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FAQs about Small Marine System Maintenance 7

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Keeping it clean...

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1:
Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2:

New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
Book 3:

New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Water change regime       10/15/19
Dear Team
<Hey Srinivas>
Happy to connect again and looking forward to another wonderful advice from you’ll , which I feel, would not fail this time too.
I have a nano set up. Details as under:
Display: 16-inch cube
Sump: 25 gallons which hosts a Skimmer, Chaetomorpha and DSB and the return pump
The net water volume is about 120 liters (32 gallons) (PS the overall built-up volume is about 40 gallons capacity)
<Good total water volume for a nano>
Am in process of adding few corals (few SPS, few Zoas and three to four small fishes) and am curious regarding the best way to maintain water parameters.
Keeping in mind the costs and efforts involved, I landed on the below three options on which I want your views (and the best one in your opinion). Any other alternatives are most welcome.
Option 1: Monthly Water Changes
On a moderate bio load, undertake 30-40% monthly water change. Check the water parameters weekly for the trace elements and dose as required
Option 2: Weekly Water Changes
Perform Weekly 15-20 % water changes and maintain the water parameters. Avoid dosing unless absolutely necessary
Option 3: Alternate day water change – 3 liters or 1 gallon
Undertake about 3 liters or 1-gallon water change every alternate day. No dosing. Automate/semi automate the procedure to reduce manual effort. Monthly maintenance for tank and equipment to be carried.
Please note, I would be using Ro/Di water for all water changes and top-ups.
I further presume that option 2 would be most costly followed by option 1 and ultimately option 3 being most cost efficient on the ones mentioned above
I am aware that all or any of the above methods can work. But for my personal satisfaction, please let me know the best option in your view with reference to the overall health of the tank and the intended livestock including corals
Your views would be highly appreciated
<Personally, I’d go for the Option 3... I’ve noticed through many years in the aquarium trade that frequent water changes of less volume, are more beneficial and less stressful for fish than less frequent, higher volume changes; when fishes and corals are sold, water in the systems should be replenished with new water, so water changes are inevitably made very frequently, that's why I can tell you that the third option is better, another advantage is that you will be adding essential elements to the tank with every water change, and there is less need for additional supplements, I hope I have clarified your doubts. Cheers. Wil.>

Re: Biocube Stocking. Filtration area set up; maint. this time     12/10/16
Hello again WWM!
<Howsit James?>
I've decided to take the next step in filtration. Can you double check my decisions before I integrate them into my Biocube 14?
I've been throwing a Scotch Brite pad between chamber 1 and 2, and putting the guard/sponge over the propeller on my Vortech mp10. Then, I've been using a turkey baster to blast the rocks. After the water is clear again I pull the pads back off, rinse them out, and let them dry. It seems to be very effective and my water parameters have not changed.
<Sounds/reads like a good routine>
The only negatives have been a hair algae outbreak early on. The hair algae seemed to evolve into a Bryopsis style fern shape?
<There are a few pest types that look like this... and various means to counter them... Gone over and over on WWM>
That all died out in about a week. Now I have a clump of hair algae again on the back wall of the tank. I'm wondering if extra nutrient management is necessary. Here's my current rough draft.
Chamber 1: Cermedia MarinePure 1.5" balls. filled approx 70%. Im assuming the bottom half of chamber 1 is lower flow. So in theory helping with biological filtration live rock style. Chamber 1 is still empty except for the heater.
Chamber 2: Seachem Matrix Biomedia in the bottom half and some sort of macroalgae with a small submersible led light. I haven't done research on the type of macro algae or light yet. I'm hoping to out compete the hair algae. Chamber 2 is currently completely empty with false floor removed.
Chamber 3: Seachem Purigen for the final polish before returning to the tank.
I plan to continue the turkey baster/mechanical removal and I like having a very hands on approach to my tank. What do you think?
<Again, this appears to be a very nicely managed small system. I'd proceed with the stocking... even consider one hermit crab and snail for routine cleaning and interest>
Thanks again for your time!
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Sudden Fish Death     8/13/15
Hi Guys,
Sorry to bother you, but I’ve tried to find an answer to my question on your site and just can’t seem to find the right answer. I’ve had a 29 gallon Biocube going since 2006 (this site was a great help when I was first starting). Water chemistry is good.
<Mmm; need values, not opinions... And; I'd be switching out some (a pound or two) of live rock every six months or so here>
I have many coral, snails, a blue hermit crab, a red fire shrimp and 5 fish
: a six-line wrasse, clownfish, Banggai Cardinalfish, watchman goby and a bi-colored blenny. I recently replaced the lights, the 24W actinic and the 36W 10K florescent bulbs. There must have been a connection problem because I came home from work several days to find only the blue actinic light on.
<Of very little functional use>
I’d have to open the top and play with the bulb to get the 10K to light. During this time I noticed my blend went missing. Then a few days later, I noticed the goby was "breathing heavily” and seemed lethargic. The next morning I found the crab eating him. My question is, could the fish have died because of stress from the lights being out or is it possible that the coral got stressed and the chemicals released effected the fish?
<Can't tell from the data presented>
I normally do a 10% water change each week.
<In such a small system, I'd change out a quarter per week>
The other three fish are fine and the light now seems to be working fine. I would like to replace the fish but I don’t want to do it until I figure out why the others died.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Nano War; SW, op.      11/24/13
Conscientious Counseling Crew,
I am having an issue and no luck finding ideas about this combination of issues here or on forums.  But I hope this is not a repeat issue that I should have found myself.
<Let's see>
I have set up a 9 gal Eheim nano tank.  Beautiful simplicity, corner filter, and nice lighting.  I was intending for it to be a quarantine tank, but stuck a couple of pieces of live rock in there to cycle, and they flourished.  After slight cycle, I added a small six line wrasse,
<Oooh, a mean fish>
 intending to move to the bigger FOWLR tank after quarantine, and it ended up being a nice little reef ecosystem.  I had never seen such diverse live rock.  It is Caribbean, and being in the south, I suppose they are able to transport it quickly without a lot of die off.  It is covered with several types of macro algae, two small corals, limpets, a Nassarius snail (made one appearance), a spaghetti worm, tunicates, and sponges. 
<Ahh! As you state>
The big sponge is orange and about two inches tall by 3/4" wide and has an osculum on the end and one half way up the side. They are ringed with white spikes. I was stunned it has flourished, along with everything else. It has about doubled in size in a couple of months. The algae loves the light.  There is a slight red Cyano issue in places, not enough to be worried. (feeding the sponge?)
<Not likely... such BGA populations take advantage of environments in transition; available space and nutrients>
 I had originally set it up with tap water, not intending it to be a reef.
S.G. 1.025, Instant Ocean with original mix of tap water, and now with RO/DI from the grocery store dispenser.
Temp 79F
Ammonia =0
nitrites = 0
nitrate = 0 (yay! all the algae caused this to drop from the 5 ppm after the cycle)
Phosphate <0.025 ppm
pH = ...who knows? the stupid API pH test is useless, I can't match any of the colors, and my LFS or chain pet stores don't stock any other tests.  I have to order a different brand of test kit...  I think the pH is around 8.0, but really not sure, but everything seems (seemed) happy as in my bigger tank (which has similar result that doesn't match anything on the color chart).
<Not to worry; the/your bio-assay is more important>
So, was going great.  Then, the wrasse jumped. 
<Ah, very common>
The lid of the tank had arrived broken, so I was waiting for the replacement to arrive.  I should have known it would jump and gotten glass from the hardware store. :-(   I thought maybe without other fish to run from it wouldn't.
I figured I should get some other vertebrates in there to keep the nitrogen cycle going for the algae.
<A little pinch of food of whatever sort will take care of this>
 My LFS finally had a skunk cleaner shrimp (my favorite and I had not seen one there before) and a yellow coral goby.  I don't think I have ever seen one of those in a LFS.  Sounded like a perfect little non-jumping fish for that size tank.
<... can jump>
  Brought them home, acclimated.  All was well.  Next morning, shrimp dead.  Next day, the goby seemed less hungry and having a little trouble moving one fin and not swimming much.  The next day, it died.  No visible signs of disease or malnutrition.
Then I noticed the sponge was irritated and squinched up, and the corals were less open.  The spaghetti worm is only about 2 inches away, and tentacles were bothering it.  I poked the worm, it withdrew, and soon the sponge opened back up.  Off and on, the worm would be groping the sponge.
sometimes it didn't seem to be a bother, and other times the sponge reacted badly.  when I put my hand in to groom the algae, it seemed to sting just a little.  I did about a 50% water change.  But there is no way to test for toxins?
<Not for hobbyists as yet; no. Other than your current observations>
I never noticed the worm being so forward before.  Possibly the wrasse was
keeping it at bay?
My best guess is that the sponge is causing some toxic release? 
<Could be>
Or does it have to be dying to do that?
<No; some sponges/Poriferans are very to so-so toxic when live>
The two corals could be battling, but they were fine, and look great except when the sponge is squished.
Open to other possibilities.  but if the sponge and worm have irreconcilable differences, I see a few options and have no idea which is best...
1. move the sponge.  It would like to be in a shadier spot anyway.  can they be cut and placed elsewhere?
2. remove the worm.  It is cool, but not my favorite.  But it can't be moved?  Would have to be killed. ?  yuck.
<Move the rock it's in if you'd like>
3. remove the sponge.  If it is killing things, then maybe just separating from the one nuisance isn't the answer but only buying time until the next battle.
4. frequent large water changes.  I don't trust this, with no way to test for toxins besides sacrificing fish.
5. add protein skimmer.  Really want to keep it simple.  it is such a pretty tank, 4 sides glass.
 The only thing I am seeing that is small enough and visually appealing is the Gnome Glass skimmer.  Any thoughts on that product? 
<Mmm, easily broken... there are better plastic ones>
Would a skimmer help that much with toxins? 
<Depends on the type of toxin/s>
Other thoughts on a tiny skimmer? 
<I'd consider adding a bit of activated carbon, inserting a cut off piece of Polyfilter over your filter pad>
Adding a sump would help keep it pretty, but then have to use a siphon overflow (which I have had good luck with)... and I really really wanted to keep it simple.
6. Do nothing, and don't add any more vertebrates since everything else seems happy?
<See above>
Nashville, TN
<Welcome; BobF, San Diego, CA>
<<yes.  But I would really like to have a higher order
critter, maybe a shrimp. But I won't know if it is safe to put one in.
I will try cutting and relocating the sponge.  Add carbon, and more water
changes until it settles down.  I will read up on the skimmer pages for
thoughts on finding something that will fit since that might help too.
maybe try a hermit crab later if the sponge seems happy relocated. ?>>
Thanks <<again>>,

Sm./Nano water change frequency    9/18/13
Hello WWMCrew,
I have a nano 'aquarium' (10 litres UK), and I was wondering how often I should perform water changes. I was initially performing one 15 - 25% change per day, but I've read that once a week should suffice?
<I would likely default to the weekly changes... but as a general rule, the smaller the volume, the more frequently I would perform... AND most important to mention; I'd ALWAYS have pre-made water on hand with such small volumes for "emergency" change-outs>
I have one red cherry shrimp (will be adding a few more quite soon).
Parameters are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and around 2 nitrate. The ph is 7.6 - 7.8.
<Mmm, I'd bolster the pH (in the change water)... likely to 8.2; with a commercial product... SeaChem's lines are faves here. Reliable, miscible>
Thank you.
Kind Regards,
<And you, Bob Fenner>

95l Kent Bioreef tank question; sm. mar. maint./op.       5/28/13
Hello from the UK for the first time, and I suspect it won't be the last.
<You are a stranger here but once. I welcome you>
Your excellent resource has answered most of my questions so far, and I'm only 4 months into my first tank.
I am proceeding with caution....too much so for some of my local reef tank group.  But it's my tank so....
The Kent BioReef for those who aren't familiar, is a 95l nanotank cube.  I have a two head wavemaker in addition to the supplied power head, skimmer, and circulation pump. I had 10kg Fiji live rock to start it off.  Six weeks in the weed growth was scary and I introduced 4 Redleg hermits, an emerald crab, 9 snails (Ceriths, turbans, Nassarius) over a few weeks.  Combined with some water changes, the waving forest quickly subsided and plenty of pink, purple and blackish coralline algae appeared and continue to flourish all over the tank. I added around 5kg more about two months ago, and they cycled very quickly.
I have a 15l minireef tank I use as a quarantine tank.  A fellow reef enthusiast gave me 5 frags about two months ago from his larger tank.  He also has an established Kent BioReef.  A leather-type coral, two star polyps, one purple one creamy white based,  three tiny Christmas tree like corals, and a snake polyp.  I had these in the quarantine tank for a week to observe them and watch for hitchhikers.  There were tiny brittle stars with red and black banded legs.  Assured they are good, they are now in the main tank.
<Good... as seen/noted from your writing below; these will mal-affect each other in close quarters, small volumes... and do note the soft coral may become too large, and the Clavulariids too encroaching... keep isolated on rocks of your choosing>
During the quarantine, all opened up daily apart from the snake polyp (well, I didn't get up at midnight to check this one!) and closed down in the evening.  So I got used to how they looked.  I transferred to the main tank after acclimating to the main tank water over about an hour. 
Parameters were very similar.
All has been well until about 3 weeks ago. This coincides with the end of my first batch of salt mix, another brand. The star polyps leather is growing and attaching to the rocks, but just the last week or so they've become erratic in their opening.  The white one is now sulking all the time and not opening at all.  The purple one is covered in stubby little polyps, but  has sprouted an orange trumpet with tentacles from its midst, and I wonder if it is waging war.  The star polyps hardly come out now, or are very tiny.  Combined with this, I introduced a small lemon goby who has settled in well, but does perch on the purple star polyp.
The goby gets a tiny (half a half of a portion of frozen Mysis ) every other day.  I put in a defrosted raw king prawn yesterday and the goby tried to swallow it whole.  The emerald crab appreciated it.
<Watch this animal... becomes predaceous>
 Took it out today.
The leather/colt (to be formally identified) shed like crazy, then hasn't really opened much at all in the last week, but it still moves  towards the light from the (distant ) window then folds up tighter at night.  I moved it up from the bottom of the tank to half way at the weekend.  It's been on the bottom for a couple of weeks so I figured it wasn't rushing things to try and bring it closer to the tank lights.  It looks a bit green.  It used to have brownish polyps.
The snake polyp is open fully every night!!  I love it.  The Christmas trees open some days, others they sulk like asparagus tips.
<Do so in the wild as well>
Finally to my question.  As it is a small tank, and each week I replace 15l with fresh salt water made as per instructions from RO (same source) and  Red Sea coral Pro Salt, tested with a temperature adjusting refractometer and zeroed with distilled water, at 1.026 do I still need to dose for Iodine?
<Yes I would... every, in conjunction with water changes>
There is still plenty of micro life and algae coming off the glass, so would I need to feed these corals?
<Not directly, no>
My salty colleague who supplies the frags says not, but his systems are more diverse.  I test with Salifert  tests about 4 days after a water change, and a day after the change.  I have not detected ammonia, and other parameters are at the lowest detectable or below (nitrate, nitrite, pH).  I figure as there's hardly any weed, nitrates are currently under control. 
There's bristle worms, microscopic critters crawling all over, a few Asterinas.  The hermits moult every 6 weeks or so and are active as are all the snails.
By the way, I upended the new bucket of dry salt and mixed it up before using.  Looks like the components have a tendency to separate.
<Ahh! You are observant, and curious. Good traits to have for aquarists, humans period>
  Does anyone else stir up the dry salt stock before making up their water changes?
<They should. Some salt mixes are more homogeneous than others though>
Many thanks for your advice.
<Thank you for sharing>
I can send pictures at a later date.  Better go do some work!
<Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

Cyano outbreak!!! Sm. SW     5/18/13
I've been reading all of the info about Cyano and hoping this is just a phase, but I do have a question(s) maybe you could shed some light on.
<I hope so>
I have a 29 gallon Biocube that I have done a few small upgrades on in the last week. I removed the Bioballs and replaced with Fluval ceramic rings.

 I also bought and installed the stock Oceanic protein skimmer made for the Biocube, and am still fiddling with it to find the "sweet spot." And lastly, I added another 7 lbs of live rock to the already 20 lbs I have.
All of this was done to help drop my nitrates. I have also started doing small, twice weekly water changes as per Bobs advice.
In the last few days I have had an out break of red slime on the front half of my live sand substrate. I notice in the morning, turning on the light it has almost disappeared, but by evening it has returned stronger than ever.
I feed a very small pinch of New Life Spectrum pellets in the morning and a bit of Mysis or some other frozen meaty food in the evening. I try my best to rinse the food, to get any excess juice off before I feed. Should I cut back on feeding?
<I definitely would... at least until the BGA issue is solved>

 I currently house: 1 Purple Dottyback, 1 Fireshrimp, 1 Banggai Cardinal, 2 Percularis clowns and an algae eating Urchin.
I test rigorously, today in fact, and my numbers are good: Specific gravity: 1.025 Ammonia and Nitrite: 0 Ph: 8.2-8.4  Nitrates: 10-20 (which I'm still struggling to get below 10, but a far cry from the 80 it was a week or two ago.)
Should I upgrade my stock circulation pump and get something to get my water moving better? Will that help?
<More circulation is better>
Some info says "yes" other info I read says "no."
Will this die off on its own in time and has only cropped up because of the new upgrades?
<I do hope the BGA will abate; your actions should help>
Do I need more (or less) sand? I have about 2 inches presently.
<More would definitely be better... 3.5-4" about ideal here>

Sorry for so many questions...again. Seems I'm full of them these days.
Thanks so much for all the helpful advice!!! Without this site, I don't know what I'd do!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cyano outbreak!!!     5/21/13

Well, I went out and upgraded my circ. pump to a Hydor Koralia 425 gph. And also added a piece of polyfil to my filter.
My skimmer is skimming and I'm feeding next to nothing (just a small bit of Mysis that I rinse) and only once a day.
I'm very happy with the circ pump and I've checked for dead spots, and there are none!! Yay!
However, that dreaded red slime is still popping up on my substrate and now moving to my rocks. I'm pulling my hair out over this!!!
<Patience Heather... Cyano abatement takes time... sometimes weeks>
My numbers are all still good, as you can see from my last email, and they haven't changed. (Still struggling to lower nitrates) but at this point I'm not sure where they're coming from. We test our water that we change and make sure it's the same as our tank water.
The only thing left is our substrate. We have Ocean Direct Caribbean Live Sand. We have about 2 in. And we've been advised to add more. How do I go about adding?
<Simply pour it in... unless it's "too" dusty... in which case you'll want to freshwater rinse it (swirl around in a clean bucket till it runs clear... like rice in a rice cooker), then pour it in>
 Since the slime is on the substrate, do I remove as much slime as possible then add sand?
<Fine to just pour on top>
Help please! This Cyano is killing me!!!!
Thanks once again!
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Need Advice, Sm. SW maint. f'      5/15/13
Hi Crew, I have a 24 gallon with LED lighting, six fish (2 Pajama Cardinals, 2 Kaudern cardinals,
<These may bicker, fight with time, growth>
 a Firefish and a Clown Goby), LPS corals.12 Acans, a Cynarina, a Lobophyllia, a Trachyphyllia (over 6 inches), a large candy cane and a Blastomussa wellsi with over 10 heads. I feed the fish regularly once a day and sometimes twice a day. I spot feed the corals once a week. I change a gallon a week unless I see some problems and then I change 2 gallons a week.
This set up is over 8 years. The fish have been replaced over the past 2 years. Most of the corals are over 3 years. I am planning to do some traveling over the next year and am tempted to shut it down. Currently if I go away for a weekend I just leave it as is.
<No worries>
For a week I will set up a feeder. I was wondering if it would work out to just get rid of the fish and let the corals try to survive for 2-3 weeks at a time without any care other than have someone replace the evaporation once a week. In general what changes would you suggest if I remove the fish without going on vacations. Thanks, Sam
<As this system has been doing fine for you as it is, I wouldn't change anything... If it were me though, I'd have a larger volume. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater Tank questions, Sm., RE sales advice      4/26/13
I have a 29 gallon saltwater reef tank it's been up and running for about 6 months maybe more now,
and all is going very well, lots of growth and the fish seem happy, I just have 2 issues going on, the first is I've recently noticed my cup coral wasn't opening up during the day,
<Mmm, well; small volumes... are hard to keep consistent, optimized...>
so i started looking at it, and I noticed that worm from the first picture there hanging out under my coral.
It looks like a Bristleworm to me, but I'm not 100% sure, but I was wondering if you guys knew of a way I could get the worm to come out so I can catch it, or have ever had any luck catching those worms with the worm traps?
<... Yes; read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaewmcompfaq2.htm
My other question was about the evergreen star polyp I have, as you can see from the picture it's got what I'm guessing is
<Can't open your pix as attached. If you'd like, re-send as jpgs, other format as listed on how you found to write us>
hair algae growing from it? I'm not sure, but I was wondering if I should pull those off of my coral, because the coral doesn't open in the places where the algae growth is. I pull a little off one side, and it opens well there. But that was a different kind of algae.
Should I pull the rest of this 'algae' off the coral plug or just leave it?
is it harmful?
<... see our listings re algae ID, compatibility, control>
Thank you, sorry for the long message, but I was hoping to have the tank looking a little better soon as I am showing my house to potential buyers
<Ahh! Do make baked goods. Cookies are great>
and they are all very intrigued by my tanks.
Sorry if the pictures are blurry and hard to see, if they are I can try and take better ones.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Saltwater Tank questions

<Oh! Did see/open your images... this/these are likely diatoms and/or Dinoflagellates... Do search/read re on WWM. BobF>

