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FAQs about Small Marine System Disease

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Careful observations is critically important in keeping small systems. Seriatopora caliendrum Ehrenberg 1834. Bird's Nest Coral.

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

Help with Anemone and Algae. Moved sm. sys., cascade event      7/1/16
<Eight megs... is there a full moon? Why are folks sending such huge files?>
Hi there. I need help...About 1.5 months ago I moved to from San Francisco to Monterey for a job, and moved my 24 gallon reef tank for the second time in 2 years. My tank has been established since Oct. 2013, and has been thriving up until this move.
During move I followed the same protocols I used when moving two years ago (which was successful), which were the following: Placed biggest piece of live rock in bucket with airstone and heater along with all non-coral animals. Placed all other live rock and corals in a Styrofoam cooler in water. Emptied tank nearly all of the way, leaving 1/4" of water above the live-sand. I was able to plug heater and airstone into electricity with adapter in my truck. Drive 2 hrs, set up tank, all seemed fine until 2 weeks later...
Fast forward two weeks and I started to get brown slimy/hairy algae on sand, rocks, back walls etc.
<I see this... likely a release of nutrient/s... loss of RedOx/ORP... alkaline reserve in your substrate
I would siphon out as much as I could during water changes, revealing nice white sand under the brown scum, but it
comes back after a few days. At the time of my move I also switched to Reef Crystals from Instant Ocean for salt mix, and also purchased an under-sink RO system. Where it got weird is when my normally super-happy bubble tip anemone spawned, probably 1 month into the move. A big blob of eggs were released from her (I guess it is a she) mouth. I netted as many of them as I could. Ever since that spawn-night, the anemone has been small, deflated and wandering. It slides from one spot to another night after night, and never inflates to its previous 8-10" size. I realize that I might have
stirred up gunk in my 2-3 year old live sand during move,
but wouldn't I see a noticeable uptick in nitrates? The tap water here smells very chlorine-y also, but shouldn't my RO system be filtering bad stuff out?
<It should... and you likely have a carbon contactor pre-filter. You could test for free chlorine...>
My underlying question is; what could be simultaneously causing this algae outbreak and also stressing the anemone?
<The gunk stirred up in your old substrate; subsequent allelopathy with your other Cnidarians...>
Are there additional tests I can run to find out?
<Sure; HPO4, NO3, K....>

Here are some details about my tank: As mentioned 24 gallons, all-in-one setup with Tunze 9002 protein skimmer, heater, power head, and bag of MarineLand activated carbon dropped in back chamber every couple months.
Livestock: percula clown, royal gramma, Longnose Hawkfish, Banggai cardinal. A couple hermits, a couple turban snails, 1 fighting conch, 1 tuxedo urchin, 1 skunk cleaner shrimp. Soft corals (Christmas tree, various mushrooms, Zoas, leather), a few LPS (plate coral, hammer, torch, war coral).
Levels: Nitrates, ammonia, nitrites all "0"
<Really? NO NO3? I'd check with another kit
, pH 8.1, temp 78. I can measure for calcium and dKH but generally don't. I used to dose iron but don't anymore.
<I would, and iodide-ate... I might skip ahead and dump the entire existing substrate and replace first>
I have attached pictures of the algae (I think it is either dinoflagellates or cyanobacteria),
<Likely... need a 'scope look and see>
and am desperate for a concrete way to put a stop to it.
I have also attached a picture of the anemone spawn, and anem pics before and after move. Let me know if you need additional info to assess the problem.
Thanks in advance for your attention on this.
<Try searching, reading on WWM re these algae groups control. Bob Fenner>


Re: Help with Anemone and Algae      7/1/16
Apologies. I thought the pics were small enough, thanks for responding anyway. I will replace my sandbed...are you able to make a recommendation on live sand?
the linked files at top>

And yes, I have tested "0" Nitrate for the past year and a half...I just figured my bioload was low enough or that I had a super effective bio filter. I will get a new kit.
Thanks again.

What is the cause; sm. vol. allelopathy      8/27/13
Hi Crew,24 gallon AquaPod over 5 years old, pretty stable with LPS, 3 cardinals, Firefish and clown goby. Last new coral was open brain about 4 weeks ago. This morning it looked like a tank being cycled. Very cloudy and it has been getting worse as the day goes on. Temp has been about 82  daytimes for the past few weeks. But the last few days it was down to 80.
Don't see any big change in corals or fish. Corals not getting good light so slightly less full. A couple fish hiding more than usual. A bloom just like that? Sam
<... Allelopathy... look up on WWM... my number one guess. I'd be changing a good deal of the water, moving the most recent coral out... This system is too small to just drop in Cnidarians w/o longer acclimation/introduction. Bob Fenner>
Re: re: What is the cause; sm. vol. allelopathy    8/28/13

Thank you Bob, I changed about 3 gallons
<I'd change half; daily>
 over a short period and the water was still pretty cloudy. Also put in a micron filter pad but that did not seem to help even after 12 hours. I prepared some more water and had to leave. When I came back 6 hours later the tank was clear.

Allelopathy is something I thought of as being there but not seen. You know it is there when some corals start declining. Any possibility something spawned.

 I have 6 Astrea snails. I have them a few years and never saw any spawning.
Dozens of small limpets the size of a split pea. I know they are multiplying but they are so small I can't imagine them spawning enough to cloud the tank. My corals are 8 Acan colonies, a large candycane,two Trachyphyllia, a large Blastomussa with 12 heads larger than quarters, a Platygyra, a 4 inch Lobophyllia, a fox coral and a Cyphastrea. Most have been in the tank over 2 years and some over 5 years. The Trachyphyllia (4 inches) and fox coral (3 inches) were the only recent additions. Thanks again, Sam 
<Ah, welcome. Maybe the snails or some other organism spawning as you state, speculate; not the Scleractinians. Bob Fenner> 

Advice Please, sm. SW, FOWLR set up, cycling mostly, stkg. issues...   4/2/13
Hello WWM! I am new to your site and have thoroughly enjoyed reading as much information as possible. I have found many things by reading previous emails and the answers you have provided to them but still wanted to write a personal email to answer my questions specific to me. I am also new to the saltwater aquarium world and getting really obsessed with it quickly, lol. My problems actually started out with my LFS when i purchased my tank as they did not provide me with adequate information, and now I know I should have done my research and reading before actually purchasing and going through what I have been through.
<Mmm, I strongly encourage your careful (and enjoyable!) reading through one or more "marine aquarium handbook" volumes... yes, books! Only way/method I know of to "get" complete coverage of major aspects...>
 ( slowly learning but very eager to learn from my mistakes, hence requesting as much helpful information from you) So here is what i have:
30gal tank FOWLR, heater, 1 Aqueon 30 filter, 1 Aqueon 20 Filter, 1 800gph powerhead, about 25-30lbs live sand, and about 25lbs of LR. I used Instant Ocean salt when setting up my tank and have been using it for the water changes, I also have well water.
<Do you imbibe/use this water 'straight" for potable purposes? I would likely (very) look into an RO system here for you and your aquarium>
 Temp steady at 76 degrees, water tested weekly and all shows just right, top off with fresh water daily, and check the salinity daily as well which stays around 1.023-1.024. Tank has now been up for a little over a month now. The LFS said after setting up my tank for 48 hours with the live sand and cured LR I could add fish
<I wouldn't do this...>

 ( they failed to mention that I needed to let the tank cycle for at least 4-6 weeks before adding fish). So 48 hours later I went back and purchased 1 Yellow Tang ( yes now I know it was too big for my size tank) 1 Black Saddleback Clownfish, 1 Green Striped Mandarin ( also know that the tank was not mature enough for this fish yet), 1 Chocolate Chip Starfish,
<Not easily kept>
2 blue leg hermit crabs, 2 Astraea Snails, and 1 Zebra Turbo Snail. 3 weeks later my Clownfish was at the top of the water breathing heavily and almost gulping for air at the top, then soon after, he died. I immediately removed him from the tank. Everyone else seemed to be doing fine. Three hours later my YT started doing the same thing and also starting turning red and splotchy on his sides and fins and around his face ( I am thinking that if this was Ich, maybe the red is from him contracting a secondary bacterial infection from it??),
<Both these losses are easily attributed to simply the tank/water "being new"; in essence "burning" them, their gills, hemolyzing their RBCs>
shortly after that he was gone too, the next day my mandarin was gone too ( never saw him at the top gasping for air). I was so upset that I lost all of the fish, especially my tang as he was the most entertaining fish in my tank. I took a water sample in to my LFS and my water levels were perfect.
<... know that the store can only test "for some things"... Not test for what may be at fault>
I waited about a week and bought two Chromis to put in the tank and see how they did, they lasted about 4 days. I am pretty sure I noticed on the fish the "white spots" on the fins and tail of the Chromis and by the time I was going to the LFS the next morning to get the medicine for them they were dead. I am guessing that this was Ich?
<Again, not likely>
Could that be what killed all of my other fish and me being a newbie just did not notice the signs of this? If so what can i do now?
<Punt, as the saying goes. Do nothing... as in just wait that 4-6 weeks>
 The only thing that is still surviving in my tank now is my Chocolate Chip Starfish, 2 Astraea Snails, 1 Zebra Turbo Snail, and 2 Blue leg hermit crabs. I am guessing my best bet would be to go "fallow" for a month,
<Ah yes>
and continue to do my 25% water changes every two weeks as I have been doing, but then again I am not sure, that is why i am here asking for all of the advice I can get because I do not want to harm anymore fish, and honestly do not want to lose any more money than I have already lost :(. So sorry for this being so long I tried to include every single detail that I possibly could. I am also saving up to get a protein skimmer as I am sure this will help out my tank as well. Thank you in advance for all of the information you can provide for me! - Jenn -
<Take your time... this is indeed not a race... enjoy the reading... see your local library, read the reviews of current works... on the Net, perhaps Amazon.com... Your system will settle in, and you'll be able to add species, specimens that can do well. Bob Fenner>

Question, whacky Anglish... Coral allelopathogenic effects on fishes     9/11/12
Hello There!
(27 gal)  Just a weird question my PJ card. and blue-green Chromis Freaked out when I added a new coral? They were just some polyps that were on a small piece of rock. I think they are dying now
<? who is dying?>
 but My other fish which is a Kaudern's Cardinal is breathing fine not freaking out. I tested the water PH 8.4 Am 0 KH 11 Salinity 1.023. My tank overall is looking normal corals are all perfect. I Checked the water to see if there was a serge in electricity but it was fine. What could cause this type of reaction when they were fine before adding this coral in ?
Thanks Maria
>... in a word allelopathy. See WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Help with a Cryptocaryon judgment call, 6/21/11
Hello WWM Crew:
First let me say Thank You for your wonderful site. I have spent hours perusing it, and have learned many things that I didn't intend to. Knowing that I have barely gotten my feet wet in this hobby, I anticipate a very long relationship with this site.
I have a 2-month-old 12 gallon Nano tank with a 3 gallon reverse photo period refugium that is my primary filtration (roughly 16 lbs live rock in the whole system, red Gracilaria in the fuge) I also use chemical filtration in the form of Chemipure beads. I change 1 to 1.5 gallons a week (depending on how much siphoning I do). Since the completion of the set-up cycle, all parameters have been stable. I got Zoanthids and a small polyp of some kind (short green stars with no remarkable mouth) as live rock hitchhikers, and have since added 2 Ricordeas, another zo, snails, 2 blue-leg hermits, and 3 Pederson's anemone shrimp. 10 days ago I added a pair of yellow-headed jawfish (the whole tank has been designed with them in mind). All have been doing well.
Here is the kicker: 3 days ago I added a firefish from the LFS. I have been observing his tank there for a month, and he was supposedly on a separate water system from the other tanks. By now I am sure you can tell where this is going. Despite looking perfectly healthy, the same day I put him into my tank he became sprinkled with pin-prick discreet white dots, head to tail, fin to fin. Despite a lack of other symptoms (no rubbing, great appetite), I have been assuming it was Cryptocaryon irritans (sorry for the lack of italics...portable keyboard). Knowing that my tank had already been exposed, seeing how healthy he otherwise looked, and not having any meds on hand, I decided to wait a day whilst devising a plan. The spots were completely gone the next morning, developed during the day, and then were gone the next morning. This is the third morning, he is spotless, and has remained "clear" all day. The jawfish have remained "spotless". So, was this a mild case of Ich that has now been suppressed?
Or something else?
<Likely to return, just going through it's lifecycle.>
My conundrum is whether to dig everyone out (for the jawfish this will require complete tank disassembly as the burrow is under my rock), treat the fish in QT and allow my tank to go fishless for 6 weeks or leave well enough alone. My instinct is to do the latter...I hate to stress out symptomless fish.
<I would watch closely for now, be ready to remove fish and treat in a hospital tank if the symptoms return as I think they may.>
My concern is whether the Crypt is causing organ damage to my fish, and risk to any new fish (my tank is pretty much at its limit, but I may add a tailspot blenny after it matures for several more months).
<You are definitely full now, perhaps overstocked, I would not add more fish to such a small tank.>
I know that in the end the judgment call is my own, but I am hoping to benefit from someone with more experience with this disease.
Thank You!

