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FAQs on Marine Disease Diagnosis

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Related FAQs: Marine Diseases 1, Marine Diseases 2, Marine Diseases 3, Marine Diseases 4, Marine Diseases 5, Marine Diseases 6, Marine Disease 8, Tang DiseasePuffer Disease, Clownfish Disease


Disease id      12/15/16
Hello to you all, Could you please help me identify this disease in the attached picture? It all started as a crypt, maybe ammilodium, but this is like nothing I have ever seen. Thank you Andrei
<Andrei; can't tell from looking whether this is even biological (protozoan, bacterial....) or some sort of environmental, nutritional issue. Do you have a copy of Ed Noga: "Fish Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment"? For what you have invested, you should... that and an inexpensive (about 400X, power) microscope. See WWM re the latter. Bob Fenner>

all fish died       7/18/16
Good evening gents,
I have the weirdest thing happen to a tank of one of my clients. Saturday we service this mans tank and feed the fish as he is away on a holiday and his wife is home alone but does not like to feed the fish for some reason. Anyway we service the tank and test Nitrates and salt levels as we most of the time do with our service (twice a week in this case) and all norms seem ok (Nitrates seem to have always been hanging around 20) but only a few elegances in his tank and they all seem to be doing very well.
<Catalaphyllia/s... very stinging... >

The tank is L1m x W1m x H1.6m temperature set at 25.5C He houses 1 small blue face 7 yellow tangs 4 scopas tangs 1 yellow angel 1 key hole angel and 1 coral beauty. quite some Nassarius snails in his shallow sand bed and 3 urchins and some turbo snails. Sunday evening around 6pm I get a massage from him that his wife called him and all fish are death???
So we rush over and his tank looked like a battle field fish all over the floor of the tank non of them hide or nothing it seemed like they just fell out of the air? We had a timer installed on top of his tank and saw the amount of fish food of the tank that assembled about 2 feeding s they had missed so tells me they must have died around 9-11am as first feed of the day is set at 8am and is a bit larger in volume. When asked the wife when they died she said she didn't know as she left the house there at about 11pm (fish were still ok according to her at that time) and only came home just before I got there. So all fish must have died between 11pm and 9 am all snails and all corals are doing A ok full extended and snails had a feast on all death fish around them. we tested the water right away on Ammonia, Nitrates, Salt, temp, Ph and all norms were ok only Nitrates now elevated to 60 (should not be that deadly is it???)
<No; this is/was an after affect... the cause different, the NO3 the result of death>

and might just have been caused to all the death in the tank I presume. For some reason I think the wife had something to do with it as from past we know she is not into those fish and would rather have them out of the house......The death fish did not display any kind of parasite or anything in the past and even when death no marking on them at all. see pictures attached. What did strike me was though is that Saturday we cleaned out all skimmer cups and when we got there Sunday they looked like Picture 1 shows you. We cleaned them out again and today same thing skimmer had been
serious overworking/ see picture 2Could fish have been poisoned by something not affecting the snails and corals or what else could have caused this.
<Mmm; yes>
I experienced Velvet and Ich outbreaks previous but does not kill this instant in my idea
<No; agreed. This is/was either a sudden poisoning effect or a dire environmental one. My bet is on the former>
(velvet sure fast but not this fast and is still a bit visible after death) and in my experience sick fish die in the rocks most of the time as they get lethargic before the pass away? Anything you can add? I am baffled and would like to solve this mystery or at ;east know what I have on this guys wife if ..... but I can not imagine anyone would??Dirk
<This reads like a classical cascade event... the maintenance of the
skimmers et al., triggering an overt reaction by the Elegance Corals; they chemically (allelopathically) reacting, causing other corals to do so in return.... Please read here re:
and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elegcorcompfaqs.htm
and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/CnidComp6.htm
and the linked files above. A few things that can be done now and going forward... as you'll see in your reading.
Bob Fenner>
Fw: all fish died       7/18/16

sorry guys forgot the picture
<Mmm; my analysis of possibilities, likelihood is reinforced. BobF>

