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FAQs about Big Eyes, Family Priacanthidae

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Pristigenys alta at a wholesale operation

Baby red fish?      9/14/15
I was in Maine old orchard Beach and was walking on the beach and found 2 of these little guys about 1 1/2 inches long... They were both still alive so i walked them back out into the ocean.... What are they??
Thank you...... Lisa
<Ahh; quite a find. This/these are Bigeye/s (family Priacanthidae); likely these are juveniles of the species Pristigenys alta (the Short Bigeye); "blown up" via currents from further south. This fish is common in the Caribbean at 100-600 foot depths.
Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Catalufa Jaw Problem 5/27/2011
<Wendy... nine megs of pix? Am out of the country... we ask that folks
limit to hundreds of Kbytes...>
Dear WWM crew,
I have enjoyed spending many hours perusing through the vast information on your site, thank you. I hope you can help with my question and maybe it will be of help to a future reader as well.
Here is some back ground information:
150 gallon tank
30 gallon sump
10 gallon refugium (would love to go bigger or add another)
AquaC 240 EV skimmer
Orphek PR-156s and PR-ML7 lighting
Multiple Power heads positioned around tank
250 pounds of live rock
Stocked with pair of Ocellaris clowns, pair of Pj Cardinal fish, 5 green-blue Chromis, Starry Blenny, Seaweed Blenny, red legged hermits, serpent star, brittle star, snails, Derasa clam (had 1 month, so far so good) and a Popeye Catalufa.
Corals include Heliofungia actiniformis (absolutely huge and doing well),
<Not easily kept; you're to be congratulated>
Fungia (happy), Euphyllia parancora (grown from 2 heads to 14 in 3 years), Euphyllia paradivisa (2 kinds, one hosts the clowns, growing and happy), various Corallimorphs, Sarcophyton (grown from 2" to 6" in a year), Sinularia (grown from 2" to 12" in 3 years), Clove polyps (spreading constantly),
<Keep these cut back>
Caulastrea furcata (grown from 2 heads to 18 heads in 3 years), Cynarina lachrymals (huge and happy), Zoanthids, Purple Acropora (new and 2") and a Seriatopora (in 3 weeks and there is new growth very visible).
Consistent parameters:
78.5-79.5 degrees Fahrenheit
Nitrates 0
Alkalinity ranges between 8.4 to 11
Specific Gravity 1.025
ph 8.2
I do at least a 10% water change weekly, normally with seawater taken from 3 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, if water conditions are not right or my husband is not taking the boat out, the change happens with mixed saltwater. I have done this for three years now. I know, I know it is risky.
<Life "is a risk"; this aspect/practice not so much>
My dear husband is installing a RO/DI system next week.
I feed all sorts of various items to keep everyone happy...silversides, live glass minnows caught along remote island, normal looking live minnows caught in canal, glass shrimp, oysters, fresh grouper, mussels, brine shrimp, Cyclop-eeze, Mysid shrimp, live sea monkeys (love to use that term), spectrum sinking pellets, Spirulina brine shrimp, krill , fresh trout and a homemade coral concoction of all that plus various sushi grade seaweed ground up and frozen.
Alright, lets get to the reason for this email. My most favorite fish, the Popeyed Catalufa, is not happy. It has been in the tank for 3 months. It was skinny when purchased, but has fattened up with the live food alternated with night time hand feeding. I recently added 7 blue-green Chromis to keep a 2 year old Chromis company. Within the first three days, 3 of the Chromis disappeared and the Catalufa's belly looked rather large each morning.
<Did likely eat>
It was after this we noticed the lower jar of the fish hanging open as you can see in the photos. The Catalufa will still eat, but has a harder time grabbing and getting the hand fed food down and it cannot catch live food anymore. I am assuming the jaw is out of joint from engorging on Chromis.
<Maybe... or from physical damage>
What can I do?
<Not much unfortunately. There isn't a S.O.P. for rearticulating such jaw "breakages"...>
As long as it is still eating from hand feeding, should I wait it out?
I am concerned about removing the Catalufa and massaging the jaw back in place due to injuring the fish more.
This fish rocks and I hope to have it a long time. (I understand, as the Catalufa grows I will move out menu candidates to friends' tanks.) It is very amazing that the Catalufa hangs within 2 inches of the male clown and pays absolutely no attention, maybe coloration?...
<Sizing it up as a food item more likely>
now on the other hand, the action of the Chromis is very intriguing to the Catalufa. The blennies stay below radar currently. I don't want to lose this fish, please be as specific as possible.
Thank you for your advice.
<I would just wait, be patient. If you do net, pull this fish out, do so for only an instant. Bob Fenner>

