Fish going pale & dying

bigbadwolf

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One of my regular clients has been having difficulty in her 55 gallon reef tank. She's a beginner but I've been helping her out and even going to her house and helping her. She's had a yellow tang and a coral beauty angel die recently (within the past month). Both fish were doing fine in my store tanks, but lost all their colour and died within a week of her taking them home. I checked her tank myself and can't find anything wrong. Temp at 78*F, 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite, 10 ppm nitrate, 8.4 pH, and specific gravity at 1.023. All of her other fish, corals, inverts, etc are doing great. I've never experienced a fish going totally pale and then dying, so I'm kind of at a loss here. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

melypr1985

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I think in this case it's important to know how your keeping the fish at the store. For example: in my store we have a Fish Only system that we run Coppersafe @ 2ppm and Prazipro every monday through.

Also, was there anything else on the fish before they died? Red patches, white spots, a dusty/dirty appearance, frayed or missing fins. The red patches are my biggest concern from first impressions. Any behavioral symptoms that she noticed? You may have to ask her specifically for these and see if she remembers. Flashing, scratching, breathing heavy or fast, hiding more than normal, swimming into the flow of a powerhead, swimming abnormally, lack of appetite- were they being picked on at all?
 

4FordFamily

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Sounds like velvet to me, ich is unlikely to kill that quickly and dwarf Angels turn lighter in color when affected by it in my experience. The fast death, fact that you use hyposalinity (which does nothing to combat velvet), etc point me to this as likely.

Recently velvet comes in on roughly 1/4 fish I've bought, especially angels and tangs. I hypothesize that the color loss is due to damage in the gills from velvet that starves the body of oxygen, etc.

I do know I've seen this on a dozen centropyge where velvet was the culprit. It doesn't need to show white dots or sand to be velvet some strains only impact the gills on some fish. I had his strain. One day fine, next day cryptic and hiding a little, next day not eating anymore and very cryptic, next day dead. Sometimes this would take only two days from first symptom to death.
 
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bigbadwolf

bigbadwolf

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Thanks for the quick responses. The tang was the first one. He came out of my reef system that I keep at 1.023-1.024. The angel, several weeks later, came out of my FOWLR system that I keep at 1.020-1.021. (I think I may start running copper safe in that one for good measure.) Both fish were in the store for 2+ weeks prior to purchase. Within 2 weeks of purchase, they each turned pale and died. No spots, no flashing, just wash out and die. I've never had any of my fish do that in all the years I've been in the business, that's why I'm stumped.
 

melypr1985

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Thanks for the quick responses. The tang was the first one. He came out of my reef system that I keep at 1.023-1.024. The angel, several weeks later, came out of my FOWLR system that I keep at 1.020-1.021. (I think I may start running copper safe in that one for good measure.) Both fish were in the store for 2+ weeks prior to purchase. Within 2 weeks of purchase, they each turned pale and died. No spots, no flashing, just wash out and die. I've never had any of my fish do that in all the years I've been in the business, that's why I'm stumped.

Hmm. I mean, 4ford is right that sometimes these fish don't show any recognizable signs of velvet before succumbing to it. There are little things they almost always do though that tip you off and he hit those on the head too. The hiding and not eating.... velvet makes them sensitive to light so they hide in the shadows. It's very possible that's what happened. If the fish came from the same vendor that would explain why two fish out of different systems died the same way. (might want to call them and see if they have had an issue with this at their facility as that could lend a few clues as well) Then there's her own problem now. If this is indeed velvet she will need to take out any fish that were in the same tank as the two that died, treat them in a QT, and leave the display they were in fallow for at least 6 weeks (76 days to cover everything including ick).

Monday morning quarter backing never works out well. We really like pictures and being able to ask about behaviors that the fish may be exhibiting to get down to a diagnosis. We can only speculate when it's after the fact. I'm really sorry we can't be of more help to you at this point, but if another comes down with it (whether at your store, or in her tank) get the best pictures yall can and watch for the behavioral symptoms. We should be able to help more at that point.
 

shollis2814

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Agree with what @melypr1985 said about armchair quarterbacking, but what other fish did she have in her tank? IME there can be some color loss and fading with stress from severe harassment, too.
 

Humblefish

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Both velvet & flukes can cause a fish's color to fade. A FW dip would confirm/rule out the presence of flukes. Even if done on a corpse.

Freshwater Dip: Provides temporary relief for Brooklynella, Flukes & "Black Ich", Marine Velvet disease (Amyloodinium); possibly even Ich & Uronema marinum (both unproven). Can be used to confirm the presence of Flukes.

How To Treat - Fill a bucket with RODI water, and use a heater to match the temperature to the water the fish is coming from. Aerate the water heavily for at least 30 minutes prior to doing the dip, then discontinue aeration while performing the dip. Fish aren’t overly pH sensitive for short durations like this, but you can squirt a little tank water into the dip just before the fish goes in to help bring it up.

Place the fish in the freshwater (FW) dip and observe closely. It is not unusual for them to freak out a little at first. Also, tangs are notorious for “playing dead” during a FW dip. The important thing is to watch their gills; they should be breathing heavily at all times during the dip. If breathing slows, it’s time to exit the dip. Dip the fish for no longer than 5 minutes. Multiple dips may be done, but it’s important to give your fish a day to recuperate in-between dips.

For flukes, use a dark (preferably black) bucket so you can see if tiny white worms fall out of the fish (especially out of the gills) at around the 3-4 minute mark. The worms will settle to the bottom, so you can use a flashlight to look for them there as well.

Pros - Provides temporary relief for a wide range of diseases in a chemical free environment. Can “buy you more time” until a proper treatment can be done.

Cons/Side Effects - Not a permanent “fix” for any disease, as FW dips are not potent enough to eradicate all of the parasites/worms afflicting the fish. Some fish can have an adverse reaction to a FW dip by appearing unable to maintain their equilibrium once returned to the aquarium. If this happens, hold the fish upright (using latex, nitrile or rubber gloves), and gently glide him through the water (to get saltwater flowing through the gills again). It is also a good idea to place the fish in an acclimation box until he appears “normal”.
 

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