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FAQs about the Diseases of Clownfishes, Social, Behavioral, Territorial

 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, Trauma/Mechanical Injury, & Pathogens: Lymphocystis, Infectious Disease (Bacteria, Fungi...), 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

If there proves to be too much antagonism between your Clowns, it is highly recommended you give the alpha individual a "time out", by placing it in a floating colander, all-plastic "breeding net" of size, what have you, to grant the "beta" individual a chance to become better established. RMF.

Clownfish keep dying 1 always lives... "The butler-fish did it"      7/4/14
Ok so im new to the hobby first time on this forum posting. Been reading it for about a year before I got the tank (I do ALOT
<Mmm, no such word>
of research before I get into something like this) but let me get into my problem and its not a mantis shrimp I always find the bodies and take them out the bodies don't stay in for more than a few hours and I always wait a few days before getting another fish to check levels
Hi guys my aquariums is as follows (sorry if my spelling is wrong on anything)
75gallon set up for about 2 months now
about 80+/- lbs live rock
60lbs live sand
Fluval 405 canister filter
SeaClone 100g skimmer
temp 78-80 bad heater need a new one (temp fluctuation is not bad it just creeps up and down over a week or so never above or below those two though
48" Odyssea t5ho lights 2 10k 2 actinic
1.021 sg
0 ammonia
0 nitrites
5-10 nitrates
15g water change every 2 weeks
fish list
1 snowflake ocellaris 2" +/-
1 lawnmower blenny
1 neon Dottyback
1 six-line wrasse
<... could be the one Ocellaris, the Pseudochromid or Pseudocheilinus....>

1 diamond watchman goby (sits at bottom eats sand all day) lfs said that's what it was but heard there's two different ones that look like that
1 neon goby
1 skunk cleaner shrimp
assortment of turbo Astreas and 2 other kinds of snails
I think they are blue legged hermit crabs maybe 10 to 20 they come in as hitch hikers I bout maybe 5 and they either hitchhiked or made behbehs lol
and one 2" Bubbletip anemone its been in there for about 3 weeks now originally got it for the clowns but then it moved to the very back of the tank where I didn't want it like they tend to do so I hear lol
anyways my problem is I've had the tank running for about 2 months now since may 26 2014
I started out with 2 clowns after the tank got done cycling the first time no fish just a table shrimp in it for a week then out one clown died due to second cycle is what lfs told me I added 2 domino damsels and the neon Dottyback 1 damsel died in first 24h second damsel died 1w later
<!? Usually VERY tough>

added lawnmower blenny and sixline wrasse 6 line jumped out and died 2 days after I got it cause I forgot to put lid back on added another one and the diamond watchman goby added another clown it lived about a week and was doing fine then died added another clown it died added another clown it died

went to one of my buddies he's been doing marine for about 12 yrs he told me that my clown might just be really aggressive and killing my other clowns so he told me he'd give me store credit if I bought a pair of clowns from his tank so I did that I get them put them in my tank 4 days later one of them kicked the bucket now im back to having just one clown again and all other fish are still alive
But here is clown types all ocellaris that have died
1 false percula
1 misbar false percula
1 extreme misbar false percula (almost a naked clown only had a tiny bit of a white spot on its gill maybe a 1/4" wasn't ick either lol
1 snowflake clown
im sorry this is so long but I really want a clownfish couple don't care if they breed just want a pair of them and a anemone for them I know clown/anemone hosting takes time but I think its cool to watch
<Am sorry I didn't return this mail to you to fix the grammar>
also acclimation procedures I've tried have been Float and drip then transfer fish only
float and drip then pour bucket into tank
float then transfer
Float then pour bag into tank
what im trying to figure out is why only one of my clowns dies even when I put them in as a pair and the other one doesn't is there anything I can do that im not doing to prevent this or am I doing this properly and its just the fish being weak and stressed to badly to the point of death and sorry if this should be put somewhere else I couldn't find a clown only section so I figured itd go good here lol
<... See above... my bet/guess is on one of the stated fishes as/are a bully. Bob Fenner>
Re: re: Clownfish keep dying 1 always lives     7/4/14

Also something I forgot to say what that 2 of the clowns that i saw before they died were breathing really hard I've been told its called gilling not sure though and are at the top of the tank like a gold fish or Betta in a fresh water tank getting air but I have 2 Koralia 1150 powerheads in the tank causing water ripples at the top not sure if that has anything to do with them dying and im just not sure as I didn't see the other 2 doing it out of the 4 that have died just 2 of them did it
<More poor English and yet more evidence of bullying. SEARCH/READ on WWM re such. BobF>
Re: re: Clownfish keep dying 1 always lives     7/4/14

And also when I thought it was the one ocellaris my buddy told me that also so I took it to the store and got 2 completely different ocellaris
<More victims. B>

Tip For Removing Aggressive Fish? (I have a few for ya) – 02/20/13
Hi all.
<<Hey Tim>>
I have a clownfish, who, after over a year of peaceful coexistence, is suddenly harassing everybody else in the tank,
even including a lovely LPS coral from who it steals food!  I have to net that fish, and I have a tank prepared for it.
But because I have extensive rockwork, with numerous caves, tunnels, and dart-holes, I suspect this will be a difficult task.
<<And likely impossible…>>
Dismantling the rockwork is not an option.
I wonder if any of you experienced pros have any tips.
<<Indeed I do>>
I've begun by trying to get it used to a net, waving the net around harmlessly, but it is very cautious.
<<And much faster and agile than you realize (with all the obstructions available for use during escape) when it comes trying to corral it.  One option is to try to trap it…you can even make your own “minnow trap” style fish trap from a 2-liter plastic soda bottle (see WWM re)…but this often results in quicker/greedier fishes getting caught which can require their removal/holding elsewhere in order to get to the “target” fish.  Another option is one I first tried about 25 years ago…go ‘fishing’ for the little bugger.  Get some very light (2-lb) monofilament fishing line and a very small (size 22) fishhook.  Squeeze the barb down on the hook with pliers…tie it on to the line…bait with a tiny piece of raw shrimp (Mysis- or table-)…and hook the little guy out of the tank.  You’ll want to minimize water movement while doing this to allow better “control” of the baited hook…and keep a wary eye out for other fishes trying to steal the bait.  This doesn’t work for all fishes (e.g. – shy, easily frightened)…but I have removed more than one overly aggressive Damsel Fish in this manner.  I also once removed some very small and quick fishes (Coral Gobies) from my reef tank by building a rudimentary “Slurp Gun”…you can Google this one if you like, but I find the ‘hook’ method to be pretty easy and does little harm, if any, to the fish (is likely less harmful than the stress of being chased about with a net)>>
Thanks in advance for any advice!
<<Happy to share…  Eric Russell>>
Re: Tip For Removing Aggressive Fish? (I have a few for ya) – 02/20/13   

