Clownfish, Swimming Sideways Upside down - The Reef Tank

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Old 06-13-2010, 11:33 PM   #1
Little Fishy
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Clownfish, Swimming Sideways Upside down

55G system
1.9 years running
no livestock death for 1.8 years
Fowlr tank aside from the mushrooms
1.23 SPG
Has been healthy and happy

I have posted before with much success as to what is going on in my tank.

the problem:
All creatures except 1 unlucky blue tang at the beginning died. I have not experienced any losses for over a year. Tank parameters are ok, the only thing I have noticed is my nitrates took a sudden spike. Not extreme just slightly elevated. That has passed.

One of my clowns began acting very strange.
I have 2 clowns
5 Yellowtail Damselfish
1 Yellow tang (temp) he is on loan just growing him

The clowns where the 1st in tank, followed by tang/damsels almost a year later. Tang has already left tank to new home. The fish tend to be okay, i haven't seen anything aside from an occasional spat lasting less than 30 seconds.

Since the departure of the tang, my clowns went postal......
One of them stopped being normal at all. The darker colored one, started swimming on its side. Refusing to acknowledge anything below 2 inches of water. Swimming on its side, at first I Thought it was dramatics. He will still eat if the food is in front of him. When I saw him acting this way I started hand feeding. He eats well responds to feeding clues. I drop frozen food in and he goes nuts. Never finds any food, so I goto hand mode. I serve him a cocktail of 3 foods....
marine extreme
prime reef
frozen brine
He is feeding fine, eats several treats from the needle, but wont swim normal.
This has been going on for over a week now.
I have read it may be his bladder has been damaged, and he may or may not come out of it.
I did notice that that the upright side he prefers has a regular eye. The other has an elongated eye, its very obvious.

So I looked into pop eye.....
no real help there, it explains a few things, but not all of the symptoms.

I dont really have a problem keeping him alive, by hand feedings. I do hope he comes out of it. I have changed his diet. He is now feed 3 times a day, with a mixture of frozen foods, that are thawed and combined. I have seen improvement, and I hope I can get him back to fishy health.
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Old 06-14-2010, 02:56 AM   #2
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Too bad about your clown. We do get attached to them like pets. If there are no predators, and his condition doesn't change, you seem to be ok with the extra care.

Maybe there will be improvement, but you should be prepared for the downside too. Obviously the fish is not acting and swiming normally for some reason.

You have done better than I in keeping clowns for nearly 2 years.

Good luck...hope he gets better.
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:37 AM   #3

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Any chance of outside toxins getting into the tank? Carpet fresh or some other chemicals in the air.
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:50 AM   #4
I've got the REEF rash!
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Good point Vin.
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:10 AM   #5
Little Fishy
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Outside toxins not that I am aware of, but that's something I didn't think of. I have several kids, and I wouldn't put it past them to try to "Play" with the fish
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:23 AM   #6
I've got the REEF rash!
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Like pledge or glass cleaner near by.
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Old 06-14-2010, 11:36 AM   #7
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he wont happen to have some sort of mucus coming out of his gills wont he?
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Old 06-15-2010, 09:43 AM   #8
Little Fishy
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No mucous from gills that I can see. I will however pay closer attention to see if I notice some.

Current diet:

DIET Batch:
1 cube of each dissolved in 4 ounces tank water, fed by syringe 3 times a day 3 ML each feeding.

Hikari Mega Marine
Crude Protein 13.2%
Crude Fat 1.9%
Crude Fiber 8.0%
Moisture 72.0%

San Franscisco Bay Brine Shrimp
Crude Protein 5.0%
Crude Fat .8%
Crude Fiber .3%
Moisture 90.0%

Ocean Nutrition Prime Reef
Crude Protein 4.5%
Crude Fat 1.0%
Crude Fiber 2.0%
Moisture 92.%

I been feeding him this for 3 days now, and I have noticed a big improvement in the fish. Before he would swim sideways along the top 1 inch of water in the tank. Slowly making circles around the tank perimeter. Day 2 he got more active and would swim quickly across the top of the tank, and not just the outer edge. On day 3 I saw him dive down 3-4 inches, and is easily flipping from side to side. Is no longer favoring the eye bulge side. The eye is still visibly elongated, about 2 times normal size. Does respond well to the "Scent trail" of the injected food. Will follow it now, and wait for a bite to come out and then eat it. Will often swim to the syringe and wait for something bite size to come out.

The other fish have also figured this out, and do the same. I can still make sure he gets fed first by moving the syringe around the tank keeping in mind the currents created by the pumps. I also feed the standard cube now while doing hand feedings to prevent "Ninja Looting".

Again today with this mornings feedings, fish seems stronger and more willing to dive down. I am still cheering for him to get better, and doing a ton of reading. I hope he pulls out of this, but I am also prepping myself from what I think is the end result.

