Detectives needed - what is killing my fish?

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Montagne

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Hi all, looking for some input on two recent unexplained losses I've had. Both involved fish that have been healthy in DT's for months then dying ~1 week after showing signs of lethargy.

1) Striped Blenny
- 2" captive-bred ORA specimen shipped from Live Aquaria May 27.
- Started showing a behavior change of spending more time in his favorite coral perch vs. open water swimming ~Oct 28. Ate broadcast mysis/seaweed delight mix normally.
- Appeared a bit thin vs. usual round Nov 2nd, began target feeding mysis/seaweed delight mix.
- Seen perched on sandbed Nov 3rd, continued target feeding mysis/seaweed delight mix.
- Found dead on sandbed Nov 4th. Otherwise its condition was unremarkable, not looking emaciated and without spots, bulges or lesions.
- System is a skimmerless 16gal biocube with an inkbird controller keeping temperature 76-77.
- LFS confirmed water chemistry readings - Salinity = 1.023 (typical), ammonia = 0, nitrite = 0, nitrate = 15-20
- Companions are pearly jawfish, Tanaka's pygmy possum wrasse, sexy shrimp and a turbo snail. No new additions since May.
- Water change schedule is ~30%/week

2) Multibar Angelfish
- 3" wild caught (assumed Indonesia) specimen shipped from Reef Beauties Aug 18. Ate readily shortly after receipt. Believed to be an adult male due to prominent cheek spikes and absence of eyespot.
- Started showing a behavior change of spending more time in caves vs. open water swimming ~ Nov 8. Ate broadcast mysis/seaweed delight mix normally.
- Stopped eating broadcast mysis/seaweed delight mix Nov 10
- Performed 50% water change Nov 11, not eating target fed mysis/seaweed delight mix
- found lying on side on sandbed Nov 14th. Was picked up by hand (!!) and placed in a breeder box with tank lights off where it appeared exhausted and unable to right itself when it did occasionally try swimming. When resting it continually ended with the same side facing up but did not float. Spat out food when placed in front of it. Several hours later it had developed a significant back arch, eventually ceased occasionally swimming around and died. No external physical abnormalities, spots, bulges or lesions could be seen and nothing indicated weight loss.
- System is a modified 29gal biocube running a Tunze skimmer and functioning temperature controllers set to 78-79
- LFS confirmed water chemistry readings - Salinity = 1.023 (typical), ammonia = 0, nitrite = 0, nitrate = 10
- Companions are kamohara blenny, lubbocks wrasse, a pair of clownfish and a turbo snail. No new additions since August.
Tank video as of September:
Multibar w/ arched back unable to swim:
https://vimeo.com/479409063

I still have the multibar's body on a wet paper towel in the fridge but dont have access to a microscope and do not have the experience or stomach for a necropsy. If anyone has any ideas I'd love to have an explanation for what killed my two favorite fish in quick succession.
 

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Montagne

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Were these fish quarantined prior to being placed in the DT? Notice any white stringy poo? You mentioned the blenny had gotten thin before dying.
No quarantine system is set up at this time so everything has gone directly into the display. The multibar did come in with flukes so the 29g went through a round of prazipro in September. The multibar's poop was recently normal but I hadnt specifically seen the blenny poop in a while to be certain. If anything the blenny was just looking less round vs. sunken and Id just decided to up feeding and keep an eye on it before advancing to suspecting IP's when it died.
 

Humblefish

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No quarantine system is set up at this time so everything has gone directly into the display. The multibar did come in with flukes so the 29g went through a round of prazipro in September. The multibar's poop was recently normal but I hadnt specifically seen the blenny poop in a while to be certain. If anything the blenny was just looking less round vs. sunken and Id just decided to up feeding and keep an eye on it before advancing to suspecting IP's when it died.
What other fish are in this system and how are they looking?

I have necropsied some bent over fish that had internal flagellates, and those can also cause a fish to rapidly lose weight:
 

Montagne

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Sorry about the delay, been a bit busy to chase my camera shy fish around lately. Video links of them below.

I keep forgetting to feed the IP medication but can do that tomorrow if you agree it still seems prudent.

The Tanaka's possum wrasse I've had since May that is in my 16g it had shared with the Striped Blenny is now following the same pattern - being unusually reclusive for several days and then losing its appetite. After not seeing it for two days I pulled out all of my rock and found it alive this afternoon, but it did not come out to feed later tonight so I don't think it will last much longer based on the timeline of the other fish. I'd posted to reef2reef about this fish in September when it had some spontaneous scale damage (https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/possum-wrasse-w-injury-illness-losing-scales.761156/) but its behavior hadnt changed and I'd thought it had recovered. I believe it is a separate issue and that its just the latest fish to succumb to my mystery issue.

Current fish in 29g biocube (previously with Multibar angel):

Possum wrasse from September in 16g biocube (previously with striped blenny). The only other fish with the Possum Wrasse any more is a yellow head jawfish I can also video if needed.
 