Eric - Thanks!
<<Quite welcome Tim>>
Wow, I never thought about going fishing in my tank!
<<Does work!>>
I may try the trap method first, as this clownfish is by far the most active, greedy, and brave fish in the tank.
If that doesn't work, I'll try the hook, but I'll surely have to wait for a time when my wife isn't around!
<<Good luck!  EricR>>

Clownfish Help, trauma      2/18/13
I have searched the site with no luck with this specific issue. I have 2 juvenile clowns, the one that is more aggressive is perfect. The other started 3 days ago with a white dot identical to what you picture & describe in the disease section as a "raised pimple". The next day his black started fading & a second dot appeared. Today it is more of a line along the top dorsal & bottom anal fin. He's been hovering in the corner of the tank. I did observe the more aggressive one literally whip him around & slam him into the rocks.
<Source of the trouble here... this system is either too small, not enough habitat to allow the smaller (male) to hide, get away... or the female just too aggressive. The  two need to be separated; now>

 He is still eating well, but to me his swimming seems a bit weaker now.
There is coral in the tank but only a few pieces. The tank ammonia -0 nitrites-0 nitrates- 5ppm phos-0 ph-8.
<Mmm; there may be a further issue w/ how you're rendering NO3, HPO4 0 ppm.
See WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Re: Clownfish Help   2/18/13
Thank you for your advice; I have removed her from the tank & hopefully he will recover quickly. My Phos are 0.25 I'm not sure why it said zero,
<Ahh, this amount is no big deal>
 I must have accidentally hit the back button. Again thank you! You are a huge role model in my fish keeping technique. Have a wonderful week.
<And you; have a wonderful life! Cheers, BobF>

Clown fish trouble    11/23/11
Hey there,hows everyone doing?
<Groan... why are there no spaces twixt your sentences, behind commas?>
I was wondering if you could help me with a problem with a percula clown?I
recently (nov 15) upgraded my 55 gal fish only tank to a 90 gal
.Inhabitants are royal gramma,arceye hawkfish,2 percula clowns,green clown
goby,orange spot goby,yellow assesor,yellowtail damselfish,blue damselfish
and a&nbsp;chromis.
<These damselfishes are all social species, live in groups...>
The 55 gal tank was running for 4 years.I also have a 14 gal biocube that's
been running for about 2 years.I haven't added any new fish to either tank
in over a&nbsp;year.I recently moved the fish out of my biocube to
the&nbsp;90gal.They were the green clown goby,assesor and the percula clown
that's having&nbsp;trouble.I have another percula clown in the 90 gal,and
the two seemed to pair up great.2 nights ago I noticed the clown from the
biocube respiring very heavily and not very interested
in&nbsp;food.Appearences look normal,swimming,colour and alertness.I
removed the fish from the 90 yesterday and gave it a 5 min freshwater with
methylene blue dip and put back in biocube for&nbsp;quarantine.The rapid
gill movement hasn't gotten better or&nbsp;worse.He&nbsp;ate a few pellets
this morning but nothing&nbsp;tonight.Appearance and behaviour seem still
normal aside from the gill movement and lack
of&nbsp;appetite.Im&nbsp;thinking of repeating the fresh water dip to see
if it helps.I first thought he was just stressed as the other clown didn't
like to stray to far away from&nbsp;him.Maybe overdoing it?But the fact
this problem continues makes me think there is something else
<Me too>
All other fish seem&nbsp;fine.Water perameters in both tanks
s.g.1.025,ammonia-0,nitrite-0,ph-8.2 and&nbsp;nitrate-10.Any help would
be&nbsp;appreciated.This fish seems very savable,Im just not sure what this
could be.
Thanks for your time and your site!
<Not much to go one, but I suspect the Assessor/Roundhead is pestering the Clown... would keep them in separate systems permanently. Bob Fenner> 