quarantine question        12/2/15
I have an orchid Dottyback and two ocellaris clownfish in quarantine after purchase from a conscientious LFS for 16 days. All are eating well and look good. However, yesterday I noticed the Dottyback repeatedly glancing its shoulder against the PVC. The QT is 55 gallons. I monitor ammonia, nitrite and nitrates daily and they are 0,0, 3-5. I change 15 gallons of water from MT weekly.
What should I do?
<Mmm; well; glancing of and by itself is not necessarily indicative of pathogenic disease.... Some occurs... "naturally"; and as behavior/communication, reaction to water quality....>
Should I treat prophylactically with copper (I have used copper successfully before)? Should I just observe?
<I'd summarily dip/bath the new fishes per the SOP on WWM:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm , and move them on. Not worth the added stress and its implications by delaying their movement to the main/display>
If so, what if the behavior doesn't go away?
<Then it doesn't.... I scratch my scalp, elsewhere at times...>
If it does go away, how long should I wait to introduce to MT?
<As stated; 16 days is long enough>
Thanks for your help,
Terry Martin
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Unable to keep certain fish in my reef aquarium       11/11/14
I have a 60 gal salt water reef tank that has been in service for 8 1/2 years. For the past 2 1/2 years I have been unable to keep angle fish,
<What species of Angels have you tried? How were they acclimated, quarantined?>
tangs or fox face fish due to fin deterioration.
<Ahh; a good clue.
Likely something water quality wise at work here; even stray electricity, physical issue>
I recently waited for over a year and tried a yellow tang again. It looked good and healthy for 1 month then developed ragged looking fins and died within 2 months. I have tried various things suggested by my local aquarium store – more green foods, fish vitamins, essential trace elements, etc. without success.
Fish that I have had no problems keeping include: clown fish – 7 1/2 yrs. in tank, pajama cardinal – 6 yrs., six-line wrasse – 4 1/2 yrs., benghi cardinal – 1 3/4 yrs., solar wrasse – 1 1/2 yrs..
<Thank you for providing the above info.>
I do a 15% water change every 2 weeks, operate a protein skimmer which I clean twice a week, supplement my tidepool sump filtration system
<Oh... how much NO3 here? I see the value below... and don't believe it. Do please use another test kit>
with ChemiPure filter bags. The live corals, live rock and invertebrates are all thriving and quite healthy. My current analysis: pH – 8.3, SG – 1.023, Ca++ – 380 ppm, Nitrate – < 20 ppm and ammonia – 0 ppm.
Is this a common problem with these type fish?
<Fishes? No; not really>
Can you offer my any potential solutions to this problem. We would love to be able to keep a few colorful and interesting fish such as tangs and angles.
Thank-you for any assistance you could provide.
Roger Bowlin
<Send along the above and we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: Unable to keep certain fish in my reef aquarium       11/11/14

Have tried 2 coral beauty angles, 1 tibicen angle, 3 fox faces, 2 yellow tangs and 1 sailfish tang....all had the fin deterioration and died. This has been over a period of several years. I use the slow drip acclimation method which usually takes about 2 hours. I don't have the capability to quarantine.
<Well; the usual causes/reasons behind such losses (anomalous) with these groups of fishes is water quality and/or nutritional deficiency... am still betting on the first here>
Used new API NO3 kit I had on hand....NO3 about 30-40 PPM, not < 20 ppm.
Dumped the old test kit solutions.
<Mmm; yes; this is too high... Likely your NO3 is over-driven by the Marineland (Tidepool) filter... My first guess.
Re: Unable to keep certain fish in my reef aquarium       11/11/14
What do you suggest to reduce NO3??
<...? Please, learn to/use WWM;
we're not a bb... READ here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm
and the linked files above>
What would be an acceptable level for angles and tangs??
<Less than 20 ppm; but lower, better>
As I mentioned, the other fish in the aquarium are healthy.
<Less sensitive and acclimated to it. B>