A few questions       4/20/13
Hello! John here.
<Hiya John>
Here's my situation. I have a 29 gallon saltwater tank that I started last May.
<I loved my 29. Tough to find lighting for but a fun tank!>
 I use RO/DI water, and do a 10% change every 7 to 10 days. I have an Aqua-C Remora skimmer which I have to empty twice a week. I have a HOB filter, two power heads for circulation, and about 20 pounds of live rock.
I recently changed the lights. I had a Marineland Double Bright LED fixture, and, since I want to add some corals soon, have changed to a Marineland Reef Ready LED fixture.
These lights produce more heat than the old ones did, so the temp in the tank now stays around 80 - 81 degrees. Before it stayed around 77 - 78.
<Hmm. I've used these a few times. They may run hotter than your double brights, but they still run relatively cool. What make and model of powerheads/HOB filter/aqua-c feed pump?>
The blue lights come on at 9 am, the white lights come on at 10 am, go off at 8 pm, and the blue lights go off at 10 pm. My water tests as follows: ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and phosphates all zero. pH is 8. dKH is 7.
Salinity is 1.025. Calcium is 320.
<Lot of debate here, but what kind of test kits are you using? Magnesium levels? KH is too low for a tank that small>
Ok. Lately, I have had some algae growth. Not a whole lot, just some on the sand and on one of the live rocks. Since my phosphate test kit was pretty much impossible to read, a got a Hanna Checker. The results are still zero.
<Due to it being taken up by algae as it is produced. Great test btw>
 I figure that I do have some phosphates, enough to keep the algae going, but not enough to fuel a full algae bloom.
 I thought about buying a reactor with GFO, but have bought instead a product called Clear FX Pro, which is supposed to absorb phosphates. I put the bag in the HOB filter about a week ago. It seems so far that the algae has diminished a little.
<Good. Keep in mind that the only advantage of running GFO and Carbon in the same bag like that is convenience. Both GFO and carbon have ideal methods of being run, neither is being mixed in a bag.>
 My other problem is my coralline algae. It's fading away. Some is losing it's color, it's flaking off the back glass. (It was doing this before I got the Clear FX Pro.) My questions are, basically, What is causing my coralline to not grow? and What should I do now? Should I raise my calcium level?
<Yes. Absolutely. What are you using for a salt mix? Coraline algae can deplete your calcium and magnesium levels remarkably fast; especially in a 29. Look into getting some dry goods to bring up your ca/mg/ph/kH. Then look into dosing a daily two-part.>
Are the lights on too long?
<Perhaps. The longest I run my daylights is 12 hours. I would do some more reading as to whether or not your 24" reef capable led being run at 10 hours is too much light for your 30" 29 gallon>
Will the FX Pro work given more time? How do I fix my slice?
<Eventually its absorption capacity will be exhausted. Make sure you are moving your weight through the ball. Maybe adjust your grip a bit so that you can see more of the top of your palm, on your hand gripping closest to club head-will help turn the club over.>
No wait, that's a golf question.
<Oh...you weren't serious? haha>
Anyway, I want add corals (softies to start with), but I want the water to be just right before I do.
<I like you.>
Oh yes, the tank has 3 blue/green Chromis and one false clown in it, and 2 turbo snails and 2 peppermint shrimps. Thank you for reading all this, and thank you, in advance, for your response.
<Ok few things. Dry goods to adjust levels. Daily two part dosing to maintain levels. Your calcium levels are very low. Much lower than they would normally be if your weekly 10% water changes are being done with a salt mix that contains...high levels of calcium. Why not doing a 4-5 gallon water change every week? Just about as much work as a 10%. Little trick with your aqua-c, when you take the cup off, you will see a large plastic screw on the top of the "injection piece of pvc"? Unscrew that often and make sure its clean as a whistle in there.>
Sent from my iPad
<I want one! Also, what do you have for a substrate?-NateG>
Re: A few questions, Sm. SW set-up, maint.   4/21/13

Hey Nate! John here again.
Thanks for responding so quickly. My power heads are Hydor Koralias, one a Nano 240, the other a Nano 425. My HOB filter is an Aqueon Quiet Flow 55.
The pump on the Remora is a Cobalt MJ-1200. My driver is a Callaway.
<Nice so about 28 watts for the pumps. Kind of annoying i couldn't easily find the wattage on the HOB>
The test kits I'm using, except for phosphates, are made by API. I see that some are not so impressed by these kits.
<They have many applications.>
I've never tested for magnesium.
Didn't know I was supposed to.
Do you have a preference, Salifert or Red Sea?
<Most mg test kits are better than no mg test kit. Mg tests tend to be the more "difficult" of a line of test kits. Take your time with it, and perform the test the same way every time you do it. I have the new Red Sea test kits. They are in a nice package and fun to use. I haven't compared them to anything else so I don't have much to add as far as accuracy. Do some research and find a magnesium test that you will be happy with>
I use Instant Ocean salt mix, but have been thinking about switching to Reef Crystals.
<Okiedoke. So if i remember correctly from the last time i tested instant ocean. Its at about 350 for ca, 1050 for mg at 1.025. You like thousands of others can have a flawless reef tank while using instant ocean so long as you dose ca and mg as well. With reef crystals you may spend a bit more on the salt, but you may save time since you wont have to dose. How much time and money etc? Up to you to decide. Guarantee you that your mg is very low.
That in itself may explain the lack of coraline growth. Keep in mind that it requires an enormous amount of mg flake to bring up your tank by even 100 ppm. I'd buy a larger container if you can.>
My substrate is Nature's Ocean Bio Active Live Aragonite. I used two types, one just sand, the other with shells mixed in. The substrate is about an inch and a half deep.
<Nice. Just keep an eye on the large particles trapping junk.>
Now, I don't want to seem stupid, but you wrote that I should use dry goods to adjust my ca/mg/pH/kH. Uh. . .huh? For instance? And which 2-part system would you suggest? My LFS only carries the Kent product.
<Seachem has had a special place in my heart for a long time. Look into for your system: Seachem Reef Buffer, Reef Builder, Advantage Calcium and Advantage Magnesium. They aren't the cheapest products (or most expensive) but they do exactly as advertised. All dry goods will have dosing instructions for teaspoons or 1/4 tsp per 25 gallon etc., take those measurements with a grain of salt because it is the mass in grams that will truly give you the labeled results. A detail that wouldn't really matter if your tank was a few hundred gallons. And it may not even matter with your 29. Just something to be aware of. Seachem's Reef Fusion (2 part) has treated me/many well>
I'll start to do larger weekly water changes.
Oh, and thanks for the golf tips, although I think I've figured it out. All I have to do is try to hit a slice. Since my swing never does what I want it to do, if I try to hit a slice, I'll hit a nice straight shot.
<haha whatever makes the shot look good right? :)>
Oh, and the part about writing this on my I-Pod. I didn't write that, my I-Pod did that on it's own. Self advertising, I guess. I wasn't sure how often I'd actually use it, but I use it ALL THE TIME!
Thanks again.
<Yep just keep in mind that the trick to having a great nano reef, is really focusing of your water chemistry. Which should be a main focus for all tanks, but its one of those things you can just put off to the side with a nano. Great water can go bad very quickly with a nano. -NateG>

already cured rock, new aquarium, losing color?    4/1/13
Hi!  I'm writing because I'm worried something is wrong with our tank.  We have a Fluval tank, 6 gal, and have planned to start a nano saltwater tank.
<Nice units (Fluval), but small volumes are quite challenging to maintain/keep successfully>
We started it correctly, and decided to go with live rock that was already cured instead.  So far, the tank was looking great!  However, after the beautiful colors started to show up on the rock (pink, green, black...)
they have now bleached out, it what seems to almost have happened over night!  I don't understand what is wrong?
<... could be a myriad of things.
.. Oh, I see some of this below>
 Our ammonia levels are still high as this is a new tank,
<Toxic to most all life... this along could account for the color/life loss>
 but after adding marine buffer for a few days
to get the pH in range (which it is currently in range now) that's when the colors disappeared.  Any ideas of how to fix this color issue?  Or is this expected and normal.
<Only time and your good care will "tell" whether colorful life will again populate your rock/system. Do give the long read to what is posted re "small marine systems" (searchable by way of this string) on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Noob needs help getting water parameters stabilized      9/24/12
I'd like to start by saying thanks for all of the valuable information  that I have found on your site! I have only started salt water about 2 months ago and am trying to do everything right. I purchased a somewhat neglected 27g hex reef tank that I was told has been running 8 years. The previous owner used instant ocean salt mix, and two weeks ago I switched to reef crystals.
<Mmm, both Aquarium System's products have had issues over the last several years... more recently Reef Crystals. Read here: 
The previous owner used unfiltered tap water and I found phosphates so high I couldn't measure them with my api test kit.
<... serial dilution of samples... and food/s could easily be a source as well>
I have been doing weekly water changes using distilled water.
<I'd use RO; much cheaper>

Phosphates were down to 2ppm last week and nitrates were around 10ppm. Carbonate hardness was just over 14 due to me adding Kent nano reef supplement. My salt mix is at 12, which is acceptable, but makes bringing it back down a slow process.
After two 6 gallon water changes it is at 13. Last night I used some Aiptasia x on some hydroids and a few fluorescent mushrooms that were crowding other corals. After today's water change and rinsing media in my Fluval 204 canister I tested parameters. Specific gravity on hydrometer reads just under 1.024, ph about 7.8, nitrates jumped to 40ppm,
<Yes; the melted Cnidarians>
phosphates in between 2 and 5ppm, calcium at 440. I use Seachem stability and prime with each water change and scrape algae off the glass right before. I was led to believe on a nano system with regular water changes using ro or distilled water, most parameters should remain stabile without supplements.
<Mmm, can...>
Another major change to the setup is a new AI vega light, to replace the power compact that came with the tank. This makes it hard to tell if water parameters are effecting my corals or if it is the adjustment to the new light.
<A bit of both I'd warrant>
I am currently at 35% power, and my open brain, spaghetti leather, and daisy coral seem to be struggling with the switch. The open brain seems to be getting over it, the daisy sometimes opens, and the spaghetti is open sometimes and drooping on other corals other times. I noticed a couple white spots on the leather and am hoping it will work things out before it gets any worse. It burned a hole through my open brain and is probably most of the reason that the daisy is upset since it was on that as well when it was drooping. I have rearranged to eliminate this problem, but need to figure out what is going on before I do irreversible damage to any of my corals.
<"Go slowly">
 I thought all the issues were due to the new light until I saw my test results tonight. Now I'm concerned that water parameters are contributing.
<For sure they are>
 I feel like I'm missing something, and have no idea what it is.
<Larger water changes (%), w/ RO water, pre-mixed (a few days to a week) salt water>
My Duncan started spending most of it's time closed right before I found out my carbonate hardness was too high and I can see him fighting to survive. So far I thought I was doing good, and that the problems were caused by previous owner's neglect and use of unfiltered tap water, and would resolve themselves with proper care. Now I'm terrified that I'm making rookie mistakes that could lead to the demise of all this beautiful livestock. I ordered the new product from red sea advertised to be live bacteria for removing phosphate and nitrate so hopefully this will help remove the phosphate locked up in algae and the sand bed. I also just noticed a change in the algae on the glass from light green to rusty orange. Not sure if it helps, I'm just trying to cover every detail I can think of to help the masters from wwm point me in the right direction.
Livestock is a purple Firefish, a flasher wrasse, a pin striped Dartfish (assumed dead when Firefish was purchased and came out of hiding a month later, but they appear to be getting along), and a mature ocellaris clownfish. Corals are a frogspawn, toadstool leather, spaghetti leather(I think), an open brain, a clove polyp, daisy coral, a few different blastos, a trumpet coral, a couple Ricordea mushrooms, tons of fluorescent green mushrooms, a small Acan, a Blasto that looks almost identical to my Acan(skeleton looks like my blastos, but has sweepers that I don't see on any blastos), button polyps, and some Zoas and palys,
<You have many not-compatible species crammed into a small volume... best to take your time making any changes, lest some of them become so upset that they react overtly, mal-influence their neighbors>
 and almost forgot my ticked off Duncan. Also forgot to mention scarlet reef crabs, 2 emerald crabs, and dwarf blue legs. If nothing else, this gives you an idea how much I have to lose and of course I know it won't be long before I need a bigger tank.
<You/they need one now>
That is if you can help me figure out what I'm doing wrong.
Part of me wishes I would have started from scratch so I could learn slowly without getting in so far over my head so fast. I priced out what these corals cost and it would take me years to afford all this stuff so I beg you to please help me get this figured out before it's too late. I am learning fast, but likely not fast enough if I don't get some help soon.
If you need anymore information, don't hesitate to ask. I will be checking my email constantly waiting to hear back from you. Thanks again for all the information I've found on the site and for providing a source that can be trusted. You guys are definitely the best!
Dustin L Thornton
<For me, the pre-made water changes... Bob Fenner>

Mystery Damsel and Red Legged Hermit Crab death, Sm. SW sys. op., learning      8/22/12
Hi Crew!
<Hello Remy>
Thank you for your invaluable website!  I have 30 gallon (plan to upgrade to larger tank when budget permits) saltwater FOWLR tank.  I have had the tank for 5 weeks.  Currently have 2 Damsels ( Yellow tail and 3 stripe) One Chocolate Chip Starfish and 4 red legged hermit crabs. I have 21lbs of live rock and 2.5 inches of very fine marine sand on the bottom.  Tank today is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. I tested today: 1.021 Specific Gravity,
<I would raise SG to 1.025-1.026>

 PH 8.4, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 40. I have two filters, one Carbon, one ceramic coils both Aqueon not sure of the speed 40?
<Not sure what you are referring.>
  Also Odyssea Dual Pro T5 high output fluorescent light 24wx2. 1 10,000k daylight, 1 Actinic.  Last week started doing 2 gallon water changes twice a week (Thank you again WWM FAQ). Prior to that I was told by LFS to do 10 gallon once a month. I add Nutrafin Cycle at water changes.
<Nutrafin is not necessary.>
Already suffered through overstocking followed by new tank syndrome and the loss of all the fish.  Truly wish I had researched up front.  Hermit crabs and starfish both survived all of this.  I have since spent hours educating myself on your site and have answered a million questions...  Like - What is that??? Turned out to be tube worms, bristle worms, and what I'm pretty sure is a Vagabond Sponge living in a hole in the LR.  Thank you for the answers and the fun of researching on your site.  I want to make sure the tank is safe for new fish before getting more.
<Always a good idea.>
My question today: Coming home from work one of my Damsels ( I had 3) had died and looked partially eaten (normal  - I've learned from the slow death of my other fish and witnessing the Hermits feasting) He was all black with the two white spots.  As of yesterday he was eating fine.  I've only had these 3 Damsels for 4 days.
<Three different species of Damsel in a thirty is a recipe for disaster.>

 I got them after one week of consistent good test results with no fish in the tank.  The Yellow Tail Damsel looks like he has a nip out of his tail but otherwise both fish are fine and eating.  What are the likely causes of death?
<Aggression. Damsels are territorial.>

 I can't determine given he was eating and looking normal yesterday.
<Seems that the Three Stripe does not want to share the tank. I suspect the Yellowtails days are numbered.>
Meanwhile I found what looked to be an empty Hermit Crab shell next to the partial body of a Hermit Crab.  I didn't want to leave decaying livestock so I removed the Damsel remains and the Hermit remains (all that was left was legs still attached to a small amount of the body.)  I moved the empty shell to open space of sand in case one of the other crabs wants to move in.  A few minutes later to my surprise the 'empty' shell gets up and starts moving and eating!  I can't find another empty shell.  Is it possible that one Hermit killed the other for his shell?
<Possibly but you may have just found a molt. A molt would explain all shells being accounted for. I would add some empty shells of various size for the hermits to move into as they grow.>

To add to the mystery my CC Star is looking brighter than normal.  I was just reading your FAQ's and found that he is a carnivore and I should start supplementing his diet with some fresh sea food (which I plan to do).  He is and always has been moving around the tank, rocks, sand and glass. 
Likes to visit the surface.  But today while he was on the glass I noticed some greenish slime coming from his stomach area.
<I would normally say it is the stomach but they are normally orange/tan in color. Possibly waste?>
  Is it possible he killed the damsel or the crab?
<Highly unlikely.>
 He's never slimed before that I've noticed.
I have also this last week had an outbreak of brown algae covering the back wall of the tank, one of the live rocks and on the heater.
<Likely diatoms. Common in new tanks. They will recede as silica is exhausted.>
  3 Photos of Algae attached. Is this algae bad?  I have greener furry looking algae growing on front wall of tank.
<Derbesia sp.>
  Algae started when I upgraded the lighting last week and added the Actinic.  I didn't scrape it because I thought it might be beneficial filter.
<Scrape. This will be part of regular maintenance. Excess nutrients are fueling its growth.>
  For my next purchase I would like to add a HOT protein skimmer. Would this be a good move?
<HOT? I highly recommend adding a skimmer.>
  Or would money be better spent on a sump?
<A sump will greatly increase the number of skimmers to choose from. I would choose a skimmer over a sump if I could only have one.>
  I can't do both at once for budget reasons.  Figured I might as well get all my questions in at once!  Thanks again!
<I would get a Hang On Back skimmer and possibly swap it out for an in sump skimmer at a later date>

planning the softy tank, for two week vacation intervals      3/13/12
Hey all! This is my first time messaging you folks on the salty side as i look forward to setting up my 20 gallon tall tank as a soft coral reef tank.
I've been researching for 3 years now but now feel confident to take the plunge. There is however one problem I'm having difficulty with sorting out...and that is vacations! As much as i love vacations i don't love leaving my tanks alone especially when we can be gone for up to 2 weeks.....
<Not too problematical...>

Any ideas of how to make a 20 gallon tank ready for a 2 week period of no regular care?
<Timers for lighting... if there's issue w/ steadiness of electrical power, perhaps an UPS... IF concerned, an automatic feeder to provide some sustenance; though in almost all cases, offering no food for this period is better>

For top offs id obviously do and auto top off machine
<You could... again, IF there's not much evaporation, I'd just leave the system till your return. Bob Fenner>

Diatoms i think   2/7/12
Hi everyone,
   I have had a 35gal cube saltwater tank cycling for 3-4 weeks now and I just started to see sort of a brown-orange dust all over my sand.
<Could be diatoms, Dinoflagellates... can be determined via microscopic exam.>
 I keep the temp at 77 and my tests are just starting to spike in ammonia because of the cycle. I have attached photos and I just want to make sure that this wont hurt my tank.
<No harm... Do read here:
scroll down to the two Divisions of Algae mentioned. Bob Fenner>

Something in Water Column 12/13/11
<Hi Ken>
 I am really having trouble with clearing up the water in my display tank. 
I have a Biocube 29 that is running a media basket and fuge rack with filter floss, Purigen, Chemipure Elite,
<Mmm, one or the other, too much chemical filtration here, can be detrimental to corals/clams.>
and Chaeto in chamber 2 where the Bioballs used to be.  I also have the Oceanic Biocube Protein Skimmer in chamber 1 and a UV Sterilizer in chamber 3 that is turned off because I did some research and decided that it was doing me more harm than good.  Anyway, I have been looking all over this forum and others trying to solve my problem but just can't figure it out.  For around 1.5 months my display tank has been filled with either microbubbles or detritus floating around the water column.
<What color?>
Is there a way to figure out which it is?
<I'd take a water sample out and see if the "bubbles" break when poured on a hard surface.>
I turned off all the pumps
<Including the skimmer pump?>
and they didn't rise or anything, just kind of floated there.  Does that mean they're not microbubbles?
<Quite possibly.>
For current I have the stock pump and the Biocube powerhead.  I noticed that my sand is being indirectly blown a bit by the pumps to where the top grains kind if move a bit, but never seem to leave the ground.  Is this the right amount of flow over the sand or should there be none.
<Is good to have water movement over the sand as long as you are not creating a sand storm.>
I'm not sure it is possible to get no flow over the sand in a tank this small.  The only things I have that touch the sand are 3 Nassarius Snails that I added 2 weeks ago, and some hermit crabs that occasionally walk around on it.  Any ideas as to how to fix this problem?
<Not with the little info you have provided.>
My LFS has a Biocube 29 just running stock filter with the protein skimmer and some filter floss that is crystal clear.  However, even when I was just running stock I had this problem. Sorry this message is so long.  Hope I gave you all the information you need.  What do you think is going on?
<I'd like to know what your calcium and dKH reading is.  Is possible you may have some calcium precipitation going on.  A pic may help also.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Detritivores, 9/8/11
Detritus is building up in my 15g Nano reef with a 2.5g AquaFuge (acting as a refugium). It's the fine grey "stuff" that looks like dust, for lack of a better term. It might be why I've been seeing patches of green hair algae and cyanobacteria recently, which I've been able to slow down but not stop control.
<Could indicate a nutrient problem.>
Detritus have been building up on the rocks and sand, but I've been able to blow some of it back into the water column where it gets sucked into the refugium and collects there.
<Sounds like you need better water flow, what are you using for circulation? Also are you running a skimmer?>
I manually removed it from the refugium last night but I would like to see if invertebrates could help. What are good invertebrates that consume detritus?
<In your case a few snails may help somewhat. However they don't remove anything from the system, just tie it up for a while so they are not really an end solution. A good skimmer and water changes are what you are looking for here to actually remove the detritus from the system.>
I'm finding conflicting information or of questionable reliability on whether a particular animal actually consumes detritus in a significant way.
<Many snails do to some extent. There really is no perfect animal for this however.>
Some people recommend Nassarius snails, but upon further research they seem mainly interested in carrion and food scraps.
<Yes, and they need a fairly deep sand bed too.>
I'm unsure if Ceriths will eat it, and my tank is far too small for a sea cucumber.
<Ceriths would be good, although they are sand dwellers so if you do not have a deep enough sand bed for them to bury themselves in I would skip those. Otherwise a couple Turbos or Astrea could help.>
I am trying to maintain an Indo-Pacific theme, but if they're going into the refugium I don't care what ocean they're from. Thanks for the expertise!
<See here and related FAQs for more details on specific species.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gastropo.htm .>

Quick pH/Skimmer Question 8/24/11
Greetings, crew!
<Hello Dustin>
After several days of feeling satisfied with the current status of my system (a first), and finding no real "issues" that require immediate attention (or, as my wife calls it, an excuse to go out and by more stuff at the LFS), I'm grateful to finally have a quick inquiry to bring to the table.
After reading your articles regarding pH in marine systems, and the proposed solutions for low pH, I started to think more about my skimming setup. My skimmer is a CPR SR3 installed in the middle sump compartment of my Biocube 29. Now one of the suggestions for a skimmer to more effectively oxygenate the water was to run its air inlet to an external source where the CO2 in the air was naturally lower. It finally hit me: the air hose for the inlet is regrettably short,
<For a reason.>

and rests inside of the lid on a closed top system. By simply getting a longer airline and running it outside of the lid, wouldn't I likely be providing a better source of oxygenated air and consequently raise my pH a bit?
<You will likely hurt the skimmer's performance. Less air will be fed into the skimmer with a longer air line unless you feed it with an air pump. I'd leave well enough alone, the large amount of air bubbles produced by the skimmer will drive CO2 out of the system.>
It's not terribly low at 8.0, but I'd like to see it stabilize at around 8.2 (just in case, my dKH is pretty stable at 10 on the German scale, Calcium ranges from about 400-420ppm).
Thanks again for the wealth of information, and giving me something to read during my idle time at work!
<You're welcome and keep reading. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Aqual Reefmax question, now...  sm. SW sys. maint. f'   5/4/11
Hi crew!
Thanks a lot for inputs thus far. The site has cleared up a lot of questions for me. I can't help but ask a couple of follow-up questions. I have been reading a lot about feeding on the site and was hoping to validate/change the food I give my fish based on your feedback. Currently I feed twice a day. In the mornings I feed dry foods (Hikari Marine pellets) and in the evenings I alternate between frozen mysis, brine and Cyclops. In addition to the above, once a week I use JBL Koralfluid for the filter feeders. I have tried spot feeding the open brain but it rarely accepts it. He does seem to be getting his food from regular feedings though because he has grown significantly and is looking healthy.
I was wondering if the above is okay or if I should modify it in any way.
<If everyone seems healthy and you are not experiencing any algae problems I'd stick with what you are doing.>
I also had another question which I can't seem to find any information on anywhere. Once of my snails seems to have a good amount of algae growing on his shell. It has gotten to a point where he actually looks like here moving around with a green afro! I don't have an algae problem in the tank so not sure what this means. Any thoughts?
<This is pretty common, just pull off what you can when you do water changes.>
Lastly, my orange spotted goby seems to be behaving a bit erratically lately. For starters, I notice that he is really scared of my cleaner shrimp.
<This is not uncommon, most small fish do not use cleaner shrimp and can be intimidated by their cleaning attempts.>
He normally sat right up in front but now tends to hide a lot more. I am not certain but I do think he is looking a bit slimmer. Since he is a sand sifter, is he not ideal for my tank size?
<They do not have the best track record in small tanks, often starving. You will need to try to target feed him.>
This behavior does seem to have started with the addition of the cleaner shrimp but since that didn't make conventional sense, I thought I'd ask.
<The shrimp may be some part of the problem.>
As always, love the great work each of you is doing!
Thanks for all your help!