Sick Clown... social  -- 10/07/11
Hi there,
Thank you in advance for answering my question, I have used your website regularly over the past few months and have found it invaluable, but I couldn't seem to find the answer as to what might be wrong with our little Clown by reading through the pages.
We bought two babies
<Tank bred/reared I hope/trust>
(both around an inch in length), a girl and a boy,
<Mmm, both boys at this size/stage; one will become dominant/female>
from our LFS about four weeks ago as the first fish in our new set-up; it's a FOWLR, and the parameters were spot-on before we added fish, and, thankfully, have remained so since adding them.
Last weekend (three weeks after adding the Clowns) we got an Orange Spotted Shrimp Goby who, after a few warning shots, decided to take a chunk out of our girl's fin when she swam too close to his cave and, despite our best efforts to save her, she died less than an hour later. That explains why we're down to just one Clown now and his problem means that he can't even get near the Goby's cave...
<Mmm... how large is this system?>
He seems to have 3 major symptoms which don't appear connected when reading about common Clown problems. The first is that he is beginning to get one singular transparent, white-ish spot on his chin; it's only visible from certain angles and would be almost impossible to photograph but it's definitely there.
<Very/highly likely this is just a physical trauma result>
The second is that his swimming patterns are odd at best; he spends all of his time in one, top corner of the tank and swims mostly upwards and downwards but seems more like he's just treading water than actually getting anywhere, and he's often right at the surface, tipping over onto his side.
<Not atypical behavior... clowns do this...>
The third, and least noticeable, of the symptoms is that he appears to 'mouth' a lot more than our girl did. He doesn't do it constantly and he doesn't appear to be breathing particularly heavily or anything, he just opens and closes his mouth a bit periodically.
<Mmm, may be nothing... though... this and the swimming behavior could be accounted in part as harassment by the Goby>
He's still eating very well, mainly brine shrimp and an all 'round marine flake which he was being fed at the LFS, with the added bonus (for him it seems!) of the sinking pellets we bought for the Goby which he catches on their way down.
What do you suggest?
<A larger system likely; in a while the addition of another, decidedly smaller clown specimen...>
We've got a general purpose Microbe-Lift Herbtana
<Like the co., but not this/these sorts of products... Highly variable in activity per the make up of the water they're applied to/in>
but we haven't treated him with it yet as it doesn't have an ingredient list (we didn't buy it, we acquired it from a friend) and we're not sure if we should move him into a quarantine tank and treat him there.
<I wouldn't move or treat>
Thank you for your time and advice.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Half Discolored NEMO, 7/8/11
I was scanning thru Google and different marine aquarium sites I can't seem to find the answers.
I had this aquarium last month, fully cycled it round 3 weeks before I went ahead and placed my fishes.
I have 4 Nemos, 2 blue tangs, 2 orions. I had them in the aquarium around three days ago and that everything looked okay.
<How big is this tank, from the pictures it looks pretty small, WAY to small for 4 clowns and 2 tangs, I don't know what fish you are referring to as orions. Clowns should be limited to 1 pair in all but the largest tanks, and blue tangs need lots of space, at least a 6 foot long tank, and are not really good fish for new tanks either. I think you may be heading for disaster with your current stocking.>
Last night I noticed one of the NEMOs had a discolored body. I really don't know how to describe it but it is like the white part of the Nemo from the tail until half of it's body turned into brown. I do not know if he is sick or just the normal color he had when I purchased him.
<Discoloration like this is often brought on by stress, but not uncommon and usually is not a problem when properly housed. In your case I'm guessing it will make him the low man in the pecking order and make his life quite unpleasant.>
Anyways, the "sick" Nemo still is eating, goes after the food and still breathing. I was just kinda worried because he really is discolored. Here is the picture so that you could also see it. What should I do? Or do I need to do something? It's my first time to have a marine aquarium. Help me... Thanks!
-best regards,
<I think you need to readdress your stocking, this fish is likely doomed in the current situation. Please see the attached links for more.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/small.htm >

ocellaris clown tail fin, Soc./env.   4/9/11
tank size: 55 gal.
10 gallon sump with protein skimmer.
all levels perfect for reef tank.
<Data/numbers please; not commentary>
currently treating an algae bloom with UV sterilizer.
<Will help>
Tank has been set up for 4 months.
2 Columbian sharks (4 inches each),
<Will get too big for this setting>
1 blue powder tang,
<Needs much more room>
1 aquacultured clam (small); 2 ocellaris clowns tank raised (1 in each); 1 lawnmower blenny (large); 1 scooter blenny (small); 1 frag of elegance coral and some hermit crabs and snails.
We got 2 Ocellaris clowns about 2 weeks ago. One is female, smaller one is male. They both have been swimming at the top of the tank the entire time, but eat well and are very active. No aggression in the tank has been noted; everyone gets along and minds their own business.
<Mmm, actually no. The fact that the Clowns are continually at the surface...>
The ocellaris clowns cuddle at the top and have always gotten along. The male recently jumped into the overflow box and got sucked down into the sump; we returned him and didn't notice any injuries. To prevent this from happening again, we put a net over the overflow box.
<Good, but better to screen the intake/s>
The next morning we found him in the net in the overflow. Again he was fine, but we found him in the net again only moments later. We made the net tighter so he can't get into the overflow at all now. He was hanging out at the bottom of the tank with the rest of the fish and seemed very happy. The female has yet to venture down.
<... the other fishes. The Ariids can swallow similarly sized animals. The Tang is very territorial>
This morning he was hanging out by the net of the overflow box, but we couldn't see him very well because of our ugly algae bloom :( Later today we noticed his tail fin is more of a nub now and looks pasty white. It looks like it might be giving him a hard time as far as swimming. The female is still not picking on him, nor is anyone else. He has spun around a few times when he swims into the current. It is obviously effecting him.
We adding Melafix
<Not a good idea... see WWM re>
just an hour ago to help him grow it back but we are not sure if this is a minor injury or something more serious. The rest of his body looks fine; no white on his head, fins, gills etc.
Is there anything else we can do or is this something other than a minor injury?
<Mmm, yes. Another tank to move these clowns to, or a much larger one (150 gallons plus) to house all together>
If anyone starts picking on him we'll be sure to but him in quarantine.
<Not a long-term solution>
And is there anyway we could keep him away from the overflow as I'm thinking that may be what injured him?
<Maybe... or simple stress...>
Brittany and Jaydee
<Welcome! Bob Fenner, who encourages you to read (search feature) what is posted on WWM re the species in your care.>

