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FAQs on Marine Environmental Disease 1

Related Articles: Environmental Disease, Establishing Nutrient CyclingMarine Water Quality, Maintenance,

Related FAQs: Marine Environmental Disease 2, Marine Env. Disease 3, Marine Env. Disease 4, Marine Env. Disease 5, Marine Env. Disease 6, Marine Env. Disease 7, Marine Env. Disease 8, Marine Env. Disease 9, Marine Env. Disease 10, Marine Env. Disease 11, Marine Env. Disease 12, Marine Env. Disease 13, & FAQs on Environmental Disease By Cause/Types: Environmental Deficiencies, Oxygen/Gas Problems, Poisoning, Mis-stocking: Psychological Challenges, ( Aggressive Behavior, Territoriality, ), Physiological Challenges (e.g. Metabolites, Allelopathy, Stinging), & Troubleshooting/Fixing

The source of metal/iron pollution in this marine pond is obvious

Goin' On A Hunger Strike - 08/11/2005 I have a 150 gallon marine tank.  My dwarf lion (D. zebra) has not eaten in a month (frozen krill).   <Disturbing....> Have tried many ghost shrimp, crab, shrimp, etc. to no avail.  My 8" snowflake eel seemed to be having trouble eating also and recently died.   <A major concern....> He did not seem thin and actually seemed swollen.   <An excellent clue....> My 5" porcupine puffer quit eating for 3 days but now is eating fine. frozen krill).  My powder blue tang and other herbivores seem to be unaffected.  No change in appetite or behavior.  The lion appears to try to suck in the food but cannot.  My water quality seems good.   <Seeming good is not enough info....  Be certain ammonia and nitrite are ZERO, pH 8.3, salinity 1.021-1.024....> But my nitrates are high.   <Also of concern.  How high?  Above 20ppm can be an issue.> I have done additional water changes (more than normal), I run a UV sterilizer, protein skimmer and do regular filter changes.   <Try to find the source of your nitrates....  I would be concerned that the tank may be overstocked if you cannot keep nitrate down with reasonable water changes.> No fish in the tank have bad fins, color or any abnormalities.  And there have been no recent illnesses or fish additions.  I would appreciate any suggestions. <My first guess is purely environmental issues.  Get more water changes done, pronto, if anything is mildly amiss there.  Try feeding foods soaked in garlic extract to stimulate an appetite.  If still unsuccessful, you might want to consider the possibility of internal parasites....  the swollen eel, after having not eaten, may be an indicator, here.  Are any of the fish excreting long, clear-ish strands of poo?  You might consider offering a food medicated with Metronidazole or Praziquantel, or treat these fish in a quarantine tank with either of those in the water.> Thanks. <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Carnivores won't eat 8/5/05 Hello gang,   I've a 125 gal marine tank, with 50-70lbs of live rock, currently housing, amongst others, a Dendrochirus zebra, and a Diodon holocanthus.  Not quite 2 weeks ago, the lion stopped eating, and the porcupine followed 3 days ago. <Bad sign...>   Both had previously fed with considerable gusto on krill, ghost shrimp, pellets, and the odd bit of chopped table shrimp. <Bad diet...> Both fish attempt to eat, but either turn away as soon as they reach the food, or spit it out as soon as they get it in their mouths.  None of the other fish (lunar wrasse, 2 Fiji blue devils, 1 domino damsel, powder blue tang, Foxface lo, snowflake moray, ocellaris clown) exhibit this behavior, and usually rush in to take what the other two ignore.  Also, the lion's gills seem to be a bit puffy.  All water chemistry checks out ok, save a very high nitrate level I've been fighting with. <Bingo... need to fix this>   I've tried other foods (silversides, Mysid shrimp, crab, and squid) but have had no luck.  Anything you could suggest would be very helpful. Thank you, Jacob <Fix their environment Jacob. Read here please: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm And the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Unexplained Fish Death I recently purchased four fish. Two Banner Fish, one Saddleback Butterfly (same store different tank), and a Gold Stripe Maroon Clown at a different store. I put them in a quarantine tank prior to moving to the 250 gallon main tank. All were looking good. The saddleback was breathing a little rapidly but swimming well after about three days. When I checked 10 minutes latter he was gone. Mouth open fins erect and completely without life. I checked water quality as I had been doing daily and noticed an ammonia spike of about .25 ppm or slightly more. I was also treating with Cupramine (sp?) at .03-.04 ppm. Not wanting to risk further ammonia concerns I transferred the remaining Banner fish and Maroon Clown to the main tank which was also at .03-.04 copper due to a marine velvet outbreak (now under control I hope) from about six weeks ago. The Maroon hid for a day or so but came out about half an hour ago and was swimming well and interacting with the other fish. Breathing was a little rapid. Boom checked less than ten minutes latter and the Maroon was gone. Mouth open no life. Like a heart attack or something. The new Banner fish (the ones originally in the quarantine tank with the dead ones) as well as a Powder Blue, Flame Angel, Golden and a Blackback Butterfly are doing great (Better check in 10 minutes to be sure Ha). Question, I have had fish die from disease or other things but it tends to be slow. What causes such a rapid death and how can I prevent it. <I understand... these "rapid death syndrome" phenomena are generally due to "acute stress" coupled with "transit shock", "diminished RBC" (hematocrit, red blood cell) troubles... fishes have high-packed cell volumes, water has low dissolved oxygen capacity... 7ppm is about sat.... and if the fish get nicked by netting, handling, get chased around by existing livestock, eat too much... the resultant strain can be too much... resulting in the sorts of deaths you detail so well... mouth open, pectoral fins out or forward, eyes alert... dead suddenly> Long question I know but wanted to give all the facts. PS. Water quality in the main tank is dead on except for copper. Tank has been set up about three months now. Appreciate any insight you could give. <Many things that could be stated here. For one, sorry about your losses... and two, do try to keep from coppering your new or old fish livestock... the added stress was/is a factor here... best to "leave new/incoming life" in peace as much as possible for the two weeks recommended respite from collection, moving... so they can/will "re-center" themselves... before moving again, unless there is outright evidence of parasitic infestation, I would not automatically copper them. Bob Fenner... Please do read through the survey works, many FAQs about marine "disease", especially "The Three Sets of Factors that Determine Health" posted on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com>

