightly frayed. What would you suggest I do?
<Move this fish to another established system that has fine substrate...
Something is wrong w/ the current setting... perhaps some type of poisoning/water quality issue>
I am considering to put him down with clove oil. If he doesn't make it, how long should I remain fallow (I don't mind waiting)? Thank you for all your help!
<I'd wait... move this fish if you can. BobF>
Re: Sexing a dead yellowhead Jawfish...    10/2/11

Hi Bob,
Thanks for the help! I am not sure why but he has suddenly started hovering in the open, still gasping as usual - very strange behavior and I have no idea why he's doing it.
<Me neither... low dissolved oxygen, high CO2 (these are not mutually exclusive possibilities), so much more...>
I am confused as to why my system isn't "working" though? I am running Purigen, have a skimmer, Chaeto, growing SPS, have inverts, and the like.
I have a substrate picked out purposefully for him: some (medium) crushed coral with low-medium grade aragonite sand. I'm about to do a 30% water change. Is there something they (the inverts) might not respond to that a fish would?
<Yes... again, a large number of potentials>
I don't have access to another system but I could probably take him to my LFS...however, I think he wouldn't do well on the way to.
<Mmm, please peruse here: http://wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm
and the many linked files above. BobF>
Re: Sexing a dead yellowhead Jawfish...    10/2/11

Hi Bob,
<Lady Jane>
Thank you for your help. Sadly I woke up this morning to find my CUC eating his body- he passed away last night. I feel so horrible for the little guy and I hope he wasn't in a lot of pain. :-( I'm still concerned with my potentially "toxic water." Would it be a good idea to start running carbon on my tank?
<Yes; this and/or Polyfilter (may give you colorimetric clues as to the type/source of the poisoning here)>
Should I leave my tank fallow for 8 weeks before any new additions?
<The longer the better; but yes>
A few people have been telling me that it was most likely the aftermath of the bad shipping (seeing as he had to be in a bag with a dead fish for a long while)... do you think this could be a possibility?
<Indeed it could. Fishes live in a low oxygen (about 7 ppm) setting... unlike us at 210,000 ppm or so... And have high hematocrits... and troubles when "challenged" in shipping, handling... the high Ammonia exposure et al. causing them to hemolyze... Often never quite "catching their breaths" as your Jawfish showed symptomatically>
Thank you so much for all of your help- I greatly appreciate it.
<Welcome. BobF>

Jawfish Question 5/9/08 Hello, <Hi Spiro> First of all I would like to thank you for your website. it has been a wealth of information for me since I have started this fascinating hobby 14 months ago. <You're welcome.> I recently had to renovate the area in which I kept my 90 gallon saltwater tank, so I decided to upgrade to a 120 gallon and place it in a partition wall. The tartup has gone great, with a lot of helpful information from your website the second 120 gallon tank startup has gone very smoothly. When my new tank finished cycling, I carefully transferred all my fish into their new home. They seemed to be very happy in their new surroundings, although I did lose one Firefish in the process. He seemed to be doing fine for a couple of days and then he started to remain on the bottom of the tank and breathing heavily. A day or two later I found him half eaten with crabs all over him :(. I assumed he got stressed in the new surroundings and died. <Possibly too new a system for his liking, not aged enough.> This new tank is now home to 4 PJ Cardinals, a Hawkfish, Yellow Goby, a Clownfish, a Yellowhead Jawfish and a Royal Gramma. A Bumblebee Snail plus other snails and hermit crabs. This evening when I came home, I found the burrow where the Jawfish hides in completely covered in empty snails. He had a total of three exits, but they are now completely covered and he is nowhere in sight. He has never done this before and I am wondering if it is a reaction because he may be stressed or has been attacked somehow. Is it possible that any of the inhabitants of the tank may have forced him into his burrow and "seal" it to this extent? Or is it just in his nature to do so? <The snail shells present is quite normal as Jawfish to reinforce their burrow with such.> I have also checked all the water parameters and they are all within limits. <Quite possibly he may have moved during the night and hasn't shown himself, or if new live rock was purchased for the 120, you may have a stowaway Mantis Shrimp present that did this. I'm thinking the Jawfish showed up by now, one way or the other.> Thank you for your help. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Spiro

