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Gooby the purple firefish's fluke journal (a benefits of quarantine story)

richiev

Supporting Member
As the first fish for my return to reefing I picked up a purple firefish locally a couple weeks back. Gooby the Goby. After purchase he seemed healthy. I had debated setting up a full, medicated, quarantine tank as part of getting into the hobby, but having not done honestly shut quarantine historically, without major issues, I was apprehensive.

I decided to take a middle ground and setup an observation tank, unmedicated, but cycled, and that's where Gooby went. I eventually noticed it seemed like he was breathing a bit hard, _gilling_, but he was eating and active so I figured it might just be purple firefish behavior or something.

At one point I'd thought I'd seen a white spot on him, but again it wasn't very obvious and he was acting healthy so I let it be. Weeks pass, and I was thinking of moving him to the main tank. That brings us to around Tuesday.

Tuesday evening, watching him, after feeding, I noticed at an angle it seemed like something was weird with his scales. Almost a pearlyness instead of matte white. I thought "uh oh" and started refreshing my knowledge on fish disease.

Wednesday morning, I look again and it's worse, and very visible. I took a handful of pics and video, in which it now looks extremely obvious, but I promise that's because I picked the perfect angle for this pic. In the second pic you can see this is effectively invisible.


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I then was rather distraught, but fed Gooby who ate voraciously. I thea started setting up a bucket of freshwater with a heater to prep for a freshwater dip. That again honestly is something I can't remember doing previously, but seemed like the right immediate response. I was really really hoping to see dead flatworms after doing this, and hoping this wasn't velvet.

As luck would have it, Gooby made it through the dip and I did see opaque flakes in that bottom of the bucket after. It's again hard to totally see, because I stirred up a bunch of debris trying to catch him, which made its way into the net and bucket, but there were quite a few little flatworm looking flakes in there.

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I still believe I saw some flukes attached after 5min, but I pulled him out and back into the isolation tank he went. He looked way better visually, and was swimming around the tank mostly normally.

I then called around to find some Prazipro. For reference, the club sponsor Neptune Aquatics carries it. I picked it up, did another feeding, followed by a water change, and dosed the Prazipro.

This morning Gooby looks like all the flukes are off, but still is visibly gill'ing. Not gasping, but definitely moving his gills. However, outside of hiding a bit more than normal, he seems good, and still is devouring frozen mysis.

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Hopefully now he just needs a bit of time to recover to get back to full health.

Moral of the story? Quarantine/isolation success! I'm glad I didn't just go straight to the main display. With flukes that wouldn't have been the end of the world, but if the was ich or velvet it would've put my setup another 2 months behind as I'd of either had to tear it all down and restart or go fallow.

Currently I'm setting up my 3rd tank... A 10 gallon with a hang on back, which I got free from a neighbor. That's going to be my true quarantine / hospital tank. I'm thinking fish go into the quarantine, then get transferred to the isolation, then the main tank. Corals into the isolation tank. Inverts TBD (depending on source).

Also, if anyone needs some Prazipro ever, happy to share.
 

richiev

Supporting Member
If anyone has suggestions on any other treatments I should do, please lmk. My plan is to do the second Prazipro dose, but beyond that let him recover. I'm not sure if in the meantime I should do any water temp or salinity changes to help with recovery. I'm reading a methylene blue treatment might be restorative, but it seems like the stress of doing more transfers between tanks isn't worth it.

It also is pretty difficult to find information that seems reputable on fishkeeping. Everything I read about dips, and particularly methylene blue reads like _essential oil_ levels of _research_. Figurative fish oil.
 

Chromis

Vice President
BOD
Unfortunately LFS pass on the task of QT the way IKEA passes on hours of assembly labor to the consumer. We should just expect every fish and coral from a LFS to be infected and need QT.

So… you did a good thing to QT! FWIW hyposalinity is the only guaranteed way to kill worms, as they can be resistant to Prazi. So if you are sticking with Prazi you should repeat it and observe the fish until you’re certain it’s totally clean. Keeping a fish in a small and simple QT makes it easier for the parasites to find their way back onto the fish, so QT actually helps amplify and bring out the parasite infection, and makes it easier to find the problem quicker.
 

richiev

Supporting Member
Regarding Prazipro resistance, I'd read about that. I believe that there still were some flukes attached after the freshwater dip. 24hrs later, post Prazipro, Gooby is totally clean looking.

