The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged Christine Williams

Precautions…

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So it’s been over a week since the Lightning Maroon’s first date.  I left for MACNA XXII in Orlando Wednesday night (9-1), and returned on Sunday (9-5).   Between then, my wife cared for the tanks for a day, and then my good friend Jay took over for Friday-Sunday.

So Jay told me that our little Lightning had been “sulking” and indeed, when I got home on Sunday, the coloration was darker and the fish was indeed sulking.  It still ate well once food was introduced.  Is the Lighting Maroon heartbroken?  Not sure.  Things looked OK, but I’m not one for taking chances, so a water change was performed.  The tank housing the Lightning Maroon has developed a bit of a cyanobacteria (Red Slime Algae) problem since I had to swap out lights, and on Monday night, I gave the tank another 25% water change.

Still, the Lightning Maroon just doesn’t seem happy.  It ate alright, but seemed to sulk in the back corner.  The dorsal fin damage incurred from the “date” had fully healed.  But tonight, I noticed, the right pectoral fin has a big chunk missing from the lower half.  I am beyond stumped…I think I would have noticed damage like this after the “date”.  No, I think this is something new.  But what is it?

Of course, my heart races at the thought that this is some sort of fin rot.  Without harassing the fish excessively however, it doesn’t really look like fin rot, no it kindof looks more like mechanical damage that is healing.  It’s really hard to tell.  Did one of the tankmates grab this fish through the egg crate and cause this damage?  There is only one fish in the tank that could cause this – the Labrador Maroon.  But still, it doesn’t look like that’s the case either.  The damage has a wierd shape to it, as if the fin was nipped multiple times…perhaps by a Bristletail Filefish?

I’m stumped.  I did my best to get some pictures.  I just can’t get close enough to see what is really going on.  I did a 25% water change earlier this evening, and again tonight, trying to remove as much of the cyanobacteria as possible.  Out came the carbon and phosban.  While Christine Williams is going to give me all sorts of grief over this, I dosed the tank tonight with Maracyn SW.  I am comfortable with it as a prophalactic and I know it will knock back the cyano in the tank that has smothered a frag or two.  I will be watching carefully tonight and will reassess in the morning.  For now, the Lightning is still eating, which is always a good sign.  I am hoping this is just mechanical damage and I’m overreacting.

Of course, if you owned the fish that got a standing ovation at the MACNA XXII banquet Saturday night during David Vosseler’s presentation on PNG SEASMART, you might be overreacting, or “extra cautious” too.  OK, maybe not quite a standing ovation, but seriously, 1300 people applauding the Lightning Maroon?  More on MACNA in a later post…this seemed more pressing of an update.

The net result is this – if this is mechanical damage, I think I have to allow the Lighting Maroon to become a female.  I cannot risk this type of interaction occurring again.  After all, this fish is in the most stable, well filtered aquarium I have, and it is in an egg-crate cage, and somehow it still winds up with half a pectoral fin missing?  You’d be scratching your head too…

I shot 50 images and NONE show the damage on the pectoral fin with any amount of clarity.  Will try again later.  All around a frustrating day in the world of the Lighting Maroon!

A Morse Code Update

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- …. .   — — .-. … .   -.-. — -.. .   — .- .-. — — -.   .. …   …. .- -. –. .. -. –.   .. -.   – …. . .-. . –..–   -… ..- -   – .- .-.. -.-   .- -… — ..- -   .- -. — – …. . .-.   .-.. . … … — -.   .. -.   .–. .- – .. . -. -.-. .   .- -. -..   ..-. .-. ..- … – .-. .- – .. — -.

OK, seriously though, the rest of the post will be in plain English ;)

I’ve discussed the problems facing the “Morse Code” Maroon with Christine Williams and Boomer.  Both often make a reference of Edward Noga.  As you know, I’ve been treating the Morse Code’s mouth rot with Kanamycin.  From Christine, the dosage of Kanamycin for fish is “50-100 mg/liter every 3 days for 3 treatments with a 50% WC before each”.

As you know, I’m using Kanamycin powder from National Fish Pharmacy (www.fishyfarmacy.com).  Both Christine and Boomer have suggested that the dosage on Kanamycin may be “low” compared to that recommended by Noga.  So I sat and “did the math”.

I’m using their consumer packaged Kanamycin, which is called “Kana Pro”.  From their website, the dosage is 1/4 teaspon per 20 gallons of water.  Treat every 24 hours with a 25% water change before each treatment.  Treat for 10 days.  For tuberculosis, use for up to 30 days.