Clown bit by Snow Flake Eel   6/17/10
We have a Snow Flake Eel about 18" in length, he came with the tank we bought from a guy moving. We feed him shrimp and was feeding him when our large clown fish about 6" got between the eel and the food, the eel bit the
clown on the under side of his neck and pulled him thru the rock and scraped him up, he has bite marks on his neck by his gill no swelling but should I do anything special ? Clown ate after this and seams to be fine, but what should I keep an eye out for? Thank You for your time.
<Hello Barbara. As should be obvious, these two fish can't be kept together. Clownfish are natural prey for Moray Eels. While it is true Snowflake Eels mostly consume invertebrates, they do consume small fish as well, and in any case their eyesight is extremely poor. So even if your Snowflake wasn't deliberately trying to eat the Clownfish, it's clear that the potential for damage now exists whenever the Snowflake makes a "mistake". Next time your Clown might not be so lucky. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Clown bit by Snow Flake Eel  6/18/10
Thank You for your time.
<Most welcome.>
I was wondering if infection might come from the bite (saliva) what should I look for?
<Kind of a binary thing here. Moray eel bites certainly promote infections, but whether they're actually poisonous is up for debate.
In any case, there's not much you can do either way. Either the Clown lives or he doesn't. Obviously you'll be moving him or the moray to another aquarium at once, since they can't be kept in the same tank. Since the Clownfish is relatively small, he's the obvious choice to move into your quarantine/hospital tank until you decide what to do.>
We are talking about getting the eel out and selling him any suggestions on how to catch him?
<Notoriously difficult. Assuming this is a community or FOWLR system, then removing the rocks will help, and after that it's a two man operation, each with a net, one person aiming to drive the moray into the other one's net.
Chasing the moray into a single hollow container, like a large PVC tube sealed at one end, is another approach. Either way, avoid trying to use your hands to move the animal directly: they can and do bite. Since you will have already moved the Clownfish to the hospital tank by now, why not keep the moray instead?>
Have a good day
<Cheers, Neale> 

Clown fish behavior   12/19/09
Hi All,
We have a 65 gallon Red Sea Max, up and running for about four months now. We initially had two clown fish, and over the weeks have added a diamond goby, a yellow tang, a cardinal fish, a coral beauty, and three green Chromis.
About two months ago, one of the clowns disappeared, and we found it dead the next morning. All the other fish are doing great, we have added a couple of corals and they all look beautiful. Now, the other clown is acting strangely. She is staying near the bottom of the tank and seems to be trying to dig her nose under the rocks. Most of the time, she stays very still and you can only see her gills move. She seems to try to eat sometimes, but not much, and we're not sure how much food, if any, she actually gets. This has been going on for two days. We don't see any of the other fish bothering her, and they've all been fine, the last ones were added about three weeks ago. Is there anything we can, or should do differently?
<Mmm, no, not really. A few possibilities here. The Clown could be mal-affected by trying to develop a communal relationship with one of your "corals"... It might be toxified by having ingested a bit of them... It could even be just acting "normally"... Amphiprionines are called "clowns" for their color/markings as well as behavior. As your other livestock appear to be fine, I would not try something overt (changing the environment, adding "medicine"...) here>
<Welcome, and please read here:
the last tray down... re Health, Compatibility. Bob Fenner>

Re: clown fish behavior  12/20/09
Thanks, Bob. Bad news, though, we found the clownfish dead this morning.
In retrospect, we're thinking maybe she just wasn't able to get enough to eat. The three green Chromis, cardinal fish, goby, and coral beauty would just dominate the tank when we put any food in,
<Yes... symptomatic of the size/confines of this world>
flakes, plankton, or brine shrimp, and the clown was pretty timid. We had 8 fish in a 65 gallon tank, is that too many?
<The particular mix, species, yes... psychologically/socially>
If not, should we get a more aggressive type of fish, like a maroon clownfish?
<No my dear. Premnas is far too aggressive itself to add here>
thanks again,
<Best to keep reading, visiting shops, the Net for now... Perhaps Santa is bringing you a larger system. Bob Fenner>

Tank Mate Aggression, Clowns/Damsels  4/13/09
Hi Guys,
< Hello Steve! >
I have a question about one of my Percula Clowns. He is losing the black coloring on the tips of his fins.......almost gray. His white strips seem less vibrant as well. He still eats but is not as interested. He stays near the bottom of the tank and hides which is atypical for him. The other clown and the damsel (the only other fish) seem to pick on him as well.
I cannot see another lesions or "cotton" to suggest bacterial or fungal infection, but I wonder if it is fungus?
< Most likely territorial and/or nutritional issues. Damsels and clownfish are very aggressive, territorial animals and unless the sickly Perc is removed, his days are probably numbered. Please read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnfshdisart.htm as well as browsing the FAQs on territorial and nutritional issues...... Adam Jenkins>
The tank is 30 gal, some finger leather, brittle fish, and assorted hermits, peppermint shrimp.
Any suggestions?
Thank you

Ocellaris Clownfish Mouth Torn, social dis.  - 02/08/09 Hi Crew, <Bonnie> For 3 years my two orange & white Ocellaris Clownfish in my reef tank have gotten along with never any aggression towards each other. Three months ago, I added two black & white Ocellaris Clowns to the tank. (I know you're never to mix clownfish, but I felt that since all the clowns were from the Ocellaris family, <Species> that would be o.k.) <Mmm, no... not unless there's a very large bit of open space...> It actually helped my orange & white clowns to leave their surrogate anemone (a large xenia) and feel more comfortable swimming out and about in the open. All got along great for 3 months with no signs of aggression. However, recently each orange & white clown has paired off with a black & white clown. So, I guess to these clownfish, an Ocellaris is an Ocellaris - <Correct> color doesn't matter! The problem I have witnessed now is that the two orange & white Ocellaris have begun bullying each other. They lock lips and jerk their heads from side to side. <Ah, the joys of "marriage"> The one orange & white clown has about a quarter of an inch of his upper lip missing. My question is, will this clown's lip regenerate itself in time and grow back? <I hope so... Only time can/will tell> Thanks for your response. Bonnie <It may be a good idea to separate these two... put the undamaged one in a floating plastic colander in the tank... for a week or so... to allow the other to heal, take some "spit und vinegar" out of its mate. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ocellaris Clownfish Mouth Torn 02/09/09 Bob: Thanks so much for your response. Good idea about the colander. I have one of those square plastic containers that hangs on the top lip of the aquarium I use to acclimate new fish/corals I add to my reef tank. <Ahh!> I can drill a few holes on the sides of it, sands down any rough edges and use it! Thanks again! Bonnie <Welcome Bonnie. Please make it known how this all turns out. Bob Fenner>