Any thoughts as to if _some_ of a fluke infection could be Prazipro resistant if it appears at least some weren't?

I actually did today finish cleaning out the 10 gallon that's eventually going to become my office desk QT tank, but currently I'm leaving Gooby in place and will do the second Prazipro dose there and continue observation.

My next batch of fish I'll likely put in the QT tank, likely with copper since I bought that and the tester yesterday as well.

Updated Gooby pic:
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QT tank (without water or pvc/hiding):
PXL_20220113_225830540.jpg
 

JVU

President
BOD
I’m glad to see that unlike the large majority of fish disease experience this is headed in the direction of a happy ending. Fish diseases and what to do or not do about it are one of the worst and most stressful things about this hobby in my opinion.

I’ve moved almost entirely to just buying fish from reliable vendors who do real QT for you or from breeders who have their own incentives to keep everything healthy. In both cases they cost a bit more and it is totally worth it.

It seems to me that otherwise reputable retailers selling diseased fish is way worse of a problem now than it was several years ago. Obviously it isn’t a simple issue and I’m aware of the perverse incentives in the chain of custody and other issues that have been talked about before. But cutting through all that, as a customer the bottom line for me is that businesses selling fish that are likely to be diseased for whatever reason and possibly wipe out your tank is (or should be) unacceptable. The same way selling a pump that has a 25% chance of failing in the first month and sometimes frying everything else in your tank too would be unacceptable. I don’t know why we all put up with it as it gets worse and support it with our purchases then cover for them with our own QT systems.
 

richiev

Supporting Member
Not to be an apologist, but I feel like the really hard part is the massive amount of space required to fully QT all new fish at a store in this area. True QT would imply a huge sweet of tanks, with isolated filtration. Especially if you account for finding one sick fish in a system meaning you should reset the QT clock. I'm not sure if the space requirements would be double the current tank space shops have, but probably. You can pack them in tighter, but you need to keep so many _corpus_ separate from each other to do it right.

On top of that, there'd be a huge increase in employees required. Isolated tanks implies a lot of water changes and/or water testing, swapping out filter socks or foam pads, measuring copper, ... That'd be exacerbated by not being able to find any employees in post-covid times.

Hard problem. Seems like a middle ground would be shops separating low risk fish from high risk. Put all the captive bred, ORA, Sea and Reef, Kimmie's, ... stuff on one system, and all the wild caught, YOLO stuff on another. Maybe more go into copper, ignoring that's likely to mean a bunch of people end up dumping bags of copper water into their tank.
 

richiev

Supporting Member
48hr update: Gooby is doing well still. There's still some markings near his lower fin that I'm watching. They don't seem to be flukes, but I'm thinking maybe it's just some damage from the parasites that need to heal.

I also realized last night that I'd had some carbon in a bag in the filtration which I forgot about. So unfortunately I'd of been pulling the Prazipro out earlier that desired. However I don't see any active signs of flukes still, so that's at least promising.

He is still very slightly mouth breathing, but again I'm hoping that's an artifact of healing versus still actively infected.

I'll do the second Prazipro dose tomorrow, after a water change. I'm debating doing a second dip if he's still doing some mouth breathing, but I'll decide that tomorrow. If I go through the trouble of doing that, I might also just go ahead and transfer him to the QT that I'm setting up, with copper, but I haven't planned that out at this point.

Any thoughts? Should I dip? Should I transfer to copper? Should I do the second dose early, after a water change, because of the carbon? Should I leave well enough alone for a bit?
 

