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FAQs on Marine Diseases 1

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Most infectious disease results from cumulative environmental and/or nutritional insults. Here, a puffer is suffering from "fungal" (mostly bacterial) infection.

Bending fish  6/29/06 Dear Crew What causes spinal bending in fish (lordosis)? I have rainbow trout in a large outdoor pond and they can have bends like boomerangs. Thanks Jon <Such bending can be a result of poor nutrition, infectious disease (e.g. Myxosoma... "Whirling"...), even stray electricity in the water... Other lesser "causes" include aspects of water quality, genetic anomalies. If you intend to consume these fishes, or enter into this body of water, I would have this investigated. Bob Fenner>

Sick fish... Crypt  11/16/05 Good Morning, First I want to thank you for all of your advice up to this point. It has been great!  I knew sooner or later it would happen...............and I guess the only bright side of this event is that I only have (had) 2 fish in the tank. 1 day ago I noticed my Flame Angel acting strange...... staying near the top of the tank, not gazing <Grazing?> like it use to. This am <AM> I found him at the bottom of the tank. He had the dusting of white spots, fins were frayed. I have since move the other fish, (clown) to the QT tank. I'm planning on treating with copper and slowly lowering the salinity from 1.026 down to about 1.015. I'm I on the right track? <You're on one, but not the one I'd take> The main tank values look like this(55 gallons) been up since May. LR with CBS, 1 BTA, Frogspawn, Xenia salinity 1.026 ammonia .25 nitrite 0 nitrate 0 temp 79-82 I just changed out 4 gallons a day ago and have been doing that every week.  Does ick move this fast? <Can, yes> Could it possible marine velvet? <Yes... could even be both> I thought I would have a little more time to catch it? <Mmm, no> My understanding is I don't have to treat the main........but continue doing water changes etc...and wait at least a month before introducing any fish. <...> What about the QT tank? Once (hopefully) my clown looks clean, how do I go about cleaning that tank and how long should I wait until a fish can be QT in that? Thank you once again! <Lay some time aside and read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm.  Esp. the sections on Cryptocaryon... and soon. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Sick fish... Crypt ... ick problem and new arrivals, We Can Only do so Much via Email Messaging  11/16/05
Ok, you wouldn't not use Rid-Ick....... sooo..... is it a secret or can you tell me which product/products you would suggest using? <Is posted...> I'm trying to do the best I can here. I'm not looking for a pat on the back, just some advice.  Sorry to be wasting your time. <Only I can do this. Please... learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM. There is much needed "ancillary", related input... that cannot be easily related going back/forth... BobF> 

Parasitic Plague? (Possible Amyloodinium Outbreak?) Every fish is dying. <Yikes!> I am losing every fish in my tank to some inexplicable disease. It started with three fish bought on this Saltwaterfish.com (dead within days), then my Asfur Angel, then Bicolor Blenny, then several damsels, then a Flame Angel and Tiger Jawfish and now just five fish left (Hippo Tang, Maroon Clown, Orange Skunk Clown, Blue Damsel and Spotted Hawkfish)....Maybe they are next. Symptoms are few, as the fish either show a little blotchiness to their bodies, perhaps even a little erosion of fins, although some show no signs at all and outwardly look very healthy, perhaps a little cloudy in eyes....eventual outcome is listing and finally inability to swim, lying on ground with gills working and then dead. PH is good, nitrates low, temp fine.....I don't get it, very upsetting! Any help???? <Well, I'll make the assumption that the water chemistry is, indeed good, and that the fish are dealing with some sort of a parasitic infection- possibly even Amyloodinium. Symptoms such as listlessness, cloudy body and eyes, and difficulty breathing are potential symptoms. This disease can kill quickly, if left unchecked. I'd read up on the WWM Parasitic Disease FAQs a bit more, and see if anything there sounds familiar. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>

Fighting Against Fungus Hi again. <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I recently bought a Threadfin Butterfly Fish. In their lighting the fish looked clean at the store, but once I got it home and in the QT I noticed 2 spots of ich. I have much brighter lighting in my QT, if I didn't I think I would miss most of the diseases I've found in the past. <I'm thrilled that you quarantine! This type of "pick up" is precisely why we recommend this process!> I wonder if fish stores do this intentionally. Well, the fish has undergone a fresh H2o dip, currently undergoing hyposalinity tx with Methylene blue from Aquatronics, and the temp is at 80F. I'm cleaning the tank and PVC pieces daily and using the water from my display tank to fill the QT. Anything else you would recommend? <I'd keep doing what you're doing; However, if the spots multiply- or if the fish appear to be on the decline, do look into the possibility of other treatment techniques (such as use of copper sulphate or formalin-based remedies) as the way to go.> Just want to cover all my bases to make sure I haven't forgotten anything. Also, I have the same scenario with two new Purple Firefish except they have, at least what I can tell, a fungal infection. I've re-read your info on its appearance and ways of spreading and it looks like they have it, well, at least one does for the time being. It has small raised lumps with a thin almost translucent film over the top of the lump and it is spreading from that area. One has already died from this in a separate QT, they were all bought at the same time at the same store. Once again, everything looked fine under their lighting but when I brought them home, Tadah, their it was! They I have treated them exactly like I have been treating the BF. Should I be doing anything differently, different medication? I've never had a fish with a fungal infection before. So far, every one is eating very well and swimming about checking things out. I only have the blinding lights on when I feed so I can see how they are doing. The purple Firefish aren't scratching from what I can see. Thanks again, Shauna <Well, if you're dealing with fungal disease, you'd probably be successful treating with a product such as Maracyn, which is very effective. Follow manufacturer's instructions to the letter when using this, or any medication. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Treating Fish In The "Hot Zone"- A Happy Ending! HI Scott F, <Hey there!> Yep...you were right! The spot disappeared, all three fish seem very healthy and happy and I have set aside a proper quarantine tank for the future. <Yaaayy! I like happy endings!> Again, thanks a million and happy fish keeping! P.S. Also, thanks for tolerating my atrocious spelling...I re-read what I had written you...yikes! <Glad to have been there for you! As to the spelling...Well- we like to have everything perfect, but I see it as a chance to sharpen my editing skills for "Conscientious Aquarist"! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

- Clown Under the Weather - Bob, I have a saddleback clown that today has got white, off white or gray looking spots (mucus looking) and some stringy mucus on the fins and around the gill area. The fish is not eating, but is in its normal area of the tank. As of last night it was fine. I did spend quite a lot of time in the tank cleaning it after being on vacation for 2 weeks and at which time I did a small water change. The clown was his normal self and eat like a mad man last night. Other variables are: I tried new food last night (Omega One brand) and put some carbon in the tank. The other fish 2 yellow clown gobies and a Lyretail Anthias seem fine. The clown has been the tank for over six months. And suggests would be helpful. Doug <For now, I'd just keep it under observation... the white spots and mucus could be a reaction to something that happened while you were away, and the water change improves its attitude. Keep an eye on the spots, and make certain it is eating. Prepare a quarantine tank in case things take a turn for the worse. Cheers, J -- >

Porcupine Post Mortem <HI, MikeD here again> I don't have any powerheads. I am running an Eheim 2217 and 2 Emperor 400's with reg. cartridges and bio-slabs. No other fish or anemones have been anywhere near him for at least a month (when I got him) I have read over everything I can find in the fad's, I think it kind of sounds like ich? <You're still losing me here. Ich is very tiny white specks, as small or smaller than a grain of salt, and NEVER large circular marks. When I said powerheads, that can include any power filter intake, although it SOUNDS as if your is covered by a sponge pre-filter?> but I don't know? Should I let the main tank go fallow? <You can if you wish, just to be safe, but from what I read it truly seems unnecessary> if so for how long, and how do I maintain the bacteria? I am DONE with Puffers! <WAIT a minute here (please?)!!! Most puffers aren't that susceptible to ich, with the Porcupine and the Burrfish being the worst> I got WAY too attached to this Porc. <That I understand fully...they don't call them personality fish for nothing!> I didn't know they were as prone to disease as Tangs. <Again, not all, just porcs and burrs> I think I will stick with my original idea of a Russell's Lionfish, as soon as I know for sure that it's safe? <I can't fault you on that idea, as they are one of my all time favorites. NEVER, by the way put a small sharp-nosed puffer in with a lionfish, as they are famous for shredding their fins and killing them. Ironic, eh? The smallest member of the puffer family (about 3") is also the nippiest>

Making The Right Diagnosis Hello Crew! <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I did find articles about this subject on your site, but not specifically about Naso Tangs. I have a 75G saltwater that has been perfect for two-plus years.  About a month ago I added a Naso Tang.  He seemed very happy, but a week after being added, he was briefly "caught" by my large hermit crab (who's never caught anything before). <Yikes!> He managed to get away quickly.  I checked him out and all seemed well.  Now about 10 days after that incident, both eyes are very cloudy.  One of the eyes has some of the cloudy material peeling away slightly.  Really looks ugly.  He sometimes goes to the bottom of the tank and props himself against a rock -- I think because he can't see.  He tries to eat, but can't see his way around much. <I don't know if this is the result of "collateral damage" caused by injury, or some type of other problem.> I have a gallon of Melafix that I used on another tank.  But, I'm not sure its the right stuff for this and not clear how long to medicate. <I'm glad that you're holding back on medicating until you make a positive ID as to what it is you're fighting! Do check on the WWM disease FAQs on parasitic illnesses, and see if you're dealing with something similar. That's my hunch...> I had a QT until recently (my son uses it as his tank for now, long story).  So, what do I do folks? Habitants: Red legged crab two Yellowtail Damsels one small clown An aggressive wrasse (but he leaves the Tang alone) Thanks so much! Steve Johnston <Well, Steve- Cloudy eyes and listlessness are symptoms of the parasitic disease Amyloodinium (Marine Velvet), which can be deadly if left untreated, not to mention, highly contagious...Do check on those Parasitic Disease FAQs on the WWM site to verify if this is what you're dealing with, and then begin treatment in a separate tank with an appropriate medication (usually copper sulfate or formalin-based meds, if you're dealing with Amyloodinium) ASAP. With quick diagnosis and rapid intervention, you can defeat this disease...Get to it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Bacterial Infection? (4/8/04)  Hello again. <Hi. Steve Allen with you this evening.> Well I have lost all of my fish. <So sorry to hear :(> I am a newcomer to the saltwater fish hobby and although I read everything I found on the internet about saltwater fish I didn't do something right. I found out (all to late) My tank had a bacterial infected fish which was the Black and White Butterfly. <How as this infection diagnosed? Are you certain that it was bacterial infection. This is far less common that parasitic infestations.> I treated my tank but I guess it was to late. <Ho id you treat it.> So my question is how do I clean the tank to get rid of the bacteria. I have Fiji rock in the tank. Any help would be greatly accepted. Debbie <I need to know more about what happened (answers to my questions above) and what your current set-up is (size, filtration, etc.) in order to give you any useful advice. BTW, please use periods and capitalization (proper noun "I" and first letter of sentence) so your mails are easier to read. Thanks, Steve Allen.>

