The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged blind

So, lacking anything else worthwhile that I could really do to help this fish along, I turned to the group of advisers. I had my own ideas, but when I approach this group of people, I’ve learned I may get better advice if I hold my own ideas back and simply come as a blank slate. Generally, what I’m looking for is one of two things. #1. Consensus among the adviser’s advice and/or #2. Confirmation of my own plans by seeing my own ideas show up independently from one or more of the advisers. Needless to say, the advisers often disagree, or offer their own twists on a general premise. Some say nothing unless inspired to action by something specific.

When it came time to bounce the latest twist off the advisers, Boomer was the only one who came back with straight up “here’s what I’d do”. It just so happens that on this one, Boomer happened to mention a lot of the same things I was already thinking.

In looking through my medication arsenal, I had a feeling that sooner or later, the Methylene Blue would be called upon. It is something I ordinarily keep on hand as it has MANY uses. Ironically, when I told Mark Martin to not worry, that I had a fully stocked medicine chest on hand, one of the first things that came up early on in this project was of course, Methylene Blue. And of course, it, along with Malachite Green, were nowhere to be found. My best guess is that when we moved from Chicago to Duluth, I must have tossed them out (probably not wanting to risk the leakage of MB and MG onto anything/everything we owned!).

Well, since realizing I didn’t have it, I picked it back up. Tonight, it got used. Lacking any other real antibiotic to throw at the eye infections on the female PNG Maroon, interim treatment with Methylene Blue seemed like something that at best, could not hurt. It may not HELP, but certainly would not hurt.

Given that the female is LOVING her RBTA, as well as the fact that MB would kill off the Caulerpa in the tank and likely any other algae grown, as well as some or all of the nitrifying bacteria, my decision was to apply MB as a dip. I honestly wanted a “longer” option, but Kordon’s dosage instructions were clear. If under “constant treatment”, dosing to 3 ppm MB is recommended. For a DIP however, the treatment is 50 ppm of MB for 10 SECONDS.

Honestly, 10 seconds seems like it’s too brief to really do anything, but lacking any other solid dosage alternatives (i.e. dose at X ppm for a 30 minute dip), I went with 50 ppm for 10 seconds.  In a nutshell, did the math to figure out how much Methylene Blue it’d take to get 50 ppm in 1 gallon of water (it turned out to be around 8.3 ml).  Measured out 1 gallon of water from the tank into a 5 gallon bucket.  Added the MB (did 8 ml).  Set aside another Quart of tank water for a RINSE to be used AFTER the dip.  Netted the fish off the RBTA and dipped it for 10 seconds (counted in my head).  Pulled the net out of the dip, and poured the rinse water over the fish (soas to keep MB from getting back into the tank) and returned the fish to the tank.

On the upside, this was a VERY quick procedure.  My understanding is that I can probably do this treatment twice daily.  Given that I may simply be UNABLE to get an alternative antibiotic tomorrow unless the Kanamycin shows up, I will probably do this dip again tomorrow.  If I do, I’ll take some pictures of the procedure.

Hoping to save her good eye…

So, after last night’s update, I went downstairs and gave the fish a closer look and that’s when I saw something I really didn’t like. The female’s right eye was distended and had a big black splotch on it. There was not a spot of Cryptocaryon on her, which was the “moment” I had been waiting for to move her from the 20 long into her 10 gallon “recuperation” tank with a Red Bubble Tip Anemone that I got from Jim Grassinger. So, I did an abbreviated quick drip acclimation and moved her in. I called it a night.

This morning, well, it’s been chaotic around here. We were supposed to close on a new home on Friday and move this weekend. The seller screwed things up, so closing on Friday didn’t happen. I’ve been working all weekend in the hopes that I could trade the weekend workdays for days off next week (overall, I work for a very understanding and easy going guy who “gets it”. I cannot tell you how lucky and appreciative I am for that). Well, today my wonderful inlaws came over and helped move most everything into 3 trucks and a 17′ UHaul. The fish will all get moved later this week.

I say all this, because it explains why I’ve not been paying closer attention to things. I.e. not noticing that the Kanamycin, which should’ve been here Thursday, was still not here by Saturday. I know the Maracyn SW had not been working for the female’s eye troubles, but I’ve been stuck without any good options to treat it with up here in Duluth. There are NO pet stores open on Sunday in the Duluth region that carry ANY medications. In fact, there’s really only one pet store in the area that does, and they didn’t have Kanamycin. Yes, there are potentially other medications I could try in the interim, so it is my fault for waiting for the Kanamycin to arrive and not having a plan B already in place.

