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FAQs about Cardinalfishes, Family Apogonidae, Health/Disease

Related Articles: Cardinalfishes

Related FAQs:  Cardinalfishes 1, Cardinalfishes 2, & FAQs on: Cardinal ID, Cardinal Behavior, Cardinal Compatibility, Cardinal Selection, Cardinal Systems, Cardinal Feeding, Cardinal Reproduction,  & Banggai Cardinals, Banggai ID, Banggai Behavior, Banggai Compatibility, Banggai Selection, Banggai Systems, Banggai Feeding, Banggai Disease, Banggai Reproduction,

Orbic cardinal - stroke?       5/27/14
Hello. Thank you in advance for your feedback and assistance.
<Certainly welcome>
Hi all. I've had an Orbic Cardinal
<An; as in a single specimen I take it...>
for almost 1 month and it has been healthy and vibrant until 2 days ago. It is currently looking lethargic
and hanging out in an upper corner of my tank where there is less water turbulence from my power jets. For lack of a better word, it appears like it's had a stroke - it's rear tail is not open and fanned out like my
Pajama Cardinal, it's not eating (brine shrimp) and it's movements appear slow and almost strained. I just noticed a bit of a velvety/slick stuff on 1 of its sides (see attached picture). Otherwise the eyes and other fins appear clean and normal.
What are your thoughts on what the fish may be experiencing and how I can help fix it. Thanks again.
<The genus Sphaeramia members are VERY social animals... though they may bicker in too-small volumes in captivity. They're always found in shoals/groups in the wild. I suspect at least one major source of stress for your individual is that it is alone. IF you have room, I'd have at least 3, 5...
Bob Fenner>

Apogon parvulus problems   12/22/11
Hello WetWebMedia Crew,
I am having a problem with one of my Red Spot Cardinals (Apogon parvulus). 
This morning I noticed one of them had something rather large coming out of its anus.  I also noticed a slight dark discoloration on both sides, a swollen belly and it would not eat.  I  have attached a picture so you could see what I am referring to.  It is not the best picture but it was the best I could get.  I thought at first that the fish would pass whatever this is but after the whole day it is still there.  I read several of the posts on your site about intestinal parasites and worms and am a little confused as to what this might be.
<Might be such>
 I was hoping with a picture maybe you could give me a better idea of what I am dealing with and some advice on what to do going forward.  I read on your site that if it is worms that the treatment might be worse than the worms so I don't want to do any unnecessary treatments.  I have 14 of these cardinals and am especially worried
that this will spread to the other fish.  They are in a 100g reef tank. 
All other tank inhabitants are doing well.  Water parameters- Ammonia and Nitrite undetectable, Nitrate under 1, Phosphates undetectable.  Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you for you time and happy holidays.
<Mmm, need a better resolved image to be more sure whether this is something live or just fecal material, but in either case I'd take no action in treating or trying to physically extract this matter. Catching to move and treat the cardinals will likely do too much damage; and I would NOT treat the system w/ an Anthelminthic/De-wormer as this would kill off too much worm life and possibly more. IF this is a worm of some sort, it may well have a complex life history and not be able to reproduce, re-infect your fishes in this setting. I would (I know it's hard) just try to be patient and hope for the best. Oh! I would avail yourself of biological cleaners if you have none present. A member of the family Hippolytidae would be best/preferable. Please read here re:
Bob Fenner>


Glass Cardinalfish spot   4/6/2011
Good Evening,
< And you>
I noticed tonight that one of my Redspot Glass Cardinalfish has a weird spot on its tail. Based on the picture do you have any ideas of what this may be?
<I don't see anything in your pic other than the usual (off colour in this image) false ocellus (eye spot) on the caudal peduncle>
I have 5 in my 90 gallon tank and this is the only one to have this spot. I have a few fish in quarantine now that I was about to put in the tank but am reluctant to do so at this moment. I do not believe this is Ick, as it seems to be to big of a spot, and it is only 1 spot on this fish only. I was thinking it may be some type of injury or maybe some other parasite but am not sure. Does it look like anything you may be able to diagnose? Should I hold off on adding my other fish?
<Not to worry here... This is a regularly marked Apogon parvulus. Bob Fenner>

Re: re: Glass Cardinalfish   4/6/2011
It may be a little difficult to see as I cropped the picture but the white spot is on the bottom left of tail. I attached the original picture. My actinics are only on right now and these fish are to fast to snap a close up. Not sure if you can what I am referring to?
<Likely a "sting" or snag, a physical trauma. Likely to heal on its own in a few days. BobF>

