Copperband Stopped Eating

Dr Colliebreath

New member
I thought I would see if anyone had something like this happen with their established copperband butterflyfish or whether it might be an effect of old age.

I purchased my Australian copperband butterflyfish from Divers Den more than 3 years ago (October 2011), and it has been a good fish. It was around 4" when I received the fish. Until recently, it ate chopped seafood (shrimp, scallop, salmon and clam) and mysis every day, plus other foods from time to time when fed like spirulina brine, blackworms, and Ocean Nutrition gel food.

Two and a half weeks ago, the fish just stopped eating and it hasn't eaten since. It hangs around one side of the tank, frequently with its head pointing down, but it comes to the other side of the tank and swims around when I feed. Food is all around the fish bouncing off it, but the CBB doesn't eat at all. It isn't working its beak open and closed like it normally did at feeding time in anticipation of eating. The past couple of days it has been coming to the surface and pushing its snout out of the water like it is seeking food when I feed and makes a popping sound but it won't eat. (This is normal feeding behavior for this fish as it used to do the same thing when eating food from the surface before it stopped eating.) I tried dropping food on and into its beak but it won't eat.

I don't see any evidence that it is blind as it doesn't bump into anything and the fish reacts to my presence.

For people who have had fish die of old age, how did they succumb? Over a couple of weeks or more quickly? At 4", the fish might have been a small adult when I got it and perhaps 3+ more years is its lifespan, but it doesn't look old.

Its fins are not frayed yet and it has maintained its coloring, its eyes are clear, and there are no other signs of distress or a problem. It isn't being beat on by another fish.

I will try feeding with a pipette to see if I can get some food in it. Because the fish is not interested in food, I haven't tried putting a clam on the half shell in the tank or putting garlic on the food.

The day it stopped eating, I blew the rock off with a powerhead. I am pretty sure that didn't cause any water quality issues as I have 5 other butterflyfish and 2 tangs plus a flame angel in the tank and none of them showed any signs of a problem. I dosed the tank with Prime as soon as the fish stopped eating just in case. Nitrates are 10-20 and ph and alk are all normal. Salinity is 1.024. I don't see any other tank or environmental issues that could be a problem.

Thanks for any ideas.
 

johnike

New member
Three years is my record for Copperbands also, I've had 2 last that long as well over the years. Can't say if it was old age or what, but they both did very well for the time that I had them.
I just got another about two months ago, always been a favorite.

Have you tried live blackworms? Mine goes goofy for them.
Best of luck Frank.
 

Dr Colliebreath

New member
Somehow, the CBB is still alive although it hasn't eaten for 4 weeks. Over the past week plus, it has ingested some clam, live blackworms, chopped seafood, and mysis but it spit all or just about all back out after mouthing the food for a while. It comes to the surface where I feed twice a day at feeding time and sticks its snout out of the water, so I have been putting food in its beak with a plastic fork. It mouths the food but finally spits it out. It won't touch any food in the water column but it rises out of the water snapping its beak at the food hanging off the fork.

The fish still looks and acts like a normal, healthy CBB and isn't skinny yet, but it won't eat. No sign of flukes or other illness. I have been tempted to dose my DT with Prazipro just in case (it is a FOWLR, so nothing to harm), but I held off as there is no evidence of flukes on any of the fish. I assume the CBB is nearing the end as it hasn't eaten any significant amount of food for 4 weeks. The tank doesn't have any material amount of pods or similar life to sustain the fish unless it is eating green hair algae while I am not looking.
 

Dr Colliebreath

New member
Steve,

Other fish - raccoon, saddleback, ulitensis, falcula, and semilarvatus butterflyfish; powder blue and purple tangs; percula clown and sunrise dottyback; flame angel. The other butterflyfish and the purple are around the same size as the CBB. The PBT is an inch or a litter more bigger.

None of these fish are bothering the CBB and the CBB swims around at the surface looking for food as long as I am standing in front of the tank. It just won't eat the food.

I haven't added any fish or other live stock for more than a year.

Sorry for the delay in responding, I was busy at work and then picking up my dog.
 

NarakuAulonocar

New member
I hope your fish eats again and recovers.