Possible Spawning Event? Bubbles in reef tank 5/25/11
Dear WWM,
First of all, how are you? I hope everyone is doing well.
I have a quick question for your expertise if you will; Today I noticed a strange texture to the water in my reef tank - about an hour after lights on, it looked as if the tank was full of tiny air bubbles. I thought at first maybe a snail or other crustacean had gotten into the outflow but that wasn't the case. I took a cup of water out and let it sit, but the bubbles did not dissipate. In fact, they seem to hang suspended as if the water is "thick".
All the wildlife in the tank seems to be doing fine; it may be worth noting that a peppermint shrimp shed his exoskeleton last night, I removed the exoskeleton after noticing the change in the water.
<I'd leave it in, or put it back if you still have it. Gets eaten, reincorporated in the new>
I located the shrimp and he is alive and well.
20Gal High tank with 25 lbs of Live Rock and a shallow sand bed, established for only about 3 months so far.
36 Watts T5 Lighting, 10 hour photoperiod
Water tests:
Spg 1.023,
<Mmm, I'd raise... see WWM re>
Alk above 3.4, pH 7.8, Cal 460, Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0, Nitrate
between 10-20.
Livestock: 1.5'' Cherub Angelfish, 1'' Neon Goby, 2'' Yellow Watchman, 1''
Blue-green Chromis
A dozen or so assorted blue legged hermits, a dozen or so Turbo snails
1 Small peppermint shrimp
1 Small pulsing xenia colony (about 4inches in diameter)
1 Small Duncan Frag with about five heads
All the fish are swimming around, not laboring for breath. All the corals are opened and do not seem to be acting differently. Crustaceans in the tank are acting normally as well.
My question is - Am I witnessing some kind of "spore cloud" or other reef spawning event?
<Mmm, possibly>
I was worried that I might have some calcium precipitation but that does not seem to be the case. Is this something I should be concerned about; or should I just let the filter do it's job and wait it out?
<I'd do the latter... but have a good deal of water for change-out on hand... just in case>
I have not fed the tank today nor added chemicals, even though this is one of
the typical days for doing so (chemicals).
<Add dissolved in new water during changes>
I appreciate your advice in advance
Thank you WWM Crew
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Re: Possible Spawning Event? Bubbles in reef tank... sm. vol.... dis? Maint.? 5/31/11

Hello Again Crew, and thank you for your previous help. I have another question that I could not find the answer to in your FAQ, only anecdotal stuff from Google which seemed varied...
<The vast bulk of the Net I'd wager...>
Parameters are widely unchanged since last email, except for Sp. Gr. which I have been raising slowly as per RMF's advice
20Gal High tank with 25 lbs of Live Rock and a shallow sand bed, established for only about 3 months so far.
36 Watts T5 Lighting, 10 hour photoperiod
SpGr 1.024, pH 8.1, Alk above 3.2, Cal 480, Mag approx 1200, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10, Ammonia 0
Livestock: 1.5'' Cherub Angelfish, 1'' Neon Goby, 2'' Yellow Watchman, 1'' Blue-green Chromis
A dozen or so assorted blue legged hermits, a dozen or so Turbo snails
1 Small peppermint shrimp
1 Small pulsing xenia colony (about 4inches in diameter)
1 Small Duncan Frag with about five heads
2 Large Feather Duster Worms (forgot to mention these last time)
<Ahh! The possible spawners here>
Anyway, today after doing my water change (10%) I noticed that my Xenia colony seemed to be putting out some stringy transparent mucus that was visible because particulate matter in the water would occasionally get trapped in it. Now I know I have a few Polychaetes in the live rock that I've seen eat with this same exact mucus, but never have I seen it in such copious amounts. I am assuming it is coming from the Xeniids simply because that's where it seems the most concentrated, but it could just be getting "trapped" there more than other places. The Xenia itself seems relatively unchanged, it's still pulsing, color is the same, and it has not receded. In response, I tried to manually remove the mucus from the water using a wide base siphon, and replaced another 10% of water after doing so. I mixed up some extra water just in case. I also decided to move the Xenias into a higher flow area to help with the removal of the mucus, and this seems to be helping.
I should note that today along with the water change I dosed Calcium (5ml), Magnesium (1 teaspoon), Carbonate (5ml), and Iodine(2ml); in the same amounts I have done since establishing the tank. I dose my chemicals by removing 3 cups of tank water, dissolving the respective chemicals separate in each cup and then adding to the tank.
<Mmm, better by far to dilute and leave pre-mixed in new/change-out water.
The stress caused by such can trigger reproduction et al. in extremis>
Only event worth notice that has happened since my last email is one of the feather dusters shed his crown after the new peppermint had a snack of it; it is growing a new one without issue and the shrimp has left the dusters alone (I suppose he's getting plenty to eat now).
Sorry for the long winded question but I just want to know if I am taking the proper steps to insure the health of not only my Xenias, but the entire tank.
I love my Xeniid colony but I know that they can be fickle - I have read plenty of anecdotes where people would have them established for over a year and then they "crashed."
I am concerned that if this is the case, I may lose my entire livestock in such a small volume. Any advice you'd have on the matter is greatly appreciated. I bow to your superior knowledge yet again.
Thank you
<If there is some sort of Pulsing Coral melt-down event, hopefully you will see it in progress, in time, to change out water, move your other livestock...

Please help Clownfish trouble! 5/28/11
I am really stressed out guys. I have little time to explain and am deathly sorry about this I normally am REALLY specific with my intro specs. I have finals all week, drama crap in classes, and a clownfish who looks like a zombie from 28 weeks later!!! 29 gallon Biocube restocked from an overstocked tank with too many fish, lost my test kit so sorry!, 1.22 salinity,
<Mmm, would raise/keep near 1.025/6>
80 degree temp, stock lights, a pistol shrimp and goby, ocellaris clownfish baby less than 2 n long, a cleaner shrimp, and a cleanup crew.
After I removed my old temporary stock of a baby eel, and maroon clown
<These can't fit here>
(with others), I added the clown and cleaner. The tank got murked up when I removed the eel but I thought it would be clear by the time I got home so I bought a clown and shrimp. I didn't look at the clown really close in the bag or at the store but a hour after acclimation to my tank, his tail fin (back section) was weird. He swims with to <too> much push on his back tail thing. even with no flow, (I turned filter off) it was swimming overly back crazy. HE swam around near the top and later, he was gulping at the air at the top of the tank. I added a powerhead and changed 7 gallons of the 29 in water.
The powerhead murked things up more but got a good flow. I turned off the lights for about four days fearing the murk was partially an algae bloom, and turned the back on today. I nearly passed out. I can see over 6 veins in the Clownish tail!!!!!!!!
<... water quality. "murk">
they are all red and sick looking. He is fine other than his back section. He eats fine and everything but weird swimming and veins! Is this a disease or my fault? How can I fix it in ways other than water changes?
<Time going by; patience>
I only have my drivers permit and no one will take me to get de chlorinzer as I have just run out! Please help people I have nowhere else to go and am very stressed. I have never had a fish die in my tank and feel awful about this guy.
<Take a chill pill, ten big breaths... Focus on your schooling and ignore the tank for now. Bob Fenner>

Lots of various questions but a bit on Pistol Shrimp and Gobies + Clownfish + Nitrates.
Sm. SW sys. self-induced problems 5/25/11

Hi, I am going to start off with a quick overview of tank and then a note about a Yellow Watchman Goby and unidentified Pistol Shrimp for sale from fish store as a hitch hiker bonding and then move on to other questions so it is easy to post this in the right section if needed.
<Thank you>
I have one large
piece of Liverock in my 3 month old cycled and previously stocked BioCube 29 gallons. It had (until Friday) 1 baby Snowflake Eel,
<Needs more room than this>
1 baby Maroon Clown,
<Ditto in time>
1 Tiger Jawfish, 1 Pink Tip Anemone,
<What species?>
1 Pulsing Xenia, and 1 medium Coral
Banded shrimp. It was over stocked and I knew I needed to remove some stuff as it was only a temporary tank for them. I got rid of all of those things listed so the tank only had a cleanup crew in it. I did this back on Friday stirring up the sand horribly turning the water very murky. I kept the filter on throughout this time. I went to the store that night and bought a Ocellaris Clownfish baby, a Cleaner Shrimp, and a 420 gph powerhead. I stirred up the tank even more that day when adding the head.
<... the head?>
Lots of nitrogen bubbles were coming out of the sandbed
<Mmm, how are you sure these were/are Nitrogen? Likely other... H2S>
but I figured it would be clear by the time I got home. I was wrong. I kept the filter running the whole time and it stayed pretty murky (my tank had quite a bit of detritus in it)
<... then why would you add livestock to it?>
I have done at least a 8 gallon change over the weekend and change the filter normally.
<What does this mean?>
On the first day of adding the Clown, I noticed a red streak through his tail. It looked like his vein and with two small veins one above and one below. He ate food okay but couldn't seem to get a good place in the tank.
He swam around the top corner and occasionally gulped in air. I then moved the powerhead and filter now he doesn't do this air thing but still hangs out in the top corner(this is Sunday and Monday today is Tuesday) to get some surface agitation hoping to add oxygen as I can't do any more water changes now because I have no more dechlorinator. On Sunday, it had cleared up quite a bit though before I put in the power head. I added a pistol shrimp and Yellow Watchman goby (1 inch long baby). They both went down in the same rock and the shrimp started burrowing out caves. I hear snaps now and fear that in such a small spot, they can harm the goby. I never see the goby poke out and occasionally see a pistol shrimp antenna. Is it possible they share a rock and are not hosting each other?
I sometimes see my goby under a old hermit shell in the front of the tank after lights go out when I turn them on, he runs off. I put a piece of krill in the burrow entrance and it disappeared. I hear snapping quite a bit now and worry he is hurting the goby over territory reasons. I want to buy more rock but can't get a ride to the store and only have my permit. I ran my lights normal this whole time until late Monday. My water turned greenish and more murky on Sunday (late) and Monday. I was wondering how my current stocking sounds and if I will be okay to add a Longnose Hawk
<Not in this volume, no>
and another Ocellaris Clown to the tank?
<This should be fine>
4 small fish? I want know how to fix my water in ways other than water changes (mention if they should be done though please)
<Yes and read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mntsmmarsysf7.htm and the linked files above>
and what you think I should ad to the tank to help it filter some Liverock, carbon bag, feather duster?
<... see Filtration links for small marine systems... in the above citation>
I don't know. Please help thank you so much for reading this. As though finals are not tough enough, I have a huge tank crisis to stress over also... Thank you very much guys and girls
<These issues are mostly of your own causing... Read for now, sans adding any more life here. Bob Fenner>