Black & White Butterfly Hello, <Steve Allen again> The Butterfly fish had cloudy eyes on the second day after I had purchased it. It also was breathing rapidly and had some black spots on his body. <Could have been a primary parasitic worm infection with secondary bacterial infection. Read about Paravortex or black spot disease.> I searched on the computer and every thing I read pointed to a Bact. infection. I purchased the fish from Petsoultions.com (which was a mistake) Then I went and bought some med called Melafix which was for cloudy eyes and bacterial infections. I treated the whole tank. I have been told since that you do not treat a saltwater tank with any type of medicines. <Melafix may not really be adequate. A real antibiotic in a quarantine tank would be better. Don't beat yourself up about losing this fish. It's really hard to save a fish that's already sick when you get it. The downside of buying online is that you do not have the opportunity to observe the fish prior to purchase. OTOH, the price is right and one can often find fish that are hard to find at the LFS. I'd let the tank sit fish-free for several weeks and run some PolyFilter and carbon to remove any leftover medication. Quarantine any future additions for 4 weeks. Read details on WWM.> Debbie <Hope this helps.>

Hyposalinity And Ich Hi <Hello, Scott F. with you!> I have 2 quick questions if you please: 1. If I want to do a hyposalinity treatment ( for ich ) in my FOWLR tank what is the max temperature and minimum S.G. I can use? <I wouldn't go below 1.010-1.012, and I'd keep the temperature no higher than 82 degrees F. Acclimate the animals carefully, and don't do this in a tank with inverts and coral. Remove them, or do this in a separate tank.> 2. How long should I keep the tank at these parameters for effective treatment? <I'd leave conditions that way for at least 3-4 weeks...Do look at you other treatment options as well, before starting this process.. It can work, but may not be as effective as some other techniques (like letting the display tank run fallow, while treating the fishes with an effective medication. Lots of different schools of thought on this...Consider them all! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Disease question To answer your question, I have seen rapid gilling and scratching. They seem to be scratching near their mouths for the most part. The queen was doing it quite frequently.  <all conspicuous signs of gill irritation from a disease or poison... likely disease in this case since your chemistry checks fine> I did see the grouper's gills before he died, there didn't seem to be anything unusual.  <there is nothing to see with the naked eye my friend... this is no matter> With the lack of other symptoms, what would this indicate? I don't know what else to do besides a water change, do you think this may improve the situation/save the others? <you need to medicate these fishes in a separate bare-bottomed hospital tank. Freshwater dips and Formalin meds are called for. Treating in the tank is not an option as the meds will poison the bio-filter and stain/contaminate all live rock, sand. gravel, etc. QT is to run 4 weeks... tank will go fallow in the meantime. As mentioned before... quarantine is CRITICAL for all new fishes. Under almost no circumstance IMO should a new fish be placed directly into a display with other clean fishes... it risks all of their lives as you have seen. Please read through our archives and FAQs if you need more information about QT and med treatments. Best regards, Anthony> Thanks, Tim
Re: Disease question
Hi, <Howdy> Well, the grouper died yesterday. I did a 10 gal. water change last night and came home today only to find the Queen Angel all but dead. It is in last stages and going through its death throes. This is very disappointing and frankly not easy to bear.  <tragic, my friend. I'm sorry to hear it> I am confused about what could possibly be the problem since the other fish look fine. The queen angel was fine yesterday and after the water change and almost a day, it is looking this way. The Foxface is eating, but not very well. The trigger and cleaner wrasse are both eating and look fine. If there is something fundamentally wrong with the system, wouldn't it affect all the fish the same way,  <not at all... every fish has a different immunity and tolerance... between genera and even between members of the same species! Just like some people in a household getting a flu and some don't> or at least at the same time? I just did another 10 gal. water change today, so that's 35 gal. in just over 2 weeks time. I would think last night's change would have done some good, instead it seems to have had an adverse effect and very quickly.  <unlikely relative to the water change> I am planning on doing another 15 gal. this weekend just to be sure. But I don't know if that's the answer. It seems to be some kind of illness. The queen didn't have any outward signs of disease, no spots or any growths, just some paleness and cloudy spots on the eyes. <if it is pathogenic... only a parasitic organism in the gills could cause such severe mortality without many symptoms. Have you seen rapid gilling or scratching off rocks?> Fins were a little ragged too. I'd like to be thinking about replacing the fish, but not sure if it would be safe.  <you will be sure to only buy one at a time and put every one through an isolated screening in a proper quarantine tank first, right? It is critical to avoid these problems and show due respect for our charges and life at large to do so. We certainly don't think they are furniture or inanimate <G>> Don't know what else to do or make of this, so again I ask for your assistance and gratefully appreciate your help so far. Thanks for your time. Tim <Tim... since we cannot be there to actually see and evaluate your fishes, may I suggest that you make an investment in a house call from a local aquarium service personnel (look them up in the phone book). These chaps are paid to keep fish alive... find one that has been in the biz for a while for a better chance at some wisdom/experience. Remember... their livelihood depends on keeping fish alive. A good aquarium society would be great too if one is local (or start your own if not!). With kind regards, Anthony>

Young Aquarist With 1st Outbreak  Dear Bob, Steve, and Anthony, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I'm a young saltwater aquarist and I'm afraid I have run into my first disease outbreak since I've been keeping for almost a year. I'm sure my small purple tang has velvet , but my tiny Koran angel had a cloudy eye then almost pop-eye but he completely recovered and is doing absolutely great..  <good to hear on the latter> My two large false perculas have what I dread is Brooklynella because their fins are not clear, and their bodies are losing their color - turning slightly blackish and they sometimes appear slimy yet they behave normally.  <tough to diagnose but symptomatically similar> My 5 yellow-tail damsels appear to be doing fine. I also have a cleaner shrimp, 3 scarlet reef hermits, some Astrea snails, and a couple turbo snails. I have had these fish for 8 months now - so I haven't introduced anything new other than some hermits and snails lately. Again since its been months I haven't had a quarantine tank setup again since I haven't had the need. <a temperature drop or some live food cold have been the catalyst> I have a 46 gal. tank with an AMiracle wet/dry, and an Eheim 2224 pro powering an Aquanetics q25il sterilizer. I have about 25 pounds of mostly Fiji rock and some cultured Caribbean live rock as well as some base rock underneath. ~I want to convert to a reef soon, but I am afraid that after my fish have been treated the tank will still be hosting the virus.  <no worries... like people and all animals there is no such thing as a sterile body or environment. Immunity from good aquarium husbandry is simply the key> I will get rid of the little aragonite I have in the tank, but is it a wise decision to get rid of my live rock?  <good heavens no!!! The pathogen will run its course one way or another and die down. However, if the problem is fluctuating temps and you don't correct it, it will flare again> If I get rid of the rock and the inverts and treat my tank with copper is it possible to completely remove the copper again if it is just a bare tank with equipment and fish? - but again I hope to convert it into a reef soon...Parameters are great. <copper is a horrible choice for most pathogens although admittedly quite useful for common Ich. Formalin in a QT tank is necessary in this case> Thank you so much for taking the time to read this email & Thanks in advance if you can find the time to respond in your busy schedules Mike "Rok" <thank you Mike... best of luck in your endeavors>

Questions about Disease Resistance Jason Some other questions. In my main tank I only have a Snowflake Eel that is doing great. In Bob's book, he has a great section on different species and how they do in captivity. He does state that snowflakes are disease resistant. Does this mean parasite or can they be parasite host. <<it's kind of like "stainless steel" - doesn't mean it won't rust or stain, just means it will stain less.>> I hope to put my quarantined fish in main tank in 10-14 days but saw something in main tank that I have seen diving but not in tank before. In my openings (caves) of live rock there were tiny animals swarms. They were only in openings out of direct light. They were swimming, not floating. I don't think they are parasites since I have heard they float. But I have never seen floating parasites as others have said in forum they have seen. Does this sound like parasites or something from live rocks? I do run an algae scrubber. <<could quite likely be beneficial stuff from the live rock>> DStanley <<Cheers, J -- >>

Loving CMA, Hating Torn Fins Hey Mr. Fenner, <<It's JasonC here>> It's been a while. How are things? I know you recently went on a dive. I hope you had a great time. <<actually, he's still out diving...>> Well, I've been sort of quite recently because I purchased your book, "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist." Just, outstanding. <<Bob will appreciate your kind words.>> However, I can't find any definitive opinion on fish that have torn fins and their causes and suggestions. The situation is this: Everything looks great. Leather coral fully extended. Quadricolor anemone doing great. etc. Parameters all sound. All fish have been in the tank for at least 6 weeks and have been healthy and harmonious. Yet, several of the fish are displaying torn fins. I watch the tank for about an hour a day and don't since nor witness any rough horse play between the tank mates. It all started when I noticed a few tears on my (wrongly delivered) Sailfin tang. (He is black and with yellow stripes as opposed to the gray I was expecting, no complaints though, proper ID please?) <<these guys lighten and darken with conditions/mood>> Then I noticed a tear or two on the Kole Tang. Then a few tears on the Scott's Fairy Wrasse. Finally, there appears to be slight tear on the True Perk. In perfect condition is the Hippo Tang (the night aggressor maybe??) . . . Any suggestions? <<even if you haven't seen it, I'd bet on some form of aggression taking place in your tank, perhaps at night, perhaps during the other parts of the day when you aren't watching. If you can, spend more than one hour, and don't sit right in front of the tank, watch from a distance if you can. At night, you can use a red light to see who's lurking at night.>> It will be good to hear from you again my friend. I love your book, and I hope things are well. Chatting, Rich <<Cheers, J -- >>

Raccoon scratching face on rocks? My newest addition (a lunula) has been scratching just his face area the last couple of days. I have had him 5 days and he has not eaten yet.  <a quarantine tank is the single most important piece/assembly of equipment to have for good husbandry... all new fish and sick fish go into it for 2-4 weeks. It saves money and lives. Could have helped this situation. Do research the articles and FAQs on this site for guidance> I tried the variety of foods you recommended, I will just have to be patient. I did a 5 minute freshwater dip when I first got him & I see no other fish scratching, yet? Steve Tilotta <very glad to hear about the FW dip. Scratching can be from water chemistry or gill parasites. If water quality tests OK, do more FW dips with the assumption of an impending parasite outbreak. A QT tank would be best in case meds are needed. Do try Sweetwater Plankton (glass jar) or a live freshwater mussel (cracked open shell) to entice the feeding. Best regards, Anthony>

Live rock and ICK I have a 75 gal tank that I think I have just rid of ICK. Before using copper treatment I removed the live rock from the tank and carbon from my filter. The LR has been in a bucket, unheated but with aeration for three weeks with no other feeding or medications. When I put the LR back in my 75 gal tank is it possible to reintroduce the Ick?  <unlikely> If so is there any way to cure the LR and keep it alive?  <if it wasn't before it is now from the past three weeks. Else, read the archives please on curing techniques for live rock>  I just started this tank 7 weeks ago and only have 7lbs. of rock, so if the LR can be a carrier of Ick I would just as soon dispose of it rather than risk another ick outbreak.  <slow down my friend... do research before making such knee-jerk reactions. These are precious and limited wild reef resources and living creatures to say the least (including the live rock). Live rock actually helps to reduce parasites through microorganisms in the rock that act as predators on it> For reference I still have 3 damsels (2 died from ick) a small volitans lion, small Huma trigger, and maybe a couple blue leg hermits (started with 5, only can find 1 moving)! Please one more thing, at the beginning of the Ick outbreak my one domino damsel, which is one of the two that died, had an area on his side that looked as if it lacked color. Now I have noticed my blue devil has a spot much as I remember the domino had. Also it's right behind his gill cover and his fin on that side is not moving well. It appears maybe swollen in that area, and maybe a little paralyzed, as his mouth on that side looks a little stiff! Is this possibly a parasitic or bacteria problem or possible copper poisoning? <very tough to say with the description.. you really need to archive quarantine tank procedures and set up one to protect your investment and your fishes lives from new fish and future outbreaks> Any comments will be greatly appreciated and reassuring I'm sure. Thank you in advance. Jack B. <best of luck, my friend. Anthony>

