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FAQs on Wrasse Trauma

Related Articles: Wrasses, Wrasses of the Cooks

FAQs on Wrasse Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious, Parasitic (See also: Wrasses & Crypt), Treatments,

Related FAQs: Wrasse Disease 1, Wrasse Disease 2, Wrasses, Wrasses 2Wrasse Identification, Wrasse Selection, Wrasse Behavior, Wrasse Compatibility, Wrasse Systems, Wrasse Feeding, Wrasse Reproduction


Wrasses losing balance, dying - Ichthyophonus?    4/2/12
First of all, thank you for the awesome site you have been running, the information available on WWM recently helped me a lot in setting up a QT and treating successfully for Crypt.  We (my brother and I) have been keeping marines for around five years, and we learnt numerous lessons in those years (most importantly I suppose the use of a QT).  We have a bit of a problem at the moment with new fish we bought over the weekend.  We use the metric system and measure temperature in Celsius, so apologies upfront for the cm's, liters and C's I am going to use.
<No worries>
The fish are going into two separate tanks, one a 80cm cube and the other a 45cm nano (hence the duplication in fish bought).  We stay in Johannesburg, South Africa, and there are only a handful of reputable fish stores around.
 We went to one this weekend and bought the following:  2x Yellow tail Tamarin wrasses (Anampses meleagrides, around 3cm),
<Wow, small>

2x Midas Blennies (Ecsenius Midas, around 6cm) and a Leopard Wrasse (Macropharyngodon bipartitus bipartitus, around 4cm).
<This too>

 We do realize that the wrasses are not the easiest to keep/feed, but all 3 of them ate frozen food in the shop tanks and  have kept a Leopard wrasse successfully in the past on frozen Mysis until he decided to jump out of the tank a few months down the line.
We set up a 45 liter (12 Gallon) quarantine tank at home the night before we went to buy the fish with freshly made up (with Seachem Reefsalt) seawater with salinity at 1.023 (measured with refractometer) and temperature at 24C.  Once the salt was fully dissolved and salinity/temperature correct, we added a HOB filter with bioballs and sponge.  This HOB filter has been running continuously for the last 3 months as is (bar addition/removal of Cuprisorb) in a different 3ft tank that we used (successfully without any losses) as a quarantine for all my fish from the DT that developed Crypt due to a careless new addition (it was treated with Cupramine). The decorations are 3 coffee cups and 2 pieces of 1 inch PVC pipe (all of which was used before in a different QT).  It is also bare bottom.  I added a Seio M820 for extra flow.  I also added (and I am still adding) Seachem Stability.
Now that the background has been given, back to the problem.  We acclimatized the fish for an hour on Saturday morning before putting them into the QT (no water from the LFS was transferred to QT).  We did this by throwing a quarter cup of aquarium water or so into the bags with the fish every 5 minutes or so until the hour was up (we moved house a week or two ago, and couldn't find the airline tubing to drip the fish in).  We stay about 20 minutes from the LFS where we purchased the fish.  Saturday early evening I added a small amount of flakes and a quarter block of frozen Mysis (as the filter has been cycled and ran with about 12 biggish fish for the last 3 months, I didn't think it would give any water quality issues).
The Tamarin's both went for the flakes as well as the Mysis, and the Leopard wrasse ate a few frozen Mysis bits.  A good sign I would think.
Sunday morning I got up to find the one Tamarin (bigger one of the two) hiding in the PVC pipe, all the other fish seeming fine and swimming around (Midas blennies' heads poking out of the other PVC pipes, normal behaviour).  The Tamarin eventually came out, but he seemed to have a problem with his balance, and kept on falling over and staying on the bottom of the tank.  His breathing was also accelerated.  Sunday afternoon I got to the tank at around 17h00, and the one Tamarin was dead. I fed the fish later that evening, the other fish all ate at least frozen Mysis (the Midas Blennies at pellets quite feverishly).  This morning I got to the tank at around 7h00, and found the leopard wrasse also not able to stay upright and also breathing heavily.  The other Tamarin and Midas Blennies still seemed ok.   When I look closely, I can see white/frayed patches on the pectoral fins of the Leopard Wrasse.  Not Crypt spots, more uneven patches.
Now I have searched on the internet for the problem, and the only thing I can find that matches the symptoms is Ichthyophonus internal fungus.
 When I think of it I remember all the wrasses having open mouths that does not seem to close (another early sign for Ichthyophonus from what I have read).  Apparently no known cure from what I can read.  Any idea how common this disease is in marine fish?
<Not very common...>
  Or is there something else that I am missing?
<Likely "just" capture, handling damage/stress w/ these small, touchy wrasses>

