Experimenting with in-tank antibiotic treatments for Brown Jelly Disease

yusufhadiwinata

New Member
View Badges
Joined
May 21, 2022
Messages
24
Reaction score
62
Location
indonesia, jakarta
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Pardon me if someone asking this same question

1. Are you suggest to add amoxicillin on main tank / display tank to thread cyano for example?
2. Is there any tips post medications action after threatment? Water change maybe? Active carbon?
 

reefer0404

New Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 14, 2023
Messages
3
Reaction score
2
Location
Chatham ontario
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Brown Jelly Disease (BJD) is an issue many reefers have run into. Like most coral diseases, the pathogen causing BJD has not been conclusively determined. Here I will share some observations and test results supporting the idea that its caused by a bacterial pathogen, and so may be treatable with antibiotics.

I'm sure this is not the first time someone's tried antibiotics against BJD, but I havent previously come across a DNA based study of the results. This is a preliminary investigation based on observations made on my home tanks spanning a few months. It is not conclusive, and is not intended to put the discussion to rest; far from it. It's just another piece of the puzzle as we figure out how to deal with this disease.

Overall my finding suggest that:
  • Infection with a specific bacterium in the genus Arcobacter contributes to BJD.
  • This infection can be safely treated in the aquarium with low doses of a commonly used aquarium antibiotic.
  • This treatment doesn't appear to damage the microbial community, but may actually improve it.
Here is the story, including the single case study so far of a tank treated in this way.

A Specific Bacterium Associated with Brown Jelly Disease
Over the last 6 months I've seen several cases where newly imported Euphyllia developed Brown Jelly Disease shortly after I received them. It had all the signs of an infectious disease. A newly imported colony would dissolve in BJD, and several other frags Euphyllia in the tank would also develop BJD if I didn't remove the affected corals quickly enough.

These corals aren't cheap, so my instinct was initially to try to save them (with no success) rather than conduct experiments. But after losing a few Euphyllia from different orders and suppliers my curiosity got the better of me. So the next two corals that developed early signs of BJD (a Hammer Coral E. ancora, and a Grape Coral E. cristata), I let it develop. Once they were in full-blown BJD, I sacrificed and sampled them.

Both of these samples were dominated by a single type, an unclassified bacterium in the genus Arcobacter. To clarify what I mean by that: this is a type that has been seen before, it's a perfect match to a sequence record in public DNA sequence databases. But, like so many microbes found in environmental samples, the species has not been formally described and named.

BJD pies.jpg


Identifying it to the genus can be pretty useful, though. The genus Arcobacter includes several known pathogens of humans and other animals, including A. butzleri, which is a food-borne pathogen that presents a serious risk to human health. When you sequence samples of two different diseased corals, and find them both dominated by a genus known to contain pathogens, it's worth noting.

It also gives us a good guess at the likely physical description and lifestyle. These are rod-shaped to helical, non-spore forming, and swim in a corkscrew motion using their single flagellum. These occur in association with animals, and also free living in waste water, seawater, and other aquatic habitats.

This information can also be useful in developing treatment strategies, since the members of a Bacterial genus often share characteristic sensitivities to the same antibiotics. We'll get to that.

Infecting a Euphyllia Garden with BJD
Who would intentionally do such a thing?? Not me.

What happened was this. I continued to buy Euphyllia, a fraction of them continued to develop BJD, and I was experimenting with short antibiotic dips. (This approach never yielded much success for me, but there is more work to be done on that front. )

Then one batch of especially nice corals started to BJD within 24 hours after arrival, and I panicked. I decided my Frag Tank must have the BJD pathogen, and I needed to get them out of it. I triaged the new corals, sacrificing the worst cases and transferring a couple that I thought were clean into a different tank... my Euphyllia Display Tank.

This was not my smartest move ever. They were so pretty, I acted irrationally :(

Next thing you know, both of the new Euphyllia and 4 of my existing Euphyllia in the tank were showing early signs of stress. They all showed oddly deflated tentacles that were not fully extended, and I could the beginnings of some of the characteristic Brown Jelly stuff on the two new corals. I removed these plaguebearers, pretty though they were, from the tank.

So I sampled the water at this point... after introducing the new corals, at the earliest signs of stress. What I found: exactly the same bug (Acrobacter sp., sv1103) at unusually high levels. I found 92 sequences matching this perfectly, representing >1% of the total community. (These were never found in biofilm samples, this analysis is based only on water samples)
1607381633378.png

Treating BJD with antibiotics, in the aquarium
What to do? I could remove all the Euphyllia and try a dip, but I hadn't been having much success with dips. So I looked at the tank and realized, the only corals I cared about in this tank were the Euphyllia. Fish are easy to move to another tank if something goes wrong, I have plenty of tanks running with room for a fish or two.