Disease Question, sm. SW sys. Too much Karloffing 5/17/11
Hello WWM crew,
First off, let me say thank you for all the good responses and posts you guys do. I use your site regularly for questions, and usually find at least half an answer to my question every time. Now on to my own question.
Essentially I think some sort of disease struck my tank, but I don't know what it was or how I should progress with it from here. I have a 28g Nano cube and it is a reef setup. It has a skimmer and a RKE managing the temp and monitoring the pH. I also treat with Kalk to maintain my Ca levels, and do small treatments with Mg, Baking Soda, and Ca solutions to adjust levels as needed.
<Mmm, okay... would like to know a bit more re your SOP here. You do this instead of using combined commercial products... for savings?>
I keep the tank at about 79F and the Ca/Mg/Alk are usually within normal levels.
<Need more quantification>
Salinity is kept around 1.025 with an occasional bump up to 1.026 with evaporation. PO4, Nitrates, and Ammonia levels are close to or at an undetectable level. And I do a water change every 2 weeks.
The tank has been up since Nov of 09.
My stock list consisted of a Yellow watchman goby, purple firefish, tail-spot blenny, and orange spotted filefish (yes I know not the greatest choice for a 28g but she was fat, happy, eating frozen food, and even had SPS to pick at)
So here is a play by play of what happened:
March 3rd I started a Tech-M treatment for Bryopsis
<Mmm, am not a fan of this Kent product (there is no way to add Mg and not "upset ionic balance"), or its application here as an algicide>
March 13th I added some Frags from a frag swap. I dipped them in CoralRX before I put them in.
<Should STILL be quarantined for a few weeks>
April 4th I noticed that my Yellow Watchman Goby wasn't eating and was breathing heavily. She had been hiding in her hole for 1-2 days. I also added a soda lime CO2 scrubber onto my tank to boost pH from 7.6-8.0 to 7.8-8.2
<Not safe to do in such a small volume>
April 9th while purchasing some additional CUC at LFS the Goby died.
Confirmed upon finding her body.
April 11th I stopped Tech M treatment
April 12th I started a very small bag (1/4 cup) of GFO
April 18th Noticed the Blenny didn't come out for food (having seen him earlier in the weekend). Found his body later that day.
May 3rd I noticed my Orange Spotted Filefish didn't eat out of the water column like usual.
May 4th The Filefish didn't eat at all
May 5th The Filefish died after wedging herself between some rocks The only correlating data I have from my tank sensors are a 1-2 degree increase in water temp 1-2 days before the fish died. Due to my AC not cooling down the apt enough (spring fluctuation in temp).
While I didn't see any symptoms on the Goby or Blenny because they hid, I was able to see all the symptoms on the Filefish.
1) Some degree of lethargy
2) Rapid breathing (but not near the surface)
3) Hanging out in low flow area
4) Loss of appetite
5) Distended abdomen
<Good observations, reporting>
At first I attributed the close deaths of the Goby and Blenny to coincidence,
<Mmm, no>
but now with the death of the Filefish I am afraid there is a communicable disease in my aquarium.
<Doubtful. These losses are easily due to all the chemical manipulation you've engaged in>
I have one fish left, a purple firefish. The firefish is still in the main display had <and?> has been since the filefish died. I have not seen any symptoms of distress on the firefish other than being a little more lethargic than usual. He still comes out to eat, but other than that is usually either laying down in his sleeping hole or hovering in his "dart" hole. My first question is if this sounds like any specific disease that you know of?
<Yes; environmental poisoning of a few kinds>
Unfortunately the symptoms are a little general, but 3 days between symptoms becoming apparent to death is worrisome. My second question is how should I treat the tank now?
I'm worried that the firefish could become a carrier for the disease, exposing any new fish I put in the tank.
<... If it were me, or you were a nearby friend whom I could chat w/ at length, I'd hypnotize you or otherwise make strong intuitive suggestions re the benefit of review of your water treatment processes. What you've been doing is untenable; subject to way too much variability... too likely to kill livestock>
So I don't know if I need to take him out, place him in a hospital tank, and then let the main display sit for a month, or if a month without problems with the firefish is sufficient. Thank you for all your help.
<Read over, and list your chemical/physical adjusting activity on a piece of paper... make columns re what ions are produced/changed, pH, specific gravity. I'd get out of the chemical filtrant use period, lessen the number of additives to two. Bob Fenner>
Re: Disease Questions. SW sys. Too much Karloffing 5/17/11
Hello Mr. Fenner,
Thank you for the quick response. I wanted to follow up with some more information. The parameters I maintain in my tank are Ca: 420ppm, Mg: 1285ppm, Alk: 2.5-3.0 meq/L, PO4: 0, NO3: 0-.2ppm, NH4: <.25ppm. Between the various nuisance algae in the tank and the Chaeto in the back, the phosphate and nitrate levels are very near or at zero.
<These are essential nutrients for chemoautotrophs... including "corals">
If the Ca, Mg, or Alk is below the desired level I have solutions made from BRS Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, or Sodium Bicarbonate (respectively) that I add in small amounts until the desired level is reached. The pH had a day/night cycle of 7.6-8.0, which I had come to understand was on the low side. To help correct this I added the home-made miniature CO2 scrubber onto the skimmer intake with medical grade sodalime. This successfully shifted and has maintained my pH cycle at 7.8-8.2 for the past month and a half.
The Kent Tech-M was a temporary treatment for the Bryopsis, which successfully (albeit possibly only temporarily) removed it from my tank.
For the first month of the Tech-M treatment the fish showed no adverse response. Some species of corals in my tank did start losing some color, but have since recovered since I stopped the treatment. The small amount of GFO is being added to the system to help the Chaeto and water changes shift the balance of phosphate removal. Reduced feedings have helped, but the net phosphates still seemed sufficient to support nuisance algae in the main display. The main changes to the tank surrounding the deaths of the fish were the Tech-M, CO2 scrubber, and GFO; two of which were put in place after the death of the first fish. The CO2 scrubber only shifted the pH .2, and the GFO is only an additional way to remove phosphates in the water, which are already being absorbed by algae to a reading of zero. The Tech-M I can see as a poison given its use outside its normal means, but the last fish died almost a month after the last Tech-M treatment and two water changes in-between. I can see how it may be two many small shifts in too short a time, and how there could be different environmental changes responsible for different fish deaths. Any further explanation on what happened, and any suggestions on improving my tank would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
<Mmm, too much to state in a short email, and I've got a plane to catch. I'd pre-mix your new change out water, do any "supplementing" only there. BobF>

Nano Reef that will support all life but fish, Cnid. allelopathy 3/30/11
Hello WWM Crew,
I am pulling my hair out with frustration. The crew has helped me in the past and I am very grateful, but this problem I am having is starting to get out of hand. Once again I am asking for your help. I have had an established Nano reef for the past year (I know a year isn't very "established"), but for the past four months, the tank has not been able to support any fish whatsoever. All my corals and inverts live and thrive, but fish just don't make it.
A little info
10 Gallon Tank,
<Yikes... very hard to keep such small volumes optimized, stable>
28 Watts T5 Actinic Light, Hang on the back filter with an activated carbon insert
Temperature is kept at 79 Degrees F verified by in tank thermometer
Specific Gravity is 1.026
Ammonia, nitrite 0
Nitrates less than 5
pH around 8.0
<These values are all fine>
Water changes are 10% once weekly and 30% once monthly. I use tap water filtered with a Brita faucet, treated with Prime, mixed with Instant ocean to 1.026 Sp. Gr. And allowed to sit overnight in an open container before being added to the tank.
I was adding extra Calcium, magnesium, and iodine twice a week but I have since stopped that (I was afraid I may have been overdosing with the small water volume)
<Easy to do>
Stock includes:
13 Lbs of live rock, has been in tank since initial set up.
<Mmm, oh, I see summat below>
Tank was initially set up with a small sand bed but I have since removed it so now the tank has a bare bottom (past five months)
Inverts/Corals: 4 Turbo Snails, 3 Blue legged hermits, Two Small Zoanthid Colonies of the same species(no more than 8 polyps in total, but started with two), One small xenia colony, one small Duncan coral frag with 5 heads.
<Likely the Zoanthids are poisoning your fishes>
When the reef was first set up, the only occupant fish wise was a yellowtail damsel. He always did well. In December, he died over night.
He was not showing signs of distress the previous day. I inspected the body of the fish and found no signs of parasites or trauma. He was just lying dead on the bottom when the lights went on in the morning. I scooped him out and gave the tank four weeks breathing room. During this time, the corals continued to propagate and all the inverts did fine and acted accordingly. After four weeks fallow, I decided to add another fish. In folly, I added a flameback angelfish by himself.
<Really needs more room... by at least twice>
He acclimated well, showed no signs of distress. Lived for one week, ate well, grazed constantly, then died overnight. Once again, no signs of distress the day before, body showed no signs of trauma or parasites. I gave the tank another month. All inverts continued to do well and propagate. Then I added another Damselfish from an established tank (my friend had him in a tank and he was being bullied so I took him). He acclimated well, and ate some food that night. Next morning, dead. At this point, I was wondering if it was because the fish was already partially injured from the beating he took in his former tank or if he fell to the same issue that my previous occupants had.
I waited 5-6 weeks this time before even contemplating adding another fish (I don't like things in my care to die). Yesterday, I went to my LFS (which always has good fish) and picked out a healthy looking blue damsel. I acclimated him very slowly over two hours, then added him. He grazed and explored all night. This morning, he was still acting normal.
Within the last hour or so, he started to breathe very heavily and hide in a small barnacle I have in the tank. I fear that he is about to fall prey to the same poisoning(?)that has been causing the other deaths.
Right now, I am at a loss. Unfortunately, I do not have another tank to move him too. I am considering just taking him out and putting him in a bucket with some fresh salt water, but I would have to manually agitate the water as I don't have a pump that will fit the bucket.
The only thing that makes sense to me at this point is that there is something that is poisoning the fish.
<I agree>
My current hypothesis is that the Duncan coral is the culprit, as it was added a few weeks before I started having problems.
<Perhaps indirectly... the Dendrophylliid over-stimulated the Zoa...>
I have done searches as the whether a Duncan coral is toxic to fish in small volumes but I haven't found anything enlightening.
<This family is not so much so...>
It just doesn't make sense to me. I thought that if there were water quality issues or something toxic at all in the tank, the inverts would probably be the first to go. But not only are they seemingly healthy, they are even propagating! The Duncan coral has grown an additional two heads since I added it to the tank, and the Zoanthids continue to grow.
<Ah yes>
I've always been more of a fish tank guy than a coral guy. If I could, I would take out all my frags and corals, but I can't. I don't have anywhere to store them.
I could really use an opinion and some advice from someone who is vastly more experienced then I am. Am I just having bad luck?
<No; doubtful>
Thank you in advance
<Do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/zoanthidcompfaqs.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
There are techniques for "acclimating" new life to established systems w/ more-toxic stinging-celled life in them... as you will see. Bob Fenner>
Re: Nano Reef that will support all life but fish 3/30/11

Thanks Bob, I will begin reading immediately. Unfortunately, the damsel didn't make it. After I wrote you yesterday I removed all the coral from the tank and placed it in a small bucket (I figured that coral, which has a slower metabolism, would be ok without a filter for a day or so), then changed 2 gallons of water in the tank. It didn't seem to make a difference.
What you are saying makes perfect sense to me though, I have easily four times as many Zoanthids now than I did before the tank was having trouble.
In your opinion, would it be safe to leave the Xenia and Duncan frags?
I am sure I can find someone to take the Zoanthids off my hands. Also, how much water should I change after taking out the Zoanthids?
<Serially, all of it a few times>
I'm tempted to change
all of it but it'll probably cause the tank to cycle again.
Thanks for your valued insight
<Welcome. BobF>

Everything is almost dead 7/8/10
I have an 8 gal. biocube and it had 1 cleaner shrimp and alot
<No such word...>
of assorted mushrooms that are all dying. With-in the past 3 days I did a very small water change and put a new heater and now everything is dying. Can anyone help
<? Bill... need info. mate. Please read here:
and the linked files above... for input as well as to give you insight into the types of data we seek. Bob Fenner>

