Pharmaceutical use in the Marine Aquarium

This blog entry was inspired by another one of the interesting seminars that I attended during this years MACNA conference, a seminar by Author and Hobbyist Mike Paletta “Pharmaceuticals & Marine Aquaria”. Mike’s presentation was based upon medications and treatments that have origins in other disciplines that have found their way into use for the marine aquarium.

Some of the medications and treatments that Mike spoke about have been used in the aquarium trade for many years, such as Metronidazole and Erythromycin.
Metronidazole was developed for use in human and veterinary medicine, and is used to treat a wide range of bacterial and parasitical diseases. Metronidazole is available in the aquarium hobby from a number of manufacturers, as either a lone agent (like Thomas Lab’s Fish-Zole, Aquarium System’s Hex-Out, or Seachem’s Metronidazole), or as an ingredient in more broad spectrum medications (like API’s General Cure, Jungle Lab’s Hole-N-Head Guard and Parasite Clear) Paletta focused upon the use of Metronidazole as a method for removing intestinal parasites in newly acquired fish. Intestinal parasites are a common problem in wild caught fish. Fish are not usually fed very much as they are moved from collector, to holding station, to export, to your local store, in order to reduce waste and maintain water quality. During this time fish will start to eat feces of other fish that they are being held with, so if any of the wild fish have internal parasites, then they spread rapidly.
Feeding new fish with Metronidazole soaked foods during quarantine is the best way to rid your new fish of internal pests, and to prevent infecting the fish in your display. Jungle Labs Anti-Parasite Medicated Food and Blue Lagoon Anti-Parasite Marine Gel Food are commercially available food that is pre-treated with Metronidazole and well work well with fish that will eat these forms of food. For finicky eaters, soak the food of choice with medication prior to feeding. This works well with most food types, including fresh, frozen and prepared foods. Internal parasites may have no outward symptoms. Long term problems such a reduced growth and inability to gain weight with heavy feeding may be the only signs of infestation.
Erythromycin is an antibiotic that has been used for many years in many medical disciplines for the treatment of bacterial infections. Erythromycin has been used successfully for the treatment of bacterial infections in the aquarium trade as well, and is available from several sources ( like Mardel’s Maracyn and API’s E.M. Erythromycin)
Paletta talked about a less common use for Erythromycin (EM) is to aid in the combat of Slime algae in the marine aquarium, one which I have used successfully many times. Slime algae is a rapid growing, and potentially dangerous problem in the aquarium. Severe outbreaks can grow quickly and smother everything in your aquarium. Slime Algae is a simple life form, a bacterial algae complex, which thrives in high nutrient conditions like overfed, overstocked, or dirty aquariums. Small outbreaks should be taken care of by improving water quality, increasing water flow, and physical removal by siphoning. In severe cases the use of EM can be really helpful. EM will rapidly kill slime algae in the aquarium, and help get your aquarium free from the problem. EM is not a miracle cure for slime algae, if measures are not taken to improve water quality, then the slime will return. EM should only be used in conjunction with improved husbandry habits.

The portion of Mike’s presentation that I found most interesting was the somewhat experimental use of some Veterinary drugs to combat pests in the reef aquarium. With the proliferation of the reef aquarium hobby, and the abundance coral propagating hobbyists over the last several years, a number of previously obscure pests are becoming more and more common within the trade.

Red Bugs (Tegastes acroporanus) have become alarmingly common in the propagated coral industry. These barely visible little crustaceans can rapidly reproduce, and decimate many species of Acropora corals very quickly. Treatments have been developed using Interceptor (Milbemycin oxime), a prescription de-worming medication for dogs and cats, which you have to get from your veterinarian. Several different protocols have been developed for treatment with interceptor, if you do a web search on the topic you can find a treatment plan that best suits your situation. Before consulting with your veterinarian about obtaining Interceptor, it may be a good idea to print out some articles about this new alternative use of the drug. This is not a well known alternative use for the drug, and you may get some resistance if your Vet has not come accross other requests for this use in the past.

