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Old 09-14-2010, 08:08 PM   #1
weejitz
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Dogface Puffer Dark Color

Hi! I'm looking to get some helpful feedback with an issue I've recently experienced with my Dogface Puffer. I've had him now for a little over a month. He's a hardy fish, eats well, swims a lot, and gets along with all life in the tank.

The tank is a 38g eclipse, live rock, fish only. I do a 5g water change every 10-14 days. His tank mates include a diamond goby, neon goby, false percula clown fish, and a lawnmower blenny. All fish are juvenile. Additionally, we have one emerald crab and six small hermit crabs.

Recently, I've noticed that my puffer has changed in color. He's normally a stone gray with black spots. Lately, for the past 8-10 days, he's been a darker color, almost black at times (see photos at the bottom of this post).

I saw him change color not long after we picked him up. It happened shortly after he got something stuck to his body inside the tank. I helped him shake off the impurity and his color returned to normal. I'm aware that they change color as they mature, and also due to stress. This change seems abnormal, in that it has lasted a particularly long time, and I cannot figure out what might be the catalyst.

He also has something on his eye that I have not been able to identify. It looks like a grain of sand. We've thought that it may be some kind of cyst... it looks like a white head on the skin near his eyeball. This anomaly is also seen in the photo of the puffer with his darker color.

I've recently had my water tested (as I do after every water change) and all levels are normal, with exception to nitrate levels, which are slightly to moderately elevated at "15-20" (quoting the kid at the fish store). I did a 5g water change a couple days ago - haven't had the chemistry re-tested yet (will do that tomorrow), but it was done to bring down the nitrate levels. The water gravity is 1.023, and all other numbers (nitrites, ph, et al) are within healthy parameters.

His diet consists of frozen brine, live ghost shrimp and New Life Spectrum Marine Formula (small sinking pellets). Last night we tried clams in the half shell (frozen) to see if he was interested in working on the shell to cut his teeth. He wasn't overly interested in the shell, and the meat seemed a bit chewy for him, as well as far too much meat due to his small size.

I've also noticed a bit of twitching: a couple left/right shakes. And sometimes he'll dart from his position to a hiding spot, but comes out almost immediately. He seems at rest and peaceful most of the time. But out of nowhere he seems to become possessed. He does not attack any of his tank mates, and they do not attack him. Occasionally he will also twitch his gums (ala Rocky Balboa) and show his teeth. Otherwise he's friendly, eatling well, and social.

Any ideas what could be causing this? I was actually beginning to wonder if he might be constipated. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Healthy Photo:


Abnormal Photo: Note the dark color and foreign object type speck in his left eye...
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:14 PM   #2
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for some reason your pix did not post.... but do you see any similar spot any where else on him or other fish??
one thing that certainly will not hurt is to feed garlic enhanced foods (you cold take a small clove and mash it up reall good and mix some of the pellets in with it let it sit in the fridge over night and start to feed)
the garlic helps fish fight infection and if it is not an illness it wont cause harm....
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:29 PM   #3
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That's weird that the pics don't show on your machine. I see them okay, but i'm on a mac. who knows if that has something to do with it. Usually it's me (on a mac) who can't see a pic online. anyway, I have an album here:
Puffer Fish Information - Pufferfish, Boxfish, and Cowfish

We have a bottle of Garlic Guard. I can add some of that to the brine shrimp while we're bringing it out of it's frozen state to room temp. Also, daily, we add a small strip of green marine algae with natural garlic extract for our blenny. sometimes the puffer will nip at that, but it's been a while.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:30 PM   #4
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hmmm sorry i could not be more help...
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:40 PM   #5
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Thanks for suggesting it. We haven't used the Garlic Guard in a while, so i'll give it a try.
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:53 AM   #6
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My first instinct is not one that you will enjoy. I am not surprised at all by the sporadic behavior and color change, given the tank size. I have seen this on multiple occasions with Dog Pace Puffers, and it always occurs in smaller sized tanks.

You are keeping a fish which grows rapidly to an 18'' size (minimum). Your tank is only 36'' long. Granted, it seems to have plenty of space now, but from the point of view of the fish this is a very stressful situation.

The other topic which you do not mention is alkalinity and calcium levels. Puffers are especially prone to fluctuations in these levels, and often making this simple adjustment is enough to encourage a Pufferfish to behave "normally" within an aquarium. I understand that your pH level is testing normal, but without results for alkalinity, and preferably calcium as well, you can't really have an educated conversation about the behavior of pH over the course of time. I would recommend that you begin testing both alkalinity and calcium. More on this topic here:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/s...-marine-33079/

For the record, I would not be the least bit concerned about the isolated white dot above the eye area. Just keep an eye on it to ensure it does not rapidly grow in size or multiple dots do not begin to appear.
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Old 09-15-2010, 02:48 PM   #7
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Thanks, Pasfur. We have been taking our water for regular testing at the fish store. It's right around the corner from our place. They used to give us a card with the individual readings, but lately they just tell us if everything is okay, and/or if there is a spike in one of the tests.

We are now going to take care of it ourselves in order to have readings when we need them, or when we're concerned about the environment of the tank. I'm actually headed to the pet store today, and i'll be picking up the test kit. I'll post all of the tank readings after I have done a test.

We (my girlfriend and me) have discussed the size of the tank ever since we added the puffer. We are full aware of his growth potential, and we'd also included that the limited size of our current tank may be a factor in his suspected stress. We wil be expanding to a new, larger tank - in the 100g neighborhood - sometime between now and Christmas. Probably sooner than later.

Thanks again for reading about our tank. I will post my chem results after I have tested our water.
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:38 PM   #8
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Pasfur, here are the results of my saltwater test (live rock, fish only):

Salinity: 1.023
pH: 8.0 - 8.2
Ammonia: 0 - 0.25
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 30-40'ish
Calcium: 17-19 drops (I lost count on my drops), so the level is 340 or 380
KH*: 11 drops, dKH 11 196.9
*The Alkaline test has directions for a KH and GH test, but only one bottle (KH) for testing. No GH solution.

A week ago the fish store tested the water and told me the nitrate levels were 15-20'ish. Because they were up there I did a 5g water change this past Monday, two days ahead of our 14-day schedule. Now, my home test is telling me that, despite my best intentions, the nitrates have risen another 10-20 ppm. Today I changed the filter in our Eclipse hood. We have been replacing the filter with each 5g water change, every 14 days, so today is the normal day for that.

We are actively looking for a new tank, it has been a concern of ours ever since we got our puffer at the end of July. A dealer near home has a beautiful Marineland 93g cube with all the amenities for under $900, but I am thinking the puffer would be better suited in a 100g-120g rectangle where he will have more lateral space. Do you agree, or would a cube be something to think about?

The only thing that will delay a new tank is dolla'bills. We need to put together upwards of $1,000 for a new system. We will also look in to any used systems (at a lesser cost) so long as they aren't beat up. We can probably have a new system within 6 weeks, then transferring the life to it after acclimation.

Looking forward to your feedback and thought. Thanks again for your assistance here.
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Old 09-16-2010, 02:02 PM   #9
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One more detail I thought would be worth including: we do not make our own saltwater. We buy our water, already mixed, at local aquarium shops. I thought that would be useful info due to the Calcium and Alkalinity details; we're not mixing our own with purified tap water or anything like that at home. We also buy the RO.

Thanks again
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Old 01-12-2011, 01:14 AM   #10
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Re:

There could be several reasons for this the first is as previously stated test your levels. If there were an ammonia issue and sometimes this is the case in what is called dead zones in a tank "meaning no water movement" now a new pump can stir up the ammonia that was sitting.
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