Black and white clownfish color loss... lack of fdg., data  1/15/09 Okay so... I have a black and white clownfish about 2 years old eats pellet and mysis hates flake. So this week I noticed that she had a white stripe from arm fin to start of tail fin about half and inch wide. Not so much white as it is a pale black discoloration. <Stress coloration... Something/s amiss here> She is still eating spectrum pellets but puts the mysis in her mouth and spits it out? <Another bad sign> I tried to catch her to put her in a qt but she wasn't having it. I've done searches and don't know what this could be? I've had ick before and velvet and I've seen a clown with brook.. it doesn't seem like any of those. The fish is not slimy in anyway just like she was tagged on both sides in the exact same spot...so what gives?? Please help I don't want to lose her. Thanks, Alyssa <Let's default, check on the most likely cause here... water quality... Test for accumulated metabolites... For most folks this is just Nitrates... at any length, serial dilutions (water changes), the use of GAC (carbon)... are useful. Send data please... water tests. Bob Fenner>

Re: black and white clownfish color loss 1/19/09 Hi- I have done all my tests and my readings are some what normal, except I need to lower my nitrates. <I see> Ammonia-0 Nitrate-30 Nitrite-0 PH- 8.2 Cal-480 <Ooh, this is a bit high... might be an issue... especially if you're Magnesium is far out of balance (should be in an approximately 3:1 ratio with Ca> KH-179 Do you think that any of these reading would possible make the clown have a white stripe on him? <I am doubtful that "this is it" in terms of root cause... Likely something else that is not mentioned (social let's say) or other chemical issue... When, where in doubt, I'd do some serial water changing... perhaps add some activated carbon and/or Polyfilter to your water flow path> Thanks, Alyssa <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: black and white clownfish color loss 1/19/09 Dear Mr. Fenner- <Just Bob please> I am almost certain it was my mean Cherub Angel. <Ahh! This could definitely be "it"> I have since pulled out the angel and the clown is looking better day by day. I thought enough time had elapsed so I placed the cherub back in the tank and he was okay for a little while, however I recently acquired a Mystery Wrasse. <A really neat fish... do make sure your tank is covered... the genus are notorious jumpers> I was warned the Mystery would be a bully, however it was quite the opposite and the Cherub chased the Mystery endlessly along with the clown. Needless to say the Angel is in QT and most likely going to be sold :(. As far as my numbers go, you are saying my nitrates are high? <Is a good idea to keep under 20 ppm... actually, the lower the better... Not necessarily toxic by itself, NO3 can be indicative of other metabolite accumulation, a loss of RedOx, low DO...> I do run carbon and a poly filter, however I have heard that these are Nitrate factories? <Mmm, can contribute if exposed to a good deal of waste over time> I also was feeding heavily due to the white stripe. I thought if I feed heavily it would keep up immunity. I have since then pulled the carbon and the poly filter due to my readings that they were Nitrate factories. I have done another water change and I was going to retest the water tonight. As for the Mag, I don't test for Mag? Should I be testing for Mag? <Mmm, not really... if you don't keep biomineralizing life... and don't supplement for such... Better for most Fish Only and FOWLR systems to rely on water changes to keep all about right/balanced. Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/maintindex.htm scroll down...> The KH was wrong, apparently I didn't divide by the number I should of and I had a friend help me. He said my KH was actually 10. <Ahh, a danger in not stating units of measure... I taught H.S. level chemistry and physics...> Please let me know what if any stats I need to lower. Thank you, Alyssa <Please peruse the above reference area. BobF>

Anemone bleaching New Bulbs Shocking the Anemone, Clownfish Fighting -- 6/4/08 Hi WWM <Hello Joe, Brenda here!> I love this site it is so helpful every time I come across a problem. <That is good to hear, thank you! > I have a reef tank that is about 3-4 years old. I was neglecting it to an extent this past year and it has the same power compact bulbs in there for 2 years! <Yikes! These should be changed out about every 9 months. > I have a couple corals, flame angel, six-line wrasse, sand sifter goby, and a BTA. The BTA was doing fine under the lighting I had, it was brown in color and was looking healthy. I just replaced the lights (thank god) and added 2 false Percs. They are hanging out near the anemone and for the first week they were fine. Now they will not stop fighting, locking jaws and spinning around. Constantly they are battling and this has been going on for about a week. <You may have two females. If so they will fight to the death of one or both of them. > I have also noticed my anemone is now starting to turn whiter towards the top of it. Could this be from replacing the lights? <Yes. > Should I only have them on half of the normal cycle? <I recommend putting some window screen over the tank for a week or so to get the anemone used to the light. What size tank is this on, and how many watts of PC do you have? How much is day light and how much is actinic? > What can I do about the clownfish fighting? <If they are both females you can't do anything except remove one. How big are these clownfish? It is not uncommon for newly introduced clownfish to fight. However, you will have to be the judge and decide if they need to be separated or if they are possibly working things out. > Thanks Joe <You're welcome! Brenda>

Disease or Injury? Chromis aggr.  -11/27/2007 Hi there, <Richard> I wonder if you can help. I am a great fan of your website. Every time I google something marine-related, your site comes up! <Obviously... we both have good tastes!> I have a 35 UK gallon tank with 2 ocellaris clownfish (juveniles, been in tank approx 1 month). The only other inhabitant is 1 juvenile yellow tail damsel (Chromis xanthurus). <Mmmm> Against my better judgment the LFS advised me to try 3 damsels before clownfish as they were more hardy. I have observed this damsel systematically 'bully' the other two damsels to death over the course of the next few weeks (first one stayed permanently under a rock and lasted 2 days, second one then did exactly the same thing but lasted about 10 days). I did go back to the shop to look for advice (unfortunately too late for the damsels). <I'd return this fish to your stockist> The 2 clownfish I bought appeared to be buddies and began swimming together and interacting a lot when first introduced. They also appeared to hold their own against the remaining bully damsel. However, this morning I noticed that the clownfish were separated and that one of them is hiding under a rock (in similar fashion to the damsel victims). The other clownfish also appears to be quite subdued i.e. not moving position very often. This is in contrast to the damsel, who now investigates them often and fake charges them, shoots around the tank and generally looks like he/she owns the place. <Does> One of the clownfish has now developed some marks on this head. There are about 3 or very small white marks that stick out a little bit. He also did not feed or move out from under the rock when food was introduced. As always appears to happen to me, I didn't get to see how this happened and I am surprised that this mark has just appeared. I am at a loss to figure out whether it is some sort of abrasion (possibly from the bullying damsel) or whether it is some sort of disease? If it is a disease I am surprised I didn't notice it growing slowly? <This is much more likely physical trauma marks... and/or simple stress> However, I note that Brooklynella is mentioned on your website quite a bit, is this possible. <Not likely. Would have shown much earlier> There don't appear to be any marks on the gills. My reading for the tank are 0 for Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates and salinity on 1.024, ph 8.3. Any pointers as regards how to diagnose whether this is bullying related or a disease is appreciated. <Remove the Chromis> I was considering taking the bully back to the LPS anyway and I am just suspicious that at least one clownfish is showing the same behaviour the 2 bullied damsels exhibited. I did recently introduce some marine turbo snails, can they harbour fish diseases? <Can, but again, rare... the bullying Damsel has to go. Stat. Bob Fenner> Richard