QT, Chromis wounds, and a dead Jawfish - 3/21/08 Hi crew! Thanks again for your continuous work on this wonderful site. It is truly an invaluable tool in the hobby/obsession. Kudos. <Thank you> I recently moved from a 29 gallon to a 90 gallon. I was fortunate to obtain a free 3 inch established substrate from a friend who cures live rock and have since added another inch of substrate from the 30 gallon and another 1-2 inches of coarser substrate, which has been mixed (total 5-6 inches deep, all aragonite). The sand is also filled with small pieces of live rock, dead SPS, and shells. I currently only have about 40 pounds (50 pounds more curing in my buddy's curing setup) of live rock, but this live rock has been active in an aquarium for over 2 years, and is extremely porous and has great size to weight ratio. The 90 gallon tank has only been running for about 2 months and I added the fish (1" Royal Gramma, 3" yellow headed Jawfish, 1.5" Ocellaris Clown) and invertebrates (2" fire shrimp, 1" Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp, 1" Peppermint Shrimp, 3/4" Randalli pistol shrimp, and an unknown number and wide variety of sized Nassarius snails, Astrea Snails, Blue Legged Hermits, and Turbo Snails.) from my 30 gallon almost two weeks ago. My water parameters have been consistent since cycle completed; 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0-5 nitrate, 0 phosphate, 1.024 salinity, 420 Ca, pH 8.3, mid range alkalinity. <Okay...> Since then I have turned my old 30 gallon into a bare bottom QT which now contains 5 small Blue-Green Chromis, <Mmm, may not be supportable...> which leads me to my first question. One of the Chromis has a maroon colored spot (approximately 2mm diameter) under his pectoral fin on the right side. None of the other chromis have this and all five appear healthy (schooling, eating, swimming, alert to my presence). <Good> I suspect this is a bite wound, though the paranoia is screaming bacterial or protozoan infection. Is there something I can do to speed up healing of said wound, <Mmm, nothing practical, nada I would> if it is in fact just a simple bite wound and not something else? Is it safe to assume that if all 5 fish appear healthy after 4 weeks of QT (day 5), despite the wound still being present, I can add them safely to my display tank or should I wait until there is no sign of the wound (who knows how long it will take to heal)? <I would go ahead and move these Chromis> Can I add the remaining four chromis after QT period is up or should I wait until I feel safe adding all 5? <All> All chromis were given freshwater dip's prior to being introduced to the QT. The main reason for my question today is regarding my recently deceased yellow headed Jawfish. I introduced him as the third and final fish in my 30 gallon (after Ocellaris and Royal Gramma), and it was doing great. As all my substrate in the 30 gallon tank was sugar fine and only 3-4" deep the Jawfish never managed to dig vertical burrows, though he certainly tried in every corner of the tank, and after some time of making 1-2 new burrows a day, finally settled under a piece of live rock where it dug a burrow which it remained close to, but ventured quite far during feeding. Over all I was surprised on how active it was and how much I was able to see and enjoy this fish. On a side note the Jawfish and the pistol shrimp lived together in a shared burrow system for a while. The Jawfish was the second fish to be introduced to the new tank, after a 3 day test with the Ocellaris which had no impact on my water level what so ever (short test time, but substrate and live rock were very well established). This is where the Jawfish ran into trouble. It spent all it's time under the rocks and made no attempt to dig his burrow and not once did I ever see signs of digging (apart from the den of the pistol shrimp) in the time the Jawfish was in the new tank. shortly after it stopped eating, then the heavy breathing started. At this point I moved him to the QT (grabbed it with my hand, no resistance) after a freshwater dip (fearing ich or velvet), which it clearly did not appreciate. It lived in the QT on bare bottom with a good piece of dead SPS for cover for two days before it died. Before going belly up the Jawfish would either lay still on the bottom breathing heavy, or he would attempt to swim (most his tail was pretty limp and it's fins were frayed and torn) t through the surface of the water. After reading the Jawfish FAQ's I am leaning towards stress related death. Does this seem like a reasonable assumption? <Yes... I would guess perhaps something... it ate. Perhaps a too-toxic worm of some sort... A necropsy might reveal...> Environmentally the new tank was designed for the Jawfish, leaving large areas open at the short sides of the tank. Is it likely that the move stressed him out or is it likely that I have a greater problem with my tank such as ich and velvet? All the other fish seem great, even the ones I added before (2 2-3" Firefish, 1 1.5" wheelers goby, and a ¾" ocellaris) the Jawfish became sick. Is there anything in my tank that could have stressed out the Jawfish? <Mmm, nothing "jumps out"... the Alpheid... but you state the Randall's and the Opistognathid were familiars> I have never seen the Royal Gramma harass the Jawfish, however the clown was opening his mouth to the Jawfish on the first day, but never after. <These hail from related/congruent habitats in the TWA... not likely a/the problem here> I was planning on adding a Bicolor Blenny, some small Gobies, a McCosker's Flasher Wrasse, and an Allen's Damsel, and some more inverts, but I suppose that is on hold. <Mmm, I would not be hesitant here> Do you think it is safe to attempt another Jawfish? <Yes... perhaps even two... for interactions sake> I am considering adding another 1-2 inches of coarser substrate and adding a blue spotted Jawfish instead. Any recommendations regarding compatibility or pointers to reduce stress for this species would be greatly appreciated. <Mmm, do keep the tank well-covered... tremendous "jumpers"> Another side note: I wrote to you guys a few months ago regarding a pistol shrimp (randalli) and Yasha goby pair getting separated and the pistol shrimp got sucked up in a filter and lost both his claws. Pistol has regrown both claws and is wrecking havoc on my blue legged hermit population, <What they do> however the Yasha was never seen again. I love this little guy. A hardier invert is hard to imagine. Any chance the pistol shrimp and the Wheeler's goby might pair up? <Yes... patience> Thanks again for the help and I apologize for the LONG e-mail. Sincerely, -Jonas <Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Heavy One Gill Breathing....but only new fish... Too crowded small SW tanks  -- 07/03/07 Hi guys/gals.. Thanks so much for this site...I cannot tell you how many times I have had problems solved by searching your archives.... This time I have a strange one..... I have a 24 gallon AquaPod set up as a reef tank... lots of live rock, live sand... etc. I have enclosed a pic for the looking. Currently, there are only three small fish in the tank.... a maroon clown, <Misplaced here... too aggressive a species to keep with other fishes in this small volume> a yellow wrasse, and a pygmy angel <Not enough room...> .... who have all lived well and happily for some time now. A while back I added a blue-spotted Jawfish <Yikes... will likely launch itself out...> for a little personality (love those fish!)....and had about a week and a half of great enjoyment before he started acting funny. He hid more, started breathing heavy (sometimes out of one gill), and became pretty lethargic. <Stress... not enough room...> I removed to a hospital tank thinking it may have been ich, although I couldn't see any external parasites, and attempted hyposalinity. He didn't get any better and went down a few days later. <...> I liked the fish so much that I decided to hope that that was just bad luck and try again.....alas, to the same end result. >...< Both times the fish was fantastic for about a week to a week and a half and then developed symptoms....mainly the breathing heavy out of one gill, slow movement, one of them actually tried to jump out of the tank at one point!... <My friend... these Opistognathids can't live like this... they are "high strung"... need room, a dearth of aggressive, mobile tankmates...> I have now added a small, much cheaper blenny to see what may happen. and I think he is starting to perform the same. I have also lost quite a few of my turbo snails!..... <... Let me skip ahead and try hypnotizing, making strong suggestion to you here: You NEED a MUCH larger system... Like myself, possibly, to either Silicone in your front door and fill your residence up with water! Or, get on out and go diving some times, places... where you can practically realize how little present aquarium you have> I don't understand....water quality is perfect, all the corals and three other fish are rockin...but anytime I add one more. especially a bottom dweller....I have this problem. <... is "psychological" rather than physiological...> Could I have a problem with my sand bed? Those blue-spotted Jawfish sure like to move around the sand...and the blenny splits his time between the top of the rock and in the sand bed...could it be a temperature fluctuation thing? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks Tod <Are you SCUBA certified? Like adventure travel? Either come on out with us, and/or save for that much bigger "world"... Your tank's too small. Bob Fenner>

