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FAQs about Triggerfish Pathogenic Disease (infectious, parasitic)

FAQs on Triggerfish Disease: Trigger Disease 1, Triggerfish Health 2, Triggerfish Health 3,
FAQs on Triggerfish Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Trauma, Social, Genetic, Treatments

Related Articles: Triggerfish, Red Sea Triggerfishes

Related FAQs: Triggerfishes, Triggerfish: Identification, Selection, Compatibility, Behavior, Systems, Feeding Reproduction,

Balistids ARE subject to Protozoan infestations and when first imported from wild-collection often have Flukes.

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

diseased triggerfish... six megs of pix       5/29/15
I have attached some pictures of our triggerfish. My son and I are not sure if the fish has Ich, a bacteria, or both.
<Looks like Crypt; only way to tell: sampling and 'scope>

There are white spots like Ich and it has gone through three cycles now.
But there are very clear white lint-like particles (like a little thread) that are attached to the scales and that fall off in the morning typically.
I haven't seen this in any description of Ich but I also haven't found a description of any bacteria. We have been treating with an anti=bacterial food
<Of no use>

that doesn't seem to be working. We are worried about trying to take the fish out of the reef tank as I/it will be exceedingly difficult to catch; and ii/we are worried about keeping it alive in quarantine, but perhaps we should do that. The background is that we had a disease outbreak two weeks ago that killed seven of thirteen fish in the tank. The trigger survived this and five other fish seem untouched. I was out of town then and my son didn't take photos so can't say what happened except that it happened quickly. I would be grateful for any help,
Terry Martin
<Simply search, read on WWM re the causative organism; treatments for Balistids. Bob Fenner>

trigger disease 06/10/10
Dear sirs:
I've searched the web and your site and cannot find out what this disease is.
Is this Lymphocystis? It look like it might be.
<Does appear so>
The only problem is the fish has had this for 6 months and I thought it should go away in weeks. He doesn't have any other symptoms just these unsightly warts and strange bulge at base of dorsal fin. The warts appear to migrate from the lump and radiate out towards the edge of the fin and then disappear . They also pop out of the bulge and then disappear.
The tumor(?) varies in size as well as the # of cysts (warts).
If it's not Lymph what is it? None of my other fish show any signs of disease. How should I treat this?
Sincerely: Paul Clampitt
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/virdiscures.htm
and the linked files above... No "treatment" called for, necessary or advised. Bob Fenner>

Re: trigger disease
Thank you for such a quick response, you guy's are terrific.
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

White Fuzzy Spots, Balistid dis. f' 12/04/09
Hi Guys! First I would like to thank you for all of your advice thus far.
My problem is this, I have a Niger Trigger that is about 3 1/2" long and she has these white fuzzy spots on her tail. I have tried just about everything and I cannot get them to go away and was hoping that you would have a suggestion.
<Mmm, yes. Just to ignore them. These may be some sort of embedded organism, but could be "repair" marks from bend/breaks in the fin rays, other "normal" markings. At any length, not likely as deleterious as "treating", nor communicable to other livestock>
I have tried malachite green/ formalin, Maracyn plus, hyposalinity with high temperature, freshwater dips, and copper. Nothing works. She is eating well and has beautiful coloration other than these fuzzy spots.
She eats mysis shrimp, formula one frozen, formula two pellets, squid, fish, octopus, and shrimp (stuffed with seaweed).
They aren't ich and I thought maybe it was a fungus but nothing works. She is currently in my 36 gallon hospital tank with a salinity of 1.018 and 0 nitrates, nitrites, or ammonia. The pH is at 8.2. Temperature is 78. My display tank looks awfully empty without her in it! It is a 125 gallon with a snowflake eel and two blue yellowtail damsels. Any suggestions?
<Return this fish to the main/display. Bob Fenner>
Re: White Fuzzy Spots
Thanks for the fast reply, I am so glad to hear that she is ok and doesn't have some weird untreatable fungus. Will these spots eventually go away or will she always have them?
<Will very likely "go" with time. Do try searching WWM (see the link on the left shared border on every page), with the terms: "trigger markings", and read the cached views. Cheers, BobF>

