The Royal Gramma, subtitled DON’T PANIC

11 Dec

In the Nemo movie, the Royal Gramma is named "Gurgle".

Four years ago I added a Royal Gramma to my saltwater tank.

The Royal Gramma seemed healthy at first, but his tailfin was slightly ragged. Then it got worse, the tailfin was getting smaller. Even scarier, a parasitic worm started to emerge from his head!! At that time, my tank had some hermit crabs and snails and I was very leery of using any medications.

The Gramma was still eating so I decided to raise the temperature of the tank to 82-84F and make sure he got a high protein diet. I fed him lots of shrimp (Brine Shrimp, Krill, and Mysis Shrimp). He continued to eat, the other fish did not seem to be “catching” any of his disease, and after a few weeks he started to improve.

As I recall, this process took about a month, but once he recovered he has been in great health ever since. I hope I have him another 4 years!

When the Royal gramma  “yawns” you can see that he is capable of eating a fairly large prey item. Occasionally he eats  guppies of various sizes.  He is an extremely capable predator.

The lesson for me at that time was not to panic when I see an illness in my fish tanks. If I see a little sign of tail fungus or mouth fungus or some fish that is “itching” by rubbing against objects, I first think about these things:

1. Is the heater working properly? If the heater fails and the tank drops to
under 70F degrees  there are diseases which may show up. Get the tank back up to temp and go a little higher than usual. I think the lower 80’s is safe and effective.

2. Is the water clean? Have I been neglecting the water changes.? If so, get with it! Make sure to have aged, treated water and get changing it. 20% per day for a week. Watch the fish and see if they improve. I guarantee the overall health of your tank will improve dramatically.

3.Is the sick fish under stress from his tankmates? Just sit down and watch the fish for awhile. Is there an aggressive fish that is harrassing the others? A harrassed fish doesn’t eat as much, plus he is probably getting nipped and shredded a bit. Disease can take hold where the fish is injured.

4. Feed the fish the best quality food you have. Give them frozen Brine Shrimp to keep them excited about eating. Any kind of worms are great, even garden worms that you dig up and chop up. Worms are great protein and the fish will fight over the pieces.

I haven’t always followed my own advice. I have failed to notice a problem when it first began, or I have let a problem go on too long. I have failed to act on something obvious, like getting a beat-up fish out of a tank before it is too late. I have under medicated or over medicated, all out of laziness or ignorance. Having fish can mean heartbreak, especially when you know it your fault.

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