Well, after ignoring my fish most of the day, I went down to check in on the female. It appears to me that her right eye has now ruptured. There’s no coming back from that…this fish will be blind in that eye if that eye even remains. This is a great disappointment, ESPECIALLY because circumstances out of my control have now prevented me from giving her a treatment that could have prevented this. I must admit it, I’m a snob when it comes to broodstock. I want them to be pristine. Not missing an eye.

Of course, really at this point all I can do is hope that the move to a different, well established tank, and the anemone, can help the fish fight off whatever infection has been setting in. If the Kanamycin shows up, I’ll be ready to dose it for sure, and maybe it’ll help. But, it may not. And this fish could end up losing the left eye too.

If the left eye goes, there’s really no use for the fish. We could talk about the ethical and moral merits of continuing to try to keep the fish going, but I’ll say it now, it’ll be time to discuss euthanasia options for this fish. A fish that’s totally blind will have an incredibly hard time living, let alone mating with anything. In the wild, this fish would’ve been dead weeks ago already.

She’s been a fighter. If she can pull through and keep the left eye good I’ll certainly keep her around. The loss of the right eye is admittedly a setback, a really disappointing blow. I did take some pictures for all of you to look at her in her new home this evening.

Yes, another extremely short update because the Lightning Maroon is doing well and his mate is still “sick” but “stable”. Still has cloudy eyes, still eats circling to the left. Kanamycin never showed up this week :( Disappointed to say the least. Kept the PNG Maroon on Maracyn SW for another couple days but it’s really doing nothing beneficial at this point. Daily water changes remain the norm.

So, a bunch of clownfish porn this evening, because frankly, a blog is kinda boring if it’s just always text text text text text.

The female PNG Maroon is definitely doing better, yet still sick.  Still has cloudy eyes.  After I fed and shot video this evening, she got another water change with full strength saltwater, bringing the specific gravity up to 1.021 in the Hospital / QT Tank. As I’m still waiting on the Kanamycin (should show up tomorrow) I’ve opted to continue with the Erythromycin (Maracyn SW) as the cloudy eyes persist. I should say that the Fin Rot appears to have been fully treated and arrested with the treatments of Maracyn SW, and it’s interesting that the cloudy eyes developed during this second course of Maracyn SW.

The videos that follow are of some healthy clownfish eating.  Watch their behavior.  Watch how they turn, how they locate food.  Watch how far they’re willing to travel to get food and how far away it seems that they can identify food.  Compare these 3 videos of healthy clownfish to the last video, which is the PNG Maroon female.  What do you think?  Blind in the right eye?  I can’t speak about permanence, as it’s been documented that blindness can be temporary.  What I CAN say is that this fish seems much better over the last 48-72 hours at identifying food particles in the water column, which to me is suggestive that this fish was having vision problems before the cloudy eyes cropped up.

And finally, the PNG Maroon Female.

So, please post your comments – what do you think?

I know most folks are wanting to hear about the Lightning Maroon, but there isn’t much to say.  “He’s” clean, healthy, likes to eat pellet foods and doesn’t seem at all interested in the mysis and brine shrimp.  Not sure what’s up with that, but I’m chalking it up to him being ticked he’s in a breeder net.

The female PNG Maroon continues to be perplexing, but I think we’re getting a clearer picture.  I am now thoroughly convinced that she is currently blind in her right eye.  Remember early on, she had a slight case of “popeye” that went away.  And now, more recently, her right eye went cloudy first, and now both are, with the right being far more severe.  And all along, when the female was feeding, food would have to bounce off her face practically.

Well, when I fed brine and mysis (soaked in Reef Plus and Garlic Guard) today, she’s up, swimming in the water column, again picking off food.  But she only picks off food that is on her center to left field of vision.  And she turns left about 80-90% of the time as she swims through the tank.   This is very convincing behavior that at this point in time, she cannot see out of her right eye.