Pajama Cardinal - Pregnant or Sick  8/18/09
Bob, we've exceeded our mailbox quota, so I'm going to forward this answered query with images to you (and myself) so I can delete it. It's over 400k. It's the only option I can see to clear up our space right now.
All the other emails with big files are still unanswered...
-Sara M.
<Real good. B>
Subject: Pajama Cardinal - Pregnant or Sick
Hello Crew,
I understand the Pajama Cardinal is a mouth brooder and I have a pair of them and one of them has a lump below his mouth for about a week now and I am not sure if this is due to eggs being incubated or if there is another problem.
<I think this may be a hormonal issue... a "goiter">
I have attached pictures as best as I could get as the fish does not want to "show" itself for the camera.
The fish are in a 75 gallon tank 3 years old with a Yellow Tang, False Percula, Coral Beauty, Dwarf Hawkfish (Falco)
20% water changes done every 2-3 weeks
Sg 1.026
PH 8.2
Temp 78
Meql 2.6
Ca 450
<A little high>
Na03 .5
<NO3 likely>
John Maggio
<I'd try administering a Vitamin and HUFA prep. to the foods and directly to the water here... Maybe a bit of iodine/ide. Bob Fenner>


PJ Cardinal not looking 'right'... reading... dangers of "mail ordering" livestock    6/7/09
I have 4 PJ Cardinalfish that I received on Wednesday currently in my quarantine tank .
(One arrived dead)
<This is telling>
The other 4 seemed to be doing fine, not liking pellets but eating Cyclop-eeze and frozen food.
Today one of them seems unhappy, top fin down and his tail is all red (they're usually see-through and dotted)
Ammonia and Nitrite are 0 but Nitrate is low but detectable. Temp is 78 degrees, pH is 8.0.
I am waiting for the saltwater to mix properly and then I plan to do a water change. Is there anything else I should do?
<Mmm, well... need more data re the actual system (set-up, history...) but the one fish is likely doomed... dying, some sort of "secondary" bacterial involvement... But just judging from the pic, these are small specimens, evidently (too) beat from collection, handling... And often these don't "make it" as such. See WWM re: http://wetwebmedia.com/carddisf.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Choking cardinal   1/10/09 Hi marine gurus, <Yo!> Small problem here. I want to train my newly acquired lionfish to accept frozen food, so I put a small piece of frozen krill in my tank, and to my surprise, my pajama cardinal chomped it down, except it didn't fit and an hour later the head is still sticking out of the cardinal's mouth. He doesn't seem to be terribly uncomfortable, but I'm wondering if I should help him out. <I would not... more likely to cause damage> Should I net him, and try to pull the krill out with tweezers? <I would not> (By the way, I do know that I will need to move the cardinal to another home at some point, but for now I think it's OK, the lionfish is very small, and the cardinal quite big). Thanks in advance, Elise <Mmm, very likely the food will go one way or the other, and the Apogonid will end up in the Pteroine. Bob Fenner>

Re: choking cardinal, and Lionfish nutrition/feeding  1/13/09 Thanks, Bob, you were right. The krill was gone in about a day. I do have a concern about the lion, I've been searching but can't find a specific answer. His tail has what looks like a hole or a tear, it was small at first, but it's bigger every day. Now it looks like there was a big bite taken out of the back of the tail, though I know that's not it. (He's housed with a couple damsels <Mmm, what sort of Damsel species?> and the cardinal). I would suspect parasites, but it's just in this one specific spot. I've been trying to train him on frozen foods, but no luck yet. I've given him a feeder goldfish a couple of times a week, <... need to have go w/o food for a few weeks perhaps> which he devours. He doesn't seem distressed. Thoughts? thanks! Elise <Is living (for a while) on the goldfish... Please read on WWM re this. BobF>

