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Old 02/06/2019, 09:46 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Putnal Valley, NY
Posts: 2,191
Lingering Eye Problems with Yellow Pyramid Butterfly


Two yellow pyramid butterflies were acquired approx. 8 weeks ago.

They were difficult to get eating, one taking almost two weeks, but I eventually succeeded and both were eating a variety of fresh marine preparations and algae, and were apparently healthily.

Upon purchase, they were placed directly into my quarantine system.

Quarantine System:
  • Size = 55 gal + 20 gal wet/dry filter sump (no carbon, just physical media). Total liquid volume about 60 gal.
  • Age = 7 years continuous operation (a lone clown often serves as a co-inhabitant to keep the tank cycled during long periods of not adding fish, and from my experience, to help get new fish to start eating and to prevent the stress of being alone)
  • Specific Gravity = 1.024 (measured by Apex Controller, cross-checked with handheld hydrometer and probe calibration solution. Variation negligible due to auto topoff.)
  • Temperature = 79 - 80F (maintained by Apex Controller)
  • Nitrate = 0 - 10mg-N/L (depending where I am in water change cycle)
  • Rock and Sand = None
  • Decoration = Just PVC pipe fittings.

Green algae growth is good, and I will often let it grow to help newly added fish deal with the stress of movement outside the aquarium.


Fish were treated with cupramine as per the directions on the bottle (once fish were eating, and to achieve a copper concentration as listed. Copper checked by two test kits (API and Seachem? Can't remember... and the LFS as often as they'll let me)

My experience with pyramid butterflies is they always come in with flukes, so I also treated concurrently with Prazipro.

Copper dosage was being maintained at the time of illness onset.


4 weeks after commencing copper, both pyramids succumbed rapidly to serious illness (loss of color, rapid breathing, loss of fin, red ulcers, cloudy eyes, mucous). This came on in less than 36 hours. They had previously been very active.

One was on his side, apparently dead, and the other not far behind. In fact, one was so motionless I went to retrieve the "body" with a net only to find the poor fish still alive.


I immediately began Furan course plus other palliative measures (extra aeration, subdued lighting, water changes, etc...). It took 5 days to get them back to health.

Symptoms of Butterfly 1:

This fish has recovered almost completely, eats normally, is active and engaging with the clownfish.

This fish has one clear and one cloudy eye that is slightly bulging. I could not get a great picture, as I believe the fish is not seeing out of the cloudy eye, so it keeps its good eye towards me. Fish also lost some scales, but fins mostly intact.

My first question is: Will this eye ever heal?

I had pop eye only once before, back around 2009. The fish lost that eye. This fish's eye is not bulging as bad as I previously experienced, but is still cloudy.

I have attached a picture of the first fish's cloudy eye (it was the best picture I could get)

Symptoms of Butterfly 2:

The second fish is in much worse shape. This was the one close to death. This fish has swelling not of the entire eye like I experience with pop eye once before, but akin to a cloudy donut around the eye. I did manage to get a picture (below). I believe this fish is not seeing. This fish never returned to eating, and hasn't been observed eating for 7 days now, since the likely onset of symptoms. The fish can maintain its position in the water column, but keeps a slight nose down orientation, perhaps due to loss of fin tissue?

My second question is: Will this second fish ever regain sight? Or is euthenasia recommended?


Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_0878.JPG (79.2 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_0884.jpg (24.4 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_0889.JPG (72.0 KB, 12 views)
Matt L., Ph.D. Environmental Microbiology
Questions about nutrients, cycling, and bacteria in a reef tank?
Member: Boston Reefer's Society, Manhattan Reefer's Society

Current Tank Info: 210gal Display Tank, 125gal Sump, 75gal Refugium, 55gal Quarantine Tank, 120gal Frag Tank
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