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Humblefish

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So I see on the R2R thread where Jay suggested Uronema, and I agree with his diagnosis based on the last few pics you posted.

Was the possum wrasse or the tank ever treated for Uronema? One little known fact about Uronema is it can spread internally, especially afflicting the internal organs. This would probably explain what happened to the Multibar (assuming they shared water at some point) and what is now happening to the blenny.
 

Montagne

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Sorry if theres any confusion, let me clarify the timeline:

16gal Sept 23 - Possum Wrasse shows sore and loses scale, however behavior never changes. Remaining area scales are still protruding as of Sept 30th but lie flat a few days later. Possum wrasse spits out all medicated food.
16g Oct 28 - Striped Blenny appears lethargic but continues to eat until it dies Nov 4th.
29g Nov 8- Multibar Angel becomes reclusive then stops eating as of Nov 10. Dies Nov 14th
16g Nov 19th - Possum Wrasse becomes reclusive and stops eating as of Nov 21st. Still alive as of tonight.

My understanding from Jay was that the only treatment for uronema is unavailable for the time being so I haven't treated the possum wrasse or tank for it, as well as uronema effectively being fatal in all but rare treatment cases. So, I chalked the sore up to a scrape after the possum wrasse recovered a couple month ago. However, I'd agree that something internal is circulating through my tanks and fish. Is there any way I can conclusively diagnose the multibar with uronema from the body I still have in my freezer? If I just assume its boughts of (mostly) internal uronema, what can I do as long as chloroquine is not available for purchase?

Thank you for the input, hopefully this context is consistent with what you've been thinking.
 

Montagne

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I'll see what I can do with the microscope at work on Monday.

Reading up on your fish diseases/uronema and Medications and Treatments/metronidazol signature links, I'm thinking that I just assume its Uronema and proceed with the following plan based on treatment with Metroplex. Could you please confirm or recommend adjustments?

1) Dose both DT tanks (including corals, snail CUC and sexy shrimp?) with 12.5mg/gal Metroplex for 14 days
- remove chemi-pure
- continue running purigen
- run skimmer
- dose 12.5gm/gallon into water change water prior to adding to DT to maintain concentration
- is more Metroplex added throughout the 14 day period? How much and how often?

2) Broadcast Feed Metroplex/Focus soaked food mix to fish that are eating once a day for 14 days, continue second unmedicated feeding each day

3) Catch Possum Wrasse and place in breeder box for target Metroplex/Focus soaked feeding and observation, hope for the best.
 

Montagne

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No problems catching the possum wrasse, but also no luck getting it to eat the medicated food (including garlic guard) or live tigger pods. It is exhibiting similar behavior to the multi bar angel, laying on its side in the breeder box but breathing calmly. Will metroplex dosed into the water affect an internal infection?
 

Humblefish

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How about dosing Metroplex into the water throughout the 14 day period?
That should be fine provided you keep it to 12.5 mg/gal every 24 hours AND dissolve the medication in a cup before dosing it.

No problems catching the possum wrasse, but also no luck getting it to eat the medicated food (including garlic guard) or live tigger pods. It is exhibiting similar behavior to the multi bar angel, laying on its side in the breeder box but breathing calmly. Will metroplex dosed into the water affect an internal infection?
To a certain extent, yes. Metronidazole is easily absorbed by the fish, but this is still not as effective as food soaking to fight off internal parasites.
 

Montagne

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Back again with an update:

I dosed both tanks with metro into the water and fed according to the internal parasite mix of metro and focus for 14 days starting Nov 27 and wrapping up mid Dec.

However, the Kamohara fang blenny that had been in the 29g with the multi bar angel also later fell victim to the same pattern, appearing very skinny by Dec 20th, losing its appetite and becoming lethargic for several days before passing away Dec 29th.

All fish have been relocated to a 25gal storage tote with a sponge filter (seeded from the 29g) and pvc pipes while live rock, sand, corals and tanks are going through a fallow period. Not sure what else to do at this rate.

I was able to get ahold of a microscope Jan 2nd so although the blenny was not exactly fresh at that time I took some pictures at 900x and 120x. I found some red dots internally and what looked like a round bubble on its side so could use some help with ID and recommendations going forwards @Humbledish. Thank you.
 

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Montagne

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Hello @Humblefish, like clockwork the same pattern is claiming another fish again. This time my Lubbock wrasse that had been in with the multi bar angel and kamohara blenny.

I’ve had it since May last year and it was one of my first fish after setting up my tank. It’s always been my best eater and looks contentedly chunky in older videos (). I’ve watched it lose weight over the past 3+ while still eating regularly until it didn’t show up for dinner last night or today. When I found it hiding under a rock I was able to catch it by hand (ugh). Like all the others, upon transferring it to a container it laid on its side and breathed deeply. It occasionally seems to be coughing?
I’d just wrapped up 30 days of copper and had been planning on running a course of prazi and dewormer feedings to finalize a 2 month, cover-all-my-bases course of metro then copper then prazi. All my corals and live rock are still in fallow.

What the heck is this and what’s left to try?
 
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