Clown problem Hello Mr. Fenner, I would like to thank you in advance for any advice you might have for my problem. I have two clowns that are inseparable, one in the tank for 6 months, the other 4 months. The problem that is occurring is that they are staying in one corner of the tank, where they usually sleep. But they have been there for three days now. They stay there all day long, have not eaten hardly at all for three days. The larger one stays very close to the bottom in the corner and is almost defensive of the area. The smaller one hangs above most of the time, nose pointing down. The other fish have been spending a lot of time around that corner. <They do tend to stay in one area... but not eating... not a good sign...> Could she be spawning and they are after the eggs? The lower one has it's mouth open all the time, almost labored. <Ahh, and the other fishes are near this area? Likely you are experiencing a simple, common and all too deadly problem of low dissolved oxygen... your system is under aerated/circulated... I would do a few things here... and quick... add airstone, more powerheads, Take care to not feed until this crisis is over... Do look to see if a film has formed over your tank's water surface (again, an all-too overlooked problem) restricting gaseous exchange... consider lowering temperature a few degrees, even lowering your spg a few thousandths in the short term... to increase gas solubility...> I checked and all the chem.s, pH and salinity are good, Calcium and Phosp. is good also. This started after I did a water change. During that time I added a Chile Corral and some red Caulerpa. I also have an ill elegance corral, which I took out and dipped in Kent Tech-D, rinsed it off in fresh water and replaced. Added my usual supplements, but did start to add iodine (8 drops in a 46 gal). <Perhaps these changes have contributed as well...> If you could give me your opinion as to what might be going on, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Dave Konwinski <Chat with you soon... Please read over the "toxic tank conditions" section of the Marine Index on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Re: clown problem Hello Mr. Fenner, I want to thank you for the quick response and the information. I placed my water change bubblier in the tank and within a half an hour the fish were all over the tank. It's like the whole tank came back to life. <Ah, thank goodness for your quick action> Is this type a problem an on-going thing or does it just happen once and awhile? <Both... properties of water, life... not much gas solubility in seawater... and very common permanent and transient problem in captive systems...> Not too sure how long to leave the bubblier in. I was planning on adding an extra power-head to run a few hours at night to move the water in the back of the tank and change the flows for awhile. Would it be worth adding a power-head with an air inlet to keep additional oxygen in the tank? <Leave in till adding other, and yes... btw, test kits, probes/meters for DO (dissolved Oxygen, pardon me... a bit too much caffeine this AM) are available...> Again, I thank you and so do my clowns. Dave Konwinski <And thank you for the follow up. Bob Fenner>

Scratching fish Bob, I have written you on this problem that I am having in the past and was hoping to get your advice on an idea I have. I have a 125 gallon aquarium with 2 green dragon wrasses, a blue angel, a six line wrasse, and a Foxface. I also have around 60 pounds of live rock, a couple of mushroom anemones, a Sarcophyton, and a pagoda coral. For a couple of months now I have been noticing some of my fish starting to scratch themselves on the rocks, especially the blue angel, a tomato clown (which is no longer with me), and my six line wrasse. In the morning some of the fish, especially the blue angel, would have small dots on them which I thought was velvet, they were too small to look like ich but the dots would disappear by the time I got home from work so I started thinking that it was just small sand particles. I decided to try some environmental changes though because the scratching was still going on and I lost my tomato clown for no apparent reason. I lowered the salt level to 17 and raised the temperature to around 84 degrees. I left it like this while doing water changes once a week for over a month. The scratching is still going on and I'm not really sure what it can be.  <Perhaps a protozoan, worm parasite of some sort, maybe a chemical or physical manifestation...> The fish look good and eat just fine. I sometimes think that my blue angel may be breathing a little heavy but it is hard to tell because he usually gets really excited when I am near the tank and is very aggressive when it is feeding time. The green dragon wrasses haven't shown any signs of anything but I may think that they are just more hardy than the blue angel and the six line wrasse. I'm not sure if my tank is infested or if there is something else going on. <Me neither> I have removed the angel and tried treating him in a hospital tank but he has started right back up scratching a week or so after I put him back in the main tank. At the worst case I was considering removing all of my live rock and corals and treating my main tank with the fish still in it to hopefully get rid of whatever may be going on. <I would try a couple of three things first... Add some sort of biological cleaner... like Gobiosoma gobies (don't think I'd risk Shrimps with those wrasses)... add some activated carbon to your filter flow path or a pad of Polyfilter... increase your aeration (could just be low oxygen and/or carbon dioxide stressing your fishes)... add some more live rock, macro-algae and increase your lighting (to discount chem/physical anomalies, nutritional possibilities... Add an ozonizer, dryer for same... get a better skimmer, ultraviolet sterilizer...> The one thing that I have found that might be wrong though is that I tested my nitrate level and found it at zero but my nitrite level was at 10ppm. <Twisted around>  Is this considered too high and can it be that the nitrite isn't being converted into nitrate fast enough and causing the scratching?  <Definitely contributes> The only filtration I have is an emperor power filter with two bio wheels and another old hang on filter that I use only for mechanical filtration.  <No skimmer?> I have been looking into getting a sump too but haven't done that yet. I hope I have provided you with enough information and I hope that you can give me some advice on what I should do. Thank you, Gianluca <And read over the "environmental disease" and "toxic tank conditions" parts on the site www.wetwebmedia.com under the marine index... Bob Fenner>

Depressing start, please help. Hello, I recently bought a 92 gallon corner tank with a bio filter, protein skimmer, and canister filter. It was stocked with 88 lbs of live rock, and three days later I added 6 fish to begin the cycle. 3 green Chromis and 3 of the NOT TRUE Percula clowns. <Yikes... should have waited...> 3 days after that a clown has just died, and for about 2 hours went all around the tank upside down and banging into things. He seemed to be fine the first couple days, although none of the clowns like to come out of hiding, even when feeding. The green Chromis are quite energetic though. <Stress, and all induced...> Please let me know if that death was "normal" or have I selected incompatible specimens. I hope to avoid any ignorant mistakes in the future. <Very normal... Patience my new friend...> PS: Live rock seems to have so many problems... anemones, worms, etc Why don't people start out with sterile rock and build it up without the pests? <Good idea... we have a few thousand pounds that we do just this for... and "cycle it out" for new about every six months...> THANKS, Michael <Do read over the set-up sections posted on the www.wetwebmedia.com site and give your system a month or two holiday from stocking for now. Bob Fenner>