Of course, it’s concerning that she seems to perhaps be recovering some of her vision, yet her left eye is now cloudy too.  Assuming this is bacterial, Maracyn SW is not looking very effective against it.  However, I do have Kanamycin on the way, thanks to Christine William’s strong suggestion (echoed by several others).  So, I may continue to h0ld this fish in QT to treat it with Kanamycin to see if I can’t fix up whatever infection is now causing the cloudy eyes.

Oh, and the last thing I should mention is that she has another slight case of Crypotcaryon…just a few specks.  I should be able to get that taken care of when I move her, just need to do it at the right time.

Mid-Tuesday Stumper

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It’s turning out to be a riddle that I’ve yet to answer.  What is wrong with the PNG Female Maroon?  And more importantly, how have I not killed it by now?  Or maybe better to ask, what the heck am I doing that’s keeping this fish still around despite the constant onslaught of illness?

You may recall that yesterday I mentioned she is looking “fat” despite not being an aggressive eater, and that she certainly is having vision problems and that now both eyes were cloudy.  Well, these symptoms persist today.  Heck, I was convinced that finally, at least we were seeing SOME change, even if it was a “downhill slide”.  Logically, based on my experiences, that would make sense, even though it’s not what I’d want.

Of course, I think this fish is going to simply stump us all, because this afternoon, despite cloudy eyes and a couple specks of Cryptocaryon, she was snapping grated squid out of the water column.  Blind fish don’t normally feed out of the water column.  Granted, she wasn’t hunting the food down from across the tank, but certainly was feeding from the water column as she swam around.  I should probably take video of both the PNG maroon, and the new “Labrador” Maroon, so you guys can see the behavioral comparison…

Is this fish getting better or not?!?!!?!!  I kinda wish it would just make up its mind already!

So honestly, having been cut off from the newbie crack trapthat is Reef Central by the dealer itself years ago, I’m at times unfamiliar with all the personalities associated with it.  RC, with it’s huge marketshare in the “online reef community” department, is one of those places where folks at times make a name for themselves (whether inadvertently or intentionally).  There are many talented people out there who I simply do not know because I no longer spend one iota of time on Reef Central.

One such “RC” personality that I had zero familiarity with before this week is Boomer.  Boomer happens to be a local, and it turns out we share many of the same acquaintances.  Anyone who can share a humorous anecdote about himself, Christine Williams, and a MACNA, well, if you’re willing to admit how close you came to making a fool out of yourself and to laugh about it later, you’re good in my book.

At any rate, Jim Grassinger (The Filter Guys, another local here in Duluth MN) knew Boomer was back in town, and when he saw things going south with the female PNG Maroon, suggested that Boomer have a look (per Jim, Boomer is, hands down, our area’s expert on marine fish disease, although I think Boomer’s more widely known as an expert on the topic of chemistry in general).  To make a long story short, I got on the phone with Boomer on Friday and I think we had to “feel each other out”.  Boomer had only skimmed the blog (reading the whole thing is probably already a monumental task) and had picked up on my musings, confusing some of my “thoughts” as being actual actions I had taken along the way.  Once we had cleared up what I had and had not done, things were much easier to talk about.

Well finally this afternoon, Boomer got to make a house call after our club (LSMAC.org) meeting.  And here’s where I get to actually talking about the status of the Lighting Maroon project.  Boomer of course was insistent on catching a good glimpse of the Lighting Maroon…a tiny finger poke was all it took to get him out of the RBTA to show off.  Let’s just say Boomer approved and after a close visual inspection, signed off on the fish being in perfect condition.  From MY standpoint, the fish is not yet “perfect”.  I would argue that the Lighting Maroon is taking too much time buried in the Red Bubble Tip Anemone, not willing to dart out to grab food as it drifts to the bottom of the net.  Overall, I want a more aggressive, settled in fish.  Health wise, appears perfect.  Deportment wise, a bit too timid for my tastes at this time.  Clearly not 100% happy with his new, confined home, but I think taking some solace in having 3 anemones.

After that, Boomer got down and gave the female PNG Maroon a good close look.  I’m paraphrasing of course, but again, here’s the jist.  Boomer expected to see a Maroon Clownfish suffering from Brooklynella, with mucus and skin sloughing off.  Boomer remarked on the cloudy right eye, which my friends is a NEW development today…was not there yesterday and something I had noticed this morning.  The cloudy eye lends further credence to my concerns about visual impairment, and in fact, it would seem that the Maroon only “strikes food” it can see with its left eye, but only at the last second.  Blindness, whether full or partial, is a legitimate concern at this point.