Re: Catalufa Jaw Problem 5/27/2011
Good Morning,
I tried to compress photos, let me know if it worked.
Thank you,
<Mmm, down to 5.922 Megs... better, but no cigar. B>
Re: Catalufa Jaw Problem 5/27/11

This may be it. Let me know if these work.
Thank you,
<613 Kbytes... Winnah! B>

Fish ID 8/12/09
Do you know what type of salt water fish this is. It was caught off the coast of nc (topsail beach, nc).
<The fish you caught is a Short Bigeye (Pristigenys alta), usually found on rocky bottoms in 300 to 600 feet of water.>
I Google it for the life of me.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Mystery Squirrelfish 07/20/2008 Hi Bob, <Neale> Can you put a name to this fellow? Obviously a Holocentrid of some type, <Mmm, actually a "look alike" family, the Big Eyes, Priacanthidae... Maybe Pristigenys alta... http://fishbase.org/identification/specieslist.cfm?famcode=303&areacode=> but I'm afraid that's as far as I can go. On sale at a local fish shop here for ?130, about $250 or so. <Wowzah!> Quite a big beast, about 15 > cm from snout to tail.> > Feel free to use the image on WWM!<Will post, share> > Cheers, Neale <And you, BobF>>

Re: Mystery Squirrelfish 07/20/2008 Hello Bob, <Big N> Thanks for this. Yes, looks like the beast in question. Would I be correct in saying these fish, being deep water/nocturnal fish, require cooler than average conditions? <Mmm, there are some cooler water species... this one is... oh, I see this below> Given the subtropical distribution of this species, I was hazarding a guess around 18-22 C (68-72 F). <Yes> I'm writing up a "shop tour" and my not-too-subtle intention is to make it clear to readers that this fish can't be thrown into the average reef tank but will need its own quarters. Cheers, Neale <Ahh, I do concur, encourage the inclusion of this note. Cheers! BobF>

From Catalufa lover Hi Bob, just read one of your articles on the Popeye Catalufa. I just recently became an obsessed Catalufa owner. And in fact, I am now in pursuit of this Japanese Popeye Catalufa that I saw on your article web page. Where would you send me to order beautiful live caught Japanese Catalufa specimens? -Maria from Columbus Ohio <Good question... Maybe special order from Dr.s Foster & Smith or MarineDepot.com... Bob Fenner>

From Catalufa Lover in Columbus, Maria 9/20/05 Hi Bob, was reading your posts on Catalufas and I have some answers for you on care that's proven to work. <Ah, thank you> First, for eye degradation, browning around the eyes, flesh degradation, this is due to germs, not parasites that accumulate in the water. This is cured by a non-harmful antiseptic. I use Tee-Tree oil (100 % pure). In my 55 gal. tank. I generally splash 4-6 drops, every 2-3 days (as needed). It is non harmful to my blue starfish and sea fan. The degradation will clear up. As lazy as I am, the tee tree oil has cured many problems, including fin splitting, wart growing, and even to some degree Hexamita. No water changes necessary. If the fish begins breathing hard, simply re-insert the media, and try again in the next couple days with a lesser dosage. Hexamita, or hole in the head, I use Metrazol in small dosages. 3 and 1/2 capsules every 3 days. Then I don't have to do annoying water changes! Metrazol almost killed Sammy last time I dosed with the prescribed amounts on the package! Sammy is doing fabulous, and I will soon send a pic of my little aquatic family. <Okay> As far as bubbles in eyes, Sammy never gets them. People just don't understand how important it is to keep a fish happy. As strange as it sounds, over working a tank, keeping it too clean has negative effects. Let the tank go for a week, let nature take over. You will experience other issues like germs, but those again are cured with the Tee-tree. Also, tanks need real sunlight. Not just for vitamin D, but for the mental health of the fishy. One more thing, feed Hikari brand frozen fish food! Don't go to the store and feed perch, grouper, none of that stuff! Oh, and for sick fish-I mean really sick fish: Don't let the tank go dark at night! The fish's system takes over and they expend a ton of energy in some kind of zombie mode looking for food. The next morning, the fish is worn out! Sammy never gets total darkness. I do half and half at night. He appears to chill on the light side! How weird is that for a fish known to like darkness! His habits are different in captivity! Treat the Catalufa as such! <Good advice> Believe it or not, my fishy is happy in his somewhat algae over grown tank at times. (though I don't let it go for too long). I just let nature do her thing. There is always a natural way to cure. She has and always will take care of her own! -Maria from Columbus Ps, I've never had fish in my life, and Sammy is doing wonderfully. Never experienced New Tank Syndrome. <Real good. Thank you again. Will post, share. Bob Fenner>

