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FAQs about the Diseases of Clownfishes: Infectious (Bacterial, Fungal)

 Related FAQs: Clownfish Disease 1, Diseases of Clownfishes 2, Diseases of Clownfishes 3, Clownfish Disease 4, Clownfish Disease 5, Clownfish Disease 6, Clownfish Disease 7, Clownfish Disease 8, Clownfish Disease 9, Clownfish Disease 10, Clownfish Disease 11, Clownfish Disease 12, Clownfish Disease 13, Clownfish Disease 14, Clownfish Disease 15, Clownfish Disease 16, Clownfish Disease 17, Clownfish Disease 18, Clownfish Disease 19, Clownfish Disease 20, Clownfish Disease 21, Clownfish Disease 22, Clownfish Disease 24, Clownfish Disease 25, Clownfish Disease 26, Clownfish Disease 27, & FAQs on Clownfish Disease By: Environmental Stress, Nutrition, Social/Behavioral/Territoriality, Trauma/Mechanical Injury, & Pathogens: Lymphocystis, Protozoans: Cryptocaryon/Ich, Amyloodinium/Velvet, Brooklynella (see article below), & Mysteries/Anomalous Losses, Cure, Success Stories, & Clownfishes in General, Clownfish Identification, Clownfish Selection, Clownfish Compatibility, Clownfish Behavior, Clownfish Systems, Clownfish Feeding, Clownfishes and AnemonesBreeding Clowns

Related Articles: Clownfish Disease, BrooklynellosisClownfishes, Maroon Clowns, Marine Disease

Rare are infectious disease agents a "first cause" of Clownfish illness... Almost always these "show up" as secondary, decomposition circumstances... Best treated by way of improved, stabilized environment and dietary supplementation

Mystery Lesion on clownfish      1/20/16
On Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 4:23 PM, Robin T wrote: After reading the WetWebMedia site for several years, and today seeing your response to something similar on the side of a another clown, I thought you might be interested/have some insight on the lesion we are trying to resolve on my female clown .
<Yes; please>
In August I noticed a small red lump on her left "nostril". A flattened clear tissue soon developed on it but it all resolved within 2 weeks.
8 weeks ago the red lump reappeared in the exact same spot, followed by a clear bubble. She continued to eat and act normally but spawning behavior and egg laying ceased. I took pictures to my LFS and posted on 2 forums without results. 2 weeks ago the bubble grew large enough to alarm me. I moved her and her mate (since they have never been separated since they were purchased as juveniles in June 2012) into a 5 gallon hospital tank.
After the move the bubble disappeared (ruptured in the move?) but the lump remained. I did a complete round of Maracyn 2, then ran poly-filter and changed 50% of the water, and a day later started Furan 2. The bubble began to reform and during the last 2 days of treatment she refused all food. I changed their water and reacclimated them to the biocube water, then moved them back. Within a hour or so she began eating voraciously again. The lump now appears more ragged with pale areas when zooming in on pics.
She and her mate are the only fish in in biocube 29, along with a few snails. He has never shown any symptoms. There are soft and LPS corals (mainly Euphyllia). Nitrates run around 25 due to heavy feeding of a sun coral, despite running a Tunze skimmer, media basket with carbon & Purigen, changing filter media daily and 20% water changes weekly. All other
parameters are within normal ranges. Salinity 1.025. We feed mysis, Reef Frenzy and NLS pellets on a rotating basis, soaked in Selcon 2 to 3 times a week.
The first pic is from 3 weeks ago before treatments, the second from today.
Thank you in advance for any ideas or suggestions.
Robin Tingley
<Mmm; well; can't say where the initial "cause" lay here... perhaps a physical injury, maybe a bad-enough sting from the Euphyllia/s... and some sort of secondary infection (bacterial?) or a reaction event from w/in the fish itself. Your good care and poss. element/s of the treatment (the Furan is my guess) turned the balance to the host/fish.
Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>


Tail rot clownfish - 1/25/13
Hello crew! I have a clownfish in a QT tank now and his tail fin is rotting off.  A little background: fish diagnosed with ich early January. Tried treating with CP (1/6) but fish unable to handle it. I did a big water change. Four days later 4 of the fish breathing hard but no spots. I lost all 4 fish in a couple of days. Very quick onset of symptoms, mucus, losing color, very heavy breathing, loss of appetite. I'm talking a matter of hours. After researching it sounds like Velvet.
<Nah... burned by the CP>
 I put the clownfish in a separate QT and dosed with Formalin.
<Why? Of no use here; toxic>
That was 3 days ago, he's still alive. He's still not eating and his tail fin seems to be rotting away
 and occasionally there is mucus on his back tails area. I took him to the Marine Science Center and they did scale scraping (fish too small to do a gill scraping) and clipped part of his tail fin. They did not see any parasites. He did not stain the sample to check for bacteria (guy was doing this as a favor during work hrs)  he said he didn't see anything in the microscope. Should I treat with antibiotics?
<You could; best added to foods>
 What can I do to boost this fish's immune system considering he won't eat?
<HUFAs, vitamins added to water... marines drink their environment. B>
I'm making sure he has good water quality. I do daily water changes. Thanks crew! Jen
Re: Tail rot clownfish - 1/25/13