 Any cure that I might not have found on the internet?  Also, if it is this disease, and let's say the Midas Blennies show now <? no?> symptoms after a month in the qt, how can I prevent this from going into the main tank when I eventually transfer them? 
<I would not be concerned>
The lfs in question apparently treats all their fish with Metronidazole and a low-ish dose of Cupramine (0.25 ppm).  I have a number of wrasses in the main tank (2 locally caught Indian Ocean bird wrasses, locally caught Cut Ribbon wrasse and a Cleaner Wrasse (I've had him for over a year and eats anything before someone asks)), so don't want the disease spreading to the main tank.
<Again, I would not worry re... the likelihood of transference, given the stated circumstances, is very low>
Thank you for the help.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Wrasses losing balance, dying - Ichthyophonus?    4/3/12

Hi Bob,
Thank you very much!  Unfortunately the Leopard wrasse didn't survive the night.  The Tamarin and Midas Blennies still seem healthy and all 3 of them ate this morning.
Thanks for the quick response!
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

Ouch! Bob and Crew, Please HELP! Handling-damaged wrasse     9/30/11
Hello! Bob and all you wonderful people at WWM!
From what I've gathered from reading reading and reading, here is what the situation is and what I am thinking of doing...Just want you thoughts!!!
I have a Halichoeres chrysotaenia, beautiful male, in his 20 gallon quarantine tank. It does have pieces of live rock, and an area with sand, and lots of Chaeto on one end to help with de-nitrification and also
loaded with copepods if he didn't like my prepared foods. This quarantine tank has been set up for MONTHS sans fish but with all the other stuff.
I acquired him through a very reputable online site, and he arrived Tuesday.
I first floated the bag in tank water for 20 minutes, then drip acclimated him over 40 minutes (filled water to the top, poured out the water once, filled to the top and then release fish only to tank). He was "sleeping" at first but woke up before I placed him in the quarantine. He took a look, saw sand and dove in. I was able to get a good look at him once he decided to come out later that night and I noticed a torn area on his right pectoral fin.
<Usually self repairs; not to worry>
Yesterday, I noticed that he is not using it very well. This morning, he is not using it much at all. It does not have any red steaks, it is in fact sort of opaque looking.
<Likely caught on a net, netting... quite common>
It doesn't follow the description of a bacterial infection, more like a collection/shipment injury.
Otherwise, he is swimming around and looking for food, eating Ocean Nutrition Frozen Formula One and frozen Mysis soaked in Selcon, garlic, and multi vitamins with passion.
Plan is do nothing. I did that for the last couple of days and I think it is looking worse. I'm thinking of treating with an antibiotic BUT I am worried that he will stop eating which may be worse in the long run.
What do you think?
<Doing nothing is what I would do as well>
Thanks so very much, as usual!!!
<Welcome in kind. BobF>
Re: Ouch! Bob and Crew, Please HELP!    9/30/11

Greetings, Bob!
<Salud Jamie>
Thank you for your reply!
He is not doing as well this morning, still swimming, not using his right fin...eats a little.
I will keep watch and unless looking like it is going towards a systemic infection with cloudy eyes and red streaked fins, I will not treat.
Maybe do a 20% water change today to keep the water quality up!
On a side note...I'm so glad to learn that I am thinking along the right path! I'm learning! Thanks to YOU and your wonderful web site!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
<As many welcomes. BobF>

