Unknown Neurological Wrasse Disease (UNWD)

Jay Hemdal

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Unknown Neurological Wrasse disease (UNWD)

There is a disease that afflicts newly acquired wrasses, usually Cirrhilabrus fairy wrasses or flasher wrasses, Pseudocheilinus, but occasionally other species as well. The gross visual symptoms are always the same; the fish shows a rapid onset of neurological symptoms where it either cannot swim well, swims tail down or swims with a bent spine. The other key symptom is that despite this, these wrasses will still attempt to feed. Most aquarists attribute the symptoms to some sort of an injury, such as running into the side of the tank. The trouble with that diagnosis is that these fish do not show external damage (bumped snouts, etc.) that would be expected from such an injury. Other hypothesis include barotrauma from deep water collection, or the use of cyanide to collect these fish. The trouble with these possible causes is that symptoms in other types of fish are known, and are different; emaciation in cyanide collection and swim bladder issues in cases of barotrauma. Mycobacterium has also been implicated, but that issue is more often present in long term captive fish, not newly acquired ones as in these instances.

Eventually, the affected fish becomes weaker and either needs to be euthanized, or dies spontaneously. To date, there is no known cure and the mortality rate seems to be 100%. All that can be said is that it is an unknown peripheral neurological disease. It does not seem to be highly contagious from wrasse to wrasse. The causative agent is possibly viral, but could also be nerve damage from nematodes or from microsporidians. Since the fish still tries to feed, it is unlikely the brain is affected, more likely only the spinal column or muscle nerves.
 
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nereefpat

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Thanks, Jay. I'll link this thread when appropriate.

Some discussion and questions:

1. It seems to present like certain cases of meningitis. I'm not sure there would be a good way to definitively call it that (I think, in medicine, they still have to perform a spinal tap).

2. This seems to be a fairly recent development, or at least it's more common than it used to be. Maybe wrasses, especially fairies and flashers, are more popular than they used to be. Maybe collection has changed in some way. Or maybe there is a communicable viral or bacterial disease running rampant through the wholesalers?

3. For me, I do still think that injury is sometimes a cause. I don't think it's appropriate to keep sand dwelling wrasses in tanks without sand, for example. Mine can hit the deck hard and fast when startled or when it's time for bed. And fairies and flashers are infamous jumpers. They can hit a glass lid hard enough to hear. A person can hop off a tailgate and hurt their back pretty badly without showing any damage to their feet, at the risk of sounding argumentative :) .
 

A Young reefer

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I have recently heard about the EU restricting wrasse shipments from the Philippines, only accept wrasses from Indonesia and Australia. Due to a disease called Viral Hemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS). After further research I found out that there is a version that effects the nervous system. Is this related to this disease?
From Wikipedia:
07E076DB-D821-4B14-9AB5-63C067A97E87.jpeg
 
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Jay Hemdal

Jay Hemdal

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Thanks, Jay. I'll link this thread when appropriate.

Some discussion and questions:

1. It seems to present like certain cases of meningitis. I'm not sure there would be a good way to definitively call it that (I think, in medicine, they still have to perform a spinal tap).

2. This seems to be a fairly recent development, or at least it's more common than it used to be. Maybe wrasses, especially fairies and flashers, are more popular than they used to be. Maybe collection has changed in some way. Or maybe there is a communicable viral or bacterial disease running rampant through the wholesalers?

3. For me, I do still think that injury is sometimes a cause. I don't think it's appropriate to keep sand dwelling wrasses in tanks without sand, for example. Mine can hit the deck hard and fast when startled or when it's time for bed. And fairies and flashers are infamous jumpers. They can hit a glass lid hard enough to hear. A person can hop off a tailgate and hurt their back pretty badly without showing any damage to their feet, at the risk of sounding argumentative :) .

1) Yes - but the fish still have a feeding response, so I wonder how severely the brain is actually involved? Sending a fish out for Histopathology would give us more info, but that costs $500 or so. I've asked the public aquarium community to send out any cases that they can.

2) It does seem to be more common, but I saw a case about 6 years ago. Uronema is also becoming more common recently - possibly issues with supply chains.

3) I still cannot reconcile the injury idea with no external signs of that. 30 years ago, a wholesaler designed some holding tanks with 3" clear acrylic baffles protruding inside every couple of feet along 8 foot long tanks. The idea was to make it easier to net out the fish, and not have to chase them long distances. Trouble is - the fish would smack into the barriers with their snouts! His fish had all sorts for bunged up faces. He had to change his tanks a few weeks after getting fish. Also, all different manner of fish were affected, in these cases, it is only flasher and fairy wrasses, with a couple of other wrasses involved (Leopards mostly). Why don't we see it in larger wrasse species, tang, parrotfish?