Re: Heavy One Gill Breathing....but only new fish... -- 7/3/07 Thanks for the reply... <Welcome> It sure doesn't appear by looking at the system that its too small...it already appears empty with just the three of them...but hey, you're the expert... <Okay> Doesn't tell me why they would breath out of one gill though? Can that possibly be physiological also? <Not likely... some fishes "do" this at times... for no apparent reason> I am SCUBA certified...in fact I'm an assistant instructor, starting my IDC next month...but not sure I get your reference.... <Ahh! That you should join us... see much of the aquarium world in the wild> Thanks anyway Tod Miller <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Heavy One Gill Breathing....but only new fish... -- 7/3/07 Do you guys do trips with your crew? Where are you based out of? <We do... and the Crew itself is Intl.. I live in San Diego and Hawai'i> Always looking for good dive trips.. Tod <Ahh, me too! Cheers, BobF>

Induction regime for new marine fish ( a la WWM), Jawfish loss  -- 06/26/07 Dear Reefers, <Okay> Induction regime for new marine fish ( a la WWM) Sorry for the length of this, but hopefully it covers a lot of useful issues for the Dips/Baths FAQ. As you can see I have based my procedures on your recommendations, so it should be generally applicable. My main reef tank is now 4 years old, so I have some experience, but I have just lost my second new fish acquisition in a row. Both fish died during their first night in my quarantine tank (?QT?), and I am now questioning whether there is anything which I could have done better. The first casualty was in January this year, when Bob Fenner suggested that it could have been caused by accidental venom from the resident Siganus in the QT. During the next 5 months I acquired a pH meter, a new hydrometer and fresh test kits to make absolutely sure that all parameters were stable and correct. I also developed a buffer solution for the RO dip to maintain a stable pH of 8.0 ( NaHCO3, a few drops of vinegar and some Kent RO Right). However, this weekend, in June, I acquired a 2¾" Yellowhead Jawfish, and after RO dipping and transferring to my QT this was dead the following morning. <A "high strung" species... did you have some soft sand for it to burrow in?> I have a permanent 30 inch, 110 litre QT, run at 35ppt salinity, 78 degrees temperature, pH 8.1, 3.0 ? 3.5 mEq/l alkalinity, 380 - 420ppm Ca, with a canister filter containing Siporax and Polyfilter run via a submerged Eheim pump, actinic lighting with 3 tubes, no sand, but surplus live rock and star polyp corals from my main tank, and with a little Caulerpa prolifera and Halimeda. The tank is populated with Stomatella snails, amphipods, isopods, small annelids and a few hitch hiker mussels. The Siganus is now gone, so there are no resident fish, Am I correct in assuming that the livestock in the QT is a reliable indication of good water quality, or is there a ?canary? species which I should add to be sure? <Both are valid barometers> I change 21 litres of water per week, with 14 litres from my main tank and, since January, 7 litres of unused salt mix. I am prejudiced against skimmers and do not use them, but as far as I can tell the conditions are as near perfect as I can get them. To maintain the detritivore and bacteria population I feed sparingly with finely chopped Mysis, and up to 50ml of phytoplankton a day. <Really... fifty millilitres?> I have never had to use any medication, but would use a separate hospital tank if I ever did, and not the QT itself. The last new fish before the 2 casualties was bought just over a year ago and went through the same dip and quarantine process without any problem, but I may have used a bucket for the dip instead of the box. My current FW dip tank is a transparent soft plastic storage box. It contains 10 litres of RO with aeration, maintained at 79 degrees and pH 8.0. On this occasion it had been running for several weeks to make sure that the pH was stable. Is it possible that the RO dip container could have leached out poisonous chemicals into the water? <Not likely> Should I therefore use a glass tank for my RO dip instead? <Perhaps, but the container is very likely safe> The fish was ordered from TMC, the main UK importer, <Ah yes... likely the very best wholesaler in our field on the planet. I have visited there> and arrived in the shop in Oxford on Friday. I collected it on Saturday, thinking that it would be safer in my system than in the shop. The fish was lying in the back corner of the display tank, and clearly a little nervous, but otherwise seemed okay and so I agreed to take it with me. I was concerned that it may not feed with all the other fish in the tank. Was this a mistake ? would it have been better if I had waited a week or two to let it settle in before collecting it from the shop? <Mmm, no... I take it this is/was an Opistognathus aurifrons...> I normally insist that the shop catches my fish with a bag, and does not remove it from the water in a net, as recommended by Anthony Calfo. <Mmm, both means have their plusses, minuses> In this case the shop refused, and as this was a special order, and Jawfish are notorious jumpers, I did not insist. The shop used invertebrate water to fill the bag, so the fish also suffers a change in water as well as being exposed to the air for a few seconds. Am I being unreasonable to insist on bag catching, or was the shop unreasonable to refuse? <I would catch this fish and most all in nets> The shop added a shot of ?Stress Coat? to the bag, and inflated with oxygen. Is this a good idea? The journey home is only 45 minutes, and other shops use neither. <Is fine> I add the fish directly to the RO dip, with as little bag water as possible. I do not attempt to acclimatise the fish to my parameters by adding QT water to the bag over a period of say 15-30 minutes. This is recommended by Anthony Calfo, but Bob Fenner cautions against it as the increase in pH combined with the nitrogenous wastes in the bag water can cause burns. Would such acclimatisation have been better in this case? <For such a small distance, time in the bag, there was likely little nitrogenous accumulation and/or drop in pH... no worries> I left the Jawfish in the RO dip for 7-8 minutes. <This dip had been aerated? RO water has no real gas...