New black dots on a 8 line wrasse question  3/16/2007 Hi Guys, <Matt> Greetings from sunny Adelaide, Australia. First off love the site and all the great work that has been put into it. I searched the wrasse FAQ but couldn't find a answer so here goes a email <Good> 280L tank, all the levels are right (bar it being a little warmer than most tanks but that's a different story) and none of the other tank mates seem to have any issues. He's still eating as per normal (he's doubled in size since I got him 6-7 months ago) and swimming around like the speed demon he is. The black marks (it looks like ink marks) on both sides appeared in the last couple of days and therefore I'm very interested to know what they are ? <Mmm, if this were unilateral (one-sided) I would jump (?) to the ascertain that this was likely a mechanical injury, nervous reaction... But both sides?> Since they are on both sides I don't believe they are a scratch, I'm more leaning towards a infection of some type. from my reading maybe even a UTI ? <Mmmmm> Attached are a left & right photo and a circle has been placed around the area of interest. Cheers Matt <Any other livestock showing signs of distress? Anything showing up in water quality tests? Something different done the last few days? I still suspect this is some sort of injury reaction... Bob Fenner, who would "wait and see" here>

Wrasse with swollen lips  3/10/07 Hello, I have a sixline wrasse with what I believe is a bacterial infection. <Mmmm> I am in college so my parents take care of my fish while I am away. While I love my parents they never seem to alert me to these problems while I am away, so I have no idea how long this has been going on. Now that I am home for spring break, I have transferred the sixline to an established quarantine (31 ppt salinity, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrate, 0 nitrite, 8.3 pH) after trapping him in a plastic container to observe and possibly treat the wrasse with a pH adjusted freshwater methylene blue dip. I am hesitant because I had trouble making a diagnosis from the mostly-vague disease descriptions that I found in my available books and web resources. I have attached photos of the wrasse's mouth. <I see these> The wrasse also has some raised patches of light white on its body and is twitching slightly. Although he is eating Mysis shrimp and flake food well I have not seen any feces as of yet. If you have any ideas as to what the affliction is and possible courses of treatment please let me know. Thank you, Caitlyn <Is not really a disease as in an infectious or parasitic affliction... not pathogenic... But, skipping ahead, this is not an uncommon "developmental" condition from this specimen being damaged in capture, shipping, handling, perhaps a trauma in your system... The long and short of it, is that this is not "treatable"... but the specimen looks healthy otherwise. I would not "treat" it. Bob Fenner>

Re: Wrasse with swollen lips  3/10/07 Hi Again, Thank you for your quick reply. I do not know what to say as the wrasse's condition has deteriorated greatly overnight, upon observation this morning its face was completely swollen with some rough growths. <Yikes... I obviously "spoke"/keyed too "soon"... perhaps there is something else at play here... Though I stand semi-firmly by my guess as to primary cause here. Mechanical injury> I performed a 50 percent water change although water quality had revealed nothing. The fish is breathing heavily and lying on the bottom of the QT. The fish's condition has worsened extremely since I have been home. Still nothing I can do?? Please help, I do not think this is only stress. <I don't think there is anything efficacious you can actually do at this point. Such "developments" almost always quickly progress at this stage to death... sorry to state. BobF>