On a side note.....
I have an anemone in the tank. Its a hitchhiker from the LFS. At first I thought it was Astapsia, and it may very well be. I brought home a 12 lb chunk of live rock from the LFS. It was attached, and I figured it would die from the 65 mile drive home. Placed rock in tank, and it didn't die. Instead it relocated 6 inches away from its original home. That was over a year ago in time, it has never reproduced. I looked it up after 3 months, and was relatively convinced it was Astapsia. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. It hasn't been detrimental to the tank that I can see. The dominate color is burgundy, with subtle hints of sandstone. It hasn't reproduced once, and seems ok. I hand fed him when I noticed he started to shrink, and look sickly. Overall at his hay day he was 4 inches in diameter. Then I thought it was Astapsia, and stopped feeding. It shrank, yet has to reproduce. Should I continue to neglect it? The clowns have shown no love for it, but no hatred either. Most likely it is a pest.... but no harm no foul in my book.
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Old 06-15-2010, 09:55 AM   #9
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Wow 4 inches in diameter!! If it is aiptasia, that's a monster but it doesn't sound like it if it isn't spreading. Usually aiptasia doesn't get that big and they breed like crazy.
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:47 AM   #10
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Could he have an infected swim bladder? that causes fish to swim sideways/awkward.
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Old 06-15-2010, 02:02 PM   #11
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I would move the fish to quarantine and start feeding medicated foods. I would also use a good general purpose antibiotic.
"Most of the failures with marine aquaria are due to lack of knowledge of the biological processes that occur in the aquarium." Martin A. Moe, Jr. 1982

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Old 06-16-2010, 08:29 AM   #12
Little Fishy
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The more I read about it I am leaning more towards fish bladder problem. The only thing that scares me about that is using medications. I suppose its paranoia from all the warnings I read. *Caution blah blah blah based medications will kill.....

Anyone ever treated an infection of the fish bladder?
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Old 06-16-2010, 10:17 PM   #13
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not that one specifically
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Old 06-22-2010, 11:46 PM   #14
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i bought a pair of clown fish yesterday. i had already had one black dominal desmel in the tank, so i took him out over night and put him alone so the clown fish would get use to the new tank and not feel threating. they were swimming around fine but i tried to feed them before i went to bed and they wouldnt eat. then this morning when i woke up i notice that they were swimming up and down the side of the tank together and not leaveing eachother side, i notice a little bit of aggression between the and the one that i a slight smaller twitch and i read thats nomal cuz the female is showing him whos boss but they are still not eatting and i have tried two time, with different types of food. they wont leave that spot and i poured the brime shrimp right in front of them and they see it but still wont eat it or anything else. i have had clown fish before and the ones i had before never acted like this. there is nothing wrong with the water i test everything and i have had the tank for 8 months now. i had to replace my clown fish because the green chormise i had killed them. but that fish is gone now had to get rid of him. i have added the desmel back to the tank the desmal is eating fine and isnt bothering them cuz i have been checking all day long and there hasnt been any changes. the tank is 30 gallons and has a 50 gallon fillter and tuns of live rock. i just dont understand why the wont eat. the clown fish are so close in size im not sure if there there going through a sex change or if there just getting use to the tank still. im totaly clue less...
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Old 06-24-2010, 08:50 AM   #15
Little Fishy
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To Hottie156:

My clowns didnt eat for 2 days after I brought them home. It might be from the shock of the move, and also your water parameters might not be as close to the LFS you got them from. Then again mine were exposed to extra stress due to the fact that my LFS is 67 miles away and had to travel that far to home. Most likely the reason your clowns are acting the way they are is stress. Chances are very low that they were a mated pair at the LFS. All clowns are born male(Kinda), and stay male(Kinda) until they decide to mate. Typically all of them will show agression towards each other as males do. Its all about establishing who is the Alpha, and even then once an Alpha is established this doesnt mean they will undergo a sex change. Alot of things have to be going just right for this to occur. Keep in mind, if it isnt a mated pair it could take upto a year for them to spawn. To speed the process along you can make the tank as clownfish eutopia as possible. The behavior you are looking for comes from the male, its called "Clownfish Waggle" it is very distinct and a video is best to see it. If your clown is waggling his little fins off, and shows no reaction that just means the other is not either female or not interested. Give it time, and let them sort out the details. Just keep em well fed, healthy, and happy.
here's a waggle vid......

Pay attention to the male in seconds 35..... Male is wagging the nesting spot. Seconds 57-101 is male wagging again. Its very obvious....... Plus I like the music!

I wont get into the debate of feeding them brine shrimp, because I did for 2 years. They never really grew at all, but as advised on this board to feed them a better and mixed diet they have already grown in 2 weeks on the new diet. They also are much more playful, and clown like(Bad Pun). During the diet switch they also went through a rebellious stage, and wouldn't eat. They are used to a frozen cube dropped into the tank to melt and disperse around the tank for them to eat. I have lots of jets making current so it looks as if the shrimp are alive, and hopefully triggered a natural feeding impulse.

To help them cope, and encourage feeding I cut the new food cubes into pieces. I placed the pieces into a medical syringe, squished all the air out of the syringe, and sucked up tank water. I shook the syringe up to melt and mix everything in it. Then I placed the tip into the tank, and slowly depressed the plunger to let a small amount of liquid to enter the tank. They can "Smell" the food as the liquid dissipates. Then I slowly move the syringe close as I can get to them, and press a short burst to release some food in front of their faces. This has worked every time, and after a while they become so used to it they will literally gather around the tip and wait for bits of food to leave the end. I am sure its assumed that you don't want to use a needle on the syringe. Syringe size should be about the diameter of a pencil for small feedings or as large as a small cigar for larger feedings. That's my advice for picky eaters.
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clown , sick , sideways , upside down

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