Sick Trigger (Xanthichthys auromarginatus) 01/17/07 Greetings, <<Hello!>> First, I want to thank you for the work your doing helping us make insightful decisions. <<Most welcome...truly a pleasure to share>> I have a Blue Jaw Trigger, Xanthichthys auromarginatus, <<Me too!>> that has not been well for two weeks; it is very immobile, propping himself up on or over something continually. <<Hmm, it's not unusual for this fish to occasionally stop roaming/peer out at the world from its favorite cave...but it shouldn't be lying around all the time>> He has been eating, but only when fed directly and does not seek food. <<Mmm, should be active/interested at feeding time>> A couple of days ago he began spitting back out the large plankton, so I made a batch of food in the blender of: shrimp, oyster, clam, Selco, formula II, and daphnia; it is eating, but again only when basting directly toward his mouth. The fishs colour is about a six out of ten; there is yellow outlining the tips of the fins with a dark band on the body at the fin's base. <<The yellow margin on the fins is naturally occurring on a male X. auromarginatus...but the dark band is possibly a sign if distress>> Its distinctive dots and blue jaw are still clear. <<Good>> I QTd the fish. He was housed with a Sebae and its GSM since May (8 months). The tank is too small; it is a 70-gal bow front and has four feet in front and back of the rockwork to swim with two or three nice caves underneath in which he'd sleep. Many sites put the limits for this fish at 75 gal, and I knew Bob recommends at least 100 gal. <<Yes...or larger>> Occasionally needing to keep the money maker happy I ordered the fish. There are no signs of trauma, or tumor. Are these symptoms of small tank syndrome or something recognizable/treatable? <<If the fish has not suffered some physical trauma, then this sounds to me like an internal protozoan infection (lethargy is a telling symptom here). These are difficult to treat, and often by the time the symptoms manifest it is too late. The fact the fish is still eating is a good sign and I suggest you try some foods post-haste made for treating internal parasites (New Life Spectrum has such a food).>> My wife is a veterinarian having many medications/antibiotics available. <<Then perhaps try soaking some thawed frozen food (mysis shrimp, chopped krill) with Metronidazole. See here for information on dosages, cautions, etc. : http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm >> Lastly, I've read to moderate length about hyposalinity, and while probably not a cure, will reducing salinity ease fishes metabolic demands? <<Though it can be of use in some situations (dips/baths), I am not a fan of long-term hyposalinity for the stress it places upon the fishes. They have evolved to live within certain saline parameters, changing those parameters requires them to make adjustments/work harder to maintain their osmotic balance >> I maintain a salinity of 35ppt. <<Excellent...do keep it there>> Thank you, Robert <<Good luck Robert...and please let me know how the treatment goes. Eric Russell>>

Sargassum Trigger Fish - 07/18/2006 Hi guys/girls <<Hi.>> Quick question for you if I may :) <<Go for it.>> I have a Sargassum Trigger Fish. <<Cool.>> I have had him for a few months now. Slowly over this time he has become progressively skinnier. Not really skinny, he eats a huge amount, but just does not put on weight. I am just thinking he may have worms. <<An internal parasite of some kind is likely.>> What would be the best thing to worm him with? <<I use Levamisole, a commonly available pig de-wormer.>> We don't have a huge range of meds over here either, can you just use cat wormer? <<Im not familiar with cat meds.>> How much? How do you get it into them? Soak some freeze dried krill in a solution of the Levamisole and tank water. Do this for a few days.>> Thought of mixing with food, but he tends to only eat whole things like mussel, white bait etc. <<See above.>> Any ideas?? There is a photo of him (attached) when I first got him. Thanks again
<<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Niger Trigger problems, spots yea hi my name is Kevin I just bought a Niger trigger and I noticed that there are white spots on its fins but only near the tip of the fins and that there's white patch's on my triggers skin. The white patches are barely visible though. I was wonder if the white spots are ich and if the white patch's are marine velvet. <Not likely> if they are please tell me how to treat them. Overall my trigger is not acting like it has a dieses. It doesn't have cloudy eyes, it doesn't swim weirdly, it doesn't act weirdly, it eats, etc. But please tell me what it is and what soul I do to help my trigger. thanks for you time <These marks, spots are likely encysted worms... not treatable, may "go away" of their own accord, not spread-able to other fishes... I would just keep your eye on them, lest this is something else. Bob Fenner>