Boomer’s prognosis was perhaps more optimistic than my own.  Even though the female barely ate anything today, he felt the fish was on the path to recovery yet again, and WOULD recover if I stayed the course of treatment I’m on now.

Me, I’m not so sure.  While Boomer may be right about “recovery”, it could still be that I wind up with a battle weary, half blind Maroon Clown that is past its prime.  This fish may not have enough left to make a good candidate for broodstock.  I’m not writing this fish off at this point, but I am continuing to ask Mark Martin to plan on setting aside a couple more PNG Maroons to ship in a few week’s time.

Which brings me to the last closing thoughts for the time being.  Specifically, concerns about trying to pair up another PNG Maroon.  First Joe Lichtenbert, and then John Witt, both emailed to suggest that I find an Aquacultured Maroon Clown female to pair with this fish.  And I’m not writing off that suggestion.  The reality is that leaving the fish in solitude raises concerns about it turning female.  That concern might be unfounded based on the premise that reproductively speaking, it is better to remain a male if you are single.  That way, you are better positioned to accept and mate with whatever fish mother nature throws your way in the wild.  That makes a good theory, but I can’t say if it’s actually what would happen.  It’s like saying a female Anthias or Wrasse won’t turn male unless a female is present.  I don’t know that to be true or false, but I wouldn’t risk it.

Nevertheless, pairing with an Aquacultured Female would present the following considerations.  It’s NOT a PNG Maroon, and that goes against one of my personal project goals (which is maintaining a PNG bloodline).  Breeders are quick to point out that THIS is in fact a temporary setback, and would not be a total failure, and they’re right.  There are upsides.  The upsides include not risking disease exposure, at least not at the level another WC clownfish might present if paired prematurely (rest assured, any WC Maroon would go through the same QT period as these guys already did, if not more so).  The other upside is that providing a female Maroon would enforce another objective, which is to keep the fish MALE.  And in this, perhaps it’s a trump card over the other concerns.  Is it more important at this point to keep the PNG Bloodlines intact, or to keep the Lightning Maroon a male?

Arguably, I would say it’s more important to keep the fish a male.  I haven’t quite figured out how this would work, but I THINK I know where I can get a well established Maroon Clown, a large one.  I’d have to move my fire clowns out of the tank, and give the female Maroon free reign of the SPS tank, and I would probably leave the male in the net.  I *think* I could pull this off, and as an insurance measure this might be a wise plan.

The other, somewhat more “outlandish” idea, is to print out a picture of a female Maroon, simply a LARGE SIZED image really, and stick it right outside the breeder net on the glass.  I will probably do this ASAP.  While it lacks the direct phyisical contact, it may in fact be just enough psychological pressure to keep the Lightning Maroon “male” until a real female can be thrown into the mix again.

Finally, before I forget, I do need to mention that while late today, the female’s tank was given another 5 gallon water change and a late treatment with Maracyn SW.  There are a few more days of treatment expected.  I am still strongly considering a “plan b” for her as well.

Yes, I did an emergency big water change, over half the tank’s running volumes.  Took out 10 gallons.  Why?

Well…turns out when I set up this stand of tanks, I set it up in front of a closet in the rental’s basement.  Didn’t think anything of blocking the closet…we’re not using it.  Well..turns out our main water shutoff is in that closet.  So when the plumber showed up today to fix some plumbing issues in the rental house, guess what he needed to turn off ;)

So..drain drain drain drain drain drain drain.  Slowly move the 2 tanks on the stand across the concrete floor just enough to open the closet and narrowly reach in to turn off the valve.  Then fill fill fill fill fill.  But I DIDN’T think to save any of the water I was draining.

I had water mixing up already for a regular full strength water change, but I used that to quickly add some water to the top QT tank which was running with only an inch or so.  Testing out Joe Lichtenbert’s observation that fish can handle rapid salinity changes in BOTH directions.

