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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

UPDATE: Bubble Tip Anemone Question     1/25/20
Hello Mr. Fenner! I am writing to tell you that my BTA is not only doing well now, thanks to your advice, it is thriving!
Thank you so much for helping me save my clown fish's best friend in the world.
I added the rock to make it sit up much higher, and it's in the back where it gets wonderful morning sunshine.
<Ah good>
I also have a power head that drives my frozen Mysis gently down on him and the clown fish. Thank you again for all the advice and sympathy (when something doesn't make it) over the years.
Pictures from this morning.
Yes, that is a Rainwater Killifish,...I believe you all helped me identify it. It's blurry, but it is doing very well!
Amanda Wilson in NJ
<Cheers Amanda. BobF>


Re: Platy swim bladder problem    1/24/20
Just an update on the platy with the swim bladder problem - new pics, but no real change to her condition.
Still basically the same, looks a little less 'bruised' under the skin now.
The red spot, I think in this particular pic is some part residual coloring from having previously given her a swab of merbromin there (still not even sure whether it's an external wound, or internal and showing
through the skin.)
<Nor I; while this fish does look normal in terms of shape, with no evidence of raised scales or even obvious bacterial inflammation, the swimming posture remains odd. On top of that, the paleness of the skin can indicate excessive mucous production, something relatively common in ailing livebearers.>
I still don't know what originally caused that particular red spot. Like I said in the first post, it appeared after she'd gone through a period of tail-curling, looking like she was in pain and looking like she was trying to reach about that area with her mouth.
<Indeed, and sometimes if there is something amiss with her offspring, such as stillbirths or even decomposition of embryos within the uterus, it is fairly clear the female fish is stressed.>
She's still eating (and pooping) normally. I pretty much only feed her sinking food now, because it's easier for her to find and pick up. And she still can be quite feisty if you try to catch her, she's still not acting like she's ready to call it quits.
<That's promising, at least.>
I stopped the Epsom baths after 4-5 days because she's really not swollen; in fact she is about as slim as she's ever been.
I'm also guessing that if there was anything still 'in' her to be gotten out, she'd have gone septic long before now and died (given that she's been like this for several months now, and is otherwise not acting like she feels ill.)
<Also seems about right; I would carry on what you are doing, though perhaps focusing on laxative foods (Daphnia for example, or cooked peas) to help rule out constipation as a complicating factor.>
Based on her behavior at the time that she was acting like she was in pain, and what she looked like shortly after that, I'm guessing something might have ruptured inside? Something not life-threatening - uterus perhaps?
<See above; can happen, but besides time, luck, and perhaps the laxative effect of Epsom salt, there's not much to be done with this. It either gets better or else decay of the embryos proceeds so far septicaemia occurs, in which case the female fish dies. Likely depends on how large the embryos
were when they died.>
She did also pass something a bit larger than normal poop a few days after that, something very dark (like necrotic tissue, or a dried blood clot, maybe.
<Or a miscarriage; more common with livebearers than many believe.>
Whatever it was, it was definitely not the same color as the food she was getting. And at that time she was in a bare container being emptied and refilled daily, so there was no algae or anything like that for her to snack on between meals.)
I'm guessing that this is just how she is, at this point. As long as she's not giving up, I won't give up on her.
<Nor would I; there is hope, especially if she's active and without evidence of bacterial infection.>
I moved her into a large Sterilite container for this latest period of observation, gave her lots more room to move around and also gave her plenty of plants and smooth decorations to hang out under. She still
spends most of her time hanging out underneath something, but she isn't always in the same place and usually does come out at feeding time. I plan to set her up a permanent tank with lots of things to safely anchor herself under, maybe some small Corys for company - since it seems she's intent on sticking around, despite this handicap.
<And may yet heal.>
It's a mystery for the books, I suppose - and some evidence that it's also not necessarily an automatic death sentence. Thanks for your time and advice!
<Good luck and thanks for the update. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Regarding Morays; sex beh.; repro. f'      1/24/20
<Hi Hannah!>
Have you ever noticed any physical change gone through by any of the morays
that might indicate a change in sex?
<Yes, definitely with E. nebulosa: The change from female to male is accompanied by a change of their teeth (there are more species like this).
Males of this species are generally larger, have longer, slightly hooked and serrated teeth in the front of their jaws and may become fish eaters instead of crustacean eaters. Also with Rhinomuraena quaesita: their change from male to female (the only moray species known so far that changes this way) is accompanied by a color change from blue to orange. At least in nature, in captivity this does not work every time.>
Also, have you ever gotten the morays to spawn?
<You'll find quite some reports of morays producing eggs in aquariums as well as documented spawnings in nature, but real spawning in a tank? The only documented spawning in captivity that produced fertilized eggs I know of happened in the Vivarium Karlsruhe with R. quaesita. The planktonic
larvae could not be raised as far as I know.>
If so, was there any event such as a change in water parameters, day-night cycles, etc. that caused the spawn?
<There probably was, but there is no definite indication what exactly did cause the spawn to my knowledge. In nature lunar phases and seasons are suspects.>
Assuming morays are not able to change their sex, have you ever noticed any physical trait that varies between individual morays that could be a sex based trait (such as jaw shape).
<This differs very much within the family. Some morays change their sex (sequential hermaphrodites) such as E. nebulosa, G. fimbriatus, G. zebra or R. quaesita, while most morays don't change their sex and a few are even simultaneous hermaphrodites (they can act as female and male, e.g. G. griseus, G. pictus). There is a lot of additional speculation on how to sex morays in the hobby, most of it totally unsubstantiated by science proper (examination of the gonads). Jaw shape does not indicate sex to my
knowledge, but dentition does in some species (see E. nebulosa as an example above) and coloration does in R. quaesita.>
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Marco.>

Re: Guess what. I have a problem; reef op.    1/24/20
He is the culprit!!!!
<Yikes!... How did you figure out? Wil.>
The reason for the upset

