The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged Maracyn II

So this amounts to a chronological retelling of the story to date, this time with photos, starting  a couple weeks back now.  Perhaps not in as much detail as my minute-by-minute updates, but a good overview of the run to date.

June 21st, 2012

The ongoing health problems with the Lightning Maroon remained, and the left eye on the Lightning Maroon was showing slight swelling.

On a day initially planned to do a skin-scrape of the fish for further examination, I had to call things off because the fish had started going through pre-spawn motions.

By the time we had finished doing a skin scrape on some Banggai Cardinalfish downstairs, Barb & Heidi from the Great Lakes Aquarium got a super special treat, seeing the actual nest having been spawned while they were here.

Lightning Maroon Clownfish Spawning & Eggs

June 22nd, 2012

I was genuinely worried whether we’d have eggs 24 hours in.  Thankfully, they proved to be good parents and good “clownfish”; the first spawn egg eating proved to be the typical first test run that so many clownfish seem to do.  This batch, while I didn’t get a good photo of the parents, was doing well.  The swelling on the Lightning Maroon’s eye had gone away.  Phew.

June 23rd, 2012

So much for resting easy about the health of the Lightning Maroon. The eggs were developing (a fair number that probably were infertile or diseased were removed by the pair), but some funky gunk (yes, that’s the scientific term) showed up on the Lightning Maroon’s right face.  I was once again on high alert; this wasn’t pop-eye; this was more reminiscent of the mouth-rot I had to battle back a little while ago.

June 24th, 2012

So much for being on alert.  By evening, things looked so bad on the Lightning Maroon’s face that I pulled the trigger and initiated the third course of treatment with Maracyn SW and Maracyn II SW in this system.  The telltale bulge around the right eye had started to show as well.  I felt I had little other option at this point; this fish is simply too valuable to take a wait and see approach when symptoms like these show up:

The eggs were looking good and developing fast, although I took little comfort in that given the current situation with the Lightning Maroon.  The roller coaster of stress over this fish during the past couple months has been excruciating.  No doubt, there were times I pondered whether it would all be easier if the fish just passed away – of course solely a passing fancy, but when things are clearly out of your real control, it is incredibly tough to sit there and do “what you can”.  Of course, it’s a whole new level now that we are well within sight of the next major milestone in this 2+ year long project.

June 27th, 2012

June 27th represented the 4th day of Maracyn + Maracyn II treatments, and once again, it appeared I had potentially averted a crisis or loss.  The condition of the Lightning Maroon was drastically improved.  The eggs…the eggs were showing eyes?  They had the classic silvery look of clownfish eggs before they’re going to hatch.

I had been worried that these eggs would be hatching out while I was on a trip to Boston to speak at the Boston Reef Society; but now, only 6 days post spawn, I was very worried that a hatch could come sooner than expected.  The signs (and the data out there) said it was possible, sure, but maybe not likely?  Still, if I waited too long and did nothing I could miss the hatch. Conversely, if I pulled the nest too early, I could miss killing the eggs before they actually had fully developed.  Honestly though, I felt far less pressure about the decisions I was about to make than any of the disease-related issues with the Lightning Maroon; this is clownfish breeding, I can handle it.

There was really only one route to go – I had to sit and watch the tank.  The lights go off at 12:15 AM, so I got things situated for a possible hatch.  I used a small LED flashlight at the far corner of the tank as a larval attractant.

While waiting for the lights to go out, I prepared the area  with buckets and siphons to take out larvae should they hatch in the tank.

Downstairs, I prepared a black round tub to receive broodstock water and possible babies.

Lights went out, and it was time to wait.  All pumps were turned off through an extended feed timer on my Apex Lite (which would ensure they’d all come back on in the event that I somehow forgot about them and went to be).  I did have to unplug the battery backup on the Vortech…can’t have babies going through that pump either.  I’d check every once in a while, and initially got excited around 12:20 AM when I saw movement in the beam of the flashlight – until I realized it was copepods swimming around.