Are you still in Manila or do you just keep crazy hours?
<In S. Leyte, P.I., but yes>
 I should have mention I stopped the Formalin after the second day.
<Really only good for dips/baths>
Fish is still alive and I added Selcon to his water. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. It is very appreciated. J
<Welcome. B> 

Percula clown lip/face rot  10/3/05 We purchased three percula clowns at the same time, one has something horribly wrong with his lips/face. It looks like his face is rotting away. It started with his lips and is slowly spreading (rotting) away more flesh. Is there anything that can be done for him? We have quarantined him. <Perhaps an antimicrobial/antibiotic treatment (through the food if the fish is eating), an immersion bath if not... Likely resultant from fighting damage on placement, by the other "pair"... Bob Fenner>

Clownfish tail rot Hi there. I've visited your site before and have been attached to it a lot lately. I've asked you guys (and gals) a question before about my clownfish that seemed to be dying, she was very lethargic not eating unless I put brine shrimp in the tank, struggling to swim, and her fins and tail were rotting. I told you guys that I put medicine in the tank and afterwards your advice to me was to do a water change. I did do that and she stopped struggling to swim but was still lethargic, not eating and had fin rot. I found out that my nitrates had spiked sky high (from reading your site I found out it was from algae that grew and died off while I was out of town) <Ahh!> and I did another water change. The water looks awesome and my fish is swimming around more but her tail is still rotting and just started bleeding this morning. Her fins don't look like they are rotting but are slowly turning transparent starting from the edge of the fin and moving in. The color has disappeared just past her black stripe on her fins. Oh also, the scales directly behind her pectoral fins are white, not orange. Her mate is fine though, he hasn't lost any color or acting like the female does. I have a damsel, a dwarf lionfish, <... this fish will likely consume your other fishes, and shrimp in time> and a peppermint shrimp that are all fine also. What advice can you give me to help get her better again? Thank you so much for all of your help! - Nicole <Likely the simplest, surest improvement here is to boost all fishes immune systems by supplementing/soaking their foods in a vitamin complex like Zoe, Selcon... Also, I'd place a unit of ChemiPure in your filter flow path to reduce existing pollutant levels. Bob Fenner> 

Percula with dorsal wound Hi WWM Crew, <Tom> First, a huge thanks for putting the WWM site together.  I've been looking thru the site but can't find anything like this situation.  I've had this perc for about 5 weeks now.  It arrived mail order (60deg F bag temp!) with damage to the dorsal and one ventral fin, which quickly turned into what looked like a white fungus. <Likely bacterial, secondary> This was cleared up in QT, leaving just the exposed spines for the dorsal and one ventral fin, but the spines and wound appeared clean.  After another week in QT, the exposed ventral fin spines fell off, leaving just one ventral fin. <Oh... paired? This/these are pelvic fins... the ventral is singular, aka the anal fin> The dorsal spines remained exposed but apparently clean.  Other than the dorsal fin this fish looks and acts perfect, so I gave it a couple more days in QT (total QT time 3 1/2 weeks) then put the fish into our 110G reef.  Other residents in the tank (all healthy and growing) are a yellow tang and sixline wrasse, along with about 80 inverts (SPS, LPS, mushrooms, 2 scarlet skunk cleaners, 1 emerald crab, 2 stars, derasa clam, red and blue leg hermits, black cucumber, Hawaiian feather dusters, abalone, etc.).  Tested water parameters are all good (Spg 1.024, PH 8.3, dKH 10-11, Amm/Nitrite/Nitrate all zero, Ca 440).  Also test for iodine & phosphates, levels are fine.  Reef has about 120lb live rock. <Sounds good> The problem is that the dorsal wound isn't getting better, in fact it's getting more "raw".  The attached picture is grainy but you can see the exposed spines and even a little red where the wound is raw.  There is no fungus, the wound appears clean.  I haven't seen it, but could the perc be going to the wrasse or shrimp and getting the wound cleaned picked, making it worse?  Other than put it back in solitary QT, is there anything else I can do for this fish? Thanks, Tom <Not likely much more than you have done... perhaps vitamin supplementation to foods... if the fin/s are so badly eroded/missing, they often won't regenerate. Hopefully your Clown can/will lead some quality of life sans its dorsal, reduced pelvic fins. Bob Fenner>

