The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged cryptocaryon

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.

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!

Yes, it is official.  With my helping hand, the Lightning Maroon is bolting from QT / Hospital and into a breeder net.  Not ideal, but I happen to agree with the advisers that the pros and cons of staying on my current course dictated a change.

Here’s the arguments for keeping the Lightning Maroon WITH the female, in hyposalinity.

  1. If the Lightning is still a male (I believe he is) then having the larger female puts social pressure on him to STAY male.
  2. well…that’s just it…that’s really the only direct “benefit” to keeping him in QT with the female.  That was the main reason they went into a dedicated healthy tank together, divided only for their own safety.

On the flipside, the cons are much greater.

  1. Continued contact with the female may result in an otherwise healthy Lightning Maroon getting sick.
  2. If in fact the Lightning is more a “subordinate female” at this point, then the continued slightly antagonistic interactions I’m seeing are only going to get worse.
  3. Leaving the fish in this hospital / qt situation at hypo may at this point be putting undue stress on an otherwise healthy fish

There are of course, RISKS associated with moving the fish.  The risks are actually quite substantial, but I believe I can sum it up like this.  People are more afraid of what they know than what they don’t know.

  1. Moving the fish from QT to an established tank presents stress with a rapid rising salinity change. Honestly, this was my biggest fear, regardless of what Joe Lichtenbert told me and regardless of the real rationalizations I made earlier this week.  It still scares the crap out of me to take a fish and double the salinity on it.  Well, I did just that earlier today on the 4 remaining fish in the OTHER QT system, and they are all alive and eating this evening.  Not saying that I condone this treatment in any way, only saying that experiences of multiple people are showing that a rapid salinity change in EITHER direction may not be as life-risking as we might normally be lead to believe.  That doesn’t excuse folks to just dump fish willy nilly as the consequences results could certainly be different (i.e. dead fish).  I can only say I am much more comfortable with the notion of doing this to a fish like the Lightning Maroon having first hand direct positive results in hand.
  2. Moving the fish into an existing tank means it’s going in a breeder net. Yes, that’s the case.  All my well established reefs have pairs of clowns in them already.  Adding the Maroon Clown directly to the tank would be beyond disruptive and life-threatening for all the parties involved.  So a breeder net is the only viable solution (unless I stole a grow out tank, which I DID think about).  Ultimately, the reality is that I have multiple clownfish happily inhabiting breeder nets, and in fact, I think my Vanuatu Pink Skunks PREFER having it (but they can come and go now as they please).  At any rate, the biggest risk is that the fish gets OUT of the breeder net.  I’ve had this happen, and the results were a shredded clownfish (that has since recovered well back in its net).  I’ll be doing whatever I can to prevent an escape.
  3. Moving the Lightning Maroon could introduce one or more diseases, including the Fin Rot and Cryptocaryon, to the destination tank. This is a very real concern.  The rationalization goes something like this.  The Lightning Maroon is outwardly healthy and happy.  So it is not likely directly diseased at this point.  The fish has been in treatment with Maracyn for 24 hours now, and that seems to have kept the Fin Rot at bay.  So it’s unlikely that would be transferred in as it’s not outwardly apparent on the Lighting Maroon.  There is a second part, the “what if”?  Well, IF this move causes a disease outbreak, first it’s important to consider that compared to the Lightning Maroon, every other fish in the destination tank is quite readily replaceable.  Yes, harsh to say the least, but the Lightning Maroon has to take precedence over the other fish.  It will be going into my SPS tank, which houses my most common broodstock.  Now, that said, I’m not that worried about ICH.  I may do a quick FW dip after acclimation is complete, one final “quick clean” before going in.  Might not.  Hard to say.  Need to research that concept.  Even if I don’t, honestly, I’m more worried about the Fin Rot.  Well…the FIN ROT can be treated IN THE REEF with Maracyn SW.  Yes, I am quite happy to say that Maracyn SW has proven itself to be quite reef safe.  It just makes your skimmer foam like mad (which drives people crazy).  But it doesn’t seem to kill your corals and inverts.  So, if push comes to shove, I could treat the destination reef with Maracyn SW.  Heck, I might even do so prophalactically.  But again…I don’t know yet.  I have to mull that over.  More likely I’ll just keep a very watchful eye on things.

So ultimately, the decision was made this afternoon and plans were put in motion.  As I mentioned, there were other options.  One consisted of removing the Female to another tank, possibly the growout tank I’ve been using for some Black Ocellaris batches.  Honestly, there’s 5 left, they don’t need a 10 gallon to themselves.  I MAY still do this.  The other possibility was already mentioned, moving the Lightning Maroon to this growout tank.  Honestly, I don’t like the tank’s stability as much as I like my reefs.  So when it came to my reefs, the only one I was willing to risk was the SPS tank…the other reefs have broodstock far more difficult to replace.  Early on, I did even suggest stealing the 6 gallon nano from my Black Ocellaris pair, but honestly, if I don’t NEED to do that, I’m not going to.  But I’m certainly taking a cue from them and thinking long term about a dedicated clown + nem tank for the Lightning Maroon and its mate.