Wrasse Injury and Behavior - Help!  2/12/07 Hi WWM Crew - <Beth> Long time reader, first time writer.  I did some searching and didn't really see anything that fit the bill.  Tried using the links to the public chat forum and I get a "500 Servlet Exception" error. <Will cc Zo... the "maker" here re> Reef tank Basics: 225 gallon tank (been up and running since 08/11/2005) ~200 pounds live rock and ~70 pounds live sand Protein skimmer, chiller, RO/DI water, use Tropic Marin PRO salt Lighting: 4 96W 10000k power compact,  4 96W actinic power compact, 2 metal halides (250W each) Water params: pH 8.0, Nitrates 20 (reading prior to 45 gallon water change today - so that should go down), Nitrites trace (not 0, but not on scale to measure with test kit), Ammonia 0, iodine 0.4, phosphate 0 - 0.1, alkalinity 2.5, calcium 390 Livestock: Tangs: Clown Tang, Yellow Tang, Blue Tang 2 tank raised Ocellaris Clowns Diamond Watchman Goby 2 Blue/Green Chromis Mandarin Goby Wrasses: Redtail Wrasse, male/female pair Hawaiian Flasher Wrasses, <How nice! Jordan's> 6 Line Wrasse, Christmas Wrasse, New Guinea Wrasse, and Clown Wrasse <... this last may get VERY large> 2 Fire Shrimp 7 peppermint shrimp (although I can only account for 3 at time of writing) 1 Sally Lightfoot Crab <Am quite surprised your wrasses haven't eaten the crustaceans> 1 Orange Linckia Starfish 1 Sand-Sifting Starfish 1 Brittle Starfish Various corals (Brain, Galaxea, Frogspawn, Ricordea mushroom, unknown mushroom species, 3 kinds of zoanthid, candy cane coral, torch coral, Blasto, 2 different cup corals, 2 leather corals, xenia, colt) Writing today with two issues/questions about two of our established wrasses. Redtail wrasse (in display tank since 10/23/2005) Flame wrasse pair (in display tank since 01/21/2006) We have noticed some coloration changes in the redtail wrasse.  It's head has started to fade a bit in its coloration. <Mmm... may be natural... Males do change in this way with age, growth> Her tail also does not seem as vibrant a red as it once was.  We also noticed today that it was chasing the Christmas Wrasse, picking at the front of the acrylic tank (making a snapping noise) and acting a bit "funkier" than usual.  It is eating well.  While I know that diet can affect a fishes coloration, I don't think that is what it is as the other fish don't seem to be affected.  We change up what is fed to the corals every couple of days.  The fish get frozen cube food: herbivore (green) every day and then Mysis or a mix of brine and krill.  On occasion will add garlic extreme to the food mixture.  Also add a seaweed variety (sheets of either red, brown, or green seaweed) for the tangs.  Notice that sometimes the wrasses pick at this as well. <No worries... are pretty omnivorous>   Recently ordered some of the additives I've read about in some of the postings on the site, so will be trying those in the next couple of days. <Are of benefit, use> Since the redtail does not appear to be sick or injured, is it possible it is changing into a male? <Yes>   How long does a typical transformation take (days, weeks)?   <Weeks to months> Any other ideas aside from diet on the change in it's head color? <All sorts... see fishbase.org for more pix> Now onto the next question.  We have a pair of Hawaiian Flame Wrasses.  Yesterday I noticed the male's snout seemed a bit off kilter (pushed in on the top).  My husband thought that he ate during the first feeding, but is now not 100% positive about that.  During the second feeding last night I saw him momentarily and thought he looked different.  He did not eat and hid until lights out.  This morning I found him in his normal hangout and his nose does look off.  He sees fine as he will dart away when an object is placed in the tank near him.  He has come out and swam around.  No other tank inhabitants seem to be bothering him.  He did not come out and eat during the first feeding.  He did pop out afterward when there was still some food in the tank, but can't say that he ate very much if at all.  We thought about trying to quarantine, however he does not seem to want to be caught and I don't want to stress him more (or his mate) by removing him (if it's even possible to catch him). <I would leave this fish where it is>   My guess is that he either hit the tank wall or was injured by another fish. <I'd go with the first guess... from "jumping">   Unless it was the redtail, not even sure who the culprit would be?  The newest tank mate is the clown wrasse <What species is this?> (in residence about 2 weeks in the display tank) and is 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the male flame wrasse.  I know it's trouble if he won't eat, but how long do we let him go?  Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks! Beth <Really just to keep trying... different foods... and add the supplements to the foods and water> P.S.  I don't have any pics to send at this time, but we do have a fish cam set up.  If you want to take a look I have included the address, but am hoping that you won't post that piece as I don't think our home computer network could take the traffic. <I will delete here> You can pan the cam left and right and zoom in.  Redtail wrasse is out and about.  Female flame is out and you can probably see her, but the male is hiding since the water change started.  His hangout is left of center tank on a rock shelf under the xenia, left of the candy cane and above and behind the Galaxea. <Bob Fenner>

