How to tell if fish is dying of old age?

DracoKat

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I've had my magnificant foxface for a over 4 years. he was of a good size when I got him, so I assume he was at least a year old when I got him, I see they live 5-7 years according to google.

Now he's getting skinny, but still eats and very active. I can't imagine it being a parasite for I have not added any new fish or livestock or coral in over a year now.

How can I tell if they're dying of old age?
 
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mattzang

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5-7 years seems like a really short time for a big fish like a foxface. lots of people have kept those for 10+ years

it could be internal parasites or something. or just not getting enough to eat
 

vetteguy53081

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I would look at overall water quality (ammonia-nitrate-salinity-ph), it’s poop (normal or white and stringy), diet (turning nose at food/no interest in food) and condition of gills (inflamed /red/flukes)
 
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DracoKat

DracoKat

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his color looks great. No redness in gills or anything- eyes look clear too. The only physical thing I can see is he's thinner than usual

Water testing I will have to do, but as of last weekend all was good (Can't remember numbers on top of my head)

He's eating like a pig, both pellets and frozen foods.

I haven't seen him poop to determine what color or what it looks like, it's difficult.

All my other fish is fat and happy as well
 

Paul B

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How to tell if a marine creature is dying of old age.
(I posted this a few years ago but your foxface should live a lot longer than that)

We as aquarists try very hard to keep our animals living as long as possible for a few reasons. Yes, we are caring people and don't want to see them hurt. And, yes, they cost us a lot of money, how much money depends a little on us. If we buy a purple tang for $100.00 and it lives for ten days, then that fish cost us $10.00 a day to enjoy so I would say that is an expensive fish. But if that same fish lives ten years, then that fish only cost us maybe 3 cents a day (I didn't do the math, but you get my point) So then, it is a very cheap fish.

We should all try to keep our fish long enough so that they die from nothing except old age. If our fish keep getting sick, we are doing something wrong as our fish should "never" get sick except for the occasional headache or upset stomach.

Most medium sized ornamental aquarium fish live for about 12-15 years as that is their natural lifespan. That is a general statement because some fish such as clowns live well into their 20s. Smaller fish such as clown gobies, small bleenies, pipefish and seahorses may live for 5 or 6 years and some tangs will live into their 20s and groupers may reach 50. These are generalizations as different fish have different lifespans and many of them do not reach their life span in captivity. I do feel that most fish in a tank can live longer than their wild counterparts just due to the fact that they don't have enemies in our tanks and no one is trying to catch them with huge nets where they will be sold for food.

A fish is an animal that can only look forward to a peaceful death if it is in a very good aquarist tank. Virtually all wild fish die by being eaten alive or suffocating on the deck of a ship.

How do we know if a fish is dying of old age? Actually it is relatively easy. First of all the fish should be full grown. That is easy. Next we should have an idea how long that type of fish would normally live. I gave some examples above. A fish that has lived to the full extent of it's lifetime displays symptoms that are easy to spot. I had many fish die of old age and they all do it about the same. About the last couple of weeks of it's life, it will start to slow down but not exhibit any signs of disease. They will not be the first one to feed any more and may not even try very hard to eat. In a few days, they will stop eating and may rest in a corner. Eventually other fish will pester them and take nips at them. At first, they will try to get away or bite back. Right near the end, they will stop fighting back and their fins will become torn, They may get some spots as their immune system is no longer functioning, they will then get very lethargic and we will find them dead in the morning.

There is nothing we could have done for such a fish except pat ourselves on the back for allowing such a beautiful creature to exist for as long as possible.

We don't have to worry about that for corals as they are immortal. Yes, corals live forever, sort of like politicians. The actual coral polyp is not immortal, but the colony is. Each coral colony is composed of numerous polyps and as new polyps are born, they settle on top of older polyps and in that way, make the colony larger. Entire coral colonys do die because if they didn't, the world would be full of corals. Colonies die from typhoons. I am not sure why storms in the southern hemisphere are called typhoons and storms in the northern hemisphere are hurricanes. I would imagine the guy who makes these names up had some free time, I don't know. But either way, typhoons can destroy corals quite easily. I have been in the South Pacific in some typhoons and I am surprised anything lives. I have seen brain corals the size of my car, up side down and elkhorn corals almost the size of my house broken into little pieces. I saw numerous, very large sea fans hundreds of yards up on the side of mountains. Besides the turbulence from the storm, huge quantities of dirt from Islands run into the water covering corals for miles out to sea. These storms kill some corals but they allow others that were shaded from the larger corals to prosper. This is life and has always been that way.
 

JPM San Diego

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I would try to increase the variety of foods in your Fox Face's diet. And, be sure to be providing seaweed.
I recall a butterfly fish I had many years ago that chowed down more than anything else in the tank. Yet, it kept getting thinner and thinner. Of course, an internal parasite could have been the cause. However, no other fish is the tank was ill or showing signs of ill effects. I suspected there was some key nutrient missing in the butterfly's diet that caused him to starve despite his prodigious appetite. Had I increased the variety of foods I might have stumbled upon what he needed.
 

face

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You could never tell. Probably no fish has ever died of “old age” in an aquarium it will succumb to some sort of disease or pathogen. But then again there really is no such thing as “dying of old age” lol since age cannot kill.
 

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