Many more checks turned up nothing, and I was starting to wonder if I had jumped the gun.  Multiple plans of “what next” rolled around in my head, but they all disappeared at 1:23 AM on June 28th, 2012.

That is not a copepod.  If you can’t really see it, maybe this one will help:

The moment that first baby clownfish showed up, I pulled the tile under almost complete darkness, moving it downstairs in a bucket with a lid and 5 gallons of water from the broodstock tank.  I set it up for artificial hatching, and assumed that come morning, I’d see hundreds of clownfish swimming around.  That was the hope…

June 28th, 2012

So much for hatching overnight.  There was ONE baby in the tub.  Terrific (<-sarcasm).  1 is better than none, so in the interest of keeping the one alive, I was forced to tinge the water green with a very light treatment of RotiGreen Nano, and a very small addition of rotifers (lest the baby starve).

The worst fear is that I had somehow killed the eggs in the move or prevented the hatch, which would have generally killed the eggs overnight.  There was only one way to find out.  I took a quick look at the tile.

And here’s what I saw…

They look perfectly fine.  And what a great opportunity, thanks to the advent of digital photography and Photoshop, to get a headcount.

That’s roughly 310 eggs (each color group represents me counting to 50, with the scattered red dots representing the last 10 I counted).  It’s not an exact headcount, but gives a great approximate number of eggs.  Hardly the spawn of several thousand that some Maroon Clownfish are known to put down, but I’ll take it all the same.  So very carefully, this tile went back into the black round tub…

…So long as the eggs didn’t die, there was still hope.  The rest of the tension filled day was spent fighting the urge to recheck the tile for dead eggs.  Come nightfall, I stuck with the photoperiod that the eggs had been used to, and turned the lights out in the basement a little early so that things were basically pitch black by 12:15 AM on June 29th.  Just after 1:00 AM, a quick check with the flashlight caused me to announce to the world, “Ladies and Gentleman; we’re rearing Lightning Maroon Larvae.

June 29th, 2012.

With only hours before my departure to Boston, I had to get things set up right.  As the night progessed into the wee hours of morning (that we normally still call “night”), I fired up the lights, and checked the tile:

No stragglers – that means a 100% hatch.  That means 300-ish baby maroon clownfish.  300 chances to see something really fantastic down the line.  So long as we don’t botch rearing them!

Mike Doty, a fellow aquarist who happens to live 4 blocks away from me, had been over late (or early if you want to get technical) to see how things were set up and to know where everthing was…well that and to share a beer, toasting this milestone. Mike would be completely in charge of rearing the larvae in my absence.

 

While I got my share of incredulous inquiries about that, I actually had more confidence in Mike than myself; Mike had taken a pair of extra Maroons from me, spawned and reared a couple batches, so he was perfectly qualified in my book (I’ve done clowns, but never maroons before).  We got the larval tub set up with greenwater and rotifers, and in the early afternoon I embarked on my all-day trek to Boston.

 

 July 1st, 2012

I returned home from Boston in the afternoon, anxious to see how things had gone.  Mike had kept me updated via texts during my absence and things sounded good.  The main message I got from Mike was that my three rotifer cultures had failed to keep up with demand, and he had actually depleted his as well.  I wondered, would we wind up losing this batch to starvation?!

July 2nd, 2012

I’m indeed burning through rotifers, but the cultures seemed to rebound and were producing enough for the moment.  The rotifers in the BRT were also clearing out phytoplankton pretty frequently.

Mike and I had set up a drip for the tub using a spare brine shrimp hatchery and a micro ball valve from Julian Sprung’s Two Little Fishies.  Not only is the drip good for top off, but also for introducing foods (phytoplankton) and ammonia control (CloramX) slowly.

Seeing that there were still many babies (some losses, but still many viable larvae), I took a photo for you all; your first look at what *Could be* a larval Lighting Maroon Clownfish, roughly 4 days old.