Chromis

Vice President
BOD
In my past career in wholesale marines, we had horriable issues with gill flukes. Freshwater dip is great, and we employed it, but our go to was: https://store.nationalfishpharm.com/items/view/603/metronidazole?return=/items/search/page:2
+1 on Metronidazole, also sold under Seachem brand Metroplex (often referred to as just “metro”)

Not to be an apologist, but I feel like the really hard part is the massive amount of space required to fully QT all new fish at a store in this area. True QT would imply a huge sweet of tanks, with isolated filtration.
I think it’s possible to do a pretty good job of QT by placing a batch of fish in one tank with hyposalinity (0.12ppt) plus metro, and let them stay for a few weeks. That would knock out flukes, black ich, marine velvet, ich, uronema, and maybe others to start, and the hyposalinity would help any wounds heal. If you wanted to also knock out Brooklynella you’d have to add 3x 45min formalin baths and put the fish in a clean QT tank after each dip, which is a bit of elbow grease I admit. The fish can all be in the same tank as long as the vendor isolates each shipment. So, you might need to get one shipment per month instead of once per week which would cause overlapping QT efforts.

Anyway it is extra effort, but if we ask LFS for better-treated fish, maybe then they will have a reason to stock fish from ORA, Biota, etc which could help drive tankbred or QT fish prices down.
 

richiev

Supporting Member
Riffing on what @Chromis said, another alternative is invert that to be about having the store quarantine for you, post-purchase, for either a fee or some sort of fee+credit setup. For instance, a store could have a set quarantine schedule of 3 weeks in QT. You could buy a fish, and opt-in to getting it put into the QT rotation for that week instead of taking it home. All the fish opted into that that week get put into a shared QT system and on Saturday that system is closed and it's run through a 3 week QT. Additionally if the QT tank hits its fish limit, it's also closed out early.

At any point in that 3 week QT, you're welcome to have your fish pulled out and take it home, but after the full 3 weeks you either need to pickup, re-pay, or forfeit the fish. If the fish dies during QT, you get a credit. If one fish in the tank dies from sickness, I'm not totally sure what you'd do.

In theory that'd keep the cost down, since it's likely few people would opt-in to that, and you'd have a fixed number of tanks to do it on (minimum being the number of weeks of QT + 1 systems dedicated to it). I'm still not sure that's practical, and the extra cost someone would need to pay would likely be high, but :shrug:. Maybe an idea for a shop to differentiate themselves (cc @anthonyvyeda). Also it gets even more impractical the longer you make that QT, but maybe there's a reasonable middle ground there.
 
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JVU

President
BOD
I’m sure these are all good ideas. Good ideas are wonderful. My point is really different though.

My point is that we should not be responsible for having to do complex and stressful QT for them to not kill our tank, or coming up with elaborate plans for them for how they could do QT. No more than we should be having to rebuild newly purchased DC motors in our garages we buy from them or coming up with elaborate engineering plans for how they could build their DC motors better and more reliably in a factory. My point is that we should not accept the current state of affairs where nearly everyone in the industry is knowingly selling fish that are fairly likely to be sick and damage the rest of our tank. It is crazy. The only reason people don’t see it as crazy is because we have slowly gotten used to it.

And I’m also not laying the blame only or even mainly on LFS, not at all. The people collecting and transporting the fish are mostly to blame, in the same way that this hypothetical manufacturer of pumps that will fail and take out your tank would be mostly to blame for that. It will cost more for reliably healthy fish to be the norm. That is ok. But labor is a lot less expensive in areas where they are collected. It costs more for reef hobby grade pumps than it does for cheapo motors that fail frequently. The added price, complexity, and daunting factor of selling healthy fish will also drop as it becomes the norm. It is hard to imagine a positive future for this hobby until this gets addressed.

If we demand it with our business, retailers will demand it, and it will happen. If we buy sick fish preferentially because they are cheaper, it will keep getting worse until the hobby gets regulated/restricted.
 

richiev

Supporting Member
Saturday update, I decided to do a water change and a second dose of Prazipro. I think I'm seeing small flukes on Gooby's face, and he's still gilling a bit. I'm hoping I'm either wrong, or at least they're not Prazipro resistant, and this is just the next cycle of them and exacerbated by having had the carbon running in the tank. I'll keep him isolated for the time being and if I'm still unsure I'll do a freshwater dip at some point this weekend to see if anything falls off.

If things fall off after a dip, I'll try metronidazole. @BAYMAC @Chromis any suggestion on metronidazole brands? I'm seeing API general cure showing up in a lot of guides, which seems to have metronidazole in it. I've got to run to the store shortly, so will just grab whichever I see unless I hear otherwise.
 

richiev

Supporting Member
I was just reading about cleaner shrimp more and TIL that peppermint shrimp act as cleaner shrimp. There's an informative paper titled Cleaner shrimp are a sustainable option to treat parasitic disease in farmed fish on nature.com. In it, they list peppermint shrimp as extremely effective against ich and effective at flukes at night.