Sick Clown Fish... env. and social   11/22/07 Hi <Hello> We have three Clarki clownfish in our 5ft tank that has been and an extra large bubble tip anemone that they all reside in. The tank has been running for about 5 months now and also contains 1 small Blue Spotted Stingray, <Needs much more room> 2 Green Chromis, 1 Yellow Bellied Damsel, 2 Yellow Tailed Damsels, 1 Long Spiked Urchin, 3 Sea Snails and 4 2-4cm Sea Hares, <Do check the species... some are coldwater...> as well as, various coral species. Recently the largest clown fish has become bloated, does not enter into the anemone, spends most of her time swimming listlessly or hiding in various parts of the tank and yesterday started developing white scaly marks all over her body as well as cloudy eyes with white spots in the in both her eyes. <Yikes> The smallest fish has started to not enter into the anemone but does not show any other symptoms or different behaviour. The third fish is happily residing in the anemone as per usual. <The "winner" here...> Our salt water levels are at the correct level and though the ph level was at 7.5 <Yeeikes!> this has been remedied using KH and ph buffer tablets. <Umm... I would be reading re the mix of compounds in use here... testing for Mg, Ca...> Is there anything else that you can recommend as we have not previously had any other illness in our tank and I am unsure of how to go about fixing this. Thanks for all your help Sheridan <Mmm, not a high-confidence guess here... but likely a combo. of the one Clark's clown driving out its conspecifics and whatever the cause of the low pH and its "fixing" at play here. I urge you to take a long journey reading over the areas of WWM re Maintenance, the Compatibility of all the species you list... Bob Fenner>

Clownfish acting strange... not really. Overcrowded, untenable mix   8/2/07 Good evening. I've been reading questions and answers on WWM for a while, but this is my first question submission. I'm concerned about the health of a new addition to our reef tank (a true percula clown). We purchased him about three weeks ago, QTed him for two weeks (he seemed ok), and he's been in the main tank for about a week. <Clownfishes are social animals... should not be kept singly... Was this specimen tank-bred/raised?> Over the last couple of days, he has been swimming/hovering near the surface, in the back left rear corner of the tank, at about a 45 degree angle. When I fed today he got very active, darting around, but would take in food pieces and kind of "spit them back out", with a poofing motion. Then, he returned to his previous location and is still there as I type this. <Not unusual behavior... Named "clowns" for more than their coloration> I don't see any white mucus on him, but respiration is moderate to heavy, and I see a couple of "notches" out of his fins. This is strange, because we don't have any aggressive or otherwise nippy fish in there with him. (Royal Gramma, three Chromis, <These can be trouble...> a Green Clown Goby and a cleaner shrimp) The setup/parameters are as follows: -29 gallon tank <Way too small for what you list...> -PC lighting -40 lbs LR -Nitrate: < 5.0 -Ammonia: 0 -Phosphate: approx 0 -Temp: 82 deg F Calcium was a little low last I tested for that, but otherwise, water chemistry is within acceptable parameters. Should I give him another day or two and see if his behavior improves? <You need a much larger world...> I know sometimes clowns host strange objects when no anemone is present, but there's no equipment near the area he's been hanging around in. Advice on the current/next course of action would be much appreciated. Thank you very much for your time. -Matt <Please read re the "Systems", "Compatibility" for the life you list. You have an untenable, too-crowded mix... Trouble ahead w/o your action. Bob Fenner>

Saddleback Clown Injury 5/4/07 I recently started stocking my newly plumbed 125 gal. tank.  One of the first to go in was my saddleback clown.  For the first three weeks she seemed happy as a clam, although I did notice some slight cloudiness to her eyes which I attributed to the lighting in the holding tank I had her in previous.  That seemed to clear up rather quickly though and three weeks later I deemed it time for her apparent friend (a blue regal tang) to come out of ich rehab.  Now it's been two days since the Tang's re-introduction, and now the saddleback has a nice gash in her head (flap of skin and all), <they are called surgeonfish for a reason> a vertical white streak below one of her pectoral fins and a small patch of grey-white on the front tip of her dorsal fin.  The marks don't particularly look like ich to me, and I've not seen any scratching against the rocks, but she does dive into the same area of sand somewhat often and has created a nice crater which she seems to enjoy spending most of her time. <Digging is normal for clowns.> I also recently added three emerald crabs, which she tried carrying off the second each one started floating down.  Before I write a novel; my question is this: Do these symptoms resemble a disease or infection, or is it more likely that she's just got some scrapes from "horsing around"? <Not horsing around, getting beat up by the tang and it "scalpel".> Any insight would be tremendous. Thank you, Jules <Need to watch this very closely.  If the tang's aggression continues the fish will need to be separated.  The tang can do serious injury with their tail spines.> <Chris>