 July 5th, 2012

Things have gone well, as I’ve slowly doubled the larval rearing volume to 10 gallons, keeping a watchful eye on the ammonia alert badge as I continue to feed 4-5 gallons worth of rotifers into the tub per day.  With the warm basement temperatures (normally in the upper 60′s to lower 70′s, but lately 78F), the rotifer cultures are now roaring; I’m forced to feed them twice daily at a rate of 30 drops of RotiGrow Plus (and 30 drops CloramX).

I’ve done a couple pre-feeding rotifer enrichments with Super Selcon as well, just to keep the DHA levels up. However, today, now just before 7 days old, we reach another step in the rearing process.  Today it was decided the larvae were finally ready to feed on APBreed’s TDO, size A.  And after the second feeding, it was fair to say they are indeed consuming it.

So now we sit and wait.  Any day now, we will catch the first glimpses of stripes as these larval Maroon Clownfish go through metamorphosis and settle out into juveniles.  Most likely, I suspect that even if we have fish that will one day show the “Lightning” phenotype, we won’t see it at this stage in their development.  But at this time, it is anyone’s guess.  If you’re a betting man or woman, it’s time to place your wagers.  Our first glimpse at the possibilities are just around the corner.

There has been a lot going on – the Lightning Maroon actually came down with yet ANOTHER recurrent bacterial infection, we removed the Butterflyfish from the tank, I started treatments with Maracyn & Maracyn II back on Sunday night which restored the Lightning’s appetite and appears to have fought back the problem.  All the while they have been tending their nest.

So will the eggs hatch tonight?  I wasn’t planning for a hatch so-soon, but looking at the fact that the eggs showed eyes yesterday and are looking pretty silvery tonight, I’m seriously wondering.  It’s up in the air…clownfish hatch times can vary between pairs even if all other items remain the same.  That said, here’s a quick rundown of data scrubbed from the MBI (Marine Breeding Initiative Database) by simply viewing the “hatch” reports for Premnas biaculeatushttp://www.mbisite.org/Search.aspx?Species=17

83F = 6 days
28C (82.4F) = 8 days
81F = 5 days
30C (86F) = 5 days
78-80F = 7 days
78F = 8 days
79-80F = 6 days

So what does this all mean?  Well, the above data set is still pretty small, but it suggests that I could had a hatch as early as yesterday.   Other than the one odd 8 day one at 28C, the rest paint a pretty convincing picture of “higher temps” = “shorter incubation times”.  With the lovely data logging capabilities of my Apex Lite controller, I was able to log in and see that my temperatures have ranged pretty consistently between 79.5 and 81.2 – that all points to a high probability of a hatch tonight.  I’m not sure whether I will pull the tile, or wait to see the first hatchlings in the tank and THEN pull the tile.  Tough deciisons to make.

I’m off to prepare.

 

Ruling things out.

4 comments

Another quick followup – last night I set to ruling out one possible cause – a disrupted nitrogen cycle.  In looking at the tank, I honestly had no reason to suspect any actual problems, except of course this recurrent cloudy / infected eye issue occurring with both fish now.  One possible cause however, could certainly be the presence of elevated levels of ammonia or nitrite.  This could easily be explained by the 2 recent rounds of treatment with Maracyn & Maracyn II in the tank.  Part of me would’ve been very happy to find either, because it would give me a likely cause to latch onto and deal with.