Cardinal gill problem 11/11/08 Hello, <Hello there Wendy.> I've spent more time then I can calculate reading through your site and have learned more information from it then I have in the 5 years since I set up my 90 gallon reef. Thank you all for what you do! <Great! Thank you!> The reason I'm writing is I have a large cardinal (about 3 1/2" to 4" long) that I've had for at least four years. He's always been healthy and has never had any problems. I noticed his mouth was open about 2 weeks ago. I thought nothing of it at the time because he has held eggs quite a few times in the past so that's what I thought it was. <Neat.> Upon closer inspection his gills look inflamed. I can't find any pictures to help me identify what it is. Can you identify and suggest a treatment for him? <I can't, sorry.> I've attached the best pictures I could get. He is still eating and swimming around normally. <Both good signs.> He does seem to be having a hard time breathing though. My water parameters are, ammonia - 0, nitrite - 0, Nitrate - less them 5, PH - 8.2, temp - 78.5, SG - 1.025.  Also he is the only fish with this problem. <The symptoms are not indicative of any particular ailment as far as I'm aware. Has anything been added to the tank lately? Painting, any other fumes near the tank in the last few weeks? If you can, do have your SPG checked by a different hydrometer. Sometimes the things can be off over time and high SPG could possibly cause the issue you are experiencing. Otherwise I will pass this along to Bob upon his return in a few days.> Thank You
<Welcome, Scott V.>

More Re: Cardinal gill problem 11/13/08 Hi Scott, Thank you for your response. <Welcome Wendy.> I haven't added anything new for quite some time. No painting or spraying of any kind is allowed near the tank, not even to clean the glass. I use a refractometer to test my SG and it's been calibrated with RO/DI water. Since he's acting normal otherwise I'll wait for a response from Bob. <I will drop this in his box right now. He is only a day or two out at this point.> Thanks again, Wendy <Thank you, Scott V.> <<Most "cases" in which there appear to be "hard breathing", more or less permanent distension of gills are due to issues of gas distribution (low DO mostly, Dissolved Oxygen) or some sort of in situ poisoning... I see that there is appreciable Blue Green Algae present in this system... this might well "be it" here. Please see/search WWM re BGA et al. toxic effects. Perhaps start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/toxictkendof.htm Bob Fenner>>

Re: cardinal, hlth.  11/20/2008 I looked at the pictures and I don't see the Cyano you see. Some of the reddish spots in the pic are coralline growth, some are sponges. If your talking about the pinkish hue on the sand this is a small dead spot in the back of the tank. I'll be getting a couple more power heads pointing towards the back of the tank to eliminate the dead spots. If that were the problem wouldn't some of my other fish have the same symptoms? <Likely so, yes> I have two other cardinals in the tank that have been there just as long as he has and are both fine. <Ahh! Had not seen this before... a mystery to me for sure. Might I ask, can you detect a parasite in the one fish's buccal area? Perhaps an isopod?> Thank You, Wendy <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Pajama Cardinal 4/9/08 Hi Crew, I have a Pajama Cardinal that is almost 5 years old. I feed him freeze dried mysis, garlic flakes and Cyclopeeze. Once a week I feed newly hatched brine shrimp. He has not changed his eating habits but a few days ago I noticed a very unhealthy looking anus. It looks like a ball of something chopped up. It is not protruding from the anus but is the area of the anus itself. It looks very rough and there is some redness. He acts as if there is no problem. Is this best left to heal on its own? Thanks, Sam <Yes... about all one can do... This "condition" is often termed a "prolapsed anus"... and can be "due" to a few causes... some pathogenic, some from blockage... In this case I strongly suspect "old age/senescence" has a good deal of influence. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Re: Pajama Cardinal 4/9/08 Thanks Bob, Update. It is about a week since I noticed the problem and this morning it looks healed. Looks normal in color and smoothness but I seem to detect a bit of bloat around the area on one side only. <Ah, good> Since he had this problem I have been looking at him more closely and I find it amazing the amount of color this fish has. Sam <As my late mother used to quip... "the more you look, the more there is to see"! Cheers! BobF>

Cauliflower Disease? Robert: I have a Cardinal Fish that appears to have Cauliflower disease. I have had my tank for about 8 weeks and added the Cardinal Fish two weeks ago. Attached is a picture of my fish (I know the picture doesn't show great detail but that was the best I could do) can you tell me if this is Cauliflower Disease?  <Not from the images... but this condition (Lymphocystis) is not uncommon on this species.> From the research I have done, Cauliflower Disease appears to be the only fit. Also, from what I have read, there doesn't appear to be any real cure. I have done a fresh water dip and he appears to be breathing rather heavily right now. Do you have any advice? Can this spread to my other fish? Your help is greatly appreciated! <Yes. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lymphfaqs.htm and backwards through the links mentioned there. This is really an "environmental disease"... best "treated" by improving such. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Scott