HELP! Hello, I am writing as I am having problems with my tank. It has been up and running for about 8 weeks. I cannot get anything to live in it. I have tried damsels, a wrasse and a yellow tang. Some died within an hour, and some within 24 hours (tang). I started out using Fritzyme 900 Turbo Start, and recently tried Hagen Cycle. I believe I am acclimating them properly, as I have used both the drip method and the float and add method. All my levels are at 0, and the PH and Specific Gravity are correct. I have a 46 gallon bow front, and am using a Fluval 304 Canister Filter, a BakPak 2 Filter/Skimmer. I have a power head running for circulation, and an airstone also. I have used Aragamax as my substrate, and coral skeletons for decor. I used a Water Purifier, and de-chlorinator (Prime). Two weeks ago I did a 60% water change, as I have a lot of Diatom algae. Please help, why am I losing fish? >> <Obviously, something(s) are very wrong here... I would hold off putting in any more in the way of cycling products or water conditioners period... allow the system to run another couple of weeks, and try introducing a damselfish... If this fish perishes, I would likely dump all the water out of this system, re-fill it with new pre-made seawater, allow it to run for a week without adding anything else (not necessary), add some live rock (even a few pounds will do), allow that to run for a week, and then try another damsel... If you know a dealer or fellow aquarist who can/will come and look at your tank to look for trouble I would have them come by... Perhaps somehow a pesticide or cleaning agent (like glass cleaners with ammonia) have made their way into your system... Maybe there is insufficient aeration... direct your filter discharge above water... maybe add a powerhead with an air intake... Bob Fenner>

Wanted to add... Just wanted to add, that the fish appear to have problems breathing. The first couple hours they seem fine, then appear to breathing heavy (gulping with mouth and fins). They do not lose color. What could this be? I have always been careful that no soap got in the tank, and it is in a bedroom, and nothing is sprayed (haven't dusted since I setup the tank). Please advise! Cory >> <Ah, possibly just anoxia/hypoxia (low, no oxygen), coupled with the livestock "being new" (osmotically challenged), maybe added with other chemical insults I listed...  Bob Fenner>

Fish Crisis PLEASE HELP!!!!!! Hi I have a big problem with my fish. For some reason my Naso Tang has stopped eating and is breathing really rapidly. The tank is about 1.5 years old and the Naso has been with me from the start. I checked the tank out for ammonia and there is none. There is really good filtration (skimmer and power) and I did a water change, still no results. this onset was extremely rapid, he ate the night before. It also happened once I added a bursa trigger, but that fish is fine and so are the other 4 in the tank. I don't understand. Have any suggestions?? I would love to hear them since the Naso is the whole reason I have a tank.. Thanks Jamie Sutton >> YES, one immediate suggestion. Do what you can to add more aeration, circulation... Whatever the real/net cause of the situation, increasing the dissolved oxygen content of your water is paramount.... Add airstones, direct powerheads to intake and distribute air bubbles into the water, discharge water from pumps into the air above your tank water.... do it NOW. The reasoning behind all this? Open water fishes like Naso spp. need high oxygen tension.... and their loss is often attributable to hypoxia. Bob Fenner

Re: Fish Crisis PLEASE HELP!!!!!! Also I just noticed that the Naso looks bloated. And my yellow tang doesn't seem interested in the food either, he goes for it but then turns away. However, I think that the yellow tang is eating the Brown Algae that I have in a lettuce clip... Jamie Sutton wrote: <Likely to do with gaseous exchange... and maybe chemical, physical anomalies from...??? But you've done a water change recently... maybe add a unit or two of activated carbon in your filter flow path...> Bob Fenner

Sick Tank, Animals, or both? I have a 55 gallon tank with about 20lbs of live rock in it. The tank is two weeks old, but I 've had the live rock for a week. Problems arose as I noticed that two of my four striped damsels were suffering from scale loss and fin decay (I noticed little white particles on their fins). To tell you the honest truth I really could care less about the damsels. I moved them to a 15 gal tank along with my ten hermit crabs (after freshwater bath). I pretty much narrowed the cause down to a bacterial infection of c. columnaris, streptococcus, or Vibrio. I ordered some Ampicillin and will begin treatment when I get it. my question is (finally) suppose that my diagnosis is correct and I cure my fish. the 15 gal tank is clean of infection but what about the 55 gal tank? there's nothing but live rock in there and I plan on adding medication to the tank anyways to prevent a second infection. will the medication kill the 'good' bacteria in there? <Probably the new tank was the real cause... and I would just let the 55 "go fallow" for a month... and not worry otherwise> what about the live rock, will it 'buffer' some of the 'bad' bacteria and protect it from medication (absorbed into the pores)? your help would be nice but its not an emergency. by the way your site rocks, I appreciate your unbiased opinions on all subjects. <No worries my friend. Go ahead with your livestocking plan in about a month. Bob Fenner>

Thermal Shock... downward Hi, I'm working to the Quebec aquarium, and one of my lionfish got a thermal shock last week. The temperature normally at 25 degree Celsius, fell to 18, and the fish turn over. Is not dead, but he look bad on his back. He don't eat anymore. Can you help me to help the beautiful fish? Thank you for your help!!! Genevi?e Poulin >> With luck this specimen will recover... even if it doesn't eat for a few weeks (not a typo). Try to keep its environment stable, and be patient.... I know of worse cases that have turned out okay. Bob Fenner