> It was breathing quickly and did lie on its side for a while. However, other fish have done this without subsequent problems and I understand that such behaviour is normal with a stressed fish in a dip. I then transferred it to the quarantine tank where it swam to the bottom and hid. I looked in again about 6 hours later at bedtime, and saw it swimming up and down a few times in one corner. It did not seem unduly stressed at that time, and was no longer breathing heavily, so I allowed the lights to turn off as usual. Should I have left the lights on all night for the first night? <Some light, external, yes> The next morning, the fish was dead. A 3 to 4 inch long bristleworm was having a tug of war with the body. I caught the worm ? it had the flat pointed head of Hermodice, but white bristles. Am I correct in assuming that regardless of species it could not have killed the fish? <Mmm, not so sure here... this is a powerful Polychaete...> I tested the QT water for NH3 and NO2, and both were Nil. All the other inhabitants were fine. Steven Pro recommends putting a new fish straight into a quarantine tank, using the RO dip later, between the quarantine tank and the main tank. Would this have been better for the fish? <Mmm, if the animal was in bad shape...> If so, would I need to set up a separate temporary tank for the initial quarantine period, and if so how can I maintain as good water quality in that tank for say 2 weeks before I dip and transfer to the main quarantine tank? <Regular maintenance> Or conversely, is there no risk of introducing those pathogens normally killed by the RO dip into the main quarantine tank as long as there are no fish in it for say 4 weeks between acquisitions? <Some> Bob sometimes recommends adding Methylene blue to the RO dip water, but also says that it is not necessary if the fish is not overly stressed. Would it have helped in this case? <I do think so, yes... carries oxygen, reduces visual stress...> In a similar case in the FAQs Bob recommends aerating the QT and adding a hexose simple sugar (about a teaspoon per five gallons) I will try the aeration, but what is hexose simple sugar, would it have helped here, and would it be okay for my system's inhabitants? <Monocyclic varieties like glucose mainly (fructose, galactose are others...) Is worthwhile> Bob's final suggestion was to find a better supplier. Unfortunately the wholesalers TMC have a virtual monopoly in the UK, and I'm not sure if the shop itself could have had much impact in this case as the fish was only there for one day, or could it? <Is not the supplier> Many thanks again for all your efforts in providing such a valuable and reliable source of advice for aquarists all over the world, and promoting the best quality of life for their pets. Regards, Eric Brightwell <Thank you for your well-thought out and related message/telling... I do think this loss was likely "coincidental" more than anything... that this specimen did die from simple "over stress"... I would not have this loss dissuade you from trying another specimen... That Jawfishes are very easily pushed over the brink... Bob Fenner> Jawfish That Recently Passed 1/17/07 My girlfriend had a dusky Jawfish in a 15gal tank for about 6 months now (probably stupid but the pet store guy "Capital Pet Food" in Country Club Hills, IL).  Other inhabitants are 2 percula clowns. <Yep, probably too much, would have been better off with just the clowns, but you know that now.> Last night I came back to the tank to check on everybody and I saw my favorite jaw upside down on the bottom next to his burrow :(.  He appeared to have lacerations across his sides.  I assume it was the larger clown. <Most likely the root cause, although directly responsible for the laceration, who knows?> The larger clown started off about 1" but unlike the other one who is still about 1.5" the larger has grown to over 2.5" since we've gotten him.  Is this fish abnormal - probably overfed? <The dominant of the pair becomes the female and grows very rapidly after that.>  He seems very aggressive and would constantly torment the jaw hovering over his burrow. <Typical female clown behavior.> I believe I've answered my own question but is it possible that the jaw tried to jump and caught itself on the top of the tank? <Could be.>  She stopped using the Eclipse tank that I got her and used this horrible little no brand tank (I can figure it what brand it is). <Not terribly important.> I can try to be more specific if needed, but I didn't take any pictures (I was too busy crying - he was my favorite) <Painful to lose a fish this way.  Lost my Possum Wrasse in a similar way, except I am guessing to my Gramma's harassment.  My guess would be the clown harassed the Jawfish into a situation where it got injured.  Most any fish added to a tank this size with a mated pair of clowns will suffer a similar fate.  Best to keep these alone in this sized tank.> <Chris>

