Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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mothchick 01-31-2008 06:58 AM

Royal Gramma Dying?
Hi I'm new here. Just found the forum after some searching for advice. I have a 30Gal FOWLR. I have 2 chromis, 1 clown, 1 royal gramma, inverts and 2 brittle brown starfish. I've had my aquarium setup for almost 2 years. Most of my fish including the royal have been in place for 9+months.

My saltwater levels are at 1.23. I just did a water change 10 days ago. Last night I noticed that my royal gramma was acting very strange. Lying on his side. This morning it's more of the same. He was swimming vertically but not horizontally at all. I've attached a couple pics of him.

Just checked and he's found some shelter under one of the rocks. What can I do to save him?

bettababy 01-31-2008 10:28 PM

Can you please post test results for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and calcium? Without the test results its near impossible for anyone to do much to help you. We first have to know what is going on in the tank. This could be one of a few things, and water params will help me to figure out which so I know what treatment your fish will need.

JasonJer&Jim 04-05-2008 04:53 AM

Hi Mothchick, I am new to this forum too but am very too familiar with the disease your Royal Gramma has. I have three tangs that were dying from it. It is Head and Lateral Line disease, though I've never heard a gramma getting it. Notice that it eats away first around the head and then procedes back toward the tail. It happens to FOWLR tanks that have been up for awhile but don't have the metal halide lights on them (because it is a fish only tank). I learned the hard way - went and bought a lighting system with two 150 W metal halides, 4 Actinic blue and lunars. See, this is not for the fish themselves but to encourage the growth of live green algae that a lot of fish need to survive. Mine is a 120 gal tank and had a Coralife compact fluorescent on it. Not enough light to reach the bottom. Meanwile, if he is not too far gone feed him organic Romaine lettuce and you can add vitamins to the water with Vitamin C in it, which is most important. Thanks and good luck!

bettababy 04-05-2008 11:17 AM

Light does not cause lateral line disease, nor does lack of light. 9 times out of 10 it's a heavy nitrate level, and that usually tends to be long term.
That is the reason I asked for water parameters in this situation. Without water params for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and calcium, nobody can say for sure what's happening in that tank.

Also, when using additives of any sort, water should always be tested first to make sure those things are 1.) needed, 2.) not going to upset any balance in the tank, 3.) and to know what additives to use and not to use.

Again... without those water params... there isn't much anyone can do to help you. What I see in the photos may or may not be lateral line disease. It's not just the face that is showing loss of color, and it's difficult to tell from the photos if flesh is actually missing or not.

There are medications that could help if it turns out to be lateral line, but without knowing the water params nobody can do anything to suggest a safe med. Not all meds are safe under all conditions. Water params mean everything! This could just as easily be some other type of disease/parasite.... and even lack of calcium (or too much calcium) can cause health issues.

gymnothorax 04-05-2008 11:40 AM

There is no one specific cause of lateral line, but rather many different factors that contribute to the disease, it is mostly common in acanthurids, (a family of tangs) and is more often than not caused by poor diet and/or stray voltage running through the aquarium, providing a constant source of green algae for grazing, whether it's actually growing on rocks or givin to the fish in the form of nori, various calurpa algaes, gracillaria, or even supplementing with roman lettuce, zuccini, and other vegetation is the best preventative for the disease. I do not think this is what has happened to your gramma, as they are not commonly succeptable to lateral line. I agree with bettababy, without your water parameters we can't provide alot of guidance in your situation. If you can get those to us we'll do what we can to help : )

Pasfur 04-05-2008 06:17 PM

As to the comment relating lateral line erosion to the presence of lighting, i feel the need to beat a dead horse on this. Again, there is no evidence to support light or lack of light as a cause for lateral line erosion. In my 20+ years in this hobby, this is the first post or reference i have ever seen suggesting the 2 are related.

The picture does look like lateral line erosion, but pictures are deceiving and given the species, i would find it unlikely. Test results are always the first place to start.

Mark Lehr

JasonJer&Jim 04-05-2008 10:00 PM

Hi guys, sorry to stir up such controversy. Only meaning to help since I just dealt with this. I have been in the hobby, both fresh and salt for over 40 years. I am not saying that Head and Lateral Line Disease is caused or related in any way to lighting. However, it is what grows the green algae that many fish need to survive such as Tangs and Angels. I don't know if the Royal Gramma is also in this category but I have just brought back THREE Tangs to relative health who were surely dying from this disease by feeding them organic green lettuce and adding garlic and vitamins to the water or soak food in it. The extra lighting power helped the natural algae to grow in the tank so the Tangs can graze off the rocks now. It makes sense that the 3 Tangs were affected since they are mainly Herbivores . I also have a Marine Betta, Anteneta Lionfish, Red Headed Wrasse and a female Bird wrasse who were not affected. So, all I am saying is that certain fish need to graze on natural algae. In my case the tank is 120 gal and a Compact Fluorescent didn't get it. I still feed my tangs romaine lettuce because they like it so much. I don't know if the scars will ever go away - does anyone know? But they are acting like their normal selves now. [/b]

bettababy 04-05-2008 10:34 PM

I would just like to point out that it isn't just MH lighting that grows the green algae that tangs, angels, and others need to graze on. Any type of lighting can cause the green algae if other conditions are conducive to it. (wave length dependent) It is not the light alone that causes the algae to grow. Algae also needs nutrient levels. Tangs and other algae eating fish will generally eat many forms of algae. Caulerpa, a macro algae, is just as good of a food source for these animals. Phosphates and nitrates tend to be the biggest factors in algae growth, alongside of the light.

Power compact lighting, High output T5 lighting, VHO lighting, mercury vapor, all can work to grow green algaes in a 120. What kind of green algae are you referring to? Green hair algae grows quite easily with any of the above named lighting, will provide the same kind of food supply for tangs, angels, etc... There are hundreds of species of green algae that grow in a marine environment, and over 100 of those are common in marine aquariums. Most of those species of green algae are a good food supply for algae eating fish.

Pasfur 04-07-2008 07:44 PM

Jason - thanks for the clarification. Its real difficult sometimes in these forums, because you only have the readers attention for a few seconds and they take away exactly what they read. We certainly weren't intending to attack you in any way. We just wouldn't want the reader running to the pet shop to buy new lights to cure HTLE!

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