The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged Fin Rot

Suspect in custody…

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So…another day goes by and I’ve noticed the following – not only has the Lightning Maroon’s right pectoral fin become damaged, but so has his right ventral/pelvic fin.  It looks to be about the same age as the other damage judging by the condition.  Neither appear to be fresh, and nothing seems to have spread.  Seeing damage on multiple fins really had me thinking “fin rot” until I noticed something else…

The female Bristletail Filefish, Acriecthys tomentosus, has a few chunks missing from her tail.  I think I’m starting to piece things together…I *think* that the male Filefish may be getting a bit nippy with his tankmates.  Certainly, it is conceivable that the fins damaged on the Lighting Maroon were “accessible” to an inquisitive Filefish, which can easily get it’s nose inside the cage through the larger openings in the eggcrate.  These fins would easily be exposed if the Lightning Maroon was resting in the back corner as it sometimes does.

Still, taking no chances, a second dose of Maracyn SW went into the tank tonight.  I will be keeping an eye on the filefish to see if I catch them in the act at all.  I’m back on the fence of how I intend to proceed mate wise, and looking forward to a time when the Lightning doesn’t have to be sequestered in a protective cage (which seems to have failed at its job anyway)!



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!

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?

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.

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!

Back on the warpath


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 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).

OK, officially I’m just frustrated.  I have to commend the Female PNG Maroon for fighting to live as it seems a never ending barrage of maladies hits her.  I know there’s still Crypotcaryon running around the tank, only seen it on her.  Now, it turns out that the “chunk” of her left pectoral fin that was presumed “bitten off” by the Lighting Maroon may not have been a bite at all.  Or if it was, it opened up the gateway to another new problem.

In either case, I’m now dealing with FIN ROT.  And this tends to progress FAST.  I’m surprised after just having run a 5 day treatment of Maracyn SW (an antibiotic) that this has now shown up.  Normally, I’d slam something like this with Maracyn SW (Erythromycin) as my first choice, but now…well…I’m hoping maybe I can find some Kanamycin at the local Petco (only fish store in town open after 6:30 PM…geeze).  I’m hoping for Kanamycin on two grounds, having yet to actually go look at what I *should* or *could* use.  #1.  Looks like whatever has hit was likely not something knocked out by Maracyn and #2.  Kanamycin is Christine’s default antibiotic.  Sounds like a good choice…probably should’ve thought to have some on hand.

Bouncing this off the advisers as well.  Remember, we just threw a UV on the tank too, which if course may have to be deactivated (it can affect medications).

Anyways, pix of the affliction:

PNG Maroon with Fin Rot

Finrot on the left pectoral of the Female PNG Maroon.

Left Flank of PNG Maroon Clownfish Female

Here's a shot of the left flank overall.

Fin Rot on a female Premnas biaculeatus

Another good left flank shot showing the pectoral disintegration.

PNG Lighting Maroon male and PNG Maroon Clownfish Female interacting.

They're still interacting.

Now, there is still the possibility that the Lighting Maroon is causing this damage…they do occasionally interact roughly.  But I’m at 95% Fin Rot as the diagnosis.  And it requires fast treament…I’ve seen similar disease competely disintegrate a fin in hours.

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