Odd pic: Bob Hey, Bob <Antoine> sorting some pics here for the book chapters before tossing to Chris/Zo and I came across this odd one I took of a Bigeye. I thought the odd reflection in the eye might have a name and make for a NMARF caption. Dug around and think it does: the reflective membrane "tapetum lucidum" in the back of the eye that helps this fish see better in the dark (like dogs and cats, etc so says the reference). In this case, my flash reflecting off of it (pre-off camera flash pic by me <G>... onboard and reflected in image...Arghhh) has illuminated a blood vessel in front of it in the eye ball not see with the unassisted eye/view. Neat caption it will make, so says Yoda Ant-
<Neat. Thanks for sharing. Bob F>

Some photo ID help please? Hi Bob, it's been too long... life certainly has been interesting. I've been laid off my day job, the photo business is slow to pick up. A matter of finding the right "niche" I suppose. But my library now consists of somewhere around 600 high-quality images. <Great> Hope all is well with you. <Yes my friend, thank you> I'm hoping you can help me ID the fish in the picture attached. I assume it's in the Squirrel/soldier family, but can't seem to find a visual match. FAMA has decided to run the photo on the cover of an upcoming issue, and I need to get them the info for the caption. <Ah, congratulations> I've checked the usual suspects- WetWebMedia, FishBase, FishIndex, "Reef Fishes Volume 1" and many others with no luck. So I thought I'd check with an expert. Any help you have for me here would be, as always, greatly appreciated. Thank you Travis <It is assuredly a Big Eye, family Priacanthidae, either Pristigenys alta or P. serrula, please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bigeyes.htm and FishBase again with these names... If you know if the specimen were from the Atlantic or Pacific, you're in... Bob Fenner>

Pristigenys serrula Hi again, That is it. At the moment it is about 5-6 inches and very slow and graceful, so I expect it's space requirements are a bit less challenging than a Naso or a clown tang.<To some extent> One very interesting thing is that yesterday while acclimatizing whenever I went near to offer it some food it played dead flopping around and then would become alive again whenever I went away.<Well I have not kept one of these species of fish, but have observed them in captivity and they have a somewhat interesting personality. I would not be too concerned unless he stops eating or shows sign of disease> Today it already accepted food readily and I hope it will be very happy in my tank.<I hope so> I guess it is a bit of a rare species as so little info is available.<Indeed> Btw, its name is Fred, don't ask why, Thanks again,<good luck with this rare find, IanB> Massimo

Pristigenys serrula? (05/27/03) <Hi! Ananda here doing some research this afternoon...> Hi there, I wonder if you can provide me with some info as you so kindly did on other occasions. <I'll give it a shot...> I recently acquired a splendid specimen of Pristigenys serrula which eats well and is very amusing to watch as it is extremely alert and intelligent. <Sounds like a healthy fish.> Already on the second day of introduction in the tank he could sense when I would be putting food in it by watching what was going on outside and it would rise to the top of the surface. It is a very graceful and slow moving fish which is a full 5' and lives happily with a maroon clown and a regal tang. Can you tell me how big will it get and where I can find some further info? Other searches on the net have proved not very useful. <Well, my first stop is always http://www.fishbase.org ... When I looked for the Pristigenys genus, I found a number of fish, including P. serrula. The Fishbase entry for that fish says it gets to be about a foot long, so now I'm wondering if the fish length you mentioned above is a typo, or if it's perhaps a completely different fish!> Tips for basic husbandry? It is currently in a 120g reef tank with the above fish. All parameters scrupulously in order. <Go ahead and take a look at the listings on Fishbase. Those sometimes include what the fish eats, based on stomach contents of captured specimens. If you have a completely different fish, send us a photo and perhaps someone can identify it.> Thanks Massimo UK <You're welcome... Ananda>