So I decided to take the plunge and treat my whole tank with the antibiotic. Although it's often repeated on the internet that adding antibiotics to your tank will kill the good bacteria, I hadn't seen any evidence of that.

Meanwhile I had evidence an Arcobacter species was associated with BJD, published reports of the antibiotic sensitivity of these bugs, and a tank full of Euphyllia on the verge of succumbing to BJD. So I dosed the tank.

I chose Ciprofloxacin because it is effective at the lowest doses, reasoning that in this way, I could minimize collateral damage. I based this decision on this study because it had a nice comparison of dosage trials for a wide range of antibiotic; I saw several other studies that also supported the use of Ciprofloxacin to treat Arcobacter infections.

I used Ciprofloxacin at 0.125 mg / L. To achieve this I dissolved a 500 mg pill in 50 ml of RODI water, producing a 10 mg / ml solution (which I subsequently stored in the fridge). The aquarium system has 70 gal volume altogether (~265 L), so I added 3.3 ml of this solution to achieve 0.125 mg / L. I repeated this dose every 2 days for 3 doses altogether.

Within 24 hours of the first dose, all of the affected corals showed signs of improvement. Their tentacles inflated again, although the remained not full extended. Within 48 hours they were fully extended and looked perfectly healthy again.

A few days after the final dose, I sampled the aquarium again. Like samples taken from the same aquarium a month prior to introducing the diseased Euphyllia, Arcobacter sp. (sv1103) was again not detected. Introducing the diseased animals introduced the bacterium, and the antibiotic treatment appears to have knocked their populations down substantially.
1607384512881.png

I should emphasize that since there are no controls, or photographs, for the effects of this treatment on the corals it's entirely possible they simply got better on their own. We can have a little more confidence in the effects of the treatment on the Arcobacter themselves, though. Here we have a measurement of the effect, although not replicated in multiple tanks.

In a future experiment I will address both issues -- this was an experimental trial born of desperation.

But doesn't that kill the good bacteria too?
This is of course a reasonable concern. There's a wide range of views on how to achieve the right microbial community, and how much the various parts of the community even matter. But I think few experienced reefers would say the bacterial community doesnt matter at all. So it makes sense to be cautious about adding antibiotics to the tank and potentially killing off whatever parts of the community you think are important.

But of course the dose makes the poison, and remember that I chose this antibiotic specifically because it was effective against this genus at the lowest dosage of any antibiotics tested.

The system has a moderate bioload with 4 fish in a 40 gallon DT with 30 gallons of sump volume, along with a bunch of corals. There is no algal refugium or macroalgae. So if the nitrifying community were to die, I would expect to see an explosion in nutrients and algal growth. This didnt happen. (I confess, I didnt measure nutrients this time around. I base this conclusion on the lack of algal growth that would be fueled by a rise in nutrients)

More directly, I compared the aquarium microbiome before and after the treatment. Here's a table summarizing the major stats we look at in comparing aquarium microbial communities:
T-1 month
(before BJD)
T+1 day
(during BJD)
T+10 days
(after treatment)
Diversity Score (percentile)552 (91st)438 (69th)532 (87th)
Balance Score (percentile)0.5 (76th)0.18 (50th)0.51 (83rd)
Ammonia-oxidizing microbes (%)Present (5.5%)Present (2.3%)Present (0.9%)
Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (%)Present (0.08%)Not detectedPresent (0.05%)

Did the treatment damage the microbial community? Not at all. If it had any effect at all, it was to restore the community to its previous state by selectively knocking out a few susceptible bacteria.

If all a person cares about is the nitrifying community, that was not removed. There was a slight decrease in AOM while NOB were restored from undetectable to a more typical level.

If a person is interested in the microbial functions of the community more broadly, the summary statistics of Diversity and Balance scores were also improved by the treatment rather than harmed. The introduction of diseased corals lowered both scores, and the antibiotic treatment increased both scores.

This point about the broader microbial community can be illustrated most easily with a barplot showing the community over time. In these plots, each color represents a different microbial family.

cipro community barplot.jpg

The figure shows that the microbial community was fairly typical before BJD, became atypical during BJD, and was restored to something like its previous state following the antibiotic treatment.