My fish are under attack Hi guys, please help me. I have a 120 f/o with a Luna lion, porcupine puffer, Annularis angel and a zebra moray.  < a full house indeed> I have had all fish except the angel for over 2 years. The angel has been around for 6 months and was quarantined. I brought on some sort of disease by letting my tank go a little long without maintenance. I have always been religious with monthly water changes but let it go longer last month so I think it is my fault.  <many stressors possible> In two days one of puffer's eyes clouded over with thick white flaky stuff and I could see white areas on lions fins. I did a big water change, lowered spg and turned the heat up thinking environmental disease and preparing to wait.  <hmmm... must be careful with raising temperature when bacterial infections cannot be ruled out... may make things worse. Bacteria thrive in warmer environments> 3 days later and things are much worse, both puffers eyes are infected and the lion has more stuff on his body. It doesn't match up with anything I can find on your site. It has to be some sort of parasite but the white chunks on the lion are much larger than ich or velvet.  <not at all... primary symptoms were not at all indicative of parasites: cloudy eyes suggest water quality or bacterial infection as do white chunks and see turbidity/necrosis on fins. Ich is merely like identical grains of salt...never bigger or irregular as you have observed. Still... there could be another parasite at work causing the skin irritation and sloughing> The angel fish shows no sign of attack on his body but his eyes might be a little cloudy, I can't really tell. Whatever it is seems to attack skin as the angel has nothing on his scales. I have two large refugiums (20 gallons each) under my tank which I can use for treatment or I could put my rocks in them and treat the main tank. I think medication is necessary but I have no idea what kind. I have had these fish for a long time and will do whatever it takes to save them. Thanks Sean from Denver <agreed my friend... do set up bare-bottomed quarantine/hospital tanks with biological filtration (foam blocks from seeded filters are ideal) and/or daily water changes to maintain water quality. In combination, use "Quick Cure" as per mfg dose (or like formalin/malachite combo) a and use an antibiotic with Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone together in it (Like jungle "Fungus Eliminator" at double strength). Dose for three to five days looking for stabilization or improvement (again...do water changes too). Best regards, Anthony>

PLEASE HELP!!!! (too much action, not enough knowledge, understanding) >Dear Bob, >Please help...am at my wits end!! Am new to marine fish and I know  >that lots of my problems relate to me being too eager. I got a shop  >to set me up a 55 gallon tank with all the bits what you get with  >them including sub tank, skimmer, filters, pumps, live rocks and even  >few plants...all in all the full lot. When he installed it he  >brought 2 damsels and told me about the nitro cycle it goes through  >so for the time being I couldn't put any fish in other than the 2  >already there. Things seemed to be going fine...after 2 weeks nice  >algae on the rocks (brown at first then green) and he said this was a  >good sign and then he tested the water after 3 weeks...Temp-79,  >Salinity-0.024, PH-7.7-8.0, Ammonia-0, Nitrites-3,  >Natrates-100+!!(he said this is normal and he no reason to  >disbelieve). I let 2 more weeks pass and tested again...Temp-79,  >Salinity-0.025, PH-7.7-8.0, Ammonia-0, nirites-3 and yes Nitrates  >EXACTLY the same at 100+. He said its still ok but by now I got fed  >up of looking at 2 damsels and just went for a look around the fish  >store district in manila. Before I got my tank I reserved a 3" Regal  >Angelfish and a 3" pyramid butterfly from 1 of the stores id seen  >them in and told them to hold them for me( both seemed in GREAT  >health (no spots, dots, grazes, bumps, lumps and eating like sharks  >as I visited them twice a week for over 6 weeks). I know am wrong  >but I just couldn't resist the temptation and came home with the fish  >id reserved. <Yikes... too much too soon... your system had not fully cycled as determined by your water tests...> Things went great for 2 days until I found little white  >spots on the butterfly and then the day later on the regal. I went  >back to the fish store and they advised me to do a 10% water change,  >use MarinOomed, turn my lights out and turn the skimmer off for 1 day.  <Good advice, though the Regal Angel was likely too stressed in this system to be recovered> I did this and things seemed ok for 2 days then until I woke  >the other morning to find both my reserved fish DEAD!! Both the  >damsels are perfectly ok and no sign at all of the white spots but I  >cant just look at them forever! Now that's all I have and am  >continuing to use MarinOomed as directed because I can see white  >spots on the glass and in the water. <These spots/bubbles are not a/the disease> I don't have the lights on and I  >turned the skimmer off for another day yesterday (on now though).  <Return the lights to a regular light/dark cycle... this will improve water quality by stimulating life on your live rock> I  >thought I may as well because I want to get rid of this white spot  >while I have no valuable fish inside. I have also dropped the  >salinity to 0.019 and carried out tests again today and guess  >what...YES...STILL SAME READINGS AS WEEKS AGO!!! What do you suggest  >now bob because its really doing my head in. <Please take a long read through the many Set-Up articles about marine systems on WetWebMedia.com and the FAQs files on Nitrate... starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm> I just want a nice tank  >with nice fish...I have the nice tank but I cant have the fish to go  >with it because my water seems inhabitable for nice fish and am not  >sure where I go from here. The best purpose for my tank at the  >moment seems to be used for me to drowned myself in it with the  >constant headache this hobby is giving me!! <No my friend, you have given yourself... you need to master patience, gain knowledge of what you are doing, your possibilities here> Sorry bob but am sure  >everyone goes through this and this hobby does have very good points  >but am sure you know how it is when things ain't working. Do I carry  >on with the medication? What is your opinion of this medication? Do  >I keep my salinity at the present level forever? What are the ideal  >test results for a tank like mine? PLEASE advise me what is the best  >way forward from here. <The best way for now is to complete the medication/treatment regimen (two weeks), and study. We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Fish Disease Book Anthony, <You caught me, Steven Pro, on my shift, but I have the wonderful book Anthony spoke of, too.> I saw your response to someone regarding a book called Dieter Untergasser's Handbook of Fish Diseases. Do you know if this book is commonly available in pet stores or have an ISBN? <Handbook of Fish Diseases Dieter Untergasser, TFH Publications ISBN 0-86622-703-2 Hope that was helpful. Steven Pro>

First time mailer (marine disease situation) Hi Bob, I've had a fresh water set up and now I'm trying a salt water reef tank. Parts of it are currently under construction (i.e.. sump, light hood). Its been running for about six weeks. I started with a 65 gallon tank, 403 Fluval, 300 AquaClear, heater, 802 powerhead for circulation, and 1" of crushed coral. Circulated the water for a week, then added two damsels, then a week later bought 10lbs of live rock. Two weeks after that I bought a flame angel and an anemone.  <This is a little too quick> Then finally after one week more I bought six turbo snails and 24lbs more of live rock. I have the sump nearly complete and now I have trouble. I've been reading info on this site, but unfortunately, did not get though everything in a timely manner and have made some small mistakes along the way. One being that I did not quarantine the fish before introducing them to the main tank. The flame angel has ich! <Yikes... likely sped on by all being rushed...> I knew from past experience that raising the temperature has some positive effects. After reading further, it seems that those are limited. The increased temperature has removed the spots but it seems that this is only temporary. I was ready to add the sump and SeaClone skimmer tomorrow BUT, <I would> Here is my plan...........convert newly created sump (approx. 35gallon) to a hospital tank for six weeks, treat all the fish (3) with copper. Its empty right now because I just completed making it custom, to fit under the corner diamond 65gal main. Use the AquaClear as filtration on the sump hospital tank). The main tank will have increased temperature and reduced SPG. Based on what I've read this should clear my problem. Will the remaining inhabitants benefit from also being transferred?  <Yes... but as I said/state, I would likely (very) try to "treat" the situation by improving water quality, adding a cleaner shrimp and or goby at this point... rather than coppering, quarantining...> The kicker is that I specifically asked the LFS whether it was necessary to quarantine. Should of spent more time reading here! Are there any additional concerns I should have regarding the anemone, snails, crushed coral, live rock?  <Mmm, all sorts... sorry to hear of you having such troubles at this early juncture in the hobby...> Should I reverse the filtration by putting the Fluval on the hospital tank instead? I have a 3 gallon tank which is not cycled ready to use if need be, it has a small light, heater and two small AquaClear filters. I have read many of your responses to other people and look forward to getting one myself. Respectfully, thanks in advance, Roland <Thank you for writing... Please read here if you haven't already: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm and the accompanying FAQs files... I would shoot for some sort of "balance" here rather than an ideal "disease/no disease" situation. Bob Fenner>
Re: First time mailer
Many thanks for your speedy reply......... I will take your advice and keep reading and learning! <I as well> Thanks oh so much! <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> Roland

Re: Kole Tang sick? Happy New Year Bob, I wasn't going to continue with this( I figured I must be asking many silly questions) however, I took the advise of my LFS and treated the Kole tang/clown fish with Organic Cure in a separate 10 gallon tank. Unfortunately, yesterday morning the tang passed away. <My friend... please use the Google Search feature on WWM and read of not just my opinions re this product, but the results of others use... Irrespective of the name, "Organi-cure" is a biocide...> I immediately tested the water and found Amm 0, Nitrites 0(didn't test for Nitrates). Was that a reaction to the medication?  <What? Not testing for nitrates? The loss? Likely a major contributing cause> I forgot to mention in my previous e-mail that my maroon clown fish was the first fish that developed it even though I have never seen it scratching and has been eating fine). This is the second Kole tang that I lost. Also, I have a 3 1/2 undulated trigger possibly from the Pacific that I temporarily placed him in the main tank and has been behaving ok so far( has neither attacked nor bothered my yellow tang or any of my polyps/hard corals). Would it be too risky to leave him there with the tang and possibly the clown fish?  <Too risky? Define your terms... or ask who gave you the sterling advice re the "medication"> This is a gorgeous fish that I would like to keep, nevertheless, I think I would have to turn my tank into a non-reef environment(?) <Perhaps, ultimately... but it does hail from reefs...> At last, my LFS does not recommend to treat the entire 55 gallon tank, but instead to treat the fish (i.e. clown fish) individually. I believe treating the entire tank for ick would necessitate to remove all inverts etc. into another tank, right? Btw, I am a diver too, and I find diving less stressful than fish keeping. <You are an intelligent person who can/will work into "less stress" by way of exposure... re the illness that is your problems in the tank, I have referred you before to the sections on WetWebMedia.com to review. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your attention, D.