Cyano, 4/4/11
Hi Crew,
I have a 24 gallon Aquapod with 96W of T5's (daylight). Lights are on 10 hours a day.
Astrea and Stomatella snails but nothing cleans the substrate. Nassarius snail for some reason just don't stay alive in this tank.
Fish are a Green Clown Goby, Blue Chromis, Firefish, Spotted Cardinal, Rusty Goby.
<That is a probably part of the problem, this tank is overstocked.>
Coral are Candycanes, Acans and various Anthelia. About 30 pounds live rock and about
1 inch of crushed coral.
<Explains why the Nassarius snails are dying, they need a sand substrate.
Also probably contributing to your Cyano problem as the crushed coral will trap detritus.>
Setup is a bit over 2 years old with almost no changes for the past few months (a record).
A Neon Goby did die when my Cyano problems started but I doubt that is my problem. He was very small and thin and even though I did not find him he would have had very little negative impact in my opinion. I have had large snails die with no apparent affect.
<Did you remove these after their death, sometimes referred to as nutrient grenades due to their decomposition fueling blooms like you are seeing.>
My water flow is just the pump that comes with the Aquapod. A hang on skimmer is in a back compartment so it does not affect the flow in the display area.
<Is this skimmer producing much? Upgrading may be worth your while.>
The Cyano started as a red slime and slowly spread even though I siphoned out some every day.
So I decided to try the 'easy way out' and used Red Slime Remover. After 48 hours it says you can do another dose so I did since it was improved but still there.
<Antibiotics, generally not a good idea to use.>
Good news is that I did not see any adverse affects on fish and coral.
Bad news is instead of a red slime I now have a muddy colored slime with long filaments going all over the place.
<Diatoms perhaps? Either way something has stepped up to consume the nutrients that the Cyano was previously.>
So getting back to basics, I did not feed fish one day and moved the nozzles to get more flow all over.
<You may want to add powerheads if you are not getting 15-20Xs turnover per hour.>
I changed my filter media (100 micron pad), siphoned again, blew off what did not get siphoned, changed 2 gallons.
<This should be done weekly.>
Water was very clear in the morning despite blowing all that stuff around.
Fed fish only some chopped silversides and made sure all was consumed.
<Stick with pellets for the time being, they add less nutrients to the tank.>
Will go thru this cycle for a few days and see how it goes.
<Be more patient here, this process can take weeks to months to get under control.>
But I am not optimistic.
My question for the crew is; does the crushed coral needs to be replaced?
<Would not hurt.>
<It's all about nutrient control. See the attached articles for more.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm >
Re: Cyano, 4/4/11
Hi Chris,
<That is a probably part of the problem, this tank is overstocked.>
possibly, but as I stated it has been like this for 2 years so either something changed or something accumulated. They really are small fish except for the cardinal.
<<In older tanks blooms can happen from slower accumulation of nutrients over time if there is inadequate removal of biological material.>>
<Is this skimmer producing much? Upgrading may be worth your while.>
skimmer does accumulate a dark green tea but not the skimmate I read about on WWM. I change a gallon a week so between that and what does get skimmed it should be ok.
<<I would go 2 gallons weekly here, more bang for minimally more work. Are you using tap or something else? Have you checked your source water for nitrates or phosphates?>>
<Diatoms perhaps? Either way something has stepped up to consume the nutrients that the Cyano was previously.> I still think it is Cyano, just a different color.
<<Very possible, comes in many colors.>>
Does the crushed coral needs to be replaced?
<Would not hurt.> well, that is a big job and I don't want to do it unless I know that is the solution.
<<I would not call this a total solution, but may help quite a bit. Some form of more efficient nutrient removal is probably necessary too.>>
<Be more patient here, this process can take weeks to months to get under control.>
ok, will keep you posted.
Re: Cyano, 4/13/11

Hi Chris,
An update after 10 days. I added a bag of PhosZorb. Changing 1 gallon every other day. Also siphon out what I can daily and blow the remainder off of everything. Wash the filter pad daily because it really needs it.
Actually replaced it a couple times. I only feed once a day so I did not change that.
I would say that the amount of Cyano is reduced by at least 60 percent.
I had a small clump of Chaeto and it seems to be disintegrating. I guess the
Cyano is doing a better job of using the nutrients than the Chaeto. Still debating whether to change out my crushed coral.
<I would replace, will make your life easier long term.>

Cyano? Rdg.    3/7/11
I have a 3 gallon pico that has been setup for about 4 months. I feed once a week, very little. I do a 1 gallon water change weekly. I'm using SeaChem Reef Salt. It has 1 Ricordea, 1 mini carpet,
<Likely too toxic here>
3 sexy shrimp, 1 hermit, 2 Cerith snails, Chaeto, hob filter, Hydor pico powerhead, and PAR38 LED  light (about 3 feet above it as its very bright and caused a Firefish to jump out).
<Mmm, they/Microdesmids do this anyway>
Param.s as follows: Mg 1260 ppm, Alk 3.5 meq/L, Ca 390 ppm, pH 8.1, ammonia nitrate nitrite undetectable using API kits. The temp ranges from 78-80 Fahrenheit. The issue I'm having is that the live rock in there has started to become covered with a red Cyano looking stuff. It produces bubbles like Cyano. Here's the tricky part, when I scrub the Cyano off, there is a thick white layer of something else underneath. This substance is slick and comes off readily from the rock. Of course it grows back in a few days after scrubbing it off. What is this stuff?
<A big mix of monerans, protists, algae... Do you have a 'scope?>
Is it part of the Cyano?
<Strictly speaking, yes>
How do I get rid of it? Is this the reason all my Zoas melt when I add them to the pico? Thanks, Jaime.
<Uhh, read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re pH In A Reef Tank, Now Lighting Suggestion 1/19/11- 1/20/11- 1/24/11
Hi James,
<Hello Shelley>
My tank is 30 gallons, 18" x 20" x 20"; with the top lip, a light has to span 20.5 inches to sit on top. From the gravel to the waterline is about 16 inches. My most important requirement for a light (other than appropriate light, of course) is that it's quiet - this fish tank sits right in my living room and if it has a loud fan it just won't work. Also I have a cat who loves to climb on the tank (Grr) and a toddler so it has to be something that will be safe (i.e. not easy to burn yourself or break it, like a Viper light). Thanks for any suggestions you have.
<Mmm, about the only fixture I can think of that would provide enough light would be the AquaticLife 72 w (4 lamp) T5 HO hood. It should lay on your tank nicely and it also comes with a 4-pack of frame mounts. No cooling fan is needed for this particular model so that should take care of your noise problem. And as a plus, it has a built in digital timer. Take a look at it here.
As for the dKH, it seems from the test kit instructions that the number of drops is multiplied by 10 to get the mg/L CaCO3 (15 drops = 150mg/L) and then multiply by 0.02 to get the mEq/L (so mine is 3 mEq/L). If that is correct, given your conversion equation below, my dKH is 8.4, correct?
So that is higher than we discussed in the original email, but I believe it is still low.
<Is not low. I keep my dKH between 7 and 8.>
Does this sound like I am now converting correctly?
<Yes dear.>
What is the dKH range I am shooting for?
<Where you're at is fine, but anywhere between 7-10 would be a good range.>
Re pH In A Reef Tank, Now Lighting Suggestion 1/19/11- 1/20/11- 1/24/11 - 1/25/11
Thank you for the lighting suggestion! I will check it out for sure.
<You're welcome, Shelley.>
Sorry for all the back and forth....but if my dKH isn't actually low, as we just discussed, then why do you think my pH keeps dropping back to 8.0? We are back to my very original reason for writing. :(
<I've addressed that in the first thread, and it's not uncommon to have small pH swings in smaller systems, not to worry. I suggest you read here.
James (Salty Dog)>

Candy Canes, sm. vol., allelopathy likely    12/16/10
Hi Crew,
<Hello Sam>
I have a 24 gallon AquaPod with a glass top and 96w of T5, 2 actinics and 2 daylight. Lights on 8 hours full and 2 hours just actinics. I replace 1 gallon a week and I have a hang-on skimmer. If I see any algae problems I do more changes. Ammonia, nitrates 0, nitrates .2, Calcium is about 500,
<too high>
water 1.025 and temp around 80.
<How about pH? Alkalinity? Mg? PO4?>
Crushed coral bottom, snails, a Spotted cardinal, Blue chromis
<Singular? These are social animals>
, Red firefish, Clown goby, Neon goby. Candy cane colonies of 25 heads (brown with blue centers), 12 heads (light blue), 15 heads (light blue), 6 heads (green), 2 heads (green), Hammer with 10 heads, Frogspawn of 2 heads and one very large head, Torch with 4 heads and 8 colonies of Acans with about 10 heads each. And one large and beautiful open brain (Trachyphyllia)about 6 inches across.
<All in a 24g? You have a lot of colonies there>
I feed finely chopped silversides to the corals once a week. I rarely see any tentacles on the Candycanes so I don't think they get anything out of it.
Most of my corals are less than a year old but 3 of the Candycane colonies are 4 years old if not more. My problem is the green Candycanes. They just don't last.
My new one of 3 weeks had 5 heads and I am now down to 2. My older one of almost a year had 8 heads and 2 died in the last two weeks.
A second green colony that I bought at the same time died within the first couple months. What is different about the green ones that make it harder for me to keep?
<If all others are doing well then this might be competition between animals here, with the greens as the 'losers'. Search on WWM re: allelopathy, you have many corals in a small volume here, a recipe for problems. An alternative theory is that since different animals come from different places/ environment/ conditions, and your tank has a single set of parameters, then these parameters are favourable to some animals and not others. It is impossible to create a system where everything you put in will thrive no-matter-what. You might just have to settle for the fact that you have several animals doing well and be happy with that. A third theory is water chemistry. There are several unstated parameters as alluded to above, so I can't comment on these, but 500 for Ca is too high, I would lower this to about 400ppm.>
<No problem, I hope this has been helpful to you>

Alkalinity Question/Nano Tanks 11/8/10
Hey WWM Crew!
<Hey Cory>
Hope everyone is having good luck and lots of cheer on this upcoming holiday season.
<If it weren't for my bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.>
Anyway, I just have a quick question about Alkalinity. I have a 10g Nano reef tank which has been up and running for about 3 months. The question is; how quickly should I raise my alkalinity? My water is testing at Specific Gravity = 1.024 Temp = 79F pH = 8.2 (Daytime) Alkalinity approx 3 (Titration)
<Three what, dKH?>
Nitrite, Ammonia undetectable Nitrate
< 10 I know from reading Mr. Fenner's articles on pH/Alkalinity I should shoot for a alkalinity between 4-6, which I have yet to achieve in this tank. When I first set up the tank and added livestock after cycling I did have some issues with pH and alkalinity, which I dealt with by feeding cessation periodically (maybe one day a week if pH was running low) and constant small water changes (1/2 gal per day until pH stabilized). However, even though my pH has been stable for about 1 month with about a one gallon change every week I still run a low alkalinity. Sometimes I wonder if I am not adding enough Carbonate to maintain to reserve, but I only add about 2ml mixed in tank water slowly into the filter every 2-3 days as needed. I am testing with a Seachem kit which is a simple drop by drop titration.
<I'm not real fond of this particular test kit. The test sample is very small and could cause reading errors. Residue remaining in the pipette from a previous test could cause erroneous readings in the next test.>
How fast can I raise the Alkalinity without upsetting the tank, and should I be raising it faster?
<A couple of dKH units per day shouldn't be of any negative consequences.>
Livestock: 12lbs live rock, 10lbs sand 1 Small PomPom Xenia 1 Zoanthid Frag (literally one polyp i took from a friend because it was not opening in his tank) 1 Blue Damselfish (about 1/2 inch) 1 Pearly Jawfish 15 assorted Turbos and blue legs.
<Most of these snails will starve/die creating more problems. Two Turbos in a 10 gallon tank should be plenty. Is possible one or more may have died creating the loss of alkalinity you experienced.>
I do not plan to add/alter any live stock and everything is thriving. Also, I've been pretty draconian about my feeding schedule trying to keep my pH stable, I feed each fish about 7-8 formula one spectrum pellets daily, and a small amount of decanted Mysis shrimp twice a week. I wonder if I am being too strict... What do you think?
<As long as the fish are consuming the food, shouldn't be a problem. What type of filtration are you using other than the live rock? You gave no info other than your tank size.>
Thank you in advance
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Alkalinity Question/Nano Tanks 11/9/10
Thanks for the quick reply James.
<You're welcome, Cory.>
Yeah, I was wondering about the turbo snails myself after the lfs recommended that amount and I have been keeping a head count of them and make sure they all move, however, they are all very small, a half inch at most, so I'm not too worried.
<Even so, they cover a lot of ground in one day and they do grow quite fast.>
I will scoop out any that I see stop moving. For filtration I am using a hang on AquaClear 20gal (I believe it is 100-150gph, could be wrong here), and I run activated carbon in it. Lighting is Coralife power compact 30watts 50/50 actinic only. And yeah, to tell you the truth, I'm not too found of this test kit either, simply because the sample size is so inaccurate. But the readings haven't varied more than one drop between two consecutive tests, so I figure it is accurate enough for the time being. However, thank you, because you did answer my basic question, that it is safe to raise the alkalinity faster then I have been doing. So, I'll get right to that!
<Just be careful if using a product that states "safely raises pH", as overdosing beyond the instructed amounts can raise pH too quickly.>
Thank you very much
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Another Cyano Question BGA in a 29 gallon. 7/25/2010
Thank you for reading this,
<Hi, no problem.>
I know it's another Cyano question. I've looked at the archives here and have also been searching online for weeks now and am overwhelmed with conflicting advice. Here's what I've got -
29G Biocube started 12/09, cycled for three mos. with live rock/sand.
Everything is stock - I haven't changed anything. Added pair of Ocellaris Clownfish in March. Developed free floating green algae a month later after leaving for a week and letting pet-sitter watch (even though I put food in
separate food containers!).
<Yeah, that happens.>
Tried to get rid of that with water changes for a month, then got the Biocube UV filter which cleared it up within days. At that time I was running activated carbon (after taking out the biocube filter) in the sump.
LFS told me to stop using carbon after a month so I wasn't running any chemical filtration. Have a Polyfilter above the bio-balls.
<The bio-balls may be contributing here - they make lots of nitrate.>
Everything looked good so started adding animals every other week. I currently have:
Pair of Ocellaris Clownfish
Royal Gramma
Yellow Watchman Goby
Fire Shrimp
Fighting Conch <Will starve in this setting unless deliberately fed.>
9 Cerith snails
6 Super Tongan Nassarius snails
3 Trochus snails
3 Red legged hermits
1 Emerald crab
Pulsing Xenia
Open Brain
Modern Coral
Moon coral
3 Button Polyps
Star polyp
Mushroom Anemone
<A bit overstocked.>
I've had Cyano for about two months now. When it first appeared, LFS said it's a natural part of cycling - needless to say, now it's really happy in my tank covering my sand, rocks. Am worried about my animals. I had stopped all additives to the tank including Roti Feast and Calcium/Buffer, and am feeding every other day just some Mysis shrimp. My parameters are calcium = 400, Nitrate = 0 (or very very close I know there must be some), PO4 = .1, Nitrite = 0, Alk = 300, PH = 8.4.
<There is the trap. You are reading 0 nitrate, so what nitrate that is being produced is being consumed.>
I don't have a refugium - so no macroalgae. My LFS said to stop water changes and stop feeding for a week. I put in a phosphate sponge thinking there has to be something feeding this stuff. I also put back in activated carbon (both 4 days ago). LFS keeps telling me I need to use ChemiClean. I just read Robert Fenner's book and realize I've made a lot of mistakes (should have read before getting the 29G I know!) I'm stumped at this point
and am afraid for my animals -either because of the Cyano or not feeding them enough. My corals actually look better than I've ever seen them - fully extended, the brain is like this undulating mass of green and red and is beautiful - button polyps are reaching up - Xenia is practically climbing out of the tank. Should I just be patient?? I've given up on my LFS advice. Thank you if you can help me figure this out. Obviously I'm new to the hobby.
<A few things I can think of off the top of my head. You do not mention if you have a protein skimmer. If you don't have one, do get one. You are likely to be amazed at the 'stuff' that comes out of the water. Secondly,.
regular water changes are a necessity 15 - 20% per week goes a long way to keeping your tank looking nice. Lastly, You don't mention your lighting. Suck out as much of the red slime as you can during your water changes.
and try keeping the lights off for a couple of days. You can also reduce the number of hours you keep your tank lit.>

Why    6/8/10
OK, now my tank exactly the way I want it. I could swear I said that a number of times already. But this time I really mean it. I have more fish than I should in my 24 gallon Aquapod and they are a nice peaceful and colorful group. My corals are overcrowded but look really great. Even my cleanup crew has turned out to be a very nice assortment of snails most of whom are out of sight during the day. So why do I keep looking at stuff both on line and in stores.
And why can't I keep my hands out of the tank.
<I don't know Sam, why can't you?>
Why can't I just sit there and watch it and enjoy it just the way it is, just like everyone else.....
<Try it, you'll like it. James (Salty Dog)>

Multiple issues 30 gal reef 6/1/10
Hi Bob and crew,
Good day to you all.
To start off let me state the tank specs .... its a 30g display draining into a 15g sump/refg. Skimmer rated for 100g that doesn't work really well is in the first compartment, second houses a newly set up DSB of 5-6 inches which is around 2 weeks old n yet to prove any denitrification. My main purpose for it is for denitrification and zoo plankton production.
<Limited in this volume.>
Grain size is 1-1.5mm. Sand is actually from my display so a myriad of red worms and life are seen in it. . And third compartment contains the return pump. Display is covered with an inch of sand and has approximately 20kgs of LR. I also run a canister filter with De nitrate by Seachem, Polyfilter and carbon which are renewed every month. 20 percent water change every month.
<I would do this more often, perhaps weekly in a system this size.>
Water flow rate in the display is high enough to shift the sand around a bit slightly.
Tank inhabitants include ... 1 Bicolour Blenny, 2 true Perculas, 1 red fire/Dartfish, 4 Chromis which are being traded off after Bob's advice, 1 Randall's Goby, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 electric blue Hermit Crab, 1 unknown
snail. Corals at present are 1 Goniopora, <No! Read WWM re.> few button polyps. Waiting for 4 more corals that are on their way that include a Xeniid, a SPS and 2 LPS corals.
<A nasty mix in any system, much less this size!>
Water chemistry is as follows ... Ammonia and Nitrites: 0ppm, Nitrates: 15ppm from 20ppm last week. Ph: 8, dKH : 8, Calc: 400 ppm, Mag: 1300 ppm. Temp : 28c Phosp: 0ppm
Problems faced .... first off I am battling an outbreak of Cyano/GBA. I have cut down the feeding from twice a day to once. Will wean further on to every other day. Fish are fed New Life spectrum pellets and the occasional freeze dried Brine shrimp.
<I would skip the brine shrimp entirely, even live they have little value.
Increase your water changes as noted above, this is your biggest tool to combat BGA here.>
Second I dont know if my DSB is even working. Flow over the DSB is pretty weak, and blackish areas of discolouration are seen at certain regions. I stir the top half inch or so every week. How long does it take to notice
appreciable denitrification ?
<A few weeks into a month or two. Give it some time.>
Third I notice the Chromis and the Firefish get beaten up every now and then. Right now my Firefish is the main victim, ragged n torn fins with one eye swollen and pale ! Anything I can do to treat him ?
<Well, the Chromis need to be moved out as you stated. As for the Firefish, I do suspect the bicolor blenny. They are bullies to fish with the same "look".>
He's eating n swimming well. I have no idea which fish could have done this but I suspect the larger female Clown to be the perpetrator.
<Unlikely IMO. The clown could pick on the Firefish out in the open, but the bicolor will chase it throughout the tank.>
Oh and I almost forgot. tank lighting is by 1 150w MH and 2 fluorescents.
Pls help me out with the above stated problems in showing me where I'm going wrong. have been religiously going through FAQs foe the past 4 months.
Thanks and keep up the awesome service rendered to us fellow inexperienced hobbyists and sorry for the long mail ...
<Not too long, just all the info! Welcome and thank you for the kind words. Scott V.>

Re: Multiple issues 30 gal reef 6/2/10
Hi Scott V. and the rest of the gang,
Greetings to all !
<Hi there!>
First of all I thank you for the speedy and helpful reply. I apologise for the longish mail with all the info, figured it would convey a better picture of my tank and its problems.
<It is, not a problem.>
Well I did read up on the Goniopora species and have learnt that it is a difficult coral with the individual feeding of polyps and the such. But I've had this particular specimen for more than a year so kind of figured I'd been doing something right, but if u are against it I'll be happy to comply and exchange it for something else.
<If it is doing okay thus far I would keep it. Another tank will not guarantee a better home!>
And re: the 4 new corals that I am expecting, as per what I read on WWM the Xenia is not that bad as far as allelopathy goes. And I really am stumped as to the choices of corals. Would you be kind enough to suggest a few
species that are more suitable for my tank. Should I go on the lines of SPS only or LPS only ?
<Ideally in a confined space, well spread out in either case.>
I do employ a 14k MH of 150w, will that be sufficient for the corals ?
And by LPS I meant open Brain corals and by SPS a Montipora specimen.
I will start a weekly regimen for the water change and stop the brine shrimp all together as per your advice. Is the NLS brand of pellets nutritious enough?
<For most, yes.>
I am not able to feed fresh or frozen feed due to the fact that I stay in a medical school dorm.
And re: the Bicolour Blenny, as far as I've noticed he pretty much sticks to his hole in the rock except during feeding time and to graze on the rocks and is aggressive only if encroached upon his territory which the Firefish stays away from. It tends to stick near the Clowns. the reason I though the Clown could 've been the aggressor is because I did see her nip at the Chromis a couple of times.
<Well, the Firefish likely avoids the clown for the same territoriality displayed by the bicolor. It could be either, but I do suspect the bicolor. It could even just be the Firefish being tattered by being confined to such a small part of the tank where it deems itself safe.>
And as for the DSB I guess I'll jus have to wait and find out :)
<Time will tell!>
Well sorry for pestering you so much and thanks for putting me on the right track. Really appreciate it.
Cheers, Blesson
p.s sorry if my mail arrives two times ! Didn't get sent properly the first time
<No problem, have a good one. Scott V.>