Niger trigger infection Dear WWM crew <Tristan> Please can someone come to my rescue, I have a juvenile Niger trigger in my 60 gal reef tank, and have had him for about 1 month he has settled down wonderfully is not aggressive at all, not too bold or too shy, recently I noticed that his right eye was a little larger than his left, over the past few days this has grown noticeably worse, I estimate that his eye is almost 3-4 times the size of the other one with a white circle surrounding it (this may be his skin stretched) I cannot see any stress patterns on his coat, or other symptoms his behaviour has change completely very aggressive to other fish (green Chromis and clowns) snapping his mouth and violently banging his head/eye against rock, coral, glass. <Time to move and treat this fish... in a separate tank> He is the largest fish in the tank, although it is a reef tank it has only a few soft corals and no anemones, I have performed 2 water changes since, I use marine salt with RO water parameters are good the tank is about 5 months old, no other fish show signs of illness, at the moment I feed him Mysis shrimp, marine flake, and small amounts of mixed sea weed. If any one has encountered this before please can you advise on a possible treatment method, I do not think Ol' Evil Eye Ivan will make it through the rest of the week without immediate action, I have to try something but am at a loss, I have a small 10 gal tank that can be retro fitted to act as treatment tank if that helps. Thank you all Tristan <DO move this fish... with the water it's already in... to a darkened tank, with something chemically inert for it to hide behind/within AND add a level teaspoon of Epsom Salt per gallon in its water... DO monitor ammonia accumulation, and be ready to change out the treatment tank water with the old system water re-adding whatever gallonage removed in Epsom... if the ammonia approaches/exceeds 1 ppm... Your trigger likely just bumped its eye and does NOT require any chemical medicine other than the Epsom. Bob Fenner>

Best laid plans... Clown Trigger sick? 11/11/03 Hi Anthony, <howdy> My Clown Trigger is showing signs of the whitish stringy poop now. I am really worried about him. <hmmm... it may or may not be a pathogenic symptom. Can simply be the feces of a weakly feeding stressed animal if not internal parasites> He is going back into Q/T today but my LFS guy is telling me to put 1/4 tsp of Kanamycin in the tank since I can't get my fish to eat anything in particular. Does this sound right to you? <I don't think so. If your fish has a pathogenic cause to this symptom, it seems more likely to be non-bacterial in nature. This antibiotic may only be secondarily helpful at best. If you feel the need to medicate, seek an internal anti-parasitic drug instead like Metronidazole (Seachem makes this).> I don't want to lose him.  Please help. Any info you can help with would be so appreciated! <I'm honestly not sure you need to medicate yet. Just feeding well in isolation may be all that is needed to get this fish back on track. Stronger at least before medicating again> BTW, I got another tank for the triggers, it is only 90 gallons but I only have the 3 in there. They are loving it. Live rock and used substrate from the 125. And the 125 is doing fantastic. So now all I need is for Idgit to get back on his fins. Thank you in advance. Ellie <great to hear! wishing you the best. Anthony>