Re: Dwarf lion fish diminished appetite, lethargic     1/23/20
Hey Wil,
Thanks again for the quick response.
In answer to your last question concerning the gills and oxygen deprivation.
I mentioned that his respiration is normal but his gills are held open more than normal and appear pale pink, not red. Is this a concern?
<Could be due to a number of reasons, the most common is oxygen deprivation; does it show a swollen belly, inflamed anus, bulging eyes?... Wil.>
It does not display any of the above mentioned symptoms.
<I guess this may be purely environmental, I suggest doing a large water change... 25% or more, and you'll see immediate improvement on the overall health of your tank inhabitants. Cheers. Wil.>
Mark Steeves

 Re: Mycobacterial Infection     1/23/20
Hey Bob, no issues sharing any of the pictures I sent. If you need me to resend I certainly can. Just let me know. So the DNA sample included a direct water sample filtered through some contraption that was sent in.
Additionally q-tip swabs of inside the return lines were taken. I am assuming the swabs were the main source of the sample.
<Ahh, thank you Eric. I did send along your corr. to friend and fish pathologist (w/ a bkgd in Mycobacteria esp. In fact there's a pc. by him on the subject posted on WWM), Myron Roth. Do please re-send images of the site/would for his perusal. BobF>
Re: Mycobacterial Infection     1/23/20

Not sure why I sent you a photo of my leopard wrasse. Here was the day zero photo after the biopsy.
<Mmm; sent on to Myron. B>

Re: Mycobacterial Infection     1/23/20
Here are a few photos that he can use. There are a few to show how I responded during treatment and the residual scar. If possible do you think you can see if Myron can comment on how effective taking actual swabs of the inside of the return lines and drains would be? I think that is what they use for the majority of the samples and what was sent in. This is in addition to the water sample filters he was referencing. How they extract the dna from that is a bit out of my league. He did mention and was pretty confident that if M. Marinum was in the tank it would show up on the test.
That is assuming I took the samples correctly but different Mycobacterium species were found so I must have did something right.
<Am asking him here>
Now for the million dollar question. Do you think it's safe to add a new fish too the tank?
<I do think it is safe (enough). Put another way, I would do so>
The current stock is healthy and acting normal. I've only had 1 fish die in the tank in the last year and that was in June and likely related to a spinal injury from crashing into the top of tank. Was looking at putting in a Foxface to help with algae control.
I also attached a photo of the display so you can see the tank.
Re: Mycobacterial Infection     1/23/20
I know Myron also posed another question regarding overall sensitivity.
Here was the response I got.
Eli, quick question for you. It would be interesting to know how much of a non pathogenic/pathogenic reference would it take to get a positive result.
In other words, what’s the limit of detection of the system for a single species of bacteria?
"Eric, Important but also a challenging question. Its not easy to put an exact number on the answer, because its affected by a few unknowns. I estimate one per several thousand cells.
To increase sensitivity further we could make small improvements by spending a *lot* more money on sequencing, or larger improvements by filtering a larger volume of water.
It would be interesting to answer your question experimentally by adding a known concentration of cells that are not already present in the aquarium, then immediately sampling to measure their relative abundance. Of course it will be affected by the existing concentration of cells in the aquarium, I will have to think some more about how to measure the limit effectively this way."
Re: Mycobacterial Infection     1/23/20

Some more. Sorry for the background colors. Not sure how to get rid of it.
Legal disclaimers first, I cannot offer medical advice and would have to say the same if the bug was detected.
But speaking generally about detecting either organisms or genes with DNA sequencing, its generally hard to be certain about a negative, right? Not saying that either to dodge the question or to be snarky. Its genuinely something we often would like to know (is this thing truly absent) but its never easy to be sure.
<I don't know; really... I'd guess/surmise that "w/in the sensitivity" of the test (gear), a negative has some validity (confidence limits in the quantitative sciences)>
One thing in our favor, *M. marinum* is free living and infections occur from exposure to the water itself. So our sampling method should be able to capture it. The sample of 60 ml is expected to contain over 6 million cells based on the typical range of microbial densities in aquarium water. So we're sampling this population pretty deeply, millions of cells. Overall our sampling should be a reasonably effective way of capturing the cells if they are in the aquarium.
So the DNA I extracted and prepared for sequencing should reflect contributions from millions of microbes. Our sequencing of 10,000 reads didn't turn it up, but perhaps its there at very low levels (1 in 1
million?) I cannot rule that out. Sequencing that deeply would be prohibitively costly. And even then we'd wonder what if its here at 1 per 10 million? etc.
<The folks familiar w/ the process and equipment should be able to tell you this. I cannot>
It looks like there are PCR based methods for specific detection of M. marinum. These will be more sensitive than the general 16S primers I used to amplify (in principle) all Bacteria & Archaea. I have your DNA samples in hand, so this will be an interesting test case. If its absent from the standard 16S tests, is it also absent from the more sensitive species specific test? It won't be instant, but I can order those primers with my next batch and keep you posted. I'll check this at the level of PCR, so we won't have to wait for sequencing results to come back.