Questions After A Sad Tragedy, Sm. SW Crash, Recovery, Future 6/8/10
I just recently lost the last of my fish inhabitants in my 12 gal. saltwater tank. I had a peppermint shrimp, a red Firefish goby, and 1 blue green reef Chromis.
<Small tanks are tough to maintain, the Chromis needs a larger tank and should be kept in groups.>
They all died this weekend. I think it was ammonia build up in the substrate.
<Ammonia will not build up in the substrate, detritus can which breaks down into ammonia, but ammonia will not.>
I was vacuuming the substrate, but apparently it was not good enough for the tiny 12 gal. tank I was stuck with at the time I set my old tank up. In my next tank, for better water quality and easier maintenance, I will be adding less fish and no substrate.
I feel so bad about my fish. Poor little guys. Darn my inadequate beginners' mistakes!
But not all is sad. At least not yet. I still have 3 snails (1 Nassarius snail, 1 Cerith snail, 1 Nerite snail). The three snails are in a temporary 1.5 gal tank. No substrate or live rock in the tank. One 3 gal. filter and an airstone bubbler. 1 light. I perform partial water changes every 1 to 2 days. I am trying to keep the snails alive until I can set up my 12 gal. tank again, or get a larger 30 gal. tank.
<Bigger is better.>
I am keeping the snails in the smaller tank for now because we are remodeling our floors. The smaller tank is easier to move. Unfortunately, it looks as though I will not be able to set up a new tank until July. Any advice on how to help my snails until I can get them a larger tank?
<Maintain good water quality and supply some sort of food, which will be tough in such a small tank.>
I know they eat algae and detritus. But I lack the specific food they seem to prefer in the 1.5 gal tank. Any idea what would be best to feed them? I have Spirulina and green seaweed. Do you think they will eat theses? Will they eat both?
<Worth a try.>
And also, would a 12 gal. tank be sufficient for my tiny (1-2 inch each) snails? Or should I go ahead and by a larger 30 gal. tank?
<Bigger is better.>
Also, if my current snails survive until I can get a bigger tank, could I put a single orange lined Cardinalfish in the 12 gal. tank with the three snails? (Orange lined cardinals reach about 2.5 inches each).
<Cardinals are social and need to be kept in groups.>
According to the 3 inches of fish per square inch rule, a 12 gal. tank would suffice for 1 cardinal fish.
<I would not go by any of these "X inches of fish per gallon" rules, they do not take behavior, girth, or incompatibilities into account. They are generally worthless or worse in my opinion.>
But I am unsure if that takes into account small invertebrates, like my 3 snails. Is 12 gal. too small for 1 orange line Cardinalfish and my 3 snails?
<Inappropriate for the cardinal.>
If so, would a 30 gal. tank be enough for my 3 snails and 1 orange lined Cardinalfish? Would a 30 gal. tank be enough for 2 orange lined Cardinalfish and my 3 snails?
<You could probably do a small school of cardinals in the 30.>
If my snails don't make it, could I place 2 orange lined Cardinalfish in a 12 gal. tank? Or would I be limited to 1 orange lined cardinal?
<Need more than two to make this species happy, more than the 12G can handle.>
Also, if my snails do not make it, do you think a 30 gal. tank would be enough for 1 blue green reef Chromis? Would 2 blue green reef Chromis fit in a 30 gal. tank if they were the only things in it?
<Chromis should be kept in schools for 6 or more.>
I figured I should ask someone who truly knows what would be best for my snails and fish, before setting up a new tank or buying more fish this time around.
Thank you for your wise, and much appreciated, advice and assistance.
<Take a look at the stocking section on this page, may offer some guidance.><<Which page Chris? B>>

Barrage of questions. Tiny SW, mis-stocked, no reading 5/24/10
<Hi there Nick>
Well, I have a 6 gallon Nano-cube
<Such small volumes are very hard to maintain, keep stable...>
with 2-18w actinic bulbs and 1-18w 10k daylight. I have a yellow clown goby,
<Lives amongst live Acropora... nowhere else. Read here:
but he doesn't swim around a lot because the current is a little strong (although it's just the stock pump). The tank has 3 Zoa colonies,
<Very toxic... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/zoanthidcompfaqs.htm
1 Kenya tree, green star polyps, a tiny (about 1 cm in diameter) frogspawn, a 2" section of Montipora, and a beautiful rock covered in coralline with a few neon green mushrooms.
<... also quite toxic chemically>
My concern is the frogspawn and the Montipora.
<Losers here... read... actually, just go back to where you found to write us and go through the mat.s re how to use the site>
So far the frogspawn looks like skeleton, I haven't seen any tentacles or anything. I'm also worried that my lighting won't be strong enough for either the Montipora or the frogspawn. Everything sits about 6" from the hood, but it only takes up the bottom 1/3 of the aquarium. The Montipora, frogspawn, mushrooms and green star polyps have only been in the tank for a few days (which I realize is why I haven't seen the GSP or the frogspawn).
My thinking is, that if my lighting isn't strong enough perhaps I can give the frags to someone who does have the conditions for them. Everything was set up in a 5 gallon standard AGA tank, and within the last week I transferred everything to the Nanocube. I believe I started a soft cycle today,
because I'm seeing some brown shades on the rocks.
I would really appreciate any advice you guys could offer,
Have a good day!
<Write back after you've read if you have specific questions. What you have here won't work. Bob Fenner>
Re: Barrage of questions 5/25/10
I'm really sorry. I'm very passionate about this hobby (and so are you, obviously) and I am often afraid of asking questions
because many hobbyists can seem quite rude in their responses. At first I was slightly offended by your response,
however after thinking (and rereading it, sometimes the "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" complex can come up) about it I realized I would be a little rough in my response had I been you too. Working in retail
<Ahh, can be a grind... I worked "on the floor" in petfish retail for some 14 years>
I sometimes get quite rough when people expect me to spoon feed them, so I understand your side. I have about 10 books on fish/reefkeeping, and several specifically on nanoreefs. However, I'm a very charismatic person and find 'speaking' with someone much easier.
<I see... is much easier to communicate face to face for sure>
I've researched more on this hobby than probably anything else in my life, but unfortunately there are always too many questions and not enough answers.
<Mmm... maybe at this juncture... but either the ratio changes here with time, or I've just become "fuller", less aware of the plethora of unknowns>
I would rather take the few minutes to speak with someone about specific problems than spend hours reading forums and FAQs looking for an answer.
<Unfortunately, "we" are but a few volunteers, and "you" are a few tens of thousands of users per day. WWM is not really a question and answer service, but an ongoing self-help reference work>
I really enjoy this website and have apparently only tapped the vast wealth of knowledge it contains.
<As stated, the site is an ongoing, unfolding work in progress>
Ultimately, I wanted to apologize for wasting your time (however the above probably wasted more, but I felt you deserved an apology and explanation)
<No apology necessary or desired>
and I wanted to thank you for teaching me a lesson.
I will do more research, and prepare an exact question for you.
Thanks again,
By the way, what did you mean by "Tiny SW, mis-stocked,"?
<My title for your msg... This volume is too small to be of the use you've put it to... My opinions on suitably sized systems are posted/archived... SW is an acronym for SaltWater, and mis-stocked is in reference to your livestock choices... BobF>

Sick coral - 2/10/10
Hi helpful and kind folks at WWM.
<Hello most wonderful and interesting Querior!>
I need your help with my favourite coral. <Ok>. I bought this Favites from my LFS about 2 weeks ago (see picture labeled 1-29-10). Initially I had it at the bottom of my 6 gallon Nano (36 watt PC lights) and it was doing well, so I moved it up about 4 inches to about the middle of the tank and glued it to a live rock. A few days after that it was eating well during the day, and extending some wonderful tentacles. Last few days it puts out small tentacles at night only and refuses to eat when I try to spot feed it Mysis (or anything else).
<Mmmm, they do feed mostly at night in the wild, I would not be concerned re: this yet>
Most concerning is the discolored spot I noticed today (see other pix) -- (? tissue recession)?
<No, I don't think so - maybe a small expulsion of some zooxanthellae, a reaction to being moved 'upwards'. Could be an expansion of the coral itself. I would not be concerned too much. Keep an eye out and see what happens, but this coral looks ok to me. Monitor for a while, when it settles into it's new spot it should be ok, these are not particularly difficult corals>
Any help at all would be appreciated.
<You have my opinion, Nick. One thing I would say is that 6 gallons really is 'Nano' and if there is a problem with the coral it is likely due to some part of your system being unstable, as it is notoriously difficult to keep things 'on an even keel' in such a small water volume, especially temperature>
Nick N

Re: 10/02/10 Sick coral
Thanks for your reply, Simon.
<No problem Nick>
As you can see from the attached picture, the discoloured area has expanded from yesterday and (this may be hard to see in the picture) the mouths in the affected area are becoming partly black.
<Mmm, that does not sound good...did the onset of this problem coincide with any change that you have made to the system, or in the room where the system is housed?>
Any other ideas?
<Other than try to maintain some 'stable' parameters, what other Cnidarian life do you have in here? Allelopathy could be a cause, try here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm. As mentioned, in such a small system you will have problems with creatures such as this. I would be running some carbon>
Anything else I should do? An iodine-based coral dip?
<Could, yes, this coral should stand up well to an iodine dip, but I suspect that there is something in/ about your system that is the root cause here. Simon>

12 gallon... SW reef... hlth./maint... reading, do-overs -- 02/02/10
I have a Marineland 12 gallon tank--it said it was marine capable- but was wondering if this tank will work for that.
It has a bio wheel without the charcoal. Is the filtration right or do I need something else.
<Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nanoreefsysart.htm>
Also not sure if the lighting is right. It seems like the corals are dying.
I'm new at this and not sure what to do. I have read but nothing pertains to this.
<Really? I question this statement...>
Thank you so much for your time. It is very much appreciated.
<No problem. You will find all you need on here. Read first, ask second:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm . Simon>

Help With ill Clowns? Lack of data, Reading 1/29/10
Hi I'm new to the marine aquarium game at present in our River Reef 94 litre we have 2 black and White clowns (been in the tank 2 months) and have just introduced 4 blue green Chromis,
<These really need more room than this>
we also have hermits, cleaner shrimps and turbo snails. At present the clowns seem to be showing fin rot symptoms
lethargic ragged fins and not feeding.
<Very bad>
Within the last 24 hrs we have had filter trouble a blockage causing dirty water ingress after cleaning of the filter and a water change the Chromis are still showing regular behaviour but the Clowns have started to show the symptoms listed above one other symptom shown by the larger clown is the loss of colour under blue light which re-appears when the white light is turned back on is this a common occurrence?
<? Don't know what you're referring to here. Some colour change occurs initially when going from light/dark and vice versa, and fishes do appear differently under different lighting>
Any help and guidance you could offer would be greatly appreciated I do have a zoology degree and background in biology so please be as in depth as possible.
Tim Harris
<Mmmm, need more data than you've provided... mostly re water quality tests. Please read here:
Mostly the linked files above under Disease Identification... for input re what we're looking for. Bob Fenner>

Sm. SW, troubles... Induced; no data of use or reading 09/14/09
i have a 24 gallon tank with good ph and salt level (a sample was tested at the store).
<Need values>
I have 15 snails
<Too many>
of various sizes, live coral,
10 hermit crabs,
<Too many>
pencil urchin, and a brittle sea star. my sea star has a large split down the center of its body, like it is split in 2.
<It's dead>
the crabs are not bothering it. the day before, it was climbing all over the tank. What is wrong with it? Is it dying?
<Past tense>
a few of my snails have caved themselves in their shells and have not moved for 2 days. when i got them 2 days ago, they were fine. my urchin has not moved in 3 days. over the past week, 2 crabs have died. all were from the same tank at the store but purchased a week apart. all were acclimated for 3 hours with a gradual addition of water from the tank into the bag. is there something killing my snails, urchin, and sea star?
<... Yes... you. Need to know Alkalinity, Ca and Mg concentrations, but this system is mis-over-stocked... And these animals are sensitive to a lack or abundance of common chemical/physical aspects... Read on WWM re the Systems of all three groups... and beyond. Bob Fenner>

