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FAQs on Marine Infectious Disease (Bacterial, Fungal, Viral) Medications/Cures 

Related Articles: Infectious DiseaseUnderstanding Bacterial Disease in Aquarium Fish; With a gallery of bacterial infections, a discussion of 'Fish TB', and a listing of major antimicrobial medications with examples available to fishkeepers By Myron Roth, Ph.D.,

Related FAQs: Infectious Disease 1, Infectious Disease 2, Infectious Disease 3, Infectious Disease 4, & FAQs on Infectious Disease: Identification, Causes/Etiology, Case Histories: Bacterial, True Fungal & Biological Cleaners, Cryptocaryon

 Identifying and remedying the "real" or initial cause/s is paramount. Treating symptoms alone is of no use. Antibiotics, anti-microbials, anti-fungals and biocides (e.g. formalin) must be used in "empty" treatment tanks, and with caution. Administration may be through the water, foods, dips/baths, even injection.

Re: Itchy Fish. SW... disease diagnosis     8/21/12
Bob, I am writing not to argue but it seems we were both wrong here. I looked extensively on the internet in regards to disease symptoms none of which that I could find matches bacterial or fungal infections and I decided as my copper levels were very low and the symptoms did not resemble Ich or Oodinium I was at a loss, the only symptoms were large grey blotches over the body and loss of appetite.
<... Microscopic examination...>
Sadly the Regal Angel died. What I found strange is that descriptions for bacterial and fungal infections listed symptoms like stringy white matter, red fins etc. I decided to treat with Mardel Maracyn Plus which contained a part description matching and after 4 days the Emperor is eating and the blotches are gone.
<Ah good>
The reason I write is to hopefully help others where the symptoms are the same without the fast breathing of Ich and Oodinium.  Regards, Adam.

Dwarf Angel Fin Rot, quarantine methods f'  -- 11/17/07 Hello, <Greg> I am fighting a losing battle with a case of fin rot on a dwarf angelfish in a 10 gallon Q/T. The fish did fine in Q/T for about 10 days but then started getting ragged fins. <Maybe simply the quarantine experience> The fins were just literally disintegrating a small amount each day. I started treating with Kanamycin (SeaChem Kanaplex) every 48 hours, but after 3 days the fins continue to erode at a faster rate. The fish is eating fine <A very good sign> and all water parameters look good as I have a full biological filter which is surviving the Kanamycin treatment. Ammonia and nitrite are zero 3 days into treatment. I did go without chemical filtration for about a week. But once the fin rot started, I filtered with carbon and PolyFilter for about 1/2 day and did a 25% water change before starting the Kanamycin. I am concerned the Kanamycin is not working and I am wasting valuable time to save the fish. Should I continue with the Kanamycin and if so for how long? Or should I switch to a different antibiotic for fin rot? At a loss here as I have used Kanamycin successfully for fin rot before. Thanks, Greg <I would discontinue the Kanamycin, not try other antibiotics... I would summarily pH adjust and freshwater dip and place this animal in the main display. Please see here and the linked files above for the thinking/rationale here: http://wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm Further quarantining will not likely grant you anything... other than a more-stressed specimen. The root cause of the "rot" is likely non-pathogenic. Bob Fenner>