I got another bucket mixing at full strength, and decided I would use water from an existing tank to refill the Maroon’s QT tank.  So….5 gallons out of the SPS tank, mixed with 5 gallons of dechlorinated tap water and in it went.  Honestly, the fish seemed to like it, and it was the clearest I’ve seen this QT tank in a while now.  I don’t know where the salinity is, but I suspect it’s up a little bit more now, maybe 1.012 or 1.013.  I’ll have to check it later.  When I tested it last night, it was around 1.011, and I added maybe a half gallon of distilled water to bring it back to 1.010-ish.

The interesting part, and why I say the fish seemed to like the water change, is that the female seemed to perk up rather quickly and started snapping at bits of food in the water as it swirled around.  At least that’s what I think  I was seeing.  I can say with certainty that the fin rot has not progressed since last night.  Her appetite remains iffy, and she does seem at times to be blind.

Since I drained probably 2/3 of the water, I felt obligated to hit the tank with a fresh pouch of Maracyn SW.    So now I’m back on a morning dosing routine, which is not really where I wanted to be.  (It’s easier to feed all day, do a water change in the evening, and then dose after the water change.  Now, if I do a water change in the evening, I’m diluting overnight).

Anyway, that’s the 411 for this morning!

Another day

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So it’s been what, 2 full weeks now?  Today, the maroons spent more of their day apart.  This evening, I did another water change, shook off all the live rock (and thus rearranged it a bit), dosed with Fish Protector in the makeup water and Reef Plus shortly thereafter.

The female Maroon, as cited earlier, still had spots of  Cryptocaryon (ICH) on her into the afternoon, but by night they’ve disappeared.  I should mention that besides the obvious visual cues that it was ICH and not Velvet, there has not been heavy breathing nor a total loss of appetite, both classic symptoms of Marine Velvet (Amyloodinium) even when it’s not outwardly visible.

I “polled” the advisers and got early responses from Joe, Christine and Matthew C. about my ongoing ICH problem.  I’m over simplifying their responses by a lot, but suffice it to say that if there were one word votes, it’d be 1 vote restore Hypo to 1.010 or even 1.009, and 2 votes for possible treatment with Cupramine (copper) to finally eradicate the problem.  Obviously, if this continues to be a recurring problem it will have to be dealt with.  I feel that the female Maroon has once again plateaued, albeit at a higher plateau than she was on before.

She has had less “spunk” today, not having tons of appetite by any stretch.  Unless food was moving, either in the current or alive (as in Live Adult Brine Shrimp) she didn’t see interested.  Honestly, I had my first suspicions that she might be blind now.  Hard to say.  Blindness can be temporary or permanent in clownfish and can be attributed to a variety of factors.  There are times she seems blind, but then other times where she most certainly does not.  So throw that on the pile as another of the never-ending list of problems that have plagued this female PNG Maroon since her arrival.  Oh, that, and someone took a chunk out of her left pectoral fin today.  The list of suspects is short.  VERY SHORT.  And happens to be covered in abberant white markings.

Behaviorally, the clowns were not as cuddly with each other today.  They spent most of their time about 3-4″ apart.  When I turned out the lights this evening, the female left her cave.  The Lighting Maroon quivered for her numerous times, but she moved off to a different part of the tank.  I didn’t stay to watch too much more, but suffice to to say that both fish seem to be roaming the tank more.  This, combined with the “mystery bite” on the female’s fin might suggest that the “pair bond” isn’t all that, but then I look at my other clowns that don’t have anemone homes and they tend to rove around quite a bit.  They aren’t always at each other’s side, but it’s very rare that they’re at opposite ends of the tank.

I think it’s really important to impress upon everyone how truly individual and dynamic a marine fish can be.  They most certainly do have personalities and subtle behavioral cues.  It pays to make yourself aware of those subtle changes in behavior.  I certainly believe that some folks might read way too much into it, anthropomorphizing their fish (and going off the deep end in the process).  However, if you can avoid that pitfall and be more objective about your fish, you may realize they will often give you clues when things aren’t quite right.  I.e. I’m paying more close attention to the Female Maroon today and tomorrow in light of what seems to be a decreased interest in food and behavior that may imply some blindness or at least vision trouble.  Hard to say where that’s stemming from, but it’s important to note general behavior every time you look as you’ll get tipped off when things may once again be going wrong.

Well, signing off for tonight, and hoping for a better tomorrow.  Power of positive thought seems to work folks, so please do keep sending prayers, well wishes,  good vibes and karma to the 20 gallon home of the PNG Ambassador and his wife ;)

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