Could I have parasites? Hi guys!  well, two nights ago I noticed that my trigger looked like he was scratching himself on rocks.  He was still doing it last night, and also last night, my eel contorted his body a little bit.  then, today, my damsel (the only other fish in there) was scratching himself occasionally.  The trigger tends to scratch himself way more at night than during the day.  i went to my LFS, and they said it was probably a reaction to ammonia levels, but i don't have any ammonia in my tank. however, i do have a little bit of nitrites, which means that i very recently had higher ammonia, probably due to a piece of LR that i put in my tank about a week ago.  if it is indeed parasites, i want to find out quick so i can treat accordingly.  all other parameters are good (ph, temp). could my LR have introduced parasites?  WHAT DO I DO!!!! < The live rock is likely the culprit here.  It sounds like your tank has the dreaded ick.  You are probably going to need to move all current fish to a separate tank to be treated and the main tank will need to go fallow for at least 4 weeks.  You can find all the info you need at the links below. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm Cody>

One Gill?? Hi there I was wondering if you could help shed some light on a small problem.<MikeD here and I'll sure try> I have a Juv. Picasso trigger in my tank who has been pretty happy for the past week.<Meaning that he's new and has been in the tank for about that time?> This evening I noticed something strange - he seems to be breathing with only one gill. One gill is 'puffing' while the other is being held pretty still. Also the one that is working seems to be doing double time (suppose that is to be expected). He was fine during the day (at least I did not notice this during the day) and, I suppose like all triggers he is happy to feed - just breathing a bit fast out of one gill. Could the gill maybe have something stuck in it?<The answer is yes, but probably not what you expect. If it's indeed a new and small fish, there's a good likelihood that what you're seeing is the beginning of an ick infestation and the parasites on the one side are the reason for its immobility. Very small fish often pass away from ick infestations without the owner ever being aware of what the actual problem is. With the tough, leathery skin of a trigger, it's not unusual for no visible "spots" to show, while the parasites in the gill effectively create a fish version of pneumonia, with suffocation often the actual cause of death> Any suggestions on what I can do or should I just leave it for a while?<My suggestion would be to set up a small Quarantine/treatment tank and dose with one of the formalin based Ick treatments (Quick Cure, for example) dosed at half the suggested amount (the small size and labored breathing would indicate that full strength may prove too much for the fish to handle. I'd suggest against the hyposalinity treatment because, frankly, I doubt you have the time. As always, NEVER medicate in your main tank proper.>> Thanks Anthony

- Trigger Ich - Thanks again for your previous response. I check my water quality on a regular basis and it always measures out fine. However my fish keep getting ich. I was told that dropping the salinity down to 1.014 the fish would still live but ich cannot. <This combined with other treatments can help.> I have tried it for about a week now and they are still scratching. I only have two medium sized triggerfish in a large tank. Do you have any suggestions? <Might consider catching them and putting them through a pH and temperature adjusted freshwater dip... and perhaps even leaving them in quarantine for a while and running the tank fallow for six weeks or so.> The tank has been set up for about 2 months now. <That's actually not very long... could be you are having water quality issues which cannot be measured... would step up the water changes and get some other options up and working... for instance quarantine tanks.> What are your thoughts on a U/V sterilizer? <These provide some amount of good, but are not instantaneous cures and typically need low flow rates to actually kill Protozoans - slow enough that the sterilizer will take weeks to see all the water in the tank. So yes, it will do you no harm, but no, it probably won't help in the immediate term. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm Cheers, J -- >