A real mess... thermal stress plus? Dear Bob, I'm mailing you from Adelaide, Australia with a nasty dilemma. I have a 5ft marine tank containing 12 fish from damsels to clowns to a golden headed sleeper, approximately 20kg live rock, an anemone and a painted crayfish. I've noticed over the last few weeks large white/light brown growths on some of the fishes faces. My local fish shop suggested it was white spot and so I've been using MYAZIN once a day, which is supposed to be OK for the anemone and Cray. I've also increased the temperature to ~29degrees C and the salinity is low. However, the fish show no change. I've lost a tang and bicolour angle, both I found on their sides gasping. Some of the other fish are now doing a lot of scratching. I've recently moved (three weeks ago) and in the process managed to crack the tank which has made my trickle filter inoperable, so I've been relying on an undergravel filter and an internal powerhead with some filter media attached. Help? Patrick Sim  >> Yikes, a whole lot going on here! Can you characterize these markings on your fishes faces? I suspect this is really not a parasitic infestation at all, but likely a stress reaction from... the high temperature... and??? What I would do is stop with the treatments (likely related to your losses... and the scratching behavior) and look into ways to lower the temperature of the system, get that crack fixed... Maybe leaving the lights off by day... perhaps rigging up a fan to blow air across the top during the day... maybe even floating a frozen plastic jug of water in the system on the hottest of days... But, let's get the remaining life into another system so you can effect the repair (maybe just siliconing a bit of thin acrylic sheet over the cracked area...) and the wet-dry sump up and going. Bob Fenner

Fungus... not likely I have a 55 gallon salt water tank. All fish and I think I have fungus.  The fish have cotton like spots all over the body and fins. Can I treat the tank with clout???? If not what should I do? Do I need a hospital tank? I had lost 3 fish before to this same problem... Larry >> Yikes, real fungal problems in marine systems are rare... and almost always due to poor water quality... I would do a thorough once over on all aspects of your set-up and maintenance routines...Test water quality, clean your skimmer... and make a massive water change (50% plus), and add a unit (pound or so) of activated carbon in your filter flow path... I would not place the Clout (tm) in your main system for this appearance. Have a marine aquarium friend come over and look at your system, livestock for another look for what might be wrong. 'Bob Fenner

Missing Tang... Habeus corpus? Hi Bob. One of my Sailfin tang went missing and I think it has probably died of natural causes. Do you think I should try to find the corpse or leave it as it is as finding it would mean removing a lot of live rocks. Your advice please. >> How big a tank, how big a fish? I would search around for it unless it was "small", the tank "big" with plenty of scavengers... Bob Fenner

Tank death Hey there, It's me again. Remember the Tang. He past away the day I talked to you about feeding him. Yesterday I lost the rest of the fish in the Tank. No Illness signs at all. My main tank and the secondary tank in unaffected with this problem. I check the water and everything is fine, except the ammonia way in the low-mid level range. Could it be reef disease??? If so what can I do to clean the tank??? <Hmm, disconcerting... and I don't remember much about my emails... many going through every day... But anomalous losses are a source of concern/worry to me... Generally attributable to a "hobbyist" poisoning input... like errant metal contamination, spray cleaners in the room, mis-use of "additives.... or an internal job of algae, sea cucumbers... some combination of interactions... But, other than idle speculation, what can be done at this point? Typically, near total break downs to massive water changes and use of chemical filtrants (carbon, resins), followed by slow addition of "test" organisms to re-stocking...> The last question, in my main tank I have 5 kinds of mushrooms. All died except the hairy Tongo. What could cause their deaths. When I notice a signs of coral problem I change 5 gallons of water from the tank with 2 day old RO sea water. I also lost the green star polyps also. My collection of Xenia is doing fine. I will be doing a partial water change again tonight. I'm also running carbon to help filter out poisons that may be present. Any Suggestions?? Water quality is fine except Ammonia slightly present in the water. Only have a Mandarin goby and a Clark Basslet. <Oh, here come the clues... yes to the biological chemical warfare possibility alluded to above... The winner(s) are usually the better part of the cause(s) of these sorts of wipe-outs.... And sort of like re-doing your computer's main drive... start with these "winners" and add more software/livestock that are compatible with them... You shouldn' t have any ammonia... this is a residual of the die/kill off and ongoing skirmishes... Wait till it's all gone, develop a stringently regular water changing, chemical filtrant use program (monthly)... and a careful re-stocking plan> Thanks, Anthony

Algae? I set up a RR 180 gal tank about 6 weeks ago. I have the live rock (250 lbs), two damsels, one tang, and two gobies. I am using a compact fluor lighting system (6 X 95 W) which is on about 14 hrs per day. Small pink-silver bubbles are appearing all over the tops of the rocks nearest the lights, and they are spreading rapidly. They are individual spheres and look almost like air bubbles attached to the rocks. What am I dealing with, and what should I be doing about it? The tank has gone through a brown algae stage and is now primarily green and purple/pink. The ammonia level is very low ("0"), and I am using a wet/dry system with a protein skimmer off the sump. Thanks, Steve >> Hmm, likely this is either "just" a mix of successive algal forms that are photosynthesizing so vigorously their gasses are getting trapped beneath biofilms... Or could be a massive emergence of "Bubble Algae", most called Valonia in our interest... At this point, I would do nothing to these bubbles per se... but would add your "cleaner uppers" who will do a great deal to them (hermit crabs, snails if you'd like, blennies, Tangs, Mithrax crabs.... many other possibilities>  Maybe take a read through my various "Algae" and "Algae Control" materials stored at the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com for more. Bob Fenner

Question regarding a cloudy eye Thanks for taking my question have an Annularis angel that has a cloudy eye.. it is cloudy with a little red around it. The fish eats normally, and swims normally. I need to know if you know of any meds to cure his eye.. thank you. Edward Borre.... >> Not really... This does sound like a "clinical case" of physical trauma... And will probably repair of its own accord... Try to optimize and stabilize your water quality, and assure the fish gets plenty to eat... Treating the fish is not a good idea, either by placing material in the water, or netting/dipping it. Bob Fenner

Noise? I am curious to know if noise off of a powerhead and the water coming from the pump noise hurt fishes ears? Does all that noise under water bother them? Also since I put a powerhead in the fish seem to stay in its current ALL THE TIME. Is that bad? Thanks Tim >> Good observations, and good question... Some powerheads and other gear can become quite noisy... But I doubt if much of the ongoing "tank noise" is of much concern, problematical for marines... The oceans are actually quite a noisy place as well... And about the current "hanging"... You may have a situation of poor gaseous exchange... and need more aeration, circulation... or the animals may just "like" to swim against and in the current... I'd add another powerhead, internal pump. Bob Fenner