A skeptical reader may point out that since there are no replicates here, we can't be confident attributing the changes to the treatment. It could be coincidence. Perhaps the corals recovered on their own and the microbial community resumed its previous structure after a transient disturbance caused by adding diseased corals. Based on my previous efforts to save Euphyllia with BJD I find this a little unlikely, but certainly not impossible.

Ultimately that objection would be correct and in the future I will do a properly replicated experiment to test this. What I've shown here is a just hypothesis with some preliminary evidence supporting it.

How Common is this Bacterium in Saltwater Aquaria?
In a set of 148 aquariums I've sampled (this is not the entire database, its the "high quality" database made up of normal, healthy tanks with good sequencing coverage), Arcobacter sp. sv1103 is not detectable in a majority of tanks.
1607389031773.png

We can express this same idea a few different ways. For the majority oftanks, this sequence was not detected at all (80%). For nearly all tanks (95%), this bacterium was absent or extremely rare (<0.00006%).

This context makes the comparison with my BJD infected tank even more stark. That 1.2% is huge in comparison with the typical levels observed across a large number of aquaria.


Summary

Based on what I've reported here, I hypothesize that infections with Arcobacter sp. (sv 1103) contribute to Brown Jelly Disease in LPS corals, and that these infections can be safely and effectively treated in the aquarium with low doses of Ciprofloxacin. Depending on the results of further tests, this could be a useful tool for the hobbyist community in the fight against BJD.

Important disclaimer: if anyone reading this feels inspired to treat their own tank, I specifically take no responsibility for the results. This is an experimental treatment, and if you run experiments on your own tank you take all the responsibility for the results.

But I know some of you, like me, enjoy running experiments on your own tanks. Many of us have a bottle of Cipro sitting around. And anybody who keeps Euphyllia is likely to encounter BJD at some point. Anybody want to test this? I'll throw in the microbiome testing before and after if so...

Thanks for reading and may your tanks stay free of Brown Jelly!


[unless you're the kind of person inclined to run experiments with antibiotics on your tanks, so you can help me duplicate this :) ]
Looking to do this test, do you still want to test samples of the water?
 

shakacuz

7500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 7, 2021
Messages
8,031
Reaction score
31,032
Location
Emmaus, PA, USA
Rating - 100%
4   0   0
I am currently keeping og bounce and have a few that I have been told by others that have a bacterial infection. On the ones effected they show a decrease in size of the body and bubbles. The tell tale sign is the bubbles take on a neon coloration. They will eventually loose almost all their coloration and become almost translucent. What is the thought here. I have had a few of my torches die of brown jelly several months ago if that might be a connection. Any suggestions? Full tank cipro treatment?
thanks
Jeff
i’m on the same boat as you. i just noticed my OG losing color and size. i have an SPS dominant mixed reef. CSBTA, RFA’s, some LPS, mushrooms/zoa’s. definitely do not want to lose the OG since it’s the only one i have.. about a nickel sized

edit: have you done anything else while you wait to figure out how to go about the cipro?
 
Last edited:

Aqua fire/medic

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
1,850
Reaction score
133
Location
Swfl
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
For those that are still using Cipro, where are you guys finding it, I’ve read through this whole thread…… every link to purchase is dead….. and google search turns up nothing. Help please.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
29,155
Reaction score
23,375
Location
tejas
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
while reef sages were teaching readers to self diagnose + self administer unprescribed antibiotics for a number of maladies, who was working on options that selected for the strong organisms? can I see a seventeen page thread of that line of work where people from the postverse applied a set action in their tank to control brown jelly, or RTN like in this excellent article:


watching reef crack run out now leaves readers scrambling for a fill in, and the organisms in the tank exposed over and over to cipro are now orders weaker without it

where was that advice>it's free. why weren't readers told this warning on page one
 
Last edited:

JCOLE

Grower of the Small Polyps
View Badges
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
4,065
Reaction score
10,979
Location
Charlotte, NC
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
while reef sages were teaching readers to self diagnose + self administer unprescribed antibiotics for a number of maladies, who was working on options that selected for the strong organisms? can I see a seventeen page thread of that line of work where people from the postverse applied a set action in their tank to control brown jelly, or RTN like in this excellent article:


watching reef crack run out now leaves readers scrambling for a fill in, and the organisms in the tank exposed over and over to cipro are now orders weaker without it

where was that advice>it's free. why weren't readers told this warning on page one

How would you manage a tank wide bacterial pathogen without an antibiotic? Especially in a larger aquarium?
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
29,155
Reaction score
23,375
Location
tejas
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Immediate removal of specimen from the system and treatments in a holding or qt tank, nobody should ever ever ever apply antibiotics of any type to non infected substrates/ whole systems as it brings down the immunity of the entire system to partially-suppressed pathogens over time and especially upon cessation.