Ich on Trigger Hello bob, <Hi there.> I wanted to inquire about a little problem I have with my Huma Triggerfish. I have a 54 Gallon tank with about 40lbs of live rock and the other inhabitants are 2 Tangs and 2 clownfish, with a "pest" anemone (must have hitched a ride with the live rock). The triggerfish has developed what looks to be ick, on his tail and top of his fins. It's mostly around the edges with some light spots in the middle.  <Mmm, I wouldn't be so fast to judge this as ich...> I have had this tank now for about a year and 3 months. The trigger, was probably the second tenant in my tank so there have been no new additions to the tank in probably 6-8 months. I assume he got the ick out of stress possibly from being picked on?  <Once again, I am suspicious given the circumstances you relate...> One thing I have noticed is that the salinity level was higher than it needed to be, not sure if that would have been the cause?  <Doubtful> I have a small 10 gallon tank I was going to use for a quarantine tank so I could treat the trigger but it has not been cycled yet and I'm very afraid that would kill the fish in no time. What would you recommend to do to hopefully save the trigger fish yet not harm all the other fish in the main tank?  <If the other fishes do not show signs of "ich" I would not remove the trigger, but instead augment its foods> Any medications that might be safe to place in the main tank and see if the trigger might fight off the ick? I have also been giving him garlic mixed with his food. Sorry for the long winded e-mail but I'm running out of ideas and its getting frustrating with all the differing opinions. Thanks in advance. <Try adding vitamins... even risk a Cleaner organism. Please read through the sections on both (vitamins, cleaners) posted on WetWebMedia.com (perhaps using the search tool at the bottom of the homepage, indices...) Bob Fenner> Sean

Bursa Trigger Hi, I wrote to you guys on Monday regarding my new Bursa Trigger (about 3 inches long) who keeps scratching himself on the rocks and banging his black spot on the rocks hard. Upon closer inspection, he has white spots on his back, sides and face. I have freshwater bathed him 3 times now for a total time of over 30 minutes, two times at 15 minutes and 1 for 5, which he now tolerates well, swimming the whole time; he won't even lay on the bottom like most fish do. I also took out my urchin and polyps and treated the tank with ich treatment (which I don't like doing) and when I put the treatment in he acts like his spots itch more.  <This is very unlikely "ich"... and more trouble, stressful to actually "treat"> I'm not sure the spots are ich though, because they will not fall off. <There are a few possible complaints this might be: fluke intermediary forms, sporozoans... that are by and large not treatable... and not "that" deleterious> Furthermore, it almost looks like they may be bumps from the inside. I intend to take him back to the store tomorrow so that HOPEFULLY they will know what it is and what I can do for him. He continues to scratch himself and has rubbed some red marks on his belly and chin. Do you have any idea of what it could be or what I can do? Again, my water quality is superb (no nitrites, nitrates under 10, salinity lowered to 1.020) and the temperature is 75. It also does not seem to be spreading to the tobacco bass either. Is there at least anything I can do to make him more comfortable. Thank you so much for your help, I can't stand to see the little guy unhappy! Arienne Wyatt <I would not "do" anything here, other than provide good care for this fish. The "spots/dots" may well persist for some time (months), likely finally disappearing with development, growth, time... Bob Fenner>

Parasite treatment Hello Bob, I have been unable to find information on wet web media that specifically answers my query. <Ahh, good... thought I had a few more years of work there...> I recently acquired a tiny Huma trigger. While in quarantine it developed several white spots on the tail and fins. I immediately began treatment with copper, sea cure. After four days, the spots have diminished in the original locations but several new ones have appeared. Is this to be expected until further along in the treatment or is it evidence that the treatment is not working? I have recently been through a bout of the same that took every fish in the system, so really want to beat it this time. <I understand... and would take a "non-treatment" course in this matter... likely this is not some sort of parasite... per se... and will be "self curing"... I would try just try to keep the specimen stable, perhaps feed it food that has been soaked in a vitamin prep. (Selcon is a good choice), and maybe utilize a biological cleaner... but unless these spots become much more numerous, or the fish seems to be laboring under their influence, I would not utilize copper, other chemical treatments for now> It is a pleasure and privilege to be able to communicate with you directly. thanks, Steve Browne, <A pleasure for me as well my friend. Bob Fenner>