Regarding Morays     1/23/20
I would very much appreciate the opportunity to correspond with someone who  has a lot of experience with morays.
<I have some practical (husbandry) with a dozen or so species, years of collecting them for the ornamental trade, and MarcoL here has much more; written a book (en Deutschen). Send your questions, observations on. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mycobacterial Infection     1/22/20
My tank actually has quite a bit of mycobacteria but none of the actual fish pathogen.
<... am wondering how they (the lab) distinguishes twixt the two?>
The first page actually breaks down all the different types of bacteria which was found. Here was the owner's thoughts on my report.
I had both of my tanks tested.
"Hi Eric,
I’m writing with some thoughts on your results, to share my perspective based on looking at a few of these recently. From the info you logged with your samples, I see that your tanks differ in age, and in terms of problems reported (dinos in the 450, macro in the 750). I'll interpret your results in this context so please correct me if I've gotten that wrong.
Both of your tanks had diverse communities, in the upper half of tanks I've sampled. Based on the info logged with your samples, it looks like the diversity follows the trend that we're coming to expect -- reduced diversity with age.
<Yes to this; a general trend in all captive (and disturbed) systems>
What is striking is how high the diversity is in your 450. I'm guessing you started this with some good live rock? It'd be interesting to hear how more about the history of this tank (If you have already described in PMs or emails please let me know and I will review them.) If its a new tank, that is a really impressive diversity score.
<I agree>
Both tanks showed low balance scores, indicating that the balance of microbial families was very different in your tanks than in the typical tank. Please note this does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your tank - it just puts a number on how similar or different your tank is from others. In your case, both are pretty different.
To explore the reasons for these low balance score we can look at the community barplots (part 2). Both tanks are very low in Pelagibacteracea, which are dominant in the open ocean, a major part of the typical reef tank microbiome, and are specialized for low nutrient conditions. This happens in many tanks, and I'm not saying its a problem. But it is a common difference between some tanks and the microbiome of a natural reef. Both tanks are also low in Flavobacteriacea, and your 750 is also low
in Alteromonadaceae.
It is interesting that neither tank has much Alteromonadaceae. Usually when the Pelagibacteracea are low, the Alteromonadaceae bloom. Your tanks show a different pattern.
In their place, your tanks have a relatively large amount of Vibrionaceae.
This group is mostly members of the genus Vibrio, a genus that we find in every tank. But it is also a genus full of pathogens. Vibrios are associated with animals, and I typically see these in heavily stocked tanks (including invertebrates like corals) - your 750 certainly fits the image in my mind for a high Vibrio tank, lots of animal tissue relative to macroalgae or bare rock.
When I see atypical balance I start thinking about nutrients, meaning more than just NO3 and PO4 (but those too). Do you feed your two tanks differently? That may help us diagnose the reasons for the differences in balance scores and community compositions.
Both tanks showed low levels of nitrifying microbes, but not unusually so.
My view here is that a tank can process N through three different pathways (nitrification, heterotrophic assimilation, or photoautotrophic assimilation). Your tanks both show low levels of ammonia oxidizing
microbes and undetectable nitrite oxidizing bacteria, which suggests the other processes are competing for N. I do not view this as a problem to be solved, but as a description of how the microbial community has responded to competition for ammonia. Like many tanks (including all my display tanks), yours appears to not rely entirely on nitrification for removal of NH3. I see you have a macro refugium in the 750. Is there any algal competition in the 450? (aside from the dinos, that is! maybe that's enough to explain it)
Both tanks are free of known fish and coral pathogens.
As far as Mycobacteria -- I looked at this one in detail for your samples.
The database I use includes (GreenGenes) perfect matches to *Mycobacterium marinum*. None of these were detected in your sample or any other. Like most tanks, yours include various other members of *Mycobacterium *, most of which are uncharacterized species. In your tanks, these are dominated by
3 types, none of these are close matches to *M. marinum*, they all match other uncharacterized *Mycobacterium *clones more closely. The total levels of Mycobacteria were also not unusual in your tanks, at the 78th and 85th percentiles.
I hope this is useful and am happy to continue discussing your results, but that is an overview."
<Thank you for sharing. BobF>

Re: Sick Parrot Cichlid     1/22/20
Thank you so much ��
<Welcome Melissa. BobF>

Re: Brackish tank mates     1/22/20
Hello again!
<Hello Daniel,>
Thank you for your advice.
<Most welcome.>
Given your recommendations, I think I'll slowly lower the SG to the 1.003-1.005 range over the next few or more water changes.
<Sounds wise.>
Also, I've given up on the Desert Goby and Krib idea and will consider the Etroplus maculatus. I agree with you the wild-type are rather charming in their way.
<Yes; their colours change significantly with mood, as well as during breeding; there is another species called Etroplus suratensis that gets much bigger (around 15 cm/6 inches) but is very beautiful when kept
I think they could be a good addition to my tank. I also read that they eat algae, and would have no problem foraging in my tank in-between feedings. How many would you recommend?
<I would certainly keep a group; all Etroplus are social (if not actually schooling) fish and if kept in a reasonably big group, six or more, you'll avoid the territorial bullying you might get with pairs.>
I'm quite fond of my F8 puffer and KG. I want to make sure that they're getting enough good food to eat- I currently feed mostly frozen brine shrimp, krill, conch/urchin/marine worm cubes, soft-frozen reef caviar (bought mostly for the BBG but the F8 and KG like them too), and occasionally feed them super worms (large mealworms for reptiles sold at the pet store). The super worms provide some crunch for puff's teeth.
<Your fish seem to eat better than I do -- conch and caviare!>
Sometimes I give them bits of scallop and crushed mussels from the market- also good for puff's teeth. However, I've not had luck feeding my puffer snails- he just sucks them out of their shells and doesn't get the proper teeth grinding effect from crunching on them.
<Correct. Puffers are easily smart enough to select the least demanding way to gather food.>
I've trimmed the puffer's teeth twice now- using tricaine-s (ms 222) with baking soda to neutralize acidity- and that has been successful but I would like to keep his teeth trimmed naturally if possible. Do you have any ideas?
<Realistically, nope. While puffers presumably do keep their teeth trimmed in the wild, the reality is that we don't offer the sort of high-fibre, low-nutrient foods that would do that. You could try smearing prawn or fish onto a pumice stone, and he'd have to pick away at the rock to get some food. You can also try offering less processed and more whole invertebrates, the 'wholer' the better! Try offering steadily bigger and more robust foods -- cooked crayfish or king prawn legs initially, but scaling up to things like crab or lobster legs as budget allows.>
Lastly, in the past I've added live ghost shrimp to the tank and both the puffer and KG enjoyed the live snack. Is this a good idea?
<Yep, especially if gut-loaded with greens-based flake food first (such as Spirulina flake). On the other hand, crustaceans (as well as mussels) are high in thiaminase, which causes long term problems, so need to be a minority food (unless gut-loaded or vitamin-enriched) compared with white fish fillet, insects, snails, and cockles.>
I've attached two photos of my tank in case you're curious.
<Thanks for sharing!>
In one of the photos, all three fish came out to see what I was up to (KG is poking out of the cave in the back). Thank you again for taking the time to write back!
<And to you, best wishes, Neale.>