24G Nano Cube algae problem and skimmer addition - Excess Nutrients in a Nano. 5/23/2010
Hi WWM Crew,
<Hi Tom, MikeV here, sitting in the airport shortly before my trip to South America.>
I'll apologize up front about the length of this email.
<No Apologies necessary - more detail is better.>
I have a few questions related to one issue that I have been chasing for a couple months. My Mom has a JBJ 24G Nano-Cube reef tank that I maintain.
The tank has been running for @ 5-6 years and has always used Oceanic brand salt. Last year, I replaced the crushed coral base with @ 30lbs of live sand. So the tank has 30lbs sand and @30-40lbs live rock.
<...and we have a smoking gun...>
Animals are 2-Ocellaris clownfish, 1-Green Clown Goby, a handful of Cerith snails, Nassarius snails, Astrea snails, blue-legged hermits, and some Asterina stars. Corals are Anthelia, Zoanthids, Lemnalia tree, Green Button Polyps and 2-varieties of Green Star Polyps. Lighting is 2x36W 50/50 pc (replaced 3 months ago and on a 6-month schedule). No skimmer (yet) and stock circulation.
<Skimmer would be of a tremendous benefit here, as would more circulation.>
The tank has been running great for years. About 2 months ago, I began noticing her corals losing vibrance. I wouldn't say they were bleaching as much as changing into odd shades (maybe that is a form of bleaching).
<It is.>
The purple anthelia began turning a dull lime green color (think of lime sherbet added to a bowl of milk). I began increasing water change volumes with no luck. I've done 50% water changes with no luck reversing this trend. Then the star polyps that were growing up the back wall of the tank began dying back. I have tested the water and found Ph-8.3, SG-1.025-1.026, Ammonia-0, Nitrite-0, Nitrate-10, KH-12-13DKH, Ca-@400ppm.
Water temp steady @78*F.
<How about your phosphates??
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/phosphates.htm >
I began second guessing my tests and had the water tested at a local LFS.
My Mom pulled the sample and let it sit in the car for @2hours before going to the LFS. They noted an extremely low O2 level (low enough that they felt everything in the tank should be dead), but decided that was most likely caused by the sample sitting in a closed container for 2 hours.
<I agree.>
Otherwise, their tests pretty much mirrored mine. They said everything looked fine and she should add a poly filter to one of the filtration chambers. We added the poly filter and it quickly turned dark brown (dissolved organics I believe). My Mom removed that poly filter and added a second. It too is dark brown and still the tank seems to degrade. The only thing ever dosed has been Prodibio BioDigest a few times early on in this process trying to boost the biological filtration. She never doses Calcium, Iodine, reef foods, etc
<I would stop dosing Prodibio as well.>
Despite my best efforts to date, I noticed green algae starting on one of her Zoanthid rocks. Since this rock was lying on the sand, I brought it home and put it in my 90G tank so my Tang, crabs, etc could clean the rock.
Within 2 days the rock was clean and the Zoos flourishing again.
Yesterday I visited my Mom and found the sandbed is covered in what appears to be BGA (cyanobacteria). So I'm going back today to do a major water change. I plan to siphon water into a cooler. Then pull the rockwork out
and "wash" it in the cooler while also vacuuming the sandbed beneath the rocks.
<That can help, but the key culprit here is likely the crushed coral now buried by sand, leeching nutrients into the water.>
I think I have an anaerobe condition caused by a lack of circulation combined with the fact that my Mom feeds way too much.
<More circulation, less feeding, and remove some of that crushed coral.>
I've tried for years to get her to feed maybe 2-3 times a week. To date I've gotten her to drop to once per day. She feeds New Life Spectrum flake food. I think the LFS may have been right about the low O2 condition, but
thrown off by the length of time the sample sat in the car.
I plan to add a powerhead to bottom of the tank facing the direction opposite of the stock return line up top. I would like to add a protein skimmer to this tank. However, my Mom is very particular about this tank and does not want the skimmer to be visible. I'll even have to hide the powerhead behind some rocks. So the skimmer would need to fit in the rear portion of the tank in one of the filtration chambers. I have tried researching Nano sized skimmers and not found many with decent reviews. If all else fails, would I be throwing money out the door to buy a simple air driven Lee's counter-current skimmer?
<Any skimmer is better than nothing..>
I'm also considering adding a sea cucumber to help sift the sand and eat detritus from under the rocks. Given her feeding habit, would her tank support a cucumber?
<I am not a fan of Cukes. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacukes.htm >
What other suggestions can you offer? I'm nearing the end of my "expertise" and am afraid to start experimenting with off the wall ideas.
I've even considered setting up a Magnum canister filter for a week or two just to process large volume of water in a short time. Would this be worth trying or another dead end?
<More circulation can help, but the key is eliminating the excess nutrients.>
I guess I'm done for now. I appreciate your help. WWM articles are usually my 1st stop when I have a problem that I can't figure out. You've never failed me before and I doubt you'll fail me now.
<Good luck.>

Another Lighting Question Lamp\Bulb selection. 4/9/2010
The rule of thumb is 1 watt per gallon of water. Does this apply to NO lighting, HO lighting VHO lighting or metal halide lighting?
<It is a very loose guideline for a fish only system; in other words, a starting point. For SPS corals and some other inverts, 5 - 6 watts\gal is necessary.>
<Of course, if it is the wrong spectrum of light, all the wattage in the world will not be any good.>
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm >
I'm at the tail end of cycling a new tank and would like to promote the growth of my coralline algae.
<OK Coralline algae needs the proper alkalinity and calcium to start thriving Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallinealg.htm >
I have a 29 gallon tank with two 24" actinic T5s and two 10000k T8s.
<Personally, I would dump one of the actinic and get another 10K bulb.>
Also, 24" my filtration is a Bio-Cube protein skimmer. Inefficient I know; when I set up a sump or refugium I will replace; just figured it was better than nothing.
<Sounds fine so far>
I have a penguin power head in conjunction with my eclipse system hood. All in all about 500gph. Only resident is a Clarkii clown and 16lbs of live rock.
Ammonia is 0, nitrite is 0, Alk is 4.5 D.K.H, nitrate is 15ppm.
<You will want to get the alkalinity up.>
I'm hoping this will go down once I get enough LR to replace my Biowheel.
<Not a fan of BioWheels, they tend to become nitrate factories.>
My question is I eventually would like to keep some polyps and mushrooms and maybe a candy cane coral but I need to know what I need to do with my lighting.
<The lighting you have should be sufficient, though I would still replace one of the actinic bulbs with a 10k bulb.>
The substrate bottom to the lights is about 18" so it's not incredibly deep.
<That's fine.>
Your site has been very very helpful especially for keeping me from moving too quickly with my tank.
<Happy to hear you find it useful.>
Also if there is any way I can change out my substrate for live sand could I please get some advice on how to best approach this?
<If you have sand in there already and live rock, the sand will be 'live' soon enough.>
I was told a 4" deep live sand bed can help regulate nitrate if there is a better method or some way to do this would be much appreciated.
<In a 29 gallon, I would stick to weekly 10 - 15% water changes and not worry too much about deep sand beds.>
thank you
<My pleasure.>

Stomatella Spawning Constantly in Nano! Help! 4/9/10
<Hello Megan, Lynn here today!>
I have come across very little negative info about Stomatella...the closest thing I saw to a caveat was on WWM...someone with a larger tank than mine was assured that Stomatella spawn (unlike coral or clam spawn) is pretty harmless in a larger tank (I think the guy had a 75 gallon) and that this is not normally a problem, "except maybe in a Nano..."...but the crew member did not elaborate...
<Yep, usually they're a welcome addition and not a problem.>
Well, I have a Nano....12gal.
<Uh-oh, NASA we have a problem.>
We started with one tiny Stomatella from the LR, then did not understand why our water was cloudy for a few weeks.
<That's an awful long time to stay cloudy. Did you try checking your parameters and running carbon?>
Then we saw new snails. Now, we have seen them spawning with our own eyes, and so realize why water had tiny particles, back then & now.
Back then we only had the one adult snail, water cleared up fast.
But now we have 10-15 adults and they have been spawning every single day for past 3 weeks!
Doing water changes actually triggers spawning even more!
I do like these snails but wonder if this is good for my tank...the fish eat the eggs, but the Crocea clam I have produces a lot of mucus to get the eggs off of him.
<I bet. If the clam's getting irritated, then it's not good.>
The water quality is still good...nitrate has not gone up excessively, no ammonia, etc.
We have persisted with weekly water changes anyways because I don't want to have a dirty AND eggy tank.
<No kidding>
I realize we don't know what makes them spawn...so I just need to know if this is bad and what we can do to control the snails (if not their spawning).
<I would control their numbers. Remove and perhaps sell or give some/most away to fellow hobbyists (try a local fish club).>
I have very peaceful fish that do not eat snails and am not too interested to get a hunter type of fish but will consider any advice!!
<That would be my next recommendation, but only if you want to get rid of them all. Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) reportedly prey on Stomatella snails, along with some crabs and hermits. Unfortunately, all of those can be pickers of other things as well and cause problems. Personally, I would opt for reducing the population and running carbon or something like Pura Filtration pads to help clear the water.>
Thank you as always for help with this extremely specific question.
<You're very welcome and good luck!>
<Take care, LynnZ>

Nervous Newbie, SW, Sm., reef mis-stocking... maint. f' as well    3/17/10
Hi WWM Crew!
<Hi Katie, Simon with you today>
First and foremost I would like to tell you how wonderfully informative your site is. I have been on it everyday since we started our tank.
<Great! There is a lot of learning to do for sure!>
My husband and I are very new to the hobby (1 month) and I am a huge worry wart. Everything seems to be thriving. SG is at 1.022,
<Too low'¦ this wants to be 1.025-1.026>
Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites are all at 0.
<It is better to have a 'trace' of nitrate.. essential for life>
And the PH is 7.9. (I know this is a little low and we are working on raising it.)
<This is actually ok>
Our tank is a 35gallon octagon with the following:
5" base of live sand
23 lbs of Live Rock
15w aquarium lighting
<What type of lighting? I notice you have an Anemone. These need intense lighting>
Penguin 200 Bio wheel (double filter)
<You don't really need this, as you have a lot of live sand and rock, these will provide all the nitrification (and probably denitrification as well) that you need. Potentially you could convert this Penguin to a refugium http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hagenrefugart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm>
2 Clown Fish (Percula)
<As your system is quite tall as opposed to long, you should have JUST these as fishes and no more>
1 Blue Tang
<Badly misplaced here.. If this is 'Dory' she needs a six foot tank or she won't be happy at all, in fact she will die very small and very young. The same for the other 'Blue tangs' as well. See here for some great beginners info on the care of your fishes: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nemoproart.htm>.
1 Long Tentacle Anemone
<Also VERY badly placed/ purchased. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/macrodoreensis.htm You need a much bigger and older system, Better lighting I suspect, and much more experience to keep this animal>
The Anemone is the newest addition to the tank. I have read on other sites that they can be very difficult to keep. Is this true?
He/She has moved around a bit,
<Because it is/ was not happy>
but when I came home today he/she was upside down.
<Dead, dying, not surprising>
I read on WWM that this was bad. But it seems as though he/she is trying to climb up a rock. Is it normal for them to flip upside down in order to climb? (I apologize if I am repeating this question, but I did not see it on your site.)
<Most definitely not. This is a sign of death. I would remove this animal lest it pollute your system. Take it back for a refund, as the LFS was irresponsible to sell it to you>
My final question has to do with our equipment? Our LFS has not recommended a Skimmer or any upgrades to our filter system.
<I would not listen to this LFS, he has proved his unworthiness already by selling you two animals that are completely inappropriate for your tank and level of expertise. You may or may not need a skimmer on this sized system. If running without, you need to understand WHY you are running without>
Would you advise on an upgrade to anything? (I am thinking we need to upgrade our lights?)
<This depends on what you wish to keep. If just fish then you don't need to upgrade your lights. For most everything sessile (including Anemones) you probably will need to>
I guess I should be thankful that our LFS doesn't try to sell us anything we don't need,
<You're mistaken, because he has done just this, and with the most important things of all -- he has miss-sold you the animals>
he is also very helpful and doesn't let us go too fast. So I was surprised to read that new tanks should not host an anemone.
<The LTA in particular needs a very well established, 'dirty' even, deep sand bed of age. Impossible in a system that is less than a year old. It also needs an open area of at least a foot square, free of rock, on the sand bed>
It was on his recommendation that we get one since our Blue Tang has taken over the caves in the live rock and chases out our baby Clown.
<This is some of the worst advice I've ever heard, and trust me I've heard some bad advice. Your Tang is chasing the Clowns because there simply is not the space in the system for them. The only thing you can do to rectify this is to remove the Tang>
Which left him no where to call his own. We bought him a friend and the Anemone in hopes that they would "live" in it.
I hope I have included all the information you need to understand our set-up.
<Yes, you have provided enough for me/ us to get the picture..>
I apologize again if I have repeated any questions located on your site.
<No problem..but these issues have been gone over hundreds of times and more, over periods of years.. especially with Tangs and space. I do think that in order to sell animals, shopkeepers ought to be made to learn/ get some type of qualification on their most basic care at least beforehand. This LFS for example simply does not have a clue.>
Thank you in advance for you time and knowledge!
<No problem Katie>

Reef tank, 30 gal., new, new life ID. Maint. f'   3/15/10
Hello my name is Eric.
<Hello Eric>
I am starting my first 30 gallon reef tank; and I have the appropriate amount of salt, temp, live rock,
live sand, and base rock. I have been letting it cycle for the last 2 to 3 days
<a long way still to go>
and there are various creatures and feather duster worms etc <good> and I started to notice that there was a clear whitish jelly growing on some of the base rock.
<Jelly? Mmmm, likely an algae of some sort, probably BGA. Have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm
There doesn't seem to be any kind of structure to it and it just randomly grows. It also seems to be growing on the live sand.
Do you have any idea what it may be or can you point me in the right direction to figure it out.
<Posted, unless you can post a photo for further I.D>
I have spent a few days trying to find on the internet what it may be but I have not come to any kind of real conclusion.
Thanks for your help,
<No problem>

Cloudy Water 2/4/2010
I have a dilemma and I have been unable to find any info on the subject on your website or elsewhere. I have a 20G Hexagon tank with 24 lbs of live rock, all parameters are normal I know from reading you hate when people
say that but for the sake of time, I added star polyp to the tank now my mushrooms are closed water is cloudy and fish look agitated. Please advise me on what I should do?
<There are any number of reasons why the water could be cloudy. When you added the polyps, did you rearrange anything? The short of it is that 99% of the time just waiting for whatever is in the column to settle or be filtered out is all you can do.>
Thanks, Ron
<Welcome, Scott V.><<RMF has a very bad feeling about this... I'd, I'll refer the querier to reading: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
and the linked files above. Pronto.>>

Nano Aquaria; General Care, Tridacnids and Coral  1/20/10
Hello again Crew!
<<Hello Carla.>>
First off, kudos for providing an amazing resource and service to all of us in the aquarium hobby, and thanks for all your help in the past!
<<Thanks, I hope to you meet your expectations this time around.>>
I have a 29 gal. nanoreef tank that is currently stocked with inverts and corals- Tridacna crocea clam, frogspawn coral, rose Palys polyps, lots of Shrooms, some Zoanthids, and "volunteer" polyps from the live rock.
Livestock includes one peppermint shrimp, a purplish serpent star, one Astrea snail, and a scary looking hitchhiker crab (have not been able to id yet, but has a purplish-maroon rather smooth carapace and eight hairy/spiky legs... he's very shy so I haven't been able to get a good picture yet- will move him to a future sump/refugium if possible when tank upgrades allow so I can add a small fish or two without worry in the future- would hate to issue
him a death sentence unprovoked, but don't trust 'em for sure).
<<Agreed, until an identification can be made I would best assume it to be like it's cousins'¦.opportunistic.>>
The tank has been set up for quite a few years, and since being moved in July, has finally settled down again- lots of denitrification bubbles in the sandbed and worms and 'pods aplenty.
A friend of ours recently upgraded his tank lighting, and gave us his previous setup for a very good price- the tank was previously lit with two 65W power compacts. The new fixture is a 250W MH (I know, overkill...
<<Not if you want soup'¦.I'm kidding'¦.only a little. Seriously though, make sure you monitor the temperature for large swings, keep the pendant elevated a minimum of 12' and have a fan running across the surface'¦am I'm sure you're doing this but for everyone else out there in WWM land, keep a close eye on the evaporation. Nanos can swing quick and when they do it's not pretty.>>
but I hope the clam will appreciate the extra light) with 4 24W T-5 actinic bulbs. We have the fixture suspended about 8" above the tank (with an extra fan on the light timer to dissipate heat)- the fixture has a glass cover, and the tank also has a glass cover.
<<I should have read ahead..bad habit of mine, sorry.>>
We have the actinics on a 12 hour cycle, with the halide coming on 1.5 hrs after those for 8 hrs/day.
<<With what you have, you could do with 6 hours a day.>>
I currently have a double layer of plastic window-screen on top of the tank to dim the light until the animals can acclimate... my question is, is this a good photoperiod for our tank?
<<See above.>>
How long should we wait before beginning to remove the covering, and what's the best way to go about this (cutting back to single layer, and then none for parts of the day? how long between stages?)?
<<I would leave up both layers for about a week to 10 days, then remove one layer, then wait another interval of a week and remove the last one.>>
I'd hate to lose any of the corals due to burning- the clam in particular I've had for 3+ years and is the star of the tank- I'm looking forward to seeing his true colors again- had developed a rather brownish (though highlighted by blues and greens) coloration due to inadequate lighting before. Also (and this predates the lighting change by a good bit), the clam produces a LOT of byssal threads- is this normal? Looks like a spider web floating at the base of the clam that trails of 4-6" in the water column... I have searched for images of other clams that display this
but haven't found any.
Is this cause for alarm, or just the sign of a healthy clam?
<<Depends on where the clam is set in the tank, T. Croceas unlike their cousins tend to exhibit much more of a boring behavior, and prefer/should be on a nice rocky surface.>>
One last question- there is quite a bit of coralline algae on the front tank glass- I haven't removed it because I'm hoping to encourage more coralline growth on the rockwork- would scraping it off with a razor help or hinder the spread of coralline in the rest of the tank?
<<Neither, feel free to clean.>>
I don't mind the look of it, too much... but would be nice to have an uninterrupted view of the tank if it won't affect (or will help seed) the rock growth. We switched to all RO water for top-ups and water changes, which has helped the persistent nuisance algae problem quite a bit (I suspect phosphates and silicates in the municipal water)- Yay!
Thanks again!
<<I'll be moving on to your additional mail now.>>
**Addendum sent by Carla before first reply**
Also... the mantle of the clam is about 5" from the top of the tank (in the center), the frogspawn halfway down (also central, but far enough from the clam to be out of sweeper reach), and the mushrooms are mostly in the bottom half to two-thirds of the tank (those in upper regions are growing parallel to the light source and get more indirect light)... if it helps/matters!
<<No, same as above, sounds okay.>>
(bet you haven't heard that one a million times... right)
<<I have to admit, I've been here since 2003, been on the fish forums since 1999 and was a livestock manager for 3 years, and a volunteer at a public aquarium for 2 years'¦..and I've never heard that one haha. Good luck -- Adam Jackson.>> 

Help for a novice? Certainly! Nitrogen cycle new tank questions: 11/13/2009
First, thanks in advance for any help you can give me and for a fantastic website!!!
<Hi Alice. It is our pleasure as always.>
Ok, I'm very, very new to all of this.
<Welcome to the hobby.>
Silly me started 3 wks ago with promising my daughter a Nemo after a 10 gallon garage sale tank for $25.
Well, we went to a local chain got a heater, water, & 10# live rock.
Took some water in 1wk later told us that tank was cycled and ready.
(b/c that's what he told us to do). Now that I have been reading your website, I don't think it really could cycle that fast.
<If it was good cured live rock, it is possible in such a small tank.>
Bought a clownfish, shrimp, and turbo snail. It is now two weeks later and they are very happy. I have tested the water since and ammonia and NO2 are 0, NO3 20ppm before the 2gallon water change.
<With those test results, yes, your tank is cycled.>
In the meantime, we felt very sorry for the fish in such a small tank
<Yes, a 10 gallon is really to small for any marine fish.>
We bought a biocube29.
<A nice setup for a small tank.>
Everybody seems to say that the cube needs to be modified (getting rid of the bioballs).
<Not necessarily, bio-balls do become nitrate factories though. Read here:
I have the protein skimmer in 1st chamber with stock filter. (Despite many posts flow thru chambers
seems fine). I have filter floss in chamber 2 with plans to add a fuge with Chaeto. Chamber 3 will get a bag of Purigen.
<Sounds fine.>
I bought 30# of live rock with the most beautiful royal purple coralline algae from someone
taking his tank apart . It was still in the tank and beautiful. It took about 1-1.5 hrs to get it into water. I added 20# live sand from the store. I have not seen any ammonia spikes so today (day #4) I added some fish food (10 pellets). Do I need to put in more?
1. Is it possible the tanks won't really cycle b/c the live rock was already in a tank and ready?
<Very possible.>
2. How quickly will I see an ammonia spike after the fish food I added today if it isn't cycled yet?
<Again, if it was good live rock, you may never see a spike.>
3. My beautiful coralline algae is now 80% a grey purple instead of that gorgeous royal purple, I added some 'purple up' once, but not sure if I should keep it up if it is just the process it is supposed to go thru.
<It is suffering some die off. Coralline algae needs high calcium, and alkalinity to grow:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallinealg.htm >
4. Now I am seeing a ton of green algae all over the coralline.
<What kind of algae?>
Should I put my turbo snail in now or wait until I know for sure the tank is cycled?
<I would add the snails.>
Will it go away on its own?
<Depends on the algae. Algae outbreaks are very common in new tanks--
usually a diatom outbreak (Brown scum) and then hair algae.>
If I don't take care of it now will it kill my coralline algae?
<Possibly, though with the right conditions, it will grow back.>
5. Are the mod.s to the tank ok?
<If everything is working fine, no worries.>
Am I missing anything?
<Probably, but don't worry.>
Do I need the fuge if it is a FO tank?
<They help with nutrient control, but are not mandatory.>
Thank you for any advice
<Here are a bunch of articles geared for the new marine tank owner.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm  >

Watching my tank, Aquapod  11/11/09
Hi crew,
Just some observations about my new (10 months) 24 gallon Aquapod. When I made the move from a 10 gallon I took along some live rock but mostly added new cured rock and a new fine sand substrate. Shortly after that I added a variety of snails and none lived more than a couple weeks. So even though I had some of my old rock, corals and fish it was not established enough for the snails.
<Does happen>
About 4 months ago I replaced the sand with crushed coral because the sand was blowing around too much. So far I like it even though it is a bit more courser than I would have liked. What I have seen recently is some sort of worm in the substrate. Actually I do not see the worm just his fishing line. I am not sure what it is but it is not a spaghetti worm because they have many such lines. Mine has just one and it has little snags along the line and a bunch near the tip. I have seen about 8 of these so far.
<Very likely beneficial>
I added some pods to the tank over a month ago and finally I am seeing them on the glass so they are growing. I have a few spots that I have small rubble so that pods can grow and most likely will not be eaten by my gobies, at least not until they venture out.
I also added some Strombus maculatus snails that I bought from a fellow reefer who got them from IPS. I don't think they consume much algae but they are laying egg capsules all over the place. Recently I saw some critters on the glass that did not look like pods. They didn't scoot around like pods. They have more of a sliding motion. Not sure if they are pods or maybe baby snails. They are about twice the size of my pods but still too small for me to tell anything.
<Many possibilities>
My latest addition was a yellow clown goby to replace my green clown goby that died after 5 years. The yellow is so bright you can see this guy as soon as you walk into the room and he is only about a half inch long. But for a tiny guy he is doing quite well. Is not intimidated by any of the other fish even though they are all larger than he is.
<Thank you for sharing! BobF>

