View Full Version : Help! Black dots on my clownfish!

07/18/2000, 11:49 PM
hi everyone. i have noticed black dots on my maroon clownfish pair. really tiny dots <1mm. i have only noticed them on the first stripe. a few of the dots look more like tiny holes on the fish. also, on the female, it looks as if there is a black worm under the skin emanating from one of the dots, but i am not sure. the fish seem perfectly healthy. they eat well and are breathing normally. please help. i have no idea what to do.

Thanks everyone.

[This message has been edited by sfrookie (edited 07-19-2000).]

07/19/2000, 05:11 PM
Two possibilities come to mind, one bad and one neutral.
Neutral: your clowns may perhaps be acclimating to a coral or anemone (have you got one?). The black dots could be scars/burns from stinging, and part of induced melanism --a blackening that Amphiprinids generally undergo when asociated with an anemone host. The only parts of the skin that resist blackening are the white bars of the color pattern.

Bad: Tubellarian flatworms. Look them up on most any decent reefing site. The standard treatment hasn't changed much since Martin Moe put them to print decades ago. Anyone care to rehash them here? My memory's gone batty on me.

07/19/2000, 10:29 PM
thanks for the response. i have no anemone, so i don't think that could be it. sounds like it might be tubellarian flatworms. i am kind of stressed out over this. i have read varying things from improving tank conditions and letting it resolve to formalin dips. does anyone else have thoughts?

07/20/2000, 06:03 AM

I am not an expert, but I have had my Clowns come down with similar conditions. I have never been a big fan of treating fish, since in most cases I make matters worse. I am a big fan of improving environmental conditions, and feeding well, meaning fresh foods such as shrimp and clams. My clowns seemed mostly unafected (other than visibly) by those black spots, and eventually they just faded away.

As long as the fish seem strong and healthy I would feed well, aim for a very stable environment and relax. If the condition seems to advance beyond the black spots, I might resort to some kind of chemical treatment.

I like what horge said about the burns. Do you have any other corals? It doesn't have to be an anemone.


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07/20/2000, 08:03 AM
You wouldn't have to have an anenome to sting the clown. My female clarkii has taken up to some zooanthid polyps and a metalic mushroom and I think that might be causing her black spots as horge described. The only difference is that she does have some on the white bars that aren't really black spots, but look like a scale got knocked off or something. The crazy thing is my male clarkii has no similar spots, but he isn't quite the runaround that the female is. The spots I am talking about really aren't spots, just discoloration of the skin and some are bigger than 1mm.
Not sure if that helps, but thought I would chime in.
FWIW, Nathan

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07/20/2000, 08:44 AM
thanks all. the only corals i have hitchhiked on the live rock, so i don't have much at all. i am working to improve the water conditions, though all the tests show that readings are good. tank is still going through the maturation process, so i have a hair algae explosion that i am trying to manage. that has been the only environmental change i can see that has coincided with the black spots. finally, if it is a coral, it got my female clown right on top of the head. i have two cleaner shrimp comming on saturday. hope that helps. i am starting to fortify my foods with vitamins and selcon more often. i am feeding medicated flakes occasionally, as well. any other suggestions? thanks.

07/20/2000, 10:22 AM

The articles I have seen treat Tubellarian worms with hypo. Wasn't Moe techinique in his 1982 book drop the salinity real quick for one day that bring back up just as quick?

Terry B
07/21/2000, 12:47 AM
This sounds like Tubellarian to me. I have seen some success recently using hyposalintiy (SG 1.009 depending on water temp). The most effective established treatment is a series of formalin dips. One dip for 45 minute every other day. Use 20 drops (1cc) per gal of water in a dip. Use water right out of the tank then throw it away(dilute it first). Be sure to use an airstone in the dip.
Wild clowns often have Brooklynella, but it looks more like lifted scales and strings of mucus coming off the fish.
Best wishes,
Terry B

07/21/2000, 07:35 AM
Terry B,

Nice to see you on RC!!!

07/21/2000, 09:18 PM
The Formalin method that Terry outlines is the tried and true treatment for Tubellarian flatworms. Hyposalinity has worked well for me in 3 cases, however that on it's own is not statistically enough to say it allways works. I am interested in hearing of anyone else's experiance with hypo on this as I don't seem to come across Tubellarian infections with enough frequency.

BTW Terry, it's good to see you over here :)


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07/24/2000, 07:55 PM
thanks for your help so far. i have been trying to improve the environmental conditions and had two cleaner shrimp arrive (don't know if that helps). i will see if this method works b/c i am leery of my treatment abilities. the spots are still there. i may resort to a formallin dip, if i can get the fish out. i have noticed that there are reddish splotches on my clowns on the bars, which then disappear. of the sample size of two, a black spot appears after the reddish splotch disappears. any thoughts or help would be really appreciated b/c this situation is really stressful. thanks.

Terry B
07/24/2000, 09:42 PM
It is common for many types of parasites to cause wounds that become infected by bacteria (secondary bacterial infection). I suspect this is what you are seeing. More than likely you are seeing the wounds left behind from the parasite.
Considering the size of the wounds that it sounds like you are seeing I would opt for hyposalinity over anything else. Reducing the salinity will lessen the stress on the fish caused by the wounds. Anything that compromises the barrier between the fish and the water will cause the fish to expend a great deal more energy for osmoregulation. The excess amount of energy that is required to maintain hydromineral balance means that less energy is available to fight disease and heal. At a specific gravity of 1.009 you should be able to get rid of the worms and make recovery easier for the fish.
Best wishes,

07/25/2000, 01:11 PM
thanks for your help. well, today i ordered my refractometer and now have the daunting task of catching the fish out of my tank. terry b, do you recommend keeping the fish at 1.009 for 4 weeks as recommended for regular ich for black ich as well? thanks for your help.

07/25/2000, 02:16 PM
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