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter. Mixed Cnid sys.; all new fishes die, disappear overnight...   10/12/13
Sorry if this is redundant, but I e-mailed a few days ago and think my mail got lost in cyberspace. And I want to thank you for such a cool, helpful site--it has really been a great source of information for me.
<Haven't seen this>
I have a 100g reef tank with a 30g sump. This tank was inherited with the house we bought 6 years ago, so I don't know the initial set-up history and whether the original fish were ever sick, etc. I had also never had an aquarium before so there was a huge learning curve while I sorted out how to take care of this thing. Now, I have a wonderful hobby that I didn't even know existed.
So, here's my dilemma.  With the tank came an adult Naso tang (which I re-homed once I realized the tank was too small for him), an adult yellow tang, and a mated pair of clowns. I still have the 3 original fish and they are apparently very healthy. But, EVERY new fish that I've attempted to introduce to the display dies within 1-6 weeks with really no signs of illness prior. Like, eating vigorously and normal behavior the night before, disappeared the next morning never to be seen again.
<... maybe I did see this. Disappeared?>
More details: All parameters seem fine, SG 1.025, pH 8.2, no detectable nitrites, nitrates, phosphates,
<... no NO3 or HPO4? Strange>
 etc. Ca is 380-420, temp is 78 regulated with thermostat and
heaters/chiller. There are no meds or additives in the display as I have a ton of soft corals
<What species, families are these?>
 and inverts. The corals are super healthy, in fact the colt coral has achieved weed status.
<Trouble; toxic. So far this is the prime candidate of new losses; but the dissolving?>
Inverts include: turbo and narcissus snails, a pink sea urchin, 2 cleaner shrimp, and blue-legged hermits. I have lost some inverts over the years, but nothing I would consider abnormal. Most of my Turbos are several years old.
I put all new fish in a quarantine tank for 3-4 weeks after a freshwater dip. They do great in the quarantine (which is supplied with seasoned display tank water). The losses have included: a bicolor blenny, pajama cardinals (3), a pygmy angel, a juvenile Foxface, and the last loss was 3 blue damsels. I didn't want aggressive fish in the tank but thought they would at least be hardy, but alas, the last one is gone.
I've never seen a predator in the tank, and I'd think after 6 years I might have seen a clue if there's a mantis or something stealing my fish at night. I do have a ton of live rock (not sure how much since I didn't initially stock the tank) and it would be a near-impossible chore to remove it all w/o destroying some of the coral. The tank is also built into the wall, so added difficulty there.
My other thought is a disease process in the tank that the "originals" are immune to. I can catch all of the fish pretty easily-the tang is quite tame and the clowns aren't great swimmers. My plan is to catch them all, do a fresh water dip, then put them in QT and run the display fallow for 8 weeks, then try again.
<Mmm, won't solve this issue>
Does this sound like a reasonable plan? Should I also set up a trap for possible predator while I'm doing this?
<Worth trying>
 I've heard of the inverted bottle trap, but I'm thinking I'll just catch gross benign hitchhikers that will make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up (I may never be the same if I have to deal with a huge Bristleworm
or something).
<That the new purchases in quarantine did fine, WITH water from the display tank discounts the Alcyonacean poisoning possibility... I would try a few types of traps. Previously I referred you to our sections on Stomatopod and Alpheid compatibility (that have input re traps, trapping). I would add the Polychaete worm compatibility reading per your comments. Do you know how to find these files? Bob Fenner>
Re: Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter    10/13/13

Wow, thanks so much for the quick reply!
<Welcome Amanda>
To answer your questions, the corals are: colt coral (everywhere-I "weed" it weekly, and this all started from a single 2" frag),
<Do read re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyoncompfaqs.htm
These soft corals produce copious amounts of Terpenoids... chemical warfare agents... particularly if "competing" or challenged...>
 various mushrooms, a 14" rock covered in zoos, some Palys, a large hammer, and a few toadstools and other leathers.
<.... all these as well. You likely have an allelopathogenic event going on here>
There is also a large hitch-hiker rock anemone.
<Misplaced... the likely trigger>