Clownfish... likely env. dis.  - 5/8/2006 I have a 29g reef tank, I had/have a black clown, an orange perc, and a Lemonpeel angelfish. <... not enough room for this species...> The Lemonpeel had visible ick so I got a blood shrimp to take care of the problem, well, a week later that died. Before that My two clowns started pairing up, the male (orange perc) came down with some sort of disease, I thought It was ick, but he just kept swimming erratically, breathing heavy, not eating and in the QT tank I put him in he would just swim at the bottom and not eat, towards the end his fins looked frayed. The black clown is now acting similar. It has a coating on the body that looks like an orange-ish color. fins are starting to fray and swimming erratically, no heavy breathing and is still readily eating (doesn't want to eat in the morning though) I took the black clown out of my display tank and gave a freshwater dip for about 10 minutes, then placed in my QT Tank and treated with CopperSafe and MelaFix. My question is, what can I do to make sure this clown wont die? Also, Is it Marine Velvet? Clownfish Disease? All the pics I've seen look nothing like what my fish has. <... no info. re water quality tests, testing... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/clndisfaqs.htm and the many Clownfish FAQs files linked above... you'll "get it"... Bob Fenner>

Re: Clownfish... likely env. dis.           5/9/06     Thank you for the response Bob,    <Welcome>   I didn't know my tank was too small for the Lemonpeel, My fault. Anyways, My water parameters were all 0. I have been doing weekly 10g water changes and vacuuming of the substrate. I take my water to my LFS to get it tested. So I am not sure what sort of testing supplies they use. <FWIW, I'd have my own kits (samples change with time, transport), and learn how to use, what the results imply...> I do have a frogspawn, trumpet, mushrooms and green star polyps in my main tank along with shrimp and snails all have shown no signs of stress. The firefish I have in there is also healthy and showing no signs of stress. This morning the black clown was looking a little better and eating spectrum Thera A with Garlic Xtreme. Should I go a water change and slowly implement Hyposalinity in my QT tank? <... please see WWM re this technique. Bob Fenner>

Please help me with my clown fishy Hi there! <Howdy> I just started my first salt water tank and I got two small clownfish and a blue damsel. I have had the fish for about 3 weeks now. The first week the two clown fish were fighting and I thought they were going to kill each other, even though they came from the same tank.  <Happens... new, likely smaller system... new social dynamic> The next week all was well but I noticed a couple of white bumps on the right side of one of the clownfish's mouth (rouge). At first I thought it was some skin that had been bitten from the other fish but then I noticed it looked like little white heads.  I have read almost all your Q's & A's but I still don't know what it is.  <Could be "nothing"... like "zits" of humans... stress manifestation... though perhaps an indication of something more sinister> Another thing is both of the clown fish hover around one of the pumps and constantly sprint to the top like they want out. I have checked the water and everything is normal, and he eats regularly. It is a 10 gallon tank and only has the 3 fish and a live rock, shell, and a coral thing. <... this tank is too small for these fish... and the sprinting behavior worries me... I might suggest you have the tank checked for "electrical leakage"...> The two pumps are under gravel filters with carbon cartridges. Does my clown fish have fungus or some kind of disease?? And how do I cure it?  Thanks, Shana <Shana... there is much, actually too much to relate to you here, succinctly. I strongly encourage you to take the time and read through ALL of our archives on Clownfishes... Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clownfis.htm and carefully read through the linked files (at top), taking down notes... You need a larger system... to use a meter, probe to ascertain if you have an electrical short/ground problem... and to "figure out what you really want to do"... get a larger system, trade these fish in... wait out and see if there actually is a biological disease agent at play here... Bob Fenner> 

Help please (small system, maroon clowns, live rock...) Mr. Fenner, Oh boy have I gotten in over my head. A friend gave me an aquarium, 30 gallons with live sand/coral. She told me it had been cycled (she had it a long time) and was ready to go. I let it run for a week, then bought a cleanup crew and some rock. I realize I have a bunch of questions and will be very grateful if you can answer a few!  <I will try> I have read a lot of your info on your site...but this is overwhelming. I'm confused about the rock and I'm reading and hearing conflicting information. <There is plenty of this in our interest... and therefore a need for a clear, discerning mind, and searching, ferreting out on ones own> I purchased pre-cured live rock from ffexpress. According to them, I could add one or a few pieces a day to my tank. I put it in a separate container with a powerhead and heater. It's obvious to me from my levels. that I can't add it that fast.  <Yes, I do believe my personal experience over any stated "fact"> Now my fish and other stuff (think I ordered too much) is here and I've had some deaths. Should I just leave the rocks in the separate container for a while? How long? Is a powerhead and heater all I need until the rocks stabilize? Should I take out the two rocks I've put in my tank already? <Please read over the "Live Rock Curing FAQs" areas on the www.WetWebMedia.com site. I would NOT add any more live rock, so-called cured or not, to this system till all stabilizes there (by measuring aspects of nitrogen cycling: ammonia, nitrite). I would engage water changes with pre-made water should either measure approach 1.0 ppm. I would feed nothing to very little to the livestock there during this period. This may take days to a few weeks. Your curing container set-up should be fine; do test the water, change it as needed there as well. I would likely NOT move the rock in the tank already.> I'm a little hesitant to take out the rock because it is sheltering some of the fish. I think I was a little misled about what fish to get. I got a pair of Maroon Clowns, a Flame Angel and a Banggai.  <For a thirty gallon? I would trade out the Flame Angel> The clowns were supposed to be a pair...but the little guy is picking on everyone.. including the mate. I was led to believe this was a good combination. What can I do if they don't get along? <You could sell them, trade them for other livestock... I would likely wait on the Maroon Clowns at this point... as they are likely too stressed to be moved. This is too aggressive, large a species to keep in such a small tank> Thanks for your help.....I have a million more questions, but will continue to read your site. Sara <Very well my friend. Do contact me if there is something more I might do. And do weigh more than one opinion (yes, even mine) in judging important matters in the hobby. There are many good people to help you (perhaps sign up to one of the listservs re reefs, marine aquariums); listen to all, decide for yourself. Bob Fenner>