Dwarf lion fish diminished appetite, lethargic     1/22/20
I did look first at the website for an answer but I’m still perplexed. I’ve had this dwarf Zebra lionfish for about a year now. He always ate very well. I’ve joked that if I put a cheeseburger on a feeding stick he’d eat it! I feed frozen krill, silversides, ( ocassionally) pieces of fresh cod, salmon and shrimp from the grocery store. I Also feed freeze dried krill that I rehydrate first with Vitachem or Selcon. I feed every 3rd day. I lost a dwarf before, I think to poor diet so I thought I was doing good. About a month ago I was feeding a piece of silverside, after the first piece he acted like it got stuck in his throat. He started yawning and flaring his gills repeatedly but did not eject it.
<Maybe that portion was too big to swallow>
This behavior lasted about 3 days. After that he didn’t eat for almost three weeks.
<It is very likely it has had an indigestion; have you try using Epsom salt?>
I kept offering ghost shrimp and eventually he started eating again. I also started dosing 300mg of vitamin b1 daily to a 90 gallon tank. (Fear of Thiaminase) Is that enough, too much?
<For how long you dosed this daily?>
He will now eat about 3 rehydrated krill at a feeding, every 3rd day, but I have to go to him and put them almost right against his mouth on the feeding stick, whereas before he would jet across the tank and take food right from my fingers when he saw me coming. Color is good. Fin rays are all intact. No external lesions. Respiration is normal but he seems to hold his gills open a little and they look pale pink, not red. Water parameters are Good. I test my water myself and also took water to lfs to confirm.
<The exact readings would be better for us>
I’ve done 3-40%water changes in a month. All other livestock is healthy.
<Can you please tell us about the other tankmates (size, species)?>
He remains very lethargic and appetite is lackluster. It’s encouraging that he’s eating again but I think he’s more likely to decline again then get better. Can you help? Please let me know if I can provide more info.
<Sometimes predatory fish have fasting periods that may extend up to a few weeks, predators like your lionfish have slow digestion, been this one of the reasons they should not be fed frequently, you are probably feeding this fish, too much and/or too often... I’d leave it for a couple of days with no food offerings at all and then see if it accepts some live food, or the usual foods but soaked in water impregnated with an appetite stimulant. Wil. >
Re: Dwarf lion fish diminished appetite, lethargic     1/22/20

Thanks for the quick response.
<You're welcome Mark>
This is in response to your questions about my lion fish inquiry.
You asked how long I’ve been dosing vitamin B1.
Answer. I’ve been dosing 300mg for 3 weeks in a 90 gallon tank. Should this be a regular ongoing thing. Is that dosage enough? Too much?
<I would add this just once a week, either directly to the water or by soaking foods, try adding all other vitamins too; you can use a multivitamin product such as Selcon or Vitachem.>
You asked for water parameters.
Ammonia and nitrite both-0. Nitrate-10. ph-8.0. KH-9. Calcium-400. Phosphate near 0
<Try to adjust the ph to 8.3 using a buffer.>
You asked about tank mates. 2-percula Clowns, female about 4”, male 2”. A Flame Angel, about 3”. A fire fish, 4”. A Flame Hawk, 2”. a Midas Blenny, 5”and 2 Cardinals, about 2” each. Corals include some soft, mostly lps and some sps, about 25 corals in total. Some crabs and snails. 1 coral banded shrimp. 120lbs of live rock. This is a very peaceful mixed reef community tank operating for 6 years.
<Okay, looks like harrasing is not a problem.>
I have some questions about your responses. You said use Epsom salt for indigestion. How do I do that?
<You should dose 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons of aquarium water, it would be better if you use a separate container.>
You said feed less frequently. I feed every 3rd day. Usually 3 or 4 pieces of fish or krill. When he’s had enough he’ll stop taking food and swim off. What frequency would you recommend?
<No more than 3 times a week, about 3 bite size pieces each time.>
I mentioned that his respiration is normal but his gills are held open more than normal and appear pale pink, not red. Is this a concern?
<Could be due to a number of reasons, the most common is oxygen deprivation; does it show a swollen belly, inflamed anus, bulging eyes?... Wil.>
Mark Steeves

Tank disassembly; Silicone      1/22/20
I am trying to disassemble a tank and am having extreme problems. All the plastic trim is off, all visible silicone has been removed. However, I can't seem to get a razor blade into the seams. It's like the seams are almost glass to glass with the very, very thin layer of silicone holding strong. I've tried 32 gauge wire with handles, but still can't get through.
Any advice on path forward (before I take a hammer to it!)? I've found a lot of information on resealing, but not any detail on difficult to disassemble tank seams.
<This is not uncommon in well manufactured/constructed tanks, razor blades won't fit between panes, I suggest applying acetone with a piece of cotton all the way over the pane joints, leave it to penetrate the union for a few minutes and you should be able to introduce the blade in between, use a single edge razor blade. Wil.>

Loach ID     1/22/20
Hi crew,
About a year ago I bought 6 loaches in petco, labeled as golden zebra loach. Based on my research they looked like Botia histrionica. 5 of them died very quickly, like within a week or two probably due to young age.
They were about half inch in size. But one survived and recently I decided that he is a social fish and need a company. I went into the same store and bought 4 more fish labeled as golden zebra loach. However when I brought them home I realized my new fish look slightly different by color, stripe width and shape. First picture of my old loach, which is yellow with thick black stripes and round body. On the bottom, my new addition: white body with thin black stripes and flat body. Are they even the same kind of fish?
Please help identify.
<Hello Mark, your photos are a bit small, but yes, I agree, these do look like Botia histrionica, and have the distinctive five bands on the flanks plus the vertical band through the eye and the diagonal one from the eye to the mouth. It is worth noting that the species is very variable, and as it gets older, its markings to tend to change. So if the new batch looks different to the older ones you already have, that's not altogether surprising. There are also some undescribed Botia species out there, and it's entirely possible these get into the aquarium trade now and again.
What I would suggest is you visit the Loaches.com forum, sign up, and share your photos there. It's possible someone might know better than me!
Cheers, Neale.>