I actually have a small Foxface who has been in "permanent" QT (3 months or so) since I've been afraid to move him up to the display.
<A good test fish... for "when it's over">
 My QT is a 55g with about 20lb live rock so he's pretty happy in there. I'm thinking of moving the other fish into this aquarium to rule out the "mysterious illness" theory.
<Only on a day where you can place in the AM and watch, be there during... to move>
 While I'm doing that, I will put some mouse and bottle traps in the main tank and see what I get. Hopefully nothing that will give me nightmares.
I'll keep you updated. Thanks again,
<And one other reading assignment:
and the linked files above till you think you have a grasp.... BobF>

Clown and royal gramma scratching   12/30/12
Hi crew! I've noticed over the last few weeks my Ocellaris clowns and my Royal Gramma glancing off the oolite sand. Occasionally I'll see the Clown scratch her face off the weir. There are no spots on any fish.
<Mmm, "some" scratching is "natural"... not indicative of trouble>
 All fish are eating extremely well  However, in reading FAQs I see where it could be corals causing irritation. Could this be the problem here? 
<Yes; or other chemical/water quality issue>
I have various mushrooms, Sinularias, toadstools, paleos, green star and daisy polyps. Also, I had a small breakout of Cyano but I siphoned it up, added more water movement and did a large water change. I have a fish in the QT and don't want to add it until I'm sure the DT is ok. Thank you! 
<I wouldn't be overly concerned here. Am glad to find you're aware of possible/probable root causes; have done what you can to solve. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown and royal gramma scratching   12/30/12

Hello Mr. Fenner! You mentioned chemical/water quality issue...to that point I recently add to do an emergency water change (about 10 gallons) and did have my usual brand (Tropic Marin) on hand and used Instant Ocean. Also the freshly made saltwater was only "aged" for a day. Could this be the cause of the irritant?
<It could be; yes>
 Thank you again, Bob! I hope you are bringing in the New Year somewhere fabulous!
<At home... which is fab! Don't drive about on major holidays. Cheers, BobF>

