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FAQs about Toxic Water Conditions : Exogenous Causes (External, Inorganic... e.g. Paint, Metals, Fish Medicine-Biocides... 2

Related Articles: Copper Use in Marine Systems, Marine Toxic Tank Conditions , General  Marine Maintenance,

Related FAQs: Exogenous (from outside, External, Inorganic, e.g. Metals) Source 1, Exogenous Source 3, Exogenous Source 4, & Insecticides, Cleaners, Copper Use in Marine Aquariums, Toxic Situations 1, Toxic Situations 2, Toxic Situations 3Toxic Situations 4Toxic Situations 5, Toxic Situations 6, Toxic Situations 7, Toxic Situations 8, Toxic Situations 9, & FAQs on Toxic Water Conditions by: Unknown Causes, & Endogenous (from inside, e.g. Internal, Organic Causes), Foods, Nutrients, Venomous/Poisonous Tankmates, Wipe-out Syndromes/New Tanks e.g.,

Exogenous Causes: Marine Algaecide Use/Chemical Control, Toxic Copper Use Situations/Troubleshooting, Insecticides, Cleaners, & Troubleshooting/Fixing,


Ich or Velvet?     11/10/13
I have a Kole tang that suddenly is covered in a velvety substance.
I’m assuming it’s marine velvet… but I also thought it could be marine Ich.

Could you confirm which disease it is for me?
<.... doesn't look like either of these Protozoans to me... Something "more sinister", like poor water quality issue, perhaps stinging... What else is in this system? What additives, supplements et al. are you pouring in? Bob Fenner>
And I believe this guy is probably to far gone.
Friday he seemed fine… today (Sunday) he looks terrible.
Thank you for your help.
Matt Kasperski
Unfortunately, this is the best pic I can get.  It does appear more velvety than sprinkled with ‘salt or sugar’.
I’ve probably just answered my question.  But I thank you for your time.

Re: Ich or Velvet?     11/10/13
It’s a 6 month old system… (75 gallon).
Other fish are 2 ocellaris clowns, 3 Chromis, 1 melanurus wrasse.
Also 2 Birdsnest corals and a Montipora, cleaner shrimp… assorted snails.
<All these should be okay>
I moved from VA to TX back in June… 
The system was set up immediately in June and was ‘seeded’ with a few pieces of live rock from my old (4 year running) system.
I thought I had Ich in this new setup (even though all fish were quarantined for 6 weeks in a smaller tank).  I have been treating with ‘Kick Ich’
<... here's the problem. Ala pepper sauce. You've been scammed>
 for two weeks… (I know, it probably doesn’t work but I was desperate).
Was performing 25% water changes twice a week before a new dose of Kick Ich was added.
Aside from adding the Kick-Ich, I have added buffer (sodium carbonate) occasionally to combat low Alk.  Regular water changes are performed every two weeks and I would have assumed water quality was ok.
All the fish look a little ‘off’ today but the Kole tang looked the worst.
All are in hospital tank now… and I was wondering what would be the best course of treatment.
OH… and how long should I leave the DT fallow?  8 weeks?
<... posted on WWM... I'd look into quinine cpd.s>
I have attached a better pic of the Kole tang in the hospital tank.
<... poisoned by the scam product. Search, read re this on WWM as well. BobF>

Stain Fumes/Empty Tank      4/14/13
Dear Bob & Crew,
Thanks so much for all that you do for the hobby! The dailies have a been a true blessing for the past...well I guess I'm not sure. How long have you been posting dailies?
<Mmm, since 95>
Just a brief question for you today. We're in the process of building a new house and of course, have to have an in-wall reef tank in the basement. The house is currently being trimmed and the fish-room is completed, although it will remained unfinished (if that makes an sense!). The tank stand, outer dry-wall and trim will be complete, but the interior will not be sheet-rocked to cut costs.
<I see>
The tank will be delivered this week and a thought dawned on me: the carpenters will begins staining next week and as you can imagine, the odors will be extremely strong. In addition, the painters will be coming in afterwards, adding to the mix.
In your expert opinion, will it be safe to store the empty tank in the house with these fumes? The trim carpenter requested that the tank be there while he adds the trim for a more precise fit but now I'm starting to wonder if this is ok.
Thanks so much!
Joe W.
<Shouldn't be an issue. If it were me/mine, I'd leave it in the house during the work. Would cover to keep most dust/dirt out. Bob Fenner>

Battery fell in my tank!   3/25/13
Dear Crew,
  Chris in MD here.  First off thanks for giving up your time to us fellow hobbyists. I have been a long time reader and have been doing well so far on my first saltwater setup. Until today! I had my Hanna pH pen in my feeding clip(been doing this for months while testing water parameters) to monitor Ph while I started dosing Seachem Reef Builder. Alk usually 8.4 dKH but recently dropped to 7.
<Whoa 7.0?>
Trying to figure out why. Well, I left the tank to make lunch and didn't pull the pen out. Came back to do another dose( 5ml every 1hr) and found the pen in the DT!
<Mmm, not a big deal in this time frame little harm>

 I immediately did a ten gallon water change (all I had made up), placed Poly-Filter in the baffles of my sump/fuge, added carbon in mesh bags(3"x8"), and hooked up my C-160 canister filter to the tank(also contains carbon bags). My setup is only 4 months old and has no fish or inverts in it. 46 gallon Bow with a 16gallon sump/fuge in the stand. DT has 46 lbs of Fiji live rock and 40 lbs
Arag-Alive Fiji pink. Back is drilled with a Glass-holes style 1 1/2" overflow box. Refugium is 12 gallons and contains Chaeto(3 good handfuls) and Red Gracilaria (2 handfuls) and 15lbs of Ecosystems Miracle Mud. Also I run a ASM Mini-G skimmer in the first chamber which has gone into overdrive since the battery fell in the tank. Overflowed, so I lowered the tube and still emptying a full cup per hour. Guess that good? Bio Balls in first chamber for noise/bubble reduction. Return is a Pondmaster Mag 5 Supreme 3/4" w/ SCWD to loc line 3" flare nozzle returns.
   I have read through all the FAQs I could find about such a problem, rarer than I thought it would be for a battery to end up in the tanks/sumps.
  So now my questions:
1) Any other procedures I should be doing?
your system is large enough, you have a good deal of "absorbing" biota and mud...>
2) Do I need to scrape everything and start over?
3) Anything else you need to know about the system?
<Zip, nada, zilch>
4) I don't have a copper test kit yet, any other testing I should be doing?
I have the following kits currently Elos NO2, NO3, NH3/4 and PO4, Seachem Marine Basic Multi test, and Red Sea Ca, Mg, and KH Reef Foundation. And Chlorine/Bromine for checking my RO/DI system.
5) I am currently making another 15 gallons of saltwater, How soon can I use it for an emergency change? Always wait 24 to 48 hrs with aeration/circulation/aging for previous changes.
6) Its takes 5 hrs to make 20 gal of new RO/DI water. Can I use Prime and treat tap water for emergency changes?
<You could; but I wouldn't>
7) Does anyone make a waterproof pH pen that floats? just thought I'd ask.
 <Mmm, maybe Milwaukee and/or Hach... both are light, lack density if memory serves>
Thanks for your time and sorry this email is long but I wanted to cover as much info as I thought was needed. I will be smacking my head against the wall until I hear back from you. And ordering a new pH pen(with a life jacket this time)
 <Not to worry. All will be fine. Bob Fenner>
Re: Battery fell in my tank!   3/25/13

Mr. Fenner
  Thank you for the quick response. I will start being more careful in the future. Now to put ice on my head and fix the wall. Thanks again to you and the crew for all your time keeping this site available to us hobbyists.
<Welcome Chris. BobF>

strange growths;19 days old aquarium... Cement and Fe decor     2/6/13
<BM... 13.5 megs of pix?>
Hello everyone.
I have tried looking for clues that could explain the strange growths that have started popping up in my nineteen days old marine-aquarium, but in vain. I have been keeping fresh water fishes for a decade now. With this unexpected encounter right in the beginning while the tank is cycling, that does not have any available records, its frightening. Intend to keep a fish-only tank with Prolifera algae and, an ocellaris clown, Andaman damsel and a Brazilian gramma( the last two fishes will be added after about three-four months post clown-addition) after the (4 weeks) cycling is done. What I have in the tank are -
1. tap-water with salt from Red-Sea,1.0018 SG
<One zero too many here>
(intend to keep the SG at this, prior to opting for live rocks and corals)
2. structure made of building sand, dark and white cement with iron-mesh re-enforcement.
<... this will have to go... the cement is likely toxic, the iron definitely so>

3. a cube of dry Tubifex worms, few three-millimeter sugar cubes added thrice so far, for bacteria culture.
4. a power head and an air-pump for oxygenation.
5. strong, ambient day light in summer and, slight direct sun-light in winter.
6. bottom is one centimeter solid mortar.
I could not provide the measurements of the gases, etc., as the tools are not locally available yet. I am from India(West Bengal).My regrets.
<No worries>
Please take a look at the attached images and kindly help identify and, meet the situation as required.
Warmest regards.
From-Anupam Biswas.
<Mmm, well, the "growths" are highly likely just "crystals" grown from the cement, parts of the salt mix here... The pH, alkalinity are likely sky-high (very)... Again, the construct you've built, placed won't work in a biological system.
Bob Fenner>

Re: strange growths; 19 days old aquarium     2/7/13
Thank you Mr. Fenner.
It was a pleasure conversing with you.
<Welcome... I would break off a piece of one of these growths and look at it a bit more closely to be sure... Under a microscope if you have one, or just a magnifying glass, loupe if not. Cheers, BobF>

Re: strange growths;19 days old aquarium     2/10/13
I will definitely try to do as you suggest Mr. Fenner the soonest and send an update to you for your valuable input.
<Welcome. BobF>

Battery disaster - cleaning up after 1/21/13
I'm really in need of some advice here. I am in the process of setting up a reef tank (first time). I do not have any live rock in yet. I am also establishing a 30 gallon refugium that I initially seeded with 120 lbs of live sand and was in the process of cycling. I had the two connected via a pump to the refugium and gravity return back to the main tank (a Red Sea Max 130D). Today I disconnected them to repair a PVC drip. About twelve hours later I discovered that my digital thermometer (with alkaline button battery) had dropped into the refugium, leaking some corroded [brown] metals into the refugium. The tanks are currently not connected and I am 95% sure that the thermometer dropped in after I disconnected them.
<Ah, good>
I have now emptied the refugium of water and tossed the sand. Can you recommend a procedure to completely remove the toxic heavy metals from this aquarium? I am currently considering muriatic acid…is this overkill?
<Yes; am a huge fan of PolyFilter... do search on WWM, the Net re... I'd put a pad in your water flow path here and run it for a couple days. All should be fine>
thanks in advance for your help!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Help Folger's Coffee "Big Can" (Columbia) fell into sump tank!??    1/9/13
Hi Crew,
Major emergency question here.  This morning my cat knocked a can of Folgers Columbian Coffee into our 29 gal. sump tank to our marine aquarium.  Our main tank is a 75 gal.  It probably circulated for 5 – 9 minutes before I found out and shut down the pump.  I’ve spent all day skimming coffee grounds (about an inch of coffee grounds of an almost full can fell into the sump) from the main tank and replacing water.  I’ve exchanged about 18 gallons so far.  My main question is do you guys have any idea of the harm coffee can do in the tank??
<Well, the compound most everyone is aware of, caffeine, is very water soluble... and may well effect fishes, invertebrates as it does humans. I would be dumping all the water out, while trying to vacuum out all the coffee, replacing the water with all new (pre-made if possible)... and adding a good deal of activated carbon in the water flow path>
  My tank water definitely has a brownish shade to it, still.  Reminds me of adding tea for tannins to my Betta breeding tanks.....The sump is full of rock.
<Take this out while vacuuming>
 The main tank has a Bubble Tip Anemone, mushrooms, snails, crabs.  Fish – Clownfish, Banggai Cardinal, 6 Line Wrasse, and Bicolor Angel.
Thanks for any help you can give,
Bob and Glovanna Blackledge
<Hopefully all will be well here. Bob Fenner>

Emergency Battery in QT 12/17/12
Hi crew..
<Hello Jennifer>
I have an emergency.  I have a yellow tang in the QT, it has been there for 2 weeks and today a battery fell into the QT. As luck would have it I am in
the process of making water so I did not have any water on hand to do a fast water change. Since the water changes have been done with the main
tank water I quickly checked pH, temp and salinity. Both were the same. I took the tang out of the QT and put him in a bucket with main tank water.
That was 2 hours ago and occasionally he slumps to the bottom of the bucket but other times he is swimming around. His gills are occasionally pumping hard.  I'm still dripping water in the bucket and I put an airstone in there for oxygen and to keep the water moving.  Is there anything I can put in the water to help rid him of these toxins?
<Might want to get a Polyfilter pad and run the water through that.  Your last name now makes me wonder what ever happened to John Burleson, marine
Thank you.
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Battery in QT   /RMF    12/17/12

Hi crew! 
  A battery operated light fell into the 10 gallon QT last night.  Needless to say the fish did not survive.  I put ChemiPure in the filter and ran it overnight. There is a piece of live rock in the tank. 1. How do I go about cleaning the tank in order to use it again? 2. Is the live rock viable?
Thank you.  Jennifer
<I'd be adding a good deal of activated carbon and possibly a PolyFilter pad in the water, flow path. Bob Fenner>
Re Emergency Battery in QT 12/18/12

Hi James!
<Hello Jennifer>
I don't think I'm any relation to Mr. Burleson, marine aquarist/writer, but it would explain my love of all things aquatic:) Unfortunately the tang did not make it. He was swimming around for 4 hours after the event. I put him in the hospital tank and he was actively swimming. But this morning I found him dead. I'm now breaking down the QT and am wondering how to clean the tank so I can use it again. I did run Chemi Pure in the filter overnight.
<Might want to try bleach.  Mix one part bleach to ten parts water and circulate this water for a day.  Drain tank and fill with fresh water and repeat this process until there is no odor of bleach in the tank.  Usually two rinses clears any residual bleach.>
Thanks for your quick response!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Emergency Battery in QT 12/19/12

Thanks James!
<You're welcome Jennifer.>
I did this last night. I'm going to run a PolyFilter to see if there is anything still in the tank.
<Sounds good!  Have a nice Christmas.  James (Salty Dog)>

Christmas Trees and Marine aquariums – 12/03/12
Hello again, Bob and company!
Thank you again for providing such an amazing resource. I have a question about Christmas trees.  I know pine and other sappy woods are bad (toxic) for marine life. That said, is it bad to have an aromatic Noble Fir in the same (small) office as a marine tank?
<I think this should be fine>
I set up a small tree in my home office this year before thinking about it but sitting here this evening I realized if the trees contains harmful compounds that can pass through the air I'd rather move it than cause a problem.
The fish show no signs of problems - in fact, I've attached a photo showing my big male seahorse hitched to the thermometer staring at the tree - he's been there over an hour, fascinated by the lights. Still, if the tree could harm him I'll move it ASAP!
Thank you again,
<Cheers, and happy holidays. Bob Fenner>


Hi. Tote toxicity question     7/3/12
Hi Crew, Have you ever heard of problems with marine fish kept in new large plastic containers of 60-90 liters, i.e. large dustbins. I have been using these but have had unexplained problems. Regards, Adam.
<Well, most such containers are chemically inert... made of Polyethylene, other plastics... and safe for aquarium use. If I were concerned, I'd seek out the manufacturer and ask them. Bob Fenner>
Re: Hi. Question re toxicity of totes, testing      7/4/12

Thanks I do not think they are to blame. They do not have a name on them, but appear to be regular white plastic. They have also been rinsed thoroughly in sea water.
<... simple bioassay/s w/ fish/es, invertebrates... freshwater would be fine. B>