Devastating Tank Loss: Overstocked tank crash. Nothing really to refer. 6/28/2009
Good Morning WetWebMedia Gurus,
<Hi Melissa.>
I hope you are doing well and having a nice beginning of summer!
<So far, so good, thank you.>
I have had a tragedy with my tank and would like your review.
I know I made some mistakes and when attempting to correct them I believe I wiped out our tank. We have previously had successful large tanks, starting with 55 gal and eventually upgrading to 180 (it was nicely established and balanced). That was 4 years ago, we had to sell everything when we had twins. Recently we received a 24 gal JBJ and were excited to enjoy the fish world again. We cycled, added live rock etc for 4-6 weeks (until we had good test results, and added slowly added a TR clown, cleaner shrimp, and some corals (torch, frogspawn, & mushroom). We have had this tank up and going for 8+ months.
<Sounds good so far.>
Friends of ours had a breakage and we took on a very small hippo tang and 2 Bartlett's Anthias and 3 chromis with the intention of it being a short term solution all the fish were very small, fat, and happy.
<A very short term, days or less I hope.>
Adding the resident TR clown & our cleaner shrimp we knew the tank was overloaded. Well, said friends never rebuilt and our tank was struggling with the overload,
<Would have been better to take the fish back to the store, A 24 gallon cannot sustain this load for long.>
I knew I had to get some out; so yesterday I removed the 3 chromis which were also harassing the other fish and I knew the tank was not appropriate for these guys, they were also the largest. I got them to a store for donation after a nightmare of getting them out. Taaadaa the other fish were out and checking things out.
<Typical, Chromis are fine in a larger tank, but tend to be aggressive in confined quarters.>
I didn't realize how much these little chromis were dominating the tank until they were removed. I did a little water change of almost 2 gallons, let things settle, everyone ate beautifully, we went to bed. We really didn't want to get rid of the Bartlett's and hippo yet as we are in search of a larger used tank and they are small.
<How long was the tank overstocked to this level?>
We awoke this morning to find all fish dead except TR clown and he is not going to make it either, even the cleaner shrimp. Our cleaner shrimp's name was molt because he molted all the time and grew really fast
(always thought this was good, perhaps I need to look into it).
<Generally it is a good sign. You can read about shrimp behavior here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpbehfaqs.htm >
We are devastated and confused. I tested the water and although some levels are elevated, I didn't think it would have taken out the whole tank especially since they were living in it just fine until last night, also I knew the bio-load was too high and that was why were removed the 3 fish and so on.
<A tank that overstocked, one parameter goes slightly out and a crash can come very quickly.>
I put the test results below. The only other thing is the water change; first I used water that I had left over from the last water change maybe 2 weeks old (never a problem before; is this a bad idea?)
<Provided the container is sealed and the water is aerated, it should not be a problem.>
I did over fill the tank slightly but was using up the water (again a bad idea?) well it finally turns out that the return from the pump in the back of the tank was not completely on the outlet. I had noticed the stillness of the tank but thought it, the flow, was less visible due to the fullness of the tank (assuming = yes I know), I honestly didn't think too much of that which is too bad
<That could be telling right there - not enough flow moving through the filters, toxins allowed to build up until disaster.>
Perhaps investigation would have saved my fish. So I reconnected the return and water levels readjusted and I saw how I thought it was overfilled but really it was this return; the end was near the outlet tube but not connected. All fish had wide open mouths; oxygen deprivation?
So I don't have a specific question just your opinion on what wiped out our tank, hopefully I gave enough information.
<You did, other than how long the tank was overstocked.>
The only other thing I did to the tank was add some epoxy (for aquariums)
to stabilize some of the rocks; but it says that it is not toxic and I have used this product before, though I used quite a bit yesterday as opposed to just a bit in the past.
<Not likely to cause a problem other than raise the temperature as it cures.>
Now that all our fish are gone we at least have the opportunity to let the levels balance out and not feel so pressured to find a bigger tank, I guess.
<Your stocking prior to taking in the "rescue" fish was fine.>
Ok that is our story here are our details:
approx 20 lbs live rock, margarita snails, other snails (we lost 2 margarita snails as well)
1.021 <1.023 - 1.025 is much better, particularly for corals.>
Temp 80
Phos .5 (Too high, but likely caused by the overstocking.>
PH 7.8 (odd it has always tested over 8 previously, as recent as last week)
<High organic load dropped the pH.>
Nitrite 1.0 <Deadly toxic.>
Ammonia .25 <Toxic.>
Nitrate 5.0 (maybe up to 10, colors are so close)
<Do large water changes NOW to try and save what is left.>
KH 179 & Calcium 420-440 ( we do not add any calcium supplements, is this level too high?)
<That is fine, particularly for corals.>
I run the JBJ 24 as it came, but added two bags of carbon by the overflow to help with the fish overload.
<That is fine, provided regular water changes are made.>
I imagine that this is the whole forgiveness thing of having a large tank v. having a small tank, one small accident equals complete devastation!
<Sadly and unfortunately this is very true.>
Thank you in advance and take care
<Sorry to hear of your loss..>

Abrupt Nano Crash 6/24/09
Hey Crew,
I just went through an intimidating crash and don't know what to look for. Any chance I can lean on your experience for a moment?
<Let's see>
As a background - we ran a 180 gallon display, with a 40 gallon sump and 75 gallon refugium for a couple years, sparsely stocked with SPS and reef safe fish. We never had problems with corals bleaching or dying off, and things grew well.
We ended up re-homing most of the corals and the fish, and setting up a 24gal NanoCube while taking the large tank down to address some hardware issues along with replacing the stand.
We used the following from the main setup:
Live rock (approx 30lbs)
Substrate (very thin layer of crushed coral)
a handful of frags (Acropora, m. digitata, and birds nest)
Maxima clam
<Mmm... of what size? Small volumes are given to much greater, quicker changes in chemical and physical make-up, particularly with biomass of size...>
Atlantic Pygmy Angel
6 line wrasse
<Both could pick on the Tridacnid>
We also added a small (slightly under 3") majestic angel
as a very temporary resident (we're moving him to the 180 when we get it up on the replacement stand and back running in the next couple weeks... figured it made more sense to bring it home in this tank full of live rock then let the store sit on it in one of their tiny, bare tanks)
We gutted the chambers in the back of the NanoCube, and used carbon sheets in the first chamber topped with Chaeto, heater in the second chamber, and the return pump along with the skimmer pump in the third chamber (with the skimmer's return dumping water back into the second chamber)... the skimmer is a CPR bakpak2 and fills it's cup with a faint green soup every 2-3 days (skimming wet)
We scavenged from the main tank a ViaAqua 300w titanium heater,
<Wowzah! Too many watts!>
Vortech MP20 power head (with the controller dialed down a lot!), and one of the Aqualine 150w 20k HQI bulbs.
The parameters I'm measuring have not changed during the three weeks that the tank has been run:
Temperature: 79.2F-80.4F
Ammonia: undetectable
Nitrites: undetectable
Nitrates: undetectable
PH: 8.0
Calcium: 400
Magnesium: 1250
Alk: 9.0dKH
Specific Gravity: 1.025
As far as feeding is concerned, we're filling a ketchup container with water from the tank, dropping a cube of frozen food (enriched brine with spirunella, mysis, squid, etc) and letting it thaw in the refrigerator.
We then "squirt" 1/3rd of the mixture daily for a few days. The fish consume all within approximately 1 minute.
For 3 weeks, the fish looked fine and the corals maintained color and extended polyps. The clam also keeps its mantle open and is not being harassed by the angels.
This last Saturday, the corals all started retracting polyps. Sunday, they all started bleaching approximately at the same time. By Monday, they all look like skeletons.
I was doing 15% water changes during this time (matching salinity, PH, and temperature before adding water)
<I would be using water from your established system period>
The Maxima clam is still soaking up the light, and the fish all look fine. These corals had been in the original tank for at least a half-year.
I haven't seen anything with the test #s that would suggest the tank is going through some sort of cycle (I would expect ammonia/nitrite spike, or some algae growth spike...)
<Neither do I see anything amiss>
I tested the tank for electricity (unplugging the tank's ground first) and discovered 0.020 mA... which breaks down to the following per equipment:
0.012mA is from the heater
0.003mA is from the return pump
0.005mA is from the skimmer pump
This is all of the submerged powered gear (Vortech power head is external)
I'm not sure if this is enough electricity to irritate or kill things.
<Not enough to be of consequence here>
The tank is grounded and all of the gear is on GFCIs.
I was hoping to keep SPS, a clam or two, along with a pygmy angel and 6 line wrasse in the NanoCube, while going for a rough and tumble fish-only theme in the large tank when it's up and running (and maintaining similar water quality between the two systems, so I would have a "limitless" source of aged water for the NanoCube)...
<Good plan>
but now I'm questioning whether the NanoCube in it's current configuration can sustain corals.
<Many folks with such small volumes have similar trials>
Any suggestions for things to test, ideas on what may have happened, and warnings would be greatly appreciated.
<Mmm, really... likely just the massive water changes from the larger system... measuring PAR at the "corals" surfaces might give a clue, but this is likely some sort of "cascade event" with one species, group poisoning the others... the big, bad, overly simplistic term:
"Allelopathy", expressed in a small volume>
Thanks yet again for keeping this site up, every week for the past couple years my wife and I spend at least 5 hours absorbing information, and given the volume of wonderful information here we will probably be able to continue doing so for years to come :)
<I do hope someday you join us in providing responses, content. Bob Fenner>

Re: Abrupt Nano Crash 6/24/2009
Thank you for the very quick reply Bob/crew!
<Welcome big D>
All of your points are spot on - the heater is much too large - it was not being used and we figured it would only run as necessary to maintain temperature. We currently have a smaller one in shipment since this
heater would be "big" trouble with a thermostat failure!
<Yes... meant mainly to note for browsers...>
The maxima clam is approximately 2" and my intentions are to be re-home once it reaches 5" (either to another tank of ours, or to the local reef club which fortunately consists of many members maintaining "large" tanks!)
<I see>
Your reaction to the Majestic Angel is very appropriate - bringing this "small" specimen home to temporarily house in the NanoCube while getting the large tank situated wasn't the best judgment call on my behalf.
I've had tremendous success with angels including a majestic in the past and I let ego/arrogance cloud my common sense here.
<Ahh... you are wise... or at least wiser to be self-aware here>
It's fortunately doing well thus far, but I should have let the local fish store hold it and "fit the bill" for letting its health deteriorate under inhospitable conditions instead of rewarding them by rushing to bring it home to
inadequately better ones.
Given allelopathy being a possible cause, would you foresee any issues housing corals exclusively from the Acroporidae family (while continuing to run carbon and do water changes to help mitigate any chemical
<Less so than mixing other Families, Orders, even Classes of Cnidarians... Most Acropora species "mix" quite well "socially">
I won't add corals to this setup again within the next month. I want to make sure our larger setup is up and stable in case I need to quickly dilute an unmeasured problem.
I would be both happy and honored to help with responses and content.
At this point, I'm just a data geek with only a passion and a few years of anecdotal experience running marine aquaria. I may not be able to contribute much beyond helping lessen the load with simple questions
your team is bombarded with daily, but will do whatever I can if the time arises that you'd like my help!
Thanks again,
<Are you sure you have sufficient time available? Please do send along a brief series of sentences, statements re yourself, background in our interest... for perusal by the current WWM Crew. And thank you for coming forward. BobF>