The entire package of Kana Pro is 20 grams, and treats 640 gallons at their dosage rate.  Per their dosage, that works out to 1 gram (1000 mg) treating 32 gallons of water (121 Liters).  This works out to roughly 8.25 mg per L per day.  If I went to dosing every third day at that level, it amounts to roughly 25 mg per L.  This is basically half of Noga’s minimum dosage.  Of course, I simply also need to mention that other experts give dosages lower than Noga, i.e. more in the range of 20 mg/L to 50 mg/L according to the sources that Boomer cited, but Boomer was quick to add that often times, the dosage for a medication in saltwater can be as much as twice that in freshwater.  That could easily account for a disparity between Noga and the other references, specifically if Noga is talking marine and the others were talking fresh!

So far, at best I was only at the absolute bare minimum therapeutic level for Kanamycin based on the dosage.  But then things took another bizzare turn.  Boomer noticed it, credit where credit is due.  National Fish Pharmacy sells both Kana-Pro (hobbyist packaged product) and bulk Kanamycin Sulfate powder.  20 Grams of Kana Pro sells for $14.  25 grams of bulk Kanamycin Sulfate sells for $35.  The net result – Kana Pro sells for about 50% of what the bulk product sells for.  WHY?!  Even more curious, the package of Kana Pro says right on it “Pure kanamycin sulfate powder – no inert ingredients added”.

While I have not found the time to contact National Fish Pharmacy to ask about this very peculiar discrepency, it is certainly suggestive that the hobbyist-packaged Kana Pro cannot be the same thing as the Kanamycin Sulfate that our published experts are referring to when they talk about dosages.  At best, it may be that the bulk Kanamycin Sulfate is a higher GRADE and thus more expensive.  At worst, the Kana Pro could very well be a diluted form, perhaps mandated as such by the FDA for “home use” (this is purported to be a FDA-Approved product).  In the worse case scenario, could it be that the “Kana Pro” is diluted by 50% or more (would clearly justify costing half as much!)?  The real implication, when you follow it through, is that if Kana Pro is 50% or less of the active ingredient, then the labeled dosage might not be just “half” of Noga’s minimum dosage, but 25% or lower of the minimum suggested dosage by Noga.

And we wonder why medicating fish is a “complicated” issue!  Well, after 3 doses following the instructions, I had seen no results.  Once Christine, Boomer and I had these conversations, I took it upon myself to immediately DOUBLE the volume of dosage of Kana Pro I was using.  Based on all the information I had at hand, it seemed to be a safe and likely necessary step.

On Tuesday, I took another step – I swabbed the fish.  The plan was to send a sample to Christine for culturing / identification.  Obviously, if I we can figure out what exactly is going on, we have a better chance to treat it.  If nothing else, we may be able to put a real label on these photos and say “here’s a known case of X infecting a Maroon Clownfish”.  Of course, I missed the post office, so the package went out Wed and should arrive Friday.  Obviously, answers will not be immediate.

It is now Thursday night, and for the past 3 nights I’ve been using the doubled dose of Kana Pro.  The verdict? Let the pictures tell you:

It is pretty clear to me that Kanamycin, even at the doubled dosage, is having NO affect on this infection.  My plan now has been to abandon this (as I’ve used almost an entire package with no results now).  Around 8:00 PM I placed a large back of fresh carbon in the filter.  I’ll followup with a larger partial water change as well, and probably by midnight, I’ll be using a different medication.  Looking at what I have on hand, and what has more often succeeded than failed, it will probably be Maracyn SW (Erythromycin).  I believe I also have Maracyn Two SW (Monocycline) running around.  I believe I can even tag-team these two medications by using them together, hitting both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria respectively.  Given that Kanamycin treats gram-negative bacteria primarily, the use of Monocycline with Erythromycin may be unnecessary, but at this point, what’s a guy to do?

…is that life has a way of giving you a nice smack in the face, aka a “reality check”.  The old phrase “don’t count your [clownfish] before they hatch”  seems to apply here.

I alluded to it at the end of my last post.  Yes, the “Morse Code” Maroon is having issues…it showed signs almost immediately and 24 hours in I made the decision to move it into another empty tank and begin treatment.  Not having the benefit of a laboratory, nor the luxury of a vet, I was forced to make a rapid guess and hope I was right.  Time this weekend has been nonexistent (a visit to see my best friend who lives in DC, then a car was hit on the street, and a family member was put under and had surgery today, doing well thank you) but I’ve at least been staying on feeding and treatment regimes.  Here’s where the Morse Code Maroon went…

So what exactly is wrong with the Morse Code Maroon?  I’m not 100% sure, but I did notice what looked like “rawness” on the mouth when the fish was released.  The pictures from that evening don’t really show it.  24 hours in, the mouth had turned gray and was showing signs of erosion, and so, the fish was moved.  Here’s what I was looking at.