Stock tank for live rock cooking - aluminum metal contact - OK for saltwater? 6/14/12
The stock tank shown below has an aluminum drain that is molded into the plastic container. It is similar to the popular Rubbermaid stock tanks, but seems to be cheaper and equally widely available. Do you think there is any risk associated with aluminum and its exposure to saltwater for any time duration?
<Yes, aluminum is saltwater resistant but not corrosion proof.>
 I know that boat hulls are sometimes made of aluminum, and some Google searching seems to convey that it is resistant to saltwater corrosion, but wonder if you have any opinion on this.
<Fluoropolymer film is generally put on aluminum hulls that are going to be in a saltwater environment.  Sacrificial anodes are also used to prevent the aluminum from corroding.  James (Salty Dog)>
<<RMF would use a Rubbermaid trough/product instead, with a chemically inert through hull fitting... aluminum is toxic to marine life>>

SOS/Toxins 5/28/12
I recently experienced a die off in my 30 gallon saltwater tank. I lost an engineer goby, blue damsel, and recently a peppermint shrimp. I noticed struggling condition in a newly added filamented flasher wrasse and began to fear the worst. Testing levels proved all to be well, and salinity was perfect. I discovered the source to be a, unknown to me before hand, poly resin aquarium decoration. It was removed immediately, and smelled to high heaven. My substrate now smells of it as well, and while no other fish seem to be struggling, I'm extremely worried I'm going to lose my newly bought wrasse. I'm going to try a water exchange to see if this cures it. Any other suggestions or help you might add would be greatly appreciated.
<I would filter with a good grade activated carbon or a Poly Filter.  James
(Salty Dog)>
Re SOS/Toxins 5/28/12

Alright, I lost the wrasse and a seemingly okay clownfish. The water exchange was 50% changing the filter pads will really help all this much?
I'm so scared of losing the rest of my stock.
<Yes, change the filter pads and run carbon or a Poly Filter.  The product is likely from China, they have already poisoned many dogs with their dog food.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re SOS/Toxins 5/29/12
I've got the filter pads, and The clownfish are doing fine, but my flame angel is now laying on his side at the bottom. The anemone I've had in my tank died last night, and upon figuring this out I removed him. My levels are higher,
<Which levels, how high?>
 but not beyond healthy according to my chart. Should I exchange more water?
<Based on your limited information, yes.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re SOS/Toxins 5/29/12

I use the test strips, and by the strip my others levels are great but my nitrates are only "okay"
<Test strips are ballpark figures at best and what is "okay", 20, 25, 30ppm?>
I did a partial water exchange and the flame angel perked up, swimming around for about 3 minutes before settling back at the bottom. 
<Are you now filtering with carbon or a Poly Filter.  All you mentioned were filter pads.  If the pads are the type that are impregnated with carbon powder, this isn't going to do too much for you.  Keep in mind that test readings have nothing to do with any toxins in the water.  Based on the little information you have provided, I do not know whether an ammonia spike, or a toxic substance got into the water some way.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re SOS/Toxins 5/30/12

I am filtering with a Poly Filter.
 My ammonia levels haven't changed at all since the deaths, but the nitrates have fluctuated.
<Are you using a protein skimmer?  Is a good idea if not.>
 The problem was pin pointed to a conch shell I was given, that despite soaking and rinsing, I was informed later it had been used in someone's front yard as decor. It's been out for 3 days, and even after water exchanges I can't seem to get rid of water toxin it introduced. Would a 100% water exchange be advisable?
<I would not do more than 50%.  Mmm, sounds like weed killer may have been introduced into your system.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re SOS/Toxins 5/30/12

After doing everything you told me, and the local far more experienced hobbyist at my LFS, I still lost the rest of my fish stock this morning.
I've rinses my live rock, and am going to do a 100% water exchange, do you believe this solve my problem?
<Can't say for sure.  If indeed toxins were/are present, your rock is contaminated as well.>
I don't know what toxin got in my tank so I don't see a way to get rid of it otherwise
<Your best bet would be to start anew.  Your rock could be save by bleaching and several soakings in freshwater until no bleach smell is detected.  Although it will be dead rock, it can be used as base rock which will be seeded by the presence of new live rock.  Is it possible that Windex was used near the tank or some other ammonia based cleaning agent? 
James (Salty Dog)>
Re SOS Sudden Decrease In Salinity     5/30/12

<Hello Abbasali>
Due to the blockage of one of my overflows a large amount of top off water (diluted Kalkwasser) has been dunked into the system lowering the salinity from 1.025 to around 1.023 and possibly increased the pH a bit.
As of now apart from clearing the blocked over flow I haven't done any thing else. It's a 55 gallon with 25 sump. FOWLR and anemones. The tank is fan cooled so currently I plan to leave it as is and let evaporation take its course allowing the salinity to climb back to 1.025 over the next 8 to 12 hours and if the pH has climbed it too should fall.
Please let me know if my plan is suitable. Otherwise please advise.
<Sounds like a good plan.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re SOS/Toxins 5/30/12

<Hello Whitney>
A conch shell that was given to me, soaked before being added, was apparently housed in the giver's front yard. I wasn't made aware of this until about a week after it's addition.
 I have removed the shell upon this discovery, and it's been gone for about 4 days. My levels didn't pick up on this, and the poly filter I added changed to a color only indicating organic wastes. I'm scheduled to pick up new established water from my LFS this afternoon, and planned to drain the tank completely.
<I'd start with an inexpensive fish just to be sure.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re SOS/Toxins 5/30/12

Thank you so much, sorry for the mass of messages.
<You're welcome, and no problem.>
This is only my second tank, so I'm far from well versed in this.
<Understandably so.  James (Salty Dog)>

Fish dying after using Flatworm Exit    3/26/12
<Hi Richard, Jordan here.>
I have been trying to get rid of the flatworms in my tank (150g reef) for a while by just sucking out as many of the flatworms I can see, plus I added a Sixline Wrasse and a Scooter Dragonet (Synchiropus ocellatus), which I know may or may not eat the flatworms, but I wanted to add these fish anyways.
<Both may eat flatworms but not if tastier foods are available. Increasing flow to suspend the worms into the water column may improve the odds of predation.>
The flatworms started affecting some of my corals so I decided to try Salifert Flatworm Exit.
<An affective tool but killing large numbers of flatworms at once is a risky move.>
 I followed all the instructions, sucked out all I could see, add flatworm exit as per instructions, remove any dead/dying flatworms, turned on a carbon filled canister (left running for 2days), did a 20g water change. Then one day later I find my Bicolor Angel and my Scooter Dragonet dead.  Could these deaths be from the treatment?
<Most certainly. Flatworms release toxins into the water when they die. If large enough numbers are killed simultaneously, it is a recipe for disaster.>
 Did I do anything incorrectly?
<Something went wrong if fish were killed. I believe a larger water change would have helped tremendously. Aggressive skimming and large amounts of carbon would not hurt either.>
On the instructions if you see any flatworms left in the tank you are suppose to repeat the procedure a week later, but I'm afraid if I do it again I may lose more fish.
<Not as risky the second time around because the flatworm population should be much smaller.>
 Please let me know what you think I can do to get rid of these flatworms.
<Chelidonura varians is a Nudibranch which dines exclusively on flatworms.
I would add one and allow it to put a large dent in the flatworm population. Note, this Nudibranch will starve once the flatworm population has dwindled. Appropriate accommodations should be made beforehand to re-home the Nudibranch once flatworm numbers have declined. After you have re-homed the Nudibranch, treat the tank again and follow with a large water change. Once the flatworms are eradicated be sure to follow strict quarantine procedures for all new tank additions to avoid future headaches.>
  Thanks for your help.
<You're welcome.>
Richard Willis

Metal poisoning.    2/10/12
Hi Crew, I live in a remote part of SE Asia and the only tanks I can find have potential problems for marine fish. The first is around 20 gallons and has a few chrome plated presumably steel/iron screws exposed on the light cover.
<A good idea to paint/cover these over... with shellac, Silastic,
urethane... even latex based paint... to prevent/slow down corrosion>
They have corroded, is this a potential problem?
The second has aluminium surrounds at the top of the tank. What if any would be the symptoms of metal poisoning? Regards, Adam.
<The Al may well be trouble... was out at the Steinhart Aq. yesterday w/ a friend who works there and he made mention of poss. Al and Chromium poisoning malaffecting their huge reef tank's corals... IS toxic. Short answer I wouldn't/don't use aluminum around marine systems. Bob Fenner>

Question for Bob on aluminum    10/18/11
Good morning Bob!
I hope you are doing fantastic today.
<Too sick to tell unfortunately>
I have turned to you many times in the past and I am here once again seeking your advice and experience. Let's jump right in....
I am in the middle of a debate with some friends on a local forum regarding the use of aluminum framing to create a net-barrier at the surface of a tank. One side of the debate says there is no risk for any problems as the aluminum framing is anodized. Anodized aluminum is also used in many lighting applications and various sea-worthy applications (boats, etc). The other side of the debate says that aluminum use should be avoided whenever possible and that non-marine tank industries have shown that aluminum can in fact irritate marine life and that elevated levels of aluminum in the water is overall to be considered a toxin.
<I am of the latter belief. Even anodized aluminum can be/come trouble. Have seen this metal used on large marine systems that were open or almost open circuit (flushing out the metal)>
Since all the debaters are generally all hobbyist of various levels, non of us are really experts or professionals in the sciences. You have tons of experience with large displays and have been in the hobby since the start.
You also have access to a community that is generally on a level much higher than the average hobbyist. I am hoping to get your input on the situation with any references and citation that you have readily available.
Much thanks Bob!
<I have two Eheim systems... of aluminium framework and canopies... Freshwater only. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question for Bob on aluminum  10/18/11
I'm hoping this is merely a passing common cold! Sorry to hear that you are not feeling well.
<Thank you for your well wishes/wishing>
Thanks for the fast response, it's very appreciated. If you happen to get a run at some energy, can I con you into diving into your experience, theory and/or research on the subject of aluminum around salt tanks?
<I did addend our email when looking over and posting this AM. Have occasioned several times where this metal was in use at public aquariums, some wholesale businesses... these are/were almost entirely open circuit or near; flushing new water through the system continuously>
I'm curious if this has been a longstanding practice of yours or if it is the result of a system becoming fouled.
Have you done any research or can you cite any info from colleagues?
<Unfortunately, like way too much of what passes for useful information in our interests, this is an informal, non-scientific appraisal. Have met up w/ anomalous losses that I couldn't trace to anything else. Oh wait! There was a scientific paper presented at a hobby conference not too long ago, by an employee of SeaChem... See it here: http://www.seachem.com/support/AluminumSolubilityToxicity.pdf
mainly a treatment on the role of Al's as phosphate removers, but still of use here I merit>
In looking through your archives I noticed a couple mentions of your non-aluminum practice and it's becoming an interest of mine in relation to my use of DIY lighting systems. (Mine are currently fully enclosed). I'm finding enough counter-thought to the pro-aluminum theories that it's making me stop and examine all the alternates.
This is not a heavily debated subject....
I notice you pointed out not using aluminum housing above marine tanks. Is this your general practice regardless of the height of the housing?
<Mmm, well... IF one can keep most all the moisture off the fixture/canopy; not so much>
Thanks Bob! I'm sure this won't be the last of me.
<Let's hope not! Cheers, BobF>
Re: Question for Bob on aluminum  10/18/11

Hey Bob!
I knew it wouldn't be the last you'd hear from me today!
I read through the Seachem paper. Interesting stuff. It concerns me that they ran such a limited study in terms of length of exposure.
<Me too. You'll find that I am NOT a fan of the use of this material for HPO4 control>
Exposing a relatively "hardy" coral to aluminum for weeks..... not months or years doesn't say a whole lot to me........ granted my reason for securing information is related to long-term exposure by the means of fixed structures on or above the fish tank.
It needs to be reminded that they are studying a product that should be used as only a short term quick fix in a most dire situation. The study fails to address any ongoing environmental exposure.
<Well... think on this... for scientific purposes, this sort of continued study entails much more cost, variables>
Heck, it would be self defeating for them to do it that way........
The Reef Industry is similar to Big Medicine.......there is no money in prevention, the money is only in cures.
<Mmm, no; not even this... most is in simply putting off realization, direct action of consequence in most cases. A good deal of the products sold in our interest are outright shams; including so-called medicants>
No sense in throwing money into proving that eating healthy prevents disease....... likewise there is no sense in throwing money into proving that certain practices may be harming your reef environment.
Skim through that Seachem paper when you get a chance.
<Read it ayer and was present when the folks from SeaChem first presented the paper>
Afterwards take a peak at this article I found from Advanced Aquarist (circa '03). Similar experiments with different conclusions......
<R.H. Farley is a real scientist and this is the sort of roundabout science that often passes as relevant to leaning in our interest. The animals listed as mal-affected mainly poisoned to degrees under controlled conditions...>
I'd love to see a study that perhaps shows the long term aluminum absorbtion into live rock, plastics/rubbers, etc etc. I'd also like to see further study of coral and livestock irritation under various conditions and exposure levels. It's tough to make an conclusive decision with either of these studies.
<Do write the authors of the SeaChem paper at SeaChem.com and ask re>
For me personally, I figure why risk it? If material options are available that provide less risk of irritation, contamination or death it's a no brainer.......
Ok, I'm done rambling...... for today......
Later Bob!
Re: Question for Bob on aluminum   10/28/11

Howdy Bob,
Been trying to respond but it's been busy this week. In response to the last email:
-First, just wanted to post this bio I found on R.H. Farley. He has a lot of work in the field of reef keeping and chemistry.
<Ah yes>
-It's funny you suggested I write the Seachem authors with questions. I planned on sending both them and Farley a quick message just to get their respective opinion on the subject / perhaps comment on the opposing view.
We'll see if I get a response. I'll copy you on any communications.
<Please do>
-Farley, in his Advanced Aquarist write up, goes on to suggest using an iron-based alternative for phosphate removal. I know a handful of products, including Chemipure Elite, are iron based. Do you have an opinion on using Iron Based filter media/purifiers?
<They have their place, application... a wider range of efficacy than Al>
Back to aluminum toxicity in fish, plants, and coral, I found a great write up the other that found correlations to acidic water and the release of natural aluminum bonds. The study was trying to find the link between acid rain and fish die offs. Of course, I now can not find the write up..... in trying to find it I did find the following: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1943151  
It's all loosely related to our topic.... interesting nonetheless.
Mahalo Bob. Conquer the weekend.
<A hu'i hou! BobF>

Painting    9/30/11
Hello, I am painting a room that I house 2- twenty gallon fish tanks, I opened the windows as long as I could, it was sort of cold, but left them opened about 3 hrs, I wondered if the fumes from paint can harm fish , Just the fumes?? No spilling into tank etc,
<Heeee! Best to turn off all air pumps, air-entraining gear, cover the top of your tanks w/ dampened towels>
<Welcome. BobF>
I did the ceiling already with latex ceiling paint, I covered the tank when I was near it but took cover off and finished the rest of the ceiling, I didn't turn off the hang on back filter nor the small BioWheel, I didn't know I should, never thought paint fumes could enter tank, I was going to paint the walls in same room next week, but now I am concerned I already harmed fish, how can paint fumes hurt if I did Not get any paint in tank?? What do I do now, they act okay, I opened windows awhile, Oh boy, I have had these fish for 11 yrs, don't want to kill them! Let me know and thanks for the help
Re: Painting

I am done with the wall, I didn't cover tank, or turn off hang on filter, are they in trouble, they act okay, but I just thought of this? I was wondering to myself does fumes get into water?
<Not likely a worry in these years of low VOC paints... perhaps some new activated carbon in your filter/flow path. I wouldn't worry, as this will not change the future. B>

