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cottoncandy

Strange Behavior from my Royal Gramma

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cottoncandy

  I am extremely new to this hobby, and have only had a tank for 3 weeks with fish for 1 week.  However, I’m pretty sure my Royal Gramma’s behavior isn’t normal.  

 

  It keeps flashing against the sand, which I think means it’s scratching itself, but it’s tearing it’s fins by doing so.  It’s also been staying in a cave the whole time, but now it’s moved to the corner of the tank in full view and just lays there sideways.  My family says I’m crazy, but I swear there’s white mucous-looking gunk wrapping around the bottom of its head and near its gills, as well as a white spot on its tail fin, but very faint.  I’ve read that that’s not a good sign, but I don’t know what it is a sign of.  Should I be worried?  What does this mean?

 

I have a 20g with an Emerald Crab, a Lawnmower Blenny, and the Gramma.  The Blenny was just introduced today. 

 

I can’t get any good pics because it won’t move, but I guess it’s better than nothing.

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rough eye

i'm jealous. i'd like to have a lawnmower blenny but they need a large and old tank with lots of algae in it to survive. had one once before, back when i had a 30 gallon tank. they're cool, weird fish.

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cottoncandy
1 hour ago, rough eye said:

i'm jealous. i'd like to have a lawnmower blenny but they need a large and old tank with lots of algae in it to survive. had one once before, back when i had a 30 gallon tank. they're cool, weird fish.

Yes, it has quite the strong personality.  Bringing him home, I set the bag on the seat beside me, but had to hold it because it tipped the bag over three times.  It swam around the bottom eating algae for hours after being added to the tank, and now he’s sitting one of my Royal Gramma’s old caves.

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ajmckay

That flashing behavior is a strong indication of a parasitic infestation.  The most common cause is the parasite Cryptocaryon Irritans. 

 

With the mucous another possibility is Brooklynella hostilis.  Or since it's near the gills it could also be flukes/flatworms (monogenean parasites).  

 

In most cases if no action is taken the fish will die.  It's not scratching itself, but rather trying to scrape off tiny parasitic organisms that are latching onto it, digging under it's scales, and sucking on it's internal fluids.  If you can see spots the fish is already pretty heavily infested.

 

If you're committed to giving this fish it's best chance at living I would first give it a freshwater bath (I believe this will provide relief the same for all three things I list above).  If you can see white specks on the fish the freshwater bath will immediately kill all the parasites on the fish except maybe the ones that are really dug in.  This doesn't put you in the clear though.  If it's Crypto you'll need to do daily large water changes for a while until all the parasites have gone through their life cycle.  The thought is you suck out the parasites during their free floating stage of life, before they mature and seek out a host.

 

An alternative to the daily water change is to treat with medication.  for Crypto, generally a chloroquine or copper based medication (copper sulfate or cupramine) are used - but you can't use those in your tank.  I would just use a cheap 5 or 10 gallon with some pieces of PVC pipe or some flower pots for hiding.  A 5 gallon bucket will even work! All you need is a heater and an airstone for some water movement. You'll still want to do daily 50% water changes, and try to keep activity and bright lights around the hospital tank to a minimum. 

 

When you do the FW dip or a large water change you want to make sure that you match the temperature and salinity exactly to the conditions in your display tank. If possible for the freshwater dip the pH as well - but if you're not comfortable buffering the water an alternative would be to go to your LFS and ask for a small bag of water from one of their cichlid tanks - those usually run a higher pH.   Let the fish sit in the freshwater for a only a few minutes, or less if it seems really agitated.

 

Good luck.  Feel free to ask more questions or do some reading - but it can all be a bit overwhelming and there are too many "This worked for me" threads and things like herbal supplements that your head can easily start spinning.  The truth is that freshwater and chloroquine/copper are the only 100% effective treatments when used properly.  Any other product may or may not work in your particular case.

 

For the algae blenny it needs to eat a LOT of algae.  You will probably need to get some algae tabs and start hanging sheets of nori in your tank for it to eat.  Read up on their care.  They're awesome fish but for most people they just slowly starve over the period of several months.

 

 

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cottoncandy

Thank you so much for the information!  I’m going to the store I got it from today to get more rock because it also seems to be stressed that the blenny is taking up most of the cave space, and I will definitely ask them about this, but I’m very grateful for the advice.  I will try a freshwater dip when I get back, and I’ll do the water change as well.  I’ll ask them what medication would be best if I need any, because I got better pictures today. 

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cottoncandy
7 minutes ago, Humblefish said:

I would remove the fish and run it thru a full QT: https://www.nano-reef.com/forums/topic/404550-how-to-quarantine/

 

Using copper + API General Cure (in a quarantine tank) fixes most problems.

I don’t have a QT tank yet. I could set one up, but wouldn’t that take 24 hours to cycle it based on that forum? Will it survive that long or infect other fish in that time?

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ajmckay
11 minutes ago, Humblefish said:

I would remove the fish and run it thru a full QT: https://www.nano-reef.com/forums/topic/404550-how-to-quarantine/

 

Using copper + API General Cure (in a quarantine tank) fixes most problems.

Nice QT write up Humblefish! So far what I've read on your treatment procedures everything is pretty thorough.  I can vouch that a thorough quarantine has prevented me from infesting my entire tank with parasites.  

 

OP, while it's best to start up a QT in preparation for getting a new fish - in your case time is of the essence.  The sooner you can begin treatment the better the chances are for the fish. 

 

You don't need to cycle a hospital tank like you would your main tank. You rely on frequent large water changes to prevent the build up of toxic ammonia.  So it's important to have a test kit and some seachem prime handy. 

 

Normally, if you plan to quarantine new purchases you would add some new (sterile) biological media into your main tank for a week or so and then run it through a hang-on-back filter in the quarantine tank.  That would reduce the need for water changes, but it depends on if medication is used. If medication is used then the media is discarded when the quarantine tank is taken down. 

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