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Lethargic Clowns - Help!

Posted By: Mr Leadfoot <leadfoot@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Thursday, 25 July 2002, at 2:19 a.m.

I have had 3 clowns for quite some time now. They used to be active and eat like pigs. They dominated my feeding basket, and were gregarious in their dolphin-like swimming and somersaulting.

2 months ago I added 2 modestas, and at first all seemed copacetic. 2 weeks later the modestas began chasing each other around, as modestas will do. The problem was that they were very obnoxious. Although they never once fought with any of my other fish, including my clowns, their chase game had them banging into other fish with absolutely no regard for the welfare of the others. I witnessed this many times, and their chase game finally began to take its toll.

My clowns began retreating to their caves, and rarely ventured out. I thought after some time, the modestas would settle down, and that my clowns, which are larger, would end up standing their ground. The largest is over 4"; number two is 3.75"; and number 3 is 3.5". But, no such luck. Finally, I had to make the hard decision, and ended up returning my modestas to the LFS where I purchased them.

That was almost a month ago. By that time, my clowns refused to come out, even to eat. A week went by, and still they didn't eat. 2 weeks went by without a change. I thought that they might need a little spirit-boosting, so I purchased another lively smaller clown, about 3".

After 5 days with number 4 in quarantine with Maracide as a prophylactic, and no apparent health problems, I decided to also get two 1.5" clowns for a 10 gallon I have. I went back to the LFS, and mentioned that number 4 was doing well in quarantine. A staff member told me that ne never quaratines his fish, but uses Aquari-Sol has a preventer instead. After discussing this, I decided to give it a whirl with the 2 new clowns going into the 10 gallon. The instructions on the Aquari-Sol bottle say that it works has a parasitic preventer (ICH, Velvet, etc.) at maintenance doses once a week, and is also a medication for same at daily doses.

When I got home, I added the 2 new clowns to my 10 gallon and added the Aquari-Sol. I did this for 2 days, and everything went fine.

By this time, my number 4 clown seemed ready for my main tank that holds the 3 other clowns, which were STILL not eating, or venturing out of their cave much. I added number 4, and decided to try the Aquari-Sol, in the main tank, too. I dosed at dialy doses for 2 days, leaving a month old carbon bag in the filter.

Now, I don't know if this is a coincidence or not, but on day two, clown number 2 came out of his "funk" and started playing and roaming with my new number 4. He even ate a bit. Now, Aquari-Sol has copper salts in it (copper sulfate, to be exact). I remembered reading something about copper on this forum and searched for related topics. All posts on copper seemed to "agree" that copper sulfate was "bad", so I stopped dosing after that 2nd dose. It's been over a week now, and not only had number 2 remained active and gregarious, he has a voracious appetite. He eats well, as does new number 4. Number 2 is out most of the time, and even eats wafers, which none of my clowns ever ate before.

The problem is that numbers 1 and 3, are STILL not eating. They look perfectly fine, have good color, no visible signs of parasites, and number 1's eyes look alert and even his dorsal stands straight up. But, he hardly ever comes out of his cave, and seems to sleep alot. And, when I feed even his previously favorite frozen brine shrimp and krill, he comes out of his cave to see what's going on, only to retreat within 10 seconds, without so much as a taste.

Number 3, however, although rich in color, seems a bit more lethargic. Again, no visible signs of injury (from the modestas' banging?), not does he show signs if parasites. Number 3 at least ventures out of the cave once in a while, but like number 1, seems to run for cover whenever food is added to the tank. When he IS out, he seems to swim slowly.

I don't know what to do about this situation. Neither number 1 or number 3 seem under-nourished, they don't appear to have the wasting disease, either. They just plain don't eat. Some people suggested they're eating at night, but I don't think so. I've stayed up late into the wee hours to see if that might be true, and even reversed the process and have awaken in the wee hours to see if they're eating then. But, they're not, and it's been over 3 weeks since they've eaten.

What could be wrong? Do any of you have any experience with something like this? I would think that if the problem is a behavioral response to my "rough" modestas, I would think things would better now, especially since they've been gone for nearly a month.

I've checked water over and over, gravel, plant health, and nothing seems out of whack. I'm getting desperate, because these clowns have been with me through thick and thin. Not to sound cold-hearted or anything, but they're also reaching the size where they're worth upwards of US$40 apiece where I am. If they hit 5", their value will nearly double, and at 6" clowns around here are worth $100 apiece.

But, I really don't want to lose them, valubale or not. They are my pride and joy.

Could the Aquari-Sol have rectified the problem and perked up number 2? If so, should I try a longer daily dose cycle for the benefit of numbers 1 and 3? Or, should I try some aquarium salt? What are my risks? Any other suggestions? I'm not looking for foods to try, because that's NOT the problem at all. I always feed a variety of healthy and "candy" foods (for treats), and I'm positive that that's not the problem.

ANY feedback would be greatly appreciated by me AND my clowns.

Oh, so you know my environment for effects of meds, or whatever:

4 clowns (sizes as described above)
2 black mollies (I've already investigated the possibility of the clowns feeding on fry instead of food)
1 platy
4 tiger barbs
3 otos
UGF with 2 powerheads
AquaClear 150 with sponge and carbon
NitrAtes 20 - 25 ppm
Temp 83
Water changes weekly; partial gravel vaccum every water change; filter rinse every other water change; filter media replaced alternately; thorough filter clean, once a month.

Thank you very much in advance,


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