Hello, Thanks for the advice on painting with tanks in the room, I have another question, we are going to finish painting the walls and have carpet laid in the same room, I have been thinking of all the ways to move fish tanks and wonder if the way I am thinking will be okay as I don't want to take them out of the tanks, they are stressed enough, I only have to move 2 twenty gallon tanks about 10 feet or less, actually just around a corner from where they are to the next room, not far at all, I will then keep door shut and they will be out of way for carpet and paint they are on a metal stand that holds two tanks, one on top and one on bottom, can I take about 10 gallons of water out of each one and keep in buckets, then let them 2 strong guys or more if needed , move the entire structure into next room around corner,
<Mmm, I'd drain almost all the way... take the livestock out... move in the buckets...>
this way I don't have to move fish nor tanks to risk cracking, only the stand, I know it will still be heavy and these guys can do it, but is this a safer way of moving the tanks, I didn't want them taking each tank out of stand then replacing it, I am to worried of tanks, cracking or something, this stand is an iron stand with welded sides, has wrought iron running from top one to bottom and is welded, will that be ok?
<No... move the tanks off the stand... separately. B>
Thanks for the help
moving tanks

Photo E-mail View slideshow <https://skydrive.live.com/redir.aspx?cid=b9c88a6433064349&page=play&resid=B9C88A6433064349!162&type=5&authkey=6VEdT0!HllA%24>| Download images <https://skydrive.live.com/redir.aspx?cid=b9c88a6433064349&page=downloadphotos&resid=B9C88A6433064349!162&type=5&authkey=6VEdT0!HllA%24>
Here is the structure of the two tanks together, in regards to my last message does it look like if I took out half the water on each that they can safely be moved around the corner to next room??
I don't know if the stand is wrought iron, I think the sides are iron that is welded and the bottoms are metal of some sort
Re: moving    9/30/11

ok, I think about not moving them at all! can you explain why my idea is not a good one?? Just so I know
<... too likely to break>

A very confusing problem....   9/13/11
Dear WWM crew. I've kept mostly reef tanks for almost 20-yrs with a great deal of success, very few fish only systems as a little background on me.
If it at all possible, this is better talked about and explained through a phone call if you could that would be great.
<Am out in Fiji...>
Here's the problem....I Took over maintenance on a 6000-gal fish only salt system a couple years ago. The system has been running for about 5 years total, to my understanding there have been constant issues with the system and no on has had success keeping this system so far. The water parameters seem to be in good order 8.2-3 PH, 77-78 temp, 360-370 MV of ORP, almost 0-nitrites, ammonia near 0, Alk was normal, nitrates were somewhat high, around 50-75 ppm now down to around 30-40 ppm, after three 10% water changes and dripping vodka as an organic carbon source. The system has an RK2 Skimmer, 2500 MG ozonizer with controller/monitor, a grounding probe, 2-large canister/200-lb carbon swimming pool style filters, a 300- gallons bio-filter with Kaldness media inside. The sump is a large 800-gal fiberglass tank with 14-filter socks that get changed regularly.
Recently added a fair amount of new fish, for several weeks they look great, eat well..then it appears they have fin nips, deterioration and now some are losing color like I've never seen before. Now I'm losing fish everyday almost, some show heavy respiration like ich is suffocating them but NO ich? I've seen high nitrate levels before and never this kind of problem even up to 100-ppm of nitrates. So, could there be some other things to test for?
<Free metal ions... for what's invested here, a sample to a QA lab locally>
Could there been any way to test for rusted metals from the water?
<Oh! Yes>
There is a platform that's over the sump area for our freshwater/saltwater make-up that is very rusted, just wondering if small rust particles could cause these kinds of problems?
The plumbing for this system runs thru the concrete of the building to and from the system, just wondering if a cracked pipe could go undetected in the concrete and something is leaching into the water that wouldn't show up on any tests?
Also, could a lack of bacteria in the system/bio-tank/kaldness media be a problem. I understand that bacteria is there to process food and waste in the nitrogen cycle, just out of ideas of exactly what to look for next?
<Don't know what you're exactly referring to here. Not likely an issue in a biofilter in an established system>
Please help,
Derek Haynes
<Bob Fenner>

Tap into a SW sys.    8/4/11
Ok so I just did a 20 gallon water change and wanted to siphon the sand bed.
I asked my sister to hook it up to the sink and she reversed the valves.
Only about a quarter gallon or less of tap water went into the tank before she turned it off. Should that be something that I should worry about?
<Not at all. B>

metal hook in tank   5/25/11
Hi guys (and gals),
<Hey Andrew>
You have been a tremendous help for me in so many ways in the past. My tank is always a work in progress, but it is finally at the point where I am quite pleased and proud to display. Unfortunately, I am prone to tinker and can't always leave well enough alone. Last night, when I was adjusting the height of my metal halides above the tank a stainless steel eyehook and s-hook fell into the display tank. The tank is 29 inches tall, with a lot of coral and live rock, so the hooks quickly disappeared from sight. I know metal in a salt water tank is not a good mix, but given the size of the tank (150 gallons in display, along with another 120 in sump and refugium), I was hoping you could reassure me that it is not necessary for me to dismantle everything to fish it out. Of course, I will do that if necessary but I am certainly not looking forward to it.
Thanks (as always) for your help. Andrew
<I do think you'll be fine here; as you state, re the volume to the hook's size. Some ferrous material is actually useful to aquatic life. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: metal hook in tank   5/25/11
Thanks for the reassuring news. Keep up the good and selfless work. It is appreciated.
<Thank you Andy. BobF>

Temporary copper wiring in reef tank   3/4/11
Dear Crew
<Hello Joe.>
I have read in the WWM files that if an urchin chews through electrical cable and exposes copper wiring, it is advisable to do at least a 30% water change. With reference to this, I need to weave the plug end of a pump's cable (without the plug affixed) through some rockwork in my reef tank. I was thinking of sealing up the exposed copper parts with tape or similar.
Total time for this immersion will be less than 5 minutes. Assuming that any seal made is not perfect, will this quick meeting of salt-water and copper facilitate any significant and dangerous leaching of copper into the water column?
<No, you will be fine. Copper is not a hand grenade that destroys in a fraction of a second! That being said it would be a good idea to seal the end (just a little tape will do) for other reasons.>
Any help that you could provide in this would be, as always, hugely appreciated.
Many thanks
<Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Possible metal poisoning? Hello All! I was wondering about something...we had a brass t-bar pipe on the top of the tank, and it fell into the main display, along the back wall. It was there for about three days, before we realized it was missing. Could this be the reason my polyps, Xenia, and torch are all shrunk in? Did the brass poison the water? I've done a 40 gal water change (tank is 140 with 40 gal refugium) but this hasn't seem to have helped. I tested for the usual - ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, all are zero (well, nitrate only slightly pink - heehee) and ph is 8.2 - 8.4. Calcium may be a little high at 450. Otherwise, everything is fine, but plants are still shrinking: daisies, mushrooms, Xenia, torch coral, and Devil's Hand. Thank you for any help you can give! -Cathy in Texas <Alright Kathy, this could have caused your problem. Brass contains copper compounds which can be problematic. Also, you make no mention of carbonate alkalinity, but you should test and maintain Alk. For possible problems involving metal contamination  I would suggest Poly Bio-Marine Poly filter and water changes. Hope this helps!  Craig>

Sudden death of Tang and Mandarin I 'had' a yellow tang.  He had been in my aquarium for about 2 months.  All of a sudden, he started jerking back and forth.  Then, he jetted from one side of the aquarium to the other, flipped on his side and was dead instantly.  No gradual thing, no prolonged distress.  He just suddenly died. What could have happened?  It was like a sudden heart attack or something. <not likely a heart attack... and not likely a disease either. Definitely sounds like a response to a toxin in the water or a skewed physical parameter. Common household toxins include underarm anti-perspirant (dipped your freshly caked pit lately?) and anything fragrantly fumous sprayed recently (aerosol air freshener, burnt Teflon coated pan, paint stripper, etc). Fumous agents easily get absorbed into the water... often effect fishes but not inverts> Then, an hour later, my anemone ate my mandarin goby.  Unreal! <although the scaleless mandarin is never recommended with anemones (an unnatural mix that usually ends up with the mandarin getting eaten within the year)... the death of the mandarin tonight with the tang makes you wonder if the mandarin wasn't stressed and dying/dead by the same factors as the tang. My suggestion is a full water test, then a large proper water change (temperature and salinity adjusted, and a good dose of activated carbon (change after days/one week)> Thanks M. Linkous Bluefield, WV <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Re: sudden death of tang Thanks for the quick response. That is probably the reason!  Air Freshener.... My wife is crazy about that.  We had just put a plug-in unit in the day before. <to be specific... the plug-in gels that warm up and dissolve slowly seem to be harmless. The dangerous variety can be spray aerosols (of any kind)> All of my parameters are OK.... PH, salinity, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite.  I gave it a fresh batch of carbon.  How often should I change the carbon? (Monthly).  I have a Pro Magnum canister filter. <for routine use of carbon, I prefer one small portion weekly instead of 4 portions monthly> Thanks again for your immediate response. Michael <our great pleasure... kindly, Anthony>

A Change For The Worse? I have just discovered this site while searching the Internet for answers to a problem I am currently dealing with.  I've spent several hours reading many of your reader's questions and have found them most interesting and some very beneficial. <We're glad that you find the site useful!> I have recently upgraded my marine setup from a 58gal glass tank to a 100 gal acrylic tank. <A nice upgrade!> The original setup was 11 years old and has mainly been fish only.  I completed my migration a couple months back without incident.  My current setup includes a sand substrate (about 3" thick)  (50lbs from original tank and 50lbs of new), 20lbs of live rock, and 50lbs or so of base rock.  Lighting includes 4 - 48" fluorescent (2 actinic 03 and 2 full spectrum).  Inhabitants include blue throat trigger, Huma trigger, panther grouper, yellowtail blue damsel, tomato clown, purple tang, 2 curlicue anemones, some green mushrooms, some polyps, a rock/flower anemone and a few snails.  The majority of the fish were in my original tank for about 2 years.  The damsel has been there for 7 years and the purple tang and most of the inverts are fairly new and have been in the tank for 6 to 9mos. <Nice mix of fishes- but I got to tell ya- it's really gonna get crowded in there in the near future...You have some fishes that can get quite large, and unload considerable metabolic waste in the process...Keep up with those water changes and other maintenance!> I have a home-made sump with bio-balls, blue filter pad, and polyester pad. <Clean and/or change those pads regularly, okay?> Venturi protein skimmer in the sump powered by a Mag 500gph.   I also have a couple gallons of bio balls in the overflow.  Since the migration, everything has looked great.  Fish doing well, inverts open and very full.  I regularly add iodine, trace elements and stress zyme.  I Usually do a 5 gallon water change every 4 to 5 days. <Excellent!> Over the last couple of weeks I have been fighting green algae growing on the sand and tank surfaces.  I have also noticed many bubbles originating from the sand and rocks (I saw a problem similar to this from a reader in your toxic FAQ).  I just assumed it was CO2 from the algae growing on the sand.  Every other day, I wipe down the tank surfaces with an acrylic pad and stir up the sand.  When I stir the sand I did smell an egg odor which I assumed was H2S. <Not good, if that's what it was...> Within the last week this odor is no longer present and the water has the usual salty smell.  The bubbles from the sand have also decreased.  A couple days ago I noticed my blue throat trigger wobbling some and breathing faster than normal.  The next day all of the fish were hiding and the purple tang was laying on the bottom also breathing fast.  I ran all the tests and found nothing.  I also took a sample to my local marine dealer and his tests matched mine (PH 8.4, NO2, NO3 and NH4 at or near 0, S.G. 1.022 and water temp 74F).  My plan of action was to add an air stone directly to the tank and I did a 15gal water change.  Within 8 hours, the inverts looked markedly better and the purple tang looked and acted normal again (I never figured he would recover based on the way he looked earlier). <Good thought/action> However, the blue throat was still suffering.  I did another 10 gal water change today.  The inverts are almost back to normal and all fish except the blue throat look good and ate well today.  The blue throat is still laying on the bottom with triggers extended.  His eyes look clear but are sunken.  His abdomen is also starting to thin.  His overall color looks good but fins are starting to look tattered. His breathing also seems to be normal.   I did a fresh water dip for 4 minutes but have not seen much improvement.  He is still in the main tank but isolated in a clear polycarb container with holes drilled for water flow.  I think my tank water flow is inadequate. <That is a distinct possibility...another excellent hunch on your part!> The water movement is not nearly as quick as what I had in my 58.  I am using a Mag 700gph to return the water from the sump and the output of the sump is divided between 2 returns which are each split again between 2 centipede returns in the tank.  I also removed a small power head I had in the 58. <Brisk circulation is important to the types of fishes that you have in this tank, for a variety of reasons...I'd do what I could to kick things up a bit> My questions are: 1) any hope for the blue throat (I hate to lose this specimen because they are not very common and he was such a healthy fish)?; <Well, in the absence of any other signs of disease, we may have to assume that some type of metabolite poisoning may be a factor. Hard to be sure from here...I'd keep up the water quality and circulation/aeration enhancements and hope for the best> 2) Any clues as to the sudden change in the tank (there has been no pesticide treatment in the house, no smokers and no chemical vapors that I am aware of)? <Just a theory here. Did the bubbles that you noticed "coming from the sand" seem to originate under the surface? I'm thinking that maybe you were observing the normal denitrification that occurs in sand beds, and you may have disrupted the process by stirring the sand, possibly releasing some toxic metabolites in the process...?> 3) Is my substrate too thick causing the buildup of gas?; <Frankly, if it's fine sand that you're using, you may want to go a bit deeper. And I would not disturb more than say, the top 1/2" of the sand. Let the sand bed do its work> 4) Do I need to increase my pump size or add powerheads inside the aquarium (I really wanted to prevent the power heads for aesthetic reasons)? <Well, perhaps you need more water movement, including some disturbance at the surface of the water to create better gas exchange. You don't have to use powerheads; you could use external pumps in a closed loop linked to static returns or rotating devices, such as Sea Swirls, for better distribution of currents> Thanks in advance and great website! Scott <Well, Scott- you made some great observations and some nice adjustments. Just keep exploring your options to enhance the circulation and gas exchange here. Keep up the excellent water change schedule, put your protein skimmer into overdrive. Be prepared to find larger quarters for your fish as they grow (and they will!). Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Sudden change in fish and invert behavior Last night I did make another change.  While putting together my homemade filter (a couple months ago), I glued two containers together with a household adhesive called "Goop" which after some reading contains "toluene".  Upon researching the mfgs website,  they recommend not using this product if it comes in contact with food or drinking water.  I know ... STUPID move on my part!  However, to my defense, I did see that the product was waterproof so I figured it would be safe (should have checked it out first!).  Anyway,  I have removed the parts with the glue and am now waiting to see if things improve.  The reason I am suspecting this as a problem is that the containers I glued together are starting to come apart which might indicate that the glue is dissolving.  The anemones were starting to withdraw again yesterday before I removed the contaminated parts and the fish were not as active as they were this weekend after the water changes.  So after removing the parts, I changed out my carbon with fresh and replaced the polyester pads.  I also did another 5 gallon water change.  Hopefully things will look better tonight when I get home.  I did call the glue mfg support number and am waiting for a return call.  I'll keep you posted and thanks for the advice.  I am also sending a URL in a separate e-mail to a site where I have pictures of my old and new tank and homemade filter. <Sounds good and you get an "A" for quality detective work! David Dowless> Thanks, Scott

