The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged Monocycline

Popeye Update

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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.


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 (  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?

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