Niger Trigger, Eye Trouble  I have a niger trigger which has developed what seems like an infection in one of his eyes. It first presented itself about 2 weeks ago as a white fleck on the top of the eye. At first I thought it might be a parasite but it appeared to be inside the cornea rather than on it. Since then, a white area has now developed on the lower portion of the cornea. Other than the white areas, the eye is clear and is not swollen or bulgy. The fish is eating well and active. Can you help with a diagnosis and treatment? Phil Siani <Don't know if I can... have seen similarly marked eyes in wild and captive species of triggers... Maybe this is some sort of eye-parasite (internal)... there are such (mainly worm groups, but some Protozoans as well...)... Doesn't sound like an injury-related cause... Possibly some nutritional component... Be any of this as it may, about the only thing I would do (or can think of to do) is provide this animal optimized and stable conditions, hoping for a self-cure... I wouldn't handle the animal to apply a topical, would not add anything to the water, amend its food with a medicant... just time going by. Bob Fenner>

Parasite problem on Clown Trigger Bob, I refer to your book and website from time to time but am not sure what to do about my current problem. My Clown Trigger has had parasites for the last two weeks. They appear to be some kind of crustacean or something. I've caught a few and they have at least three sets of legs and what appear to be pinchers. (like earwigs) They are the size of a piece of rice and are partially translucent with a reddish hue and two black specs at one end. eyes ? <Good observations! Yes to the likelihood that these are crustacean, parasitic...> ) They attach at one end and dangle ad the fish swims. They don't seem to bother the fish as he doesn't scratch or anything and eats normal. I've witnessed them move in the water and crawl on rock after I knock them off. The tank is a 125 and the only other fish is a Green moray eel. I purchased a cleaner wrasse, which cleaned him up for a few days until the eel ate him, and lowered the SG to 1.018 at the advise of your website. But their still there. I don't notice any on the eel. Maybe because of the slime coat? My question is If I move the Trigger to a hospital tank will the parasites eventually die off with out a host or will they just live in the display tank until the fish returns? Is there a place with pics to truly identify these parasites? Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thank you, Art <This may sound/seem a bit strange, but do read over the "pond" piece (in that index on the WWM site, on the use of DTHP/Neguvon/Masoten/Dylox... for pond parasite control... and adopt the use of this acetylcholinesterase inhibitor to your marine ends... Don't know if the same "bug spray" compound is still being offered in/as "Marine Med aqua", but there are certainly sources of this "powder" being retailed for "pond use"... Questions, please write back...  Bob Fenner>

Triggerfish question Hello there, I have a good question for you if you have time... I have a new (2 months) aquarium. I have had 5 domino damsels the entire time. There was a small outbreak  of what looked like ich. I raised the temperature  to about 80. I realized that it may come back, so I  did frequent, partial water changes and watched  carefully. About three weeks ago, I added a beautiful 5" niger  trigger. He seemed very healthy the whole time, until two days ago. One night, he looked fine - the next night, he was COMPLETELY covered in parasites! It  looks like ich, but it has a slight reddish color.  I am guessing that the reddish look might be due to the normal red sheen on the fish. So, anyways, he is behaving normally, and eating. He doesn't seem to be breathing fast, although he is  scratching on the rocks. Does this sound like ich? Is it safe to medicate in  such a new tank? Unfortunately, I do not have a quarantine tank. I have heard that ich medications may damage the bacteria cultures in the aquarium. Any ideas would be appreciated, as this is a very nice niger trigger! thanks! >> Does sound like ich... and it's highly unlikely to "spontaneously cure"... the next parasitic reproductive wave may take all your fish livestock... Would quickly read and heed the materials stored on the site: Home Page re marine ich. Bob Fenner

My clown trigger has a strange fungus on his mouth and eyes, and red blotches  on his sides. >> Not good. Quickly check your water quality... make the BIG water change, or if you can, move the animal NOW! It doesn't "have" a disease in the way of parasitic or infectious agents... those are secondary events.... Bob Fenner

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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