Re: Exterminated Afternoon Fellas, Got home to my apartment yesterday to find the exterminator's business card sitting on my kitchen counter... like a death certificate.  So, okay, its my fault.  I knew he was coming... didn't know when, but I knew it... and forgot.  Therefore I didn't protect the tank in any way.    <Ohh> I've got a 5 month old 55G FOWLR (hopefully will upgrade to a reef one day) which currently only holds 2 Damsels (taking it slow).  Earlier that day, I had what I'll simply call a "skimmer issue" (Not worth getting into... but just picture water-soaked smoke-fuming power outlets... its been a tough week)  I was working on cleaning all of this up... but then had to go to work... leaving the hood of the tank off.  So clearly the surface of the water had no protection what-so-ever from the insecticides.  Its been about 24 hours however, and nothing is dead.  And if it applies... I have a crappy Sea-clone and emperor 400 filter... crappy... but hey... its only 2 damsels. I've consulted the FAQs... but the questions that deal with this issue are more about prevention rather than recovery.  So here's my questions: I haven't been able to get in touch with the exterminator... but if I do.. are there any specific question I should ask that might help in the recovery process? <What did they do? What did they use? Are they familiar with the materials' effects on aquarium life?> If all the fish are currently alive, does that mean I'm in the clear? <Likely so> If they do die, is there much more I can do outside of water changes and carbon? <Not really> Any suggestions?  Will I still be able to one day upgrade to a reef or have I done some kind of permanent damage here?  Do my fish hate me? <Can't tell> Thanks so much.  I'm very appreciative for the answer to this specific question... and the answers to my other 7 thousand questions which had already been asked and posted on your site.  Its a fantastic resource. Sincerely, Rob <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Stainless steel I'm wondering if it is ok to run stainless in reef tank. well ill tell you what I'm doing. I just came across a new Culligan drinking fountains the ones that chill&heat .some one dropped it broke the holder for the water .so it leaks water at top, other wise perfect so I took it, customized it. it had a 2gal.stanliss bull that water went in and chilled. so had a brilliant idea so broke out tig wilder turned bull into perisherpot like device. no other metals in system. George tested, put small in pump I can chill and heat no problem I'm using a CAtm 3ooo sump pump in 5 gal. bucket. with a Honeywell digital temperature control wired in cooler. less then 2 min. 37 degree water heat just as fast. now on 55 gallon barrel 10 1/2 mm 37dere water . been holding 80 degree water 48hours now .played with some more designed to fit under  tank hook up in series with pluming. what to know if stainless steal ok before I attach to system. I also have another project need some knowledge .ill ask latter.. <Mmm, you could use this chiller with an exchange coil of some sort but not exposed directly to seawater... it will rust and pollute the seawater if it comes in direct contact. Bob Fenner>

Tenting for termites Hi.   <Hi Dave, Don here today> I have read  The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, and I thought it was excellent.  I have not set up my 125 gallon tank yet, but I have a couple of questions.  If I set up my tank and then need to tent my house for termites, what is the recommended procedure?  If I enclose the whole structure (oak stand, acrylic tank, oak hood, under cabinet sump, etc.) in heavy gauge plastic sheeting and make sure it is sealed, is anything protected at all? If I remove the fish, will the water be contaminated, and will the inhabitants of the live rock die, and possibly the fish if I add them back? If I have the house tented with the new tank and cabinet inside before I start to set it up - no water or anything else - will the stand or the acrylic tank absorb anything that will later be toxic to the future inhabitants? <Sorry Dave, but the easy answer is NO. Basically, the tank cannot be subjected to this. Read here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictkfaqsii.htm> I thought it would be good for the oak stand and hood to get a coat of paste wax before I set up the tank.  Is this inadvisable, or can it be done if enough time elapses before water is added to allow the solvents to evaporate? <Hmmm, the stand maybe but I would not chance the hood> Thanks for listening to a newbie.  I'm sure that you are busy, but it would be nice to get your expert advice before I make a dumb mistake. Thank you for your contributions towards influencing conscientious aquarists (by the way, exactly how is that word pronounced?). <See here for help with than www.m-w.com. Don> Dave

Re: Tenting for termites Thanks for the reply Don, much appreciated.  One clarification:  Do I understand you to say that even the bare, empty acrylic tank and empty oak stand should not be exposed to the termite house tenting treatment?  Do the materials retain the toxins that can be released into the water after the tank is filled later? <I don't know about retaining toxins, but do you want to chance it? I wouldn't. If you decide to leave it in place, then seal it up as tight as you can> Thanks again. <Good luck, Don> Dave

Major Crisis! -- Ammonia-Tainted Salt? -- Need advice ASAP to save fish. Crew: <Hi Steve, Craig here.> I have been struggling with a mysterious ammonia spike for nearly two weeks now. I have attached at the end of this e-mail my previous communication with ScottF about this for background. I initially found the brittle star alive. The ammonia spikes continued despite frequent use of Amquel & AmmoLock and water changes of 20% per day. In fact, the ammonia just seemed to get higher. I have begun to fear that my biofilter has died. On Monday, I pulled the LR and found all of my brittle stars dead or dying, so I pulled them all. (Unfortunately, I had not read the Amquel fine print to learn that it lowers the pH--got down to 7.5--probably what killed the stars.) I cut way back on feedings. Today, the fish were obviously not acting normally--rather lethargic. All my snails are dead or dying. My Red Sea ammonia test kit read at least 8! Nitrite 0.2. <Sounds like dead or dying animals breaking down to ammonia, now to nitrite. Quite toxic.> While preparing to move my fish out of the tank into an 18G Rubbermaid container, I decided to check my newly-prepared water (made from R/O from my LFS and Red Sea salt to a SG of 1.035 & pH 8.4). <One, this is a good move to find the cause of ammonia. Second, is this a typo? Do you mean 1.025 SG?  If 1.035 this is a big problem. Red Sea Salt mixes to 1.023, 8.3 pH and 2.5 mEq/L Alk. Mixing to 1.025 is fine. Did you add buffer or calcium to this ordinarily lower level salt mix?> It tested positive for ammonia at 0.5! I tested the R/O water with a FW kit and ammonia was zero. I then opened a new container of Red Sea salt and mixed it with R/O water and it tests zero. <0.5 wouldn't be the cause of the 8 in your main. It isn't acceptable, but it would be utilized by your biofilter capacity if all else was normal. This could have caused your problem by killing or stressing your inhabitants or simply been one cause, amongst other larger ones. What type of hydrometer are you using? Check plastic hydrometers with a decent glass model and hopefully the above SG is an error, or we've found a good part of the problem, elevated SG.> My conclusion is thus that somehow the other container of salt that just ran out was tainted with something that caused it to have ammonia. Is this possible? <Certainly, either at home, in transit or in manufacture. More likely the first rather than the later, although not impossible with salts in any event.>   As I try to understand this disastrous chain of events, the only thing I can figure out is that I have constantly been adding ammonia to my tank with each water change since I started using the now-empty container (55 lbs) several weeks ago. Interestingly, I was having a lot of problems with ammonia in my QT using the same salt. If this Red Sea salt is the cause of this crisis, I will never buy that brand again. From now on, I'll be testing any water I add to my tank. BTW, the RedOx has been running 200-260 despite running my Aquazone 100 full-bore 24/7. It was easily kept at 350 running at 75 before this started. Now what do I do? I have added a lot of AmmoLock & Amquel to the tank. Currently tests at RedOx=260, pH=7.7, ammonia=8.0. Since the fish look OK right now & I need to get some sleep, I changed out 15 gallons (total system capacity is 100) with water testing no ammonia. I put in some HBH ammonia pads into my power filter. Do these actually work? Will re-check in AM. If still elevated, should I take the fish out (lots of work removing LR to get at them)? I would keep them in a Rubbermaid tub while doing massive changes on the main tank. I'm still concerned about my biofilter. Would Fritz-Zyme help get things back in shape faster? I am very worried about my fish. Any other ideas/suggestions? <I would stop all these additives, they complicate the issue with their chemical reactions. I would first check the SG issue and mix to 1.025, checked with a reliable (not plastic) hydrometer. I would test that water for ammonia, and finding none at all, would QT my fish and any other critters I could save in a proper size Rubbermaid.  Then find and remove all know dead materials from the main tank, refill with enough new water to have a decent ammonia level and recycle the main, which has obviously had a biocapacity event leading to high ammonia/nitrite, and low RedOx. This may have been exasperated by all the ammo additives and ozone. I would stop the ozone and additives and run a clean system to cycle, perhaps with a known quality salt, like Instant Ocean or Tropic Marin, and use it for the water changes in both the cycling tank and the Rubbermaid QT as it will have ammo/nitrite soon enough as well from the fish, but is manageable. I would run fresh carbon in the filters and make sure there is nothing there to produce ammonia in any way. Lots of work, but the main should cycle fairly quickly if you have resolved the sources, water, possible salt, dead animals, overfeeding, lost biocapacity, filters. The presence of nitrites suggests a couple of weeks. Don't rush and test with good test kits to verify.  Best wishes, Craig>

Re: Major Crisis! -- Ammonia-Tainted Salt? -- Need advice ASAP to save fish. It was a typo. The SG is 1.025. I use a refractometer that cost me $120. The ammonia is still very high in the main tank & the fish do not look happy. I am warming the water in the Rubbermaid right now. I have another 18G tank that I will fill to split the fish between while I fix the problem in the main tank. I will be changing brands on salt shortly. <Sounds good Steve, sorry to hear of your troubles.  Let us know if we can be of further assistance.  Craig>

Paint fumes My wife wants to paint the room that my tank is in and I'm worried that the fumes might kill the inhabitants. Is it unsafe, and if so, is their anything I can do short of moving the tank? Thanks, Eric <Most modern water based paints are alright, oil would be a problem. As a normal precaution I would turn off all air intakes (powerhead injectors, air pumps, skimmers, wet/dry filters, etc.) and cover the tank with a damp towel(s) while the actual painting is happening. Best to wait for a good warm day with plenty of ventilation, perhaps an exhaust fan to remove the paint fumes.  Craig>  

- Drywall / Joint Compound -- Cloudy Water - Thanks again for this service that you guys provide to us! <Is a pleasure to serve.> I have a question regarding my initial setup, I have a tank that is in wall and viewable on both sides.  During the renovation drywall dust and joint compound fell into the tank.  I have cleaned out a good portion of it before putting the initial water into the system but was told by my aquarium guy that the rest of it would be ok and filtered out.   Well the white clouds in the water have since coated the insides of the clear vinyl hoses running between the tank and sump.  Because it wouldn't settle out, I have drained out and wiped down the entire system (except for the hoses) and refilled. The water was obviously very clear when the tank was filled, but it then clouded up (residue in hoses) and is slowly being filtered out.  But it has been a week now that the residual cloudiness is not clearing.  I am at my wits end now, could you suggest how to clear this water up? <You might see if your 'aquarium guy' has access to a diatom filter - these are capable of removing very small particle sizes and would likely polish your water pretty well. You might also try some activated carbon to see if that filtration method will catch some of this dust.> I plan on having a reef tank so water quality is a must! New setup 150g Perfecto 48"x24"x30" WxDxH tank AMiracle XL Mudd Sump in basement (approx 35g?) (14.5' head) AMiracle (CPR style hang-on overflow) with a Rio 2600 rejuvenation venturi powerhead to check valve on top of overflow. (trying to make 2 Durso standpipes) Gorman Rupp 510 1" Sea Swirl return 2 x 175 wt MH 2 x 65 wt Ultra actinic PC Thank you. - Cloudy and Frustrated <Be patient... you will need this trait over and over again while developing this system. Cheers, J -- >

Potential Metal Contaminants Hey Guys and Gals, First of all, your website is amazing.  The wealth of knowledge that you provide for everyone is truly invaluable and I'd like to thank you for providing it.  I have two quick and related questions that I can't seem to find the answer for.  First of all, I have a Mag drive 12.  On the packaging it says that it can be used submerged.  However, holding part of the casing together are a number or metal screws.  If I submerge this in the sump of my marine tank, do you think they could corrode and leach contaminants? <If you are concerned, cover the screw heads with 100% silicon.> Also, I'm in the design phase of my tank and I'm working on the plumbing aspect currently.  I'm trying to work out a way that if the power goes out water won't siphon back into my sump.  I'd like to have some of the pump return outlets below the water level in the display tank and I'm not totally confident in check valves.  With that, I was thinking about installing a solenoid sprinkler gate.  However, I noticed that there is a metal part inside the plastic casing.  I'm not sure of what type of metal it is, but I'm concerned that it might corrode as well.  What are your thoughts on this?   <I have never seen the sprinkler gate so the best I could say is contact the manufacturer. Instead, I would drill a small hole (1/8") in the return pipe just below the water line of the tank. Then when the power goes out, the hole will break the siphon when the water goes below it. Hope this helps, Don> Thanks,  Derek

Food dye Ok,  I'm going to take a chance and ask what may be considered a dumb question (if there is such a thing).  Is it ok to use food dye in a tank with no livestock (except LS/LR) to see how the water flow is in my 90 gallon tank?  I'm thinking this might help me better position powerheads and inflows. <Yes, safe... and a good idea. Have seen such use in limnology classes, demonstrations in relation to thermoclines, other phenomena in aquariums> Thanks so much for the great website and books. Mark <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Bob Fenner>

Fumes Hello,      My apartment complex does yearly carpet cleaning. When they do this the fumes from the detergents--or whatever it is--are very strong and overpowering. I could barely breathe last time. I did not have my salt tank set up then, so I am wondering about this being a problem for the fish. Do you think it might? Anything I might do to cut down on possible bad things....? <It could certainly have an effect. I would, when the carpet is being cleaned, make sure that the protein skimmer is off and the tank and sump are covered snugly.>    Thanks, Lance <best, Chris>

- Wrong Hose - <Hello, JasonC here...> Well I've just experienced my first, and hopefully last, sudden die off of fishes. <I'm sorry to hear this.> Actually 2 of 8 fish and the rest seeming a little stressed. Inverts and corals (all soft or mushroom) seem to be mostly unaffected. Anyway the circumstances leading up to this go as follows. Late last week the pump running my skimmer decided to stop working. Seeing this I checked into my LFS's to see about a replacement. Well they all wanted A LOT of money for the Rio 2100 so I ordered from an internet seller hoping it would arrive in a timely fashion, which it did. Since I was ordering I decided to help my circulation by adding a SCWD mechanical wave maker. To the point, when I received the gear yesterday I immediately got the skimmer running again and decided to hook up the SCWD. I used auto heater hose (new) as I had some around. I know this was brand new and I rinsed as well in plain tap water. Is this hose leeching something into my water or is this an effect of the skimmer not running for almost a week? <I'd put my money on the hose.> I did a small water change while the skimmer wasn't running and nitrates are only reading .2 with a Salifert kit. I also took a sample to the LFS today and they could not find any ammonia, nitrites, nitrates or phos. I'm confused. This is the same type of hose used to hook up a dishwasher or washing machine just without the metal ends. <Neither typically have seawater running through them...> I would think this is safe. <Nope.> Is it, or do I have to use some special, ultra mark-up "aquarium hose"? <Any hose suitable for food or beverage service - vinyl, etc. I would not use black rubber hose. Cheers, J -- > - Follow-up: Wrong Hose - Thanks. I think it was the hose as when I took it out you could almost see an immediate difference in respiration. Much better. Although I did lose my tang as well :( <Sorry to hear about the Tang. At least it's a mistake you won't make twice. Cheers, J -- >

It's The Water...(Unfortunately)! Hello Wet Guys, <Scott F. dripping here today> I have 2 brittle stars and both have a cut on their body. I battled a condition in my tank a week ago with not washing out a sump before I bought it and I think a chemical got introduced into my system. The starfish don't move much anymore and it looks like some of their guts are hanging out. I have made 2 large 50% water changes with 2 smaller 50% water changes. The fish breathing heavy but have recovered. I have worked my butt off on this tank for the last week but I suppose my work isn't over. What do you think this is a result of have you heard of starfish doing this before? <Well, usually when a starfish appears to be eviscerated, it is an extremely serious problem from which the animal may not recover. The best suggestion I could make is to keep outstanding water quality, keep an eye out for possible infection (use antibiotics if necessary), and observe the animal carefully> Also I have run about 64 ozs of carbon over the last week. I hope I don't have to replace all of my live rock and live sand. any help would be appreciated. Jason <Well, Jason, it's hard to say. It really depends what the chemical introduced was. Compounds like copper can be removed with chemical filtration media such as PolyFilter, aggressive water changes, and the passage of time, although it may be bound up in the rocks and substrate for many, many months. Testing would reveal the possible extent of the problem . Other chemical compounds, such as household cleaners, etc., can be removed through the aforementioned methods as well. Just be patient, and keep working at it. Don't give up. Regards, Scott F>

