Mandarin not eating and...coughing???

FloodWaters

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I know the title is odd, but that is the best way to describe the action I'm seeing over here. He will strike at the glass of the QT tank, open his mouth, flex his gills a bit and slightly shake his head. This might just be me reading too much into things, but maybe it's a clue?

Current Condition: In QT tank with indirect light and sponge filter. He is much less active than normal, but still moves around a bit and shows little to no interest in food.

Back Story: Male Mandarin that we have had for over a year after a 120ish day observation quarantine. I used his QT time to jar train him to eat frozen Mysis to the point where he would leave pods crawling on the glass in favor of the jar full of shrimp.

I moved him into my 90 gallon mixed reef with 2 clownfish, yellow coris wrasse and a highfin goby/tiger pistol shrimp pair (this system is plumbed to my 120 with a large sump and algae scrubber)

He has been a healthy looking fish that eats well with Selcon soaked Mysis, plus whatever else he hunts around the tank. Fairly active swimmer (for a Mandarin)...


Why I Moved Him to QT: a few days ago I noticed leftover food in his jar that he usually polishes clean. He was also less active and spent multiple hours in the shadow under some rock work. The next day he moved around a little, but did not show any interest in his jar of food.

Medications on Hand: Metroplex, Kanaplex, FURAN-2 and H2o2


I am not sure what I'm dealing with and could use some advice before just dumping in random treatments that do more harm than good to the poor little guy. We just lost our Lawnmower Blenny that my wife training to sit in her hand an eat pellets. She was pretty crushed over that and I really need to save this Mandarin because it's been a rough summer and we need a win.
 

Humblefish

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Navarre, FL
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Yawning & head twitching is a symptom of gills flukes, so this is one possibility. I personally have treated mandarins with both Prazipro and API General Cure (and they did fine):
 

FloodWaters

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Thanks for the speedy reply!
I didn't have any luck finding either of them locally, but I can get them on Wednesday via Amazon prime. It's going to be 90F with week and I'm not sure if the heat would be an issue for shipping. Which would you recommend I order?

Follow up question... Is there anything I can/should do while I am waiting for the meds to come in the mail that could help?

Thanks
 

Humblefish

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@FloodWaters I would order Prazipro because powder medication is more susceptible to heat (degradation). In the summertime they really should ship fish medications with ice packs...

A 5 minute freshwater dip can provide temporary relief, but I'd be somewhat hesitant to do one on a mandy:
 

FloodWaters

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Ice packs! 🤣 We are lucky they include tape on the boxes these days...

I'm glad that I asked because I assumed the powder was the safer bet. Do you think the Prazipro survive the trip and still be viable? I'll have no choice, but to expand my local search If there is a high probability of the heat making it useless.
 

Humblefish

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Navarre, FL
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I'm glad that I asked because I assumed the powder was the safer bet. Do you think the Prazipro survive the trip and still be viable? I'll have no choice, but to expand my local search If there is a high probability of the heat making it useless.

Once a medication is dissolved in a solution it is more likely to "survive" heat. The SDS doesn't say anything about heat, only to "protect from freezing": https://www.hikariusa.com/img/sds_sheets/sds_prazipro.pdf

However it also states: "Decomposition Temperature: Not determined." And that is the thing I would be most concerned about from being exposed to too much heat.
 

FloodWaters

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Update for anyone wondering what happened... Sad news, but he passed away sometime in the last ~12 hours.

I put him through 2 rounds of Prazipro and never saw that "coughing" behavior again. However, he started to breathe faster than normal and never showed an interest in food again. There two large bottles of pods added on the 4th day of the 2nd Prazipro dose as a last-ditch effort to get him to eat. He didn't show any interesting hunting pods or the mysis.

There were daily ammonia tests and an extra air pump added to the 10 gallon tank. He had a 6" airstone with 2 fully cycled sponge filters on the main pump, so I don't believe it was lack of oxygen or ammonia damaged to his gills.

I soaked his body in RO water to see if anything would appear, but it looks like the Prazi did the job and I could not find a single fluke or critter in the dip.

He was a full-grown at a little over 3" when I got him those years ago, so I have no idea how old he really was. I'm not trying to explain away any of my mistakes by saying he was just old, but I guess it has to at least be a factor. Their life span is listed as 2-4 years in captivity, but that seems pretty low to me.

Any insight on the lifespan numbers @Humblefish ?
 

Humblefish

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According to this source: https://www.calacademy.org/explore-science/mandarin-dragonet
In private aquariums, the mandarin’s peaceful disposition and food-fussiness are more curse than blessing—it’s poorly equipped to compete with any tankmates for food, especially from a supply that’s less diverse and plentiful than in its natural habitat. Consequently, the average life expectancy of the mandarin dragonet declines from 10-15 years in the wild to 2-4 years in captivity.

I take that to mean that most mandarins slowly starve to death in captivity, but could live 10-15 years with abundant pods that they didn't have to share with tank mates (but almost every fish will eat pods).

I'm very sorry that you lost him. :(
 

FloodWaters

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Yep definitely sucks, but thanks for the help and info.

I saw those stats too, but have you heard of anyone keeping mandarins past that 4 year mark during your travels? They say clownfish live up to 10 years in the wild, but I have a pair living in a 20gal long breeding tank that are old enough to vote (not trying to jinx them!) .

That's why I'm always skeptical about those lifespan forecasts.
 
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