- Please help, sick wrasse! 6/15/06 - I have a 4 year-old Red Head Solon Fairy Wrasse that I fear is ill. It's left eye is bulging out and distorted. It still eats well, but is more shy and spends most of the day hiding among the live rock, but otherwise seems relatively ok. It's color is good and doesn't seem to be breathing abnormally. Is there some kind of disease that would cause this? <Sounds to me like Popeye, although I'd look carefully at this eye to make certain it doesn't look like it has an air bubble in there. If it is just swollen then it can heal and return to normal.> Is there some kind of treatment I can give it? <Not directly. You could add some Epsom salts - about one tablespoon per five gallons (which will effect your salinity) to help with the swelling. Not much else you could do beyond catching the fish and letting it recover in a quiet tank by itself.> It is housed in a 120 gal. with a percula clown, a pajama cardinal, and a 21 year-old pair maroon clown and large carpet anemone. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated as I have grown quite attached to the beautiful wrasse. <Mostly I can wish you luck and we can both hope for the best.> Sincerely, Josh C. Atlanta, GA <Cheers, J -- >

Lineatus Fairy Wrasse With Injured Jaw - 07/02/05 Hi, I have a beautiful lineatus fairy wrasse, appears to have a injured  jaw, I had a Austr Scott's wrasse in the tank with him, he was the boss, he never attacked him but he startled him flaring up to him showing he is king and I suspected that he banged his jaw against the glass.  It doesn't look broken but it is gapped a little and he can't close his mouth.  Will he recover from this   injury? He shows interest in food and takes some of the smaller pieces in his mouth, kind of shakes his head after taking a few pieces in. Is there anything I can do for him.  I really don't want to lose him.  He swims just find by the way, flaring his fins and swimming proud.  Thanks, Scott. <<Well Scott, difficult to say what might be the problem here.  Aside from immediate danger from internal injury (if present), the real problems are going to be whether this fish can still eat properly and in enough quantity to survive, and/or secondary infection from an open wound.  My recommendation would be to remove the fish to a quarantine/hospital tank where you can watch it more closely, medicate IF it becomes necessary, and feed and recover (hopefully!) free from the stresses of the display tank.  Regards, Eric R.>>

Wrasse Unhinged! (Damaged Mouth On Wrasse) 7/29/04 Dear WetWeb people, <Scott F. your WetWeb Person today!> I have a question concerning a 2 1/2 inch Yellow Coris Wrasse I have had for a little over two weeks in a 10 gal.QT tank. <Good work on the quarantine procedure!> The water quality is good ( ph 8.3 nit. 0) and the tank was treated with chelated copper sulfate before the little guy was introduced. He looked quite healthy for a week and then started showing signs of swelling and discoloration just under his eyes and he also started hiding and acting sluggish. I treated the tank with an antibiotic called Maracyn Plus because it looked to me like a bacterial infection. <A good product, as long as directions are followed, and as long as it is applicable to the illness that you're treating!> I also put a container of sand from my main tank in the qt because I read that these wrasses like to sleep in the sand. <They do, and that's a nice touch> After several days, the wrasse looked more active etc., but his mouth has been continually open since then and he doesn't seem to be able to shut it. <Hmm...> He just sort of sucks up the Mysis shrimp that I have been feeding him. <Well, thank goodness that he's eating...always a good sign> I read on your website a question similar to mine and you answered that it was normal for a wrasse to swim with it's mouth open. Is it also normal for them not shut it when feeding? <No-it's not normal for the fish to have it's mouth open continuously> His mouth wasn't always open when I first brought him home. After the wrasses qt time is up, if he is active but his mouth is still open is it ok to introduce him to the 55 gal. main tank with the three green Chromis damsel fish that inhabit it? Thank you for your time, Christy <Well, Christy, I'd hold of on introducing the fish into the display until you've gotten a handle as to what this might be. Perhaps it's an injury that may heal itself. On the other hand, if the inability of the fish to close its mouth is because of some kind of internal infection in the mouth-well, that's another thing altogether. Keep making sure that the fish eats, and give him an extra week or two in quarantine, just to make sure that he's otherwise okay. If this proves to be a "physical challenge" for the fish that it seems to be able to deal with, then feel free to introduce this guy into the tank. Let's hope for the best! Regards, Scott F.>  