Sick Clown (5/24/04) Hello, my black + white striped percula is very sick. He won't eat and he can't stay straight when not swimming and he tips over. He has a swollen right eye and is staying at the bottom. Can you please tell me what's wrong or what I can do, Thanks <Based on this description alone, it sounds like a bacterial infection, possibly superimposed on a parasitic infestation. You need to put him in a hospital tank. I'd suggest you consider starting a broad-spectrum antibiotic in there. You may need to treat for parasites as well. Read more about these by searching the WWM disease archives. Hope this helps. Steve Allen.> 

Ocellaris Deaths - Marina's Answer >Hi, I have had more than my fair share of problems with Ocellaris clowns lately.  I kept these guys in the past and they were never any trouble, but I'm not sure what is causing the problem now.  I decided to buy 2 Ocellaris clowns for my 4 month old 55 gallon aquarium.  Everything's been great in there with 1 damsel enjoying the place to himself.  I went to my LFS, but noticed the clowns there seemed to be stricken with Brooklynella.  I decided not to buy there, and instead, ordered them online.  The fish arrived promptly and appeared to be in great health.  I placed them into my quarantine tank after following the acclimation guides and all seemed fine.  The next day, I noticed 1 of the fish seemed to breathing heavier and was hanging around the bottom of the tank in one of the corners.  His friend was fine, swimming all over the place, normal breathing, etc.  I decided to keep an eye on him.  The next day, he was worse, exhibiting Brooklynella-like symptoms, so I treated the QT with Formalin.  Despite all of this, I lost the fish.  The other one still seemed fine.  I then got in touch with the company I ordered them from and they decided to send a replacement pair.  In the meantime, I noticed the other fish seemed to be ailing as well, not with Brooklynella, but with a bacteria-like infection.  I know this comes from things like poor water quality, but the fish's respiration rate was also up and I noticed that he had white feces trailing from him.  I had been performing daily water exchanges of 25-50% on the QT, but the ammonia always ran around .02-.03.  This may be what caused the problem for the other clown.   >>Stressful, but shouldn't have been the root cause of death. >Anyways, so the replacement pair came in and were acclimated to the QT, but they died within 2-3 hours.   >>Now *that's* a problem. >I have been treating the QT with a Triple-Sulfa medication that is supposed to be effective against bacteria.  The remaining fish is about the same: respiration higher than normal, but not gasping, still has the white trailing feces and he won't eat.  He hasn't eaten in about 3 days.  What is going on with these clowns?  I have heard similar stories from other people having trouble with clowns of late.  Am I medicating my current clown ok or should I try something else?  I really don't want to lose him.   Thanks, Katie >>I can't tell you exactly what's going on, though the white feces would indicate to me that the fish is suffering a bacterial infection.  I would definitely try something else.  I would lower the salinity just a bit, mostly to help with oxygen saturation, to around 1.017 or so.  Then I would use Spectrogram for a week (assuming he sticks with us that long!).  Your water changes, your testing, everything else you're doing seems to be spot on, so I can't tell you you've been making any mistakes in those areas.  Lastly, do go through our clownfish disease FAQ's, from there you may be able to glean additional information or insight.  Best of luck to you and the fish.  Marina

Clownfish With Swollen Eye Hi there.  Just have a quick question.  I have a Clarkii that has one eye that has bulged out.  Is still eating fine and swimming about but the one eye is way out there.  Have one coral beauty, one yellow tang, the clarkii and six green Chromis in a 55 gallon.  All levels are great and nothing else seems amiss.  Is this an infection or maybe an injury?  All seem to get along well.  Thank you in advance for the info. Sincerely, Linda C <Well, Linda- you hit it on the head! When you see one eye bulging, it generally means that your fish has suffered some kind of trauma to the eye. The swelling can be reduced by isolating the fish in a separate tank, and treating with Epsom salts. Alternatively, you could simply make sure that the tank water quality is as high as possible, and the injury could heal with minimal intervention on your part. Either way, just keep an eye on this fish (no pun intended here!) to make sure that there is no secondary infection manifesting itself. Good Luck! Regards, Scott F.>  