Poisoned Jawfish/Poor Method Of Acclimation?   9/27/06 Hi Everyone, <Hello Caitlyn> Recently I purchased a pearly Jawfish online. When he arrived today in the mail he was in a tiny amount of water and looked near dead. I acclimated him anyways but decided the fish would have the greatest chance for survival if I didn't put it into a bare bottomed QT tank so instead I put him right into the display as the only fish. The Jawfish is in an established 12 gal nano cube with a 20 gal sump, protein skimmer, four inch sandbed, live rock, with WQ as follows: temp. 78F sal. 35ppt Ammonia-0 nitrites-0 nitrates-0 pH-8.3 Here's the deal, when I released it into the tank it was breathing heavily, had dark lines around its gills and a badly burned tail. It spiraled, did the "death roll", laid upside down and gasped for about four hours. It then settled in a rock cave breathing normally right side up. Now twelve hours later it is able to scoot around the tank sand similar to a goby but still no tunnel building or hovering. I have heard that ammonia poisoning can cause damage to the central nervous system. Is it likely this Jawfish will act normally ever or did the shipping damage him for good? <Shippers generally will not feed fish 24 hours prior to shipping to minimize ammonia poisoning in the shipping container.  Whether this was done is anyone's guess.  I'm thinking this behavior was due to a poor method and/or too quick of an acclimation.  Don't believe any permanent damage was done.  I'd keep the lights off until normal behavior is noticed.> <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks,

Jawfish going blind   2/22/06 Hi Thanks for this help. I have had a pearly Jawfish in may 30 gallon tank for over two years. The tank is mainly a seahorse tank and I feed the Jawfish mainly the same food as the seahorses- Mysis shrimp and Vibrance1 enrichment from Ocean Rider. The Jawfish used to have good eyesight ducking into a barnacle whenever someone walked by the tank and swimming up to food first.  Now he has gone partly blind and finds food more by bumping into it.  His eyes look clear and bright though.  He has also increased his respiration rate.  I am worried he will soon die.   Are these problems likely old age or is there something I can do to help him become his old darting self again. <The food and supplement you list should provide all essential nutrient...> Are there common Jawfish diseases that cause these symptoms. Also if the problem could be dietary could you recommend the ideal frozen food for the Jawfish and who supplies it? Best, Jim <Am at a loss to explain these sorts of apparent blindness... Perhaps with using a plastic baster, being very regular re food offerings, this Jawfish can be accommodated. Bob Fenner>

Sick pearly Jawfish not eating/choking on food  10/5/05 Hello, I hope you can help me with this. I have a 55 gal. tank with 2 Sebae clowns, 2 damsels, lawnmower blenny and 2 clown gobies and a pearly jaw fish. I moved this tank to my new house about a month ago, every thing was doing fine tests were all at correct levels and everyone has been eating and looking good. But I noticed that my Jawfish was looking bloated in the stomach so I did a test on the water my ammonia was up just a little, so I did a water change and added some stress enzyme and the next day the ammonia was gone. But my Jawfish still looked bloated and only ate one tiny piece of food, usually he will eat until he is stuffed to where his stomach looks the way it does now. I just wonder if he has swallowed a rock and it is stuck because when he does go to eat a piece of food no matter what I feed him he will try to eat once if it can get it down he will try to eat something else but he acts like he is breathing hard and looks like he is choking on the food that he does eat then loses interest in the food as it just passes by him. I just don't want to loose this fish he is my favorite  besides the clowns and blenny. This system had been set up for over a year before I had to move it due to moving myself. I called my local fish store and was told to put 1tsp. of Epsom salt in the tank incase he has bloat  for being constipated or something like that I have not done so yet I wanted to get a second opinion. But my worst fear is that he has a rock stuck in his throat I can't see anything when he coughs the food pieces back up I have also noticed that at night he doesn't put the rocks back over his tunnel with his shell door that he found in the crushed coral. It is amazing how organized fish are. I hope you have some advise on this situation. Oh this has been going on for the past 4 days. <Time frames are different for poikilothermic aquatic animals... let time go by here... a week or so... to have the system, livestock heal itself. Bob Fenner>

Help -- Yellowhead Jawfish is sick Mr. Fenner, I've had this Yellowheaded Jawfish for a little over 5 weeks in my 20g tank by itself. (5' crushed coral substrate, LR, power filter). It has been very shy since the beginning, always staying under a cave in its borrow. <Very typical> I have been feeding live black worms and a variety of meaty food, including shrimp, squid, clam and scallop. I noticed that it has something brown growing on its lower lips. It stopped eating since 2 days ago, although it came out more. This morning I saw it swimming outside of its borrow for the first time -- is that a good or bad sign?  <Likely yes> I'm not sure if this brown color thing is 'mouth fungus' or 'cotton mouth', or something else. I'm treating the tank with Melafix,
<Worthless to toxic>
 I suppose that couldn't do any harm. What kind of disease is it? <Maybe nothing more than normal coloring. Look at pix of this species on the Net. Particularly fishbase.org> What should/could I do? <I would "do" nothing here. A larger tank (at least something four feet long), live rock, others of its kind... all would be better... Bob Fenner> Thanks.