Cloudy water... bio. anomaly Hi there. How are you doing? I hope that you are doing well and that everything is going well for you. I have a question about my saltwater fish only tank. It's 110 gallons in size and is now 10 weeks old. Ever since I set the tank and have had it running it has never completely cleared up. I have never had this problem with my other saltwater tanks at all (37 and 75); they have always cleared themselves up after a few days of start up and remained crystal clear. My 110 is now 10 weeks old and nitrites are zero, ammonia is zero, not exactly sure of nitrates, salinity is 1.022, and the pH is right at 8.3. The temperature stays anywhere from 76 to 79 degrees. I only have a flame angel, a raccoon butterfly and 4 damsels in the tank. I feed them once a day only as much as they can eat in a few minutes. I did a partial water change of 23 gallons just yesterday and premixed the water days in advance to allow adequate salt mixture, water clearing, and pH stabilization. I thought that by doing a partial water change I would remove some of the haze or at least "dilute" out some of the haze. Well, my tank still has a slight white haze to it and I just do not understand why! Since the tank has never really cleared up from the beginning it has me thinking that it's not nitrates or overfeeding but then again I could be wrong. As far as the decorations in the tank I have a three artificial pieces of coral that I bought from the fish store I work at and the rest are all what at one time were live corals. If you have any suggestions as to what might be causing this haze then PLEASE let me know...It's getting very frustrating and annoying. Thanks a bunch! Brian >> Sounds like a biological anomaly to me... some little critters having a field day in your water... And I would just wait them out at this point... and NOT do any more water changes till the water clears. If you want to optimize your chances and shorten the time to clearing, do place some live rock in the tank (yes, even though it is fish-only). Bob Fenner

Cloudy water, re-cycling event I have a 75 gallon aquarium. I have live rock, live sand, an Emperor 400 Bio-Wheel, a CPR Bak Pak II skimmer, and two power heads. My livestock includes 1-Kole Tang, 1-Desjardin Tang, 1-Clown Tang, 1-Clown Fish, 1-starfish, and 4-Gobies. My tank has been up and running for a little over a year. Also, I have 2-110 watt VHO for my lighting. I added the live rock about 3 weeks ago. I purchased cured rock from a local fish store where I have purchased my fish. Here is my problem. When I checked my ammonia yesterday morning before leaving for work, it was off the charts (a dark, dark green color). I came home at noon and put 10 gallons mixing with an air pump and air stone. At about 7 p.m., I changed 10 gallons of water. I moved my live rock around a bit to make sure none of the Gobies were dead because 3 of them only come out when the lights are off. I added my calcium supplements, changed my bio-wheel filters, added Cycle and did all my usual weekly maintenance procedures (wiping down the from glass, rinsing the air stone, checking the power heads to make sure they are working, etc). This morning, my water was extremely cloudy. I checked my ammonia level and nitrite level and they are both off the charts. And on top of that, my Desjardin Tang is looking extremely ill. (He's been that way for about 3 days.) What am I doing wrong? The water change should have brought it down, right? I don't have anything dead because all my creatures are present and accounted for.  Any help or advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Audrey LeLeux >> Nothing you are doing is wrong... your live rock (new, cured or so-so) is "re" cycling... At this point, if you have the flexibility I would move all your livestock and leave the rock et al. to re-center itself... If you can't move the livestock... you will have to risk metabolite poisoning... as you've been doing with water changes... holding off on most all feeding... and letting time go by... Do move at least the larger fishes (to a hospital/quarantine system? Friends tank?) Bob Fenner

Question "help", shipping water? My question is: I set up my 55 gallon tank about 10 weeks ago and have added about 70 lbs total of live rock. I currently have a leather coral, and 3 sea anemones. When I fist started my tank I added about 7 damsels, and since have taken them back to the pet store and added different fish clowns, Banggai Cardinals). After several days of adding the new fish they died. I went to the pet store and they recommended I treat the tank with Tetracycline to see if that would help. I treated the tank, did a 50% water change. and after a week I added 2 Percula Clowns and they died 3 days later. I have checked the ammonia and nitrates, they are both 0. Some of the fish, before dying, hover at the bottom and look as if they are gasping for air. Others look liked their skin was being peeled off a little at a time (No white dots, but looks like they have been scraping themselves on the rocks. I added an airstone to the tank before they died thinking maybe they did not have enough oxygen, but they still died. Currently, I have a 50/50 bulb, an actinic bulb, a protein skimmer, a power head, and an Emperor 400 to filter the water.  Do you have any suggestions as to why the fish continue to die, and maybe any suggestions as to what I can do? I am not sure what to try next to see what  is going on. Thank you very much.  >> Thank you for writing... Did you happen to pour any of the shipping water into your tank? This situation sounds like one or more of your anemones has "shed" enough (cnidocytic) material in the water to render the observations you're relating... There are a few things I would do at this point. If you can mix up enough synthetic seawater, a massive (80% or so) water change. And the addition of a Polyfilter pad to your filter flow path... and take all your filter material out and thoroughly wash it in hot, freshwater... thoroughly wipe down the inside aquarium panels (glass or acrylic) then wait a good month, and "try" another "tester" damsel... Bob Fenner

High Nitrates  In my established set-up my nitrate levels are off the charts. I' ve done a complete water change in hopes of improving these levels. I have 3 small Damsels, a  Cat shark, a yellow butterfly, and 2 hermit crabs. All are completely healthy, and have been with me for some time. I'm afraid to add any new plant or animal to my system until I can get this problem under control. Thanks >> Do consider using the following to lower your nitrates... a difficult thing to do with big, messy eaters like the Shark providing the starter compounds of ammonia: 1) Adding live rock in large quantity. 2) Adding anaerobic filter media to your filter gear (like Siporax, Ehfi-Mech) 3) Making an natural nitrate reduction system in a sump or your main tank. 4) Incorporating some macroalgae to use up the nitrates 5) Removing your wet-dry filter media to reduce nitrification. 6) Putting in a algae and mud filter in a lighted sump. Bob Fenner