Re: help please Thank you Bob for your answer. The larger clown died within hours (he looked bad on arrival...maybe that's why he was being picked on.)  <Sorry to hear/read of your loss> The smaller one is behaving better now. I guess I'll see how he does. Everyone else seems ok. I'll keep my fingers crossed and an eye on the water. Thanks again for your help. Sara <My thoughts are with you. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Clown question (health, symbionts) Hello again Mr. Fenner, I will keep this short. My 2 tank raised Percula clowns have adopted my flowerpot corals a host over the last few days. <Yes, this happens> Last night, the larger clown would hardly leave the coral & seemed to be enjoying himself <Herself. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clownfis.htm> immensely. This morning when the lights came on, he was dead, against the inlet sponge. Could the flowerpot coral have caused this??? <Hmm, yes... could have> All my levels are perfect. I wont tempt you w/sushi in Vegas this time. Thanx in advance Craig <Sorry to hear/read of your loss my friend. Please read over the WWM site re the Flowerpot/Goniopora Coral (family Poritidae), anemone symbionts, clownfish health... Bob Fenner>

Euthanasia Bob, Hope all is cool with you and yours! Wanted to write and get your take on my attempts at cross breeding A. chrysopterus with A. sandaracinos. I have had one mixed pair together for about a year that laid down a couple of nests that were consumed. Last night the chrysopterus ripped a big chunk out of the poor sandaracinos.  <Yikes> The only thing I can think of is that other clown females tend to abuse even long term mates for lack of cooperation.  <Likely... a form of competition> I guess the sandaracinos didn't stand a chance in this case. My fear is that the sandaracinos was blinded in one eye and may eventually succumb to infection as a result of his wounds. Do you think I should put him down if an infection becomes terminal?  <Yes... but the Amphiprionae/Clownfishes are remarkably resilient, regenerative as you likely know> In the past I've placed fish in a sizable container and placed them in the freezer to end their suffering. Can you think of a more humane way of dispatching a terminal fish? <This is my favored method for small specimens...> Thanks! Jeff Lawson Eco-Tropic <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Aggression as the Cause of Mysterious Ailments Thanks for the coral advice, I figured something was up. I think the aggression might be the cause of the Clowns physical behavior, whenever I move anything in the tank or the anemone moves to a new spot she gets sick. <Also, do make your hands are clean and free from soap, hand creams, after shave, etc.> Thanks for figuring it out. You guys are good. I need to get some got reference books to learn more. Jason

Sick Clown Bob, Thanks for the great web site. I have been reading through a lot of the articles and FAQ's and have learnt a lot in my short time in the hobby. <Great to hear/read> The reason for writing is that I have a new Common Clown who seems to be sick. He is one of a pair that were purchased a week ago. When introduced into the aquarium (200L/ 50gal) the two clowns were fine and swam happily together. It did not take long for the larger of the pair (2 1/2") to start harassing the smaller (1 1/2") (male?) <Maybe> and giving him a really hard time. I have since separated the two as you suggest by using a breeder trap and placing the aggressive clown in that. <Good idea/move> However the smaller clown is still not eating and has faded a little. He is also trailing a very fine white thread from the vent and has become very very inactive. Is this the effect of stress alone or could the clown be suffering from an illness of some form. The fish were at the LFS for quite a while and looked good together every time I visited. <Were they wild-caught (versus captive propagated)? Likely some sort of internal parasite/infectious agent if the former...> The tank set-up is relatively new but has been cycled with damsels and the ammonia and nitrite levels are within acceptable ranges. Any ideas on what I can do to get the great little fish back to his former self. Regards, Scott Alford, Sydney, Australia <A few choices here... if there seemed a good chance this Clown would resume feeding, I might spike its food with a bit of Metronidazole/Flagyl powder, hoping to flush out an internal parasite... If not, just keeping the system stable and optimized would likely do it in time. At the more extreme, removal to a separate treatment tank with lowered specific gravity and elevated temperature might be called for. Do keep your eyes keen on the fish's sides as there may well be velvet (Amyloodinium) or Brooklynella as the real culprit here. Bob Fenner, just back from Brisbane, Gladstone, Heron Island this month. >

Sudden clownfish death   4/24/07 Hello!  I have a 37 gallon fish-only saltwater tank that has been up and running for a year now.  All water parameters are great and stable.  My question is my false percula clownfish which I've had for almost a year died suddenly a half hour after I added my new Coral Beauty angelfish to the tank. <This system is too small...>   There was no interaction between the two fish at all.  I should mention that the clown was acting weird prior to the new addition.  He was hovering in the corner and had not eaten for two days. <...? Why would you introduce a new fish to this system?> Physically he appeared fine with no visible signs of disease. This is the first fish I have lost. <Not a good feeling, eh?> The only other fish in the tank are a lawnmower blenny and a firefish which are both acting fine and eating well (as well as the new coral beauty).  What really stumps me is the way he died.  We was swimming out of his corner to investigate the new fish.  All the sudden he looked pale and fell sideways to the bottom.  Then suddenly he spasmed around the tank like he was having a seizure then fell t o the bottom head first - dead.   What caused his death? <In a word, likely further stress...> Did the site of the new fish just spook him to death? <The proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back"... probably> I'm stumped.  Thanks for your help. ~ Brenda <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sudden clownfish death   4/24/07 Thanks for your help.  I am planning on getting a 75 or 90 gallon tank in the very near future (which is why I bought the coral beauty).   I know I probably should have waited to buy the coral beauty <Yes...> but I had it on hold at the fish store for a few weeks before the clownfish exhibited any problems. <Unrelated> The clown had been healthy all this time (almost a year). So you think it was stress that killed him? <Yes... I don't just "pull folks fins" here...> I'm just worried about my other fish (although they all seem fine).  Also, I now want to replace the clownfish but I'm worried the Coral Beauty won't except a new arrival. <Not likely an issue in the larger tank... however, this Dwarf won't likely live in the present situation...> She has not bothered my other two fish at all.  Is four fish (Firefish, Lawnmower Blenny, Coral Beauty, Percula Clownfish). acceptable for my size tank (37 gallon)? <No> Their would be no further additions until I get the bigger tank.  Thanks again. ~ Brenda <Read re the species listed on WWM... their Systems, Compatibility... BobF>  

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