You Dip We Dip (Clownfish Disease) Bob, <Bob, Lorenzo Gonzalez, standing in for Bob-in-Asia> Well, I spoke too soon. After being in the q-tank for 1 week, one Tomato Clown came down with a fungus. Located right below the dorsal fin, it appears as a "white fuzz". I take this is the dreaded clownfish disease? <Hmmm. The clownfish disease (Brooklynella parasite) usually looks more like a bunch of soft, translucent, dead skin or mucus peeling/flaking off the fish. Gross. This sounds more like a fungus.> So I went tooling through WWM and found some answers to my questions. I will begin treating all three fish (2 Tomato Clowns/1 Six Line Wrasse) with a freshwater dip in Methylene. The Wrasse also appears to have a little white fuzz. There is one question that I could not find an answer. What is the duration of the dip (1 week, 2 weeks, etc.)?  <The duration of the dip is 5 minutes max for the wrasse, around 10 for the clowns.> Then what is the frequency of the dip (every day, every other, etc.)?  <Don't haul those fish out and dump them in a bucket more than once every 48 hours. It's really not fun for them at all.> I am also planning to do a partial water change every day or at least every other. <Very, very good idea. You can also treat the entire quarantine tank with the Blue.> Now here is my big question, how much longer do they need to stay in q-tank? <Until you haven't seen any trace of the disease for 14 days straight.> Thanks as always for your help. I think my brown bottle tab just went up again. <I don't drink, but I'm sure Bob will be happy to collect! -Lorenzo> <Oh yes! Bob F> Bob Wrigley

Tomato clowns Dear Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob tours the country with his Magiver Barkeep routine...mixing any drink on request with only a bottle of Tequila, chocolate sprinkles and a bowl of pimentos to work with. It's amazing...he can literally mix ANY drink requested... of course, the all taste like vodka with pimentos covered with chocolate sprinkles...but that is another matter> I recently purchased your "Marine Aquarist" book and have found it an invaluable introduction to the saltwater hobby.  <truly one of the best!> I had a brief question that perhaps you could shed some light on: I have a 55 gal. tank with a wet/dry filter, a Prizm HOT skimmer and an undergravel filter.  <consider investing in a second/better skimmer for the future...especially considering the UG filter and the possibility of adding invertebrates> the system is about 4 months old and all the Nitrogen levels seem to be in order. I've only got 2 tomato clowns and 2 striped damsels in there for now. The 2 damsels feed well and are active but regularly scratch themselves in the rocks and gravel. the clowns I have not seen scratching <could be pathogenic OR water quality...alas, a general symptom> but both have recently (past week) started to show areas of white to off-white small patches on the anal and lateral fins. The white spots don't appear to look like anything I've seen or read concerning ICH or Velvet so I was thinking they might be fungus. Any info you could provide on diagnosis and/or treatment is greatly appreciated. Thanks so much, your book and website are superb! Adam Farkas <Adam... fungus is unlikely, but buy and feed antibacterial medicated flake food to help out just in case. Many water quality parameters besides Nitrogenous components can cause scratching/glancing... do a series of small frequent water changes to see if that could be the case (dilution is the solution to pollution...aiee!). I think it is more likely that the fish have gill parasites. Pick up antiparasitic medicated food at the same time and feed as per instructions (feed full term). If stabilization or improvement is not evidenced within days from meds and water changes... be prepared to remove fish to a quarantine tank for medication. Kind regards, Anthony>

Tomato clowns Hi Anthony, <good evening Adam... I'm obviously on the night watch. Fortunately, I eat so much garlic during any given day that I am quite safe from bats and vampires. Anthony> Thanks so much for your quick and informative reply. I'll certainly try out the medicated flakes and hope that clears things up, but I've got the hospital tank up and running just in case. <excellent! A very good aquarist indeed. Watch for labored breathing too in the fish, or especially a symptom of closing one gill while pumping the other... a good reason to remove to quarantine> You guys are running a great site at WWM.com, much appreciated. Regards, Adam <You are very welcome...pass it along to other aquarists, please. Anthony>

Clownfish I have a 50 gallon salt tank running for 1 month now and I've just decided to get a clownfish and 5 hermit crabs. After about 3 days, I've started to notice that there were a white small bump or spot on his head. What could this possibly be? The ph level is at 8.3, nitrite is low, ammonia is low, and temp at 78degree. What do I need to cure the problem. <hmmmm.. needs to be ID correctly first. If the spot spreads to spots and they are like sized no larger than a grain of salt, then you may have a parasite. Else, it could be more than a few things. Do get a good book like the Conscientious Marine Aquarist and study well. With marine aquaria, my friend, you should never put wild fish right into a tank. It is a surefire way to spread disease, kill fish and lose money. Research on proper quarantine protocol. The QT tank is cheap and easy and saves lives, heartache and money in the long run. In the meantime, fins a good disease reference book like the Handbook of Fish Diseases by Dieter Untergasser to ID the symptom on your fish. If you have a killer camera, do send a picture along. Kindly, Anthony Calfo> Paul sang

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