Today marks the third day of quarantine for my two new butterflies! Yesterday the water parameters were: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5, and pH 7.8. I'm happy to see that the cycled media I took from my main tank has given the quarantine tub a perfect instant cycle! After testing the water yesterday I did a 50% water change. I tested the water again today and all the parameters were the same except ammonia, which was .25. That ammonia is probably residual from the ammonia in the tap water added during yesterday's water change (my tap water has about 1 ppm ammonia in it). Since a dose of Prime detoxifies up to 1 ppm of ammonia for 24-48 hours, it's not a problem. After testing the water today I did a 60% water change to freshen the water and keep the nitrates under 10 ppm. At first I was a little worried that the water changes would stress the butterflies, but they actually don't seem to notice much at all! In addition, they don't seem to be afraid of my hands. They don't come up and nibble on my hands like Clover and Callisto (my ryukins) do, because apparently they haven't yet learned to associate human hands with food and feeding time. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before they begin to make that connection!
Yesterday I fed them their first bites of Repashy Soilent Green gel food and I noticed the white fish kept taking pieces into her mouth, "chewing" on them for a while, spitting them out, and repeating this over and over. Each time she spit them out, the pieces were smaller, so she was clearly ingesting some of it. After a few times of doing this though, she gave up on those pieces of food and the red/white fish came over and ate them. Next I tried giving them some Saki-Hikari pellets and the white fish ate those without spitting any out, so I figured she just wasn't used to the texture of gel food and would take a while to get the hang of it. Again today I fed them some Saki-Hikari pellets and the white fish did the same thing with the pellet food today that she did with the gel food yesterday. First she ate about 4 pieces without spitting anything out. But then with the next 3 pieces she picked up, she started chewing and spitting them out. They got smaller each time, so again, she was ingesting some. Eventually she stopped trying to eat them and swam away, and then the red/white one came over and ate what was left. I'm a little worried that the white fish doing this, but for now I'll just keep an eye on it. It's not like she isn't eating at all, so I don't think it's a dire situation at this point.
After today's water change I decided to start their praziquantel treatment to kill gill and body flukes. I'm using Aqua Prazi and I plan on doing 4-6 rounds of it (for more information about QT treatment procedures, you can see my guide to quarantine procedures). I'm also going to treat them with .3% salt at some point, but today I wanted to start with the prazi alone because I'm a worry-wart and I don't want to add too many potential stressors at once. After adding the prazi today, both the fish (but the white one in particular) seemed slightly agitated and were darting around a little bit rather than swimming at a normal pace. I take that to mean they had a few flukes on them, and the prazi killing off the flukes is causing a bit of irritation. I think tomorrow I'll add .1% salt to help ward off infection at the micro-wounds left by the dead flukes.
*Edited to add: I thought better of it and added .1% salt to the tank tonight rather than waiting until tomorrow.
Even though I haven't been able to tell the gender of either fish yet, I've already started thinking of the white one as female and the red/white one as male. I don't know why; I think their body shapes just strike me as such! I tried looking at their vents, but the plastic tub offers a pretty clouded side-view and their anal fins are very close together, covering up their tiny little vents too well for me to get a good view. In time I'll handle them to check their genders, but right now I want to keep handling to a minimum until I'm sure they're fully settled in and de-stressed from their long journey to get here.
Here are some photos of them from today!
I really need to decide on names for them! I have tons of ideas, but haven't settled on the right names yet.