Going on some earlier suggestions,  I lined up one of my RBTA clones (Red Bubble Tip Anemone) as well as 2 rather brown specimens from Underground Aquatics (thanks for the steal of a deal Jim).  The clown will not go into an empty breeder net, but one with a tile on the bttom as well as hosts.  The clown will have 3 small Bubble Tip Anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor) to host in – that way the clownfish won’t totally annoy any single specimen hopefully.  I should also mention that Bubble Tips are the only natural host for Maroon Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus).  I already acclimated the 2 from Jim’s place and they’re lookin’ good under the HQI lighting – hopefully I won’t bleach ‘em out.

I must admit, this is NOT a victory in my book, but a defeat.   This is a retreat to safety.  It does make me feel as if I’ve given up confidence on the female Maroon as well, even though I haven’t.  But I will be making a few more adjustments this evening yet.  Pictures in the next update…acclimation is already underway.  Officially, by my refractometer, we are going from 1.012 / 16 ppt to 1.025 / 33 ppt.  It’s being done on a slow drip.

Back on the warpath

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Well, water change, dosage of Fish Protector and Kent’s Vitamin C.  Removal of GAC already.  Turned off the BULB on the UV but not the flow – not sure if I can run UV while using Maracyn SW.  Dosed with Maracyn SW.  The only products carried by my local Petco are “Lifeguard” and “Maroxy”.  Maracyn has been solid against this exact malady in the past when applied quickly (have seen this exactly same Fin Rot like this rampage through my Dragonette broodstock a few years back..it wasn’t pretty).  I should also mention that Maracyn SW is noted as a valid treatment for fin rot.  Anyone know the MARDEL company website?  I want to email them some questions but I can’t even seem to find a good solid contact for them.

Let’s hope this at least stalls things.  I am contemplating sequestering the Lightning Maroon back behind an eggcrate wall again – Dustin Dorton from ORA asked me about that as well this evening.  And once again, thinking about removing the Lightning Maroon from this tank…he remains a typical healthy Maroon Clown.  There is legitimate concern that leaving him in with her could cause more harm than good.  Of course, I don’t like my options for alternate homes, and there is also the concern that removing him from her would cause him to become a her

It’s funny how this all has taken precedence over any concerns about the known ongoing low-level issues with Cryptocaryon (ICH).  I’m still debating whether I should push back down to 1.010 or even 1.009 as Joe Lichtenbert has suggested.  I should point out that the better sources on Hyposalinity treatments do agree that the difference between 1.009 and even 1.010 might make the difference between successful treatment or not.  Of course, you’re riding a fine line at 1.009 where fish death is a real possiblity (if you’re refractometer is even only slightly off).

Battling Ich and a UV

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This morning, ICH (Cryptocaryon) is once again showing up on the female PNG Maroon.  I admit, I’ve been too busy to get a salinity adjustment back down to 1.010 going since yesterday.  Mark Martin (of Blue Zoo Aquatics) reminded me of something that I’d mentioned in one of the many emails flying back and forth between me and the group of advisers.

Since I’m not currently running any medications of any kind, there was nothing stopping me from throwing an internal UV filter unit onto the tank.  I had a used one on hand…I used to run it in my SPS tank.  I want to say it’s 9 watts.  It probably still has good useful life on it, but honestly, I can’t be sure.  We’ll see what it does for cloudy water (and Cryptocaryon).  At any rate, I threw it together this morning and got it in the tank.  It’s official…their tank looks more like an ICU than any kind of nice looking tank…wires and various apparatuses all over the place.

Water change is of course in their future.  Female is still eating this morning, but again, not really hunting down food by any stretch.  It almost has to bounce off her face..she won’t move more than a couple CM to snatch it out of the water as it drifts by.  She spent her night apart from the Lighting Maroon it looks like, over by the protein skimmer.  This affinity for that area suggests a desire to be by higher O2 levels, which tells me she may be having issues with breathing from the Crypt (although I have still have not noticed elevated respiratory rates).

That’s the morning edition…

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 ;)

Last night I set up a batch of saltwater for an anticipated water change today.  For those who don’t know, I basically run a 5 gallon “Homer Bucket” from Home Depot with a 25 watt Visitherm Stealth heater and a MaxiJet pump to mix the water.  I fill it to a line I’ve marked, and from there, I know that it takes five half-cups (2.5 cups total) of Reef Crystals to bring up the water to 1.025.  So, to make 1.010 water, I scoup out 2 half cups (1 cup total) and I’m good to go.