Led lighting/disease       1/21/20
Hey bob,
All of my fish have been thru copper, as well as two rounds of prazi pro.
There are about 30 altogether in my 180, from small wrasses and gobies you tangs.
I can’t help but notice when certain fish swim to my not powerful LED light up top (current marine, fish only type light) that these certain fish appear to have a white glitter in them. It’s only when they are under the light , at certain depths and angles.
The fish that show it are a masked swallowtail angel, an asfur angel and a blue ring angel.
Too numerous to count ( I feel it’s not ich) but almost like a paint overspray. Description resembles velvet, but nothing is dead and I’ve noticed this the past 4 days or so.
Again, 3 out of the 25 fish show it, no ones not eating, no lethargy, no swimming until power heads etc.
Could this just be the way the light is radiating off of them? Have you noticed this under leds?
<Could be a few things that are non-pathogenic. IF it were me, mine, considering all that is invested money and importance-wise; I'd be studying re sampling, looking under a scope re. B>
Thanks, bob

Brackish tank mates       1/21/20
I'm a long-time patron of your website, and I have to say I really enjoy reading how passionate you all are and the entertaining delivery of the wealth of knowledge that you share. Thank you.
<And thanks for these kind words.>
I have a question regarding my 30 gallon brackish tank (I've had the brackish set up for around four years- SG 1.011/temp around 79F - I use instant ocean about one cup per 5 gallons and have a 90g canister filter running). I started with a swarm of BBGs and an SG of 1.005, then added a Knight Goby and some nerite snails. I've since slowly raised the SG and added a figure 8 puffer, Zebra hermit crab (they got along just fine!!) and nine Endlers. I knew the endlers would become food for the KG, but figured they would be fun to watch in the meantime(and fun for the KG- I have one left now). I apologize in advance if that seems cruel.
<I get cruelty is subjective, so will set that aside. The real issue is live feeder fish cause health problems. Firstly, they're an unknown quantity in terms of what parasites or bacteria they introduce into the fish that eat them. Wild fish can't really avoid this risk, and some (many, even) will be infected with parasites. But pet fish should be kept free of such parasites. Secondly, there's some anecdotal evidence that predators fed on live fish are apt to being more aggressive and/or predatory towards tankmates, while those that only see frozen or fresh foods don't acquire those traits to the same degree. Hunting down a few guppies doesn't really add anything to the life of your Knight Goby, so the argument that it
'enriches' their existence doesn't justify the potential health risks.>
Anyway, the BBGs have since passed away (might have been the increase in salinity or that they weren't great stock to begin with- though I had them for over 2 years).
<BBGs aren't really brackish water fish, despite their reputation. Some species do live in estuaries, it is true, but the farmed ones you see in pet shops are a fresh to low-end brackish species that does best with just a little salt, maybe SG 1.002-1.003. I've maintained them just fine in soft, slightly acidic conditions similar to those they inhabit in the wild.
They're actually more likely to starve to death than suffer from a water chemistry issue. BBGs are easily starved. They need decent sized meals, but resolutely ignore anything that's not fresh, live or frozen.>
I now have a tank with a figure 8 puffer, knight goby, two nerites, and one swordtail endler's livebearer. I realize I don't need the salinity so high and will likely back off slowly to around 1.008.
<If that; SG 1.003-1.005 is absolutely fine for this selection of livestock.>
The KG is very healthy but has gotten shy over the years, and mainly sticks to his preferred cave. The Figure 8 is very chill and has never shown any sign of aggression toward its tankmates.
<Yet, anyway!>
Here's the question: I'm thinking of adding some Desert Gobies if I can find them- like maybe two or three at most. If not, my brother has a bunch of Kribs and would be willing to give me three (I do not want to overstock my tank). What do you think about these two options given my tank setup?
<Kribs would only work at the lower salinity range, since they're not really brackish water fish. They inhabit the Niger Delta, for sure, so have some tolerance. SG 1.003 is not a problem, and they might even handle slightly more. But they're better in soft water with a neutral pH. Not only do their colours look much more intense, you also avoid the problem of just getting male fry (the ratio of males/females depends on pH, with 7 being 50/50, and above 7, increasingly more males and fewer females). As for
Desert Gobies, they simply don't belong here. Continual warmth will shorten their lifespan, and since they're basically annual fish, you want to keep a colony that's breeding otherwise you'll have none left after a few months (assuming you buy near-adults).>
I know Kribs get really aggressive when mating, but they would also add some great color contrast- If I got a group of females maybe they would be chill?
If neither option is good, I also wouldn't mind having a swarm of BBGs back in the tank but I fear the SG is too high.
<Perhaps, but I'm more concerned they'll be Knight Goby food, or else simply starve.>
What do you think?
<I'd be looking at more robust tankmates. Have you considered Etroplus maculatus? The wild-type is charming, if understated, while the all-orange farmed form is very colourful.>
Thanks for your response!
<Most welcome, Neale.>

My Turtle; bleeding/scutes     /Neale       1/21/20
Hello, I thought my eastern painted turtle was shedding so i picked the scoots and now it is bleeding, HELP WHAT SHOULD I DO?
<Ideally, go to a vet. Honestly. That's the best and most reliable approach here. If the cost is an issue, some charities exist (such as PDSA) to help out. Failing that, 'dry dock' him; see about halfway down this article:
Chances are good that if he's kept dry, the shell will heal over quickly, assuming that there are no underlying problems (such as Soft Shell).
Turtles are generally healthy animals, but there are some non-negotiable things that people skip on, and sadly, once you do that, it's not long before the turtle gets sick. Same with most if not all reptiles. Good
review of the basics here:

Sick Parrot Cichlid       1/21/20
Hello WWM Team,
<Melissa (little sweet one)>
I have a 9 year old parrot cichlid. He has been sick for 4-5 days. He stopped eating & is not very mobile just kind of bobbing at the top of the tank.
<Not good>
He is pale, and has a white spot on his side/belly.
<See this in your pic>
I took a photo of it & went to my local fish shop and explained what is going on. They gave me Fluran 2. I am on my second day of treating the tank, but he is the same. I am afraid he is going to die soon. I tested the water & everything looked good.
<Values please>
I included a photo of him below. Please help , thank you for your time.
<Mmm; well, this looks more like a mark/abrasion from a physical trauma to me... I'd check again re pH, hardness of the water and try to be patient.
You should see some emargination, healing in a week or so. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mycobacterial Infection       1/21/20
Thought you might be interested. There is a company called Aquabiomics that does DNA testing on water samples and Biobeds.
<Have just read over their pdf>
I paid to get my tank tested and surprisingly there was no DNA evidence of M. Marinum in my tank.
<See this; in fact 0.0 incidence of all Fish pathogens... Bizarre>
Either I got the infection elsewhere (open wound/wet counter at LFS) or the bacteria was out competed. I attached my report if your interested in looking over.
<Surprised (very) at how much detail is available (presumably to all) in such a service. And, my understanding was that Mycobacteria were common, in fact ubiquitous in marine aquariums; perhaps not super numerary, but not 0.0 present. Bob Fenner>