Of course, ammonia and nitrite tests both came up with nothing; both tests showed 0 ppm, or basically undetectable levels.  I still decided to dose the aquarium with a full treatment utilizing Dr. Tim’s Nitrifying Bacteria; I had a lot leftover from the initial setup of tanks for Banggai Rescue.  The thought process is this; we may simply be looking at “negative” bacteria levels being elevated, and possibly we can “push out” or displace these bacteria with more “friendly” strains and types that are beneficial to the system.  There is no doubt that the tank HAD to have been compromised in some capacity during the anti-bacterial treatments; in every respect I see no downside to trying this.  I had been thinking about it for a while but honestly can’t remember if I did it or not prior, but I’m able to go on and definitely say I treated the tank with this product last night.  I should also mention that I used this product with perceived good results for Banggai Rescue’s tanks; I can honestly say that I did not confirm the existence of a single tank out of 12+ going through a cycle.  In other words, this product appears to fully make good on its claims to instantly cycle and establish a new tank.  While the price tag is far more than other competing products, there does seem to be a genuine difference (whether that difference justifies the increased price, and whether this works better than competing products like Seachem’s Stability  is certainly something I cannot say without actual scientific testing).  Overall, I’ve come to learn that Dr. Tim’s has an excellent reputation in talking with some other aquarists whose opinions I trust, and those unofficial endorsements and other experiences seem to bolster my own.

As of this morning, the eye is still cloudy…

Popeye Update

1 comment

Just a quick update as I’ve simply not had time to take pictures, nor get the permissions I’ve asked for.  In a nutshell, once again, we *may* have adverted a crisis.  I’ve been consulting a fish vet for the past few days, and for lack of a better way of explaining it, there are lots of things a vet would want to do to a fish in this condition that aren’t practical.  Not practical in so much as the vet I’ve been talking with is 3 hours away, and can’t be here on site to see the fish even if I could afford to compensate the vet for the trip and time combined.  The other practical issue is one of risk and probabilities; netting a fish with an infected eye is never a good idea, and as I learned, a swab of the eye would likely yield no pathogens anyways as the causative agent is probably largely internal.  Plus, if there is an ongoing infection of the eye itself, I could easily see a swab somehow popping the eye and well, making matters worse.  In the end, it is my opinion that while consulting with a vet made for a very good sounding board and gave me some new things to consider, without the direct interaction, there was little if anything different the vet would’ve had me do.  Plus, considering I was seeing some improvements as we were consulting, it’s difficult for any doctor to suggest a change if what’s being done outwardly appears to be working.  I get that, 100%.  And on the topic of prevention – minimize stress, maximize good water quality. No surprise, I’ve been doing that for years.  So I think none of us have even a guess as to why this is happening, which means that every hypothesis we’ve put forth could be valid.

So yesterday (Tuesday) was the last dose in the 5 day course of Maracyn and Maracyn II, which I ran only weeks prior for the mouth rot.  I’ve been feeding the Dr. G’s food daily; I’ve made this judgement call to feed at twice the package’s recommendation based on several things, but perhaps most importantly that the Lightning Maroon isn’t an aggressive feeder (never really has been) and thus, it’s difficult to get this fish to eat as much as  you might think it should within a 1-minute time window (as prescribed by the food’s directions).  Still, it’s important to note that this food introduces both Metronidozole and Kanamycin to the mix, and it is again reef safe as far as I can tell.

The downside here is that the Lightning Maroon’s interest in food was diminished today, so getting a fish to eat the medicated food is obviously a problem.  The pair however, has been cleaning like crazy…for all I know the pair could wind up spawning (my female Percula often has a diminished appetite in the day or tow prior to a spawn).

The actual eye – much improved and it would seem that there isn’t any vision loss.  There is still some tissue bulging out around the eye however, which made me reluctant to stop the treatment with Erythromycin and Monocycline (active ingredients of Maracyn and Maracyn II).  I’m trusting the vet on this one.

Here’s the real worry, and sadly this does make some sense.  Mycobacteriosus.  Both the female Maroon I first had so many problems with, and then the Morse-Code Maroon, basically shared similar afflictions (pop eye and mouth rot respectively) that I have encountered in none of my other marine fish.  Yes, that’s it.  NEVER.  I cannot recall ever having popeye in another marine fish here, and certainly not mouth rot.  So why would 3 out of 6 PNG Maroons be the only fish in my entire household to ever wind up with these diseases?  Well, it’s much more understandable if we view this as a pathogen that they were all exposed to before they came to me.  We know that Mycobacterium can lay dormant in fish for a long time, which could also explain why the Lightning Maroon has gone this long without issues.  If it IS Mycobacterium behind the external and recurring symptoms I’m seeing, well, that could be *it* for the Lightning Maroon no matter what I do.  It’s a very harsh theory to even consider, and even more alarming given that the theory happens to explain a whole heck of a lot of the issues I’d had, let alone also possibly explaining why these problems are isolated to a small group of fish from one species from one location, where half of them have had semi-common symptoms.