Green Hair Algae Eater? 9/19/09
Greetings Crew!
Hope all is going well with you at WWM.
<Going just fine.>
I've written in the past about green hair algae and how it varied in my three tanks. I've gotten back from vacation and am planning on getting an "algae eater" for each of my two tanks - the one without the problem has a Bi-Color Blenny and Flame Angel who are cleaning things up. I've gotten a Lawnmower Blenny specifically to eat hair algae for my 29 gallon tank, the cutie pie only likes the type of algae that grows on glass so the tank looks like an overgrown forest...the other occupants are Flame Hawkfish, Pink Spotted Watchman Goby, Clown Fairy Wrasse, and two Pajama Cardinals. I was wondering what you would recommend for that tank. I'm thinking another Bi-Color Blenny but I'm not sure that it will be able to find a
hiding/perching spot with my territorial Flame Hawkfish.
The other tank has a green mandarin, Barnacle Blenny, Yasha Hase, pistol shrimp, Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, and a Peppermint Shrimp. I had an Eyelash Blenny in there but took it back to the LFS because it ate all the food I put in there and was making a mess of the sand scape, it got really cute in two weeks - looking like it swallowed a marble! So who would be fairly calm and not bother the other inhabitants while eating all that hair algae? My parameters are good - all three tanks 0 Nitrite, 0 Phosphate, pH 8. Water change is 10-15% weekly.
<The source of the algae problem lies within your text...too many fish for a 29 gallon tank. An excess amount of waste/nutrients is providing food for the algae explosion.
Is best to tackle the source of the problem rather than add to it by adding another fish in an already overstocked tank. Do read here and linked files above.
Thanks in advance!!!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Jamie Barclay
Re Green Hair Algae Eater? 9/19/09

Thanks James (Salty Dog)!
<You're welcome.>
You are absolutely correct! I am over stocked. Sometimes, you forget what is right in front of your face. I had this set up for a year without any hair algae then recently it started. I'm getting ready to set up my 225 gal in the next few weeks so I will be moving many of them over there - the Pajama Cardinals and Clown Fairy Wrasse (if he will leave shrimps alone).
<A gorgeous fish which does not lose it's color in the absence of a female.
And, should not bother the shrimp providing they are not mouth size.>
I'll be letting the Lawnmower Blenny stay there until the 225 gets "ripe".
<Sounds like a plan to me.>
Thanks again,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

I killed my fish... using WWM  9/10/09
I decided to clean my 36 gal saltwater tank this weekend and I think I stirred the stuff up too much on the bottom of the tank because my fish started to die.
I tested my nitrates and they were really high -
<How high?>
so I know that has to be it. My husband said that when I do my 25% water changes I need to suck up some of that stuff under my rocks so I don't have such high nitrates.
<A good practice>
He also said that I need to make up 5 gals of saltwater to keep so I have it and don't need to mix it up at water changes -
<Yes; read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/seah2omixing.htm>
I think it would go bad. What do you think?
<And the "Storing" water file linked above>
Also I think I have SPOILED - I feed him
<Your spouse?>
a 2 inch piece of seaweed (dried) every day or so - then when I get home from work - he will follow me as I walk by the tank and when he gets my attention he swims over to his seaweed holder...
<Sounds nice>
How much does he need and is it daily?
<Your husband? With a beer, about ten strips. For fishes read here:
and the linked files above>
He also eats the dried food I drop in as well - but not that much of it.
What do you suggest?? Thanks for all your help.
Cecilia Lester
Paris Texas
<Sounds like a keeper... Please learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM... Bob Fenner>

BioCube... High Temperature 08/05/09
I just purchased a 29 gallon BioCube and I am wondering if I am going to need a chiller for this tank and if so which brands so you suggest?
<Unless the room itself is very warm, none should be needed.>
I have read about these micro chillers. Would that work for my tank?
With the lights running for 12 hours the tank stayed around 83-84 degrees.
<This is rather warm, before jumping in and spending a large sum of money on a chiller, try opening the rear lid so the heat is not sealed in.
If that doesn't solve the problem on its own, follow up by placing a small fan above the tank, blowing into the rear opening.
Let me know if this works, Josh Solomon.>

Maintenance and Water Quality Issues in a 14g BioCube -- 05/01/09
Hi Eric,
<<Hi Beth>>
Just got back in town the other day and Holy Sick Aquarium Batman!!
I really do have to join a local aquarium club for some support when I have to leave town.
<<Doing so'¦and gaining the 'local' support and advice of others sharing your passion can be a real boon>>
Believe it or not, the Sea Pen is the only thing that has done well in my absence. The tank has a horrible red algae bloom, my Xenia was torn in half, my hermit crab decided that he liked the shell that the Xenia was partially attached to and made it his new home. The Xenia does not look like it's going to make it. My frogspawn, candy coral, Ricordea and doughnut coral all look deflated and stressed. I lost one of my feather dusters and all of my mushroom anemones.
<<Does sound like things have taken a serious downturn>>
The feather dusters are connected together and I haven't seen one of them emerge from his tube. Another one decided that he didn't like his tube and is now sharing a tube with another one. Do I just leave the empty tubes alone?
<<I would'¦ Trying to remove it will likely just cause more undue stress'¦possible physical harm>>
The protein skimmer and the well it sits in smelled horrible. I removed the skimmer and thoroughly cleaned it with hot water and toothbrush. I also siphoned the debris at the bottom of the well that contains the protein skimmer.
<<A good move>>
I did a 25% water change the first day and I siphoned out all of the red algae that I could reach.
<<Another good strategy'¦and the siphoning will probably need to be repeated periodically>>
I added Kent Marine Nano Reef supplements A and B.
<<I would not add 'anything' until you get the tank back in 'balance''¦ And this will best be done through frequent partial water changes'¦say 25% twice a week for two weeks'¦and then reevaluate at that time>>
I also turned on my extra powerhead to boost circulation and prevent the red algae from coming back.
<<It will come back for now'¦but the extra circulation is another good move>>
I normally do not run the extra powerhead because I only have a 14g BioCube and my frogspawn and doughnut do not seem to like the extra current.
<<I see'¦ Keeping a noxious mix of corals is often more complicated in such small volumes'¦but does make water changes easy, and is the single best way to keep up with water quality>>
I tested the parameters of water and readings are good except for nitrates. So I performed a 10% water change on the second day. Nitrate came down from 50ppm to 35ppm.
<<This is likely a large part of your issues here. I would strive to get this reading below 5ppm (you should step up the water changes)>>
The corals have dramatically improved in appearance.
<<And should continue to do so'¦just keep bringing down that Nitrate reading>>
However the doughnuts mouth is wide open and my pipe coral is not coming out.
<<May be a delayed recovery'¦or maybe these have been more seriously damaged>>
My Firefish is acting kind of weird, he is normally very shy, but as I type, he is swimming in place at the center of the tank. Kind of like riding the current. I think those are all the problems that I have encountered so far. I look forward to any helpful suggestions.
Thanks again,
<<Water changes, water changes, water changes'¦ Be chatting'¦ EricR>>
Re: Maintenance and Water Quality Issues in a 14g BioCube -- 05/01/09

Hi Eric,
<<Hey Beth>>
So sorry to bother you again.
<<No bother my friend>>
I had to ask another question about my doughnut coral.
He seemed to be doing alright. He was my newest addition to the tank, about 3 weeks ago, and never seemed to be fully expanded or symmetrical. Today he was symmetrical as well as expanded. His mouth finally closed somewhat but a few minutes ago he let go of his footing.
<<Lost footing? As in became 'detached' from its skeleton? Not good'¦>>
I currently have placed him in the sand with a shell weighing him down so he does not float behind the rocks. Doughnut know what to do.
<<In my experience, large polyped corals such as this never recover/reattach to the skeleton'¦is but a matter of time I'm afraid. EricR>>
R2: Maintenance and Water Quality Issues in a 14g BioCube -- 05/01/09

Sorry, should revise previous email. The doughnut has separated from its skeleton.
<<Ah yes'¦did surmise such, but thank you for clarifying. EricR>>
R4: Maintenance and Water Quality Issues in a 14g BioCube -- 05/03/09

Good Morning Eric,
<<Hello Beth>>
Thanks for confirmation on actions taken in response to Operation Death Tank.
<<Quite welcome>>
I will hold off on additional supplements until the tank is healthy again.
<<Excellent'¦is best>>
A question about more aggressive action.
I have another salt water tank that was set up at the same time as my BioCube. I only stock live rock in this aquarium with no base substrate. Some people collect spoons or marbles, I collect live rock. Okay..... I collect spoons, marbles and live rock.
Should I transfer corals over to my live rock tank with the exception of my chili, Featherduster and sea pen in order to clean the wells of my BioCube?
<<Might not hurt to do so with the stonies>>
I know that the wells are very slimy from the dead mushrooms and a good cleaning could possibly improve my nitrate levels more quickly than water changes alone.
<<Yes'¦no doubt>>
Also, until the nitrate level has been reduced, what volume of water do you recommend for water changes and how often should it be done.
<<A couple 50% changes a day apart should show some significant improvement'¦done in conjunction with the 'cleanings' you mention>>
Could you describe to me how the doughnut forms his skeleton?
<<I'm guessing by 'doughnut' you have Cynarina lacrymalis'¦ This coral forms/grows its skeleton as any other hard or 'stony' coral does'¦through the extraction of bio-minerals from the surrounding water. If you're interested in the science of it, you may find more info with a good search of the web'¦or you can visit a local college library>>
and the relationship between the skeleton and coral?
<<Mmm, I would describe this as 'necessary for life'>>
How does the skeleton keep him alive?
<<By providing an anchor, support, and protection for the polyp'¦and possibly an avenue for nutrient distribution>>
Is it like the relationship between fetus and mother?
<<More like flower petal and receptacle (the attachment point of the petal), I think>>
An umbilical cord where there is a transfer of nutrients?
<<Not to the same extent'¦if at all>>
Or does the skeleton act only as a support for the doughnut?
<<Not so simplistic'¦but does provide 'support'>>
If it acts as a support only and nutrients will not be lost due to the separation, could the doughnut be reattached to the skeleton manually?
<<I have never seen this work>>
Would puncturing the doughnut with a needle kill it and could he heal around a suture?
<<I have seen this done with some of the so-called 'leather' corals (Toadstool, etc.), but I wouldn't recommend this procedure for a large-polyped coral such as this. Your water quality issues were the cause of the polyp bail-out'¦ Addressing these will certainly benefit the remaining corals/any future additions. You could try a few spots of superglue in an attempt to hold the polyp in place in hopes that it will reattach to its skeleton on its own'¦but I do fear/expect that the Cynarina is lost>>
Thanks Again,
<<Happy to share. Eric Russell>>
R5: Maintenance and Water Quality Issues in a 14g BioCube -- 05/23/09

Hi Eric,
<<Hey Beth>>
Just an update on the progress of my tank.
<<Sweet! Thank you for this'¦>>
19 days later: Still performing large water changes, I cannot seem to get the nitrate, calcium, alkalinity and pH to an acceptable level.
<<Very odd'¦especially considering the size of the system. Perhaps time for a change of salt mix'¦and or new/different test kits>>
Yesterday, I am performing the every other day water tests and am once again baffled at the large reading of calcium, over 600 and the low reading of pH when I remembered something I read about tests kits and their expiration dates.
Low and behold the test kit that I just bought this month has expired, some of it in 2007.
<<Mmm'¦shame on the retailer/etailer that sold it to you'¦and on 'you' [grin] for not checking (if bought locally) yourself>>
Called the company and they are sending a replacement kit at no cost.
Meanwhile, I used my old pH kit that is not expired and pH came in at 8.1.
<<Acceptable'¦but would like to se it a bit higher (8.3) just for the extra 'margin.'>>
Anyway, I do not, conclusively, know the other parameters of water and may have been making these water changes for no reason for almost 3 weeks.
<<Not for 'no reason,' or at least not without 'benefit' to your system/organisms'¦but certainly maybe for reasons other than you thought, eh?>>
Frog Spawn, star & button polyps, yuma, remaining feather duster are doing well.
My chili coral has not opened his polyps in almost 3 weeks (he is in a cave with little light)
<<Likely there is nothing in the water to entice it to do so (the very frequent water changes may well be 'not helping' in this instance). But these corals are not easily kept (i.e. -- fed), regardless>>
my firefish has not made an appearance in over a week and I sucked half of the banded shrimp's appendages off when I was trying to remove the Cyanobacteria, poor guy is hobbling around the tank.
<<Will hopefully/should recover with successive molts>>
Have you heard anything about fish swimming into the bottom intake of a BioCube?
<<Doesn't ring a bell>>
I do not think there is anyway to reach him if he did manage to get in there. I tried calling the company but the operator said the tech line was busy and now I only get a busy signal when I call the operator.
The sea pen is still making daily appearances but his polyps are not as extended as they used to be
<<Perhaps the same issues as with the Chili Coral>>
and the donut coral seems to be doing fine for now.
<<Ah yes, the polyp that bailed from its skeleton'¦time will tell>>
I originally placed him in the sand and tried to anchor him with a frag (no coral on it) and he swelled up and escaped. I fished him out from underneath some rocks and put him in a filter bag that I cut to size and anchored the bag down. He hated it, so he is currently in the sand wedged in between coral and a rocky overhang. He is getting plenty water current and when I fed him tonight, boy did he swell up. I thought his insides were going to come out of his mouth. I researched Cynarina lacrymalis and the donut is an Acanthophyllia.
<<Ah'¦okay'¦similar care/feeding/environmental conditions>>
Great article here http://www.advancedaquarist..com/issues/nov2003/invert.htm. I still haven't found any information at all about successful regrowth of skeleton.
<<Mmm, no'¦I really don't think this is likely>>
I do know that additional calcium added does not help the growth of the skeleton, but light does.
<<Photosynthesis drive many mechanisms>>
The skeleton grows faster in daylight compared to evening but I cannot leave the lights on for extended amounts of time until I get the Cyano completely under control.
<<And I don't really think it will/expect it to make much difference>>
Please let me know if I should be doing/not doing anything at this time.
<<Continue as you are with water changes and siphoning of the Cyano'¦and get/use some accurate test kits>>
Once my kit comes in I'll test the parameters of the water but at this time I simply cannot afford to buy another kit.
I would like to know if you believe it best to start a refugium. My tank is only 14 gallons but with all the rock the actual water volume is about 8 gallons.
<<Oh yes! The added volume alone will be most beneficial'¦not to mention the other benefits of an in-line refugium. The bigger the better!!!>>
I appreciate all your help.
<<It's my pleasure'¦do keep me posted. Eric Russell>>

New system setup: Stocking\water quality\feeding\reading 4/8/2009
I'm a beginner to owning fish and wanted to know why my fish have been having troubles.
<You've come to the right place.>
I have a 26 gallon saltwater tank with a really old Bio-Wheel filter and a brand new submersible power head pump. I have a 20 pound bag of Live Aragonite Reef sand and about 10 pounds of this sand, I forgot the name but it puts purple algae on the rocks and is apparently good for the fish.
I couldn't afford Live Rock so I just used some Lava Rock.
<Can be hazardous, depending on where it comes from....>
I had three little $3 Damsels in there for a week to speed up the process and one of them died half way through the week
<Could be a number of causes, anything toxic in the rock, ammonia, etc.
Read here for information about the nitrogen cycle and toxic water
conditions: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm >
I've been feeding them Cubes of Frozen Shrimp.
I now have a Snowflake Eel its about 10" and thin like a pencil.
<Inappropriate for a tank this small.>
I've had it for five days and it won't eat. I've tried feeding it silver side and the cubes of shrimp I've been feeding the damsels. The eel was a friend's and he needed to get rid of it because it was getting picked on by his shark.
The reason I think something is wrong is because my friend had no problem feeding it and I want to no if there is something wrong with my tanks environment.
<and your water testing indicates......?>
I've tried hand feeding it and just leaving the silver side in there. I didn't know how to check the water to see if that's the problem.
<Test kits available at any store that sells fish.>
I have a hydrometer and the salt level is 24.
<1.024 I'm guessing>
I'm concerned cause I don't know a lot about it please help because Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies isn't helping.
<A useless book in my opinion, more incorrect information than facts.. You are going to have to start at the beginning. Do start reading here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm >

Diary of a Nanowave... Sm. SW sys. maint.  04/03/09
Hi All,
First I'd like to thank you all for the site. I set up my 9 gallon tank 3 weeks ago, and you saved several lives already.
<I fully suspect you are correct>
My tank is an Aquamedic Nanowave 9 (My landlord will not allow any tank over 10 gallons) On advice from the LFS, I had within the first week:
10lbs live sand, 8 lb large live rock. 8 gallons live water (he said there would be no cycle because of this)
<Mmm, do you believe this now?>
5 bumble Bee snails, 5 Nassarius snails, 2 Astrea snails, 4 Blue-Legged Hermit, 1 Scarlett Hermit, 1 Emerald Crab, 1 Peppermint Shrimp, a Percula Clownfish,
<Needs more room>
Feather Duster, Flame Scallop
and a Torch coral the size of a softball when open (The Torch for the Clownfish supposedly) and a tiny (1 inch tall) thing he called a Candy Cane Coral that he threw in for free.
Doesn't really look like Candy Cane from pics I've seen online. The tips are solid bright green, and seem hard, not like soft tissue.
Anyway, after finding your site, all has been returned except the Clown, the Candy Cane and the Clean-Up Crew. I don't want to stress the Clown out so soon with another move just yet, but will find a bigger home for him soon. He's active and seemingly healthy right now.
My plan now, after finding WWM, is to stick with Zoas and Mushrooms for Coral and add 1 Neon Goby or other fish of that size. I'm assuming the stock lighting is OK for this? 1 24 watt 65k and 1 24 watt Actinic.
<Mmm, can work>
A couple questions:
Sandbed: My sandbed is about 2 inches, which I now know is in "No-Man's Land' territory.
<Like all "rules of thumbs" this one, re the depth of sand encompasses generalization>
What would be the best time to fix this?
<In this setting, given the volume, the presence of the LR, I'd leave it as is>
And what would be your suggestion...add more sand to get up to 4 inches, or removing to get down to 1 inch?
<I'd leave as is>
I want to do as little damage as possible to the Clean-Up crew and Clown.
Filtration/Circulation: The pump is rated at 110 gallons per hour. I added a Koralia Nano Powerhead to the right corner of the tank facing the top center of the front glass because there seemed to be a lot of spaces with little flow. Is this too much flow, or not really helping?
<Not too much, is helping>
I'm a bit worried it could slow down the water intake into the skimmer.
Skimmer: Its the stock Venturi style skimmer. The skimmate is tea colored, and fills up the cup every 2 days or so.
<I'd adjust... for darker tea, less volume>
But the micro-bubbles won't stop.
<See WWM re>
I got it down to very little in the tank, but never completely out. I added an intake valve to control airflow a bit, and some Poly-Filter. Too much at first, as it blocked the flow in the back chamber. I took some out until the chambers. I haven't been able to find anything else to try. I know the micro-bubbles can be harmful, and its just not attractive.
I also added Chemi-Pure Elite. I read great things about it, but then not so great things on WWM. So...should I keep the Chemi-Pure?
<I wouldn't use a whole "unit" here... but is a good product... open the bag, pour two-thirds out, replenish this every few weeks...>
I'm guessing carbon may be the better alternative, but not sure why.
Temp -79 Degrees
PH - 8.4
SG - 1.024
Ammonia - 0
Nitrates - 10ppm
Nitrites - 0
Calcium - 450
Alk - 300ppm (the test doesn't list dKH)
<... Keep reading... dKH is a measure of alkalinity, along with the other units of measuring alkalinity, such as mEq/land ppm CaCO3.
2.8 dKH = 1.0 mEq/l = 50 ppm CaCO3>
*Tests were done about 30 minutes after lights out.
One last note (I promise the e-mail is almost over :), Water changes are being done at 1/2 gallon - 1 gallon twice per week.
<Mmm, I'd be switching out much more>
Thanks in advance,
<I do wish you had a larger system... small volumes are just too inherently unstable... with confluent troubles... Perhaps saving, planning toward getting a new landlord...? Please peruse here: http://wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysmaintfaqs.htm
and the linked files above.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Re: Re: Re: Cyanobacteria/BGA- Nano Troubles...clownfish 3/28/09
Hello again,
Quick question on Aiptasia anemones: I have a client with a 14 gal BioCube. She had 3 1" tank raised clowns I put in there, were fine for about 1 month. She reported 2 missing clownfish and the third I noticed had contracted some velvet. The corals in the tank are doing really well...Did not find the 2 clown bodies anywhere...I did notice a few aiptasia anemones that have grown larger and spread a bit since I last saw them last.. Is it possible these anemones killed the tiny clowns and ate them?
<No.><<Mmm, RMF disagrees. The Glass Anemones could have consumed them, and possibly killed them.>>
Largest anemone is about the size of a quarter. I will throw in some peppermint dudes in there, they have always worked for me. You ever heard of an aiptasia eating small fish?
<They are predatory, they can...but this size vs. this fish...the cause was most likely related to tank size. Be it stability in many respects, O2 saturation or flat out room for the fish.><<Do agree. RMF>>
All water params are golden and stable.
These anemones are the only things that stuck out to me as being suspect. These are hardy tank raised fish....hmmmm.. any thoughts?
<Much more likely the system in some respect.>
<Scott V.>

Algae: Control, (over)Stocking, Little Useful Information 3/28/2009
Hi WWM crew!
I have a 29g BioCube with a maroon clown, a dwarf angel, a lawnmower blenny, a boxfish, a star polyp, turbo snails, bumblebee snails, hermit crabs and a cleaner shrimp.
<Sigh.... Way overstocked. Maroon Clown will get to 6' in length, a Boxfish can get over 18" in length and secretes toxic slime when stressed out.>
My green hair algae and purple coralline algae have gotten out of control and I need something to fix this problem.
<Hair algae is the result of too many nutrients in the water. What you are calling coralline algae is, I suspect, blue-green algae.. I've never head anyone complain that they are growing too much coralline algae.>
I've thought about replacing all of my liverock and scrubbing the sides so it looks nice again. I don't mind the coralline algae on the back but I don't like it on the glass.
<That is not going to change the root cause of the algae being there to begin with - your water is overloaded with nutrients that algae loves.  My salinity is 31ppt and ammonia, nitrate, nitrite and pH levels are all fine.
<What's fine? We need data. What is your alkalinity and calcium measuring?, what kind of filtration are you using, how often are you changing water?>
Please help!
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/grnalgcontfaqs4.htm and here

