Recuperating In The Polyps

What a horrid week. Last week I noticed some greyish patches on Tina’s (pictured left) tail. She was swimming around, eating well and diving in and out of her favourite clump of Orange Button Polyps so I didn’t think too much of it. Infact in the beginning I couldn’t actually tell properly if they were greyish patches or just the light reflecting oddly. When the lights in the tank were turned off and the natural daying shone through the water you could clearly make out some dark patches through the white band on her tail.

Napoleon (the smaller baby Clown) was fine. Happy as larry he followed Tina around mimicking her every move. Napoleon, being a tank bred Percula didn’t have a clue how to act like a Clownfish until I got Tina who turned out to be a wild caught fish. I didn’t realise this at the time I chose her and after the guy at the fish shop had just spent 15-20 minutes trying to net her out of the tank I didn’t have the heart for him or her to not take her. Better she live happy in my tank than in a store or worse, in some kids chintzy plastic aquarium with a name like ‘Nemo’.

On Saturday I noticed Napoleon’s tail had a little split in it. This definitely confirmed there was something up. Usually bacterial/fungal infections that cause fins to split are related to poor water quality but I change 10% of my water weekly without fail and test the water parameters for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, PH, Phosphate, metals and salinity at least weekly too so I knew I didn’t have poor water. Despite this I carried out an impromptu water change just incase I was missing something. On Monday nothing had changed for the worse so I assumed the water change had helped and planned to do another the following day.

Then it all happened very quickly – On Tuesday a chunk of Napoleons tail was missing although he was otherwise healthy and lively and still eating like a pig. I took some advice from a forum throughout the day and tried researching on the net as much as I could. Word from the forum was that it could be Brooklynella, aka ‘Clownfish’ disease which can rapidly kill the fish in hours. I didn’t altogether agree with this because most of the diagnosis didn’t match what my two fish were displaying but pictures and descriptions of other bacterial infections did. Not to mention Tina had been going around with these patches for a week with no problems.  On Wednesday morning they both still looked lively, just a few grey patches around their tails and backs but Napoleon was missing more of his tail.  Without a quarantine tank to move the fish to I took advice from the forum and on Wednesday afternoon I returned home from work with Melafix, an all natural tea tree based meds good for infections.  However Napoleon was not looking good. During the day he had taken a massive downturn and was now at the surface getting pushed around by the current of the filter inlet. Although he could still swim he appeared to weaken quickly and let the water carry him briefly.

Fearing I’d already left it too long I dosed the tank with the meds I’d picked up that day and then watched as about an hour later Napoleon, who was now supported in a net at the surface took his last breath, twitched a couple of times and then lay dead..  Little Clownfish never made it any bigger than an inch long.

I went and picked up some serious meds for a variety of different ailments including Brooklynella. Yesterday when I returned from work I noticed that whatever it was attacking Tina’s tail was now visible to the eye and was moving and pulsing on her tail. Since the two doses of  Melafix had not had any noticeable effect on Tina we removed her from the tank and proceeded to carry out a ‘dip’ treatment whereby we placed her in a bowl of RO water at the right temp and PH mixed with medicine and then another dip of the same but without the medicine.

Dipping a marine fish in to freshwater with no salt and a dose of Formaldehyde and copper in it is one of the most horrid things I’ve ever had to do. Given the danger of doing such a thing you have to monitor the fish closely – all the time watching it’s gills to judge it’s reaction.

15 minutes is a hellishly long time when you’re staring at a beautiful little fish who is floating motionlessly in a bowl of poison, panicking, flipping about, breathing rapidly and then nearly not at all. I had to keep reminding myself that if I’d done this with Napoleon he might have had a chance and that if I wasn’t doing this now with Tina in another day she’d be dead anyway. This torture meant 50% chance of survival at least.

She lasted 10 minutes before I felt she was so close to stopping breathing altogether that I put her back in the main tank. It took her about an hour before she finally came round from the trauma properly and I didn’t expect to see her alive this morning.

An examination of the bowl found the thing that had been moving on her tail. Unfortunately it’s probably not the last of the problem. Parasites like this have different forms through their cycle which means while you can kill an adult you won’t necessarily have killed the spores that could be ready to hatch at the bottom of the tank.

This morning she’s alive, I won’t say ‘well’. She’s wedged herself in her Button Polyps but whenever I get near the tank she disappears through the cave in the rocks to hide at the back.

Today I’m going to set up a quarantine tank in preparation for the unknown that’s bound to hit this week.

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1 Comment »

  1. Mrs BN said

    Oh that’s not good – poor fishy 😦

    I was never any good with fish – I had either hamsters or rabbits when we were younger. Never had a dog or a cat either… allergic city to those!

    But my brother had fish and I remember him being very attached to them (not literally) …. sorry to hear that they’re not well – and I hope she pulls through..

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