For the moment, I’ll just use the generic term “Mouth Rot”, which really describes only a symptom, something that could be caused by a myriad of possible vectors.  As I stated earlier, not having a lot of time to diagnose and collaborate on this one, I went with Kanamycin, which I had on hand from the “lost shipment” when I was trying to switch antibiotics on the original female PNG Maroon.  As an “shotgun approach” antibiotic, it was the recommendation of at least a couple of the project advisors earlier on.  I figured, why not?  Christine Williams and Boomer both definitely preferred it over my personal default, Erythromycin.  Seems that Kanamycin is not that easy to find, but this is the one I’m using, from FishyFarmacy.com.

Today, I have to say I’ve not seen any signs of improvement.  No, things appear to have gotten worse.  Let the pictures speak for themselves:

Add on stringy feces, decreased activity, and the possibility of Brooklynella showing up (can’t say yet) and this fish is arguably going downhill fast.  Tonight is the 4th of 5 scheduled doses of Kanamycin.  I’m going to do it, but if time permits over the next 24 hours I’m going to solicit for opinions and do the researching I can do.  Need to turn this fish around, FAST!  I have a feeling I’ll be switching medications tomorrow.

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.

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.

As promised, I was never naive enough to take on this project alone, even with my “maverick”, “rule breaking” reputation.  If I look at all my correspondence objectively with the advisers, I’d have to draw a general conclusion that the “fin rot” may have been the tipping point.  Yes, there was certainly some underriding concerns about keeping the fish in the same tank together all along, but now, a new concensus (“bandwagon”) seems to have coalesced.  With their permission, here’s what some of the advisers have said.

“At this point, I would advise getting the lightning maroon out of there and keeping it away from the female. From the pictures, that female is not doing well. The last thing we want is for any infections to be transmitted to the lightning. If the female gets better, you can reintroduce them but for now, get the lightning the heck out of there.”
- Mark Martin, Blue Zoo Aquatics

“When I quarantine new fish everything is kept separate just in case something like this happens.  With the value and rarity of the lightning clown you simply can’t risk having it in the same system with a sick fish.  I don’t know if putting it in your sps tank is a good idea though as you will have no options left for treatment.  I would really try to separate that fish.”
- Dustin Dorton, ORA

“Get the male the hell out of here if you want to keep him alive, if you have a reef tank put it in it or any other well established tank, that fish is way to valuable to lose.  I say it like it is you can keep trying to save the female if you wish, I know you want to keep the PNG lineage but getting another female later won’t be impossible, if you lose the male I’m guessing the project is done.”
- Edgar Diaz, Addy Zone

“I’m surprised you still have them together, Matt, I’d be very nervous, and I don’t see any benefit to having them together. They’ll’ bond plenty when they’re not feeling like crap.”
- Christine Williams

Certainly a lot to think about, and the majority at this point IS suggesting to remove the Lightning Maroon from the female (and I infer, this QT / Quarantine / Hospital tank).

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 ;)

Shocked…

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…that the female Maroon is still alive this morning.  I genuinely thought she was a goner.  I could say that there is growing consensus that at this point separating the female PNG Maroon from the Lightning Maroon is a good idea.  However, this notion flies in the face of “keep things stable, avoid stress” etc.  I’ve been making preparations.

The Brine Shrimp I had hatching failed yesterday (some did hatch out, but mostly it ended up being a bacteria soup, which means that bottle of decapped is no longer “good” and it’s time to order a new one…has been here at least a year, so no fault of Dan’s).  I mentioned it to the group of Advisers.  Kent Vitamin C and Live Adult Brine Shrimp arrived from Mark Martin @ Blue Zoo Aquatics this morning – thanks for the quick shipment Mark!  I’ll get that adult brine set up in a bucket and start feeding it with Rotifer Grow Plus (from Reed Mariculture / Reef Nutrition).  Vitamin C will get dosed as the level prescribed on the bottle.  Mark made a very good point about Vitamin C.  I normally use Reef Plus for vitamins, and I had suggested that I knew I could easily and safely double the dosage of that.  Mark’s point – when you get sick,  you don’t up the dosage of all your vitamins, just the Vitamin C.  Very very true, and thus, Vitamin C on hand for direct singular dosing.

Edit - I did dose Vitamin C, 8 drops into the 20 gallon tank.  The rate is 20 drops into 50 gallons daily.  There have also been concerns about secondary infections.   Christine Williams is a proponent of Kanamycin, but I am a fan of Erythromycin in the form of Mardel’s Maracyn SW.  It has worked on a myriad of occasions.  I tried it on the other QT system in conjunction with the Formalin and it stopped the bacterial problems I had once I started dosing.  Maracyn SW is also high in B-Vitamins that stimulate appetite.  I keep Maracyn SW on hand at all times.  And I’ve never killed a fish dosing Maracyn SW.  So, the 20 long got hit with Maracyn this morning as well.