Frogspawn coral injured because of sting... what can I do? Induced allelopathy, sm. sys. 1/7/09 Hi, <Hello> I love your site! <I really like it> I am still pretty new to the hobby but love it. <Am old but still find it fascinating> I have a 25 gallon reef tank and have a great (up to recently) frogspawn coral. <Mmm, it's much harder to "keep" smaller volume systems than larger> Recently another piece of coral came loose and landed on 2 of the pods of the fs. It did a real number on them apparently destroying one pod completely and half of another. I know it's the coral because it did this to another coral (a Favia) which recovered nicely and rather quickly. The polyps in the fs where reduced to brown jelly. Can a fs recover from such an injury and if so, what can I do to help? <Mmm, can, but... needs more room... to be distanced from other Cnidarians... care taken in preserving water quality... Possibly the use of iodine/ide... There is a bunch to consider all at once here... Best for you to start by perusing a ppt pitch located here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Randy Buescher

Strange Fish Wipe Out 01/01/09 Hi All. <Hello Natalie> I have a bit of a dilemma that I can't seem to find the answers for anywhere on the internet. We woke up this morning (first day of 2009) only to find all our fish and other livestock dead! <Yikes!> Not a good start to the new year and quite distressing. <Absolutely.> We have a 30 gallon reef rank. We have one powerhead and a Fluval filter system with mixed filter media. We have had the tank for 8 months. In the tank we had 2 Sexy Shrimp, 1 Cleaner Shrimp, 1 Fire Shrimp. Some starfish along with some brittle stars, cleaning crew, 2 Percula Clowns, 1 Watchman Goby, 1 damsel, 1 Purple Dottyback, 1 Wreckfish. We had some corals too most notably xenias, leather corals and mushroom corals which the clowns were happily living in. All the animals looked very happy and seemed to be flourishing. The water has been lovely and clear for some time. The night before they died they all had a normal appetite, did not appear to be sick or listless and I didn't notice any abnormalities. We had a Money Cowry which died 2 nights previously and a Sexy Shrimp which disappeared however. The parameters have all been fine for several months now. All the parameters were normal, pH maybe a little low, 7.9, but nitrites and ammonia and nitrates totally negligible. One of the clowns was still alive when we woke up, very weak, lying on his side. He was swimming to the surface and it seemed that he was trying to get out of the water until he died. The water was very cloudy at this stage which I figure may have been as a result of all the fish dying. Not sure though. I just can't figure out what may have happened. No toxins from the outside environment could have entered into the tank. It seems to me that they died as a result of a toxin in the water which acted very quickly. Could it have been the very large mushroom coral that secreted some toxins and killed all the livestock? <Unlikely, are very safe to keep.> What causes the mushroom coral to secrete toxins? <No toxins, more than likely waste.> I just don't want to repeat some grave error next time round. Any advice would really be much appreciated. <First off, your tank cannot safely support that many fish. Am wondering how you came across the Wreckfish or Stone Bass. These are not normally sold at aquarium shops as they are fish predators and can grow quite large, and are nothing of beauty. Getting back to the point, did you check the ammonia level that morning? I'm thinking the cowry death, if gone unnoticed for a couple of days, may have triggered the event causing a bacterial explosion which resulted in the cloudy water along with a high ammonia spike. You also state you are using a Fluval filter and did not mention what type of biological filter is employed or whether you use live rock as your bio filter. I wouldn't feel comfortable using the Fluval as the sole means of denitrification, especially with the fish load you had. In the future, I would limit your tank to 3 or 4 small fish at most. You did not mention if any of the fish had white spots or ich, so I'm assuming there was no disease problem.> Many thanks. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Natalie.

Re: Strange Wipe Out 1/2/09 Hi James, Thanks for your speedy response and the pointers. <You're welcome.> So trying to get to the bottom of this disaster. We took levels that morning and there was no ammonia spike, pH was 7.9, nitrites negligible and the same for nitrates. <OK.> So I don't know whether that rules out the possibility of a decaying cowry body. Cowry was only about 2cm big, we thought that one of the hermits may have killed and eaten it. The water was cloudy though so maybe another bacterial explosion that lead to the fish death? The tank has been stable more or less since we started and we have never had an ammonia spike or high nitrites. We have a large amount of live rock and live sand which we use as biological filtration plus several hermit crabs and snails. In the Fluval filter we use bio-max, clearMax and opti-carb. The Wreckfish (sea Goldie) also known as Lyretail anthias we have often seen in aquaria shops and is bright orange, maybe this isn't the same fish you mention? <Was not, but anthias do require a larger tank than what you have.> Any ideas about what could have caused this? <You mentioned no toxins could have entered the tank. Doe this include hand contact with the water, nothing on your hand that may be toxic to fish (Windex, etc)? Thanks for your help. Really confused. <Yes, I'm puzzled also. I'm thinking the dead cowry may have had something to do with this or possibly a toxin getting into the water unknowing to you. You may want to read here and related articles/FAQ's, something may ring a bell here for you. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm James (Salty Dog)> Natalie

Please Help, dis. diag. sans data... 12/27/08 Please. I need some input or ideas. I am lost here. Everything that has been in my tank since it was established, is doing great. My levels are great (except salinity. I have no idea if its on or not. I use a hydrometer, so it may be off. I know I know I need to get a refractometer.) <Salinity is extremely important to know!> But back to the question at hand. So it all started when I lost 2 hermits within a day of each other. I didn't think much of it. Then I added and bicolor goat like 5 days later and it was belly up within 24 hours of putting it in the tank. Then I just added a cleaner shrimp and it was belly up within 24 hours. I have no idea what the problem could be cause everything that has been in the tank is doing awesome. Any ideas what the issue could be? <No clue, could be a number of things.> Thank you. <We do need some more information here, tank size, inhabitants, setup, actual numbers from the water test, maintenance practices, etc. Please write back with the above. Scott V.>

Re: Please Help 12/28/08 10 gallons. Firefish, Green Chromis, Clown goby, 4 blue leg hermits, 2 red leg hermits, 5 Nerite snails, and 2 Nassarius snails. Nitrate: 30 <This needs to be lower, see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the linked files above.> Nitrite: 0 Ammonia: 0 Ph: 8.3 Calcium: 400 Salinity: 1.023(hydrometer. getting a refractometer this week) <This should be raised to that of natural seawater, 1.025.> Temp: 79 Water changes once a week (about 1/3 using a gravel sifter) every week or so rinse off filter with ro water. <Is this an undergravel system? Any live rock? Other filtration/aeration? Do realize that the hermits are predatory to a point...even on each other. The Lysmata needs a stable reef type setting, while the Goatfish is just flat out inappropriate for this system. They get quite large and need a large tank to accommodate. A ten gallon tank is inherently unstable, you are near capacity with what you have. Scott V.>

Zoanthid and mushroom failure in nano tank 11/25/08 Please Help!!! I have a 24g nano tank that has been running since May 08. Several large pieces of cured live rock with 2" sand bed. I added 1 small powerhead for additional water movement. I ordered a small nano polyp/mushroom pack from DrFoster&Smith online after my tank thoroughly cycled. polyps and mushrooms were doing very well for about 3 months, opening expanding etc, then one day they started staying consistently closed and started dying. Water Parameters. I have tested, double tested, triple tested, had LFS test and all my water parameters and all are pretty much spot on. Water changes done weekly of 5g using Instant Ocean Reef Crystals aerated for 24 hrs before adding to tank. Lights are on for about 12 hours. Lights are new with aquarium bought in May, but as a safety measure bought new lamps a month ago. Add B-Ionic and Iodine. Again double, triple checked I was dosing correctly. Livestock (Nitrates 0) 1 percula clown 2inches 1 blue damsel 1 inch 1 blood red shrimp 1 bi-color Pseudochromis 2 inches 6 red legged hermit crabs and 2 turbo snails as a cleanup crew Here is the catch, I also have a 90 gallon FOWLR tank that I'm converting to a reef tank. Once I got the fish sold to LFS and the Nitrates down I started adding polyps/mushrooms. The water parameters of my 90g match that of my 24g...but my nano is failing. So as a drastic measure I took polyp/mushroom frags from my 24g and placed in my 90g and they are doing just fine and in fact opened within a day!!! I'm at a complete loss of what the problem is with 24g tank. My only theory My 24g tank is at my office. The building is pretty old and I'm using tap water to mix my salt. Is it possible that copper or some other metal/crud from the old pipes could be affecting the outcome of my 24g nano? My 90 gallon resides at my condo that is actually a brand new hi-rise in downtown Chicago...all new pipes etc. One other small issue, I seem to have a little extra algae growth in my 24g nano than my 90g....phosphates of both sources are 0. I just attribute the extra bright green algae growth to a shallower tank with good lighting. Oh, and one last thing, there was a 8-9 hour power outage around the same time that these polyps/mushrooms in the 24g stop opening. I just figured several months later should be more than enough time if they were shocked to re-open....but it took moving them to my 90g to get them to open again. Well hopefully this is enough info...if you need specific numbers on my water parameters I can email a pdf of a ongoing chart I keep of all water parameters. <Obviously, there may be something going on with your nano although the setup of your nano sounds good. I would cut back the time the lights are on to 8-10 hours. That's probably the reason for the algae growth. You mentioned you are using city water. Are you putting in any water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramines? Secondly, you mentioned the possibility of copper in your water coming from the olds pipes in your office. I would highly suggest you getting an RO/DI unit to eliminate any possibility of this. You can use it for your home and office tanks, the best way to solve water quality issues are to start with good clean water. Of course you saved the best for last, a power outage!!! These are terrible events for an aquarium. Your polyps could have been shocked from the lack of circulation when this outage occurred, its a normal sign of stress and usually they will be back to normal within a few days. How long was it before you transferred your corals from the 24 to the 90? What kind of test kits are you using? Have placed anything in the 24 since? Also remember that as live animals, corals go through stages just like every other living creature, there are going to be times when they just don't feel like opening. If you stay on top of your system, watch it every day, you'll get a feel for the tank and be able to recognize these stages. You'll be able to immediately tell when something is wrong and you need to take action, or if its just a normal thing that your corals are going through.> Thanks, Brian <You're welcome and good luck!!! -- BrianG>

hi, I have a 14 gal nano. Xeniid... hlth? Using WWM - 10/02/08 I have a pulsing xenia that was doing fine and now the stalks are turning white and not pulsing as much. the salinity was high and my calcium was low. <Uhh... what? Values please> the temp was also fluctuating from 78-82. all is fixed now put my xenia is still looking ragged. the stalks are thin and still with the white lines. also, I have one clown and one cardinal. they both have ich and I cant kick it. <?> any help. <You're joking?> I'm using ich attack <Worthless... you'd have saved your money, your fishes, your mental happiness had you followed instructions and READ before...> but to no avail....please help <Help yourself: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm Start with the search tool... Your answers are all posted. Read. Bob Fenner>

Candy Canes/Caulastrea... Allelopathy In A Nano Tank 8/13/08 Thanks Mich. <Welcome! I'm very sorry for the long delay. I'm away from home.> I got rid of the star polyps a while ago because of what I read here. <Smart.> Also started using carbon a couple months ago. <Even smarter!> I do change 1 gallon a week. <Good, you could do 2 gallons if you wanted.> As far as feeding the sick Caulastrea I am not sure if I can. So far I have not seen it send out any tentacles. <You don't need tentacles, just the mouth. You should temporarily shut off your circulation, It may take an hour or so.) and gently place very finely chopped food (I would try mysis shrimp soaked in Selcon.) on the mouth and hopefully the mouth will expand and accept the food.> I have not fed them in the past but am reconsidering. <They would benefit.> One of the Caulastrea that I bought recently from a fellow hobbyist had over 50 heads and they were really big. Most were two and some with three mouths with many heads bigger that a quarter. <Sweet!> He said he did feed them once a week. That colony was way to large for me so I broke it up and kept just 8 heads. It was a shame to break it up but no one else wanted to buy the colony from him. <Well hopefully all will thrive! Cheers, Mich>

Re: Candy Canes/Caulastrea... Allelopathy In A Nano Tank, Cyclop-Eeze fdg. to corals 8/13/08 One more question, please. <Of course!> I use freeze dried mysis and Cyclop-eeze for my fish. Can these be fed to corals or does it have to be fresh or frozen. <These can be used, if it were me, I would soak the mysis in Selcon.> Thanks <Welcome! Mich>