Aquabiomics should be the one to answer that with a seventeen page work thread.

Even the use of cipro was slightly more legitimate when it was in holding systems and not applied to the entire reef where 99% was not under attack (although everyone guessed at the amount, never matched it to a target organism whatsoever, and never completed any matched course for the med and the target)

Nobody knows what fixes bjd yet, this method here was not sustainable and was simply reefers ignoring all tenets about unregulated antibiotic application because they could, pill mills were a dime a dozen and now they’re dried up. Whatever the treatment turns out to be, it shouldn’t be in the display.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
29,155
Reaction score
23,375
Location
tejas
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
For sure we should just randomly insert the entire spectrum of antibiotics at our disposal that’s awesome. Heck we don’t even need the specific ones an m.d. prescribes for actual medical conditions, just invent a course and dosage amount and shift to any powder we can get, after all if it’s an antibiotic it must be good for our reefs and more is always better, of any class drug. What a terrible thread for our hobby.

Eli and other writers did this. I expect a macna talk now or a Ted talk on how common reefers should be exempt from all known rules regarding at-home guesstimations of antibiotics meant for human medical use. The risks apply to all other fields, just not reefers who can click order anything they want to use on a whim.


I’m shocked people buy anything Eli sells, just shocked.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
29,155
Reaction score
23,375
Location
tejas
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Nobody who advocated cipro use ever took the time to plate out samples and actually match any drug to the charted course from the observations of the isolated and prepped swab. They didn’t have to do that diligence, unlimited online supply was the workaround. And now that the dealers are running dry, the addicts have no where to turn but for other drugs unmatched and still in supply. That’ll dwindle soon enough, and square one is where this entire thread will be.

And bjd is now less controllable in given setups than before this thread started. These actions harmed the hobby, this thread harmed the hobby, it wasn’t just a neutral impact.

I’m sure the next round will involve getting the water tested though by AB $

Perhaps lps that are associated with this malady shouldn’t be bought and put into a display without lengthy observational quarantine? This business of antibiotics addiction was in place of basic disease control, everything here is a trained shortcut (this is what the masses want) and detrimental to the hobby.

I’d also like to ask Mike P from reefbuilders if he’s got any non cipro ideas for controlling RTN. Going off his pro cipro article, he doesn’t seem to.
 
Last edited:

JCOLE

Grower of the Small Polyps
View Badges
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
4,065
Reaction score
10,979
Location
Charlotte, NC
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Immediate removal of specimen from the system and treatments in a holding or qt tank, nobody should ever ever ever apply antibiotics of any type to non infected substrates/ whole systems as it brings down the immunity of the entire system to partially-suppressed pathogens over time and especially upon cessation.

Aquabiomics should be the one to answer that with a seventeen page work thread.

Even the use of cipro was slightly more legitimate when it was in holding systems and not applied to the entire reef where 99% was not under attack (although everyone guessed at the amount, never matched it to a target organism whatsoever, and never completed any matched course for the med and the target)

Nobody knows what fixes bjd yet, this method here was not sustainable and was simply reefers ignoring all tenets about unregulated antibiotic application because they could, pill mills were a dime a dozen and now they’re dried up. Whatever the treatment turns out to be, it shouldn’t be in the display.

How do you remove the specimen when the entire tank is infected? I am not talking about BJD. I am talking about a bacterial coral pathogen that is coated on every surface area of the tank.

Removing the affected coral, treating(if possible), and then putting it back into a tank with the existing infection is not a good plan.
 

Pistondog

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 28, 2020
Messages
5,110
Reaction score
9,275
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
How would you manage a tank wide bacterial pathogen without an antibiotic? Especially in a larger aquarium?
I think we the hobby is largely ignorant of the causes of disturbing the bacteria 'balance' in our tanks, and on our corals.
Examples:
1. Additives (amino acids) encourage bacteria growth
2. Carbon dosing encourages bacteria growth
3. Phyto dosing may be carbon dosing in disguise and encourage bacteria growth
4. Adding bottles of bacteria, are these good or bad?
5. Others?

I think these contribute to a bacteria imbalance that may tilt the scales in favor of the pathogens.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
29,155
Reaction score
23,375
Location
tejas
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Who agrees the whole tank is infected with a matched pathogen to cipro? Reefers? Lab techs? People who sell DNA test kits for money?

