Trying to save Firefish

ariellemermaid

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 21, 2020
Messages
149
Reaction score
72
Location
North Carolina
I’m hoping someone can give us some guidance on what to do with a ? sick firefish. He’s generally been doing great until the last couple of weeks. Normal behavior is free swimming when the lights are on and tucking against a rock on the bottom at night. Lately though we’ve noticed the following symptoms:

  • He spends the whole day on the bottom, sometimes in his sleeping spot, sometimes just out in the open on the sand.
  • He can swim and has been eating some, but whenever he swims up he immediately starts to sink unless exerting effort to stay up. That said, he has no issues staying right side up whether swimming or on the bottom.
  • After we added crabs (coincidence or not) we noticed his tail fin appears split in two. It doesn’t look frayed per se, but there’s a definite split. No white spots or crustiness to it.
  • Generally, he looks great. Good color, smooth coat, no defects/white spots/discoloration, no gasping or fast breathing. All other fish are acting normally, and we haven’t lost any inverts.
Background- first time reefers. 36g DT, 2x 20g quarantine tanks. No ammonia or nitrite, nitrate somewhere 0-20 (have the hardest time reading the API kit), 35ppt. Weekly ~33% water changes (it takes that much just to get all the detritus off the sand). Well cycled tank. All fish quarantined 30+ days with 30 full days of copper, inverts quarantined 76 days and just recently added (firefish was spending most of his time on the bottom just before adding the crabs/snails/cleaner shrimp but we didn’t look closely at the tail fin before adding them). Live stock: 2 paired clowns, bicolor blenny, firefish, clown goby, transparent cave goby, snails/crabs/cleaner shrimp. Firefish is the biggest followed by the blenny and clowns; generally, all fish are pretty small.

So, where do we go from here? Keep good conditions and hope he recovers? Transfer back to QT/HT and treat for something- but what (fin rot? Bladder disease?)? Thanks in advance!

IMG_0775.jpeg
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

Jay Hemdal

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
5,464
Reaction score
5,090
Location
Dundee
Hi, Welcome to Reef2Reef!

Can you try to get a picture under white light instead of blue? I can see the notch in the fin, but not much else detail-wise.

What food are you feeding, and do you think it is eating enough to keep going? It isn't spitting any food back out is it?

Kudos on the comprehensive quarantine process by the way!

Jay
 
OP
ariellemermaid

ariellemermaid

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 21, 2020
Messages
149
Reaction score
72
Location
North Carolina
Hi, Welcome to Reef2Reef!

Can you try to get a picture under white light instead of blue? I can see the notch in the fin, but not much else detail-wise.

What food are you feeding, and do you think it is eating enough to keep going? It isn't spitting any food back out is it?

Kudos on the comprehensive quarantine process by the way!

Jay

Yeah not so great with the photography just yet but I’ll try to get something better when he comes out again.

We’ve recently added an auto feeder with pellets. It’s possible he hasn’t been getting enough nutrition but also probably wishful thinking that it’s the cause of the problem especially with the fin issue. He’s the biggest thing in the tank but very timid. At least he’s still eating! We’ll be feeding reef frenzy frozen this week. He didn’t eat it today though.
 
OP
ariellemermaid

ariellemermaid

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 21, 2020
Messages
149
Reaction score
72
Location
North Carolina
He came out to eat today, more photos. So, what do we do? Move to QT? Treat for what? Or, is it just a good idea to get him away from the crabs for now?

I will add, it looks like he’s lost fin in just the few days between the original photo and the new photos.

2DB789B8-3C0F-4B5E-B2B6-61A143CD5515.jpeg
DC50E652-6C92-4219-8F49-17323501936E.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Jay Hemdal

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
5,464
Reaction score
5,090
Location
Dundee
Yes - it looked like more of the fin was missing between the last picture an this one. It is also a little skinny. I'm surprised that he didn't go after the frozen food, I really would have thought he would take that better than pellets.

At this point I wonder if it would be better to move it back to the QT and treat with a broad spectrum, gram negative antibiotic. Neomycin would be one suggestion (Neoplex). If that isn't available, you could try Maracyn 2, it is probably easier to find in pet stores.

Jay
 
Maxout
OP
ariellemermaid

ariellemermaid

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 21, 2020
Messages
149
Reaction score
72
Location
North Carolina
Just to give an update... Yesterday he started heavy breathing and gasping. He survived through the night and still had a little spunk today and was at least somewhat interested in frenzy so we’re hopeful. We managed to catch him today and transferred to QT with an air stone and Neoplex dosed according to the package.