Clownfish, Star Polyp system ... Sm. SW op. 2/26/2009 Greetings! <and Salutations!> Thanks so much for the wonderful website! Today I have have a few questions to pose. <Fire away!> First off, let me describe my tank and its parameters: AquaMedic Nano Wave 9 gallon AquaMedic Venturi Skimmer Refugium (I'm about to add some Macroalgae to it, could you recommend a species?) <Chaetomorpha - see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm> Sponge and Ceramic Filtration 7 lbs. of LR (planning to add a little more soon) SG 1.0245 Temperature 79-80 F pH 8.3 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 0 Weekly 1 gallon water changes (soon to be increased to twice weekly) <Good idea.> Marine DT's Phytoplankton dosed every three days Livestock: 1 Ocellaris Clownfish (tank-bred) <This tank may be a bit small when he grows up - may try to sample some of your invertebrates> 1 Blue-Leg Hermit Crab 1 Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab 1 Emerald Crab <Keep an eye on them as he gets bigger> 3 Snails 1 Xenia 1 Star Polyp Colony (about 3" wide) 1 Small Zoanthid Frag 1 Mushroom (> 1" wide, in refugium recovering from sickly period, considering ditching it) <You may want to consider adding some carbon in the filtration system, the Zoas can release some noxious chemicals into the water> Well, there's all the information, now for the questions (once again, thank you for your time). The clownfish was purchased about a week ago, and has looked exceptionally healthy, and is readily and greedily accepting food (frozen brine shrimp with Spirulina and high-quality marine pellets). He is intended to be the only fish in the tank, as I realize I have already reached my max bio-load. <Indeed you have.> Anyway, he has had for as long as I have owned him a series of roughly even black splotches. It is not Black Spot, I believe, and not an internal parasite, as he has been acting perfectly healthy. They are not protrusions and only appear on the orange areas of the torso, and not on the fins. Could this be the Mal-pigmentation disorder? It doesn't look like the pictures of that I have seen. Could it even be part of his coloration? <Hard to tell without a photo, but likely part of his coloration, my clown has a bunch of black speckles on his back. Also, at night, as soon as lights are out, he retreats to the same corner of the tank every night, and then proceeds to make a little indentation in the sand that he snuggles up into to "sleep". It sometimes does this in the day. Other than that it is completely active at all levels of the tank, swimming around and snapping up copepods. Is this normal behavior in Clowns? I hope none of this is anything to worry about. <Absolutely normal.> Another question - my Star Polyp has been doing fine over the past few weeks, until just yesterday it began to act strange. It just won't open up its polyps, as if something in the chemistry of the water is off. My Xenia, of all things, however, is doing fine. Could it be the mushroom in the refugium (I'm kind of ready to chuck it out the window, some of things I have read on WWM and other websites point to them competing with other corals). I tried spot feeding it with phyto, but to no avail. <My Star polyp colony has closed up for a few days at a time as well, So I wouldn't worry unless this goes on for more than a few days. n the other hand, there could be some chemical warfare going on. Try adding some carbon to your filtration system. If you have any recommendations, they would be much appreciated. Many Thanks! <You're very welcome> Isaac <Mike>

Sm. Reef Op.    2/22/09 I was searching for lifetime of Power Compact tubes. I calculate ~4300 hours from your staff's recommendation of replacement at six months of 24/7 use. My background is a BS Chemistry, Univ of Delaware (1979). I am a chromatographer by training. My current (personal) interest surround a quantitative chromatographic determination of ions in saltwater reef aquarium water. Specifically I'm interested in the Mg++ / Ca++ ratio (see below). <Interesting> I have been keeping aquaria since I was about ten years old. My current setup is a 30 gallon reef which has been in existence for about fifteen years. It's current incarnation has been up for almost two years. The original setup had a undergravel filter, a remnant of its progression from fish only to reef in the early ninety's. Needless to say the substrate turned into concrete. This drove me for better or worse to a bare bottom. Specifics of the setup are: ~30? pounds of live rock acquired over ~2 years many years ago, stacked loosely away from all tank walls, sitting a bare bottom with the fewest points of bottom contact for easy maintenance Lighting: 2x96w PC lighting, 1 50/50 actinic/10K, 1 10K 2x21w T5 no lighting, 1 actinic, 1 10K Controlled by 3 Coralife digital timers staggered on/off times ranging from 13 hr photoperiod for T5's, 11 hr 50/50 PC, 8 hr PC 10K 3x2 blue LED photoperiod off night illumination Filtration: Eheim 2215 Canister filter with surface skimmer driving a Countercurrent Protein Skimmer (name forgotten) ~24" tall Odyssea 350GPH powerhead w/sponge filter, also used for short term particulate adsorbents such as 3x/year carbon and/or occasional phosphate remover Flow: 2 Koralia Nano powerheads, opposed flow, staggered daytime operation with light timers 1 Koralia 1 constant on 1 Odyssea 350GPH photoperiod off nighttime flow Water quality stats (using mainly Red Sea test kits): temp = ~24.5 C +/- 1.0 C/0.0 C (25.5 C nighttime / 24.5 C daytime) sp gr = 1.0250 Ca++ = 425 ppm, test 1-3x/wk Alk = 10.5dKH, test 1-3x/wk Mg++ = 1525ppm, test 6x/yr NO3- = 0ppm, test ~4x/yr always no reading PO3-- = 0ppm, test infrequently, unhappy with color scale, difficult to read pH = ~8.2+??, useless, scale difficult to read I dose: Kalkwasser daily in the AM when pH is low Seachem Reef Calcium, 2cc/day in morning Seachem Reef Advantage Calcium as needed to maintain Ca++ ~425ppm usually 2 teaspoons/wk added in PM Seachem Reef Builder as needed to maintain Alk ~10-12 dKH usually 2 teaspoons/wk added in AM most recently Purple Up, 1cc/day at night before bed my own Lugol's sol'n, ~40uL/wk Water Change & Maintenance: 2gal ~2 wks, vacuuming stuff from the bottom Eheim cleaned 4x/yr Skimmer gunk parts cleaned ~month, broken down once per 2yrs Odyssea foam cleaned every 6 wks except if adsorbents are run glass cleaned weekly, very little algae growth Inhabitants: If you're interested I have some pictures at: http://mysite.verizon.net/goldgift/index.htm It's not the best web presentation, but it is a work in progress. Notes since the pictures were taken. The Galaxea has added ~1 cm of mantle around the entire periphery in the year I've had it. I have also added a specimen of Acropora that has grown ~1.5 cm on a dozen branches in the two months its been in the tank. For the first time in awhile I am forced to think about longer term (growth) consequences of my habitat. The yellow polyps are in decline, and I'm thinking my target temperature of 22-23 C is too low (summertime it gets to 25-26 and at the end of summer is when the attrition began). My new target temp is about 25 C. <Wow, thank you for sharing all that! It will be posted.> So to sum it up, I did not mean any hard feelings. If you guys read this far then you are troopers indeed. <No worries... we're cool.> Ed Dugan <Cheers, Sara M.>

Algae explosion- Help!!!,  Sm. SW    2-19-09 Hi there. <Hello> I have a 15 gallon marine tank that's been going about 6 months now. I have constantly battled algae in it for the last 3 months or so, having to do a complete tank clean every week or so. Red Cyanobacteria and another kind of yellowish-brown algae now cover nearly every surface in the tank. It looks like a tank of sewage. What can I do? <Nutrient control.> I have heard that lack of water movement/oxygen is likely the culprit, but how can that be? <Water movement can be an issue, more likely nitrates and phosphates. Control those and you will most likely control you algae.> I have got the following in the tank: Aqueon 30 Power Filter, and a Koralia nano circulation pump (supposedly moves 240gph). I do not have a protein skimmer or any powerheads. Would either of those help? <Yes, a quality skimmer and good water flow will go far in helping with this situation.> -Nick Peterson <See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm.> <Chris>  Thanks so much for the help. I will give that a try. <Welcome> <Chris>

Nano reef issue, maint. and Hang-on 'fuge f'  02/09/09 Dear Crew! I have a question regarding my 10G nano reef ecosystem. I hope you'll be able to answer ASAP because I am a bit afraid. Thank you in advance. I have a 3.5G HOB Aquafuge with 3" DSB and Caulerpa + Chaeto macros. About 2 weeks ago I noticed that my HOB refugium skimmer/CPR Aquafuge wasn't making any skimmate. At first I did not pay serious attention. After a few weeks I got suspicious. I did some troubleshooting and finally found when I took off the powerhead that runs the fuge (MaxiJet 1200) that there were 4-5 small scavenger snails at the intake. I cleaned the powerhead and reinstalled it, and the skimmer started to work again immediately. Previous to this my nitrate test reading was 0ppm. After fixing the powerhead issue the reading has been 15-20 ppm. I did a 20% water change this morning but it didn't lower the nitrate levels too much. I think nutrients have been pushed back from the fuge to the tank. <Hmm... it doesn't really work that way. But in any case, your 3.5G "refugium" with what you're calling a "DSB" is not functioning as either. I understand why these tiny HOT "refugiums" are tempting. I had one myself back before I knew any better. But basically, all you really have is a puddle of water with sand in it. The only good use for these things (imo) is macro algae growth (and maybe some gas exchange). But if you put sand in them, you're just asking for trouble. If I were you, I'd remove the sand, thoroughly clean the thing, and use it only for macro-algae cultivation.> I've never had nitrate problems with this tank before. What do you think? Will the DSB and the macroalgaes break down the nutrients again, or should I clean the fuge and introduce a "new" macroalgae colony? Should I wait a day or 2 and re-check? I'm very afraid because it is a fully grown 2 year old set up and I have put lots of work into it. <Again, if it were me (and it was me once upon a time), I'd remove the sand and just use macroalgae. If the macroalgae you have looks weak or dying (or is covered in debris)... maybe rinse it well, or get new macroalgae. That's your call.> Please advise! Thank you, Sonny <Good luck, Sara M.>

Sebae vs. Xenia, Green Hair Algae, Rio Skimmer... Sm. SW op.  10/23/08 Hello, <Shellie> Apologies in advance for the long post. I had a SW set up 20 years ago and have come back to the fold and a whole new world! <Welcome back> I've been reading this site for months, often till my eyeballs feel like raisins, but have been reluctant to ask questions hoping to find my answers within the myriad articles and FAQ. So much important information that I had to start a journal. I will confess right up front that I have done things in a very backwards and upside down manner but am working my way to where I should be by collecting missing information from WWM and other sources. My LFS is great but a little too laid back for me. I've gotten pretty good info from them but I need details & specifics. I bought "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and am working my way through it. I also use "The Reef Aquarium: Science, Art & Technology" by Julian Sprung - recommended by my LFS. In April 2008, I started a 20G tank with about 30# of LR, LS, 1 Condylactis, 1 Sebae, pair of Maroon Clowns (m/f), 2 Scarlet Shrimp, 1 High Fin Red Banded Goby, 1 Aurora Goby, Elegant Moon Polyp, Daisy Polyp, Xenia (multiplying like crazy), 1 Feather Duster (began as one, now, they're all over), 1 Sarcophyton, 1 Sally Lightfoot Crab - v. small, 1 Emerald Crab - v. small, 1 Pearly Headed Jawfish, 1 Fighting Conch, an assortment of snails and hermits. All fish and inverts are fairly small except: the female clown is 3x the size of the male and Jawfish is adult. My intent is to return the crabs when they get larger - both sport less than 1/2" bodies. I got them in hopes of Green Hair Algae control - see below. <Yikes... this is way too much, and disparate life for such a small volume> Filtration is a Rio Nano Skimmer (which I despise) and 1 100 gph Powerhead, lights are 24" hood w/2-65W Actinic and 2- 65W Regular lights. That's the set up. Water parameters are normal: SG: 1.025, pH: 8.3, ammonia: 0, nitrite: 0, nitrate: 0. Temp at 79F. Habits: 5 Gallon water change every 5-6 days Problems: 1.) Green Hair Algae is rampant. Snails have afros. To combat, I cut back lighting to 6 hours actinic/4 white per day and I feed very sparingly. And I've increased the water changes to every 5 days. And I got 2 crabs (lightfoot & emerald). I do not want to use any algicides. Is there anything else I can do to get rid of it? <... a much more sophisticated filtration set-up is needed... and a much larger volume for the life you list... at the barest minimum three times this size... Otherwise, the options for control, prevention for Green algae posted on WWM...> 2.) I have one too many anemones. I realize (after the fact) that I should not have purchased that beautiful tiny electric yellow sebae at an LFS that I no longer visit. Upon introduction to my tank (with my established, happy Condy named Baby Doc), it moved all over and finally settled in a cave with it's foot on the underside - essentially upside down. I did some research and learned that it was 1.)dyed and 2.) should not be in a tank with another anemone. However, since it attached itself to the inside of a cave, I could not remove it without dislodging an 8# piece of LR so I left it alone. It willingly hosted the *large* female clown and she fed it while it was upside down. The large Condy hosts the tiny male clown who feeds it, too. Finally, after 3 months, the sebae color is now partly creamy white and part rusty brown which I believe to be its zooxanthellae coming back? In the last month, it's moved from it's cave and come to rest on the side of the LR but is UNDER the Condy's tentacles. I went to my preferred LFS and started talking allelopathy but got blank stares. I came back to WWM and read that this is a recipe for disaster. Not knowing who would win, I began increasing my water changes because I have no confidence in my Skimmer (in fact, I hate it, it never seems to work properly). Two months have gone by and the Sebae continued to live within the tentacles of the Condy. How is this possible? <Life can be tenacious> I did a 50% water change several days ago and the Sebae dislodged itself and was floating on the bottom of the tank. I placed it on a rock in front and away from the Condy but within 20 minutes, it put itself right against the trunk of the Condy. (The Condy is flourishing, BTW). This evening, just before lights out, the Sebae has moved away from the Condy. It is now sitting against the trunk of a large (5" tall) Xenia. Is there known conflict between Sebae and Xenia? <Can be> I'm thinking that this Sebae is finally healthy and is looking for action and I'm going to have to give him to my LFS. <Good> Last problem: I have a Rio Nano Protein Skimmer that does not consistently work. <A poor design, lack of engineering... it's not you> I rarely get any skimmate (but I water change a lot) but the bigger problem IMO is that I can't keep water circulating. No matter how I adjust the bits and parts, I'll leave it with water flowing freely through the carbon and back into the tank and within a short time, the returning water slows to a trickle then stops. I know it's only 20G tank but I'd like to keep skimming. Is the AquaC Remora a next step up/suitable replacement for the Rio? <A vastly superior product> And the Rio came with almost NO information/instruction. I can't effectively troubleshoot it without going online and reading blogs about it. Forgive me for the length. Please answer at your convenience. Many thanks, Shellie Huy <Do keep reading, sharing... And saving up towards a larger system... you need it. Bob Fenner>

Re: Nano Lighting/BGA, Filtration 10/22/08 Good day Scott V./WWM Crew, <Hello again.> Thank you for your help thus far. <Welcome.> My question is regarding diatoms and thereafter. I currently have some live rock in a separate tank. Once I start the new nano, after the cycling period, I expect the appearance of diatoms. <Possibly.> My problem is that I unfortunately do not have access to a clean up crew. <No value with diatoms/BGA anyhow.> How do I deal with the diatoms? Should I begin the tank with Rowa phos and carbon? <Carbon if you wish. Phosphate removing compounds can strip the water of all phosphate, some is needed. Your regular water changes should be enough to control phosphate with appropriate feeding. This will also be your avenue to combat the BGA/diatoms should it appear. More info here, same fueling factors: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm> Any other suggestions would be very helpful!!! <Sounds like you are well on your way.> Have already purchased the Deltec MCE-300 skimmer. <Nice skimmer.> Thanks!!! Adriel <Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Ailing Pagoda and angry Perculas 10/8/08 Hello! <Hi> I have a small 8 gallon BioCube at my office with some live rock, mushrooms, anthelia, polyps, and a pagoda cup coral. I have 2 false percula clowns, a neon goby and a yellow watchman goby. <That is too much life for such a small tank.> My tank has been up and running for about 1 1/2 years now with all the same fish and corals. Recently, my pH became very low (7.4) despite weekly water changes, and adding buffer. Out of desperation (my first mistake) I purchased a buffering powder that after adding 1/2 of a packet would miraculously adjust my pH to 8.2. Yeah, right. As soon as I added it, my pagoda seemed to shrink before my eyes! <Probably pH shock.> It's polyps retracted and it stayed like this for about a week. I was sure I killed it, however it is opening up again although the polyps are smaller? It's just not the same! So my first question is, what did I do and can it be remedied? <You most likely raised the pH too fast, not much can be done now except maintain good water quality.> My second problem is related to the percula clowns. They made their home in the pagoda cup and guarded it if I tried to get near it. I removed the pagoda to put it in a 58 gal we have at home in order to try to nurse it along. They are ANGRY!!! The female is attacking other corals in the tank now and is not a happy camper. <Is looking for a new home.> I didn't know if I should try to replace the pagoda with another coral in hopes that they might take to it, or if once they have a home they never adapt to another one? <Can find a new home if they find something to their liking.> Do I put the pagoda back in the tank and see if it recovers? <I would leave it in the more stable larger tank.> Another tidbit... I tested the 8 gal. and figured out the calcium levels were too high which was causing the low pH. I have since gotten the parameters back to normal. <Good, but the inherent problem of small tanks, parameters can change radically quickly in small water volumes.> Thanks for your tips! Wendy <Welcome> <Chris>

Water Movement 9/23/08 Hi Crew, <Hello Sam.> I have a 6 year old 10 gallon setup with live rock and sand, a penguin mini filter, 65w PC's, Candycane corals and some fish (more than you would approve). <'¦You said it!> I began having Cyano problems a few months ago. It started, I think, by my not changing the bulbs in time. <Or finally seeing the consequence of overstocking, as you say it.> It has improved but it is still there. When I do a cleanup it now takes a week till it is bad instead of overnight. I cut down feeding to once a day and I keep the lights off 2 days a week every once and a while. I have a small power head (rated 130gph) that faces the length of the tank. Would it be a good or bad idea to place it in mid tank facing the width. <It may help, but there are likely other fueling factors here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm.> It would probably hit the glass and divide itself in both direction which would probably be a lot more movement all around than what I have now. I know you guys think it is never too much movement so I am not sure why I am asking. <There can be too much, specifically of the laminar type: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm. Again, not likely the culprit, other factors here. > But I haven't emailed you for a while. Thanks Sam <Welcome, Scott V.>

T5 lighting/algae problems... reading, sm. SW maint.   9/2/08 Hello, <Scarlett> I currently have a nano-reef system of 15 gallons. I have 2 ocellaris clownfish, <Need more room...> 1 Royal Gramma, <Ditto> 3 hermit crabs, one turbo snail, one emerald crab <Predatory> and 3 Cerith snails in it with some live rock. I was trying to grow some Zoanthids, so I purchased a nova-extreme lighting system with 2 T5 bulbs in it. Ever since then I've been having green algae growing out of control!! I have to remove my live rock and soak it in hot water to be able to scrub off all the algae at least once a month. Can you recommend a good algaecide <...> or what bulbs I should get that maybe don't put out so much light. The corals I tried to raise died, so having lighting suitable for them is no longer an issue. Please help!! I'm so sick of algae!! Thanks! Scarlett Mooney <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/maintindex.htm scroll down to "Algae"... Bob Fenner>

Small reef maintenance question - 07/13/08 Hello pros! <Hello Sonny, Mich here with you.> I hate myself for asking a question like this, <Don't hate yourself!> after many years in this great hobby. I have a 10G nano reef tank, recently upgraded with a HOB refugium. I used to do 10% water changes weekly, about a Gallon at the time. <OK.> I was wondering since I set up the refugium, should I raise the volume of the water when I do the changing process? <I would.> With the refugium I add another approx. 3 G's of water to the total water volume. Does the extra water counts when I do the water changes? ( instead of the 1 G should I do 1.5 G or so? ) <This is what I would do though there is not hard and fast rule, but frequent small water changes are beneficial. More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watchgantart.htm > Thank you for your time, <Happy to share! Mich> Sonny

Nano tank questions, stkg, inherent limitations   7/12/08 Greetings WWM crew <Hello Sean! Benjamin here!> I have a question about chemistry, and also lighting for a Crocea clam. But first some background: I am a bit of a crazy jerk, with what I think is a WAY overstocked 20gal long nano: 2 ocellaris, 1 bicolor Dottyback, 2 peppermint shrimp, large brittle star, sand sifting star, 2 Tonga fighting and one queen conch, about 10 Ceriths,. 5 Astreas, about 5 or so blue leg hermits, about 1.5sq foot surface area of my live rock is covered in Zoanthids, 2 small finger leathers, one 9 inch deresa (got him when he was only 3 inches - he may soon go back to LFS store for trade/credit - TOO BIG now - if he slams his shell, it ejects water from the tank and sometimes hits the lighting) and one 3 inch crocea. Various sponges (blue and white encrusting types mostly) The above is not TOO badly overstocking (except the deresa), But... Get this: a *yellow tang*. <Another victim of yellow tang mania...poor fish> Yep, in a 20 long. For two years now. Believe it or not, he's fine and happy (he's small, though) Eating well, good color. He acts more like a puffer (personality wise) than a tang - he actually greets me when I come to the tank, will eat Nori right out of my hand... I got him when he was only 1.5 inches long. LFS tells me he was collected off of Christmas island. Now he's about 4 inches. Eventually (soon!) he WILL need a bigger tank, of course. Which will likely mean I trade him back to LFS for a new baby 1.5 inch tang. <Trade back for something else...health wise, a 1.5" tang should really have just as much space to live as a full-grown one> Or I may just bite the bullet and get a "real" tank. <Now you're speaking my language...> Things are lit with a single 150 watt AquaLine AB HQI 20000K bulb (yes, I know, 10000K or better yet a 6500K would give better PAR, but I like blue!) Aqua C nano remora skimmer with the stock MaxiJet 900 replaced with a 1200. JBJ nano chiller. 2 MaxiJet 1200's for circulation, alternating between the two on a 15 minute timer. (which means I have a total of 4 MaxiJet 1200's in that little tank - 1 for chiller, one for skimmer, 2 for circulation) I have a 4.5 inch sandbed, and about 10lbs live rock Water parameters: Specific gravity 1.025 Temp is kept around 77F. 8.1-8.4PH (and its LOWER in evening!?! I'll explain my theory of the swing presently) 8-10dKH, calcium 380-400. All nitrogen waste stuff is 0 or close enough that my SeaTest kit can't see any (including nitrates) Phosphates don't register on my SeaTest kit either. I lose about .25 to .33 gal a day to evaporation. I top off twice daily with RO. <Buffered, I hope?> About the swing... those parameter swings are DAILY! What bugs me is the reverse of normal for the PH swing: Lower after the lights are on all day? My theory is: the swing seems to be due to a combo of factors: the big Deresa in a tank with so little water volume? (figure maybe 12 gals total actual water in there) -- Calcium and carbonates seem to get sucked out fast -. Although there may be some anoxic chemistry in the sand bed driving down the PH as well -- denizens are awake and making more nitrogenous waste during the day, drive the anaerobic bacteria more... also the evaporation can't be helping. Things drop, and I add 2 part (b ionic) and bring it back up each day. I have to take a bit of water out and replace it with RO to compensate so the salinity stays stable. (or more correctly, the specific gravity, since I use a hydrometer for testing) I noticed I can get a bit less swing if I dose a little magnesium and try to keep dKH more close to 12 and the calcium nearer 400. Don't want to move to a calcium reactor because I have PH drops enough as is. Tried Kalkwasser for a while, (manual drip) but 2 part seems easier. Short of getting more water volume (which is the correct answer of course) do you have any suggestions? most 20 long tanks seem to be all tempered, so drilling so that I can add a sump is no good. And of course hang on overflow boxes can lose their siphon, jam up, and my landlord would NOT appreciate the contents of even a small sump being on my floor. <Do make sure your RO contains appropriate buffer to pH adjust, and to match the alkalinity your tank loses through the day. A small tank will tend to have larger alkalinity loss- and very rapid, to boot> On to the lighting question: I used to have a CoraLife 14000K HQI over the tank. Before that I had one 10000K 65w PC and one actinic 65w PC (CoraLife) With the PC's I had good coralline growth. When I switched to the HQI, all the coralline that was in direct light turned white on me within 3-4 days. (stuff in more shaded areas was OK) I switched to the bluer bulb, and it came back. I had gotten the HQI so that I could keep a nice little blue crocea in there. He liked the 14000K. He does NOT seem to like the 20000K as much. He has less color now. <Yes....20K bulb is about 1/2 or less the light (lumens AND PAR) of a 10K> Question: since the tank is only 12 inches high anyway, and the bottom 4.5 inches is sand, he is only in 7.5 inches depth when I have him on the substrate. Would moving him up another 4-5 inches make much difference? <Not much...with this spectrum> I could do this, but then he'll attach to the rock, and then it's a pain if I have to move him. He's so small the standard "put him an empty shell and let him attach to that" is not practical IMO - he and the shell will likely get knocked off the rocks. Substrate is the preferable location if he can get enough light there, IMO. -Sean <Benjamin>