Lava rock Hello - I've just bought and read Fenner's TCMA. I'm concerned about the possible slow leaching of various 'bad' things from some kinds of lava that he mentions could cause slow, chronic poisoning of my reef critters.<yes, have heard of this before> Great. I read this just after I used about 15 lbs of a very porous, rough pumice-like 'bowl rock' as a foundation for my Fiji Live Rock. The LFS staff insisted that it was safe for salt water usage...but you know how that can go sometimes. Can you tell me (please) a.) what exactly leaches into the water with this problem, and b.) how to test for it?<Personally I do not know exactly what elements, etc "leach" out from the live rock. But I have heard that this does occur.> I almost yanked this entire lava foundation out of the tank as soon as I read this ... but if you knew just how long I spent getting all the Fiji LR to balance on this lava, and having the whole thing look very sharp indeed (not to mention very stable for a non-epoxied or otherwise secured arrangement), you would understand that I don't want to impulsively do this. <I agree, I know how long it takes to aquascape an aquarium. Try aquascaping a 180 gal aquarium with 200-300lbs of LR. takes hours to do :(> Any further advice would be most appreciated.<If it were me I would remove this lava rock post-haste to be on the safe side. Wouldn't want all of your livestock to mysteriously die one day because of a few pieces of rock. IanB> Cheers, SLC

Canopy Paint - 9/24/03 Can you suggest a paint for the inside of a light hood over an open reef tank?   <tub&tile or swimming pool 2-part epoxies work very well and dry hard/non-toxic. Else, any baby safe latex paint that you coat with polyurethane will be fine if above water> I have some bathroom paint lying around and was hoping to use it. The problem is it contains a mildewcide. <alas no... it is very toxic to aquatic life because of the anti-fouling agents as you have suspected> I was hoping to use it if  I sealed it with a few clear coats of polyurethane. <not worth the risk> Is this even all that critical, since most of the surface area of the hood will be covered with reflectors for the new T-5 lights? <agreed... but still not worth the risk.> Get that next book going, I am out of good reading material. <writing it as we speak <G>.> Thanks as always, Ken <thank you, my friend... Anthony>

Broken Hydrometer <Hello! Ryan with you today> My hydrometer broke while I was doing a water change. <Ouch!> I think not of the weight balls got in to the aquarium but it is hard to tell. <That's good, weight balls are usually composed of lead.>  The hydrometer had this red liquid (alcohol?) for the thermometer. The place where it broke was in the changing water tank.  That had a really oil like odor after wards.  All my fish appear to be ok. Any recommendations I am not quite sure what to do? <Watch your livestock very carefully for signs of stress, and prepare quarantine containers now.  Run some extra carbon, perform a 10 gallon water change every day for a week.  "Dilution is the key to pollution!"  At the first sign of stress (most likely heavy breathing) quarantine your affected animals.  Best of luck!> My tank is a 175 gal Marine set up with 80 to 90 pounds of life rock and a wet and dry filter Thanks

Toxic Trouble? Hi Scott, how are you doing, hope you're doing great. <Can't complain!> If you remember I wrote you about a month ago, telling you about the near tragedy with my clown trigger. Well, every thing was fine, every body was happy, till I purchased the protein skimmer. <Uh-oh..> If you can remember, I told you that the skimmer barely fit, in fact the skimmer pump was not totally horizontal in the ground, it was about 45degrees inclined, so as you can imagine, I had to put more water in the wet/dry filter, because I was afraid that the skimmer pump did not get water and burn up. <A good move on your part> And it was fine working for about a week, but I wanted to arrange all of the parts to be place as their supposed to go, so I put the pump totally horizontal (sitting on the floor perfectly), but now the PVC elbow which connected the body of the skimmer with the skimmer pump didn't reach, So that day my plumber was in the office and I told him to help me build a connection made of PVC to join the skimmer body and the pump. it was a little bit difficult building that connection, so He recommended a black car radiator house (made of material like rubber tire), MISTAKE, MISTAKE, MISTAKE!!!!, It fit so well and the skimmer was skimming so perfectly, that I thought that nothing could go wrong. I was very WRONG, the next morning, My clown trigger and my puffer were DEAD. and my Miniatus grouper, and my eel were very sick, I call Immediately the owner of the octopus's garden store in San Diego (Ron), to give me some advice, I didn't know if it was better to take my 2 live fishes home or not. He recommended to do a 30% water change, so I did, for 3 consecutive days. <Another good move on your part...> The fish look much better now, in fact the eel ate yesterday and today, but the Miniatus is not eating, since Saturday, well at least I haven't seen him eat. <It's hard to say what went wrong...Did you monitor water parameters? I cannot imagine that the skimmer could cause some kind of "crash" in the system...> Now I am afraid to turn the skimmer on, I all ready went to purchase at aquatic warehouse some the proper house for the skimmer it is a connection with 2 PVC elbows, and flexible PVC, that fit perfectly and the skimming work perfectly and is all properly install. I all ready wash the skimmer, and I notice that every time I turn the skimmer on the eel goes above the pump return, as if it was not receiving enough oxygen, or maybe he likes it there, but the eel never spend time in that spot of the tank before the incident. <Curious...> Question, If the skimmer is to big, could it affect the oxygen return of the fishes???? <I doubt it...Skimmers generally assist in oxygenating an aquarium...I wonder if the hose contained some kind of toxic compound? Try some activated carbon and Poly Filter to help remove any potential toxic substances> What is your advice on how to feed the Miniatus grouper??? <My best advice here would be to continue attempting to feed the fish with a variety of meaty seafoods, in the hope of enticing him to eat...Don't give up- if he is healthy, he'll start to feed again! Do monitor water parameters to assure that everything is up to par in there...> Inside the wet dry filter, does it affect the way the venturi pump of the skimmer is pointing (point to the carbon filter or to the return). What other observations and recommendations can you give me??? Thank you for the advice, I am sure the thing that cause all of the problems is the radiator house, If you have other opinions please let me know. <As we both mentioned, I would look at the radiator hose as a potential source of toxin- either from the composition of the hose itself, or from some chemical that may have been in it previously...> As always thanks for your advice, time and attention. att. Juan Santos <Sorry to hear of this trouble, Juan...I hope that things start looking better- keep up the good work. Regards, Scott F.>

Paint in My Tank well I was remodeling the master bedroom this weekend. I used a paint sprayer on the walls. I knew there would be quite a bit of fall out so I was sure to keep the bedroom door closed and the windows open, so that none of it would drift into the living room where the  Reef tank is. Well, apparently that didn't work. Later that night I noticed some fall out on the center brace of my tank and my euro-reef skimmer <great skimmers that is all I use> was going nuts. (I had to lower the outlet tube all the way down to keep it from over flowing the collection cup). < that is normal when something has been introduced to the aquarium. I would throw some new carbon and a PolyFilter just in case> My tank is primarily SPS and amazingly they have showed no ill effects from the situation they are in. full polyp extension and feeding at night) All water param.s are fine. am 0 trite 0 trates < 5 Ph 8.1 dKH 11 A 420. I assumed that all of this fall out increased the surface area of the water in my tank and that is why the skimmer is going crazy, so I did a10% water change last night (I painted on Sunday.) Well, I woke up this morning and my skimmer is still going nuts. I need to know what I should do? should I be worried?  thanks in advance you have been very helpful in the past. <In my experience euro-reef they will settle down on there own. you can try pulling skimmer out and rinse the whole thing out with fresh water. As long as the corals look good I would not worry. Hope this helps Mike H> Jason Auringer

Petroleum Distillate Contamination - Dear Crew Members, I am a computer activist and have many cooling fans the same room as my 30 gallon marine setup. I regularly oil these fans with a valve oil that states on the label, ingestion may be harmful, contains petroleum distillates. I don't think there could be more than 5 drops on a fan at any given time. I awoke yesterday morning to find one of the fans fell off a shelf into a ten gallon tank I am using to keep brine shrimp, this was after I had fed my fish from the tank, possibly ten/ml of the water containing shrimp from the 10 G tank. When I awoke this morning, there is a dull coat on the top of my water in my 30 G tank, looks very much like oil. <This may not be related... tanks often have an oily sheen on the surface.> I have a damsel that has grown to be rather large, the kind with five black stripes, this tank has been in great constant operation for over a year. The damsel appears very white and yellow in color except of course for his black stripes. He was VERY eager to eat as much as he could. Also some white mucous was protruding from his vent. The other fish have net yet woken up after about an hour, but I can see that they all are breathing properly. <If it's that early in the day, then what you are seeing on your damsel is likely just it's night pattern. Many fish's colors fade while they are sleeping.> Do you think they are poisoned with distillates? <Probably not... would expect a more adverse reaction if so.> There could only be a fraction of a drop, my anemones, (bubble tip) are doing very very well, but my urchin is moving very slowly. <I've never seen an urchin move fast.> What should I do? <Run some activated carbon in your filtration loop, keep up the observation.> thanks so much, --Jim <Cheers, J -- >

- Petroleum Distillate Contamination, Follow-up - Activated carbon has been running for 5 hours now, In both my penguin 330 and my Fluval 204, oily sheen has disappeared and fish appear normal. My damsels night pattern is almost completely black though and this morning it was very bright white, and usually my other fish wake up quickly. Hopefully everything is ok. <I think it will be.> Thanks so much for your quick response and accurate information, WWM is definitely the best most sincere place on the net to find information about marine aquariums. <My pleasure.> thanks again --Jim <Cheers, J -- >

Heavy metals... including ferrous, in a marine system Hi, I have asked you guys questions before, but this one takes the cake. I have a 55 gal, 4 months, 11 LR, skimmer, Penguin 330, all levels very good, no copper.  Ok, in the past I have asked questions in reference to water filters since my DS reading is over 500 coming out of the tap. I had some misconceptions about resin filters and I didn't understand at the time that if a filter is spent that it actually rendered worse water then to begin with. I didn't have a DS meter at the time and I was actually replacing my tank water with water that had a DS of 560 or more. Oooh!!! Well the interesting thing is that my fish didn't seem to notice. I have Chromis, Goby's, Blennies, Damsels, and a horseshoe crab.           I bought a chocolate chip starfish and even though he was in the water from hell he lived for almost a month. The one that I bought to replace him only lived a few days, I tried hermit crabs, they only lasted a few days. The fish are fine, and I think the horseshoe is also. I am a little confused.           A breakdown of my questions: A. The gunk that I mistakenly dumped in my tank, is it filtered out by the filter as I have been told or is it just present? <little or none is taken out by the filter feeders here. Do consider water changes to dilute all with better quality source water> B. Is there a way to find out if there is heavy metals in your tank? <using a PolyFilter will help here by changing color to indicate what if any metals were absorbed> I haven't seen any tests for that and since all my other tests are fine, I figure that has to be what is killing the inverts.           C. This is a really strange question. I use a magnetic glass cleaner and I noticed chunks of substrate that were stuck to it. <yikes - Ahhh... seems to me some metal contamination in your sand> It appears that I have pieces of iron in the crushed aragonite that I used. I am not sure how much, I am going to try to see how much I can pick up. Is this normal? <not normal... and it is a serious threat if not the cause for your invertebrates deaths> If I had a high iron content in the initial water I started out with, could it form iron chunks as I am finding?   <not likely. Your metals in the sand are more likely (and not entirely uncommon) a contaminant in the sand. Sifting out with the magnet will likely be good enough though. You may not have to remove the substrate. Anthony>

It's In The Bag...Or Is It? Greetings Gentlemen and Happy New Year, <Same to you! Scott F. here today!> I am back to the hobby after about 25 yrs and have been back in for about 6 months, lurking in your fabulous site for about 5 months. <Glad to hear that! Sounds like you're well into the fray again!> My dilemma; 3 days ago I placed 2 felt-type bags over my returns in the sump to control bubbles, worked like a charm. Last evening I noticed a general closing up of my inverts, fish were fine. I noticed a post in a faq about these types of bags "harboring nitrifying bacteria" and no further info on this effect. I did a 20% water change and I noticed a slightly different odor to the water. This morning the inverts were at about 85% and again fish were fine (just hungry!) parameters throughout the issue were: PH 8.2 Sal 1.023 Temp 77 NH3 0 NO2 0 NO3 0 Ca 350 PO3 .25 SET UP: 175 bow front, corner overflows 40 sump, 3 powerheads and wavemaker ~250lbs of LR,2 inches of live Arag ASM Euro-clone skimmer, (about 1-2 cups a week) PC lites 4 daylight, 4 Actinic FISH: pair Perculas, flame angel, yellow tang, purple tang, Sailfin tang, Banggai INVERTS: Torch, Octo-Bubble, Zoanthus, Sun Polyps, Star Polyps, Goniopora know, I know), BTA (again, I know), purple mushrooms, Green Mushrooms, colt, fox and open brain. Everyone was doing great until the bags. Could a negative effect manifest itself so quickly? and if so, cause the above reaction from my charges? Regards, Walter <Well, Walter, it could be a number of things. There is the outside possibility that the filter bags were not rinsed before use, and that some type of toxin was discharged into the water. Perhaps it was "used" previously for some other application, and some kind of toxic compound was retained in the bags.  It is also possible, however remote- that the flow rate has been compromised somehow, creating a drop in oxygen...Way out there, but in the realm of possibility...With your animals on the way to recovery, I'd continue to monitor water parameters and keep a close eye on things...Hang in there!> PS: I make it a point to patronize your sponsors, your commitment and breath of knowledge are second to none in this game. <Thank you so much for the kind words and support! We enjoy bringing this site to you, and are happy to be able to share with our fellow hobbyists! Good Luck! Regards, Scott F>

Toxic Tank Situation  lost another new fish, 4 days. all existing livestock healthy and active.  every time I put a new specimen in it's like dumping it in the love canal.  no visible signs of stress or disease. <Yes, and now perhaps it is time for me to offer a more complete, satisfying response to your toxic water situation. Irrespective of its origins your "tank has a problem" that can/should be addressed in a systematic fashion, ahead of your trying any more livestock in the way of fishes.  If it were me, mine, I would engage a few successive (with a few days apart) largish (20-25% each time) water changes with pre-mixed water, gravel vacuuming the tank's gravel in the process. Do hold off on any/all additives, especially the panacea "ich" remedy you've been using... and place two units (containers) of either Chemipure or equivalent activated carbon in your sump/filter flow path... let's wait a couple of weeks during this process, and after, place a couple (as in two) of sturdy Damsels (Dascyllus aruanus, melanurus... Chrysiptera cyanea...) and see how they fare... along with a "cleaner shrimp of the genus Lysmata"... show this note to your friends at the NJ super shop and they will know what I'm about... Stick with me Pat, the aquatic world is soon to be yours. Bob Fenner>

A Residual Problem, I Think Best To Re-Start... Hi Bob, Its me again with a new question (concerning marines). I have a new tank (approx. two months) with a regal damsel in it. While this fish has survived up to now, no other fish did. The symptoms are rapid. The newcomer will immediately start to shrink (like losing water) and will die in a matter of hours (one day the most). Although I am sure this is some sort of osmoregulation dysfunction still I do not understand why the damsel survives and feeds normally. I did a mistake and added a heavy metal solution a long time ago but then I changed the whole water 2-3 times. What do you think ?? Thanks, George <Well, many Damselfishes are tough, tougher than most other commonly kept marines... and I think you have a malingering metal situation... If it were me, I'd dump the system, replace the gravel and any other material you can't clean up/off with a mild acidic solution (dilute vinegar should do...) and start again fresh... Keeping, replacing the Damsel after the job is done. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Floating thermometer (broken... metal ball-ballast in tank...) Mr. Fenner: A floating thermometer broke in my salt water reef aquarium and I think some of the metal beads may still be in my aquarium. Should I be especially worried? If this could lead to a disastrous consequences, what should I do to remedy this problem? Thanks, Vince <Yes to being worried... perhaps lead, maybe ferrous... at any length, bad news... if it were my tank, I'd siphon out all the possible gravel areas and CAREFULLY sort through (sort of like rice, beans, what have you, ahead of cooking for rocks, sticks...) and then rinse it before replacing (freshwater is fine here). Bob Fenner>