My bannerfish goes on hunger strikes. Yesterday, it was eating well. Today, it refused food. I'm going to try again in a bit.


Just a suggestion. Maybe put selcon or vitachem on its food. That way, even if it spits food out, at least it got some nutrition.
 

snorvich

Team RC member
Team RC
Steve,

Other fish - raccoon, saddleback, ulitensis, falcula, and semilarvatus butterflyfish; powder blue and purple tangs; percula clown and sunrise dottyback; flame angel. The other butterflyfish and the purple are around the same size as the CBB. The PBT is an inch or a litter more bigger.

None of these fish are bothering the CBB and the CBB swims around at the surface looking for food as long as I am standing in front of the tank. It just won't eat the food.

I haven't added any fish or other live stock for more than a year.

Sorry for the delay in responding, I was busy at work and then picking up my dog.

Some foods to try: live blackworms, nutramar ova, clams on the half shell.
 

Dr Colliebreath

New member
I think it isn't uncommon for cbbs to stop eating like this, it is just frustrating when it happens to you for no apparent reason.

Over the past 10 days or so, the fish has been eating small pieces of clam (frozen and sliced off) from a plastic fork above the surface of the water. At feeding time, it ignores the food I put in the tank for the other fish like mysis, chopped seafood and spirulina brine (it used to eat these foods) but comes to the surface and sticks its snout out of the water and snaps. I maneuver the piece of clam that is dangling from the fork across its snout until it grabs the clam. It has been swallowing more of the clam than spitting it out. Previously, all food was spit out.

The fish has absolutely no interest in food in the water column, including even small bits of clam that fall off the fork. I have to hand feed whatever the fish will eat, that isn't a lot, and the other fish have caught on so I have to present the food to the cbb without letting the other fish get the food.

This has been going on for about seven weeks and I imagine the fish will die from insufficient nutrition even though it is eating a little bit now, but time will tell.
 

Dr Colliebreath

New member
Oddly enough, this fish continues to live. It is eating a small piece or two of clam once or twice a day that I dangle against its beak but it shows no interest in any food in the water column, including pieces of clam that get away from it. One of these days I will get some more live blackworms and see if it eats them, and perhaps a bottle of copepods if the lfs has them.
 

Dr Colliebreath

New member
To complete this saga, the fish lived until last week eating a small piece or two of clam fed by hand twice a day. The fish would poke its snout out of the water and take the clam off a plastic fork. Talk about good manners in a fish! It wouldn't touch anything in the water column, including clam that released from its mouth. It also wouldn't eat anything else, including blackworms that it mouthed for 10 seconds and then spit out. Not sure why it quit eating from the water column and stopped eating its normal variety of foods.

Near the end, the cbb quit coming to the surface for food. I had it 3.5 years. That seems too short of a lifespan, but perhaps it had some age on it when I obtained the fish. It is hard to find many who have kept copperbands alive more than 6 or 7 years, so perhaps we are not furnishing something they need for a longer lifespan.
 

Newsmyrna80

New member
So sorry for your loss. Losing a fish is not easy but you went the extra mile to get him to eat...more than a lot of people would do.
 

julie180

New member
Wow Frank, I did not realize you were able to keep him alive for 4 months. Way to go on the effort. Sorry it did not turn out well.

Mine is finally back into the big tank and doing ok. He will eat black worms from a cone shaped feeder I got from California black worms but he is still to thin for my liking.

Julie
 

brett559

New member
Sorry to hear that. I loved my CBB and was sad to give him away when I wasn't able to keep him fat and happy. They are such amazing fish - I often wonder how old some of these fish are when they are captured. Will you try another?
 

Dr Colliebreath

New member
Wow Frank, I did not realize you were able to keep him alive for 4 months. Way to go on the effort. Sorry it did not turn out well.

Mine is finally back into the big tank and doing ok. He will eat black worms from a cone shaped feeder I got from California black worms but he is still to thin for my liking.

Julie

Julie,

Glad to hear your cbb is back in the big tank. I suspect you will need to feed your cbb 4 or 5 times a day to put weight on it. Even when eating well, mine wouldn't gorge itself on food, but instead it would snap up a couple of bites and leave the rest of the food for the other fish.

Good luck

Frank
 
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