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.