Jay
 
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Jay Hemdal

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I have recently heard about the EU restricting wrasse shipments from the Philippines, only accept wrasses from Indonesia and Australia. Due to a disease called Viral Hemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS). After further research I found out that there is a version that effects the nervous system. Is this related to this disease?
From Wikipedia:
07E076DB-D821-4B14-9AB5-63C067A97E87.jpeg


Yes - one of my strong suspicions is that it is a viral disease. It could be related to VHS, or it could be another type of virus.

Jay
 

jlyall90

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@Jay Hemdal I recently acquired a Rosey Scales Fairy Wrasse about 9 days ago.
Does this look like this UNWD? Fish was pretty normal the first 3-4 days then now it just spirals out of control upside down and arched. Like it has no control of swimming. no obvious external bumps/gashes or bruising etc. Also eats like a champ. But has a hard time catching the food with current. I have linked a youtube video that was recorded about 30 min before this post. I plan on removing it from the DT into a QT with less flow.

Possibe UNWD (Youtube)
 
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Jay Hemdal

Jay Hemdal

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Jay, would you consider this an example?

At first it just looked like a nervous fish, but then it did that head up spin….that looks like it could be, sorry.

Jay
 

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At first it just looked like a nervous fish, but then it did that head up spin….that looks like it could be, sorry.

Jay
This was a bit ago. The fish passed a day later. The head up only got worse.
 
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@Jay Hemdal I recently acquired a Rosey Scales Fairy Wrasse about 9 days ago.
Does this look like this UNWD? Fish was pretty normal the first 3-4 days then now it just spirals out of control upside down and arched. Like it has no control of swimming. no obvious external bumps/gashes or bruising etc. Also eats like a champ. But has a hard time catching the food with current. I have linked a youtube video that was recorded about 30 min before this post. I plan on removing it from the DT into a QT with less flow.

Possibe UNWD (Youtube)
Jay, would you consider this an example?

Any ideas what countries these fish were sourced from?
 
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Jay Hemdal

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@Jay Hemdal I recently acquired a Rosey Scales Fairy Wrasse about 9 days ago.
Does this look like this UNWD? Fish was pretty normal the first 3-4 days then now it just spirals out of control upside down and arched. Like it has no control of swimming. no obvious external bumps/gashes or bruising etc. Also eats like a champ. But has a hard time catching the food with current. I have linked a youtube video that was recorded about 30 min before this post. I plan on removing it from the DT into a QT with less flow.

Possibe UNWD (Youtube)

Sorry - I just woke up. Yes, that is a classic case. Supportive care as you are planning is all that I can suggest to do.

Until we get one of these fish a full histopathology exam (that costs around $600) I'm afraid we aren't going to know what the cause of this is. I'm retired now, so I won't have the chance to send any of these out. What happened was for the past 10 years or so, I stopped ordering these types of wrasses (due to this and other issues). That meant though, that I didn't have any fresh samples to send out....

Jay
 
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Jay Hemdal

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Any ideas what countries these fish were sourced from?

I haven't seen enough cases to determine if there is a source issue. The ones I've seen came from the Philippines and Indonesia. I've pretty much ruled out cyanide collection as a cause though - the symptoms are different. Also, cyanide issues are waning a bit and this issue seems to be getting worse (like the Banggai cardinalfish virus did).

Jay
 
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I haven't seen enough cases to determine if there is a source issue. The ones I've seen came from the Philippines and Indonesia. I've pretty much ruled out cyanide collection as a cause though - the symptoms are different. Also, cyanide issues are waning a bit and this issue seems to be getting worse (like the Banggai cardinalfish virus did).

Jay
Reason I am asking was because I am curious to see if it goes along with the cause of the eu ban on importing wrasses from the Philippines. Just to see if it might actually be VHS.
 

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I haven't seen enough cases to determine if there is a source issue. The ones I've seen came from the Philippines and Indonesia. I've pretty much ruled out cyanide collection as a cause though - the symptoms are different. Also, cyanide issues are waning a bit and this issue seems to be getting worse (like the Banggai cardinalfish virus did).

Jay
Where can I read more about the banggai cardinal virus? There was a certain period of time where all imported specimens from Indonesia would suddenly die for no apparent reason at my lfs.
 
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Jay Hemdal

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Where can I read more about the banggai cardinal virus? There was a certain period of time where all imported specimens from Indonesia would suddenly die for no apparent reason at my lfs.

It was first identified in this paper:

They began looking for it due to the huge die offs that were being seen in the trade.

Jay
 

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Sorry - I just woke up. Yes, that is a classic case. Supportive care as you are planning is all that I can suggest to do.

Until we get one of these fish a full histopathology exam (that costs around $600) I'm afraid we aren't going to know what the cause of this is. I'm retired now, so I won't have the chance to send any of these out. What happened was for the past 10 years or so, I stopped ordering these types of wrasses (due to this and other issues). That meant though, that I didn't have any fresh samples to send out....

Jay

Dang , should I use any meds while in QT for supportive care?

If and when it passes , im willing to donate it for research if someone wants to send it out for a histopathology.
 
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