For now, please just send all those positive vibes.  The tank got a 10 gallon water change today, and hopefully the Lightning Maroon remains on the road to recovery.  Let’s get several more good years with her if we can.

I believe I shot these Sunday AM.

 

It is now Monday AM, and honestly, things are improving.  The appetite of the Lightning Maroon remains strong, which I’ve used to ensure that it continues to feed on the Dr. G’s antibacterial formula.  I should preface this by saying that the Lightning Maroon has always been a timid feeder, so food generally has to flow right by its face / into its territory for it to feed.  So I’m definitely not following the Dr. G. feeding protocol (as much as they can eat in one minute, every other day).

In talking with the man behind Dr. G’s feeds, the feeds are set up to roughly deliver a “minimum effective dose”.  In the case of the anti-parasite Dr. G. formulation (which is laced with Chloroquin Posphate), you can quadruple the feeding regime (twice per day vs. once every other day) and have no ill-effects on the fish (although the Dr. doesn’t recommend that).  Knowing how most every antibiotic is normally delivered, it honestly doesn’t make sense to dose every-other day via feed, so I’m going to feed the food once per day to maintain antibiotic levels.  It’s worth mentioning that the active ingredients in the Dr. G formula are Kanamycin and Metronidozole.

All in all, this means that I have no less than 4 antibiotics running around.  I’ve been talking with two fish vets who I’ll refrain from naming for the time being.  One has of course, expressed concern over the “shotgun” approach, understandably so.  For me, I’m thinking that the repeat of the Maracyn & Maracyn II are probably of little efficacy, but they were what I had on hand to immediately address the problem.  Still, I am more likely to credit the Dr. G’s as the moment, if only because positive progress only started being made once it was introduced to the regime starting on Saturday evening.  Still, it could be the other medications.

The main goal here is twofold – #1. effectively cure this latest round of garbage.  #2. figure out WHY it’s happening soas to prevent it.  As of Monday AM, the eye looks better (less white stuff), so maybe we will get through this latest bout again.  But I’m fully wondering what the heck is causing the fish to break down repeatedly.  Mechanical damage? Food?

Or could we even be looking at an old-age, immuno-compromized fish?  Afterall, they DON’T live forever, they are NOT immortal.  Could it simply be that the Lightning Maroon is an older fish, nearing it’s time, and all my drastic measures are simply staving off the inevitable?  I hope not.

Despite all this, the male is cleaning the tile like crazy.

 

I’ve spent all day at a frag swap doing fundraising for our local club, and I come home to see that the antibiotics do not appear to have made any progress at preventing the advancement of this latest round of problems.  I took photos, which I will post later, as I am simply exhausted, but the status update is quite simple – I would fully expect that the left eye will be a loss.  It is far too diseased.  Despite this, the Lightning Maroon is still eating, and was given Antibiotic-laced food I have here from Dr. G’s.

I must admit, logically thinking this through, it should come as no surprise that the antibiotics I have on hand do not appear to be doing anything…because anything that was succeptible was probably killed off in the last round.  So the question goes…do I move the fish and try a different antibiotic, or do I draw the line in the sand here.  Perhaps the most frustrating part in all of this is that in times like these, I find myself “playing veterinarian”, and yet I’m hardly qualified.  And yet, I’m also not sure that an actual trained fish vet could do any better?

It also bears mentioning that this is eirely similar to the eye infection that ultimately took out the original female PNG Maroon.  “Why I’m running through the gamut of fatal disease issues I first encountered with other wild maroons from PNG some 2 years in?”, is a very frustrating question to even be asking right now.

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.