Jawfish Trouble (1/2/2003) This morning I made a beeline for the fish tank to see if the yellow head is still in the world of the living, when I saw the peppermint shrimp on its side being the main course for  2 blue legged crabs. <Not unheard of. Hard to say if the shrimp died first and the hermits are scavenging or if one of them killed it, which is distinctly possible.> Please help me if you have a few minutes. <I'll try. Steve Allen tonight.> The mandarin and the yellow head <definitely have personality> are my absolute favorites and we're attach to them which probably sound stupid since they're just fish. <Not stupid at all. They are interesting creatures. Though their brains are tiny, they do have individual personality traits. I worry about aquarists who do not have some sort of "bond" with their charges.> Dear WetWebMedia, My husband gave me a 10 gallon tank, sand and live rock as a gift a year ago. <Kinda small & harder to maintain. Requires constant vigilance to water quality. What additional filtration do you have?> With the exception of 1 clown fish and a shrimp way in the beginning, I was fortunate enough not to loose any other fish. Heaven knows I'm no specialist and just enjoy watching them. <You don't have to be a "specialist." Just be a "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and acquire the level of knowledge you need to responsibly care for what you have or eventually intend to have.> We just came home from our New Year's party in a happy and good mood when I noticed this ugly covering on my yellow head Jawfish. It looks like something you can just swipe off, like the whole body is busy to change its skin. Also at the 2 small front fins their is 'n red line where the fin attach (like a bruise) as well as next to the mouth and 'n thin red line that goes to the eye (like the veins are filled with red blood and you can see it). <Worrisome signs indeed. Has his behavior changed at all? Is he lethargic? breathing fast? eating OK?> I can send a photo first thing if this does not sound familiar. <Pix always help if not blurry.> We have a Mandarin <How long have you had this fish?>, the Jawfish, Peppermint Shrimp and 2 Clown fish lots of crabs and snails. <Too much bioload for this small tank. Give back a clown as noted below> I desperately am trying to get rid of the 1 clown since he's really aggressive these last few days and does not allow the fish (with the exception of the Mandarin) to come out of the live rock - I just don't know what to do with him after I got him out! <Most LFS will give you 50% of what they can expect to sell it for> Do you think the stress can cause the white stuff. <possibly contributory> I thought is might have been Ick, but apart from being a novice I really could not see separate little spots. <Ich can start out with whit spots and cause mucusy slime. Another big concern would be Brooklynella. Do look up some pix of this on WWM & other websites to compare. Bacterial infection may be part of this, too. Time to consider removal to QT and treatment. Consider posting your dilemma in the 911 forum on wetwebfotos.com to get some suggestions from others with experience of similar problems. Also read more about diseases on WWM.> Please help, the Jawfish is my personal favorite <understandable> and he's been in the tank for almost a year and no problem. He still eats (less though), he does come out of his cave, but he looks really bad covered in that white slime/muck. His eyes are clear . The water tests seemed normal <I trust this means zero ammonia & nitrite> with the exception of the Nitrate which seemed a bit high <number, please> - I'll do a water change first thing in the morning. <always a good idea> <I also fear for your Mandarin. Your jawfish's problem is probably contagious. Keep an eye out for sliminess or rapid-breathing. Additionally, it is very rare for a Mandarin to survive in a tank like yours. Does it eat frozen foods?> Ps. By the way - a very happy year to all of you. <Thanks, you too.> Thanks for helping us newbies enjoy our saltwater tanks without having Marine Biology as a major. <a labor of love> Kindest regards - Ronel Uys. <hope this helps>

Re: Please help my Jawfish does not look good 1/5/03 Thanks for  answering back. As per your question on the Mandarin, we have it now for almost  7 months and it ONLY eats frozen bloodworms and picks off the rocks. <This is very rare and fortunate.  Most mandarins refuse all prepared foods in favor of feeding exclusively on live microcrustaceans.> I have to admit our LFS warned me it might not make it, but so far so good and he stole my heart as it is. (The fish not the LFS) <They are quite irresistible (the fish, not the LFS!)> I use the Quick Dip sticks to test the water -  Nitrate is 40 (mg/L) the Nitrite is 0.5 the PH is 7.8 <Please do repeat these tests with suitable test kits.  I would hesitate to trust the accuracy of dry test strips.  If accurate, those values are quite worrisome.  If you have Nitrite present, I would suspect that you may also have some ammonia present, ammonia/nitrite toxicity would explain your jaw fishes symptoms.  Your low pH is indicative of a problem too (should be 8-8.4).  After your current problem is solved (see warning below), this can be fixed with water changes and/or the addition of buffers.> Also I took a chance and put "Rid Ich+" in the tank (I have no idea how to get a Jawfish out of a live rock tank.....without removing the rock) <In such a small tank, removing the rock is a perfectly ideal way to remove the fish as is draining the tank down to 1-2" of depth.> I treated the tank (1tsp every 24 hours) for the last 2 nights and none of the fish seems to be affected, but I'm not sure if it is working either and what about the organisms in the rock we don't see?? <From the photos and signs you described, I doubt that ich is the culprit of your Jawfishes problems.  Any medication poses some risk to the organisms in live rock, so I would discontinue it's use.> I've tried to catch a clear shot of the Jawfish, can you see the yellow is fading from its head? <The photo isn't super clear, but color loss is another symptom of ammonia/nitrite toxicity.> The tanks' been great for almost a year and the only new addition I've done about 3 weeks ago is live plants and a shrimp. Can the tank develop its own sickness or is the likelihood for that coming from new stock you add to it? <It is always possible to introduce disease with new organisms, and that is why quarantine is so important.  I suspect that an animal died (could be just a snail, hermit or shrimp) or part of one of the plants your introduced died or contained some dead material and caused an ammonia spike.> Thank you for taking the time to answer back. I really appreciate your input, we really want to pull this little guy thru. <If you correct the problem, the fish should pull through just fine.  As a quick fix, you can use some Amquel+ to eliminate any ammonia or nitrite (after confirming their presence with a good test kit) and then do a couple of large water changes (25% or so) and look for and remove anything that is dead or dying.  Do not do a water change or add buffers without testing for ammonia!!  Raising the pH dramatically increases the toxicity of ammonia.  If ammonia is present, only add buffers or do water changes AFTER adding Amquel or allowing the ammonia to naturally come back down to zero.  HTH.  Adam> Ronel