Well, I recently started using Seachem’s Reef Salt, and guess what?  Apparently by volume it is more salty ;)  2  half cups mixed up to closer to 1.013.  So of course, I tested the Maroon Clown’s tank and it’s running closer to 1.012 right now.  I’m guessing it didn’t get up there through evaporation, but through my recent water changes!  Now, this raises the question – do I have an ICH problem on the female because the specific gravity rose up to 1.012?  I honestly don’t know, I’ll have to ask the advisors about that.

And yes, there is still Cryptocaryon on the female Maroon Clownfish.  Still not doing anything to directly treat it, but keeping an eye on her.  She is still eating this morning.

So I did my 5 gallon water change, treating the water with Kordon’s Fish Protector.  Will be dosing Vitamin C in a few minutes.

The “Stinkbomb”?  Well, when doing the water change,  I was sucking out uneaten food off the glass and I bumped into a Turbo snail shell that I thought was empty.  NOPE.  It was full of black goop…a dead Turbo Snail.  VILE…it never left the water, went through the siphon hose and STILL the stench was unbelievable.  I think I found the source of my cloudy water.  WOW.

Water tests are still OK overall…today’s test showed no visible traces of Ammonia, and pH around 8.0.  SG as mentioned prior was 1.012.  I may leave it, or I may drop it back to 1.010.

The last thing I did today was note that officially ALL medications have run their courses of treatment.  Yesterday was the last day of a 5 day treatment with Maracyn SW.  So, today, a big bag of fresh GAC (granulated activated carbon) went into the filtration.  A recent talk given at NERAC V by Ken Feldman really floored a lot of people as he put the science out there on GAC vs. Protein Skimming as it relates to DOC (Dissolved Organic Carbon).  Bottom line, GAC is far more efficient and effective at removing more DOC from the water.  DOC, in laymans terms, think “fish waste”.  Or in my case, black slimy decaying Turbo snail leading to cloudy water.  I will probably change out the carbon by the weekend for another fresh bag.

Quick update

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Another water change this evening.  Tank is still running cloudy, but I’m being good about getting out all the uneaten food, even shaking out some live rock in the wastewater.  Every little bit of waste removal helps.

The Female PNG Maroon was out swimming more this evening, and the Lightning Maroon was still sitting in the cave.  Every once in a while he’d join her, or he’d go off exploring as well.  The fish are starting to act more and more like my other clown pairs.

The female Maroon was still showing white spots (ICH), but overall doesn’t seem under much stress.  I’ve had ICH show up occasionally in my reefs and haven’t ever gone crazy about it…generally with good husbandry and healthy fish it seems to just work out OK.  Of course, I’m dealing with a Maroon Clown that may not have eaten for 2 weeks, so “healthy” isn’t necessarily applicable in this case.  I believe if I see a worsening case, or if she starts refusing to eat again, I will probably kick off treatments with FW dips, even though that has debatable effect.  Of course, still frustrated that I’m seeing this considering my ongoing use of hyposaline conditions.

Going to do a water test at some point, maybe tonight yet (will update this post if I do).  It’s nice that I can start to think ahead now.  I can think about long term housing for the pair.  A pair of fish this unique definitely deserves to be a showpiece, not stuck in the basement hatchery with all the other broodstock.  But my planned 92 corner for the new house is probably not up for consideration (it’s open top, destined to be a SPS tank full of angels of course…).  I welcome suggestions on showpiece housing, even though I have no way of affording it (the 92 project was a tank given to me, and I’ve been buying parts for it piece by piece for a year+ now).  Still, one can dream, right?

The short story – yesterday the fish got fed a few times.  I’ve realized that most food blows by the female, so I’m now in the position of having to turn off the filtration so she eats.  This has the positive side that if I leave the water pump off for a bit, I could come back later and siphon off uneaten food (only the male is willing to eat food off the bottom glass).

Last night, they got another 5 gallon water change.  Today, I started off by feeding a couple times, and now at lunch, another 5 gallon water change with Fish Protector in the makup, and then the dose of Maracyn.  Also hitting the tank with the daily dose of Kent’s Vitamin C product.

The sad news is that the female, while she continues to eat, has another clear cut case of Cryptocaryon (ICH).  Nothing “serious” (as indicated by the fact that she’s still eating) but seriously, with almost 2 weeks of Hyposalinity and solid Formalin treatments, I should not be continuing to deal with ICH.  This may be a case where I have to “keep an eye on it”, maybe go for FW dips, or maybe wait it out for another week and then bring up the salinity and hit the tank with Cupramine.  In the meantime, so long as the fish continues to eat, things should go OK.  I’ve been soaking all their food with Seachem’s Garlic Guard, which is thought may help keep parasites out of the gills (key word there is THOUGHT, not “proven”).

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