Dead fish Hi David, <Hello my friend!> Thanks for your input! I think when my friend found the Bigeye in August it was stranded in a small depression in the sand with some water in it. The tide was running out real fast at the time. Still makes sense though that a healthy fish wouldn't be cruising around near the beach in open water. The beach it was found on is all sand that stretches quite far without any cover near the shoreline, and there are hungry stripers cruising around too. By nature, Bigeyes should/would be hiding in some rockwork or other structure to hunt and avoid predators. It seemed healthy for awhile and even started to grow but perhaps the added bioload (blenny and clownfish) allowed for unseen symptoms to start. Didn't test for ammonia, figured after several weeks the tank was well cycled. I did start the tank out with water and live rock from an established tank. Anyway, the water continues to clear up and the other two fish are still healthy. <My pleasure! Please remember that the fishes in QT need to stay there a full month. You were very wise to QT that Bigeye. Kudos to you for "protecting" your main tank. David Dowless> Thanks again. Jason
Re: dead fish
Dear WetWeb Crew, I was wondering if you could provide some insight as to why my fish died. First, some background info. The fish that died (sometime last night) was a Short Bigeye, about the size of a quarter, that a friend found stranded on a beach here in Maine back in August. <Do you really think a healthy fish washed up on shore? I certainly hope you had this guy in a quarantine tank> She gave it to me to care for. Everything was going fine until about 3 weeks ago. The fish was in a 10 gal qt tank with a hang-on type power filter with sponge for filtration and temperature set at 76-77degrees. I added a Redlip blenny about 1 month ago and small Clarkii clownfish about 2 weeks ago to the same tank with the Bigeye. The Bigeye was feeding well and had started to grow. It would take small pieces of shrimp, squid, or scallop from the end of my finger. The problems began about 3 weeks ago, when the Bigeye would not take the food from my finger. It was still eating, but not as much and was more selective. This continued to the point where the fish hardly ate anything and would look at the food but not even try to eat it. The last time it ate anything was probably 5 days ago, and that was a frozen Mysid shrimp. About 10 days ago, I noticed the tail fin was cloudy and a small piece was missing from the bottom of the fin, like it had been torn off. <Sounds like something in the tank thought this tail would be tasty> It looked like some type of fin rot, and turned bloody along the edge of the missing piece. <Fin rot sounds like a strong possibility. If blood was present the tail probably was not bit off> I added Formalin and that seemed to help over the next few days. All this time the blenny and clown appear to be healthy and are eating well. I also noticed that the water has been somewhat cloudy for a few weeks now. <Either a bacteria bloom or ammonia. Have you tested for ammonia?> I assume this is from a bacteria bloom although I clean up all uneaten food from the bottom of the tank and siphon the bottom of the tank when changing water. The tank has a bare bottom and 2 pieces of pvc pipe, a plastic coral and plant, and a small piece of dead "live rock." I perform a 1 gal. water change every 6-7 days, and the cloudy water doesn't seem to clear up after the water change. The pH is 8.2, nitrate/nitrogen 10mg/l, specific gravity 1.024, and alkalinity 5.5 meq/l. A few nights ago I added a bag of carbon to the power filter and hooked up a SeaClone skimmer to help. <Carbon should help. I'm really glad to see that you are testing regularly. Keep it up> Noticed last night the water wasn't as cloudy. The Bigeye was a spectacular fish and I hated to lose it. Any ideas what happened to this fish? <It's really hard to say...but a fish that washed up on shore? It could be anything. There was obviously a problem before it ever got to your tank> The blenny and clown will remain in this tank for at least another month. <Yes. Sounds very wise. I don't really notice anything that is amiss in your procedures except accepting the Bigeye in the first place.> Sincerely, <Glad to help! David Dowless> Jason