Bacterial diseases Bob, I don't see on your site a section on bacterial diseases. I did a search too. If you have a section, could you give me the exact web address? <Hmm, all lumped under "Infectious Diseases... of Marines" I believe... let's see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/infectio.htm> I finally put a few yellow tail damsels with ick/white spot that would not go away with environmental manipulations (high temp, low salinity, cleaner shrimp) in a hospital tank with Cupramine. The white spots look like they're gone but there look like there are a few tiny scars left.  <You have very good vision... these will be gone soon> We're concerned our copper is not high enough (test kit keeps reading low [approximately .3] no matter how much Cupramine we put in).  <Look to another test kit> We just slowly increasing the dose and watching the fish for signs of copper toxicity (rapid breathing?) and doing tests hoping that it will rise to the therapeutic range. Any hints on what to look for if the treatment is effective? If there are sores, does it take a while for that to heal after the parasites die? <Lack of spots, normal breathing and swimming behavior> One of the damsels has a lot of fin rot (front fins are practically gone) and sores on his body (they aren't red and hemorrhagic like the vibriosis pictures). None of the others have erosion. All the fish have had the white spot and this guy has been like this for several weeks so we're taking things slow--treating first with copper. The one with fin rot appears to be getting slightly worse. This guy is pretty aggressive so I don't think the other damsels are munching on those fins. Dakin has a chart which shows that the only 3 diseases that would cause fin erosion are fin rot, TB/wasting disease or vibriosis--all bacterial. <Yes... if due to biological action... can be lost due to chemical, physical qualities... copper even.> 1.If we use antibacterial treatments, that will kill our biological filter, correct?  <Some will yes... better to not get involved with these here...> How do we keep nitrites down? <Induce nitrification is best... by using "used" filter media, substrate... and second best by way of water changes> The LFS told about a product "TLC" which is a liquid with bacteria in it. Will that help us keep the nitrites down (we change 50% water every other day already--it's a 25 gal tank). <Sometimes these work. Worth trying> 2.Dakin recommends either Furanace or Amoxicillin, or Ciprofoxin. We can't find food of this. <You can "make it yourself"... Please see the "Furunculosis, Hole in the Side" piece on the "Pond Index" on the www.WetWebMedia.com site... same protocol for DIY antibiotic making there> If we feed them rather than treating the water, would that reduce the destruction of the biological filter?  <Yes> Does it really matter which antibacterial treatment we use?  <Ultimately... yes. Even "broad spectrum" antimicrobials are "semi-selective" in what they influence... Do try the Amoxicillin first... if this can't be found or has no discernible effect, and you still want to try another possibility, the Cipro... lastly a furan compound...> We can't even find those in our LFS but could find Furnace water treatments via mail order. <Yes... but, as I say, by and large you really don't want to get involved with these materials... not likely they will do that much good/better than your attentions currently> By the way, we think our Naso tang is OK now. He's fattening up and I'm not sure the discolorations were really black spot. Thanks for all the advice before. He's such a sweet little fish. We're very, very relieved.  <I as well> Our LFS said that you can tell the gender based on the shape of the tail. Is this really true? <This is a common theory... the "streamer" ones are males... Have a dearly departed friend who worked on possibilities of culturing Naso lituratus... the "streamer" ones are males, but some of the "non-streamer" ones are males as well... Bob Fenner> Thanks! Allyson

Re: bacterial infection? Bob, Just to clarify, you recommend against the antibacterial treatments and for us to maintain the copper treatments for the full 2 weeks recommended? If we do the antibacterial, then start with Amoxicillin in the food. <Yes> Man, does it ever end? <Yes> There's a lump on the left side of the body of our cleaner shrimp. Is this normal? <Not unusual> Perhaps and egg sack? Or is it a disease? <Maybe the latter, perhaps a growth anomaly. Nothing I know of to "treat it".> The other shrimp we have doesn't have it. Thanks again, Allyson <Steady on my friend. Bob Fenner>

Fungus Amongus? Dear Mr. Fenner, I have a slight problem that I just can't figure out. I have a 50g tank with one each of yellow tang, flame angel, Bennett's puffer, and small cowfish. I began copper treatment (Cupramine) four days ago for small black spots on tang and ich on cowfish. I am usually quite careful about adding undipped animals, but was afraid to dip cowfish because of possible toxin secretion. Anyway, spots are all gone but as of this morning, cowfish has two 1/4 inch areas of white fuzz, looks somewhat like he has been touched with shaving cream; probably secondary "fungal" infection.  <Likely secondary, possibly fungal, bacterial...> His color, attitude, and eating are great, same with all others. I have a bio wheel filter, Remora skimmer, temp at 80, SG at 1.019, Ammonia and Nitrites at 0, Nitrates at 5, pH at 8.1, and not-so live rock now that copper has been added (q tank is not big enough for all the fish, so I took out inverts and am using big tank for TX).  <Okay> I know from reading your book and looking at your site that improving water quality is usually the best mode of treatment, but I do not think that I can do a h2o change or stop the copper TX this early. I do not want to add meds, but think that this might be the only solution to saving the beloved "Moo". I have heard that MarOxy  <Maroxy, Mardel Labs> is not too bad, but LFS does not carry Mardel products. Any other suggestions? <Just time going by... keeping the environment optimized and stable... the animals will heal of secondary effects. Bob Fenner> Thank you very much. Christi