Cyanided cardinal??? Bob, A quick question for you, and a bit of a mystery to me. One week ago today, I purchased 4 Banggai Cardinals. Unfortunately, they have not fared as well as my other livestock, and from their behavior/mortality rate, I was wondering if you feel there may be a possibility they were collected via cyanide techniques, and if so, if there is a way of saving the remaining specimen(s). Within 12 hours of placement, 1 perished. A couple of days ago, a second one died mysteriously, and now a third is laying on the bottom, leaning against a rock and "gasping" (rapid/exaggerated mouth and gill movement). All four specimens have been extremely lethargic during the time I've had them... even at night. So much so that when showing the new acquisition to a family member they thought there were plastic fish hanging in the tank. All other livestock is doing well (fishwise: 3 damsels, 2 yellow tangs, 1 scooter blenny, 1 clown, 1 pink Pseudochromis) in a 90 Gallon reef. All invertebrates/corals are fine as well. All tank measurements/parameters are fine. I'm figuring the "gasper" is probably beyond being saved and will die within the next few hours. Is there anything I can do for him, or the only remaining "healthy" specimen?  <Unusual... I agree... considering the size of your system, the other livestock... that they don't seem to be acting strangely... I think there may well be "something" wrong with these cardinalfishes... in their transport, acclimation... But not cyanided... almost all are captive produced... and the ones in the wild are not hard to hand collect... no need for poisons in their capture> In the 5 months the tank has been set up, outside of the "starters" I've only lost 1 other fish, and I hate it when it happens. My wife ends up naming all of the fish, and cries when they die. Any thoughts to saving the remaining cardinal? Could these have been collected via cyanide (suspicious after reading section in TCMA)? <Again, not at all likely... have you talked with your supplier? Others who bought fish from this "batch"?> Thanks again for your help... past/present/future. <You are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> Matt

Cloudy eye on PJ cardinal and quarantine practice. Hello, <Hi Laurie.  Adam here today.> I have a 3 year old 46-gallon bow front reef tank with 1 Percula, 1 Bicolor Angel, 1 Neon Dottyback, and 4 Bar Gobies.....all healthy.  I also have many  mushrooms and polyps and a couple leathers.  I recently added 3 small Pajama  Cardinals.  I am 50/50 about quarantining.  If the fish is a strong one (like  my Dottyback), I will quarantine.  These guys are so delicate I chose not to. <I am befuddled by your logic.  I am strongly in favor of quarantine for all subjects, particularly those that are "delicate" or disease prone.  They are exactly those that are likely to carry or contract disease, not eat, etc.  In other words, they are the fish that quarantine is designed for!>   After 24-hours they are fine.  Eating well and acting quite normal.  Only an  occasional curious peck from the Dottyback.  No one is really bothering them  too much at all. <Good to hear.  Such docile fish are often the subjects of aggression.  Beware also that with three, two are likely to pair off and shun the third.> One Cardinal, however, has a cloudy eye.  I don't want to take him out into the quarantine tank and put him back into the reef only to stress him out even more.  Will the cloudy eye go away by itself or do I need to treat it somehow? <Effective treatment in a tank containing inverts is not possible (another good reason for quarantine!).  The cloudy eye could have many causes including Amyloodinium (velvet) which spreads and kills rapidly.  I would absolutely remove this fish to a quarantine tank ASAP.  One of the best ways to do this is with a tiny (#20 or so) barbless fish hook designed for fly fishing.  Bait the hook and catch the fish.  It may sound cruel, but it is quite effective and much less stressful than a chase with a net.  If you have the containers to do so, you could also drain the tank to within a few inches of the bottom, net the fish and re-fill.  Inverts should tolerate this for a few minutes to a half hour with no problem.> A challenge in a reef with live rock, etc.  (I have a UV sterilizer with a brand new bulb.) <See above tips for removing fish from a reef tank.  Also, you may want to move the UV to the quarantine tank if practical.> Thank you in advance for your help. <Good luck!  Adam> Laurie

Banggai Cardinal Mortality 7/04 Hi Bob.  I was wondering if you could help me out. <Hi Alois, Adam here and glad to help.> I am a importer of marine fish in new Zealand.  I have been importing Banggai cardinals over the last 2 months.  So far out of 100 they have all died. <This has been a sad but common experience here in the states too.> They do well for 2 weeks, eating very well then they breath heavy and have white faeces, then they die.  Any ides?  Regards, Alois <Some folks have necropsied Banggais that died soon after import and found large numbers of internal parasites.  If you have the equipment and someone with the ability, I would strongly suggest doing the same.  Unfortunately, I can't find any of the sources that discussed this, but I do believe that it was discussed at www.reefcentral.com.  Whoever did the necropsy seemed certain of at least the major group that the parasite was is, so treatment may be possible.  In the mean time, do consider breeding these guys!  They eat Selco supplemented baby brine from day one and are marketable in about 8-12 weeks.  You should be able to easily satisfy the New Zealand market.  Best Regards, Adam> 

