The bubbles are gone. I hope. I sat and observed the opae in the 10-gallon for about ten minutes this morning and didn’t see any with the dreaded bubble “disease.”
The answer is so simple that I’m embarrassed to admit it. The bubbles were really just that — bubbles. Air bubbles, to be more exact, and not symptoms of some form of infection or disease. How do I know?
Yesterday afternoon, I netted more of the bubbled opae and added them to the 1-gallon quarantine tank. And, as before, they seemed to lose their bubbles once in the tank. I assumed that it was an optical illusion, that the bubbles were still present but I just couldn’t see them because of the poor visibility afforded by the plastic container.
The obvious difference between the quarantine tank and the 10-gallon is the absence of an air filtering system. Assuming that the bubbles couldn’t be benign and had to be some kind of horrible disease, I didn’t give this difference a second thought. That is, until yesterday afternoon. Could filtration be the cause? Seemed far-fetched, but I was desperate and had nothing to lose.
The UGF in the 10-gallon runs 24/7, and it produces a constant bloom of tiny bubbles. I decided to experiment and turned the filter off last night. This morning, a few minutes ago, I checked to see if it had made a difference.
Voilà, it had, much to my relief and chagrin. I didn’t see any opae with bubbles. I’ll continue to monitor the tank throughout the day to see if this observation holds true.
I’ll keep the quarantined opae in the isolation container until I’m sure the 10-gallon really is safe. Perhaps later today or early tomorrow they’ll be able to rejoin their colony.
Another plus for the 10-gallon with filter turned off is the appearance (or visibility?) of numerous tiny juveniles. In the filtered state, I might’ve missed them because of the constant agitation of bubbles or they might’ve been hiding in the condo to avoid the turmoil outside.
In any case, the 10-gallon seems like a totally different environment with filter off. More peaceful. Less stressful? Not sure. The grazing seems more relaxed, less frenzied. Not sure if this is a healthy sign.
I remember, early on, experimenting between filter-on and filter-off periods. At the time, I found that the opae became more active as soon as the filter was turned off, but after a day or so, their activity level seemed to decline. My assumption at the time was that the chemical balance was upset by the absence of the filter. I decided to simply leave it on 24/7.
Now I’m wondering if I should move to a cycle that alternates between filter-on and filter-off. Perhaps this step is needed if bubbles begin to attach to the opae? If not, then leave it on 24/7?
I suppose another question is, are the bubbles trapped on their shells harmful? They don’t seem to be. Could they be beneficial in some way?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the support and comfort that Robin and Odin provided during this crisis, which seemed all too real at the time. I learned a heck of a lot and will no longer think of no-maintenance as an ideal. Low-maintenance, in the form of close observation-based monitoring is essential. I guess the rule of thumb is, if something doesn’t look right, investigate.
A second rule of thumb may be, don’t overlook obvious causes. In other words, don’t assume anything. In this case, I should have explored the air filter as a cause before jumping to other diagnoses. Bubbles beget bubbles seems, in hindsight, to be a no-brainer.
Before clicking on “publish,” I’ll do a 5-minute observation to make sure that I’m not hallucinating.