Help Treating Sick Fish Hi Bob, <<JasonC here filling in while Bob is away diving.>> I got your email address off WetWebMedia's home page. I was hoping you could help me with a dilemma. My husband and I are quite new at the saltwater hobby. We love it though. <<ahh, good...>> We have a 100 gallon aquarium with just fish, no live rock or corals yet. We currently have a Naso Tang, Yellow Tangs, a Snowflake Eel, a Mexican Rock Wrasse, as well as a Maroon Clownfish. I have two questions for you. The first is in regards to our Maroon Clownfish. We have had him for approximately one month now. He is the latest addition to our tank. About a week after we got him I noticed white spots all over him. Even though he was still active and eating well I assumed that we had Ich and started treating the tank for it. None of the other fish showed any signs of Ich or anything else bothering him. They were not "picking" on the clown either. <<ok>> After my first treatment of Greenex nothing changed. <<can take weeks for the cycle of parasites to be broken/eliminated.>> The white spots were still there but the clownfish was still acting and eating good. So, I called the local store here and asked about it. They suggested a freshwater/Formalin dip for him. <<also good to adjust the pH of the freshwater to reduce sources of stress - check out the following link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm >> I did that for a week (every day like they said) and he suddenly got quite a bit better! However, after the dip it came back! I was then told that he had this "clown" disease that was very hard to get rid of. <<one of a couple of possibilities.>> Since then I have left him alone, not really knowing what to do next. <<I was just going to say you should leave it alone for a little while.>> It has been a week now and every day he seems to get better and better with me doing nothing! He eats like a horse too! <<so...>> My questions are: What is this disease in your opinion? <<too hard to tell without a microscope, but none of the players in this game are good so...>> Should I not add fish to the tank until it is completely gone? <<I wouldn't.>> Would purchasing a UV Sterilizer (which I was going to do anyway) help the situation? <<No, a UV wouldn't help - if the tank inhabitants would allow for it, I would try a cleaner shrimp.>> My other question is in regards to the Mexican Rock Wrasse. We have had him for about a year. He's always been very healthy and active. He still is. However, he seems to be changing colors! Then he'll change back to his normal color. He does this several times a day. Is this normal? Is he just growing into adulthood? <<not sure, many fish change their color as they age, change their mood - but Bob lists the Rock Wrasse as a cool water species and your wrasse is just not overly happy about the situation. Check out Bob's thoughts on this one: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/halichoeres.htm >> Thanks so much for any help / answers you can provide. I hope you don't mind me emailing you. <<Don't mind at all. Cheers, J -- >>

Stress and Ick Hello again Mr. Fenner I hope all is well with you. I have yet another question for you. :( I wrote to you not so long along about how my Yellow Tang has demanded cleaning from my Neon Goby. My concern is with the goby. Yesterday our power went out (I'm in Northern CA, 35mph winds & heavy rain) for three hours yesterday. I was not home and was not able to place in my battery powered air stones in my 75gal. tank. My poor corals looked the worst when I came home and the power was restored. They are much improved this morning. My tang and 3 Chromis look good, but not my lovely goby. <Yikes> He has white specks all over his body and fins. He is hiding a lot but did come out to eat this morning. Every time he does come out my tang goes swimming over and he dives for cover. I guess I am wondering is this is a stress reaction to yesterdays events or I have a case of ich on my hands. <Perhaps they are one and the same> Also under his eyes where I guess you would say he cheeks would be are sore looking. All of my water parameters give me nothing to be concerned with. Is there a way to tell the difference between a stress breakout or ich? <Mmm, your thinking is a bit too linear, finite here. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm to gain better insight into your aquarium, the universe> I am curious and concerned. Thank you for your help and the time you are able to give to ease my mind and point me in the correct direction. Josie P.S. I have added an attachment of the goby. I'm sorry for the poor shot but you might be able to see some of it's spots that I am worrying about. If not at least I tried. :) <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner>

Ailing Neon Goby Mr. Fenner, Thank you for such a quick response. I read the link (as well as a few more subjects) you directed me to on marine disease. In my hasty response and fear for this fish I think I did not take a breath a think about what is happening with this fish. :(  I hope you can forgive me for not giving your website a once over before I wrote to you. <No fight, no blame. No need for forgiveness> This Goby has been with me for six week now. Three of that were spent in my QT tank. I did a fresh water dip and let him swim about for those three weeks in there. He ate well, was active and I found no reason to keep him any longer from my main tank. He has had no problems since. I do think he has gotten a lot of yellow tang in his face, but he is skilled at avoiding him. My water quality has been stable and he did well when he was acclimated to my main tank. The conclusion I have drawn is that the stress of the power failure brought on a case of ich his body had be harboring. I am sure being weaken just gave this a chance to come to a head. <I agree> My SG is 1.023 but I think it would be best to set up my QT and take my rock apart, net and treat this little fellow. I do wonder if regaining his strength will allow him to naturally overcome this outbreak but as of right now I am doubtful. <I am not.> Thank you for your help again! I'll do my best to think things through in the future. Josie <Aim always to become yourself. Bob Fenner>

Scratching and not sure if this is flashing? Hello Mr. Fenner (again), Thank-you for providing the answers on treating Ick in a fish-only liverock tank. I will definitely invest in a Quarantine tank for treatment. <A smart move... Wish I could convince wholesalers, or at least more retailers to quarantine all livestock... would save many organisms and lost hobbyists...> One final question you may have an answer to is ( I hope I did not jinx my fish ) my 4 inch Lunare Wrasse always seems to bash him/herself into the liverock or against the substrate. Is this normal? <To some extent, yes> It is very active and has an aggressive appetite.. (rips the food right out of my Niger Trigger's mouth) Do not see any apparent marks, scratches or spots (very hard to see though it never stops moving) The Niger trigger seems to be ok; however, I did notice that it has what seems to be like an innie zit, hard to tell....seems to be two on one side and it is kind of whitish The trigger eats very well and seems to be quite active I know that there is info pertaining to fish scratching themselves.....could not find anything on the lunare wrasse. this may be normal for it) <The mark on the trigger is likely nothing to worry about. If it "doesn't multiply" I would ignore it> One last thing (sorry), the definition of flashing seems to be very vague..........could you fill me in on this. I do notice that the trigger swims along the top backside of the tank all day long and as he approaches the left side of the tank he starts to dart really quickly....super fast spurts of speed just for a second or two.....is this flashing? <Mmm, okay... more like periodic glancing (a small part of a second) than vigorous rubbing... but "no marks, no foul"> Really appreciate your time. Thank-you very much! Rob! <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Common clowns (ich) Hello, I am a fairly new to the "wet world" and maintaining a tank...but learning lots.  <Lots to learn, enjoy, share> I was just wondering how long it takes for the common clown fish to get over ick, I thought it was gone but I found 5 spots on one of the fish this morning.  <Sort of like "the common cold"... if the virulence of the ich in this case isn't "too high", and the fishes current state of health not "too low" and the environment conducive to the health of the host... the ich may disappear on its own... If not... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm for a more complete understanding of health/disease... and onto the links for information re ich in particular> I have live rock so I was advised to just increase the temp to 80 and decrease the specific gravity with 1-2 gallon water changes. I have a 20 gallon tank (I know with such a small tank things are more challenging). <Yes> I'm wondering if I should remove the fish and treat them separately. <Maybe... only you can judge the likely severity of the situation. Do you have a biological cleaner? I would use one here... and quickly, as well as add vitamins to your fishes foods.> Happy to have found you website....thanks Melissa <Ah, glad we have found each other, "sweet one" (Melior-is, in lingua Latina). Bob Fenner>

Cyanide question (not likely) I have a 150g tank. I have bought fish twice from Saltwaterfish.com. My first order was and emperor angel, and a baby clown trigger. They looked good for 2 weeks then died suddenly-all the other fish in the tank were fine. So, I ordered again a few months later-same fish except a bigger clown trigger. Looked good for 3 weeks now the angel has what I believe to be Popeye it looks like a cone protruding off his eye but the end of the cone is flat). I started yesterday treatment with Maracyn 2. The clown trigger has a little bit of fin rot and is scratching on coral. Neither of them have ick and they are eating. The clown trigger does breathe rapidly and his eyes are getting foggy), but the angel is breathing fine. My tests are fine for nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, and ph. So, my question is why is this happening. Why would only the new fish get sick? I thought I remember reading one time that fish caught with cyanide look real good at first but don't last long. Help me please! What else should I put in the tank for these 2 sick fish? Thank You Sir, Kevin Ballard <Please save up (but soon) a good period of time when you can read/study the following sections on our site re fish/livestock health. Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm and on to Tank Troubleshooting: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm to livestock selection... associated files, FAQs... Much to say, discuss... that will take too long just asking/answering simple questions here. Bob Fenner>