Banged-Up Banggai! Guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight> I know you are currently understaffed, so I'll make it quick. My Banggai cardinal -the only fish in a 72G with 6 misc. Lysmata shrimp and 2 Hermit Crabs, seems to have scratched himself last night during a routine water change. Now there is a pin-head sized fuzzy growth on his left eye. I was afraid this was going to happen some time, with the way he'd dart around wildly whenever my hands enter the tank. I'm currently feeding him Mysis or daphnia or minced cocktail shrimp soaked in either Selcon or Vita-Chem. <Nice supplementation...!> I want him to OD on food and let his own immune system handle this, because the stress of capture and quarantine may make matters worse. Beside, the QT has an ocellaris clown which has 3 weeks of QT left! My nitrates don't even register on test kits and the tank has been set up for 8 months now with an Eheim wet/dry and a Prizm skimmer and as of last night a Remora which is yet to produce anything but noise... <Give it time!> Thank you!!! Narayan <Well, Narayan, I think that you're doing the right thing here. Just maintain the most pristine water conditions possible, and keep a close eye on this fish to make sure that the condition doesn't worsen. If you don't want to subject the fish to a quarantine system, you could net him and give him a dip in tank water with some Methylene blue, which has strong anti-bacterial properties. In the end, though- you be the judge. Hopefully, with your continued dedicated care and tank maintenance, the fish will make a full recovery with little additional intervention on your part. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Pajama Cardinal Fish Disease   7/28/06 Dear Crew, <Paul> One of my Pajama Cardinals developed a white fuzzy growth along its mouth and stopped eating. <Mmm, likely "banged" into something> A portion of the filamentous growth was about a quarter inch long and dangled from its lower jaw.  After a week the fuzz disappeared and the fish is starting to eat a bit, but there appears to be a small hole in its lower jaw. The growth did not appear to be an isopod or parasitic invertebrate.  It does not seem to be affecting the other cardinals, blue damsels, clown fish or hawk fish that share the 75-gallon reef aquarium.  What could the disease have been? <A physical trauma>   Is any treatment required at this point? <No, not likely of benefit. Too likely too stressful to all.> Thanks very much! <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Banggai Cardinal Deaths...Very New System - 07/27/06 Hi there! <<Hello!>> I have a 72G reef ready Oceanic tank being filtered by 110 pounds of cured live rock and a 20G refugium w/protein skimmer.  I only run the skimmer for about a week in six. <<Mmm...am a firm believer in running skimmers 24/7>> I perform a 15% water change every 10 days.  Water parameters are all spot on.  Ammonia & nitrite at zero.  Nitrate never above 25ppm. <<This is a reef tank?  Nitrate should be below 5ppm.  If this is a FOWLR/FO you should still strive to keep nitrates below 20ppm>> The tank was started on May 6th of this year, as defined by the placing of the rock in the tank. <<Ah, a very "young" tank indeed>> To date, livestock consists of 5 Blue/Green Chromis, 1 Six Line Wrasse, 1 Blood Shrimp, 2 Turbo Snails and about 12 Blue Legged Hermit Crabs.  All of these animals have been doing great since their introduction into the tank.  The problem occurred when 4 Banggai Cardinals were added.  They all started out great.  Eating enthusiastically and swimming vigorously.  After two weeks they started (one by one) losing their appetites, becoming lethargic, demonstrating labored breathing (some had stringy white feces) and dying.  Per fish this process took about 3 days from loss of appetite to death. <<Possibly environmental, compounded with stress from conspecific aggression>> All of the other fish are still doing fine.  Can any one tell me what is happening. <<Banggai Cardinals are generally hardy once acclimated to a "mature" system.  They also can be quite intolerant of conspecifics unless in mated pairs.  The problem you describe may be a combination of a "too new" system (for this species) and aggression related stress>> I have a Purple Firefish in the quarantine tank and I'm afraid to put it in the main tank until I have some clue.  Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated as I'm new at this. I would give this system a couple more months to mature/reach a balance before adding more cardinals...or the firefish for that matter.  Letting your skimmer run continuously will also be of great benefit, in my opinion>> Thanks!! Jan Harrison   <<Happy to assist.  EricR>>

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