Paint Fumes Hi Bob, I am considering some renovation work on the interior of my house which would include re painting the walls. I am concerned that the fumes may be harmful to my 110 gallon emerging reef tank. Obviously I'm aware of not letting any paint splatter/drip into the water but what about the fumes? Are the fumes something I should worry about? Is one type of paint (water base latex or oil base or other type) less "dangerous" than any other.  <Mmm, yes... some paints have more VOC's... especially some of the oil-based enamels, stains... but no great danger given a couple of easy preventative measures... Right about "painting time" for the room area (if can be closed off by doors, towels at the base...) cover your tank/s with damp towels, turn off all air-entraining devices like powerheads, Venturi-type skimmers, and "bubblers"... Provide new air circulation as you're painting, after... and all should be fine...> I have a feeling I'm worrying too much. As always thank you so much for your expert opinion. <You're welcome. If you'd like to "practice" your painting... I do have a few projects here... Bob "Huck Finn" Fenner>

Brass valve Hi Bob <Steven today.> I just finished setting up my 100g tank that I will be stocking with coral and fish. I stocked the tank so far with 150lb of live rock and 2" of live sand about 5 days ago. Everything is going great, I am now waiting for the tank to finish cycling. Last night I panicked after reading about the effects of copper on reef tanks and realized I had installed a brass electric solenoid for my top-off water between my RO unit and the sump. When I installed the valve I knew that copper and reefs don't mix but I did not think that brass on the top-off side would have any effect, especially since a lot of people use tap water that probably runs through copper pipes. I removed the valve immediately, do you think I will have any problems with copper in my tank with the top-off running for the past 5 days? I am planning on getting a copper test kit today and I was thinking of doing a premature 20% water change. <Jim, I am unclear about something. Was the brass valve submerged or even near the saltwater or was it merely connected to your RO unit far away from the saltwater? I think it was the latter. In that case, you are probably OK, but I would definitely get another valve and test the tank water. -Steven Pro> Thanks, Jim

Paint fumes and fish tanks Hi Bob Fenner (or however is answering the emails today), I just bought a house and have some painting to do in the living room before we move all of our stuff in (saltwater fish tanks included). Of course I will NOT be painting while the tanks are in the room (there will be nothing in the house while I am painting), but how long should I wait to set the tanks up in the living room after painting? I know the fumes stick around for a while and was wondering is this is a concern with fish tanks. Any suggests? Thanks for any advice you might have! Have a good day. Jana <With water-based products a day should be fine. Oil-based ones I'd hold off a good two, three days. Bob Fenner>

Paint Fumes Good morning my helpful friends, <cheerio! Anthony Calfo in your service> Well after spending what seems like the whole winter setting up and building the wall and area around the reef tank.....whew!...we have to paint. The rest of the house is not standing up to the clean beauty of the reef tank...not by a long shot...the fish are complaining about their digs.... I keep hearing horror stories about paint fumes.. . <generally a big deal... anything strongly fumous is a concern with pets/fish> so any advice, once again is appreciated. I would love to Bin the knots on the new wood around the tank and frankly have some places all over the house that need that...Bin is alcohol based and fast drying but scary...what do you think? <clearly known to cause fish deaths... personal experience here. A little at a time though in a very well ventilated room I could live with... just not painting sheer walls> After that, all the paint that I will use is latex.  <generally safe> But I need to paint a lot. Due to the fact that spring is here already the marathon painting that I had intended to do this winter will not happen, summer is not the time that landscapers do home improvements, but a room or so a weekend might be possible. It is not possible to close the tank off from the rest of the house. I read about the wet towel over the tank (tank and sump)  <generally a great idea> but I'm not sure how long to leave them on....suppose for instance that we're painting all day in an adjoining room or in the room that the tank is in? I don't feel comfortable leaving the tank off for all that time....and it sounds like leaving the pumps off is also important.... <you can run an airstone or two from an air pump set outside feeding a long line of tubing to the tank... also close the doors in this room only, open the windows and have a large inhalant and exhalent fan in each window> I should mention that the tank is really built into the wall but of course the air has to come from somewhere and before I get too wacky about pumping fresh air around the darn thing I'm hoping that there is hope for live fish with latex paint. <again.... latex is generally safe in well ventilated spaces. Do run heavy carbon and PolyFilters during and afterwards...change carbon frequently (before and after)> It seems like no matter how hard I try to find the answers to these questions on my own I still keep relying on you guys. Thanks again for being there. Helene <no worries...best regards, Anthony>

Live Rock, Protein Skimmers, Hypo, and general setup Dear WWM Crew, <Anthony Calfo with the follow up> Steven - thanks for your recent ideas about what caused my wipe-out and how to avert it in the future. Upon searching the tank for contamination sources, I did find that my magnet wall-cleaner was leaking and allowing rusting metal (iron?) to get into the tank. I'm sure this was a contributor to lack-of-health in the tank.  <not good indeed> I'll be using water changes and PolyFilter to get rid of the contaminants. For now the tank has stabilized and a few of my fish are still alive and back to normal. <very good to hear!> I'll also be changing how I conduct quarantine tanks to Bob's typical recommendations of using main-tank water and filter media to fill the quarantine. After I've concluded a quarantine with nothing coming down the pipeline, I plan to shutdown the quarantine and bleach the equipment.  <OK...agreed. Simply keep a sponge filter running in your display sump or tank at all times for a ready, mature biological filter on demand> What isn't clear to me is how to deal with live rock. Certain invertebrates and fish will need a live rock to keep them happy, and perhaps to provide some extra biological filtration in quarantine. What is the process to safely return the live rock to my main tank? Is the process any different if the quarantined fish developed a disease while there? <with or without disease... 4 weeks without any expressed disease symptoms (as in after a disease occurred, counting from the first day the fish looked healed in that tank on) and the rock will have cleared customs <G>> Other questions...I'll be using hypo/fixer/thiosulfate as my dechlorinator. The hypo powder packaging says that once mixed the solution is only good for two months. From my photography days I know that fixer can go bad and get exhausted. For the purposes of dechlorinating water, how long can the solution be kept? <it is a good habit to mix solutions and supplements that can be used in 2 to 4 months. Over 6 months is generally to be avoided. It is all so quick to mix, please do use small, fresh portions> I have a 60 gallon tank with no sump, but about 60 pounds of live rock and a Prizm protein skimmer. This site, my lack of skim, and my algae problems tell me that the Prizm is completely inadequate.  <BINGO... kewpie doll for you!> As recommended by this site, I'm thinking of going to the Aqua Medic Turboflotor 1000 Multi. I know the Turboflotor 1000 is generally recommended, but how about the 'multi' version that can be a hang-on? <agreed about the brand... but I have no experience with the Multi. Do also consider Aqua C hang on model... very efficient and slim line> If I go to a non-hang on skimmer, can they be plumbed alone without a sump?  <most not easily except for Tunze rail mount models. Do consider a sump in the future... they are so very functional and useful!> My setup is about three months old. Please take a look at my setup and see if in general it seems sane... Inhabitants: 3 green Chromis, 1 pajama cardinal, 12 red-leg hermit crabs, 2 Mithrax crabs, 2 queen conches, 1 sand-sifting star, 1 green abalone, 1 cleaner shrimp <nice selection of peaceful livestock... and I really LOVE the abalone!!! They are great algae eaters> Substrate: 2" of sugar-sized aragonite substrate with a little Aragamax live mixed in <this will become a nutrient sink in time and fuel nasty nuisance algae. It is not deep enough to be anoxic for denitrification but too deep to be fully aerobic. I say ideally 3 inches or more (5+ for great nitrate control) or simply have 1/2 inch or less. Bob and I differ on this point for the record> 60 pounds Fiji live rock 4 55W Power Compact lights, 7200K and 10000K 2 160GPH Powerheads 1 125GPH Powerhead <you can definitely use more water flow for coral and reef invertebrates... more like 600-800 GPH turnover) Protein Skimmer - Prizm, but to be upgraded <soon! Money well spent!> Millennium 2000 hang-on power filter 2 150W Heaters of course Temperature: 79 deg F pH: 8.3 Alkalinity: 3-5 mEq/L Salinity: 1.023-1.024 S.G. Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia: 0 Phosphate: 0.03 mg/L <Hmmmm.... pushing high on phosphates... do test source water and discover the nature and severity of this accumulation. .04+ is an algae bloom for most folks> Calcium: 385 ppm Algae: brown micro and green hair, no Macroalgae. Thanks for all the tremendously helpful information! Mark Belding <best regards, Anthony>

Q. My Question this time is that all of my snails died. I installed a set of brass Quick Disconnects to my filter line to make it easier to remove and clean. About five days later I noticed some of my snails on their back and not trying to get up. I touched them and they would move, but very slow. A few days later they were dead, they smelled very bad. One anomaly to this is: I have three, three spot black damsels, that look great and are swimming well. In fact their color is better than it was a week prior. All Ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and salinity are in spec. Any Ideas????? Heavy metals? or Cu poisoning? I asked my local marine shop, they had no clue. Thank you again A. Yikesville! Yes, get the lead and the brass out and remove those fittings! Brass is an alloy of Copper (about 90%) and zinc... both toxic to marine life. Both heavy and toxic... btw, your damsels may be looking brighter because, yes, they are being poisoned. Remove the disconnects, and change a bunch of water, maybe add some PolyFilter, and say thanks. Bob Fenner, who can't believe the bit about the local marine shop; go elsewhere!

Can't figure out what it wrong Hello, We have a 150 gallon tank that is about 6 months old. After going through the maturation process we tried to stock it with fish, we would add the fish and they would be fine for about a week and then die. We keep a close eye on the ammonia, pH, nitrate, and nitrite, all were zero when we added them and it was zero when the died. Every time we add fish they look really healthy eat good and swim with no problems, but with in a week to 14 days they all die. What are we doing wrong? We have read several books can't find anything to help. It seems the only thing that I can keep alive is a pacific cleaner shrimp, and he looks kind of small in this big tank all by himself. Thank You, M. Pinkston <Somewhere, somehow something chronically to acutely toxic has made/is making its way into your tank. A few ideas come to mind. Ammoniated "window" cleaners being sprayed around, soaps/detergents coming into contact with your water (through a communal bucket, sponge...), "tramp" metal sneaking in through your gravel, decor (some "lava" rocks cause this, and often an iron test kit will reveal it), even a metal thermometer... any metal contact... I know it must be discouraging (to put it mildly) to keep losing your fish... so I would make the big move: Dump the tank, remove the gravel, clean and dry it, spread it out and look for signs of metal introduction. Re-set up the tank, add some live rock (this will really help) and put the shrimp back in. Wait about a month and introduce some fishes. If the new fishes seem to be going sideways, add some PolyFilter in your filter flow path and get back to me about what color it changes...Bob Fenner>

Broken Hydrometer...What Now? 4.26.05 I was using my Hydrometer to test the salinity today and it broke inside my tank. The Alcohol was not released but some of the little silver balls or weights sunk into the gravel. I do not have any fish yet because I am still in the two week waiting period. What should I do ? I know this is probably lead so I siphoned all I cold find. Please Help !!!! <Hi Harrison, I would remove all the substrate, and wash it down with freshwater, making sure that all the heavy metals are gone.  Heavy metals are capable of poisoning your fish, so do your best to get every little bit.  Good luck, Ryan> PC bulb broke.. parts in tank 8/14/05 Hi Crew, <<Hi - Ted here>>     Sorry... I don't feel like I have time to search the FAQs on this one.  I just had a SunPaq 6700/10000K dual daylight bulb break over my 125 reef tank.  It appears that tube was filled with Argon  and some of the bulb shards fell into my tank. I'm concerned about the phosphor, et. al., leaching into the tank. I removed the shards ASAP but there a few small pieces I haven't been able to get out yet.  I also posted to the 911 board but it looks like it's a little slow.  I'm stressing out because I don't know the composition of the phosphor, or it's toxicity.   Fortunately the tank was mostly covered (the shards fell  in through a hole in the top). Please pardon my brevity (between checking the board and writing this I've been cleaning all the tiny shards of the top of the tank and mixing some water).  Any  suggestions? Anyone know the probability of and/or toxicity of Argon and Phosphor in a reef tank? Right now the tank is only a FOWLR w/light bio load. <<I would not be overly concerned. I would remove the shards as best you can and run carbon to remove the chemicals introduced.>> Thanks Tom <<You're welcome and good luck - Ted>>

Possible metal in tank? Razor blade, SW   2/10/11
Bob Fenner & crew:
I can't believe what I just did!! I was cleaning off some stubborn green algae from the front of my all glass aquarium and I think I knocked the razor blade into the tank! I've lifted and examined every live rock, and sifted some of the sand with my fingers, and can't find it.
<Mmm, do "drag" for it with a magnet... pass this over all the sand and rock surfaces>
I have a 90g. glass tank, 8 fishes, 3 cleaner shrimp, 3 polyps, snails. I let the algae grow on the back and one side of the tank, but not the front, of course. I do a 5% water change twice a week and the tank looks great. (protein skimmer, sump, everything good)
I've looked all over the floor and can't find the razor. I had balanced it on the top frame of the tank for a minute when I accidently knocked it off.
What will happen if I can't find it?
<Likely nothing... ferrous ions are an essential nutrient... some is not toxic>
Will it poison the fishes and inverts? I guess I could go over all the rocks again, but don't think that will help.
Please let me know what you think. I'm really worried.
<Would be best to remove, but not to panic... rusting takes days, weeks at times. IF you can't locate the blade, you might add a unit of PolyFilter to your filter path flow>
Thank you so much,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Possible metal in tank?   2/10/11

Hi Bob,
I found the razor blade!! Thanks so much for your help. The current must have carried it into a cave I had made for my Klein butterfly.
I took off the flat piece of pipe organ coral that forms the roof, and there it was! (Luckily I had a couple good magnets encased in plastic I use to locate spray pins when I sew.) Anyway, all is well. Incidentally, I do have a poly-filter, along with a pad of carbon and a Chem-Pur bag you suggested earlier, so the water is always pristine. All in all, you have made my endeavor in salt-water fish keeping much more successful. Thanks again!
<Thank you for this update. BobF>

pH emergency?  1/7/11
Re-send, in case original was lost.
<I haven't seen this>
> Happy New Year Crew.
<and you DJ>
> While battling a recent hair algae uprising, I came across your anti-HA suggestions on slowly raising pH.
<Yes; can work to insolubilize HPO4/phosphate... an essential nutrient>
While starting this, I had a major case of what I call "buffoonnerousity" (yes, a made-up word that seems to fit). Through a little carelessness and a lot of bad fortune, the container of Kent buffer ended up spilling
directly into my refugium.
> I siphoned out as much as I could, and did a 20% water change that evening. I thought I might have escaped punishment when the next morning's pH and KH readings were 8.4 and 12, respectively...only slightly up from normal 8.3 and 10.
> Then the fun started. That evening's reading showed 8.8+ and 20. Over the next two days, Calcium also took a hit, dipping from right below 400 to 280 in about 48 hours. I did another water change (slowly, so as not to provide any more shock to the system than I already have). The next morning showed 8.4/12, but last night was 8.8/12, and my Yellow Tang, Coral Beauty, and Acropora look like they have almost had all they can take.
<You need to REALLY vacuum the media/substrate, in the system, not just the refugium, AND change out as much water as you feel comfortable with in conjunction>
> Other than continued water changes (with approx 8.0/10 ) salt water and turning off the 10k HQI lights (leaving only the 420 T5s on) what would you suggest? Should I keep dosing Ca while I get it sorted out?
<Yes I would>
I use Brightwell's "Calcion" liquid Ca sup. My skimmer is, as you might guess, working overtime.
> Words of wisdom?
<Store your bier in a dark, cool place>
> Dan
<Bob Fenner>
Re: pH emergency? & Vodka dosing   1/7/11
Thank you for the words. I didn't mention it, but I have been siphoning/vacuuming the substrate in the main tank too, and will continue to do so. So far I have changes out approximately 50% of the water in 48
hrs, and will be doing another 20% change tomorrow.
<You may need to do a few half change-outs in time...>
As always, appreciate the help (and the words of wisdom). Along those lines, did I read that you are not a fan of the "vodka method" for battling hair algae?
<I am not for most cases, individuals... Unfortunately such carbon dosing calls for more caution than the majority of folks are willing to apply. Given care however, manipulating C availability can be of use. BobF>
pH emergency?  1/8/11
Happy New Year Crew.
While battling a recent hair algae uprising, I came across your anti-HA suggestions on slowly raising pH. While starting this, I had a major case of what I call "buffoonnerousity" (yes, a made-up word that seems to fit).
Through a little carelessness and a lot of bad fortune, the container of Kent buffer ended up spilling directly into my refugium.
<... I already responded to this...: did you not get the post? And the further response? Will be placed on the dailies: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily_faqs3.htm today. BobF>