Re: Questions for 2 bettas     1/20/20
Just writing to tell you I decided to put down my SBD/constipated betta down earlier than planned. He started to refuse food and was not getting any better. I knew it would be better to let him go than continue his life floating and hiding all day. My other guy is doing well, no sign of any rot returning.
<Thank you for your note. BobF>

My Turtle; bleeding/shell      1/20/20
Hello, I thought my eastern painted turtle was shedding so i picked the scoots and now it is bleeding, HELP WHAT SHOULD I DO?
<Will ask Neale to respond as well, but you should have searched WWM re: Read here:
Bob Fenner>

Re: Moray Eel identification     1/19/20
Thank you Marco, the juvenile stage of both species you mentioned bare a very close resemblance to my species. If none of my customers purchase the animal this weekend I will put it in my show tank and see what he turns into! Thanks again! James D.
<You are welcome, James. I am also curious how it looks in a year or two.
Cheers, Marco.>

Wrasse Odd Behavior     1/19/20
I got a red velvet fairy wrasse and trying to figure out what is going on with it. There are two links I put in here. The first one shows the wrasse basically unable to swim and barrel rolling getting blown around in the current.
<Mmm; looks fine/natural to me. It's just drifting in the tank current>
At this point assumed it was a goner. The second one is about an hour later with the wrasse boyount and a little a spooked not really leaving its cave. Any ideas here. Totally at a loss.
<Again; this Cirrhilabrus seems healthy to me. It would, will act more determined in its swimming if/when you get others of the genus, species to interact with. Bob Fenner>

Re: So called Mystery Disease?      1/18/20
"His breathing, swimming, eating seems normal and he isn't scratching against any surfaces. I thought maybe Lymphocystis, or fungus, but wanted your opinion.
<Mmm, the best/most likely "explanation" or root cause here is cumulative stress...> "
<<The above is an excerpt from another person and your response. His Situation was similar to mine. Anyway. I will keep you posted on their progress. Many thanks for the reply.>>
<<Ahh, thank you for this clarification. Am almost sure this is the pathogen mentioned. AND would do as I've suggested; a precipitous drop in salinity (to favor the host, disfavor the Protozoan), and TREAT per what else you have stock wise. AS gone over and over on WWM. DO please write back if a/your path you're choosing isn't clear. Bob Fenner>>
Re: So called Mystery Disease? /Wil      1/18/20

His breathing, swimming, eating seems normal and he isn't scratching against any surfaces.
<Sometimes they seem unaffected, but not indefinitely. I would treat them ASAP, just as Bob suggested.>
thought maybe Lymphocystis, or fungus, but wanted your opinion.
<Lymphocystis "diameter" is bigger and does look like a cauliflower. Wil.>  

Re: Moray Eel identification      1/18/20
Hello Marco, my supplier says it came in from Africa actually.
I am attaching a web address of the only photo i can find online. very  clear picture here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aey/4713980205
<Hello James. Back when I was importing almost all imports of morays from Africa were from Kenya, and this does not look like one of the 10 species recognized from Kenya's coast to my knowledge. However, in the Western Indian Ocean in general Gymnothorax herrei (my best guess here) can occur,
which looks somewhat similar:
https://www.fishbase.se/photos/PicturesSummary.php?StartRow=0&ID=7491&what=species&TotRec=3  and
https://www.fishbase.se/photos/PicturesSummary.php?StartRow=1&ID=7491&what=species&TotRec=3  when small. Michael's Reef Fishes vol. 1 also has a orange to brown species G. brunneus, which is seen my many as a synonym for G. herrei. It's a rather along shot, but the best I can do on your pic. In addition, it is still possible it is some undescribed species of moray, of which there are still quite a number. Great specimen and find. Cheers, Marco.>
<PS: Picture links to G. herrei might not work in my last email. Here they are corrected: https://www.fishbase.se/images/species/Gyher_u0.jpg  and
https://www.fishbase.se/images/species/Gyher_u2.jpg. Cheers, Marco.>
Re: Moray Eel identification      1/18/20

Thank you Marco, the juvenile stage of both species you mentioned bare a very close resemblance to my species. If none of my customers purchase the animal this weekend I will put it in my show tank and see what he turns into! Thanks again! James D.

Dojo Loach Selling and blisters: Suggestions for care?       11/17/20
Hi there- You were so incredibly helpful last time, I thought I would try again. I have a scenario that I can't find any information on and I thought maybe you would have insight.
<Okay; will respond here and refer this to Neale Monks for his independent input>
This is the second time I've gotten a Dojo (weather) loach into the rescue with Edema (swelling) and blisters on their body.
<Mmm; yes. Unfortunately this situation is quite common. Something about Misgurnis in captive conditions>
The first had been in that state for a year, after jumping out of her tank and being mostly dry when she was placed back in the water. I had her for six months before I put her to sleep because she had swelling all throughout her body, and had trouble breathing and swimming. I tried everything from Epsom salt baths 2x a day (for about 3 weeks), to antibiotics for potential bacterial infections, with no change.
Recently, I got another Dojo in. He was sickly when I got him, but did not have the swelling. About a month after being in the tank with goldfish and Dojo's (150 g, 7 dojos, and about 10 adolescent Goldfish, 2x a week water changes and quad filtration), I noticed he was swollen starting from mid body to tail. I Quarantined him, along with all the rest of the loaches for a few days to make sure no one else was showing anything weird (dojo's in a 150 are a tad bit difficult to keep an eye on), but he is the only
one experiencing this.
I have been giving him some Epson salt baths, though not as frequently as with the other dojo, he shed his slime coat after the first bath, and then developed the blisters, which have not subsided. He is still active, and still eating- but the swelling has not changed and I'm not sure what to do for him. He's now been in QT for about a month with no real change to his edema. He also developed a small white patch on his head- not fuzzy or a wound- just a pigmentation change from what I can tell.
I apologize that the photos are not better- it's not a well-lit tank and he's a wiggly little guy- but hopefully, it's enough to provide some suggestions? I can get better photos if that would be helpful, but they would involve stressing him out a little bit, so I figured I would wait to see what you needed.
Andie Lamantia
The Fish Haus Aquatic Rescue
<I'll (simply) refer you to past replies (myself) as I have no new material to add here:
and the linked files above in this series.
Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner:
Re: Dojo Loach Selling and blisters: Suggestions for care?       11/17/20