Sudden death...Please help Sudden death/Reading 8/7/08 I have been through several forums trying to figure out what just happened without any answers. I have a 20 gallon saltwater setup that has been running for about 3 months. Last week we had 2 live rocks, 3 feather dusters, a pink tip anemone, a turbo snail, a coral banded shrimp, a scooter dragonet, a three striped damsel, a yellow tailed blue damsel, a domino damsel, some button coral polyps, and two bladed plants that have been living in the tank for the past month. <Way too much and inappropriate livestock for a 20 gallon.> On the Friday of that week, I added a flame angel, an orange fan sponge, a lettuce Nudibranch, and a sally lightfoot crab. <...> Two days later, the tank was doing well and I added a 160 gph power head into the tank to add water current for the sponge (I already had a 100 gph bio-wheel filter that hung off the back of the tank). I added the powerhead at 1PM on Sunday. At 5PM, the tank was still doing well so I left for 3 hours. Upon my arrival, the angel and three damsels were not doing well. The angel was upright and stuck to the filter, and the 3 damsels were sitting on the floor on their sides. Within minutes, after turning off the powerhead, they were all dead. <Too much for a 20, too fast for a tank five times that size.> Could the excess current have killed the fish? <Not even close.> The powerhead did not stir up the sand, it only bothered the feather dusters which I fixed by directing the current into the wall of the aquarium. What happened? <Stated above.> I checked my water immediately after finding the sick fish. The dragonet was acting weird for a while but today (Wednesday) is looking normal again. <He WILL perish in this system in time.> Everything survived that was on the bottom of the tank, but none of the swimming livestock. Attached is a picture of the tank. Water temp - 81 degrees Ph - 8.2 Nitrite - 0 Salinity - 30 ppm Specific Gravity - 1.023 Alkalinity - 2.2 Thank you for your help! <Some reading required re stocking and water quality: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/small.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watrqualmar.htm Welcome, Scott V.>

Candy Canes/Caulastrea... Allelopathy In A Nano Tank 8/5/08 Hi Crew, <Hi there, Mich here.> I have a 10 gallon that is over 5 years old. Penguin mini filter, 10 pounds live rock, less than an inch of sand and 65w PC. Over times I have had mushrooms, star polyps and candy canes. Mushrooms used to work well for me as they would multiply. As of late I can not seem to hold any mushrooms. They just whither away. <Sounds like inhospitable environmental conditions. Perhaps allelopathy from the star polyps would be my guess.> So I have gone to different colors of candy canes. My inventory is bright green (2 heads), brown with green centers (4 heads), Brown with teal centers (4 heads), tan with teal centers (8 heads), pink with white centers (10 heads) and one that looks like a Faviid <Faviid? Caulastrea are in the Family Faviidae.> of sorts with 8 heads. It is brown but has a bluish haze over it. It looks more like brown to the eye but when I take pictures it looks blue. <Sounds pretty.> Will they also battle each other? <To a degree but not as much as corals from different species would.> One that I bought recently was almost gone. It did not look as bad in the store as when I got it home. It looked like it was just skeleton. It is starting to get some meat on the bones and has a tan color that looks almost pink. The centers so far are just white. Is that normal is just a result of what this coral went through. <This is not normal. These corals do not look like your description in the wild.> Is there a chance some color will appear? <Perhaps. Your system is very small. I hope you are running carbon on the system. If not, then it is it is well past time to start. Your entire system will benefit. This will help reduce the allelopathy. Frequent water changes would also be most helpful. I am wondering if you are running a protein skimmer. You would be wise to keep a species specific tank, which it sounds like you are well on your way. Green Star polyps can be quiet toxic and you might think about removing them from your system. Caulastrea can send out stinging sweeper tentacles so nearby corals can be affected. Caulastrea benefit from feeding. I would especially encourage you to try manual feeding the one with the white center. You might try mysis shrimp chopped finely and soaked in Selcon. Some links you might find helpful: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chemFiltrMar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clavulariids.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/envdisphysiof.htm Good luck! Mich>

Sudden deaths of clown and shrimp AND crab after epoxy use and water change 04/07/2008 Hi, and thanks a million for all the info you provide. I couldn't find my specific situation answered, so I apologize if I overlooked it. <<Hello, Andrew today>> Yesterday, I used some reef-safe epoxy to glue a couple of pieces of LR together. I have star polyps that don't appreciate it when the snails knock over their little piece of real estate. At that time, I also did a 25% water change (using PUR filtered tap H2O with AmQuel). <<I would suggest that you buy yourself an RO (Reverse Osmosis) unit or an RO/DI (Reverse Osmosis and Deionizer). This water from this device will be far better for you>> I'm using oceanic salt and have been since I started the tank about 7 weeks ago; the parameters in re: sp grav, temp were the same as the tank. <<ok>> I have 12 g nano cube. Water parameters are: sp grav 1.025, pH 8.2, temp 78, Ca 480 ppm, dKH 13, nitrate/nitrite/ammonia/phosphate 0. Everything is stable and has been. 16 days ago (one day outside of the livestock guarantee, curses!) I purchased 2 false percula clowns, and a cleaner shrimp. Everyone's been fine, eating, swimming, cleaning, et cetera. I realize this is quite a few creatures, that "must spend 79 dollars" to ship clause got me, I'm afraid. In addition to the sick guys, I have about a dozen snails (Turbos and Nassarius I think) as well as about a half dozen smaller hermit crabs and one bigger red-legged one. He just molted yesterday also. <<Ok>> Last night, I walked by the tank about 5 hrs after the water change and noticed one of the (smaller) clowns on the bottom of the tank, gasping. He was still swimming a bit and jerking initially, almost vibrating. The other clown was at the top near the air/water interface. The shrimp was sitting still on a rock, not moving his legs around like he usually does. <<Hmmmmm.. ok>> Well, this morning, you guessed it: dead. The other clown is now at the bottom of the tank, and one of my crabs is also dead (a porcelain crab). <<Really does sound to me like poisoning of some sort>> Does the "reef-safe" and "non-toxic to fish" epoxy have something to do with this? <<Have used plenty brands myself, and never had a reaction from it>> Or do I truly need to get some sort of R/O water? It's just crazy that they all became distressed and died so suddenly when the only difference as far as I can tell was the epoxy. <<My suggestion is to change the water, over to RO, stop using Amquel as i feel this can have an adverse reaction to the pH in a marine aquarium>> Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. Tina Kinsley <<Thanks for the questions Tina, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Strange Behavior in 36 Gallon Marine Tank (Health Issues) 4/3/08 Good afternoon. <<Good morning on my end.>> I have been a lurker on this site (never posted before) for 6 months, and I want to that you and the rest of the crew for all the helpful information I have received. <<You are more than welcome and thank you for the acknowledgements.>> I have a 36 gallon marine tank. It contains: 42lbs live rock, 2 inch bed of live sand, 2 percula clowns, 1 yellow tang (2.5 inches), 1 engineer goby (I think that is what he is. <<Ooh, the wrong kind of dish and too many fish my friend. I would move the tang elsewhere asap.>> At least that's what the LFS told me. <<Send along a pic or browse our goby section for i.d. help.>> He's greyish striped, and sifts sand), <<Unfortunately that's rather vague…..see my above comments.>> 1 cleaner shrimp, and some soft corals (mushrooms and polyps). I use a standard Fluval filter <<What do you run in it? Canister filters are not my first choice, they often do more harm than good…trapping detritus.>> and 96w T5 lighting. The tank has been running for 6 months without issue. <<Mmmm…I disagree…you have several issues here, including improper livestock stocking.>> This week I had neglected the tank a bit due to personal issues. Yesterday I did a vigorous <<vigorous?>>cleaning of the tank, and topped it off with 3 gallons of treated water to make up for some evaporation. <<3 gallons is a lot in a 36 gallon marine aquarium, your specific gravity/salinity was probably severely off, this could cause some "issues" with your livestock.>> I spent quite some time observing, and everyone seemed happy and healthy. <<Did you test the water parameters to confirm the state of happiness?>> Now to the problem. This morning I noticed that the tang is constantly moving his mouth. Upon further examination I noticed that all 4 fish are doing the same thing. <<There is something environmentally wrong…please test the water, do a few moderate water changes and run some carbon if you have it. Also please ensure the surface is being agitated and that water circulation is optimal.>> Their mouth are just going at a rapid pace. Im sorry if this is anywhere on the forums already. <<Mmm…not everywhere but there.>> I have never asked a question because I have always been able to search and find my answer, but this time I cant find it and I am quite worried about the health of my pets. <<Please test your water and see my above comments.>> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance, John <<Good luck, Adam J.>>

Flower Pot swollen 2/27/08 I have a green flower pot in my tank and it's been doing very well, I was originally told they were pretty easy to keep, <Yikes, no. If we're talking about Goniopora sp., they are not easy to keep. Please see lots of info available here: http://www.goniopora.org/> but today it's gotten swollen, the tentacles aren't reaching out, but it's just all puffy. The ammonia, nitrates and nitrites all test at zero, but I also just lost my Scopas tang, who was gilling at the bottom. The only other fish in my tank is a Mandarin fish, which I acquired today, and I have no idea what went wrong. The tank is an 8gallon nano, <Wow, those are probably two of the worst possible livestock choices for a nano tank. Please research your live stock purchases before you make them. Mandarin fish need at least 50lbs of well established live rock (and probably also a refugium) to get the live food they need to survive.> with a couple other little corals in it, the Scopas was just in there till our 50 gallon matures. He was only about 2 inches long. <Even 50g is probably too small a tank for a Scopas tang. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm Best, Sara M.>

Kenya Tree... losing allelopathically, using WWM 2/14/08 Hello Crew First time writer, but have enjoyed your site very much Well here it goes I have a 14 gal bio cube with a 3 inch live sand bed, and 14 LBS of LR (cured) The tank is about 2 months up now. Live stock is a Bi Colored Blenny ( he says hello) and 3 shrimp 1 cleaner and 2 peppermint. All are doing great, The Blenny is a blast. oh and Ya I have some Turbos and blue legs Coral frags are green star polyp, 2 Zoa frags, purple sea fan, cabbage leather, blue anthelia, and a red mushroom These are all frags and very small. <Thank goodness> I also have 2 Kenya tree frags one was accidental when I cut the rubber band, a piece fell off and I just left it on the rock it landed on. They have been in my tank the longest. Both have flourished but will sometimes close up for 2 or 3 days I thought at first it was a water flow issue, <And losing to "stronger" cnidarians here... eventually totally> but since I moved one it has closed up again Everyone else is doing fine, and when one Kenya tree closes up within 24 hours the second one will too. I am just wondering if the Kenya Tree is acting like the canary of the mines and warning me something is wrong. <Mmm, yes> Some people have told me not to worry it a phase but I would like to hear your advice. When I say closed up I mean the get a 1/4 of there size and change color. I guess like they do when the lights are out I feed Kent Zoe, Coralife invert gourmet gumbo, and when I can get by the college I get some rotifers I use Fiji Gold once a week ops water SG=1.025 (little high but bringing it down slowly) Nitrates 0 Nitrites 0 Am= 0 pH = 8.2 Calcium is 420 As of last night <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nephcompfaqs.htm and here http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Clownfish Behavior 2-9-08 Good morning all. <Hi. Just one Yunachin.> Another Saturday morning with a reef tank puzzle. <And a beautiful day for one.> Established a 30 gal tank over a month ago, live rock, live sand. Parameters good : ph 8.1, temp 79, salinity 1.023, no ammonia, no nitrite, nitrate <25mg/l. Current population: 3 snails, 6 hermits, 1 Orange Linckia, 1 Lawnmower Blenny, 1 juvenile Brown Scopas tang, 1 Banggai Cardinal, 2 clowns (both tank-raised 1 orange, 1 black). 1 week ago, moved the orange clown (named "Spot") and Cardinal from an established 14 gal to the 30 gal. Acclimation went well. Spot has always been spunky, and took to his/her new black clown friend no problems (no skirmishes, swimming together etc). <That is quite amazing that there was no aggression at all. Is there a considerable size difference?> Two nights ago, I spotted a change in Spot's sleeping behavior. He would normally float up near the power head or surface on his side or nose down and sleep. <I have one that does the exact same thing when she sleeps.> Instead, I found him about 1 inch from the sand bed near the glass, looking like he's swimming faster than usual. Top fin and bottom swim fins tucked back and maybe a little faster 'breathing'. Next day he ate and swam fine, until sometime in the afternoon where he adopted a different spot near the sand and went back to this behavior. His motions are a bit jerky, and he stays fixed in the same 2 square inches of space above the sand. <Depending on the size of the clowns this could be a dominance issue. Where does the other clown rest at night? I have had experiences with happy clowns during the daytime but as soon as the lights go out the aggression fires up. Perhaps he was chased from his favorite sleeping spot. If this is the case I am confident to say that the aggression will tone down in time and they will sort out their territory differences. Basically aggression stems from the fact that someone is fighting to become the dominant female. The smaller and the less aggressive of the two will become the male in the factor. Check out this link for more information on clownfish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clownfis.htm;> He looks otherwise healthy - no physical signs of disease or physical damage. <That is good.> He's a real survivor fish (survived a few flops out of the 14 gal nano into the reservoir). <Bless his heart, they are hardy fish.> Any insight to this behavior change? Advice? All other fish healthy and happy, tank is looking good. <Get back to me about the size of the two and we can go from there.> Thanks, <You're welcome! ---Yunachin> Rana

