Seemingly Random Fish Death - Help Me Understand What Happened?

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mjszos

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Not entirely sure where to post this, but trying to wrap my head around what has happened.

I had an oscelleris clown that I've had for 7 months pass away seemingly at random. I fed my tank this morning, everyone ate. I checked on the tank before I’d left around 2-3pm, when I’d got home I didn’t peek in but I went by the tank later and I noticed a clown on its way out (around 12am) I’ve inspected it and I do not see anything unusual - no ich, no damaged fins, not bloated, etc. It was laying on its side on top of my rock right underneath my hammer coral.

As the clown was passing, I picked it up in a net and kept it away as I saw my cleaner shrimp picking at it. While in the net, I was inspecting it... Not rapidly breathing, just going limp. I decided to offer it a "last meal" of it's favorite - frozen mysis... and it ate while in a net near the surface. I eventually put it in the freezer to put it down as humanely as possible after doing some research online (no clove oil on hand).

I have another clown in the tank, a six line wrasse, cleaner shrimp and various CUC (hermits & snails).

Did a parameter test, everything seems fine there as well...

NH3 - 0ppm
NO2 - 0ppm
NO3 - 0-5ppm

Salinity: 1.025
Temp: 77° F

No recent additions to the tank aside from some coral a couple of weeks ago... But these came from the same LFS that all my livestock has come from, and I use their water for my weekly changes. As far as I am aware, I do not have anything that could harm any of my fish (LPS, mushrooms, and softy tank).

Immediately after the fish passed I did a small water change, but I'm trying to wrap my head around what may have happened here.

Not sure if there's any additional info I can provide, but happy to if it clears anything up.
 
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mjszos

mjszos

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May I ask why you put it down if it was eating?

I'm really sorry for your loss, though.

It was really struggling. When it was out of the net, it would just sink to the bottom and stay there. I fed, then observed for about 1-1.5hours to make sure. Anytime it would sink, the cleaner and hermits would start moving in.

It may not have been the perfect decision, but my heart tells me it would have been a more humane death than being eaten alive.

edit: after further research, it appears the freezer wasn’t the most humane move. I will be purchasing some clove oil in the event this happens again (though I sincerely hope not). I couldn’t bring myself to do it physically, so thought it would be the best alternative.
 

davidcalgary29

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I understand. I've never heard of a moribund fish eating, but I've seen fish exhibit some truly strange behaviour.

I don't think that there will be any way to know what killed that fish unless you are able to do a necropsy on it. Or, at the very least, take a microscopic view of some scale scrapings to look for ectoparasites. I wouldn't know what to do for the former, and don't have the equipment for the latter, so it's not something to undertake lightly.

I do suggest that you make your own water, though. All matter of nasty things can come into your tank through someone else's water, and there's no way of knowing if what you buy is freshly made...and not water that's been circulating in some other build. I've certainly read enough horror stories on this site to believe that something like that could happen.
 

reefz

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I had a big healthy foxface that I had for a year, and last week It died for no apperent reason. All my peramiters were in check and all the other fish were healthy. I still have not figured out why he passed. This might be one of those situations, and there was no apparent cause. The clown might have had an internal parasite with no visual problems, who knows. These things happen in our hobby, things will just die. I'd keep an eye on your other fish, and feed more then you normally do.

Im very sorry for your loss.
 
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mjszos

mjszos

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Welcome from Chicago(suburbs)!

I understand. I've never heard of a moribund fish eating, but I've seen fish exhibit some truly strange behaviour.

I don't think that there will be any way to know what killed that fish unless you are able to do a necropsy on it. Or, at the very least, take a microscopic view of some scale scrapings to look for ectoparasites. I wouldn't know what to do for the former, and don't have the equipment for the latter, so it's not something to undertake lightly.

I do suggest that you make your own water, though. All matter of nasty things can come into your tank through someone else's water, and there's no way of knowing if what you buy is freshly made...and not water that's been circulating in some other build. I've certainly read enough horror stories on this site to believe that something like that could happen.

Sorry, I was quite tired when I'd posted this initially. They have a mix that they make using Red Sea Coral Pro salt. I've never had any issues with them, and I tend to trust. Unfortunately, I have no way of making my own - I rent and we don't have the space for an RODI or mixing setup (I could squeeze it in... but happy wife, happy life... the reef tank stuff takes up enough space despite it being a small tank)

I had a big healthy foxface that I had for a year, and last week It died for no apperent reason. All my peramiters were in check and all the other fish were healthy. I still have not figured out why he passed. This might be one of those situations, and there was no apparent cause. The clown might have had an internal parasite with no visual problems, who knows. These things happen in our hobby, things will just die. I'd keep an eye on your other fish, and feed more then you normally do.

Im very sorry for your loss.

Sorry to hear about your loss. It's a sad part of the hobby.

I had random deaths for years until I finally discovered chloramine was getting through my RO filter.

I'll have to pick up a test kit and see if the RO water I'm getting has chloramine in it. I live in Chicago so I know the city does treat its water with chlorine.

__

I do greatly appreciate everyones kind words. Unfortunately, it seems this may be an unanswered question. 8-9 hours later, the rest of the tank seems to be doing okay. I'll just have to monitor closely and likely do a couple extra water changes just in case.

I don't name my fish, however I may give this one an honorary name. I'm going to see Dead & Company tonight - the orange clown will forever live on as Jerry Garcia. An absolute legend taken too early.
 
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