Wacky Wrasse?  Howdy, I bought a Lunare Wrasse 2 days ago. When I was vacuuming the wrasse got a little frisky, and hopped out of the tank. I got him back in after about 45 seconds to one minute. It was a close one, but now he just lays there and breathes. All of his color is still there, and my chemicals are pristine.  <Given time, he can make a full recovery. keep an eye on him, and make sure that he eats. Continue to maintain excellent water quality>  Also, is it normal for a wrasse to lay around except for the outbursts of energy where he shoots around the tank and eats? Jeffery  <Yep- wrasses are known for some of their wacky antics. If there are no disease signs, and the water parameters are as good as you say- I'd chalk it up to typical wrasse behavior. Given what your wrasse went through, I'd say that he has a good chance at a full recovery. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

6 line wrasse I have recently purchased a six line wrasse. On the second day he was in the tank, he started to swim head down. He still has lots of energy, eats, and has spats with the other tankmates periodically. Is this normal behavior? I was trying to wade through the FAQs on wrasses, but was unable to find specifically. Thanks <It may be that this fish is "adjusting" from the effects of capture, specifically that it has suffered internal damage from too-rapid ascent or being "poked" by its collector in the wild. Could be symptomatic of a "gut" blockage possibly... At any length, not "natural" or desirable. All one can do is hope and watch at any length. I'm rootin' for your wrasses recovery! Bob Fenner>

Question: I work at a fish store and do aquarium maintenance on the side. I have recently (in the past few months) come across a rather interesting (yet very bothersome) phenomenon. The first is with wrasses, especially with those of the genus Anampses and Coris. What happens is that within a week or two of getting the wrasses in, their lips appear to roll back exposing their teeth, the refuse to eat (or eat very little) and die within the same week. Are you familiar with this condition and do you know how to treat it? My other question is that I have seen (for no apparent reason, water quality checks out on all counts) black spots develop on a tang the size of Oodinium dots. Fresh water baths help to remove the ones off the fish, but when the fish is put back into the tank it is totally covered again within a couple of days. In advanced cases the fishes skin appears as though it dehydrated and wrinkled and is about to fall off. It seems to only affect tangs. Do you know what it is, why it starts up, and how to treat for it in a reef type environment? I would appreciate any help you can give me on this matter. My reputation as a professional is at stake here. I am having great difficulty at locating any information on these two conditions. Thank you for any help you can offer.
Bob's Answer:
Rob, the prognathal genera of wrasses you mention are dying as a consequence of being shipped for too long in too small a bag from the source or your supplier... very common with Anampses and Coris spp. They need to be put in large enough bags to easily turn around and either have fine sand shipped with them or the bags laid on their side so the animal can't rub its face in the corner. On arrival such animals should be quarantined and treated topically and/or via antibiotics (orally if they're eating). The black spots are a not so free living turbellarian flatworm of the genus Paravortex. A simple freshwater dip/bath will eliminate them BEFORE being placed in the main display tank... once the critters are established, biological cleaners may keep them in check otherwise.

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