If you have the time Dear Mr. Fenner, I have sent along an attachment to this e-mail. I would have sent it through this form but yahoo does not support the length of the text. Please don't let that scare you !! :) <Never my friend> If you are uncomfortable downloading a file from a stranger (I would completely understand) I will find another way to send it, if you would like. Thank you for the time and the chance to have you read my letter to you (the attachment.) Best wishes, Lenore Dear Mr. Fenner, There has been many times in the past three years that I have wanted to write to you. Not to seek advice (through sorely I have been tempted) but to express my deep gratitude for your contributions to marine keepers like myself.  <Ah, you are certainly welcome my friend> I am twenty-three years old and started keeping aquariums at the age of eleven. My father loved his 75g. reef system. It was his pride and joy and was housed in his den for as long as I can remember. I think I caught the aqua-bug early on in life.  Your book T.C.M.A. was a gift from my father to myself one Christmas, and has become invaluable to me. I have gone through the book so often that the corners are faded and the pages no longer bonds to the spine. I don't know how many times I have read certain chapters, or the book on the whole. Each time I see a passage in a different light (personal experience maybe) and learn even more from it. <Yes… a potential quality of book-length writing… the capacity to "elaborate", tie ideas, future memories together.> I would like to tell you about a project (a hobby within the hobby) that I have taken on in the last sixteen months. Forgive me if this becomes a lengthy letter, I tend to babble. I have seen from reading WWM daily Q&A as well as most FAQ that you are a man of patience. I hope I will not push you past your limits. <A rarity> A year and a half ago I went to my LFS to purchase a new powerhead. As always I caroused the livestock to see if anything caught my eye. I came across a Bubble-tip anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor, in a small tank housed with two other soft corals. It was the most pathetic sight to behold. Most of the tentacles were flaccid when others looked to be disintegrating. Signs of a bacterial infection, as well as an open wound along it's badly broken foot. Even my untrained eye could identify all that. Grayish white in color in certain sections as well. I asked the clerk why it had not been taken out of the tank. He said it was for sale for $45.00! I probably had no business flying off the handle like I did at their audacity. Here I am a 21 year old blond skinny little thing getting in this mans face (who probably had no idea that there was anything amiss with the animal. Still if you are in the business for any length of time.) When he pulled it out of the tank (the smell, augh*#@!!*) I told the man I would pay five bucks for it just to see it taken out and not given to unsuspecting customer. He went to his supervisor (who I am sure overheard my opinion) and that was how much I paid to walk out with it.  <Good for you, and it> I was going to go home and straight to the freezer with it, but my QT was up and running so I thought I would take a better look at the damage. I sneaked some LR and sand from my 55g. FOWLR system and put it in the 20g. QT. I did a very slow acclimation. I also did not treat the water in anyway because my gut told me it would be lost at that point. I looked long and hard and knew it was in bad shape. It looked like its mouth was encrusted with what appeared to be salt (not sure to this day what that was.) I thought I would just let it go in the QT. For a week solid I made sure my water parameters were of the best I knew how to provide. Lower light and soft water motion for now, less shock I thought. Changing portions of water each day because of Amm. spikes. Staying on top of temp, pH, spg and O2. No feeding or additives for now, I just though it would die anyway.  I went to your book and learned quickly how often they parish in home systems but that the bubble tip is one of the more hardy of the anemones. Shipping, stress, and all poor environmental conditions reap havoc on these animals non-the less. So I was in for a shock when after three weeks I could notice no more die-off. What was left seemed to be recovering. Some of the better tentacles gained in strength and after another week became almost turgid. It had become well attached to some LR and the foot that had open sores seemed less angry. I boosted lights and water motion at that point. A few days after that more of the anemone came to life. I thought, what the hey, lets give a very light feeding and see how that goes over. Talk about action!  The next step was a bunch of more research about natural habits. I slowly increased the Alk. In the water (was running 1.9meq/liter) to 3.5 and began to see it gain a light pink color. After two ? months in my QT it became a whole new anemone. Fully extending and only certain tentacles had developed the bubbles. Its mouth looked far healthier then I ever expected, and could do well with a minimal amount of feeding. I added a cleaner shrimp to the tank and he went quickly to action. Cleaning the foot from skin that had sloughed off. I would also like to think the shrimp helped clean any lingering bacterial or parasitic infection that might have remained. I could see it gaining in strength and color as well. You would have thought I had won the lottery I was so pleased. J It stayed in my QT for a total of three months before I thought it would be safe in my 80g. reef. After that it just took off. It regenerated and grew in the most brilliant way. Originally it was about 5 inches, now after a year in my reef tank it has grown to nine to then inches. I am sure my small success caring for this animal is not uncommon. Yet it's affects on my life have been phenomenal. <Outstanding> That was how my current hobby started. Kind of like going to the pound and adopting a sick puppy. I will go to LFS for livestock (far too often then I would like) that were ill and in need of urgent treatment. I would strike a deal with the store and purchase them at a low price. Now after they have realized what I am doing and why the often give me specimens that they know are doomed. A Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavescens suffering severely from HLLE and an outbreak of Ich. A crushed Open Brain, Trachyphyllia geoffroy. A Flame Hawkish, Neocirrhites Armatus that has gashes along its side with secondary infection from scrapping along the LR. Corals with trapped air bubbles. As well as fish who were O2 depleted and suffering poorly from it. The list thus far is extensive. I could go on & on. <Indeed, you should record your experiences and submit them to a worthy hobby magazine… Would be of considerable interest to the readership, and likely save many animals, hobbyists.> Often nothing I could do made any difference. The treatments would be wrong for the injury/illness or things were too far-gone. I am proud of the many animals that have made it though. J As time goes on and I acquire more specimens, my interest and devotion increases. I have gone to tag sales for tanks and hunted down every sale on equipment for new quarantine tanks. My room and garage look like an infirmary. The livestock that do make it are give to people I know who will care for them well. I have a good friend Marcus Steele who runs a marine maintenance for businesses as well as residential homes. I give him many specimens.  I often wonder if you would condone what I am doing. <Absolutely> I have heard from many people who think that I am just supporting stores as well as suppliers who treat livestock poorly.  <Ignore these ignorant, cynical statements. Above all, be true to yourself, your values.> I always come back with the thought that I have yet visited a store that has never had a sickly arrival. <There are none> The downside of capturing wild animals I think. <Of life itself> I like to say that at the very least I have been sparing the other livestock who share tank space in the stores more suffering. I do not condone the raping of endangered reefs and livestock. Or taking animals I know should never be put up for sale. I just feel good doing what I can. Though it is small and insignificant to others. <No my friend. Every effort, any improvement, is significant> I have known that I would like to make a living with aquarium keeping. How to do that has always been up in the air. There is so much to learn and I am not book smart.  <There are many ways of learning. Consider this deeply.> By that I mean I have only gone through high school. I would like to take classes in marine biology but that means college. That would cover Math, History, & English as well, a prospect my dyslexic mind cannot take on. Perhaps in the distant future I could handle it.  <Do ask your friend/cohort Marcus if you might accompany him… to help, learn. Perhaps enough business can be found, made to support both of you. I suspect so.> I have dreams of a vagabond lifestyle, picking at the brain of people who have knowledge in this hobby. How I would fund this dream is beyond me. J Maybe I could become the fish doctor who houses the ill aquatic life no one can help. Could that give me an income to sustain a decent living? <More than this it could/would "earn" you a living> I'm not sure, maybe. I would love nothing more then to be at home, doing what I am doing now and make a living from it. It is a lovely idea.  I guess I have written all of this (so sorry for it being such a long letter) to let you know what you have given me. A goal and pride in myself that I have never had before. I have your book and now website to thank for giving flight to my dreams and the tools to fuel my passion. Even if you do not condone my actions I know you can appreciate wanting to better oneself and marine keeping. I hope my contributions now and in the future will be (though never equal in my mind to yours) distinguished and welcome by others.  I hope that one day if you are ever speaking or visiting my area I can shake your hand and thank you in person (I'll probably embarrass you and myself and cry or something to that affect) for what you give to me.  Best wishes and warmest regards, Lenore Dawson <I look forward to this day. Bob Fenner>

I have a huge problem (disease, bad advice...) I have a 30 gal aquarium with live rock and invertebrate (urchin, anemone, cleaner shrimp and hermit crabs) A few weeks ago I had a terrible case of ich. I took a water sample to the pet store and it all checked out perfect so I truly have no idea what caused this. I do regular water changes (once every 3 weeks) When I first noticed the ich on a black damsel I went to the pet store and they told me that even if I took him out of there the parasite would still be in the tank and gave me something called Greenex that they said was safe for invertebrate. <I agree with the first statement... but am fearful re the second> I used this as directed but sadly I lost all the infected fish. Two of the fish remained unmarked through all of this and remained well for the last two weeks after the others died. Today I went and got another fish but when I got home the two fish that had been ok up until now don't look well. The blue damsel is covered with white spots and the yellow tangs eyes are clouded. What should I do? <Please read thoroughly through our sections on Marine Parasitic Disease, starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm You need to determine a long term plan to eradicate this pest from your system... Including environmental manipulation, quarantine...> I have this new fish floating in a bag but am afraid to turn it loose due to the problems with the tank. The pet store wont take it back because they have been holding it for me for a week already and they said that putting him in there while I medicate the others wont hurt him but I am skeptical about that. <Do not place this fish in an infected system... And ask for me specifically what the person in the store means by "won't hurt him"... Ludicrous> They suggested that I get something called kick ich but since the last medication didn't seem to do anything except really upset my anemones I'm not sure if I should try another and I am really afraid to put this new fish in danger by exposing him to the sick fish or medication. My tank is at 80 degrees and the salinity is at 1.023. Should I raise the temp. any more and or lower the salt? <Yes...> If so to what? <See our site re such treatments... in the many FAQs there on ich, treatment...> Should I do the medicine? And what about the new clown fish? Please help me! I can't bare to loose any more. <Do not buy anything, especially from this outfit (poor advice bordering on carelessness). Study for now. Contact me again if you have specific questions, desire clarification. Bob Fenner>

Salt water system feeding Hi Robert, I'm worried about introducing diseases if feeding live brine shrimps should I give them a "dip bath" with Methylene blue etc? or simply rinse them under tap water?  <The latter is a good idea... no other protocol is advised> before feeding them to my fish? I just got this new fish yesterday morning and he has not eaten yet. I read that giving them live brine shrimp will help getting them started. <Good idea. Bob Fenner> thanks, Marc

Sick fish . . . arg Hi Bob, Wanted to just say that I have been watching the development of the site, and as always, I am amazed! <Me too!> Sorry for the book to follow, I just wanted to make sure that you knew what I've done, I've been trying to do things right: <Ah, good. No worries> Well, I had a 25 gallon eclipse hospital tank. I started thinking (first mistake) that it was really too large for a hospital tank, that I should use it for fish! So, I ordered 2 clarkii clowns and 2 citron clown gobies from FFExpress after it cycled, and the tank was doing quite well. I set it up with 35 pounds of live rock, upgraded the lighting to compact fluorescents (I think 32 watts, half white and half actinic bulb), added a CPR Backpack 2R to the side, and from my large tank took some mushrooms, macro algae, yellow soft Fiji leather (Sarc. family -- which hadn't opened since I got it 3 months ago, it was open the first day and every day after since the move, maybe don't like as much light?) <This species, elegans (?) doesn't do well much (too much) of the time...> , gorgonians, sun polyps and button polyps into it (not all in the same month, btw!) I also moved a red spotted hawk to the tank as well. Everything was fine until last week, when the clowns stopped eating. (I feed a combo of flake, frozen soaked in Selcon, and the shrimp/fish/spinach mixture each day) They had what appeared to be white patches on their sides, and their eyes were foggy.  <Yikes... water quality checks?> They would hang out either at the top of the water, or lay at the bottom and not move, gasping. It broke my heart -- for one day the male would grab food and take it to the bottom to the female, but she would refuse it. Then the next day he wouldn't eat either. So I did freshwater dips on them with Methylene Blue -- forget how to spell the name <Methylene> -- raised the temp to 82, (from 80) dropped salinity (slowly) to 1.020, added another air stone, and checked the stats on the tank: Amm 0, Ni 0, Na 0, and the pH is 8.4. Added a huge cleaner shrimp (called all over the city and no one had a cleaner wrasse except for one yellow tail cleaner wrasse which I read do not do well in captivity) and within an hour something (the hawk??) had bit him in half and spit him out. <Yes... one of Hawkfishes fave food items are cleaner et al. shrimps> Fed the tail and body to my bubble coral. Did a partial water change of 3 gallons anyway (which I do every other week). After the dips, they looked good for 24 hours, then were worse then before, fins now clamped, color quite pale, open spots on their sides. Nothing else in the tank showed any signs of disease, and were active and moving around. Readings were the same. Desperation -- figured it was clownfish disease.  <Brooklynellosis> Caught the clowns and dipped in freshwater with 1 drop of formalin in it, then placed in the new 10 gallon quarantine tank. Treated with Maracyn every day. They then resumed eating (YEA!) and have been clean for 5 days. But, there are still issues in the other tank: 1. The red spotted hawk has gotten more and more aggressive since the disappearance of the clowns, chasing everything in the tank. Thinking I should remove him. <Maybe... this tank is one the small size for such species> 2. The gobies now have spots, but are still eating (when the hawk lets them). The one it looks like ich, the other looks like ich raised up off his body, fuzzy. Tried catching and I don't have a chance of that -- too fast. Will have to break the entire tank down, or treat it. The LFS said to put the clowns in the tank and take the gobies out to treat, but I didn't want to put the clowns back until the tank is safe. <Agreed> He suggested adding the Maracyn to the tank, that it wouldn't hurt the invertebrates, and it says it's invertebrate safe, but not for which ones, I don't trust it . . . <Pretty safe for all> also was suggested to add an anemone to the tank, <No! Not now at least> that it would help keep the clowns clean? Don't understand that and not sure that I have enough light even with them being compact fluorescents . . . any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again, for both the wonderful website and the excellent help! Cari <Let's see... multiple variables... shades of ANOVA testing! If it were me, mine, I would trade the Hawk in (probably)... would take the tank down (I know, a big job...) and remove the other fish livestock, run it through the "anti-protozoal" dip the same as the clowns. The invertebrates I would just return to the re-set up tank... Place some non-living habitat (like PVC pipe, fittings) to keep all happy (especially the Hawkfish if you keep it in with the others), let the main/Eclipse tank go for a month w/o the Clowns... In fact leave all fishes out for a good month, while keeping the temp. at/near 82-84 F. and maybe lower the specific gravity a bit more (perhaps 1.017-8... watch your invert.s... Wait a month, hopefully the fish parasites will be sufficiently weakened and your fishes will end up well. Bob Fenner> Cari Renneker