Consistently High dKH In My Nano Reef Tank -- 06/02/08 Hi crew :D <<Howdy Carolyn>> Sorry to keep emailing with questions, but your advice is just so darn good! <<Okay'¦flattery 'will' get you somewhere>> Am slightly concerned about the dKH level in my reef tank -- it's consistently reading around 14-14.4 using the Salifert dKH/alkalinity profi test. <<Mmm'¦a bit high, yes'¦but do verify with a new/another brand test kit>> Calcium is 400ppm, so I don't want to risk messing with the chemistry too much... <<I would allow this to fall a bit>> What I need to know is if this high dKH will be a problem in the long run? <<It is not likely to have a malaffect on your tanks inhabitants of its own, but along with the high Calcium load, you may be running the risk of a precipitous event'¦and this 'would' be a problem for your tanks inhabitants>> I live in an area with very hard water (so high pH anyway, DI/RO doesn't seem to get it down), and as it's a nano I do frequent small water changes (approx. 5% volume every other day)... <<Mmm, these frequent additions are probably a big part of the Alkalinity problem'¦especially in a very small volume of water. Aside from the fact that newly mixed saltwater is irritating to marine life (the every-other-day additions are probably very annoying to your tank inhabitants), the frequent additions of this still chemically active medium is not allowing your tank to find its own chemical balance. I would suggest you reduce the water changes to no more than 5% every two weeks'¦give this a try for a while and see how things go>> Thanks for your help in advance :D, Carolyn <<Happy to assist. EricR>>
Re: Consistently High dKH In My Nano Reef Tank - 06/02/08
Thanks Eric :D, <<Quite welcome, Carolyn>> As usual, very helpful answer! <<Ah'¦am pleased you think so>> The only reason for the many many water changes is that there was a bit of a crash a week ago which lost us two fish and a shrimp :( <<I see>> The tanks only 70l, and the skimmer broke overnight, nitrite peaked... end result sadly inevitable. <<Mmm, I would expect the loss of the skimmer through the night to be more of an issue with lessened oxygen content'¦not a resultant 'spike' in Nitrite. I think there may be other factors involved>> Nitrite now 0.15-0.2ppm, testing daily <<As a result of not having the skimmer running? Strange'¦ Is this a new (too new) tank? Another possibility is the Nitrite is being introduced through your salt mix and/or make-up water>> (ammonia 0ppm, nitrate 5-10ppm)'¦will keep a close eye on things and limit water changes as recommended... On behalf of all my aquatic beasties many thanks! <<Unless this tank is grossly overstocked, I think there are other factors at play here other than a broken skimmer'¦as already mentioned. Do make sure the Nitrite is not being introduced from a source outside the tank. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Question on 24 gal Aquapod 6/1/08 Hello, I have had a 24 gal Aquapod running for about 6 days. The LFS suggested I have a MaxiFlo 400 pump in there for extra circulation. They also suggested 15 lbs of live rock. Which with displacement I have approximately 18-19 gallons of water. The temperature will not drop below 80 degrees. <Engineering... really can't be changed much... w/o having the system in a cooler setting, and/or adding/tying in a chiller> I have 2 questions; 1. Do I need the extra pump? <Mmm, might help with keeping circulation, dissolved gas issues...> 2. If I need the extra pump will it be necessary to remove a piece of live rock to allow for more water? <Not likely> Thanks for any help. Aaron <Do read re small marine systems: http://wetwebmedia.com/small.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

What went wrong!?  Small SW tank troubleshooting  05/30/2008 Hello, <<Hey, Andrew with you today>> I have a 24 gallon aqua cube which has recently become a 24 gallon death cube. In the beginning we started out with a 12 gallon and moved to the 24 gallon, in recent months everything has been great. We had a good share of soft corals and live rock. In the tank we had an orange diamond goby, (Moby the goby), a Blenny (Lenny the blenny), a black and white striped damsel (pokey), Clown fish (primo) and half yellow half purple fish(mystery). We also had some crabs, 1 porcelain, 1 emerald and a few hermit. We had a turbo snail and a starfish and black sea urchin. Everything was great, levels were good and everyone was happy. <<Ok>> Then it happened. My wife and I went to a new aquarium store to look around, we were ah struck when we came across this slug, a Nudibranch, he is purple with yellow horns and flames out his back. <<Ah yes, could be a few different species of Nudi, please do identify from here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nudibran.htm >> We were told they are easy to care for and that they ate sponges, something we didn't have. <<Yes, this is true. All have their own specialist diet>> They sold us a light blue sponge also saying they were easy to take care of, just drop it in the tank and make sure it doesn't get exposed to air. So we got home and acclimated the slugs (we also purchased a lettuce Nudibranch) and put the blue sponge in our tank. This was on last Sunday. <<Ok>> Everything seemed to be happy, then my wife came home from work on Tuesday, called me and told me something was wrong, the soft corals were shriveled up and hadn't come out and 2 of the fish were dead (mystery and pokey). All the other fish were breathing heavy and sitting on the bottom of the tank. The blue sponge appeared to be dying, the blue was falling off and u could see the white spongy skeleton underneath. I immediately pulled the sponge out and tossed it along with the dead fish. I tested the water and the nitrates were showing 160ppm! <<Yikes>> I also tested the ammonia but it was fine. I immediately did a 10 gallon water change per a friend. The nitrates seemed to have dropped to around 80ppm, the next day (last night) when I got home from work (after picking up some supplies at our normal aquarium store) 80% of our soft corals were dead, Moby ,Lenny, black sea urchin, starfish and turbo snail were also dead. I pulled all of them out, did another 10 gallon water change, added charcoal and a bag of something (white) that is supposed to absorb nitrates and nitrites. This morning the water seemed crystal clear, Primo was still alive along with the Crabs. I did another water test last night after the water change and the nitrate was 40ppm. I hear that the blue sponge releases a deadly neurotoxin when it dies and that is what wiped everything out. Im not sure what spiked the nitrates. Any insight? <<Not "usually" blue sponges which release this, more so with some red sponges. Do not rule out the possibility of the Nudibranch releasing toxins. Please do read page 3 of the above linked web page on Nudibranchs. The spike in nitrates will be down to the death in the tank, ammonia --> Nitrite --> Nitrate. I would be tempted to remove the Nudibranch, return to the store>> John C. Curry <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Algae in Nano FOWLR 4/14/08 Hi, <Ed.> I have a 35l nano FOWLR tank, it contains 1 humbug damsel, 1 yellow tail damsel and 1 cleaner shrimp. Everything has been going great except from a rather large algae problem, I have removed the algae from the sides of the tank but the live rock is still thickly covered in the green stuff! <Uh-oh, ugly!> Will the cleaner shrimp solve this? <No, not at all.> And if not can you suggest something reasonably priced that would? I have heard that snails are good for eating algae but I would really appreciate some expert advice. <Snails can help control algae, but not to this extent Turbo or Astrea snails being good additions. The best thing you can do is prevent the algae through maintaining water quality and controlled feeding, difficult prospects in nano tanks. I have included a link for you below. This article and the related FAQ's will guide you through sorting this issue out.> Many thanks, Ed <Welcome, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm

Nano tank 04/11/2008 Hi <<Hello>> I have a 28 gal mini reef with a 3 an a half in DSB over 30lbs of live rock a Rena FilStar xp2 filter and no coral or fish as of yet. My question was regarding something I had been hearing allot about presently it seems that many forums and aquarists are saying that in a mini reef such as mine if you have proficient live rock/sand you don't need a skimmer, they say that the cost and disabilities (such as removing trace elements and micro-fauna) out way the benefits they told me that frequent partial water changes remove all the nitrates that need to be removed. <<I do run such a mini reef system, 7 gallons in total volume. I do not run a skimmer on this tank, water change 10% per week>> Cost isn't really an issue for me but if protein skimming can cause negative effects in such a small tank than I would rather not use it . Should I opt for the "natural method" of reefing? <<I see no reason why not, as long as your confident you know you're tank, as i do mine>> I intend to keep a mixture of soft and stony but none of the leathers that produce stony killing toxins and maybe two fish. Thanks! <<Sounds a good plan. Good luck with the nano. A Nixon>>

Attn: Sara Hello again (are you sick of hearing from me yet?) LOL <Haha, never.> As I mentioned before, I've got a 29 gallon BioCube with all the parameters where they should be. -- 04/10/08 The occupants are; 2 Ocellaris Clowns (constantly bickering) 1 Watchman Goby (constantly looks p*ssed off) 1 small Lettuce Nudibranch 1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (won't leave my hand alone when I do ANYTHING to the tank) 1 "Halloween" Hermit Crab (yeah, the one with the blue striped legs 3 Nassarius snails (Only one comes to visit at feeding time) 2 Red-Leg Hermit Crabs 1 Turbo Snail Well, here's the issue - the Lettuce Nudibranch decided to hitch a ride on the Turbo Snail. Now, the Turbo Snail is excreting what appears to be a long (single strand) glop of slime, that coils around it's shell, and it's been there for over 24 hours. Did the Nudibranch do something to the snail? <Honestly, it sort of sounds like the Nudibranch is laying eggs on the snail's shell.> Is the snail doing this in self-defence? or did the snail possibly think the Nudibranch was trying to mate with it, and do what they do naturally? It sounds gross, but I'm just curious as to what is going on with this snail that never seems to get it's fill of algae. <A picture would really help here. It's pretty impossible to say without one.> Thanks again, (Gracias!) DJ <De nada, Sara M.>

Black ray shrimp goby...  Hlth... Cnid. influence? 04/07/2008 Good Sunday Morning! <<Hello, Andrew today>> First off, sorry, in advance, for the long email and your site rocks! <<Thanks for the comments>> I am fairly new to the hobby and so far have been learning things a bit the hard way - did not find your site until after I had lost all my fish due to too fast and too much. <<Ahh...a hard lesson to learn>> I have a 34 gallon Red Sea system with about 3" of live sand and a gorgeous piece of live rock (can't find the receipt to know what the weight is). I started the system in July of '07. After losing all my livestock, I found your wonderful site, let the tank go fallow for 8 weeks and bought a 12 gallon QT. Through all, my cleaner shrimp, pistol shrimp, sand sifting starfish <<Would suggest this tank is not suitable for a sifting starfish as these really need a very well established sandbed>> and various 5 hermits, 3 Nassarius, 2 Trochus and 2 Turbos survived. I have a chiller that keeps the temp 78-80 and water tests out great (small amount of nitrate but all other numbers in your recommended parameters). <<Sounds good>> I do have some corals - torch, toadstool leather, Trachyphyllia brain and mushroom polyps - all spaced so that they stay out of each other's way. In retrospect, I would never have started with a nano set up and would not have the corals. Long story longer...I currently have 2 ocellaris clowns, 1 flasher mutt wrasse, one purple Firefish, and a black ray goby that paired up wonderfully with the pistol shrimp. All fish went through quarantine with the last 2, both gobies, being introduced into the red sea main tank in December - shorter quarantine for them, as per instructions from your site. All have been doing just great - except for the occasional scrapping between the wrasse, Flash, and the gobies, Frankie & Spike. <<Understandable aggression between these fish in a tank of this size>> Spike is my main concern right now. A couple of the mushroom polyps have broken loose from their original home and I just let them float freely until they found a new home. They have found new spots in 2 of the entrances that Spike (black ray) and Pete (pistol shrimp) use to go under the rock. I was not overly concerned about that because they also had 2 other holes that they used in addition to those places and I assumed that Pete would push the polyps out of the way if need be. Spike has always been very aggressive during feeding times and made sure that he got his share (I watch this carefully as the Yashia goby, Obie Wan, that came with Pete originally was very shy and did not make it). We have not seen Spike except for a couple of times since last Sunday - no worries as that seems to be normal behavior. I was going to try to gently move the polyps into a new spot in the tank so that the 2 entrances were freed up. I planned on doing that today along with all the other tank maintenance that I do on Sundays - clean up and water changes. <<Ok>> Unfortunately, late yesterday I noticed Spike swimming around near the surface of the tank and very erratically. Fortunately, I have a 6 gallon nano cube set up and going as a hospital tank - just in case. I was able to get Spike out of the main tank and into the hospital tank immediately (did not like doing that but was scared that the others would start harassing him or he would go back under the rock and I would not be able to help him at that point). I guess my question is could the polyps have had something to do with this? <<I would not imagine mushrooms having a negative effect on the goby>> Also, could the digging in the sand bed have unearthed some toxins? <<Very possible, yes>> Spike is in the HT and still swimming oddly (it is a bare bottom tank with some PVC for hiding). I tried to feed him some pellets this morning and mysis shrimp last night - he likes that food and I was able to put it right over his mouth - no luck on the eating. In fact, he even lets me touch him. Honestly, I don't think he is going to make it but I will keep trying. Next step is garlic supplement in the food. <<Indeed, i would add Selcon rather than garlic, as Selcon is a Vit supplement>> I really do not want to get another goby until I am a bit more sure of what happened. I have way too much respect for these gorgeous creatures to get another and risk it but I also am concerned about the pistol shrimp being un-aided. This all assumes the Spike does not pull through this event. <<Careful monitoring, feeding with Vit laden foods is the best way forward, to get the Goby to rebuild strength>> I searched your site for information on this but did not see anything specific to the polyps and the goby - so much information and so little time to help Spike. All other fish in the tank are just fine. I am looking into a bigger tank as the smaller ones are a LOT of work. <<I feel that a larger tank is really needed with you stock. I would expect aggression in the tank due to the size and the fish in there>> I wish that LFS would be more mindful of that before recommending them to new hobbyist's. <<Ahhhhhh..the good old fish shop just wants to make money>> I also wish the LFS would promote the use of a QT. I research everything extensively on your site, have "the book" by Dr. Bob and do not make a move without consulting you's. Thanks again and I appreciate any thoughts you may have - <<Angela, i would take my suggestions on board....I.E Really do consider a larger tank at least 50+ gals, start feeding the Goby on Vit laden foods and monitor very closely in the hospital tank>> Angela (Spike's concerned mom) <<Thanks for the questions, good luck, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Impossible Situation... Small new SW system with natural/collected LR doing fine...   3/17/08 I am hoping you will be able to settle a discussion or at least give some insight to a situation. <... I'll try> I have been reading your site for years now and value the great information that you constantly provide. I have used this information to advise fellow marine hobbyist with issues with their tanks and constantly refer people to your great site! However this one has me stumped and seems to defy every word ever written or spoken about water quality. My friend decided to try to "play around" with a 29 gallon marine tank and local marine life from the gulf. <The Gulf... of Mexico I'll take it> He set up the tank with store bought salt and tap water and a water conditioner. He filled said tank with rock with a good deal of algae growth on it from the gulf and immediately placed some local inhabitants into the tank. <Mmm... this can be a daring... to precarious proposition... there is just SO much life/biota on/in such rock... The "curing" process many folks employ... from one point of view... is a "dying off" routine... to limit such life/death in our systems> Hermit crabs, anemone's, starfish, colon blenny, wrasse, sponge, pipefish, pink urchin and a few store bought damsels. <Yikes!> The tank started to cycle and I advised small frequent water changes so he would not lose anything from the tank. He was unable to keep nitrates and nitrites down and basically gave up on water changes. <... what about the life present?> I cannot provide exact levels on the nitrates or nitrates since BOTH are OFF THE CHART. Yes, levels of both are so high that the test kits cannot show the exact level. <Again... not unexpected... or to put this positively... to be expected> Both are over 200 and over 10. Normally this would mean disaster and the end of life in the tank and to be honest that is what I expected to happen. A month has gone by and the levels have remained the same for the entire month. The problem is, he has had ZERO loss of life in the tank. My first thought of course was a faulty test kit so I tried two others. The levels of nitrate and nitrite are correct. I would have expected at least the starfish and urchin to perish but nothing. <Mmm, marine life in general IS very tough> None of the life in the tank has died in fact it seems to be thriving. I am stuck sitting back scratching my head. I am sure we have all been there for a tank crash and lost everything but this haphazard approach seems to defy all logic. <Heeee! Actually "more to this game" than a few simple "windows", tests...> My question is do you have any clue why this is working for him? <The life otherwise introduced as/with the rock mostly...> I thought perhaps since he was using wild caught local life that perhaps it was able to better adjust but he did add a few damsels from the local fish store and they are doing well also. Yes I understand they are hardy but the levels are just insanely off the chart and based on everything I have ever read this tank should be void of life. Please help me understand what is going on. Perhaps I should find out where he purchased this "magic tank" and get one for myself. : ) Thanks so Much in Advance ! <No real simple, simplistic answer for you... but do know that the chemical constituency provided by more complex mixes of life can/does greatly affect the well-being of macro-life in closed systems... Some of this "magical bouillabaisse" is at play here. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Starting an AquaPod reef...  3/14/08 Hey Crew! Quick question...I've got a 12 gallon nano reef, up and running for 2 months now with one small clown, blood shrimp and 4 blue legged hermit crabs occupying this tank. Prior to putting the shrimp and clown in the tank I did my water tests and everything was perfect. Since putting in the shrimp and the clown and eventually the 4 crabs (who were supposed to be a clean up crew but as far as I'm concerned they make more mess than they clean - I'll be getting rid of them tomorrow and replacing them with smaller blue or red hermit crabs) my ammonia has shot through the roof to 2.0. <How much did you suddenly start feeding the tank when you added the livestock? The combination of the added livestock and food might have been too much too soon.> I know the obvious way to bring the ammonia down is to do more aggressive water changes or perhaps more frequently, but as I experienced last week; when pouring in the salt due to it's small nature of the nano the corals get burned from the contact with the salt (mental note....pre-mix)...can you recommend any piece of equipment that can help me with keeping the ammonia down? If it was a normal setup I would immediately purchase a protein skimmer but as I am now realizing, these nano tanks aren't all they're cracked up to be <Bingo. They're often without adequate filtration.> as there is NO space for a skimmer or at least not one that I can find. Any of the nano skimmers I have found involve me altering the hood which I am not confident in doing. Is there a nano skimmer out there that will help me, perhaps if I threw in a mangrove plant? <A mangrove won't help. It wouldn't do well in such a tank anyway. Honestly, there's not a whole lot you could do that wouldn't involve altering the hood to add filtration or drilling the tank to add a sump. This is the trouble with nano tanks systems. If you don't want to alter the tank, you'll have to find a way to do the heavy, frequent water changes (i.e. pre-mix your water, etc.).> HELP ME PLEASE!! Thanks so much! I've been a reader for over 5 years now and have enjoyed every minute of it! <De nada and good luck, Sara M.>

Re: Starting an AquaPod reef... 3/14/08 Hi Crew, <Hi> This is in response to the above heading in today's questions. The person has a 2 month old 14 gal nano and has problems with ammonia and one clown in the tank. I started a 10 gallon over 5 years ago and lost quite a bit of fish and critters during my first 6 months. Then I found the Crew. I still have the 10 gallon and 2 of my fish are over 4 years old. So if you follow the advice of WWM you can be successful with a nano. And rule number one is patience. You can't load your system with more than it can handle. <Indeed, this is true of any tank of any size.> Give your clown a break and ask the store to hold it for a while. The only reason I am responding is because the crew has the tendency to shrug off nano problems because they can be difficult to control. <Hmm, I certainly didn't mean to "shrug off" the writer's problem. The person who asked the question said he was reluctant to alter the tank in any way that would allow him to add equipment or water volume. He also said he was reluctant to do more aggressive water changes. Thus, I was at a loss to offer him any other solutions. Taking the livestock out would only be a temporary solution.> But if your advice is followed then people can have a good success rate. You can't cut corners. The systems are not forgiving. There just is too little water to dilute problems. <Very true and I thank you for writing in with your support/advice. In my opinion, the best way to keep a nano tank is with a large sump hidden underneath. It might be "cheating," but it works. ;-)> Thanks <Best, Sara M.>

odd algae destroying my tank. Sm SW, no reading  -- 03/07/08 hi I am totally stumped on this one.. I have a 30g with about 36 - 37lbs of  live rock. a MaxiJet 1200 and a 600, Corallife super skimmer I think?? (borrowing from a friend), and a Fluval 205 running 2 bags of carbon, a thing of Purigen and some rock rubble.. I have some LPSs and softies for coral. <... allelopathy, in a word> lately everything in my tank is ticked off and I have this odd algae that comes slowly once the lights turn on, the tanks looks great when lights are off, nice and clean, water looks clear.. after the lights are on for a while this odd algae comes out of the rocks, sand and shows up on my glass.. its long and stringy, kinda a dull greenish color I would say. I was thinking possibly Cyano from over feeding so after much thought I dosed Chemi-clean twice over a 4 day period and did a 20% water change.. followed the directions as the box stated and nothing happened at all, the stuff still comes out.. my zoas and hammer I would say are most pissed, <Can't be mixed in this setting...> and I really don't want anything to die I would be devastated! there was some time back when my tank was newer where my mom was watching it for me and I know she didn't take proper care of it, not that I can blame her its a lot of work to just ask someone to take care of, anyways my friend had this what I think is a crazy idea that there was something in the depths of my rock eating up any sort of phosphates as they got into the water and it just took some time to eventually take over.. my water tests come out perfect, all I dose is a little bit of iodine which I don't test for but I dose so next to nothing because of that and Kalkwasser. sorry I do not have a picture at the moment, let me know if you guys will need one.. thanks in advance <... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll down to the tray on Algae... Read. Bob Fenner>