Another reef pest that is becoming more prevalent in the hobby is the Acropora Eating Flat Worm (AEFW). These nearly invisible, translucent, flatworms attack only Acropora species corals, and are very difficult to detect (other than dead acropora). A good method that Mike uses for detection is to use a turkey baster to shoot a jet of water in and around colonies that are suspected to have AEFW, if they are present, you will dislodge some of them and see tiny translucent discs fly off the coral. There are several commercially available flat worm treatments available to the hobby, such as Salifert’s Flat Worm Exit, and Tropic Marin’s Pro-Coral Cure.
Mike Paletta spoke about a relatively new treatment for AEFW that has been developed using Levamisol, a drug commonly used as a pig de-wormer that is available through farm supply stores, or your veterinarian. Again, several protocols have been developed for the use of Levamisol against AEFW, so do some research and choose a method that best suits your situation.

An interesting side story of Mike’s presentation was one of his natural approaches to limiting parasites in his display aquariums. He actually trains fish to eat parasites from coral. He accomplishes this while he is quarantining his fish for introduction into his aquarium. The fish he chooses are natural predators of the parasites, in this case I believe they were 6-line wrasses, which he trains to select for the parasites and actively hunt them. While in quarantine he introduces corals that he knows have flatworms, and frees the worms from the coral using a turkey baster, at the same time he limits the fishes other options for food, so that they are forced to eat the flatworms. After “training” the wrasses this way for several weeks the fish start to aggressively hunt out the flatworms for a meal. Once the fish have finished quarantine, they are introduced into the display aquarium and continue to actively hunt for parasites. Pretty neat trick!

Hope that you found this as interesting as I did, until next time

Dave

Species Profile: Giant Clams


Just got back from MACNA XIX in Pittsburgh, and I would like to congratulate the Pittsburgh Marine Aquarium Society for hosting and outstanding conference.
The next few Blog topics will be about some of the Seminars and Events that I attended at this years MACNA conference.

One of the seminars that I found really interesting was the Giant Clam presentation by James Fatherree. James is the author of the book “Giant Clams in The Sea And The Aquarium”and gave a presentation based upon some of the most common questions that he is asked about Giant Clams, and the Answers to those questions.

How much light do I need to keep a Tridacna Clam? This is a question that I am commonly asked about clams from our customers here at TFP, and one of the questions that James Fatherree addressed during his presentation. How much light is needed is probably the most important question to be answered, in regard to keeping giant clams in the aquarium. Giant clams receive as much as 100 percent of their nutrition from light that provides energy for photosynthesis for their symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae). How much light depends much upon the species of clam that you are trying to keep. Clams are found in the oceans throughout a wide range of depths in the tropical Pacific Ocean, from near the oceans surface, down to more than 25 meters (83 feet). Some species are only found in fairly shallow water, like the Tridacna crocea, which require very intense lighting. Others Giant Clam species such as T. maximaand T. squamosa, are found at depths of up to 15 meters (50 feet) and required strong lighting. Another species of Giant Clam that is commonly kept in the aquarium trade, T. derasa, is found at depths of up to 25 meters (83 feet) and require moderate lighting. All these depths are extreme maximums, under ideal conditions. The vast majority of clams found in the wild are found at much shallower depths than these maximum. All species of Clams that are grown in commercial farms are typically grown in shallow pools or raceways under intense lighting.

The best answer to this question is that there is no such thing as too much light for Clams in the aquarium. Deeper water species, like Tridacna derasa and Hippopus hippopus, will tolerate fluorescent lighting in very shallow aquariums, or high output T-5, VHO, or Compact Fluorescent lighting in aquariums up to about 24” deep. All other clams should only be kept under the intensity of Metal Halide lighting. The deeper the aquarium the higher wattage metal halide light should be used, in general the more light you can provide, the higher your chances for long term health and growth.

For more great information on Giant Clams check out James Fatherree’s book “Giant Clams in The Sea And The Aquarium”

Hope this sheds some light on questions that you may have had about clams, until next time.

Dave

Species Profile; Queen Angel


Mellisa is back with some more tales of her time in Honduras. I hope that you enjoyed hearing about her diving adventures. This one is about her experience with the Queen Angel.

Welcome Melissa.

My favorite fish by far while diving in Roatan, Honduras was the Queen Angelfish, Holocanthus cillaris. Every dive we went on I always had my eyes on the look out for a queen. Queen Angelfish are among the most stunning fish in both juvenile and adult stages on the reef.