Disease question... env. likely Hi Bob, I sent you an email (2) days ago and have not received your reply. Please let me know the answer as soon as possible since the longer I wait, the more chances that my fishes will die. I have a 105G tank with most Tangs and Angels. One of the Tangs (Sailfin), and one of the Angels (Imperator) started to act abnormally. They slow down, breath just a little bit harder (not faster), and have not eaten for 2.5 days. There is no sign of disease that I can see. I did a partial water change (5) days ago and did another one a day ago. I tested the water and everything (PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Alkalinity) looks OK. I had the same thing happened to my Naso Tang more than a week ago and it died after (2) days of not eating. Please let me know your thoughts on this. Thanks, jt  >> Thank you for writing... and sorry to be a "bit" behind. (am out on Maui, diving, taking pix.... touristing). What you describe so well, is very, very likely a matter of "environmental disease".... a lack of gaseous exchange... a few things can be done, immediately: lower your specific gravity... take out some of the marine water and replace it with just fresh... you can safely drop the spg a few thousandths today... and this will appreciably increase gas solubility...  Going forward, do add a mechanical aerator... an airstone, and/or one or more powerheads.... The big clue here was the order in which the livestock you list were mal-affected... The Naso require/d the highest dissolved oxygen....  The situation may seem confusing in that it "happened all at once".... but there are many "things afoot" in a captive aquatic system... sometimes the microbial make-up in a system will greatly increase their use of gasses.... and much more possible... do the above things NOW. In the meanwhile cut back/don't feed your fishes. Bob Fenner

My problem is horrific brown slime algae growth. Lava rock, not for marine aquariums I have a 60 gallon tank with a sea clone skimmer, AquaClear 300, hot magnum, and two powerheads running an undergravel system. I have a Percula clown, a clarkii clown, a tomato clown, and a blue damsel. I also have two pencil urchins, three hermit crabs, and three turbo snails. My problem is horrific brown slime algae growth. I am curious to know if it is caused by the lava rock in my tank. Some one told me that lava rock was okay in marine aquariums because it is lightweight, porous, and can hold a lot of bacteria. I also realize that much of the earth's crust (including reefs) are basically lava rock correct? So is this a suitable rock to place in marine aquariums? One pet store guy told me no because there may be phosphates or other minerals in the rock. That would explain my horrific algae having already attempted lava rock in my aquarium. I would be grateful for any help! Bryan Gabitzsch >> Interesting query... Well, most reefs are made up of calcareous rock (principally calcium carbonate, CaCO3) and even if there is lava rock at its base, this is generally covered completely over... Some lava rock does contribute to algae problems... and you could easily test for phosphate in your system... but I suspect the nutrient levels in your tank may be high just from feeding, and your type of filtration... If the rock has been in there a long time, I wouldn't remove it... if you are curious, you can boil some water with a piece in it and test for phosphate... Otherwise, do look to other sources of algae food, and seek to control them through filtration and maintenance. Bob Fenner

Plankton outbreak Hi Bob, I have a 75 gallon reef, I just have a problem I hope you can help with. A week and a half ago, a pet store gave me a sample of DT's Phytoplankton to try, the dosage on the bottle is 2 cups per 100 gallons, they gave me a cup, I put it in my tank and it turned green and boy do I mean green, now I can't get it out it keeps blooming. If I turn out the lights it get a little better, but I can't leave the lights out for long as I am afraid it will kill my corals ( which are doing fine). I have VHO lighting, filtration is a Fluval 300, 3 power heads, a skimmer, and a hang on the back filter loaded with carbon ( which was suggested that I do to pull it out ( no luck) Now it is suggested that I put on a U.V sterilizer, but won't that take out all the elements that I have put in? Can you help? JoAnn >> Think so... I would install a pad of PolyFilter at this point... that will slowly remove some of the necessary nutrients for the phytoplankton, and your system will clear in a couple of weeks. The UV would work as well, but the sudden release of materials bound up in the algae will cause other problems for you...  Bob Fenner

Plankton outbreak Hi Bob, Thanks for the reply, My corals are starting to suffer from insufficient light if it takes a couple of weeks, do I risk losing my corals? This stuff is thick I think the light can't get through. JoAnn >> Hmm, in that case, do ask the store if they'll lend you a "diatom filter" (Vortex Innerspace Products)... have them charge it with media, and show you how to set it up and run it... or if they have a "skid unit" with a few micron mesh cartridge system that they can run for an hour or two... Either of these will filter out most of the single cells for now... Otherwise, the low light condition should not kill your corals. Bob Fenner

Endogenous poisoning event I have a 40 breeder reef for a year with 2 Anthias, 1 black cap, 2 clowns, 1 yellow tang. Running wet/dry system with red sea skimmer; all health , I feed them at night the next day when I got back home, took a look at my tank and my tang was dead. So I did a water test water, everything looked all good to the graph but I took it in to the pet shop and got it tested to, it was good. I told them the story they didn't know what to say. Come home feed my fish. The next day when I came back from work 1 of my Anthias and my blackcap flipped on me to, test water to it was still good. So I did a water change feed the fish. Next day the other Anthias died, water still good. I didn't do any cleaning around the tank. 2 weeks gone by 1 of my clown couldn't swim upright just side ways and couldn't eat for so I took him out. One more thing my corals closed up for a long time before opened up again for over 2 weeks, even though their open its not the same as before, they don't expand as big as they should be. Came you give me any answers to my problem? Thank you, Souk Her >> Hmm, sounds to me like an "inside job" of poisoning by one of your livestock... Like a sea cucumber... or other organism... maybe even just a reproduction event by some microbe... that led to slow/chronic poisoning... All will probably be fine by now (the poison is probably gone), but I would do a very large (half) water change before adding any more fishes... and maybe a unit of activated carbon in a bag in your filter/flow path. Bob Fenner

