Swallowtail Angel sick/dying. What else could I have done?


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May 30, 2021
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Naples, Florida
I am not new to fish-keeping. I have been keeping freshwater fish for ~60 years, though I have only started taking saltwater seriously within the last few.

Here is the situation:

11/09/21 - Two female Genicanthus melanospilus angelfish received, the smaller being 3.75" TL, the larger ~4.5" TL. For simplicity in note-taking, I refer to the larger fish as the "male" (hoping/expecting transition to actual male after settling into display tank), and the smaller one as the "female".

They were placed in a 14 gal BioCube QT for observation (~10 gal actual capacity), with an eggcrate divider between. The tank was bare except for a couple PVC tubes on each side for hiding. [Prior to setting up as QT, tank has been freshwater for the past few years.]

The "female" (now deceased) had a discolored spot (<1/2" dia.) on her left side (appeared to be an internal wound, suspected from needle-puncture air-bladder deflation), and was breathing heavily. "Male" seemed normal. No signs of ich or velvet on either fish.

11/11/21 - Second day after receipt, female was still breathing heavily, so the cause was not simply shipping and handling stress. Both fish were removed and placed into a pH-adjusted freshwater bath for 6 minutes in a dark-blue bucket (to reduce stress), then returned to QT.

After fish were removed, dip-water was swirled to collect any debris into center for inspection. Nothing was seen with flashlight. Bottom center area was removed with a pipette and examined under 30x magnification. Nothing was found; no evidence of flukes.

11/12/21 - Having allowed time for them to settle from FW dip ordeal, Coppersafe was dosed to label instructions. Hanna Copper HR tester was ordered.

11/13/21 - Female was now breathing normally, both fish were aggressively feeding on mysis shrimp. Unknown if FW dip or copper alleviated the problem.

11/15/21 - Copper level was checked with Hanna Copper HR tester (three days after dosing). Reading was 2.36 ppm.

Left pectoral fin of male was looking impacted, possibly from fin rot. Edges of main fins on female were also showing signs of possible fin rot. Discolored spot on female not any larger, but looking more reddish. Tank was dosed with Furan2.

11/17/21 - Copper level 2.33 ppm.

Wound-spot on female seemed to be clearing somewhat, pectoral fin on male showing damage, but looking much better. Edges of fins on female now looking more like lymphocystis.

11/22/21 - Copper level 2.31 ppm.

Female showing slight wiggling in swimming movement. Male acting normal, though both have stopped eating. They charge at food, but don't grab it. Female clearly affected by lymphocystis; male has a few nodules.

50% water change performed; w/c water pre-dosed with copper. Copper reading ~1 hour later 2.39 ppm.

11/24/21 - Odd swimming movement of female now more pronounced, beginning to look convincingly like swim-bladder issue. Male still acting normal, though neither are eating.

Feeling like I need to treat with PraziPro now, but didn't want to do so with copper present. Pulled fish, drained QT tank, scrubbed accessible areas, then filled tank with fresh water and bleached disinfected with bleach (strong; ~1cup bleach added). After running ~ 3 hours, tank was dismantled, scrubbed again, and rinsed well. New salt water was made, carefully adjusted to specific gravity (1.023) of original. Added AmQuel for ammonia management (and any possible residual chlorine). Dosed with PraziPro per label directions. Fish returned to QT.

11/25/21 - Male still acting normally. Female much worse. no longer any normalcy in swimming, constantly bobbing, clearly struggling. Breathing a bit more labored, but not near "rapid-breathing" level. 11 pm, female no longer swimming, just lying on bottom. Breathing still a bit labored, but again, not nearly rapid-breathing.

11/26/21 - 8:00 am, female is deceased. Male quite active.
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