As far as captive care for a Queen Angelfish they require a large tank due to their large adult size of 15”. Angelfish in general require good water quality and places to hide to feel safe. It is not usually a good idea to house queen angelfish with any other angels unless it is in an extremely large tank, like in a public aquarium with thousands of gallons. This is because they become very territorial in a cramped tank. Juvenile queen angelfish are known to pick parasites from the gills and body of other larger fish. Queen angelfish should be fed a diet high in algae and sponge along with a variety of meaty foods mixed in. Angel Formula is a good staple food for a queen since it is made from marine sponges and algae. Saltwater Vita-Chem is another good product to mix in with the food to make it more nutritious and keep your angle happy and healthy for years to come.

The queen angelfish is also commonly confused with a similar species of angelfish, the Blue Angel Holocanthus bermudensis . Their juvenile colors are very similar but the Queen angel has curved bars where as the Blue Angelfish all fairly straight and vertical. The adult Queen Angelfish has a bright yellow tail and a brilliant blue crown on the top of its head thus making it worthy of the name “Queen” Angelfish.

Anyone interesed in keeping the Queen Angel in their aquarium can also check out this video I helped make: Queen Angel

~Melissa

TFP Fish Room Facts

The Fish Room in our Lancaster, PA retail store is one of the many attractions to visit here at That Fish Place. At over 12,000 square feet, with more than 700 holding tanks and 35,000 gallons of system water, our fish room is one of the biggest retail systems in the world. In fact, our retail system is larger than many of the wholesale systems in operation in the United States.

The saltwater holding systems in our fish room are comprised of 8 separate systems ranging in size from 120-3000 gallons totaling over 13,000 gallons. The salt water sections of the fish room include dedicated systems for Community Fish; Aggressive Fish; Coral; Reef Fish and Invertebrates; and Live Rock. The centerpiece of our saltwater holding systems is our one of a kind “look down” coral tray. The coral tray is made of 2 ½” thick acrylic and is a massive 20’ long x 4’ wide x 1’ deep. The entire tray is lighted by Sunlight Supply LumenMax 3 fixtures on moving light rails, for all you gadget geeks out there this is a really cool set up. All the main saltwater systems are filtered with RK2 commercial protein skimmer with computer controlled ozone and high output Ultraviolet Sterilizers. The skimmers are self cleaning, with timer operated internal wash down jets. The RK2 skimmers on the three main systems are a huge 24” in diameter and over 7’ tall.

Our freshwater holding systems are divided into 12 separate main systems that range in size from 200-3000 gallons each and total over 22,000 gallons. The freshwater section of the fish room includes dedicated systems for Community fish; Semi-Aggressive fish; South & Central American Cichlids and Predators; African Cichlids; Fancy Goldfish; Koi and Pond fish; Pond Plants; and Aquarium Plants. There are also several smaller stand alone systems for various uses.
To give you some sort of idea for the volume of our operation, we use approximately 1750 gallons of saltwater per week that works out to about 91,000 gallons of saltwater per year.

We also have a number of displays throughout our store, which total over 12,000 gallons. The biggest of which is our 2500 gallon saltwater touch tank. Shaped like a fish, this display allows you to touch stingrays, and other marine life. Bring your kids; they will be thrilled by the experience of touching a stingray if they have never had the opportunity.

Check us out, That Fish Place is much more that just a store, it is an entertainment destination for fish and animal lovers.

Until next time,

Dave

New Product: Reefer’s Digi-Microscope


New to our product lineup is the Reefer’s Digi-Microscope, an affordable and versatile entry level digital microscope. Capable of viewing both hard objects and prepared slides, this microscope will allow you to view a wide range of objects. Used with the included digital camera eyepiece, you can view and capture images to your PC, and share images of what you have found.

One of the most troublesome aspects of fish and reef keeping is properly identifying the the cause of disease, and then choosing the correct medications to use. Public aquariums, veterinarians, aquaculture facilities, all use microscopes to identify parasites and choose treatment options. With the use of the Reefer’s Digi-Microscope the average hobbyist can now use this powerful tool. View large, easy to see images right on your computer. Identify the parasites on your koi, coral, goldfish and more. Choose the best medication based upon real information, no more guessing what you can not see!

This new product is as fun as it is educational. I have found this product to be an excellent teaching tool, allowing easy viewing of microscopic parasites with the camera feature.

Happy fishkeeping,

Dave