39 reef bow tank, Stocking and Nitrate 3/2/08 Hi, my name is Chris, I want to thank you in advance for any help you may give me on this issue I am having with my reef tank . <Hello Chris, glad to help.> I've had this tank set up for about 6 months now and am experiencing some problems, not major problems but I want to control what I can before it becomes a major one . <OK> Parameters are as follows: Alk 9.8, ph 8.2, amm 0, nitrate is between 10-20 ppm, and is controlled with water changes weekly but a day or two after the change it creeps back up . <A sign of something amiss.> I am running a 10 gallon sump with about a gallon of bio balls in it, a Prizm skimmer and two power heads in the tank; and I am down to feeding only once a day if that. I only feed what is consumed in two to three minutes and if the nitrates go up I may skip a day. <Be sure the food is consumed as it is added. You can easily add too much food that appears to be consumed in three minutes, with much going elsewhere.> The feeding varies from frozen to pellets daily and the live stock is as follows: mostly soft corals , polyps and mushrooms and a leather coral and one open brain , fish are a tomato clown , six bar goby , basset , small yellow tang . <Your tank is too small for this livestock.> Should I remove the bio balls . <If you have enough live rock (25-30 lbs. In this system) I would.> Thanks for the help. <A few links for further reading are included below for you. Welcome, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm

Marine "Mulm" Woes!!! 2/20/08 Hello once again! <Hello again John.> In my AP24, I have replaced the stock recirculating pump with a MaxiJet 1200 last summer. I also have two Koralia Nanos that I installed about 6 months ago. The Nanos are on either side of the tank and sort of "shoot" at each other (I read that this creates random flow). <Yes, an effective way to do it.> Calculating my flow, I come up with 775 GPH. Since my tank is a 24 gallon, this works out to a turnover rate of 32.29x/hour, but realistically with all the LR, sand and other stuff in there I'm estimating that I really only have about 20 gallons of water, so the turnover rate is probably closer to 38.75X/hour. <That calculation assumes the pumps are at full capacity also, they usually are not.> I think this is enough. <Yes.> However, I still tend to get a lot of "mulm" in several areas of my tank. You know what I mean - that gross fluffy stuff that tends to accumulate on LR that isn't being constantly blasted by Amazon River-sized currents. I think it tends to clog out LR critters so I am worried about leaving it in my tank, to say nothing about how unappealing it looks. <It is not desirable to see, that is for sure.> If I move the Nanos around to try to "blast" those areas, then they tend to get (and stay) cleaner. Unfortunately, this usually creates two other problems: 1) It tends to cause OTHER areas to now suffer from less flow and in turn creates a mulm buildup in those areas, and/or 2) certain corals (like my open brains) now get hit with what I feel is "too much" flow. Once a month I hook up my Vortex Diatom Filter and go to work with a turkey baster. I squirt off each and every square inch of exposed rockwork and let the water get all mucky, while the Vortex cleans it all up. By the time I am satisfied that I cannot possibly get any more gunk off my rocks the color of the diatomaceous earth in my filter has gone from a pristine white to the most yucky shade of brownish crud you could imagine, and my water is so clear that it looks like my fish are suspended in air. While I know that using a diatom filter is a great way to really polish a reef tank, I also understand that I am in the vast minority and very few people need to resort to this sort of extreme filtration methodology to keep their tanks clean and "mulm-free". It almost seems too extreme to me. <No, you should not have to do this.> I WILL note, however, that when my Vortex is hooked up, all of my fish seem so much more "alive" and "frisky", even though the damned thing is tossing them about like they were in a tidal wave! They seem to LOVE to swim against the current. BTW - the Vortex adds ANOTHER 250GPH circulation to my tank, bringing the grand total to 51.25X/hour!!! <Fun for a while.> I didn't note it but I do NOT have ANY active filtration in my tank. I have been told that while canister filters are great at removing detritus, they are also nitrate factories and I have been advised to stay away from them and just rely on circulation and lots of LR rubble in the back chambers (I have several pounds back there). I also do not use a filter sock (no place to put it) nor any sponge media (gets too smelly too fast). <This is the problem. You have plenty of circulation to keep the detritus suspended to a point, but nothing to catch and export it. A canister filter can work fine, the danger comes from the out of sight out of mind maintenance approach that often accompanies them. Canisters just need to be cleaned frequently, as does any other mechanical filtration. A skimmer will work wonders in your situation, although simply using the sponge media and washing it every few days is the simple answer to your issue.> Am I going about filtration the wrong way here? Do I need to upgrade to (2) Koralia 1's instead in order to really increase flow? Maybe a 3rd Nano would help here? <No, you have plenty of flow.> I'm looking for any suggestions as to how I can get rid of my "mulm" problem! <Needs to be taken out of the system somehow.> Thanks John <Welcome, happy reefing, Scott V.>

Re: Marine "Mulm" Woes!!! 2/21/08 Hi Scott, <Hello again John.> Thanks for the (as ALWAYS!) detailed and prompt reply. <I am glad to help.> I do want to let you know right away that I have a Sapphire Aquatics AP24 skimmer in the R/H side rear chamber. It runs 24/7. The cup gets pretty gross every day. I run a somewhat wet skimmate. <Great!> I see now that flow is not my problem - it is detritus export, of which I have ZERO! <Yes.> OK, I think I'm going to go with an external canister filter and just be super-anal-retentive about cleaning it. <Sounds good.> I really cannot live with this gross grayish-brown crud all over my LR. I need to get it out! <I know the feeling.> So, how often is a good cleaning regimen for such a filter? <At least once a week'¦in the past I have been OCD, cleaning daily.> Also, I am sort of leaning toward Eheim - can you recommend a good model for an AquaPod 24? <I am a fan of just about all of this company's products, a small filter in any of their product lines will do a fine job.> Regards, John <Happy reefing, Scott V.>

Re: phosphates and Kalkwasser for an AquaPod 24, small SW maint. f'   2/6/08 Hello! <John> I have an AquaPod 24 with the fully enclosed hood (wished I'd never gotten it, but it was a gift from the wifey). In any case, as you probably know it's virtually impossible to put anything onto this tank without drilling holes in the back of the hood and/or resorting to micro OR major "hood surgery". As a result, I only have a ton of LR rubble in the back chambers where the pump is (upgraded from stock to a MaxiJet 1200), no bio-balls, no blue sponge media etc. -just the LR. Oh, I forgot to mention that I DID purchase and install a Sapphire Aquatics AP24 skimmer that does fit neatly all the way inside the R/H back chamber (but as you may know this skimmer is no longer supported). <Yes> So, that's all I have. No refugium, no Kalkwasser reactor, no phosphate reactor. <I'd modify the top, drill the back... put a sump somewhere that is tied in...> What I am strongly considering is figuring out a way to add either of these to my tank. I have heard over and over again "Oh man, you GOTTA get a fuge" or "I wouldn't THINK about running a reef tank without a phosphate reactor!" so I am going to resort to surgery and cut holes in the back for the tubing. <Good> Which finally brings me to my questions! :-) 1. What brand/model of phosphate reactor and Kalkwasser reactor would you recommend for an AquaPod 24? I have NO IDEA where to start. There are many on the market and I need a starting point. <Am not a fan of either technology for such a small volume> 2. If I do NOT get a phosphate reactor I have been "told" that I can put ROWAphos in the water stream. Problem is, the water cascades over the top on the R/H side, through the plastic weir and into the back chamber. Could I just put a bunch of ROWAphos in a small media bag and jam it back there? <I would not> Thanks for your help! Regards, John Toro <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Set Up 1 Index re Small Marine Systems Set Up 2 Index re Refugiums, Sump Design Maint. Index re PO4, Chemical means of reducing Bob Fenner>

Re: phosphates and Kalkwasser for an AquaPod 24 -- 02/07/08 Thanks for the advise. <advice> Please note that when I said 'wished I'd never gotten it" I didn't mean that I wished I hadn't gotten a marine aquarium. I LOVE it!!! <Yay!> What I meant was that I wished I hadn't gotten the enclosed hood model due to all the inherent limitations with adding things which require you to resort to drilling, cutting etc. Regards, John <This is what I'd understood you to mean... and I do understand the limitations of the top, difficulty in modification of these units... and/but the virtues in such. Cheers, BobF>

40 Gallon Question, maint.   2-05-08 Hi there, <Hey, Maddox here today> I have had my 40 gallon marine tank setup since September 2007 and it currently houses a small selection of fish (2 small Clowns, a Cleaner Wrasse, a Purple Fire Fish and an Algae Blenny) and a clean up crew which includes 2 peppermint shrimps, 2 skunk cleaner shrimps, three hermit crabs and three turbo snails. <Cleaner wrasses aren't species we here at WWM recommend keeping in captivity, as most are doomed to a slow starvation - please see the FAQs regarding this species> To maintain water quality I currently use an external filter (which contains normal filter pads and Rowaphos), a Deltec MCE600 skimmer (which contains a bag of carbon granules in the media chamber) and I also have about 10kg of live rock. For water circulation I also have three nano power heads running off a wave maker. My question is that although I am relatively satisfied with the water conditions in the tank, my Blenny and Wrasse are often seen to be rubbing off the bottom of the sand bed and the rocks. I have done some water tests and have noted that the ammonia levels are at 0.1mg/l and the specific gravity was slightly higher than normal at 1.026 (my water typically measures between 1.023 and 1.025). <Ammonia is a very bad thing. You're going to want this to be at zero at all times! Neutralize the ammonia with Kordon's Amquel+ or Seachem Prime, perform a large water change, and remedy your filtration/husbandry. See FAQs re. I wouldn't worry about your salinity> The other water tests conducted on my tank last night appeared to be fine (nitrates/nitrites/PH etc.). I understand that the Blenny and Wrasse maybe suffering from something called 'Saltwater itch'? <"Ich", aka Cryptocaryon. Do you see any white spots? Much information about this malady can be found here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm and here http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-08/sp/index.php. However, you may see this behavior cease when you take care of the ammonia> If this is the case what would be the best solution? Would a UV steriliser to help remedy the problem or will I need to do a large water change. <See above. A sterilizer couldn't hurt, and water changes are always good, but neither is a cure> On a more general note I have wondered if my tank set-up sounded ok or do I have too much equipment for a tank of my size? <Sounds like not enough or there is a lack of husbandry, given the presence of ammonia - a perusal of WWM will give you all the info you need regarding your current situation> Many thanks for any help or advice you can give me. <Anytime> Dave, London, UK <M. Maddox>

Water Issues 1/30/08 Dear Crew, <Chris.> First and foremost you have an amazing site that is very helpful and easy to navigate and understand. Your passion for the hobby is unparalleled. I have recently set up a 20 gallon long tank with a 15 gallon sump that houses my skimmer and filter material. <Some sort of biomedia included I assume.> A 30 inch Power Compact with a 65 watt 50/50 bulb sits on top of the display tank. I think my tank has finally finished cycling with live rock and two damsels after about 4 weeks of waiting. The ammonia and nitrites have dropped to zero, the nitrates are around 15, specific gravity of 1.023, and a temperature of about 78. <I would raise the salinity to 1.025-1.026. How about PH and alkalinity? These are very important to know.> I have just started livestocking and have encountered a serious problem. Everything I put in there dies! <Not good.> The damsels seem to be in great condition and have been since I purchased them weeks ago. I recently added a coral banded shrimp, a flame scallop, <These are difficult to keep alive, near impossible in a system this size due to starvation.> and small colony of green star polyps. The shrimp and scallop were acclimated with a slow drip for about an hour and then placed in the tank. They seemed to be doing fine but before I went to bed I realized that shrimp was not moving and would probably not make it through the night but the clam <scallop> still seemed ok with its shell open wide exposing its red center. This morning both the clam and the shrimp were dead. As for the green star polyps they have not come out yet and I know this is not out of the ordinary as they can take days to come out. <Yes, at times.> I live in a small college town and am worried the tap water has some hard metals I am unaware of. I used an ammonia detox at the initial setup to remove chlorine and chloramine. <Many of these products are not effective.> What I should have done was us my colleges deionized water unit. I just emailed a chem professor to ask if I could use their water. <Good.> Do you think the poor tap water could be my issue? <It could be, there is something amiss in this system to kill these creatures so rapidly. Ideally your nitrate should be lower. Also keep in mind these invertebrates are very sensitive to rapid water chemistry changes, making them that much more difficult to keep in a small system.> If so should I start doing water changes to take out the bad water and add the good water? <Yes, water change never hurt, when done properly. Make sure your salinity and temperature match.> If so how much and at what rate? <A few gallons a day until your nitrate comes down.> Could there be an issue here that I am not seeing/taking into consideration? <Those stated above as well as your system is still fairly new for these additions.> Any insight or information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again. Chris <Chris, do read up on the issues stated above as well as to research any future additions and stocking levels. A few links are included to get you started. Good luck, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bivalvia.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm

Fish compatibility, sandbed cleaning... small SW 1/6/2008 Hi there. <<Andrew here, good day and welcome>> I have a 29 gallon tank with 30 lbs live rock, 40 lbs live sand, sump (rated for up to 75 gallon), 500 GPH pump back to tank, getting the AquaC EV-120 skimmer soon, 130 watt 50/50 bulbs. So far I have 1 green Chromis, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 maroon clown, 1 Condy anemone. <<maybe consider a lighting upgrade for the anemone as it would be better to have T5 or Metal Halide lighting>> I made the usual beginner mistake of listening to the local fish store guy..thats why I have the occupants I have now. What should I keep / give back? <<Depending on the size of the Maroon clown, your on the borderline of tank size really, and these can be aggressive. These are the more aggressive type of clown fish, and don't really make good inhabitants for a tank of this size, so, I would take the maroon back, and get either a true or false percula clown fish. These are very passive for the most part and would be suited fine for your tank.>> I want a clown, but I understand my tank is a bit small for this guy. Love my shrimp. Condy seems okay (only had about 3 weeks), although he did change from bright white to a slight tan-brown color. Also, I have hundreds, if not thousands of all different bugs on sand and side of tank. <<This is one of the many wonders of marine aquaria, the life that we have in there>> What do you recommend to keep sand well sifted and bugs down. <<Cerith snails are a good choice for cleaning the sandbed, as they are scavengers and will come out of the sand at feeding time, clean detritus of the bed too>> I know they are a good sign...but I'd like someone to keep population under control. FYI- I have NO interest in a mandarin, as I know they are very difficult to keep and require much more than I can offer. <<The fish will pick and choose at the pod population, and will control it a little>> Right now I feed system Phyto Plex, Purple up, flakes, and frozen Mysis...anemone loves these! Really appreciate the knowledgeable advice. <<I would stop dosing the purple up, with good lighting and water parameters, your coralline will grow itself>> <<Thank you for your questions, Regards A Nixon>>

My sand bed, maint.  -01/05/08 Hello! First, your site is quite informative, I love it. I have finally got my hands on Anthony's, Coral Propagation book and love it! Please let him know. I'm not a farmer just yet, but his book is great for all levels of aquariology. That being said, I have a 5.5 gallon mixed reef. I have various Zoanthids, Leathers as well as Blastomussa and Micromussa. My tank has app. 12 lbs of mixed live rock- I like all-. I have a 1 inch mixed sand bed of Florida crushed coral aragonite and fine white sand. My filtration, along with the live rock consist of an Aquaclear mini, with sponge then filter floss and carbon, a remora nano skimmer and a micro-jet powerhead for a little more movement. My livestock, other then the mixed coral consist of 3 Blue-legged Hermits, 3 Astrea snails, 1 Cerith, an Emerald crab for bubble algae removal, and a Bluefin Damsel ( he has another home once he's no longer juvenile). The tank has been up and flourishing for 10 months, with coralline and Chaeto flourishing. Everything is covered in purple. My levels are- Cal:500, alk:9, phos:0, nitrate:0, nitrite:0, ph:8.4, and salinity:1.26. I do every 3 days a 5 percent water change. My question after all this, will my 1 inch mixed sand bed give me problems further down the road? I have an alarming amount of life throughout it. Various worms, sandsifters, pods, snails. <The sand bed should be fine so long as the benthic populations stay healthy. However, being so shallow, it won't likely function as much of a nutrient filter/nitrate reducer.> I do not siphon my sand bed, but when I perform water changes I blast it. I take a turkey baster and blast the sand with it. In a way I think of it as a storm in the ocean stirring everything up. <...not a bad idea.> I have noticed on occasion that some of the sand bed seems to be fused together, not like a clump but as a loose clump. <Very small, loose clumps probably won't hurt anything.> Thank you for your time. Also on a side note I had a chance to get my hands on the elusive Blane's Purple People Eater Zoanthid and it since has budded. <cool... congrats.> Thank you again, and happy reefing, Joe <Best, Sara M.>

Three Concerns... Nano/Sm. SW... maint., set-up, circ.  12/20/07 Hello Crew, <Parker> Thanks for being such a reliable source. So I have a few concerns about the direction my hobby is going. After reading many hours of internet, I haven't really been able to pinpoint my problem. First, I have been trying a new route and I started a 12 gallon eclipse 12. I have to contest that keeping a small tank hasn't been very difficult or time consuming. <Can be done> To be able to be helped correctly, I had the standard bio-wheel and a small powerhead. Around 15lbs of LR, a small bioload, and about 3? of substrate. Also all good readings on my chemicals. Tank was in good shape. <Need real... hard data... actual species, test results... or in turn this becomes more of a guessing game> In the past, I had a 29g tank but I have never tried to add a fuge to the tank. I just put a 2.5g aquaquatics aquafuge2 hang on the back on my 12g. To be able to sufficiently place the fuge, I had to remove my bio-wheel filter from the system. In addition to adding the fuge, I added a HYDOR Koralia that pushes around 400gph thus removing the old power head. <... I do hope/trust the Koralia is not "turned up" all the way here> I do not have any LS. I was wondering if by removing the filter from the system can I have any additional problems keeping water quality excellent? <Can you? Sure> I really don't want to add a skimmer. I am hoping that the water flow will be enough with the LR and fuge to keep water in good condition. My concern about this is that my fuge has only been running for a couple days. <Takes time...> Secondly, by adding the Hydor and having the additional gph from the fuge pump, will I have too much water circulation in the display tank? <Could...> That would be roughly 400gph from the powerhead and 360gph going to the fuge. If not, should I place the overflow from the fuge and the powerhead on opposite ends of the tank? <I would not have this much actual water movement in a twelve gallon volume system> In essence, should I create a circular flow of water or should I place them against each other creating a more irregular flow? <Whatever prevents all from turning into a swirling vortex...> Finally, I recently added a watchman goby and I had only crushed coral as a substrate. To be able to help keep the goby happy and healthy, I added a small layer of sugar fine sand on top of the crushed coral. After a couple weeks, most of the sugar fine sand is still on top but another quarter has seeped into the coral. I have good growth within the substrate and can see small worms and other small creatures moving through the substrate. I was wondering if by adding the two different types of grades together, will I eventually cause major imbalances in the water quality? <Not likely. I would leave as is> Thanks guys for you time. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Trying to contact Bob Fenner... UW photo book, and Cyano in a small new SW tank   11/24/07 Bob, <Gino> Hi.. thanks for the fast response to my last email. Also thanks for the advice and hopefully soon I will be able to start working on my Reef Photography Book and will be moved to Melbourne, Australia. I will be definitely emailing you when I get going on this project. Please let me know when you get a direct email again.. <I still have my private hotmail account: fennerrobert@> Anyway, I need your advice on another problem Im having. Well it finally happened...I've been plagued with Cyano in one of my newer tanks. The tank is a 20 x 20 x 12 cube tank holding 21 gallons. <Smaller volumes are harder to maintain... keep stable...> Tank has a false back wall with 3 chambers behind it. Middle one has been set up to be a refugium. Currently the refugium has live rock rubble and live sand in it. I will also be adding Chaeto. <Should all help> The return pump is a 290 gph...plus inside the main tank ive added a maxi jet 900 power head. I have 1 bag of Boyd Chemi-Pure and 1 bag of Sea chem Purigen in the back chamber. I don't have a skimmer on it yet.. but will be adding one. <Also> 25 pounds of Live rock... and 30 pounds of CaribSea Aragonite Reef Sand <... and not much space/volume of water!> My Water is 12 Stage filtrated RO water that has no phosphates, no heavy metals, and is ran through a UV, prior to salt mixing.. <What's the UV for?> Lighting is Current Satellite Dual 65 watt Power Compacts. One 10,000k and one Actinic 03. Brand new bulbs. PH 8.3, Nitrates 0, Nitrites 0, Phosphates 0, Ammonia 0.25, Calcium 540, DKH 6 (I know... too low...One week ago it was 8 and I'm not sure how it dropped so much). I'm adding Kent Marine DKH to raise this and keep the Ph stable at 8.3. Stocking is: 1 Banggai cardinal 1 orchid Dottyback 2 button polyp colonies 1 green striped mushroom plus a CUC of emerald crabs, Astrea snails, red leg hermits, zebra hermits and a turbo snail. <Keep your eye on the Mithraculus> The Cyano problem started 2 weeks ago...First it was red slime and was only on certain parts of the sand. So I siphoned it out and it came back 2 days later and I siphoned again...and it came backless...So I siphoned again and it seemed to go away....along with this also came green hair algae.. but my emerald crabs are taking care of that. So then 2 days ago the slime came back... but it was brownish. more orange in color...it started to spread FAST and along with this, came this stringy red filamentous threads that appeared on all the rock, snail shells and the walls. Well needless to say this outbreak took over my tank faster then anything I've ever seen. Today I came home and almost all of the sand was covered with Orange slime!! So I siphoned all of it out...along with a 4 gallon water change. Because so much sand had been siphoned out through this whole ordeal. I added a few cups of freshly rinsed CaribSea sand to replace it. I added Kent marine DKH to help raise the alkalinity and keep the Ph at a stable 8.3.. <Good> After this massive cleanup, not more then 15 min.s... It seem like it started to form again in tiny spots on the sand!! I've never seen anything like this!!! For now I moved the polyps and mushroom into my other Reef tank until I get this under control. During this outbreak I've been sparsely feeding with frozen food. The Banggai and the Dottyback quickly ate all of the food. I know this frozen food is DOC...But its all the Dottyback will eat, well except live brine shrimp. He's kinda picky about his food. Along with my 25 pounds of live rock...I also had a very cool looking piece of Tufa rock <I would pull this... may be a source of soluble phosphate... take it out and place it in some heated water... and test for HPO4> that I put in there...I noticed at the beginning of this Outbreak, the tufa rock was the only piece of rock that the Cyano was forming on. The rest was on the sand only. <Bingo> This may sound like a stupid question...but could this piece of tufa rock be the cause of this outbreak or somehow be fueling it? <Ah, yes> All the Live Rock was established and came from a healthy tank. I have Removed this one piece of tufa rock out of the tank... <Oh, good> I cant figure what else is causing this...its very frustrating!! I've read everything on WetWebMedia several times and I'm trying to get a handle on this. Im hoping the addition of the Chaeto in the refugium will help starve it out. Also Im hoping that continued siphoning will cause chemical self-destruction, as you put it. Im just worried about too many water changes in such a short time period. As always any input would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks so Much!!!! Gino Carlini <Thank you for sharing. I do think the Tufa may be a prime culprit here, and that this little system is otherwise just settling in... I would go forward with the Chaetomorpha, skimmer... Bob Fenner>

Small Marine Aquariums
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