Diet Related Problems

A condition known as head and lateral line erosion, abbreviated HLLE, appears to be caused by an insufficiency of some important food component. It most often develops in vegetarian or mostly vegetarian fishes, such as tangs, angelfish, and damselfish. Areas around the face and gill covers lose coloration and take on an eroded appearance. The fish looks debilitated, although it may feed and swim normally. Eventually, the problem spreads along the lateral line, giving the whole fish a decidedly wretched look. HLLE can be prevented, and in mild cases reversed, by feeding a diet rich in natural seaweeds. If you plan on keeping any of the fish susceptible to this problem, make sure you avoid trouble by feeding them correctly.

Another problem develops mostly in lionfish and similar large predators that are fed on a steady diet of goldfish. This mistake in husbandry creates a severe problem likely resulting from nutritional deficiency. The symptoms are an inability to swallow and in extreme cases, open the mouth at all. There is no cure. Prevention, by feeding goldfish only now and then and saltwater fish most of the time, is the only solution to this problem.

Similarly, fish may develop mouth and jaw dysfunctions if fed exclusively on freeze-dried krill or brine shrimp. Once again, the problem seems to be irreversible once the fish is noticeably affected.

The common thread in these problems is, I hope, obvious: an exclusive diet of one food leads to health problems. Feed fresh ocean-derived food in as wide a variety as you can obtain. Save the prepared foods as a staple when nothing else is convenient. On the reef, the food is always fresh and the variety incredible.

Catching Fish

Catching fish from a well-decorated and long-established minireef can be a real challenge. Too many hiding places exist among the pieces of rock. If you try chasing the fish down with a net, you run the risk of injuring delicate invertebrates by bumping them, snagging them with the net, or knocking them off their perch on the live rock. Various kinds of fish traps offer the best option. Fish trapping can be frustrating. Fish are naturally wary of anything unusual placed in the tank, and it may take a while for them to throw caution to the winds and enter the trap to get at the bait. By the time this happens, the disease may have progressed dangerously. Another obstacle may be that sick fish often refuse to eat, rendering any bait ineffective. \_/

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