Lightning Maroon was perky this morning.  Darn female…I want them BOTH perky.

Divergent Paths

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This morning, both fish showed signs of improvement.  I was patting myself on the back for deciding to dose Formalin to the tank at the 1 drop per gallon rate.  I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to jinx anything.

The Lightning Maroon is doing well.  Today, all day, I can finally say that it has started to behave like a typical clownfish.  Playful, energetic yet still timid and nervous.  Eating well, and eating anything I offer.

This evening, after being gone for a couple hours, I returned to find this:

Maroon Clownfish...not feeling well

the female PNG Maroon...

OK, what exactly is supposed to go through my head at this point?  Seriously.  Are you KIDDING me?  I honestly thought the fish was dead or wedged in and unable to get out (and dead).  I started taking live rock out and she bolted out and up into the water column, fully erect and alert.  And then she went and laid down behind some other rock.  And then bolted around the tank.  And then laid down again.  There is nothing outward visibly wrong with her in any way, except for rapid breathing and erratic behavior (and the fact that she has not eaten in a week or longer now).

CLEARLY the female is still having issues, and this is definitely not going in the direction I want.  I need to reevaluate what I’m doing and I’ll need to do so tonight.  I’ll post up what I decide to do when I’ve done so.

I need to pass along quick thanks to my trusted group of advisers.  They include Joe Lichtenbert of RPI, Edgar Diaz of Addy-Zone, Mark Martin @ Blue Zoo Aquatics, Dustin Dorton @ ORA, Matthew Carberry @ Sustainable Aquatics and Christine Williams.  They have all been valuable contributors and have given me LOTS to think about.  No doubt the amount of emails flying back and forth is staggering for them. THANK YOU for putting up with all of it guys, I hope you feel some ownership over this project.  Remember, I feel that this isn’t MY project, but “everyone’s”.

It is perhaps interesting, if not comforting, to know that between 6 highly-qualified & experienced aquarists, each one has had suggestions or advice as unique as they are themselves.  I will say the general consensus has been to stick with Hyposalinity and minimize stress (to not make any sudden changes).  The change in the female’s condition may nullify some or all of that advice, but it’s hard to say.

I sent this one out to the experts, but I’m withholding my own thoughts.  This is the PNG Saddleback I mentioned earlier when I talked about Formalin dipping “replaceable” fish before going with the Maroons.  This Saddleback has been in hyposalinity (1.010) and has had a formalin dip daily for the last 3 days.  The tank was dosed at 1 drop Formalin per gallon on Friday, and again Sunday.  I also added in Maracyn SW (Erythromycin + B Vitamins) because I suspect secondary bacterial infections are kicking in.

I have my own theories and thoughts, but I’m going to WITHHOLD THEM because I don’t want to influence the opinions posted.  So please, comment with your opinion on what disease is actually killing this PNG Saddleback, and more importantly, state WHY you’ve reached your diagnosis if you want to have any credibility. Here’s some pictures and a video.

Video on Youtube:

- update – this fish was dead within 8 hours of these images and videos being taken.

And finally for this evening.  That incident where I almost killed this fish and the 4 Allardi with a Formalin dip that was likely way too strong?  Well, I’m still trying to make heads and tails of it, and I’ve been talking with Christine Williams about it (Christine is the Resident Expert for the forum on Marine Fish Health / Diseases at MASNA ).  If this well-known manufacturer’s documentation on their Formalin product has even Christine a bit confused, well, I think I might have to take back at least some responsibility for my error.

It turns out that potentially there may be straight up conflicting treatment instructions in their documentation that would result in a 10-fold difference in medication levels depending on which instruction you followed.  To me, that’s a HUGE problem.  Of course, I was unlucky in that I followed the higher of the two dosages!  In reading through their documentation carefully again, trying to weed out the actual product specifications, it could be that their product is only 10% of the strength of the standard Formalin I’ve been using (as I suggested earlier).  But this new found discrepancy in treatment instructions, and the continuing vagery about their actual product, could mean that I miss-dosed anywhere from 10 times to 100 times more Formalin than I was supposed to in the first dip.  I’m withholding the company and product name because I do not know yet if I’m right or not, and I’d like to get this whole mess cleared up before I go lambasting anyone.  But yeah, starting to think that this might not have really been “my fault”, except I’m still the one that actually did it!

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