Whether he lives or not, what’s our next DT step? No corals are glued yet and the crabs, snails, and cleaner shrimp could probably be removed so we could technically treat the tank with something carbon removable. On the flip side, if we assume fin rot, it appears it’s caused by bacteria normally found around fish so is eradication even attainable? All other fish look good right now.

Suffice it to say we’re a little disappointed going through fish quarantine/ich treatment and 76 day invert/coral treatment just to end up with a different disease threatening the tank. We’ve also had issues keeping corals alive between crab attacks and light overexposure, so not feeling a whole lot of success at the moment.

As an aside, why on earth don’t big box stores (Petco) sell real fish medication? Mine only carries herbal non-pharmaceutical stuff. I had to drive an hour to a large trailer store half specializing in snakes and tarantulas.
 

Jay Hemdal

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
5,464
Reaction score
5,090
Location
Dundee
I know, the "pet store" is in a sad state of affairs in many areas. My nearest small store is 45 minutes away.

The trouble with antibiotics is that they are pretty slow to work, and the gasping of the fish now makes me think it is pretty serious.

I would not treat your DT. There isn't any definitive thing to treat for. I would let it lay fallow with no fish as you plan your next steps. Assuming you follow a good quarantine protocol again, tacking a couple of weeks of observation to the end of it would leave your DT fishless for a decent amount of time, and you should be good to add the new fish then,.

Jay
 
OP
ariellemermaid

ariellemermaid

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 21, 2020
Messages
149
Reaction score
72
Location
North Carolina
To be clear, it would be impossible to get all the fish out of the tank. Some of the smaller fish especially like the clown goby almost never come out and swim like lightning. So it’s either remove the inverts and treat the tank, or wait and see for the rest of the fish if they develop symptoms.

Since moving to QT Firefish started bobbling side to side even just laying down on his side. Looking dead. However he’s been at that stage for more than 24 hours now and still kicks up. Thoughts on adding a second anaerobic antibiotic/protozoan? I have metroplex on hand. It’s all probably a lost cause but I don’t want to take an action to make things worse (and wipe out my bio filter if he’s just going to die anyway). Also using prime for now just in case.
 

Jay Hemdal

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
5,464
Reaction score
5,090
Location
Dundee
OK, so the DT still has fish in it, I think the advice still holds - don't treat it unless the fish show treatable symptoms.

The rapid breathing on the firefish is the issue - normally, that is a symptom of protozoan or fluke infection. It can also be a symptom of advanced bacterial infection, and that was the direction I was going, because it came after the tail damage.

Metroplex would be one option, but it isn't the best drug for protozoans and won't do anything for flukes. However, you have it on hand, so you can treat quickly, and that is very important. I would go ahead and dose it.

One other option - give the firefish a 5 minute FW dip and look at the bottom of the dip container for flukes. The dip may kill it in its weakened state, but that means it would have died soon anyway. If the dip gives it some relief and you see flukes, then you know to treat with praziquantel. If the dip provides some relief but you don't see flukes, then you can lean towards a protozoan disease and treat with copper.

If the fish dies, and it is found fairly fresh, give the body a 10 minute FW dip and look for flukes - as a diagnostic tool for the fish in your DT.

Good luck!

Jay
 
OP
ariellemermaid

ariellemermaid

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 21, 2020
Messages
149
Reaction score
72
Location
North Carolina
After mostly laying on his side for the past 24-48 hours, sometime during the night Firefish went off to the big reef in the sky. Post mortem FW dip didn’t reveal anything fluke-wise going off of what Humblefish says that should look like. He continued to have rapid fin loss, picture below. Otherwise his body/gills/head/mouth look pretty good. Can I get maybe a top 3 list of likely diagnoses (aside from death)? Thanks for the help Jay!

A3F01598-B577-4610-8EC2-0B94C3AE1FF2.jpeg
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

Jay Hemdal

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
5,464
Reaction score
5,090
Location
Dundee
Sorry! The fin damage sure seems like an acute bacterial infection. If you just showed me a picture of this fish with no background information I would say it was beaten up by another fish...
This isn’t flukes or protozoans.

Jay
 

BIG TANKS VERSUS SMALLER TANKS...WHICH DO YOU PREFER?

  • BIGGER

    Votes: 630 75.8%
  • smaller

    Votes: 157 18.9%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 44 5.3%

Online statistics

Members online
754
Guests online
3,286
Total visitors
4,040
Buckeye
Top