Jawfish Question Hi,<Hi there! MikeD here> I have a 50 gallon saltwater acrylic tank. In the tank I have a maroon clown fish, a Pelewensis Butterfly, a Yellowheaded Jawfish and a chocolate chip starfish. I have had all the fish for at least 4 months<Wow. That's pretty close to a full load>. As of the other day, my Yellowheaded Jawfish started eating less then usual. Also, the Jawfish had been hovering over her/his hole, but has started (again as of the other day) to swim all over the tank. Is this normal behavior or do I have a problem?<That's hard to say. It's common for them to relocate on a regular basis, but they ARE sensitive to high nitrates, so it could be either. You don't mention whether or not you have a skimmer, but I'd suggest changing about 5 gal/per week to keep nitrates at an absolute minimum> Please help. I am still a novice and am afraid I will always be.   My water parameters are: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, pH 8.2, Nitrate 40, Salinity 1.022.<The parameters appear OK, but yellowheads are more of a true reef fish, thus tolerate change poorly, the reason I suggested weekly, rather than monthly changes, as many people do> Thanks Lou

Jawfish Question (continued) <Hi, Mike D here> Thank you for your quick reply.<You're welcome>  Currently I do water changes every three weeks, about 30%.<The problem doing it this way is that you're allowing a build up, then doing a large drop, all at once. I do 5 gal/week, making it a 5 minute job that too easy to even bother putting off and have been having great results, utilizing nothing but dechlorinated tap water>  Would adding bio-Spira help at all?<Is this a product? If so, I'd probably advise against it>  Is there any living being I could add that would help to keep the nitrates down?<Sure. Any type of macro-algae utilizes nitrates and phosphates for fertilizer, so any that you encourage to grow are a big assist. Many people install a lighted sump with lighting that's on 24/7, while I prefer to grow the fauna in the tank itself, which the fish seem to love.>  Thank you.

Ongoing re Opistognathids <Hi, MikeD here> Concerned over the welfare of my yellow headed Jawfish..... Tank 125g, ETSS reef devil sump, skimmer combo;  Mag 18 driving return flow;  122# of live rock;  ph 8.6;  ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and phos all undetectable on tests;  1.022; temp 79-80.8....Alk is mid-range on red sea test;  calcium 350;<it sounds perfect!> Inhabitants are:  many small hermits;  many small snails ;  2 Turbos;  2 blood red and 1 coral banded shrimp;  2 sally lightfoot;  2 Mithrax crabs;  in addition to the 2 jaws, I have 3 small yellowtail damsels, a large lawnmower blenny and a juvenile Pinktail trigger.<The trigger could be a problem eventually, if not sooner. While Pinktails are considered among the milder members of the family, they can and will decimate your crustacean population, possibly quite soon.> Although both the jaws had made 2 dens each, they are both now living on the surface. one under a large mass of Chaeto and the other in a "cave" under a piece of live rock...one hasn't eaten (even after turkey baster treatment) in 3 days....<This sounds stress relate, as if they/ve been evicted, possibly being hunted.> neither is in his/her den.....the trigger took over the one's den (but he/she is OK under the Chaeto and eating well)...the other abandoned his/her den on the west end of the tank....and there are no other fish within a foot of his/her den "porch" on any regular (if any at all) basis...... Should I be concerned?<Yes. These Jawfish are under extreme stress>....these jaws have been in the tank since mid May...the "new arrivals" entered the tank about 10 days ago (trigger, blenny, shrimp and 4 crabs)...will the jaws settle in? <That's difficult to say, but I strongly doubt it as they were already established when the others were introduced.> By the way, my substrate is a mixture of oolitic, reef sand and crushed coral, with plenty of shells and rock fragments to build with...at least IMHO....the depth ranges from 2.5 to 4"....plenty of open sand surface as the LR is stacked to 16" in places...<again, sounds like an admirable set up.> The original dens they constructed were quite nice, or so I thought.....<Yellowheads and many other Jawfish species move on a regular basis, so that's not unusual.> Your input would be appreciated...<While the most probable culprit is the Pinktail, without actually seeing him harassing them I would suggest that you watch your tank carefully.  Blennies, too can be very territorial and also like dens and tunnels, thus could also be the origin of the Jawfish's anxiety, but it's almost certainly one of the two, possibly even both.  As I see it, in the near future your going to need to make a choice and find new homes for somebody(s?)> Grunfeld in Detroit (Home of the NBA Champions)<Good Luck>

Sick Yellowhead Jawfish Hello. <Hi Ray, MacL here.> I think I know the answer to my question but I want your opinion to  see if there is something I am missing.  <Lets find it then.> I have a 55-gal mini reef whose inhabitants (until this morning) were all doing wonderful.  One of my fishies is a Yellowheaded Jawfish  (Joey). He is one of my favorites with his behavior and his little  hole.  <They are wonderful fish.> Today, he is just not acting right.  He is sitting in his  hole, breathing very hard and fast.  When I did my daily feedings, he did not even seem interested in food. Usually, only my percula clowns eat more than he does and this is the first time he has not eaten anything since I got  him 4 months ago.  I cant see any spots or splotches on him, but then again  most of him is in his hole. <Good point!> NOTHING new has been added lately and nothing has been added  without being QT'd since Jan.  All other inhabitants (fish, corals,  inverts) are all accounted for and doing fine.  I did a full water  parameter check and it is great (zero ammonia, nitrite, silica, phosphorus,  nitrate 5, Ca 320 (little low), pH 8.25, dKH 10, SG 1.025). <SG is a tad high and nitrates should be a zero so a water change might be in order.> The only thing I can think of is that his hole is below and slightly to the left of my growing rose anemone. It has tripled in size  since getting it in early March and the tentacles are several inches long  (GREAT rose color) and the anemone has not moved an inch since putting it in the tank. <They are lovely creatures but can be horribly deadly in reefs.> Could my little Joey be suffering from an anemone sting? <Definitely a possibility and if so might be a huge problem.> If  it is a sting, from what have read in the archived FAQ's, I don't think there is anything I can do but wait it out and watch him closely. <Provide the best water conditions you can and I would add some stress guard.>  Is there anything  I can do about it? <Not really, but if you seriously suspect that to be the problem, one of them has to be taken permanently from the tank.> I am in the process of mixing water for my hospital/QT  tank just in case I need it (should be ready by tonight). Also, any ideas for getting him out of the tank should I need to? <That one is going to be a toughie, he'll hide in that hole.> If you have any ideas, please let me know.  It really saddens  me to see any  of my beautiful creatures sick or suffering. <I agree, mostly at this point its just a wait and see but the problem is that one of them needs to go, the anemone or the Jawfish. Good luck, MacL> Thank you very much.

