Fish Won't Eat or Come out of Rock-Is he dying?


Premium Member
My first fish, a Royal Gramma (I have had him 4 days) has stopped eating and coming out of the rocks.

Friday he was eating and looked okay when he WOULD come out, but he hides in the rocks so much I hardly ever saw him.

Saturday he never came out except for once to go from one rock hole to the other and never ate anything that I saw. I have been feeding him Mysis Shrimp soaked in garlic.

Friday morning the tank temperature had gone up to 82.5 when I got up so I unplugged one of the heaters and by Saturday the temp had gone back down to 78.4. This morning it is 79.4 so I don't think the temp change would have been that bad.

My water tests fine, PH8.2, Ammonia-0, Nitrate-0, Nitrate-0. The SG 1.024.

I did have a diatom problem start on Thursday but it really doesn't look that bad and the water is still fine.

I am worried that the fish is sick, he doesn't look sick from outward appearance as much as I can tell as he doesn't come out long enough to check now. When he goes into the rock holes though he just lays on the rock.

Should I just wait and see if he dies and how long can he not eat before he will die just of starvation if nothing else? Is he lonely in there all by himself?

Suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I really hate to lose my first fish for no apparent and have no idea why I would with the water tests I have. Oh, btw, no he wasn't quarantined by me but had been in the LFS for a week and a half and was eating well even at home for the first couple of days.


Well, it doesn't sound like a water quality problem at all. It could be an internal bacterial problem. The only thing I'd recommend is to put some live brine shrimp in the tank. If it doesn't take that, then the fish's chances of survival don't seem good. Sorry to have to put it that way...Let us know what happens.
well first thing first royal grammas are rokck loves and are very shy fish i also have one and h e was hiding in the rocks for ages when i put more fish in, he became a lot more brave now hes out all the time. maybe its lonley i feed mine brine shrimp he dosent like mysis at all
Really? I know he is a hiding fish, but shouldn't he come out to eat?

I sort of got the impression that he wasn't crazy about the Mysis. Are the Brine Shrimp alive or dried or frozen?

I went to the LFS to get him a couple of green chromis for friends and they advised against it since he was acting funny. Said to wait a couple of days in case he dies and spikes the Ammonia or something. Anyway they talked me out of the additions now.
The fish probably needs to come out to eat. What other animals are there in the tank? I agree that the gramma might have an infection of some sort. You should be able to buy live brine shrimp, or perhaps hatch them yourself. Most fish really like live food.

It's possible, but unlikely, that the gramma is finding enough live food on the rock, etc, to keep going, but I've had one that was so terrorized in the fish store that it never really came out to eat, and simply starved to death. Well, that's my best guess as to why it wouldn't eat, and then died.
Check your alkalinity, too: skin and gill discomfort with the alkalinity or PH can make a fish want to hide.
According to the LFS all water parameters are right on the money.

I bought some frozen brine shrimp but he doesn't know I have it since he won't come out to find out. I tried feeding it very close to where I know he is hiding, but nothing.

So, I am at a loss.
I think you need to set the temperature to a good floor. When I lost a heater once upon a time, my royal gramma died in the cool water that ensued. I picked 82 F as the base temperature.

The parameters you listed are fine, IMO, although SG is a little low. You could also try running some carbon, if you're not, and perhaps some water changes, but I suspect this is a fish acclimation issue. You could try using a turkey to feed the fish, if that can be done without terrorizing the animal.
i had a pair of clowns for 1 week; 1 fish died in 3 days , the other one in 4 days; i was told they had parasites :(

hope is not going to be your case
Had two 100 watt heaters in the tank, both set at 79. The temp went to 84 overnight and when I got up and discovered it I unplugged one to see if it cooled off. Since then (Friday) it has been a steady 79.5.

The LFS says it is probably the temp spike that caused a stress problem.
84 F is fine. One or two of my tanks have hit that without any signs of problems. Of course, the base temperature is 82 F. Still, a fish shouldn't be bothered at that temperature.
Fish died, RIP.

Dug him out of the rock cave, sadly he wasn't quite whole when I got him out. Tested the water, it is fine. Maybe .25 Ammonia, but even that is hard to tell, maybe 0. Temp holding steady at 79.5. Should it be 82 as some have suggested? Skimmer was unusually full this morning, don't know why, but possibly because of the garlic that I added to his food that he didn't eat.

How long should I wait until I try another fish and what is a good starter fish that won't hide all the time so I can tell if he is sick.
I don't think temperature was the issue, unless it dropped very low for some reason. Could be disease or stress. If you're a patient type, waiting a few weeks might help reduce the risk of disease, if disease was the issue.
was he dead when you pulled him out? how was he 'in peices?'

my advice for this situation... it was only 4 days: see my signature!!!

many fishes will hide when stressed... he realized that he was in a new place, and started hiding. you stressing, watching him, moving rocks around, etc... stressed him out more, causing his demise...
i think a chromis is a good idea but i would suggest waiting a couple weeks and make sure all the stats are consistent. Otherwise, I personally think a damsel is a good first fish but then you will have problems with it getting along with other fishes in the future.
He was most definitely dead before I took him out. He was very very soft and broke apart easily when I tried to get him out. I was able to see up into the hole and could tell he was breathing last night but not this morning.

Yeah, I was stressing, but I'm pretty sure he didn't know it. I didn't move any rocks, I did move some of the equipment, but that was part of the normal maintenance and nowhere near him and at the time I did that he had not appeared to be anything more than "spooked", not unduly stressed.

So I don't know what his problem was but I simply don't care to consider it bad fish care on my part.