Awesome! Thanks so much. I'm sorry I did not stumble on this myself!
<No worries Andie. BobF>
Dojo Loach Selling and blisters: Suggestions for care? /Neale       11/17/20

<<Like Bob, I've seen this a few times with Misgurnus species. It does seem to be environmental. One suggestion is that it's a form of the gas-bubble disease you sometimes see in marine fish. If you expose the fish to sudden changes in water temperature (such as adding too much icy cold water to the tank) the saturation of gases in the aquarium water change, and if those gases come out of solution within the fish, any bubbles that tend to move outwards become visible under the skin. There may be some mileage in this explanation, because Weather Loaches are habitual air-gulpers, so tend to have more air inside them than the average fish. They're also more prone to swimming rapidly up and down the tank, and while I can't imagine the pressure difference is very great, it may be enough to make a difference to
the solubility of any gases in their blood. Another suggestion that's perhaps easier to understand is these are mud-dwelling fish poorly adapted to gravelly substrates. Their skins are easily scratched, and rather as you see with Spiny Eels extremely commonly, secondary infections ensure. My problem with this explanation is that the bubbles are apparently under the epidermis, not abscesses or something working their way from the outside in. Either way though, optimising the environment and using antibiotics
against a secondary infection is likely your best move. I'd also warmly recommend Loaches.com as a website with a forum populated with people who are very into loaches. You might find someone there who can help with more certainty! Regards, Neale.>>

Re: Moray Eel identification       11/17/20
Very sorry sir. I am attaching a single 13kb image file this time.
<Hey James; this one is indeed too small (shades of Goldilocks and the
Three Bears!). Something in the few to several hundred KByte range is what
we're looking for. Bob Fenner>
Re: Moray Eel identification       11/17/20

Very sorry sir. I am attaching a single 13kb image file this time.
<Good morning, James. I think maybe you overdid the resizing a bit here! 160 × 90 pixels is way too small to see anything! Just out of curiosity, is this a marine Moray or one of the 'freshwater' species? The answer to that question will speed things up, especially if you can send along a somewhat bigger photo. Something like 1200 x 800 pixels is good! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Moray Eel identification       11/17/20
I think I got it right this time. 455kb image file attached. Need help identifying this moray eel. Thank you, James D.
<Hi James, usually I'd have said Gymnothorax melatremus due to the color alone, but the eyes are not right, since Gymnothorax melatremus has a vertical bar in the eye. If the eel in question really has this yellow to orange color only a few other morays come to mind e.g. G. prasinus from Australia (unlikely to be seen in trade elsewhere) and the yellow color morph of Gymnothorax miliaris from the Atlantic Ocean. Any idea, where it came from? Cheers, Marco.>


White Spots On Achilles Tang Localized to Just the Left Cheek       11/17/20
Hi Crew! I’ve got an Achilles Tang in a 40g breeder quarantine tank. I received it 2 weeks ago and have run 2 rounds of prazipro, 2 weeks of metroplex, and cupramine dosed at 75% so still within therapeutic range,
<Still stressful... and Tangs don't take copper exposure well>
but not dancing the line of being dangerous. The specimen has been eating well on Live Ogo, Pellet, and Mysis.
A few days into quarantine the patch of white spots developed on the left cheek. No other spots anywhere else. I would normally think ich, but I’ve never seen it localized to such a small area before, so it’s throwing me off a bit on the diagnosis. Any thoughts?
<Well; doubt this is something pathogenic; on the basis of isolation, expression on the one area. My bet is on some sort of trauma... a bumping into the side or such. I would NOT treat this fish (w/ medicines) further. I WOULD expedite it through quarantine, enroute w/ a pH adjusted freshwater dip/bath (see WWM) to the main/display tank. Bob Fenner>
White Spots On Achilles Tang Localized to Just the Left Cheek    /Wil       11/17/20

Hi Crew!
<Hi Brian>
I’ve got an Achilles Tang in a 40g breeder quarantine tank. I received it 2 weeks ago and have run 2 rounds of prazipro, 2 weeks of metroplex, and cupramine dosed at 75% so still within therapeutic range,
but not dancing the line of being dangerous. The specimen has been eating well on Live Ogo, Pellet, and Mysis. A few days into quarantine the patch of white spots developed on the left cheek. No other spots anywhere else. I would normally think ich, but I’ve never seen it localized to such a small area before, so it’s throwing me off a bit on the diagnosis. Any thoughts?
<Normally unilateral marks, spots, etc...are symptom of physical damage and not a pathogenic issue, I would not treat this fish with more stressful meds, This tang species is particularly delicate and prolonged copper exposure may do more harm than good, I suggest doing a FW dip just to be sure any possible parasite or death tissue drops off. Try to provide excellent water quality and add vitamins to its food / water. Hope this helps. Wil.>

So called Mystery Disease?       11/17/20
Good day great folks,
The pic says a thousand words?
<Maybe more. Crypt evidently. DO READ on WWM ASAP; and ACT NOW! I'd be lowering spg to about 1.010 to buy you/these angels time... NOW (assuming other life present can tolerate low salinity). Bob Fenner>
So called Mystery Disease?    /Wil        11/17/20