Possible bad signs?? Sliding water qual. HI bob. I've got a possible problem. I noticed one of my blue damsels doing some odd behavior with the side of the tank that looked like scratching. This kind of concerned me as the last inhabitants of my tank all perished from ich. I've been watching and I notice my snowflake eel doing a LOT of twitching. (well, he shakes his head violently like he's being tickled or something). He's done a little of this ever since I've had him but its way more frequent today. I'm wondering if I should get a cleaner really quick. I had two cleaner shrimp but my porcupine puffer ate them...I tried one neon goby but he disappeared after being continuously harassed by the damsels, what else can/should I try? I do have a quarantine tank so if I had to I could put the puffer in there and let the shrimp take care of the problem in the tank....the only problem with that is the cleaner shrimp are $20 bucks a pop...that's kind of expensive for what would eventually be puffer food. But I guess that's cheaper than whole new inhabitants. I need some ideas!! Thanks >> Hmm, well, I'd be tempted to try a small group or at least two Gobiosoma gobies again... they're recognized (by other fish hosts) and survive much better than being solitary. Otherwise, there are plenty of other cleaners... Maybe a juvenile hogfish (the wrasse genus Bodianus), a small Butterflyfish (like the barbero, Johnrandallia nigrirostris), or the more hardy than Labroides, Arabian Wrasse, Labracinus... seeing as you don't have live corals... Any of these of interest? But, before committing too much time with your worry beads... do investigate your water quality... Often, the "scratching" and other odd behavior can be traced back to troubles with metabolite build up (you know, stuff like nitrates, phosphate... and so much more). Try a large water change (25% or so), some activated carbon in your filter path, and raising the temperature to 82 F. for a couple of weeks... and let's see if your fishes don't straighten up. Bob Fenner

Having more problems then I can figure out... too much life, too little water, oxygen... Hi, I have a 37 gallon salt tank, and I have more problems then I can deal with. I am using an Eclipse 3 as well as a UGF with two powerheads. I have about 11 pounds of Fiji live rock, and I do a five gallon change out every week. Here is the problem: with the exception of a yellow tang, a small snowflake eel, and a crab, every fish that goes in there dies. I have spent close to 500 on fish, everything from triggers and lion fish to boxfish and groupers, and they have all died. Can you think of anything that would cause this sort of problem? Also, as of late the Tang has lost and regrown fins, and now one of his eyes is covered in some sort of crap that is making it bulge.  I wonder if it is the live rock or the Eclipse, or a combination of both. On my last aquarium I had a Fluval and no live rock, and everything worked like gang-busters. No dead fish, nothing. Not even during the cycle. Do you think that the use of a bigger powerhead running the water from the UGF into a UV sterilizer would do the trick here? Ian >> From your list of what lives and what you've lost I can almost assure you of the root cause... and of a/the best route to solve the problem... You have suffered from a lack of gas exchange... not just gaseous solubility of oxygen... but a whole array of conversion and diffusion problems... inherent in your set-up (as you seem to imply... in comparison with your previous set-up). The life in/on your live rock, that becomes situated within the area of your substrate, and the "macro" life (tang, etc.) all are "breathing"... but there's not enough mechanical aeration and extraction of microbes, bio-important-molecules to support more large "gas users"... They've been dying from the ill-effects of poor gaseous exchange and metabolite build-up/concentration. Cutting to the chase, what I would do to solve all this in one piece of gear is to install a protein skimmer (tricky, but it can be done with Eclipse's) over the back... or better into a sump... A UV would help, but would not solve the problem... Bob Fenner I HAVE A 150 GAL. TANK WITH LIVE ROCKS AND ALL OF MY FISH HAVE CLOUDY EYES  WHAT CAN I USE TO CARE FOR THIS? >> Cloudy eyes are indicative of poor water quality... almost never directly from an infectious or parasitic agent in different types of fishes in the same set-up... Find out what the real cause is... what types of fishes? When did this start? What is the pH of your water? What sort of filtration do you employ? How long has the tank been up? Do you measure any aspect of nutrient cycling? Metabolite build up? If you know naught what otherwise to do... make a massive water change (50% plus) to lessen whatever the root cause(s) of the problem. Please do get back to me with more information. Bob Fenner

Cloudy eyes, env. I took your advice about returning my nurse shark after loosing a few angles.  I have a 150gal tank with 2 Arothron puffers, a clown trigger, a French angle. They have been together for about 3 months now. I went on vacation and upon returning, the puffers had some white spots which I assumed were due to ich. I did a water change and the spots were gone after week. now I notice that all the fish eye's have some opaque coloring in their eye.  beside that, they behave normally. I have live rocks along with a Lifereef trickle filter and a protein skimmer. what can I use or should I be alarm at all thanks Roger >> Ahh, mostly good news... continue to improve water quality and don't worry about the eye cloudiness as an infectious disease... it's probably a "poor water quality" complaint that will self-cure with time. Keep up the water changes, cleaning your skimmer, and add a unit or two of activated carbon to your filters flow. Bob Fenner Low DO... First off, thanks for taking the time to read my question and for answering the many others that provide many insights to this great hobby. My set up is a 135 gallon tank with a Fluval 403 and a Lifeguard canister system as well a mechanical and chemical). I run an air pump to a disc to help with oxygen and also have a Rio to circulate the water on the top as well.  The tank itself is used as a room divider so the four sides are all clear. My water quality is fine, ammonia and nitrite are 0.0, the PH is 8.0-8.2, and nitrates run from 30-40ppm. The water temp is around 78 throughout the year.  I run fluorescent lights about 7-8 hours a day.  With that information as a base my question is about my fish and what appears to be rapid breathing. At my LFS the fish never seem to breathe at the rate that mine do. I have noticed that throughout the day it seems to increase.  The fish show no signs of disease and all eat like champs! I keep a Naso, Blue, Sohal, and Sailfin Tangs, a Queen Angel, two small Triggers and a Lion fish.  I have talked with many but have yet to solve this.  Thanks again. >> Thank you for writing and your kind support. It may well be that your system has a low dissolved oxygen and/or higher than desirable carbon dioxide concentration. While there are test kits and meters that you can use to gain an insight into such matters (they have to be used then and there... you can't take a sample "elsewhere" to be tested), I would give the following easy, simple and safe method of increasing gas solubility a try... Lower your specific gravity... to about 1.018 or 1.019 over a few days time (removing system water and replacing with "just" fresh)... Especially the Surgeonfishes you have that require high O2 tension will appreciate this... and it saves on salt mix! Otherwise, your system sounds fine. Bob Fenner