This is extremely interesting to me because it just so happened there's a really interesting correlation with peppermint shrimp and these flukes becoming highly visible. I had bought a peppermint shrimp at approximately the same time as Gooby (within 24hrs). I bought it as part of a clean up crew, because one of my kids picked it out. It seemed to be doing well, and even made it through a molt a bit later.

Then one day I found it stuck in my mp10. I'm not sure if the shrimp died and then got sucked in, or moving the mp10 near a corner created a high flow situation and it got stuck (I also was playing with flow rates). Regardless, it died.

It was that same day I noticed the first spots that made me question an infection, and 24hrs later when it was bad enough that I took those first pics in the thread and started treating.

I assumed what happened was something went wonky in my water, killed the shrimp, and also stressed the firefish out enough it wasn't fighting off the flukes anymore. The only thing I'd measured at the time was a slight touch of nitrites, likely due to some intentional overfeeding the day before.

However, now I'm wondering if the shrimp had been chowing down on flukes, mitigating the infection, and when it died that caused the flukes to shoot up.

I might get another peppermint tomorrow. Partially for my kids, partially to help mitigate things. I'll still track down some Metroplex and start that treatment regardless, since I want to end the infection not mitigate it.

Thoughts on any of this? Anyone using cleaner shrimp as part of an isolation/quarantine routine? It feels a lot better to me then dumping chemicals into a tank and then eventually down the drain into the water supply.
 

phc567

Supporting Member
If your aquarium is small. Your first thought is probably correct. I don’t think a peppermint shrimp can eat that much. I could be wrong.
From what I’ve read cleaner shrimp actually don’t eat ich. They are picking off the dead skin cells. Plus the ich is under the skin if I understand correctly.
 

richiev

Supporting Member
If your aquarium is small. Your first thought is probably correct. I don’t think a peppermint shrimp can eat that much. I could be wrong.
From what I’ve read cleaner shrimp actually don’t eat ich. They are picking off the dead skin cells. Plus the ich is under the skin if I understand correctly.
Regarding the last point, the paper covers both ich and flukes, and the cleaners were reducing populations of both. That also included reducing egg populations. From the summary at the start of the link/paper:

Cleaner shrimp are sustainable biocontrol candidates against parasites of farmed fish, with the peppermint cleaner shrimp reducing parasites by up to 98%.

For ich, the peppermint reduced adults (trophonts) by 37% and larva 98% at night.

Cryptocaryon irritans
All shrimp species reduced C. irritans [ich] trophonts on infected fish nocturnally only (Fig. 1b). Lysmata vittata [peppermint shrimp] reduced trophonts by ~31.7%...
vittata out-performed all other shrimp species, reducing the tomonts by ~69.4% diurnally ... and 97.9% nocturnally
Flukes:
Neobenedenia girellae
Only Lysmata amboinensis and U. antonbruunii reduced N. girellae on infected fish both diurnally and nocturnally, while both L. vittata and S. hispidus only performed nocturnally...
vittata ... reduced infection nocturnally by ~23.6%
Fluke eggs:
Both Lysmata species and S. hispidus reduced N. girellae egg numbers both diurnally and nocturnally...
Lysmata vittata reduced egg numbers by ~74.4% and 86.1%

Those seem like pretty striking results.
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If it's just one fish not visibly showing flukes, and one shrimp, in a nano, it seems like the shrimp going to town on eggs and doing incremental adult fluke eating child be pretty effective. I'm not sure if a shrimp would do flukes on the gills, but I wouldn't if seen those anyway.
 

richiev

Supporting Member
I guess try and keep us posted. But what are you going to do with the shrimp if you have to medicate the aquarium ?
My understanding is praziquantel (Prazipro) and metronidazole (Metroplex) are reef and invertebrate safe. So my plan was just continue dosing in tank.
 

phc567

Supporting Member
You can always ask. Bobby. Humble.fish. He is the doctor of fish. I was following him for years when I was trying to QT everything then I gave up and just concentrate on ich management now.
 
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