Update on sick Jawfish 16 Aug 2004 Thank you for the quick response and the feedback. <Hi Ray, MacL here.  This bounced back to me with most of my reply gone so let me try this again.  I guess my computer had a brain . . .well I'm sure you can fill that in.> Sadly enough, my sick little Jawfish Joey did not make it though the night after my first question. <sooooo sorry to hear that! I know what its like to loose a great fish.>  When the lights went off, he was still  in his hole breathing very hard.  When I found him in the morning, the few hermits I have, a few bristle worms and the shrimp had already done a job on  him. <They will sometimes converge on a fish not doing well. But it really sounds like he got enough of the anemone to take him down. I'm very sorry this happened.>  I could not make out from what was left as to the cause of death.  All that is left is a big, empty hole in the middle of my tank, and my heart. <I truly do understand this.> All other members of my tank look the same (got a Featherduster and  a few mushrooms looking a little sickly but I think I moved a powerhead slightly last cleaning so current is interrupted). <Possibly but keep an eye on them just in case.> The nitrates are between zero and 5 (slight color tint) before I do my weekly 10% change so that is  nothing new.    I did not change the water as scheduled because I  was preparing to set up the hospital tank and needed the water. <Might be a good idea to go on and do one now if you can.>   I will continue to keep a close eye on all other inhabitants but as there is no sign of illness or infection in any of them, I highly suspect the anemone is the culprit. <They can really pack a wallop which makes it even more fascinating that the clown fish love them so much.> All the other fish stay clear of it (clowns come  close but tend to ignore it) and I think that Joey just had his hole too close  and may have accidentally gotten stung. <Possibly the change of current as well? Sent the tentacles closer to the Jawfish.> Thank you again for your help.  I just wish there was a happy  ending to this one.  <Me too, definitely.> Sadly, this will be my last Jawfish until I get 2 more  tanks (planning a Lionfish tank next) but they are just so wonderful to watch  there will be another.  <I saw the most amazing tank in Nagoya, Japan with only Jawfish in it.  Was a big deep tank and quite lovely.> I have gotten lucky with my anemone (it's happy,  healthy, growing, colorful, hasn't moved in 5+ months, and my other few corals are nowhere near it) so it is staying in my tank.  I don't want to risk  loosing another Jawfish to it. <Very smart, stay away from things like mandarins as well that probably wouldn't know what an anemone is.  Good luck, MacL> Thank you again.

Yellowhead Jawfish lifespan Hi,   I have had about 20 Yellowhead Jawfish for roughly 2 years now.  I was wondering if you know the expected lifespan of a Jawfish in captivity and/or the wild.  I would just like to know in case I try to rear the fry, or if I'm going to need to restock my tank anytime soon.  Thank you for your help Mark Olsen <If memory serves, some public aquariums have had this Opistognathid in captivity for more than eight years. Bob Fenner> Sick Jawfish First, I would like to thank all of you for this wonderful service you provide. <Welcome>   I would never have been able to get my tank  running without your website.  Here is the problem, my Jawfish has come down with some type of fin erosion.  His tail fin is severely eroded and  parts of his body seem to also have (skin/scales) erosion. I have searched  through your website and it seems sometimes you recommend that people place  the fish in a hospital tank and dose with antibiotics, sometimes you recommend improving nutrition.   <Mmm, not me at least... the root problem with these circumstances is almost always environmental... I encourage folks to check what they can, and even if nothing is detectably wrong, to execute large water changes> Not being an expert myself, I have attached a photo  of the Jawfish to see if you agree with the diagnosis.  Also, if you do  recommend treatment with antibiotics can you recommend a brand? Also, do I have  to worry about his tankmates catching it?   <No and no> Will adding some iodine  help?   <Won't hurt, not likely help> Is it at all possible to treat with antibiotics in the main tank (I  know it will be bad for the beneficial bacteria, but it will be difficult to  remove the Jawfish due to his extensive network of caves.  I do want  to add that he has been in the tank for about 3 months now and he is still  active and eats well.  Please forgive the multiple questions, but I want to  make sure that I do the right thing. <I understand... a few things will definitely help... to bolster the fish's immune system by soaking its food in a supplement like Selcon, doing the water changes... and having looked at the photo (but still wanting to know what the other fish/livestock are) am more concerned that you have a predaceous problem... looks to me like your Gramma is being brutalized... by? A pistol shrimp? A mantis? Other?> Here is the usual information. -Nitrates/Nitrites  0 -P/H  7.9-8.1  (I have problems maintaining p/h above 8) -specific gravity 1.025 -temperature 79 -29 gallon tank established for 8 months tankmates are as follows -2 clownfish (ocellaris) -6 line wrasse -1 queen conch -assorted snails and hermit crabs -xenia -star polyps -Live rock <Ahh, am more convinced of the predator possibility...> As for nutrition, I alternate between these foods Formula 1 Formula 2 Vitamin Enriched Krill Vitamin Enriched Brine Shrimp Thank You for all of your help! -Charles <Do keep a flashlight handy and take a look by night for goings on in your system... perhaps (I would) try a baited trap of sorts (described on WWM) for finding the bully here. Bob Fenner>

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