Fishy question Hi Bob, Thank you for your informative and to-the-point column, it's always great to read them. Here's my question. I had a yellow tail Fiji damsel which survived the cycling of my sixty gal.  tank. Other tankmates are a yellow Tang, a domino damsel, two hermit crabs, and a bicolor angel. The Fiji damsel developed a white, cauliflower papule around his mouth and his respiratory distress was evident. He didn't eat and hid inside a barnacle shell. After three days he died. I have noticed a very small lesion of same type on the body of the bicolor angel. He seem to be fine and eating and swims around fine. There are no lesions on other habitants of the tank.  Can you tell me about the nature of these lesions, and should I be concerned about the health of other fish, and finally what is the cure? I was planning to purchase a Flame angel. How long should I wait to insure the tank is not manifested with disease causing organisms? Thank you in advance for your speedy reply.  Ben, CA >> Where to start? There seems to be quite a number of these sorts of environmental-parasitic-infectious diseases... in this case, and I am guessing, some type of microsporidean (a group of Protozoans) that manifests itself (here's the environmental component I alluded to above) when the "host" is overly stressed (as from a cycling system, poor water quality, getting the tar beat out of it...).  As opinions stand, the only way to deal with such events is through prevention (i.e. careful, expedient handling of livestock, quarantine, adequate feeding, proper filtration...)... that is, optimization of circumstances once you receive the animals. Often these "incidents" will respond spontaneously... they will "just" disappear, given the balance of health tipping your livestock's way. There are no current chemical approaches that are efficacious for "treating" the symptoms (the white papillae) itself. Further, there is generally little cross-over between species, families of fishes... I'd wait a good month before adding any more livestock period, and do what you can to ensure stable, optimized conditions. Bob Fenner 

Formalin Med. Poisoning effects Talk about a bad day... I lost my grey and Koran angels today (see old email below...). I had an outbreak of ick on Tuesday and we started a treatment recommended by my local store using Formulite II. Per their direction, I removed my carbon and inverts (shrimp, urchin, and hermits) and added the medication - Two drops per gallon. I then did the second of the 3 recommended treatments on Thursday PM. On Friday everyone was looking great and everyone was eating like a bunch of hungry truck drivers.  The two angels from Friday to Saturday morning developed a major amount 'slime' on their bodies and got foggy eyes. I'm guessing the medication caused this. Anyway, I threw carbon in my baskets and I did a RO water change of 15 gallons again per the local rec.- but both angels were dead by 5:00 pm. They looked like they were dipped in slim when I pulled them out.  Where did I go wrong? So far my remaining family is looking fine but obviously I'm very concerned and my wife is really bummed out. Today was a very expensive day and I am open for any suggestions... Thanks, Tom Tengowski P.S. - The black cap also died earlier this week also...I can't get a break. >> ARRGGGGHHHH, I'm so sorry to hear of your fish losses. And do not, repeat DO NOT ever encourage the use of formalin/formaldehyde in any format's use in hobbyist's aquariums. These compounds are outright poisons (cross linkers of peptides), and are deadly dangerous to all forms of life. Yes, the medication did kill your fishes, blinding them, causing excess slime production... Don't know if I can state "where you went wrong", I cannot profess to state, but you reacted properly (with close observation, the water change, returning the carbon). Do return the Formulite to your dealer and ask them to explain what they think happened. Hopefully you have not killed off the bulk of your beneficial microbes. If it were me, I'd test your water and be very careful about (slowly) returning the other livestock... Take Your Time. Bob Fenner Ammonia poisoning Hi Bob, I have small angel fish that was exposed to a .25 ammonia level for about one night. I put the Angel in a quarantine tank the first day purchased and he was doing fine. The next morning the angel was breathing rapidly. I did an ammonia test and got a .25 reading. I was shocked because I had done a 100% (50% from my main tank) water change in the quarantine tank about four days before. I guess my filter penguin BioWheel & foam filter) had not developed enough biological bacteria. At the time I wasn't sure what to do so I put the Angel in the sump of the main tank. I didn't want him to get even more stressed by the other fish. The fish is still not breathing normally but not as fast as Sunday. He also started to eat today. What would you recommend I do at this point? Should I leave him in the sump? Put him in the main tank? or return to the quarantine tank? Do you think the Angel has a good chance of making a full recovery?  Note: I have a light on the sump so that the fish is not in the dark. Thanks, I appreciate any help you can give me. >> Thank goodness for your clear thinking and quick action. Yes, I would have moved the angel to the sump, and it should recover fully (though this may take a few weeks) as its breathing is improving and it's eating (a good sign). I would leave it in the sump. Also, next time (of course) you need to make sure the filter media is pre-conditioned and test the water for ammonia daily... Bob Fenner

I was out-of-state for 2 months. 2 weeks ago my brother left the light on overnight (yes... I do have a timer on it, but somehow he really messed it up). I lost several items. I have a clam that was dark purple, but is now medium to light pink. A green open brain that is now bright white with neon green highlights around the edges. But the worst of all is my leather. It was a huge breathtaking centerpiece for my tank. It looks like the bottom of it is ripped open. It is opening up while the light is on... but I don't know if it... or the open brain... will survive. > I have reduced the amount of light to 5 hours a day (was 7) and the clam is getting it's color back, slowly. >> Anything else I can do??? Do you think they will recover? > Thank you. > Libby > >> > All this trouble from just one night of continuous light, or was it (I dread) on for several days to weeks in a row? If the former, I'd stick with your existing plan, if the latter I might well add an iodine supplement and one of those commercial "sugar prep.s" (like Weiss') to boost their recovery. Of course, don't add any more livestock till much of whatever recovery occurs. > Bob Fenner, who does think that there are good chances for recovery 

Poor gorgeous leather The light was definitely on for 36 hours before it was discovered. I have 4 VHO lights over the tank. I wanted to order the cleaner special. Would this be a bad idea? I have been waiting for it to go on sale... I would hate to miss it... but I don't want to hurt any existing guys either. Thank you SO MUCH for the information! Libby >> I would definitely wait at this point. Though most of the "cleaner uppers" sold as such can be trusted... they are not above taking advantage of livestock that is "having troubles". I would hold off till all is well or at least much better. Bob Fenner

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