Silicon<e> and dying fish??? 12/28/10
I was reading about artificial plants on the net. There is this site that describes using silicone as a base for fake plants. My husband went and used GE silicone II as a plant base and put the plant in. The tube said
that the stuff was not "aquarium safe" My husband then said that meant it wasn't safe to seal an aquarium with and the manufacturer does not want a lawsuit if a huge tank explodes from the wrong silicone.
Anyway, the plant was in there all night and the fish were acting weird this morning. One was hanging out under the filter, the other two were acting normal. I checked on line and found out that this silicone is toxic
to fish, so I removed the plant and did about a 90% water change and replaced the salt. The three mollies are just hanging out now, but that may be the stress from the huge water change. Anyway would Epsom salts help or do I just wait to see if it is too late. I will no longer let my spouse
make any aquarium decisions again. Thank you!!!
<Greetings. Yes, it is true that you need to use only aquarium-safe silicone around fish. The silicone itself isn't toxic so far as I know, but the anti-fungus chemicals added to the silicone usually are toxic, and the
aquarium-safe silicone lacks these. Removing the silicone from the tank, and then doing one or more large water changes, should bring things back down to normal. The addition of fresh carbon to the filter would also be very helpful. After a week, remove that carbon and throw it away. Cheers, Neale.>
<<RMF would like to try correcting misstatements I have made re the use of various "Silicone" formulations... They are NOT necessarily toxic, but often unsuitable in other ways. Please see the discussion here: http://www.gtaaquaria.com/forum/showthread.php?p=107998
Mea culpa, but I have misunderstood that 100% Silicone on labels was and is NOT the same product/formulation. ONLY ones distinctly labeled FOR AQUARIUM USE should be employed for such>>
Re: Silicon and dying fish???   12/29/10

I was e-mailing yesterday about a fake plant with a silicon base, that was toxic to fish. I mentioned I removed the plant and did two water changes yesterday that replaced about 90% of the water each time. Two of the three mollies are back to normal this morning, but one is at the bottom and will not come to the top even for food. She is just there. The other two mollies are adult size. I got this smaller molly in a tank with a group of adults and the guy at the store said she is either a baby or a runt. Anyway it doesn't look like she will make it. My question is: Is the fish suffering??
In that case is it better to put it too sleep or should I wait until she passes on her own??? Thank you!!
<Only you can tell if the fish is suffering. But yes, if she's doomed, there's no point waiting. Do read here:
The ice method mentioned in old aquarium books isn't humane, but the clove oil method is, and 30 drops in a litre of aquarium water quickly sedates and then kills suffering fish. I highly recommend this method because it's safe, cheap and reliable. Drug stores sell clove oil, sometimes as Eugenol.
Cheers, Neale.>

Al in Reef tank - 12/20/10
<Hi there>
I am afraid that the water in my reef tank might have been contaminated by Aluminum coming from Aluminum foil (which I used as a reflector over my refugium -- it's been completely removed by now) and I am wondering if you could recommend a product that would adsorb / remove Aluminum from seawater?
<PolyFilter would be my first pick>
Activated carbon comes to my mind and if it is the only option, what kind / brand would you recommend for a 300G system?
<Please read here:
and the linked files at bottom>
I am doing 20% weekly water changes as well. Thanks for your help.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Bleach leaked in Reef 12/2/2010
Dear Crew
I have a 90G Reef system with fishes, soft corals and LPS.I bought a bag of "Purigen" that I used until the beads became dark, then soaked in pure bleach. After this process I purged the bleach in RO/DI water for a week. (x2) (next time I'll use some Chlorguard)
The bag is now returned in the Reef, but to my surprise after being away for 3 days. A few of my corals are white and some are dying.
My questions are...
There is no point of removing the bag now since the bleach has long been gone, absorbed and evaporated? Is there a chance for the Corals to recover? Are the fishes and shrimps at risk here?
Thanks again
A very worried ReeferPhil
<I too am concerned and would add a good dose of either "straight" dechlorinator (hypo, DeChlor...) or a dechloraminator (Novaqua et al.) in about triple dose. Bob Fenner>

Aluminum Foil in Water Change 10/7/10
Hello all at WWM,
<And to you Tom>
I have a strange question that I have searched all over your site but cannot find the answer.
While preparing my 73G Saltwater tank for a water change I ran into a strange issue.
I have water coming from an RO/DI into a Rubbermaid container. I got the salinity/temp all perfect and set a pump in container to circulate.
I then covered with aluminum foil to protect from any foreign particles(the RO/DI and the container are in my laundry room I didn't want laundry fuzz floating into the container). I went to bed and got up this AM to do a water change. However, the foil fell into the water and turned to a hint of brown/tan. I am aware that the saltwater tinted the aluminum foil but the most important question is did the foil hurt or release toxins to my replacement water?
<Not likely, no. Very little Al likely is/was imparted to the water... You could use a chemical filtrant; likely PolyFilter, but I would not be concerned>
I haven't done the change yet and am waiting for some answers. My tank has been very healthy with some corals/inverts and I don't want to move forward without hearing from you.
Thanks for your time and assistance.
<Bob Fenner>

Re: This close to giving up.... Mysterious invert death in SW Tank Suspect Allelopathy or Heavy Metal Poisoning. 8/7/2010 UPDATE 10/7/2010
<Hi Jeff.>
Thanks so very much for your thoughts. Based on your comments and some additional research, I've made taken a number of actions:
1) Ran Polyfilter for 2 weeks. If never detected (by color) any copper.
2) Replaced my T5 lamps (they were 11 months old) and reduced my lighting period to 8 hours/day.
3) Started running carbon (in a bag inside my filter sock)
4) Started running GFO in a reactor.
5) Submitted a water sample to http://www.aquariumwatertesting.com because I just don't trust my Salifert and other hobbyist kits:
Ammonia (NH3-4) .Good... 0.000
Nitrite (NO2) .. Good. 0.003
Nitrate (NO3) . Good 1.0
Phosphate (PO4) Good. 0.01
Silica (SiO2-3) . Good. 0.4
Potassium (K) .Low 137
Calcium (Ca) High. 499
Boron (B) . Good.. 3.8
Molybdenum (Mo).High. 0.2
Strontium (Sr). Good. 7.5
Magnesium (Mg) Good. 1250
Iodine (I¯) High... 0.11 <Ouch>
Copper (Cu++) .High.. 0.05 <OUCH>
Alkalinity (meq/L) Low. 1.90

A few comments on those results:
1) I've never treated my tank with copper and everything seemed healthy a year ago, so I'm at a loss to explain the presence it. I only top off and change water using RO that I make myself (while watching TDS).
<I have a theory.>
No children with stray pennies. No pesticides. The only thing I can think of is a lighting wire that literally broke after bending with the opening and closing of my canopy. I suppose its possible, though unlikely, that a small piece of copper wire fell into the tank. Based on the materials I've found, toxicity starts at around 0.05 mg/L. Is that right?
Any thoughts on removing it (besides continued use of Polyfilter, water changes, and running carbon)?
<Seachem makes a chemical called Cuprisorb that works well. Between that and PolyFilter, it should take it out.>
2) My Seachem Ca test kit indicated 420, so its likely inaccurate.
<Not at all uncommon. All tests are off to a certain degree.>
3) I expected my Alk to be low as I had not supplemented in a couple weeks.
<If the copper was not introduced by an outside source (The wire theory is unlikely but plausible) it is possible that some of your rock is contaminated with copper, and your low alkalinity dissolved some of your rock and triggered its release. It is also possible that it is coming in through your make up water (copper pipes, etc) TDS is only useful up to a point - the question always remains, TDS of what?>
4) Any thoughts on Potassium, Iodine, or Molybdenum?
<Potassium and Moly are normally replaced with water changes, which is why you don't see too many supplements available for them, nor is there a commercially available test for it. You can replace potassium with salt substitute available at a grocery store. The Iodine is troubling, as it cal also be toxic in high concentrations. Anything over 0.06 is considered dangerously high. That said, Iodine gets used up quickly. My first thought would be that you have an 'off' batch of salt, and to try a different brand.>
2 snails have survived and are feeding aggressively, so perhaps Cu is moving towards a level that is below toxicity?
<Likely so..>
My Cyano is under control.
<Great! Mine comes and goes I've never been able to be completely rid of it myself. It tends to linger on one rock, so I let it be.>
Thanks as always for the help! You guys are the best!
<My pleasure, and thank you for writing back with results.>

Exploding Heaters  4/14/10
Hello Again,
<Hello Pavlo>
So we went away on holidays for 2 weeks. Just before we left, I did a water change.
<Mmm, I would do any maintenance of any kind at least two days before leaving.. no knowing what you may inadvertently change/ disturb that Murphy can get his hands on..>
Afterwards I refilled my s/w curing tank (Rubbermaid), not realizing that I hadn't unplugged the heater. Unbeknownst to me the heater exploded & sat there - current running, elements rusting for 2 weeks.
<! Dangerous!>
When I came back from the vacation, I started to do a water change. I opened the cover on the tank to do a salinity test, and I noticed something odd in the water (piece of the exploded heater), so I stuck my hand in to get it out. Yowza!!! That was quite a shock.
<Ouch! Have experienced this myself>
Luckily I am still alive, and now have learned to ALWAYS unplug the heater, before a change and especially before putting my hand in the water.
<Learning by experience'¦the best way>
(I'm getting to the question)
When I pulled out the heater a lot of sediment came out of it into the tank (I am assuming rust and other metals)
<Yes. Probably mostly Iron>
I dumped the water, rinsed the tank, dried it, rinsed it again, and then filled it with RO & mixed in the salt. Last night - 24 hours after mixing in the salt, I went to do my long overdue water change. The water smelled burnt & metallic.
So I dumped the water and rinsed the tank again. It still has that burnt metallic scent. I filled it with RO again, and put a bag of charcoal it there. Is it safe to use, or should I just buy another container?
<It probably would be safe. Iron in small amounts is sometimes added to systems as a supplement, but from the information given it is impossible to say if this is the contaminant. Do you know what the element was made of? In time, this will be removed from the container, with continued emptying/ carbon usage, but the safest immediate route is to replace the container>
Thanks for all your help!
<No problem. Simon>

All Fish Dead In Less Than 12 Hours, poss. e' 2/1/10
Dear Sir/Madam,
<Hi Allan, James with you today.>
I am hoping that you might shed some light on my predicament, I had some power problems over night last week and at 2am when I went to bed all my fish were alive. I got up again at 0630am at which time my fish were all
dead. I carried out all tests and they came up within tolerances. I also got the local pet shop to test it for me and he suggested that nitrates were slightly high and the salt level was up slightly but not high enough to kill anything. I think that there may have been a small tingle when I cleaned out the dead fish, but I couldn't replicate it again. Is it possible that this would kill my fish and is possible that it would happen that quickly?
I am at a loss as my tests were right and I have only felt a tingle once more in the past week.
<Yes, stray voltage/current is capable of killing fish and yourself also.>
I would like to get some corals and fish back in the tank but worried they will die also.
I hope you can shed some light
<I would strongly advise installing a ground probe and/or using a GFIC device.
On another note, where any cleaning chemicals/sprays used around the tank recently.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Allan Twidale

Another GSP <Green Star Polyp> Question 1/15/10
<Hello Will>
I would like to begin by apologizing for another question about a Green Star Polyp (GSP).
In late November I acquired a lovely GSP that was nicely wrapped around a rock. The area of the rock that it covers is a little larger than a softball. The GSP was beautiful and came out every day until I did something stupid but necessary just before Christmas (after a month of having the GSP).
Ok...my system is:
135 gal (72w x 24h x 18d)
150 lbs of live rock
150 lbs of live sand
8-96w compact flour. bulbs 14k (one bulb is a dual with an actinic)
2 powerheads
2- 50 gal sumps tied together
1 sump has 1/3 used for macro algae, 1/3 for bioballs,
<The bioballs are not necessary in your type of system.>
2 SeaClone 100 protein skimmers,
<Not nearly enough skimming power for your size tank.>
HOB filter, heater
Remaining portion is sectioned off to use a floss filter pillow filled with carbon before being pumped back to tank Overflow box with skimmer for supply to sumps Second sump is used for added gallons and as emergency hospital tank Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites, Phosphates all are at 0
pH is at 8.3
Temp is 80 degrees
SG is 1.027
20% water change every 2 weeks
Calcium remains high at over 450 without ever adding any.
<Likely because the magnesium level is low and the corals are not able to absorb all of what's available.>
I add API iodine, strontium, natural trace and Seachem reef plus all per instructions.
Lights are on 8 hours per day.
GSP is located at bottom of tank in medium to high-flo area under lights.
Ok...now for the stupid but necessary thing. My sumps were down and I had acquired some fish from someone local and was not able to quarantine them like I prefer doing. I am sure you can tell where this is going.
<I am.>
So, three days after I got the fish they began showing signs of ich. I couldn't do anything about them and did not have the hospital tank ready at that time and had some issues going on that prevented me from getting it set-up quick enough. After a few days, more fish were exhibiting the issues and I had no choice but to do something for quick relief. I did a fresh water dip with the most affected fish and that wasn't enough to help. I obviously didn't want to add copper to the system so I chose a product called Rid-Ich from Kordon.
My plan was to do one major water change, one treatment, and a major water change the next day...this is what I did. It seemed to buy me enough time with the fish to get them into a QT but I did end up losing 5 fish to the parasite.
<Not good.>
I also lost a nice red candy cap coral (at least it looks pretty pale still after 3 weeks). I lost a couple smaller snails too. My Kenya Tree coral was pretty mad at me for a while but has recovered nicely and is doing great.
But...my GSP seemed to get really mad at me and has only sent a couple dozen polyps out. I have kept it cleaned off with a soft brush. It is still bright purple and firm but is not opening. I have read that it is common for them to stay closed...but 3 weeks is pretty long. If it were dead, I would expect it to be falling apart by now. Very few polyps are coming out...but some are coming out.
The fish are all in the QT tank now and will be there for at least 6-8 weeks (probably 8 weeks to be safe). I am using hyposalinity to treat them.
I have used this time to add a couple other corals to my tank and they are doing well.
I am wondering if there is anything I can do to tempt the GSP to come out before it really is dead (if not already)? Should I just wait and pray? I do see what looks like new bedding on the GSP that is lighter purple in color with flat or small fingers...could it just be expanding?
I know the formalin was not a good idea...but I had several hundred dollars in fish that I just couldn't sacrifice and a $50 GSP along with a couple of other things were worth the risk if I do lose them. I had to make a choice...but I am still hoping there is some chance for the GSP and want to make sure I am doing everything I can to nurse it back to health. If leaving it alone is not a good idea...I would like to know that too.
<I would heavily filter the tank with a Poly Filter or Chemi pure. This should absorb any remaining formalin/toxins in the system, and hopefully your GSP will give you a
second chance.>
Thanks for all you provide in terms of help and service to all of us inexperienced people.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Aluminum Foil in Reef Tank 1/14/10
<Hi there.>
I have accidentally dropped a half inch by half inch piece of aluminum backing from a fish food blister pack into my reef tank and it immediately was blown into the rocks where I would have to do quite a bit of dismantling in order to get it out.
<Oh no, your fish are gonna...just kidding.>
I have read that aluminum in a reef tank is not good. Should I do the work to move all the rock and corals in order to get it out? Or do you think leaving it in there will not cause a problem?
<It really will not be an issue, though there are easier ways to get it out (I would just because it would drive me nuts!). A turkey baster or a powerhead can be used to blow the thing out with all of your other water flow shut down for a bit.>
This is a 135g reef tank with hard and soft corals, BTA, fish and crustaceans.
Thank you, again and again! I appreciate it.
<Welcome, happy reefing, Scott V.>