Popeyed Popeyes hi bob, it's me bob, from The Aquarium. it's time for yet a bit more of your vast wisdom bank. this question is regarding the fish commonly called "Popeye Cataula", I think your database calls them squat Bigeyes. we have 3 of them with gas bubbles in the eyes. one is so severe it floats! do you have any advice on how to alleviate this distressing malady? <... Depends on the cause... likely improper decompression from collection> I've tried using an insulin needle without much success. I just read that they should never be taken out of the water! why doesn't anybody tell people this stuff:< <"They" don't know> again your site is info-packed and I will be grateful for any help you can offer. thanks, bob <Keep the lights low... and the system stable otherwise... the gas in the eyes will evacuate over time/days hopefully. Bob Fenner>

Re: popeyed Popeyes I've seen this at least 2 other times, and it usually proves fatal due to eye degradation. antibiotics are useless, as I suspect the problem results from a pressure-related condition. <Pressure from? Were these priacanthids just collected? Are there fine air bubbles in the system that are involved here?> please help me think of a new strategy to beat this, because these are awesome animals! I'll dim the lights, hold my breath, and keep the faith! thanks for your timely answer! thanks again, Bob <We need to find the real cause of this exopthalmic condition... the eyes of these and most fishes are highly vascular zed... they are indeed "windows to the soul"... and to health... If this condition has arisen spontaneously, with all specimens, I am inclined to suspect dissolved gas as the prima facie origin... look about this system... is air getting entrained and mixed with water somewhere? This is the cause. Bob Fenner>
Re: popeyed Popeyes
they are in 3 separate systems, 2 of which I have not ever seen. Our main system at the shop will cavitate from time to time, a situation I have little control over. <What? What do you mean... never seen systems? No control? Please read over the following: http://WetWebMedia.com/bbldisease.htm on Gas Bubble Disease/Emphysematosis... in this case in pond examples... but the cause here is very likely the same... as I speculated in the last interchange. You (singular/plural) need to fix the source of cavitation... the Catalufas/Big-Eyes are more sensitive to dissolved gas complaints, but this condition is mal-affecting your other livestock... look about the pump (especially the volute/seals and likely MIP fitting into it for air leaks... often able to be easily detected by turning the pump off while watching the area (water will squirt out)... The air and water mixing together is the cause of your problem... fix it. Bob Fenner> The pressure I spoke of was a speculation that perhaps they were caught deep, and brought up quickly. Could a reduced specific gravity possibly help here? <No, at this point more likely to kill the livestock. Bob Fenner>
Re: popeyed Popeyes
I can check out our system, but the other two fish were brought in by customers. As usual, good info. Thanks <The other two Big-Eyes have the same condition? That is, gas behind the eye? They've been in these other systems for how long? Bob Fenner>
Re: popeyed Popeyes
About a month on one, and 7 months on the other, a tank I maintain from long distance, and have little knowledge of the day to day. <Mmm, it's almost infinitesimally possible that all three of these (Pristigenys alta?) would be suffering from gas bubble disease in this scenario... I though they might all be in the same system... even in a store setting... with centralized filtration> In the 7 month tank, we have an Imperator angel that would knock your sox off, a Blue Tang with no symptoms of lateral line erosion (2 years), and a dogface puffer that makes me proud to be a Dad, if I'm making sense. <I think so> The one month tank is kept by the kind of people I would want to watch my stuff when I'm gone. I spend 10 hours a day watching both fresh and marine animals do what they do, and there are times it becomes engulfing. <I understand> I'm sure, by seeing your reactions, you feel the same way. Were you aware of the Eco-Vitality program? What happened to them? <Heard of it, don't know> I spent my day on the road, doing what fish guys do, and I'm still a little pissed that we can't save every life we encounter. <Such is not possible my friend. We try, but in the final synthesis can only save ourselves> But ya gotta try, Bob. From one Bob to Another, Let's make it happen!!!! Peace, my friend, Bob
<Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

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