Sick Fish? Hi, I noticed something strange on both my tomato clown and flame angel (only fish in tank...55g, new reef converted from FO). On the one side of both fish, about midway on the body, there seems to be a mark. It is whitish-clear and almost looks like a scale. It be a scale and appears to be lifting off the fish. It is weird that both fish have this in almost the exact location. Just one small patch on each fish. <This is strange... perhaps coincidental mechanical injuries...> In addition, I notice the color of the flame's head looks strange. Looking straight on and above the eyes, there seems to be some discoloration...almost looks purple. It looks like it is underneath the skin and not on the surface. Any ideas? I just switched the tank over to a reef in the past month or so. I added 45 lbs LR, 4" DSB and last week a PC hood (4x55 with 2 actinic). The lights at this time, unfortunately, are not on a timer. Could this be some kind of cause for the symptoms? Maybe the adjustment/lack of exact light cycle has caused problems? <Maybe... more likely due to stress of the change overall... I would "just" keep the system optimized and stable for now... Hopefully your live rock will continue to improve water quality, offer a mix of foodstuffs, and the fishes marks will resolve. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Susie

Disease <Everything I know about marine aquarium keeping I learned the hard way... from the Net> Hello Robert...I looked through all the faq's on disease and still am at a loss. a couple weeks ago I had a cloudiness to my tank. I cleaned it really well, water change, and carbon and now everything is crystal. I noticed my puffer and lionfish seemed to have a powdery coating on them. My tangs have had ich so I know it's not that. It's like they swam through a light mist of flour or something. Anyway I set up a sick tank and my puffer got better but my lionfish died this morning. It seemed like his fins were melting it was really strange. I'm really freaked out about this. My 2nd lionfish has the powder on his tail. And his eyes don't seem right there seems to be a light cloud. I know that dipping is stressful but I did it and when I put him back in the tank he looked like he was peeling. Please help. I looked at the faq's like I said and there was nothing that sounded the same as what I see. Thank you Jenn <Does sound like the other/twin scourge of tropical reef disease, Velvet, aka Amyloodiniumiasis... this is covered on the site... you would do well to start further back... at Tank Troubleshooting...: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm And there is a need for haste here. Bob Fenner>

Oh bother [Ich, methinks] Well, here's the real question, straight up... given that ich is parasitic, parasites *need* hosts to thrive - is one's ability to beat this thing mostly tied to an individual's health?  <"Mostly"?... somewhere between the host/s health and the virulence of the pathogen and the "suitability" of the environment for both/either> It was the contention of a wildlife bio teacher of mine that all animals in the wild have parasites - all of them. <This is so> Obviously the stress of a captive situation sort of stands this on it's head, but... if the captive animal is in outstanding health, is it more able to resist a given parasite like ich? <Your thinking is way too linear here... you would do well/benefit from a class/study in eastern philosophies> I've noticed a traveling white spot in my tank which was brought in by an individual [a PetCo percula clown - gift from friend - bah!] pre-refugium who was healthy and clean and then two days later it was an ich-bag and the next day it was dead because I killed it; I had nowhere to put it and it seemed a much smaller sacrifice than the whole tank. <Too late.> Since then, there's been the Huma's odd scratch but no bad signs. The puffer is still on the mend and eating well, but yesterday has what looks to be the initial stages. The smallest of three damsel fish had one spot on what would be his forehead - that figures due to stress of being lowest in the pecking order... gone in two days . I knew I was in trouble so I kept up the observation and roughly four days later [yesterday] the puffer has some signs which persist until today. The Huma and puffer are interactive and eating well. The damsels [blue devils] have been working out territory issues for past week and have been chilling for the past two days - haven't seen them eat since live brine day - but the look fat and the color is good, albeit darker from time to time [a defensive thing?]. <Perhaps> So - I'm in a snafu with my UV as the model I ordered is not arriving for some odd reason, and that whole thing is an odd scene anyway. Suffice to say that I'm waiting for an Aquanetics 25w UV to arrive and it will go into the sump at a slow enough flow rate to kill just about everything [ roughly 250 gph]. This is one of those devices that served me well 14 years ago and Aquanetics was a brand that I remembered so I got ordered. Since then I've read your comments about their leakiness which was not my experience, but I I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed as the money is spent. As a side note, I'm also using the Aquanetics fireplug heater which seems to be working quite well. In any case, the water "is all good" and the new EV-150 is pulling incredibly foul-smelling motor oil out of the tank in bulk quantity - shameless plug for Aqua C. Makes me feel good about making sure those fish eat a well balanced diet. So... am I screwed on the parasites? Can I overcome these types of problems through good water health, nutrition and UV? That seemed to work in the past but that experience is rather singular and I'm looking for a broader-experience answer. TIA. J -- <You may well now have a "more" parasitized system than before... and a/the UV will not "kill everything" no matter how slow water passes, or even stays in it... Reflect on what you have written here... some important lessons for you. Bob Fenner>
Re: Oh bother [Ich, methinks]
I've been accused of linear thought before, and interestingly enough I have done some study of eastern philosophy and as such am only seeking enlightenment. <I as well> On the other hand, I've yet to spot "The Tao of Marine Fish Keeping". Other than that, hind sight is 20/20 or always look a gift fish in the mouth. Yeah, I figured that things weren't in my favor but, I had to ask. <Many paths...> I have learned a few lessons and at this point I'm really in a mode of spending money on equipment to sustain the big system rather than trying to stock it. It's my own folly for not getting a refugium together sooner than the percula introduction, but foresight is 20/400. <Yes my friend> So... your own text on the site says: > At the very least, allowing the system to "go fallow" > without hosts for a month (or more) has proven to reduce > numbers and disease-causing-strength (aka virulence) > sufficiently. At the worst, you're looking at tearing > down, sterilizing and re-assembling the entire system. > Now are you convinced as to the value of prevention, > particularly quarantine? Yes, I'm convinced... it will never happen again. Am I hosed or will time only tell? <Mostly the latter... with some optimization on your part, your fishes should be fine> TIA. J -- <Bob Fenner>

80 gallon SW tank Hello, I'd just like to say that I enjoy your web page very much. I look forward to buying and reading your book. I have a question if you have time to answer it. (I understand that you probably get a billion e-mails). <Not that many... a couple hundred per day...> I have an 80 gallon SW tank that I started at the beginning of January. I have very limited space under my tank, and I could not fit a sump under there, so I decided to try hang on stuff (despite many people telling me that I'd be wasting my money).  <Hmm, not so... as you likely know by now... much hang-on gear is superior to non-hang on...> On the tank I have a Rainbow Lifeguard 300 fluidized bed filter, an Emperor 400 BioWheel filter, a Fluval 340 (containing carbon), and a Remora Pro protein skimmer. I also have about 30 lbs of live rock (Fiji - I think). After it cycled I had some damsels, a yellow tang, a bicolor blenny, a maroon clown, and a dogface puffer. Well, I had a few bouts with Oodinium and ich and eventually everything died except the tang and one damsel. After that I treated the tank (with the tang and damsel) with Formalite II (as recommended by someone on an e-mail list). The Oodinium and ich seemed to be gone so I added a Valentini Sharpnose puffer. After I put him in he scratched a few times, and I didn't want him to die so I treated again for another week with Formalite II.  <Very toxic material... hard on all... live rock, fishes... deadly to invertebrates...> The tank now looks good. I added 2 more damsels (that were in a reef tank that looked really healthy from my LFS. My water quality is good - ammo 0, nitrites 0, pH 8.1, and nitrates around 15 (according to my Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Salt Water Test Kit). The puffer and the damsels are looking good, although the puffer scratched once the other day. The tang looks bad. His lateral line is red, and his color is faded, but he eats and swims around fine. I also bought a new heater (Ebo-Jager) in case of temperature fluctuations being an issue. So, here is my question. Do you think that my filtration is sufficient? <Should be, yes... not a big fan of Rainbow's products period, including their "open" filters... but in an ongoing system... with the Remora skimmer... no worries> If not, what would you suggest I do (for the minimum cost). Thank you for your time. Jim Moss <I would put your hard-earned money into more live rock, a small (ten gallon) quarantine/treatment tank, perhaps more lighting... and keep studying. Bob Fenner>

Flame Angel's Hazy Eye Dear Bob: Sorry to bother you again so soon....my Flame angel that had the cloudy eye from what I presumed to be a too high copper level(.6), is worse today. I did a 50% water change yesterday after a 2 week copper treatment for "ick". Her eye is even more milky looking today, <Know this... that poikilotherms like fishes "respond" differently than "warm blooded" animals (like ourselves let's say)... in that "treating" them, changing their environment rarely causes/brings about immediate change... there may be nothing further wrong with this Angel, but its eye may continue to disimprove... Take care not to over-react...> so I did another 25% water change and added 1 tsp. of Melafix to the 10 gallon treatment tank.....is this product okay to use?  <Sometimes effective... generally safe.> When might I expect her eye to improve? Is there something else you can suggest if improvement isn't seen soon? She is still eating great and looks so good except for her poor eye. Makes me feel terrible every time I look at it.....thanks for your help in advance. Janey <Time going by. Bob Fenner>

Fish health (euthanasia) Dear Bob, I hate to have to write this. I had contacted you a couple weeks ago about my emperor angel that had fallen ill. Well, a few minutes ago I found him laying on his side at the bottom of the tank still breathing. He looks to be dying of exhaustion (breathing too hard for a week or so). What is the most humane way to dispose of this fish? <Ahh, sorry to hear of your loss... IMO the best method of euthanizing such specimens is to place them in a fish bag (or doubled) with little water, and freeze them.> BTW Thanks very much sharing your insights and knowledge. I wish I had found your website sooner! I found your CMA book at the LFS and picked up the last copy (not counting the store's own ref copy) :) <My thoughts are with you. Bob Fenner> Sadly, Jason Lockhart

Marine Disease Question for you Bob... Here's my problem.. I have a 250gallon fish only system... Approximately 100lbs of liverock.. (Berlin Protein Skimmer) Ocean Clear Canister Filter Wet/Dry along entire length of rear of tank.. 60watt UV sterilizer.. I have checked water quality, and all is well.... <What? How much nitrate? Phosphate?... What are your supplement practices?> But 4 of my 5 blue tangs are looking "different" Now, they aren't breathing hard, nor are they "rubbing" against anything.... But their bodies appear to be dotted with what looks like "black" spots... Now, they look more like bite marks, which is entirely possible, since these tangs are always sparring.. But these spots worry me... Like I said, they appear black in nature, almost scar like, I have noticed that the other fish in the tank all seem to be fine, no noticeable spots... The dorsal fins on all my fish seem to have almost transparent whitish dots.... one here or there, by no means are they covered in this... Is it Saltwater ICH?? What can it possibly be? I just don't want to crash the whole System... I thought my 60watt UV would take care of it.... <Hmm, could be a parasite or two here... there are some "worm" diseases that do look like what you describe on the Tangs that are to a large degree species-specific (mainly flukes, Trematodes...), and the "transparent whitish dots"...? Who knows? If this were all I knew about the system, the livestock, situation I would likely "just" add the vitamin prep. "Selcon" to their food, and a few Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata species), and see if this will generate a cure... You can read over the "Biological Cleaners", and "Marine Parasitic Disease" sections and associated FAQs posted on our site, www.WetWebMedia.com for much more. Bob Fenner... who would not bring in environmental manipulation, or chemical treatments at this point> Thanks for the help.. Paul Aljets