Good day great folks,
<Good day Evelyn>
The pic says a thousand words?
<Does look like Cryptocaryon Irritans, you need to isolate these angels and treat them with copper and hyposalinity; sorry but I'm not sure if you are still on time, they look pretty bad. Wil.>

Re: So called Mystery Disease?       11/17/20
Crypt? Really?
<Uhh, the only way to tell is sampling... ciliate, two dissimilar nuclei... I hope you're done reading...>
And that’s what I thought but the shape is very irregular.
I read something on your site, about an Emperor—cumulative stress ‘syndrome’.
They are eating and swimming and generally seem fine. This is post Cupramine treatment, after being clean for 1 month in a new, clean tank. There was an incident a couple of days ago where all equipment stopped as it became unplugged, in the morning when I saw them they were in respiratory distress. And now this, almost all of a sudden.
<Mate, your animals are soon to be dead. B>
I thought you would like the pic for reference. They are triangular in shape and on the frenchi, in patches.
Thank you, Evelyn
Re: So called Mystery Disease?    /Wil        11/17/20

Good day Wil,
They are isolated. Look closely, their shape is very irregular, clustered on the frenchi. I have read posts about a ‘mystery’ disease and was hoping anyone there would be able to share some of their knowledge and experience.
<Haven't heard of that>
I know it looks like crypt but is it really? Their behavior suggests otherwise.
<To be 100% sure, only by taking a tissue sample and observe it under a microscope.>
They have just come out of quarantine and placed in a clean observation tank.
I will certainly keep you posted in my findings. I read something about ‘cumulative’ stress. Any thoughts/ experience on that?
<Well, stress is (as in humans) the trigger for almost any disease, that´s why we always advice keeping top water quality and a stress free environment... Prevention is better than cure.>
Many thanks,
<Glad to help. Wil.>

A White Cloud dies every few weeks        11/17/20
Hello WWM,
I wanted to follow up with you on advice you gave me several years ago (below). In case it helps anyone with similar issues, the end it was the Paraguard that did the trick. I treated the whole tank (I removed the 2 nerites, one of which is 4 years old now - I didn't know they'd live that long) and finally the WWMMs stopped wasting away and dying. I was down to 3 fish and didn't restock for a year just to make sure. I now have a school of 9 happy WCMMs. I know they are schooling fish and are unhappy in small numbers. It was amazing to see the difference in the 3 fish when I added the 6 new ones. One of the males had completely lost his colour, even the red in his tail. They were all quite pale. Shortly after the new ones arrived, they coloured right up - amazing!
Anyhoo, thanks again for your advice,
Tracey (from frigid Canada)
<Thanks for the follow-up, and glad things worked out well in the end. Does sound like you had a bad batch of fish, and once the survivors were fixed up, they were very glad to see some new friends. Lovely fish, and like a lot of minnows, the more you keep, the better (and healthier) they will be.
So unless the tank is tiny, don't feel like you should hold back getting
more. A dozen would be fine in even 10 gallons, and the more the merrier.
Cheers, Neale.>
<<29 October 2016 16:35
To: crew@wetwebmedia.com
Subject: A White Cloud dies every few weeks

Greetings Fish Gurus!
<Hello Tracey,>
I have a 15 gallon lightly planted tank that I have been trying to keep White Clouds in, but they keep wasting away and dying one by one. The tank has been set up for the last 18 months. The most I’ve had in there at one time is 8 fish (currently 5), so I am lightly stocked.
Tank parameters:
Temp: 20 C (maintained with a heater)
<Depending on room temperature, a heater might not be needed. A definite cool phase, around 18 C, in winter is a really good idea.>
pH: a steady 7.5
GH: 60 ppm
KH: 60 ppm
nitrite: 0
nitrate: < 5 ppm
Water changes: 20% weekly, conditioned with Prime
Food: mostly flakes, peas once a week, the odd algae wafer
<All sounds ideal.>
They start out active and with good appetites, then one by one they stop schooling and eating and just hover around the tank. Sometimes they seem to recover and become active and healthy again, but eventually they fall ill again. I’ve made the mistake of restocking a couple of times when I thought the trouble was over and wanted to maintain at least 6 to minimize stress, but two weeks after adding the new ones, someone stops eating and on it goes. Early on I fed them live mosquito larvae harvested from my rain barrel (I stopped doing that in case it was introducing something) and I did get one (in hindsight) suspect fish in the very first batch that never ate or schooled and died within a month. Attached is a photo of the latest fish on death watch. It has withdrawn and rallied at least once or twice already, but I think this might be it. I have never seen a worm protruding from them, and I have used a magnifying glass to examine them closely and never seen a mark or hitchhiker on them. Medication-wise I have tried General Cure,
<A "jack of all trades, master of none" treatment that is *meant* to deal with external protozoan and invertebrate parasites, such as fish lice. Not nearly as "general purpose" as its name suggests.>
Prazipro (one dose per week for three weeks) and Levamisole (one dose per week for three weeks), but the problem continues.
<These last two are de-wormers.>
Any thoughts on what the problem might be? I love these little fish, but they keep breaking my heart.
<Two things to think about. The first is that none of the medications you've used would seem to match your symptoms. So your lack of success with them is not unexpected. The second is that the symptoms you're dealing with sound a lot more like Neon Tetra Disease (which can/does affect other species,
or at least, similar parasites do) or a systematic bacterial infection (sadly very common in farmed fish produced to a price, as with WCMM, Angels, Guppies, and host of other "bread and butter" species). So, going forwards, probably your best approach is to medicate as per a bacterial infection, something like the popular Maracyn 1 and 2 combo, or better yet, the Seachem Polyguard and Paraguard combo, which should treat just about everything treatable.
Make sure to remove carbon from the filter, if used (generally redundant in freshwater fishkeeping) and provide supplemental aeration, even if that only means lowering the water level a bit so the filter outflow splashes a bit more than usual.>
Thank you,
<It's possible you've been unlucky, and/or the fish are sick because of something going on at the retailer. You might leave the tank to settle, and when no more WCMMs die, buy some more to restore the school, but choosing from another retailer or buying online from a trustworthy source. Your local/city aquarium club can help too. Hope this helps, Neale.>>>

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