Rusty screws  12/20/09
Hi crew,
I have had 3 mysterious fish deaths in the past week, and I think I've found the culprit, though some corroboration would be nice. Background info first: 180 gallon reef, 55 gallon sump. PH 8.4, ammonia 0 nitrite 0, nitrate 10,calcium 375, alkalinity 9 dKH. Been running for 2 years. This past Sunday, I performed a 30 gallon water change on the tank. All parameters matched and saltwater had been mixing for 48 hours prior to use.
Everything went off without a hitch. I removed my Polyfilter pads because they were yucky and brown, with the intent of replacing them soon. Monday morning, I find my potter's angel laying on the sand, not moving and breathing rapidly. I took it out, without much of a fuss. I put it in the spare tank I have running for new arrivals. A few minutes later, it was dead. Checked all parameters, everything was still fine. I was a little discouraged, though the potter's had yet to eat any prepared foods I offered, it munched on the tank algae and was really fat. On Thursday, I came home from work to find my Naso tang, at the surface breathing rapidly.
I checked all the pumps, everything was working fine and there was plenty of water movement. Took him out, again without a fuss. Placed it in spare tank, dead minutes later. Then I started to get concerned. All my other livestock looked ok. The corals were fine. Parameters checked again, and again read the same. So today....I get up in the morning to feed the tank, and notice my bicolor blenny did not come out to eat. I found it behind some rocks, laying on the sand and breathing rapidly. Took it out, no fuss for the 3rd time. It died a couple minutes later.
So now I've decided...there must be some toxin in the water, as none of these fish were ill or exhibited any symptoms of parasites. I started checking equipment, and to my disbelief, my Mag return pump had a ton of rust accumulated on and around the screws. When I pulled it out of the water, it smelled of metal. I did a little research, couldn't find much, but did read a post on the wet web where someone said rust was harmless in a reef tank. Is that true?
<Mmm, only to degrees... Too much ferrous ion of all valences can be toxic.
Typically "in the wild", iron is a rate-limiting essential micro-nutrient... Too much is toxic to all reef life... fishes more than "corals">
I know tangs, angels, and blennies are especially sensitive to heavy metals, and it would make sense that they'd be the first to go. My guess is, the poly filter had been sucking up the toxins, but when I pulled that out and never replaced it, they accumulated to toxic levels for these fish.
<Could be>
My other Mag pump that feeds my skimmer, shows no signs of being rusted. I think a big culprit is....the return section is where I usually add my calcium and alkalinity supplements. Could this have played a part in the rusting of the screws?
<Mmm, not likely. More likely there is/was a difference in the quality of fasteners used in the one pumps "run" of manufacture. Some such are quite oxidation resistant, others not so>
I intend to replace them with plastic ones,
and have done a water change and put in new poly filter, though the rest of the fish seem ok. The ones left are a pair of black Ocellaris clowns, a canary wrasse (H. chrysus), a melanurus wrasse, a pencil wrasse (Pseudojuloides serevensi) and a social wrasse (Cirrhilabrus rubriventralis).
<Thank you for listing the other fish livestock... these remaining are typically more resistant to metal poisoning>
Would you agree with my assumptions about the rust, additives, and missing Polyfilter?
<I do with the exception of the role of the additives>
These deaths seem highly coincidental. Any feedback would be appreciated.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Help my Puffer!: Puffers, Wrasses and Triggers do not mix with Chocolate (and Aluminum foil) 12/14/2009
My name is Emma.
<Hi Emma.>
We started our first salt water tank about 6 months ago.
,Welcome to the hobby.>
The tank is 35 gallons and we got 3 fish; a Dog Face puffer, Lunar Wrasse, and a Niger trigger.
<A 35 gallon tank is no where close to appropriate for one of those fish, never mind all three.>
Tragically, I woke up this morning to discover 2 Hershey kisses in the tank... still in the foil.
One was fully intact and the other had bite marks out of it.
<Either the trigger or the puffer bit the shiny thing.>
I removed the kisses and my boyfriend (who largely takes care of the tank)
started siphoning. It was cloudy, but I could still see the other end if I looked through the tank.
<Mix of chocolate, bacteria, some aluminum, throw in some ammonia for good measure....>
Unfortunately we HAD to leave, and were gone for about an hour. When we came back, the tank was completely clouded up.
<The sugar from the chocolate fed the bacteria in the tank, causing the cloudiness I'm sure the dissolving chocolate did not help>
The Niger trigger was already dead, and the puffer was puffed, the Lunar in total shock. I transferred them to a large Tupperware and put the heater in the Tupperware. The puffer deflated almost immediately, the Wrasse still in
shock. He would "revive" and swim around very quickly, jumping out of the water. This happened about 8 times. He died shortly after.
<No surprises there unfortunately.>
The puffer was laying on the bottom, breathing heavy, but definitely alive.
By this time, by boyfriend had added new water and salt, and the heater heated the tank up quickly, so we transferred the Puff back into the tank.
He rolled until the gravel made a "pot hole", I call it. We tried to feed him some Brine shrimp about an hour later, but he had no interest. We turned the light off and are hoping everything will go OK. Please help!!
<Ok. First STOP feeding anything. The fish has been poisoned. To even have a chance at saving this fish you need to do the following:
1. Start mixing up more saltwater.
2. f you don't already have them, buy a water test kit - you are going to have to test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Monitor those levels, ammonia and nitrite need to be zero If they start creeping up, do another water change.
3. You local fish store should have product called Poly-Filter Put one or more into the filter to try and remove any heavy metals (Aluminum) and will help in removing ammonia from the water .
4. Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stocking1.htm >

Re: Help my Puffer!: Puffers, Wrasses and Triggers do not mix with Chocolate (and Aluminum foil) 12/19/2009
Thank you so much for getting back to me.
<Hi Emma.>
Unfortunately the puffer died.(No surprise) :(
<Unfortunately, no, not a surprise.>
Since we are such amateurs, what fish do you recommend for this tank?
<There are several small, very colorful and peaceful fish that would work well here The trick here is it is a small tank, and may marine fish are used to and need a lot of room to feel comfortable
Firefish: 2 or 3 of them would work well in this tank:
A royal Gramma: One of these: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/grammas.htm
An Ocellaris Clownfish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clownfis.htm
In the bottom of the tank, you could do one or two of the small gobies http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gobiodon.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpgobies.htm >
And what supplies are good to have on hand?
<At a minimum, you should have on hand:
1. A good test kit - minimum tests are pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate - do not use the test strips, they are horribly inaccurate:
2. Hydrometer: To check specific gravity\salt content of the water.
Optimally you will want your salinity to be 1.023 - 1.026
3. For a tank of your size, at least 5 gallons of pre-mixed salt water.
If you change 5 gallons per week, mix up a new batch right away, then it is ready for next week.
4. Protein skimmer: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm
5. A few powerheads for additional circulation. You want a fair amount of circulation in your tank.
As you progress in the hobby, you will find yourself adding more and more as time goes on.>
Thank you again for ALL of your wisdom.
<My pleasure.>

Can a tank recover from exposure to brass?   12/6/09
I just recently converted a freshwater 10 gallon tank into a saltwater tank. When I set up the tank I was asked if I had ever used any copper or copper based ich solutions in the tank, which I hadn't. So I was given a thumbs up to use the tank & I put 30lbs of live sand & 10lbs of live rock in the tank & have just begun the cycle process for about a week now. Then I remembered that the tank was used for a couple months as a sump and that it had a pvc pipe leading to it that had one brass fitting on it. The tank has not been used for six months & it wasn't until after I set the tank up as salt water that I realized that brass could also be considered a problem. The tank has been cycling for almost a week now and since the first day I set it up I had two very tiny starfish come out of the live
rock and as of right now they are both still alive. I also had an Aiptasia anemone (the pest kind) come out of the live rock and was alive for three days until I killed it on purpose. I am wondering if the anemone & the starfish (since
they are inverts & are sensitive to copper) are a good sign that my tank will be alright or if I am doomed because of this brass fitting from six months ago?
<Are a good sign>
Is there such a thing as a period of time in which a tank can recover from some type of brass or copper poising?
<I do think so... the metals that make up this alloy (copper and zinc) are indeed toxic at levels, but do "complex", precipitate out with exposure to many minerals... Yours likely are long gone. If you're very concerned you can "run" a piece of PolyFilter for a few weeks to see if any "colour" collects. Bob Fenner>

Re: Can a tank recover from exposure to brass?   12/6/09
Thanks for the quick reply. through hours of research I've noticed that your website is the only one with enough information on it to get a good feel about situations that arise with salt water aquariums.
<An ongoing evolution for shore! MUCH to add... beyond my and perhaps your lifetimes>
Especially with the brass issue, I've noticed that everywhere you look copper is talked about but there is hardly any information about brass.
Thanks for the time.
<Certainly welcome Jimmy. BobF>

Re: Can a tank recover from exposure to brass?   12/7/09
I know that to maintain water quality that you need to stay on top of water changes.
<Mmm, is one facet, yes>
My LFS said that if I do a 10% water change on my 10 Gallon tank once a week I should be fine.
<Mmm, likely so>
As mentioned early I have 10 lbs of live rock and 3 inches of sand bed(30lbs). I do not have a protein skimmer or a filter on the tank.
<I'd like to try my hand at being a PhD, phony Hypnotic Doctor here, and strongly suggest you add a sump of size, and have a skimmer there. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/sumprationalefaq.htm
and the linked files above>
I am wandering
<Ahh! And quite likely wondering as well>
if I should add these things to the tank & if so what type?
<I'd add them to the sump...>
I have been reading reviews that mini protein skimmers seem to be more of a hassle than a benefit & have you heard of or dealt with or no anything about Aquaripure filters in regards to minimizing water changes?
<Don't know the brand. Do you mean:
http://www.aquapurefilters.com/?gclid=CPaL1q7uxJ4CFR4HagodGBrVpw? My input re the benefits, rationale of water changes can be found on WWM among other places. BobF>

Re Stocking Plan, FOWLR, and pennies for your livestock... a poor exchange  12/2/09
Ahh thanks for the reply!!
<You're welcome.>
If you tell me where your based I can send you a calendar and gift card. I like to take care of those that help me.
<Gee, thanks for your generous offer.>
Other tangs, cool - I really want a powder blue or a blonde - they are super expensive here in GA though.
<Expensive everywhere and I would get your experience level up before tackling one of these fish. Might want to read here.
I will heed your advice and get more rock before adding stock- I planned on getting at least another 50 lb before the new year.
One quick question off topic. When I got this tank it came with the sand.
Over several water changes and cleaning, I have noticed pennies in my sand, not sure why but at least 10 so far - is this a problem??
<Can be, salt water will cause the penny to corrode because the salt is acting as a catalyst and can cause copper to be released into the system which is not good.
Copper is lethal to invertebrates, and at elevated levels, to fish. It will also have a detrimental effect on denitrification. I would definitely remove the pennies pronto. James (Salty Dog)>
Gary Nash

Re: Predatory tank, now brass and oak... underwater? 09/24/09
Thanks Bob for your response. I did have one more question (for now). Do you have any experience with brass and wood as decor in a tank?
had some ideas but I'm trying to research it. I found out that Brass is copper and zinc.
I figure that the copper would possibly leach out over time.
<Immediately... and over time>
I have read that a low level of copper is actually good for fish but bad for invertebrates.
<Actually... necessary for both in very minute amounts... Not beneficial for either in higher concentrations>
Would I need to worry about the levels getting to high (i.e. above therapeutic levels)?
<Yes... Unless the metal part/s were tiny, and/or the system HUGE, brass would poison all in short order>
Also would the wood (plain aged oak tongue and groove flooring, non stained/painted/varnished) be of concern? what elements would I need to look out for? Thanks again, Cooper
<Do you want to immerse the wood? Oak can be toxic as well. Bob Fenner>

Re: Brass, oak  09/24/2009
I would say it was small amounts of brass. ( 4 screws, 1 candle holder, 1 shot glass size vase). Yes the wood would be submerged.
<Coop; I really wouldn't do this... the copper, zinc and oak are all too toxic>
A section of 1/2 " about 18" X 18". The tank is 120 gal. I was also looking at adding a small chest 4X4X6 w some plastic costume jewelry and a broken piece of china.
<The China is fine...>
I would also have some PVC pipe for "tunnels", a couple of shells, and a glass bottle or two. I am trying for a ship wreck theme with some fans, sponges and predators. I have about 140# of LS in the tank now. Water have
been cycling for about 6 weeks now. I spent quite a bit of time today reading your previous sump question. Which generated another question. Can I use me overflow as a refugium of sorts?
<Yes... can be done with some engineering>
Thanks Cooper
<Welcome. BobF>

Brass in Aquariums  8/7/09
Hi Crew! My name is Terry and I live in FL, I am big fan of your web site!
<Cool, thanks.>
I am building a coil denitrator for my 100gal predator tank, my question is, are brass compression fittings safe in salt water?
<No more than copper fittings.>
Will it have any effect to my water quality or fish/refugium plants in any way? I'm sure they are not made of copper.
<Well, copper is actually a component of brass, so you won't want to use it for the same reasons you don't want to use copper.>
Its just a standard 1/4 by 1/4 90 degree angle compression fitting from Lowes.
<Good luck Terry, Josh Solomon.>

Toxic Fumes and Reef Tanks -- 07/14/09
Good evening hope all is well.
<<Hey Eric 'Eric here'¦morning now and all is 'ok'>>
I am looking for advice on how to paint my kitchen without poisoning my reef tank in the living room (next room over).
<<Mmm, indeed'¦ I'm guessing you won't be using Latex primer/paint>>
Unfortunately I need to use an alcohol based primer since we are painting over wallpaper.
I know these fumes are toxic and am really concerned with the potential problems it may cause.
<<A valid concern, but one you can deal with I think>>
Is covering the tank and turning off the skimmer all that can be done?
<<Short of dismantling/moving the tank or 'isolating' it in a vapor barrier with separate fresh air intake/exhaust'¦yes, pretty much. Do also open windows/doors to ventilate and 'dilute' vapors and to speed evaporation of same'¦and put a fan in a window or door to pull/push 'fresh' air over the tank and towards the kitchen>>
Am I looking for trouble?
<<Always a possibility'¦ But I/others do such work around our tanks all the time. Unless this product is especially noxious (e.g. -- 'requires' a respirator vs. good ventilation to work around), a few simple precautions on your part should do the trick. Keeping a good volume of air moving in-and-out of the house for a few hours while the primer 'cures' will help much in preventing the vapors from accumulating>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

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