Finding the sick ones Dear Bob, I will soon begin to place fish in my new 100 gal reef tank after 3 months of planning and assembling and a month of water preparation. Many thanks for your wonderful book and your advice on the web. You have helped this fresh water guy move into the world of marine life. I also have converted two small tanks to marine for quarantine of fish and one for inverts. <Ah, you're welcome and thank you...> In keeping fresh water fish I know that when one is not feeling well it hides in the quietest, darkest corner of the tank. <Very often... and this can be a similar warning sign with marine fishes> My question is, are reef keepers doomed to disassemble 200 pounds of living rock and inverts to find a fish that isn't seen for a few days? With state of the art filtration, U/V, and skimming along with a quarantine program we hope to have nothing but healthy fish but stuff does happen. Howard Cooley <Not generally. In most cases, should a system be large enough, the corpse small enough, aeration/circulation/filtration sufficient the "remains" of such a passing will "disappear" (through decomposer, predator, physical/chemical processes) without detection. Marine environments are surprisingly bio-active to the less-initiated, as you will find soon. Bob Fenner>

Fish in trouble - need help, please. Robert, I'd first like to state that I have "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and I love it. Thank you for writing such an insightful and useful book! <You're welcome. Thank you for your acknowledgement> Here's my dilemma: I have a Banggai card, a true Perc, and a bicolor blenny in a 9 month old 55 gallon tank. Recently the Perc and the blenny were scratching on rocks. The Perc would flash occasionally too. The cardinal didn't seem to be affected at all. I didn't see any 'dusting' or cysts at all. But I thought it may be the start of Amyloodinium. All three were eating great and seemed to be in good health aside from the occasional scratching, etc. I was in contact with 'Biosystems' from ReefCentral.com who is a marine biologist and he recommended I hospitalize them and treat with copper. I put them into a hospital tank which, of course, was hastily setup. They have been in there for a few days and are PISSED! They haven't eaten since I put them in there and I'm getting worried that they won't make it. <Where would this presumed parasite problem come from?> I have been trying to identify the 'stressor' and I think that overfeeding may have put the water out of whack. I've done 2 10% water changes over the last 2 weeks and ran carbon for a few hours yesterday. <Good moves> I was thinking about a Formalin dip and returning them to the display. I think the combination of copper exposure and enduring the nitrogen cycle of the hospital may be too much for them. <Possibly... but I would likely do about the same... maybe just freshwater (pH adjusted with baking soda) dip and leave out the formalin/formaldehyde> If I do return them to the main tank and they do have Amyloodinium, what are the chances they'll recover without medication? <I doubt if the root cause is parasitic... if so, do read over the marine fish disease and treatment sections posted on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com> What should I do? Please let me know what you think ASAP!!! Matty <Sorry for the late reply... Have been on Heron Island in Austr

Hello!! My fish the past two days are developing light white spots on their fins and tales and some look like they are eaten away. What can of treatment do I need. Do I have, Ich, flukes etc? Also since I change my water last time about 40%,my Ph jump from 8.0 to 8.5.how can I reduce my ph or even raise it sometimes when I need to? Thank you in advance for everything. >> <Yowzah, much to say... re the apparent disease, do take a quick, and I mean right now read through the infectious and parasitic disease sections of our website: Home Page and if it's not clear to you what's going on... get someone nearby to come (ASAP) to take a look/see. Re the higher pH... going forward don't make as large a water changes.... for now, just let time go by and your pH will drift down on its own. Bob Fenner

Expert Advice Needed! Dear Mr. Fenner -  First of all, I would like to state how much I have learned from reading your book and on the WWM web pages. I have read all of it several times and learn more each time. <Great to hear it.> Now for my question. I have three tanks, 30g, 75g, and 180g. All my fish have been quarantined for at least two weeks (not dipped?!?!) before they arrive in there new homes. I am now having a minor outbreak of ick in the 75 and 180. All my water conditions are good, and I am pretty meticulous about my maintenance routine. I do have live rock in them, so in-tank treatment is out of the question. I would like to quarantine and add copper, but here is where my problem starts. As my 29g hospital tank, that I operate in conjunction with my other tanks, as per your advice, I have a Tuskfish, a Maroon Clown, and a Snowflake Moray Eel (no ick, yet!) Is ick something true eel can get??).  <Yes, unfortunately... though not usually the same susceptibility... but once contracted... a mess.> In my 75 and 180 gallons I have these: 75g - Regal Tang, Percula Clown, Clarkii Clown, Picasso Trigger, Rectangle Trigger, Clown Trigger (really small and who gets bothered, but the Regal Tang is the first to show signs of ick, in case you are curious !!), and a Emperor Angel: 180g - Lunar Wrasse, Yellow Tang, Purple Tang, two blue damsels (their proper name escapes me), and 5 misc. hermit crabs (the two tangs have a few (under ten) noticeable spots that are visible on their tails). My question is this: in order to let the systems go fallow for a month or more), I need to move all the fish. How would you divide them up? And since I don't want to add to a tank with a problem already, I can't really move the ones in the hospital. I have in my basement another 29g and a 10g. I know that the eel and clownfish are sensitive to copper, so what would you use to help them? As I stated earlier, the ick is in a very early stage(?), just a couple of white spots on the fins (and not on all the fish). To further complicate things, Bismarck, North Dakota does not have much of a selection of cleaner shrimp/gobies (none to be exact) and would take at least a couple of weeks to get them here, even if his supplier had them. I would like to solve the problem rather then complicate it. My goal is/was to move the inhabitants of the 75g to the 180g, but I need to clear the problem up the best that I can before that.  <I think I understand... would proceed with environmental manipulation (lowering spg., raising temp. and the use of Cleaner organisms... would order them over the Net, maybe Flying Fish, FFExpress.com, or elsewhere, but do it now.> And, for the record, in my 30g is a 7" Clown Trigger that has lived there over a year, by him/herself, with no new additions, and is disease free (knock on wood). So that rules that tank out for ANY other fish after a copper treatment of two weeks! Also, how often would you do partial water changes on a 29g hospital tank that would be under that much of a biological load?  <As necessary... maybe daily... use sponge filtration, hang on back that you can keep adding conditioned media to... and watch ammonia...> Not that water changes are a problem, as I have salt water premixed in a 39g Rubbermaid? garbage can with a heater and airstone (and per your advise again!). <Good... and I might add the new water to one of the established/clean of ich tanks and move the older system water to the quarantine for make up...> Thank you very, very much for your advice in advance. I know your answer will be well thought out and through. I thought it best to seek some professional advice before jumping to a possibly fatal conclusion. (Only after I get new fish would this happen. Talk about Murphy's Law at work!) <Always in our interest!> Thanks again, Josh (Not going to let ick frazzle my nerves to the point I want to quit hobby I love so much!) Hewson <Thank you and good luck my friend, Bob Fenner>

Gill inflammation We have a juv. Chrysurus Angel who is currently changing colors. The yesterday I noticed that the fish's gills on one side look red and inflamed. The fish is not having any breathing difficulties, and appears to be healthy otherwise. <Hmm, one of my favorite species... for beauty and toughness and intelligence...> We had to treat our tank with copper about 5 days ago. Our tangs had a severe outbreak of Ich. I think it was in reaction to a Lemonpeel angel that we had added a few days before. <Probably the reason for the apparent inflammation... and you do dip at least (if not quarantine) all incoming livestock? My protocols, rationale for the same (as well as Chrysurus pix) on our site: Home Page .> The tank is a 100 gallon fish only tank. All of the levels tested in the normal range. The occupants of the tank are: 3 green Chromis, flame angel, purple tang, a blue hippo tang, a dragon wrasse, a royal Gramma, and the chrysurus angel. The Lemonpeel died after refusing to eat. <Not unusual... many of these are doomed from the start... from trauma of capture, handling, transport... not a good species/bet currently> Is the something we should worry about? Or should we just observe the fish carefully to see if it will go away? And if we should be worried, what should we do? We would really hate to loose this fish, because they are hard to find, and also very expensive. <Keep up water quality, feeding... and hope for the best for now... environmental manipulation is what I'd go to next... lowered spg, elevated temp... as listed on our site... then copper if parasitic problem surfaces/resurfaces.> Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Dena Andrews  <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Bob, Is DIP-AWAY a decent product and safe? Reason I am asking is I have a bad outbreak of, getting near death point, so I dipped the fish (huge angels, that was a pain!), but it seems to have cleared up somewhat. That was 5 days ago. By the way, my queen did get its gill swords caught in the net (could this be what removed the tissue? explained in previous email). I hate trying to dip because it really stresses the fish, but I must admit it may have saved them. Thanks again Bob >> I do like Dip-Away... it works. And the opercular spines do get caught and/or puncture folks hands... real often... and flesh torn from them... And it generally regenerates in days to weeks under propitious circumstances. Bob Fenner

fin damage I recently bought a maroon clown and he now resides in a q-tank. He is finally after a week starting to feel comfortable and coming out into view and showing himself off . I have now noticed that one of his lower front fins looks to be "frayed" on the end . There is no sign of parasite build up, he does not seem stressed . the water is within tolerances. He is in the tank with 2 small purple Firefish , but there seems to be no hostility that I have noticed . Before they were put into the q-tank they all received a freshwater/Methylene blue bath. My question is do I medicate , with no obvious to me ) signs of parasites or fungus? just keep a watchful eye? your help is appreciated . Jim bell >> Just the watchful eye at this point... maybe adding a biological cleaner (like a Lysmata Shrimp)... but no to the "medication" or catching/dipping the animal... more to be lost by such actions than gained at this point. Probably nothing but "stress" from being new. Bob Fenner

Fish and live rock tank with ich << I have struggled for about 3 months attempting to eliminate an ich problem in  my fish and live rock tank. I added a raccoon butterfly, small undulated  trigger, and a large regal tang about 3 months ago, carefully following your  recommended dipping and quarantine procedures. Everything seems fine for a  couple of weeks. I have seen indications of ich on the butterfly and tang  since then. I raised my water temp to 82degrees and have lowered the  salinity to 1.018. My other water parameters are good (0,0,15). It seems to be impossible to catch these fish to move to my hospital tank  with all the rock in my tank (more stress on the fish?). This is a 150 gal  with a Berlin skimmer and a wet/dry, and I do a 15-20 % water change 2 - 3  times a month. Their diet consists of a good variety of frozen food and  algae. Everyone seems to be eating normally and to be pretty active. I am at my wits end trying to get rid of the ich without copper, but all it  appears I am doing is somewhat holding it at bay. I have considered ordering  a UV sterilizer, but have not done so yet (cost). Is it time to go ahead  with copper in my main tank?? How much damage would that do to my live rock  (no inverts)? Any other suggestions? I really enjoy your question and answer - I have learned a lot about our  interesting hobby! >> Ich problems even after dipping and quarantining all new fish livestock for two weeks? Yikes... Well, if the ich problem is not so virulent as to have killed off the fishes in the first days to weeks, I think you might be a great candidate for using biological cleaners. Get a pair of Lysmata amboinensis shrimp, and a trio of Gobiosoma oceanops gobies (am specific today!) and they may well tip the balance in your and your fishes favor.... I would not try to net the fishes out, nor definitely introduce copper to the system (don't do it). Bob Fenner