Scott's Fairy Wrasse with infection I have Scott's Fairy Wrasse with a huge swollen blister or growth on the bottom of his lip. His color has dulled and his top yellow fins are darkening. I have been reading about diseases and I think this is a bacteria.  <I would agree that this is likely> Please let me know what you think and what kind of antibiotic could I treat it with. Thanks. <A Furazolidone and Nitrofurazone cocktail (like Jungle brand "Fungus Eliminator" at double strength in a bare bottomed QT tank). Medicate three times in 5 days minimum. Also feeding medicated food if the fish will take it would be nice. You may also do a topical swab of the lip (Q-tip carefully... avoid the eyes and gills) when moving the fish to the QT. Iodine or Mercurochrome will work fine (as with people). dilute slightly. Leave in QT for 2-4 weeks (4 preferably) Best regards, Anthony> Carmina Perez

A Fungus Among Us? (Treating Fungal Disease) Dear WWM Crew <Hi there! Scott F. at the keyboard tonight...> I have a 210 gal tank with mostly angels and everybody is eating and looking good except some of my angels are getting white tufts on their dorsal and rear fins. They were scraping on my overflows so I immediately checked my water quality and everything looked good. The tank has only been set up for 2 months but I used the Bio Wheel and media from my Tidepool II that came from their old home an 80 gal for over a year. I did add another identical filter for 2 on the 210. I am running a 35 watt UV. I did a 25% water change and added CopperSafe in case it was a parasite. <I can understand your caution, but in the future, I'd avoid adding any medication, particularly copper (which some angelfish don't take well to, such as Centropyge species) directly to the system. Better to get an idea of what you're dealing with before medicating.> In the old days, I would take the fish out of the tank and remove the tuft and treat the area with an anti bacterial medication. The stress from catching the fish in a heavily decorated tank was more dangerous to the fish I think. <Well, that is certainly a consideration> Is there anything I can treat the tank with to cure this fungus or whatever it is? I don't want to stress these fish anymore. I haven't had a protein skimmer on the tank since I set it up because Red Sea is mailing me another one. The water change seemed to perk them up a little but the tufts are increasing! <Well, it's hard to say without seeing the fish myself, but I'll hazard a guess and assume that you are dealing with a true fungus of some sort, like Saprolegnia. Typically, these types of fungal infections manifest themselves on open wounds (either caused by some sort of trauma, or bacterial infections), and can be eradicated rather easily with a medication like MarOxy from Mardel. However, Even though catching the fishes is a pain- I am a strong advocate of NOT treating for disease in the main tank. So many potential problems. Really not worth it for the trouble saved, IMO> I did treat the tank with Maracyn for a 5 day cycle! Thanks Kirt Joseph <Well, Maracyn is very effective against gram-positive bacterial infections and some fungal diseases. If it was not effective, then you are almost certainly dealing with a "true" fungus, better addressed with a medication such as MarOxy, as indicated above. Also, do be vigilant about water conditions and the overall environmental parameters of your tank, as these are often influential in bringing on such infections. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Bacterial problem or something else? Hi guys, I have a new (8 months) saltwater 75 gal aquarium FOWLR.  My 5 inch hippo tang has three raised white blotches less that 1/32 inch each on the top of her head.  None of my other fish have it. <It could be a bacterial problem or it might possibly be the start of lateral line disease.> It is not ick but looks and probably is bacterial. <Bluck bluck bluck sorry.> I have had an algae breakout within the past few weeks, have done the Chemi-clean treatment removed the algae and done a 25% water change.  My algae problem has slowed however these little blotches are still there.  I feed OSI marine flakes, vitamin enriched brine, shaved shrimp, formula one.   Now for my question><Perhaps cutting back on the food might be a good idea.> What I read is to use some type of antibiotic, and it says that depending on what you feed, it may have an antibiotic in it or to get one and soak their food in it. <The thing about using an antibiotic is that it will also affect your bacterial filter. You need to be sure what you have is indeed some type of bacteria before you treat the tank. Have you taken a look at the FAQs to see if you can find something similar.?> Well gee, ok, which one, how much, etc etc etc.  I am lost here for sure. My other fish are, Heniochus, yellow Longnose butterfly, coral beauty, Percula, gold stripe maroon clown, green spotted puffer. Let me know what you think and how to accomplish this. <Once you can identify what it is Jack we can help you treat it.  Please look at the pictures and see if you can find anything similar. If its lateral line that can be treated as well. Good luck, MacL> I sincerely thank you for your help and anxiously await your reply Jack Beckwith