Who among us was qualified as the diagnostician

Eli had 0% ability to use his for cost dna testing to indicate antibiotic use, what kind, duration of course. Nobody in the entire hobby did any type of matching work or medical analysis at all in this matter. They just clicked and dumped.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
29,155
Reaction score
23,375
Location
tejas
Rating - 0%
0   0   0


should he dose cipro?

how do we choose when we dose it, and when we don't? with an AB paid test?
 

JCOLE

Grower of the Small Polyps
View Badges
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
4,065
Reaction score
10,979
Location
Charlotte, NC
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
I think we the hobby is largely ignorant of the causes of disturbing the bacteria 'balance' in our tanks, and on our corals.
Examples:
1. Additives (amino acids) encourage bacteria growth
2. Carbon dosing encourages bacteria growth
3. Phyto dosing may be carbon dosing in disguise and encourage bacteria growth
4. Adding bottles of bacteria, are these good or bad?
5. Others?

I think these contribute to a bacteria imbalance that may tilt the scales in favor of the pathogens.

I agree. There are many things that we do that can introduce bad bacteria and pathogens. One of the many way's these happen and are often overlooked is through snails. Most do not quarantine CUC properly and when introduced to a system, they could bring a whole host of issues.

Another issue, I think, that is leading to these outbreaks lately is all of the chop shops that have popped up over the last 5 or so years. We are passing around these pathogens like a 70's swinger party!

Regardless of how they are introduced, the question is: how are they eliminated without an antibiotic?
 

JCOLE

Grower of the Small Polyps
View Badges
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
4,065
Reaction score
10,979
Location
Charlotte, NC
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Who agrees the whole tank is infected with a matched pathogen to cipro? Reefers? Lab techs? People who sell DNA test kits for money?

Who among us was qualified as the diagnostician

Eli had 0% ability to use his for cost dna testing to indicate antibiotic use, what kind, duration of course. Nobody in the entire hobby did any type of matching work or medical analysis at all in this matter. They just clicked and dumped.

I do. I had first hand experience with a system wide pathogen and the only way I turned my corals around was by dosing an antibiotic. I sent off a sample to Eli before I treated and the results showed that I did not have any pathogens such as Arcobacter, SCTLD, Vibrio, etc. The report suggested I did not have any issues. However, what I did find was a high percentage of Oceanospirillaceae. I did some research of my own and found a paper on white band disease in Acropora associated with Oceanospirillaceae bacteria. The pictures of those corals were exactly how my corals looked.

Aquabiomics never gave me a treatment, never sold me anything, or even suggested Cipro. I sent in a sample, received results, and conducted my own research. After speaking with many experienced and qualified people on this, I came up with a dosing schedule and dosed my tank with Cipro. Within two weeks, all of my pieces started looking better.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
29,155
Reaction score
23,375
Location
tejas
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
no tank I'll ever manage will need it, whether in person or remote management. you might get ten backpats from those who might cheat but don't think that's required, or ever needed given tighter reefing controls such as not buying corals and implanting them right into the display. I'm going on eighteen years growing sps in a fishbowl...no stn, no rtn, surely large tankers can pull it off in a hundred times the gallonage without becoming dependent on cheats they can no longer buy>

we control tissue loss challenges in sps by modulating the light power and frequency and adjusting water change rates, that gets us cures. yours may indeed respond like ours do several times on cipro, but you're doing great harm to your nontargets by exposing them to a med they don't need.

our method strengthens reef tanks, to have flushout events and simple light tuning. no resistant strains of pathogens are selected in heavy water export design + turning the lights down low a few weeks.

if this was being done in a qt, before they went into the display, that could be claimed as better control.

but not the nontarget substrates, there are specific reasons you don't want those exposed to low level guesstimate stuff I bought off the internet antibiotics

now there aren't any available for tinkering, or at least soon that will be the case. that's why the method is also bad.

there are physical means of reefing that prevent the need for this cheat which can no longer be had, and now we watch forced evolution occur. the strong reefs and methods will be selected for vs against.
 
Last edited:

Seafood exploration: Do you feed any unusual items to your fish or corals?

  • I regularly feed unusual items.

    Votes: 6 4.3%
  • I occasionally feed unusual items.

    Votes: 19 13.5%
  • I have fed unusual items in the past.

    Votes: 14 9.9%
  • I stick with feeding standard items.

    Votes: 101 71.6%
  • Other.

    Votes: 1 0.7%
Back
Top