Oodinium I have a 55 gallon reef tank with about 35-40 pounds of live rock.  Although my ph, nitrite, ammonia, all seem to be in check I have had several outbreaks of Oodinium that seemed to have come out of no where.  Right now I have moved all the fish (Gramma, Chromis, clown, flame) to quarantine tank where they are being treated with copper. the question being. If I leave the reef without fish for a month will it be save to put fish back in. Some one recommended treating the reef with Greenex (malachite green) but there are a lot of inverts in the tank. This is the second parasite infestation, the first one wiped out all the fish. The tank went without fish for two months before I restocked. I am worried I will never be able to keep fish in this reef tank. What am I doing wrong. >> What you "did" wrong is allow this nasty algae parasite into your system in the first place... use that hospital tank for quarantining your new fish livestock... after dipping them henceforth. What I would do now is wait till you have placed either Cleaner Shrimp (some Lysmata amboinensis would be my first pick) and/or a couple of Gobiosoma cleaner gobies... for a week before returning your fish livestock...  I would definitely not use the Greenex... this stuff is outright toxic... poisonous... and don't worry about telling whoever suggested you might pour it in your main system with your invertebrates that I stated so. Your friend (though cranky today) in fish, Bob Fenner

Reef Bleaching? Dear Bob,  I recently discovered bright white spots appearing on my live rock. It  looks as if something has eaten all the coralline algae off and even part off  the rock. At first I thought it was my Chitons doing this but over a matter  of one night a pretty big spot appeared so I thought it must have been  something else. I talked to my dad about it and he said it might be a form of  bleaching. If you could give me any information on what might be happening I  would greatly appreciate it......PS my phosphate levels are a little high  lately 2.0 ... Thanks >> Hmm, well, there are many types and causes of bleaching... but you may have hit the proverbial nail on the head with your last sentence in this case. The phosphate being as high as it is may well be depriving your coralline algae of their capacity to utilize calcium... I would do what you can (water changes, better skimming, selective/non-selective uptake by living matter, chemical filtrants...) to get that reading down below 1.0 ppm... Bob Fenner

I am starting a refugium for my reef tank. My plan is to use a 10 gallon tank under the main tank, tied in with an overflow and return pump, with reverse-daylight pc lighting (a 27 watt quad white and a 9watt actinic), a 3" layer of live sand and a lot of live rock, Caulerpa, shrimp, crabs, brittle stars, snails and sea cucumbers.  Should macroalgae like Caulerpa rock be quarantined or dipped before being added to the system? Can plants introduce parasites or other pathogens? If so, would a freshwater dip damage the algae and can you recommend a good dipping protocol? Any other suggestions? >> Sounds like a great addition. And, I wouldn't be overly concerned re the Caulerpa... but a freshwater dip should do it no harm either. Some plants and algae have introduced pests, parasites and pollution... Ten minutes in dechloraminated, pH buffered fresh tap should do about all the good such a procedure would/will do. Bob Fenner

Sick Fish? I had a peculiar thing happen this weekend. On Sat, I noticed some fish in  my tank--- 2 angels and a tang --- very stressed; rapid breathing and darting  about the tank. It was evening, so too late to head for my favorite pet  store for some advise. The next morning, one of the angels was dead, the  other angel and tang were alive, but still stressed.  It occurred to me that perhaps the lettuce I had been giving them affected  them? As the tang and the angels were the only ones eating this, and they  were the only ones affected. However, they had been eating this for at least  a week [the same head of lettuce] with no ill effects. Anyway, my pet store  proprietor thought it might be a gill parasitic infection, and gave me a  medication for this along with some tank environment tips [lower salinity,  aerate the water, remove carbon, maintain water temp, etc.]. He also said  that I could have more deaths before it was over because the fish were  obviously very stressed [rapid breathing]. The next morning [Sun]. All fish  were back to normal or close to normal. I've never seen an "attack" occur so  suddenly and "cure" so rapidly! I know it sounds ludicrous, but is it  possible that the fish got indigestion from the lettuce?? They do eat a lot  of this stuff [a leaf or 2 a day]. I'm almost afraid to give them this  again, but I know Tangs and Angels are vegetarian and need their greens. And  they also love it! Any insight on this will be appreciated . Elizabeth >> Interesting, very. I discount the gill fluke hypothesis... as these worm problems tend to be quite species or at least family specific; but would go with the rest of your dealer's suggestions. "The" problem might be related to the lettuce, and it definitely was something "transient" (a toxicity of some sort), but what about your other fishes? The Angels and Tangs need high oxygen tension, maybe more than the rest of your fish livestock, and so this might be a clue as well. Hmmm, though I know of problems with lettuce (and other terrestrial greens) with high nitrate introduction, I have not heard of confirmed pesticide or other toxic effects from their use in marine aquariums. There are MANY other possibilities: an aerosol from cooking settling over the surface of your tanks water, an ammonia et al. based cleaner getting into the system... some transient metabolic difficulty that originated in your system...  At any length, at this point, in addition to doing what your dealer advised, I would clean your skimmer, and look into your oriental food store or sections of a big grocery outlet for processed algae like Nori, Kombu (ones w/o "sauce" added), and get out of the lettuce habit; and use other "green" fish foods like flakes and pellets.  Bob Fenner

Re: cleaner wrasse .....just read the article Dear Bob, Thanks for the tip about iodine for my imperators HLLE. One question : what do you mean about "mud filters" ........ what are they ? <A technique, sort of an addition to a/the Berlin Method, of having your system water run through a sump that has "mud" on the bottom, live rock, macro-algae (usually Caulerpa spp.) and either an alternating (with your main tank) or permanently on (24h) lighting... The algae take up most nutrients... limiting other algae growth in the main system... and do many other things (some too well, so you have to periodically "harvest" the algae) to boost water quality.> Just checked out that pic of the Larabicus (spelling) cleaner wrasse. That is definitely it. I have never been able to find any specific info on these fish. That is the first pic I've seen. Is there any articles on the net about it ? <None that I know of... maybe you can pen one? I'll help, and give you some images> Do you think one will be ok in my tank ? <Yes, no need for more than one> What sort of size will this little guy get, and will he keep on his cleaning tendencies as he grows ? <A four incher is enormous, probably closer to three... and cleaning will drop off with the fish growing, changing into a female, and if you had more than one, the male one would change into wouldn't clean at all> Thanks for your help and advice ....... I hate it when folks buy fish which they know will most probably perish, especially when removing them from the reef is so detrimental to the reef itself. Thanks Matthew Silvester >> <Me too> Bob Fenner

First I want to say I really enjoy reading your column. I have a 26 gallon saltwater tank with about 10 lbs of live rock, a CPR backpack protein skimmer/filter combo, and a Fluval 2 functioning as a powerhead and filter. I have one sebae Anemone, two feather dusters, a yellow spotted cubicus, a blue tang, an ocellaris clown, and a Banggai cardinal. The tank has been setup for about 6 months although the live rock was added yesterday. My blue tang and cubicus have been battling bouts of Ich on and off for a month or so. I have wanted to stay away from any chemicals that would harm my tank so I added a cleaner wrasse a week and a half ago. The Ich seems to have gotten worse. Do you have any advice on a possible treatment; preferably one that does not included copper based chemicals that will kill my Anemone. Please Help!!! Thanks, Brian Hey Brian, get out your notebook that you record purchases and pertinent information re your livestock; your phonetic spellings are a doozey! Your set up sounds fine (except for the ich!). I would not have tried a Cleaner Wrasse (they rarely live in small volumes), but you might try a Cleaner Goby (genus Gobiosoma) or two, and/or a Cleaner Shrimp (my fave genus, Lysmata). The real alternative is to move the fish livestock to a separate hospital tank as you know. One without live rock, gravel... and keep an eye on water quality (and do water changes if it degrades)... while treating with, yes, copper based medication... Please take a look at the articles on disease, treatment systems, and quarantine on the wetwebmedia.com site. Bob Fenner

Question: Does Ich / Black Worms pose a problem to my corals and invertebrates. I am going to take the infected fish out but want to know if I should worry about my corals and mainly my clams..

Bob's Answer: Jamie, do you mean Ich (as in the marine protozoan Cryptocaryon) from feeding black worms? Not to worry, mate. As far as I know such an introduction twixt these environments has not been recorded. OTOH, brine shrimp (Artemia) used live and even reconstituted from cysts have been implicated in marine ich infestations... here a freshwater bath protocol before feeding is called for. For those freshwater (and sewage) Polychaetes there is no danger. Just don't overfeed.

Question: I work at a fish store and do aquarium maintenance on the side. I have recently (in the past few months) come across a rather interesting (yet very bothersome) phenomenon. The first is with wrasses, especially with those of the genus Anampses and Coris. What happens is that within a week or two of getting the wrasses in, their lips appear to roll back exposing their teeth, the refuse to eat (or eat very little) and die within the same week. Are you familiar with this condition and do you know how to treat it?

My other question is that I have seen (for no apparent reason, water quality checks out on all counts) black spots develop on a tang the size of Oodinium dots. Fresh water baths help to remove the ones off the fish, but when the fish is put back into the tank it is totally covered again within a couple of days. In advanced cases the fishes skin appears as though it dehydrated and wrinkled and is about to fall off. It seems to only affect tangs. Do you know what it is, why it starts up, and how to treat for it in a reef type environment? I would appreciate any help you can give me on this matter. My reputation as a professional is at stake here. I am having great difficulty at locating any information on these two conditions. Thank you for any help you can offer.

Bob's Answer: Rob, the prognathal genera of wrasses you mention are dying as a consequence of being shipped for too long in too small a bag from the source or your supplier... very common with Anampses and Coris spp. They need to be put in large enough bags to easily turn around and either have fine sand shipped with them or the bags laid on their side so the animal can't rub its face in the corner. On arrival such animals should be quarantined and treated topically and/or via antibiotics (orally if they're eating).

The black spots are a not so free living turbellarian flatworm of the genus Paravortex. A simple freshwater dip/bath will eliminate them BEFORE being placed in the main display tank... once the critters are established, biological cleaners may keep them in check otherwise.

Question: Bob, my wife and I have an adolescent Imperator who is suffering lesions induced from poor water quality. We were using a source which contained some metals for about 6 months. We've since switched to a cleaner source and have been using in for the past three to four months. However, over the time we were using the poor water our Imperator developed some severe lesions on and around is facial area. What is the best treatment to help him heal these wounds? We are currently using vitamin supplements with feeding. Also, he has stopped scratching completely since the change to the cleaner water.

Bob's Answer: Do check out that supplement packet and make sure it has boodles of A, C, D,  vitamins AND useable/assimilable iodine. Additionally, want to give a big plug for TMC (Tropic Marine Center, UK) new carbon product. This stuff is amazing and well worth utilizing for removing phenols, scatols and short chain fatty acids associated with HLLE (Head & Lateral Line Erosion) and general water quality lesions...

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