Oxygen problem... Mmm, something else      8/30/11
Blonde Hi there Crew,
I just wanted to say thanks for all your info!!! I have a 180 gallon tank full of coral, invertebrates, 150 pounds of live rock and fish. My fish include Emperor Angel,
<Will need more room in time>
Naso tang, 3 green Chromis, 3 fire fish, starry blenny, fairy wrasse, three pygmy angels, yellow and blue hippo tang. I have a few pieces of leather coral, hammer coral, mushrooms, three candy striped shrimp and lots of turbo snails and crabs. I know the tangs and emperor will out grow my system that is why I am planning to buy a 300 gallon tank in a year or two.
<Ah good>
All Tangs and emperor are four inches long. Everybody else are babies. I bought them small so they would grow up together. My tank is over stoked <and stocked> and I know this. I do a 25% water change every Sunday. I test my water quality every Wednesday. I have noticed lately my fish have been breathing hard lately and having Ich break outs from the stress of low oxygen. The invertebrates and coral is <are> doing great. I think because they don't require as much oxygen as the fish do.
<May be>
I have two Rio 1100 power heads. one of black magnetic power heads(not sure of brand, but it moves the water) 50 gallon sump, and skimmer. I took my tops off the tank to help release gases, I pointed the outflow from my sump to the top of the tank to help with the oxygen. I put the magnetic black power head on the upper right side of my tank pointing towards the middle of tank,
<Better to arrange the water movement as a gyre>
I put the two big ugly Rio power heads on the back of tank pointing down towards the bottom of my tank. All this and the fish are still breathing hard!
<There are dissolved oxygen tests... colorimetric, titration, electronic...
Maybe your dealer/s have one of these to lend. I suspect something else is at play here>
I hook up a air flow tube to one of the Rio power heads to help with oxygen and did not help. All it did was stress the fish. I was going to buy two more power heads today and put those at the bottom of my tank. I am about ready to have a Ich breakout myself from the stress of my aquarium.
Please help, Jim from Idaho
<Either some common protozoan complaint... e.g. Crypt or endogenous poisoning... the Sarcophyton fighting w/ the Euphyllias, perhaps Shrooms... I would add a good deal of high quality activated carbon and/or Polyfilter to your filter flow path... And for the size/type system you have, look into RedOx, getting and using an ozonizer... for several reasons/desired benefits, including DO. Please read here re:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Question about mucus production     8/30/11
Hi :)
<Howsit Borja?>
Wondering if I have a problem or not.
I have a Centropyge bicolor introduced about a month ago. (I mentioned it in a post about its feeding tastes).
Doing well, still with fingers crossed because I know they sometimes have a dismal record. Now it's eating more than before, and no longer ignoring frozen Mysis or Krill Pacifica (I don't do brine shrimp at all) and New Life Spectrum "finicky eaters" and Ocean Nutrition formula 2. Also spends the day browsing the live rock and DSB surface (I have a DSB in the main tank) and eating.
I've noticed it's producing more mucus than normal. But not over the gills, but over the body. Not a lot, but can be seen depending on the light angle.
It's been like this for several days, and I'm, not seeing any weird behavior. Eats normally (now the smart ass gets a bit nervous when I come close to the tank because it's associated me to frozen food), doesn't show rapid breathing, no cloudy eyes, not reclusive at all (even thought the Z. flavescens bullied it for the first three days), no scratching at all (I have a webcam and I use to watch the aquarium while I'm away).
No torn fins or anything similar, either.
It visits the hairdresser's station sometimes, but the visits have become less frequent. During the first two weeks I saw it going several times to the Lysmata amboinensis, and opening a gill for it to poke. It hasn't done it again.
<Good that the service is there>
So, I don't know what to think. The rest of the fishes are fine. I remember I saw similar symptoms on my Z. flavescens when I brought it home (mid May), and it even scratched a couple of times, but I just let it be, as the fish was behaving normally, eating eagerly whatever I added, aware, always exploring the whole tank... It hasn't scratched again, looks plump, full color...
And the Centropyge looks fine as well. It hasn't lost color or temper...
Any ideas, or should I just let it be and watch? Maybe I could try to catch the fish and get a mucus sample, but I guess the resulting stress would be much worse.
<I wouldn't worry re... some fishes as individuals are "just slimier" than others at times>
The tank is a 87 gallon, with a 25 gallon sump, DSB (in the main tank), productive refugium, and nitrates are undetectable since April (begun setting up the tank in February), Ammonia has been undetectable since, (I saw a tiny bit of total ammonia per Seachem test, which is very sensitive, but just due to some hair algae dying off, I assume, and, for example, the Salifert test, which detects free ammonia, didn't detect anything), pH is between 8.3 and 8.4 maximum, 7.9 minimum, the tank has a skimmer, calcium reactor...
The tank is set up with a DSB, live rock leaving about two thirds of the sand surface exposed, some SPS and LPS corals,
<These might possibly have summat to do w/ mucus production>
and 6 Chromis viridis, 1 Neosynchiropus ocellatus, 1 Synchiropus splendidus, 1 Gramma loreto, 1 Nemateleotris decora, 1 Salarias fasciatus, 1 Macropharyngodon bipartitus, 1 Zebrasoma flavescens and the Centropyge bicolor.
(Regarding the dragonets and the Macropharyngodon, seems that my microfauna can cope with them, thanks to the DSB. Actually the Macropharyngodon, introduced with the Centropyge, was rather on the thin side and now it's rather plump).
<Ah good>
Thank you very much,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Follow-up Centropyge and mucus     8/30/11

Sorry, I forgot.
I don't feed them just meaty foods, I put a couple of clips with assorted dry algae every morning (I mix Julian Sprung's, Ocean Nutrition and TMC greens, reds, browns).
<Some meaty items are likely available (and of use) from your rock,

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