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>

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>

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.>

Sick Koran Angel Anthony, <Seems to have dropped off the planet> I have attached photos of my very unhappy Koran Angel. <Good pix> She has been in my tank for about 3.5 years (Since she was the size of a quarter).  About a week ago, she started to get red behind the gills. She has stopped eating, and now has cloudy eyes.  <Trouble> Prior to getting sick, no fish had been added to this tank in about 9 months.  My Blond Naso tang, now has a nasty red patch from the top side of one of his gills. <Oh oh...> In the past week I have done a 100g water change. I also turned off the ozonizer, so as not to irritate the gills.  <Might be better to leave on... to reduce total bacteria...> I added some cleaner shrimps and cleaner wrasses and they were all over her for the first couple of days and then they disappeared (not unusual with cleaner wrasses).  Any thoughts or ideas ? Thanks, Dave B <Something has gone sideways with your system itself... water quality is the first thing I would check... You might want to add antibiotics to your fishes foods... maybe even an injection for the more valuable... all this is gone over and over on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>


Sick Polymnus Clownfish 4/17/05 I purchased a mated pair of Saddleback (Polymnus) clownfish about 3 weeks ago. When I first placed them into my 12 gallon QT tank, they seemed very healthy and readily accepted foods including Mysis soaked in vitamins, Cyclop-Eeze and small pellets. However, after two weeks or so, I began to notice some odd behavior in the female (who is about 3x larger than her mate). She seemed very lethargic, mostly swimming near the bottom of the tank without the usual bobbing motion associated with her species. Once in a while, I noticed she would just swim from one end of the tank to the other, sometimes gently bumping into the tank wall before reversing direction. She also stopped eating, but exhibited no signs of parasites or other diseases. The male remains very healthy.  <A. Polymnus aren't the hardiest of clowns and often fail to acclimate to captivity. The black variant seems to do somewhat better. If these are wild caught specimens, I would suggest that you research and rule out Brooklynella (usually indicated by thick cloudy mucous on skin). If it is Brooklynella, both clowns must be moved to a hospital tank and must be treated with Formalin baths.> A couple days ago, I moved the pair into the 60gal reef tank, hoping that a larger tank would perk her up. After several hours, the pair began hosting in my LTA anemone. At first I thought the female had perked up, but it has been two days now and she is still not eating (it's been about a week total since she stopped eating). This morning I discovered that one eye is beginning to bulge out, looks like early stages of Popeye however the eye is not cloudy. There is a small hippo tang in the tank which is perfectly happy and only occasionally hangs around the clownfish and their anemone although I've seen no biting.  <"Pop Eye", especially when only one eye is affected is most often caused by physical injury. However, in her outstanding book on Clownfishes, Joyce Wilkerson describes a very rare fungal disease that often causes pop-eye and the other signs you have described. There is no certain way to diagnose it while the fish is still alive, but she suggests that it can be treated by soaking food in 1% Phenoxyethanol I don't have a brand name to recommend, but it will be marketed as an anti-fungal medication (don't substitute!).> What do you suggest I do? Is her strange behavior just a result of the Popeye she is developing or is there a bigger issue likely involved? Should I move the female (or both) back to the QT tank? Should I treat with Epsom salts or Maracyn as you sometimes suggest? Thanks for your help. You guys perform a wonderful service! Saahil.  <I would not move the fish again. The other fish have already been exposed to the problem and further stress and physical contact with the injured eye could be quite harmful. If the fish is not eating, there is no way to get Phenoxyethanol into the fish (adding to the water is ineffective), so you will have to offer tempting foods and wait it out. Best Regards. AdamC.>

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