Re: Clownfish change in behavior 2/13/08 Hi Yunachin, Well you thought that would be the end of this chat and somewhat happy ending.... except I now think that Spot has some kind of disease. :( Spot has moved to yet another spot over the sand (blowing any theories about laying eggs), and is separate from the other clown. Spot is still continuing to breathe heavily and tonight the gills looked spread open - perhaps inflamed. Color seems fine, he didn't eat too much today but attempted. No spots or slime or 'velvet' appearance or secretions of any kind, just the distressed breathing - wide open mouth and gills. Continued fast tail flicking swimming in place, but not using bottom fins - both top and bottom tucked back. Fish is facing the same way with occasional flicks 180 degrees then back the same way. After copious reading, it might be good to suspect internal infection of sorts - though from what is a mystery. I don't have a hospital tank (yet) and have never administered a freshwater dip. I may be getting ahead of myself but my significant other seems to concur Spot looks distressed and not 'normal'. Help (again), I'm worried this state has progressed over 4-5 days now... <Rana, I am terribly sorry about your loss on Spot. (I read your other email today.) I had some problems with my PC yesterday and was unable to get the pages to fully load. I feel responsible for not getting to you in time. I sincerely apologize. Regards, Yunachin> Thanks Rana

Re: Clownfish gills inflamed? Heavy breathing etc.. Too small, mis-stocked... trouble ahead, reading 2/13/08 Hi All, <Rana> I was on a different thread with Yunachin and was concluding that Spot, my tank-raised false perc, was going through dominance/pairing with the recently added black perc (smaller). What prompted this is strange behavior a few days ago, with Spot swimming in a fixed position a half inch above the sand, mostly flicking his tail and swimming in one spot, facing the same way. Top and bottom fins looked tucked in and breathing rapid. The breathing has not improved but as of yesterday he was eating. This morning he didn't but then he prefers mysis (and I didn't serve that today). Now he's shifted to a higher spot in the tank, nose a little more (rather than parallel as he has been), his gills since this morning look spread open and mouth open too. Tank is a 30 gal with juvie brown scopas tank, <Much too small a volume...> lawnmower blenny, Banggai cardinal and the black tank-raised perc - recently added orange Linckia <A poor choice...> and a few corals, hermits, snails. The Cardinal and Spot (false perc) were moved about 10 days ago from my 14 gal (into the new accommodations), acclimated, everything fine. All fish are fine. Spot seems the only one to be in distress. Chemistry - all clear, ph 8.1ish, nitrates <25mg/l, no ammonia nitrites. I'm really concerned he's getting worse and I'm debating a fresh water dip but don't want to make things worse. I'm strongly suspecting something bacterial. <... too soon, too little information...> Time is ticking .... Would be great to get your advice! Thanks Rana <Time for you to read: http://wetwebmedia.com/clnfshdisart.htm and the linked files above... and re the Systems of all the life you list. What you have now won't work. Bob Fenner>

Re: Clownfish gills inflamed? Heavy breathing etc.. Learning 2/14/08 Thanks for trying anyway Bob. <Welcome> I had provided all this info and exchanged emails with Yunachin, perhaps if you had seen it from the beginning you may have had more advice to give, or if Yunachin had read my last email... always what if. <Such is the nature of reality> It's exhausting but I have spent the last 4 days reading the website exhaustively and getting various advice. <... and what do you think?> Spot died during the night. The gill looked inflamed - and I'm sure you too would conclude it was likely bacterial. <Perhaps ultimately...> As for the Tang and Linckia, from what I read this Linckia is reef-safe and hardy and ok for 30 gal, and this Tang also. <... no my friend. See WWM re the genus of Asteroid, all Tangs... require more space by far than this... READ> Trial and error with Spot I guess. Rana <Life can be, should be more than "trial and error"... Homo sapiens sapiens... Intelligent man... Of course we all do more than get by through learning, reading, oral traditions... from those who have "come before"... Don't be obstinate... read, at least on WWM re the star and tang... and act as a human. Bob Fenner>

Question re: Nitrates and API Test Kit... Small SW, mis-stocked, trouble quickly ahead 2-12-08 Hello - <Michelle> I've literally spent 20 hours on your website in the past week researching my new reef tank. It's an incredible resource - I used to work in the business about 13 years ago, but apparently forgot _every_ single thing I knew about reefs. <Much new to learn as well.> So here's my question. Sorry, but I'm an idiot and can't find anyone else who's asked this silly question. I use the API Saltwater Master test kit, and I have a Nitrate reading of 30. The test kit says my results may be 4.4 times higher than other test kits, because API measures total nitrates. Ok, I understand that my result of 30 would be the same as a result of 6 in another test kit. Here's my question: which number should I care about? The 30, or the 6? <Mmm, both... as in a point of reference (relative to...), but in terms of values that most hobbyists are concerned with... the higher value here (vs. nitrate as nitrogen... which is about 4.4 times LESS... the lower value... which some kits measure.) At any length, your NO3 level is fine likely for fish-only, border-line high for FOWLR sorts of set-ups and high for reefs> Here's my tank, and please don't yell at me for the setup, I bought most of it established this way from a previous owner: 6g JBJ nano cube with standard built in filtration and lighting, 10 pounds of live rock, 1" of live sand, 4" of fish - 1 six line wrasse, 1 ocellaris clown, 1 bicolor blenny. <... way too much physiologically and behaviorally for this small volume...> I have three snails, three crabs. I have four SMALL corals - green star polyp, button polyp, red mushroom rock, and Kenya tree. <...> Are established and doing quite well, except for the new Kenya tree. It looked great the first three days after I got it home, the shriveled up yesterday. I tried moving it in the tank to no avail. <... this system may well crash... in a very short period of time...> My levels are: Ammonia - 0, Nitrites - 0, Nitrate - 6 or 30 (see above), pH - 8.2. <NO3 is thirty ppm, or mg/l... way too high> So, what do I believe for the nitrates? Of course a water change will be following tomorrow. What's causing the sudden change in my 2" frag of Kenya tree? <Allelopathy... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above...> What recommendations do you have for the tank and filtration? <... for you to read... Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/small.htm and the linked files above> Thanks a million! Michelle <Mich, what you have here won't work... Read, understand what your choices are and act... Bob Fenner>

Help please... nano SW, mis- and too-early stocked... iatrogenic troubles 7/19/07 Hi, <Hello there> I've set up my nano-tank for over 3 weeks now, I have about ?60 worth of live rock, live sand, a pulse, finger and green star polyp, two yellow gobies, a wild clown and a regal tang. <Too soon to stock such a system... and a Tang cannot live long or well in such a small volume> (I used about 5-7gallons from my cousins tank) <Good technique if it is "clean" of problems> Two internal filters (total 750l/h) and a powerhead at 1600l/h (directed at the star polyp, which is placed on the live rock, which is about 20cm from the light. I'm currently running on three t8's at 18w each. I will be upgrading to another two t5's in the next fortnight at 24w each may tank size is 30" by 15" by 12". <I see... still too early to stock, and small for the Acanthurid> The fish are doing great... swimming, eating, no fighting, etc.... The pulse opens and closes and if perfect within the current, the finger has just recently opened up and is doing well after having it for a couple of days. However, I've had the green star polyp for a week now and it's yet to open up, I've added in iodine a couple of days ago, which was recommended from my LFS, I also use, a buff (RedSea) which I use once I week, and I add in Nutrafin cycle once a week and also when I add in new fish and coral. <Mmm, the Hagen product rarely works... Look to Bio-Spira in future applications> I have read through the FAQ's but didn't find a direct answer. my filters have the biological filter pads and the polyester, would I need carbon filter pads? <Not likely at this venture> I've now turned on my twin outlet pump on so its now full, as I read it could be lack of o2? <Doubtful> Lights... I leave two blue t8's on for 13hours, and two blue t8's and a white t8 for a total of 13hours, (so the white comes on for about 10-11hours) in between the blues. Lack of light? Coral too high up? thanks in advance. Sanjay <Are you referring to the Polyps not opening? This is likely resultant from the system being new... possibly coupled with allelopathy from the other Cnidarians... I cannot STRONGLY enough encourage you to read re the "Systems", "Compatibility" of all the species you list... Please start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Using the indices and search tool on WWM. Bob Fenner>

48w 10K 50/50 replaced with SunPod 70W HQI, Sm. SW light/burn episode 7/5/07 Your web site seems to be the most knowledgeable on the net so here goes: I just replaced 48w 10K 50/50 with SunPod 70W HQI on a 12 gallon nano cube I have established for two years. The tank primarily contains different soft corals that had blossomed under the 10k 50/50 with coralline algae growing everywhere. Since placing the SunPod on this tank (only two days), everything seems wilted and is not as vibrant and alive as before. <Ah, yes... a lack of photo adaptation... All "burned"> Please advise. My goal was to remove the canopy and add a little extra light. I'm not sure what is happening but want to get advise. thanks, Philip <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm and the linked files above... And elsewhere (learn to/use the indices, search tool) re lighting small marine systems. Bob Fenner>

Re: 48w 10K 50/50 replaced with SunPod 70W HQI, Sm. SW light/burn episode 7/5/07 thanks for the prompt and excellent response. I think I may have caught this just in time. <Ah, good> On a good note, early this AM I peeked in the tank and noticed all the corals looks fantastic under the blue nocturnal lighting. This led me to believe the lighting was proving to be too much for them. I have adjusted the light to only run in small increments today. This will hopefully help until I get to implement some of the recommendations in your article. thanks again, Philip Johnston <Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Nano Tank. On The Watch for Illness... - 07/03/07 Hello again, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> Here's an update..... I went away this past weekend, and during that time there was a power loss, and my fish went w/o filter, heater, skimmer, power head for about 4-5 hours time. <Why is it that these disasters only occur when we aren't home?> I'd say the tank went down to about 74 degrees. Obviously this is stressful... Luckily, my friend was there to assist my fish, and fixed the electrical problem. <Can't put a price on friends, huh?> That was Saturday. On Monday morning, I came back and fixed the skimmer (the friend who was still in town is only familiar w/ freshwater)... My question is this. All my fish and inverts are fine, healthy, and eating great except for one of my clowns. He swims toward the top of the tank, almost on his side. Breathing and fin movement seem normal. (Except that he's on his side, almost) (I've been watching him closely)... From time to time, it almost looks like he's trying to eat something on the surface but can't really do it. His buddy sticks closely by him and doesn't bother him at all. He typically stays in one exact location for a few hours, then slowly moves to another location. I know he's a new fish, relatively speaking. I have been reading and can't really find the symptoms out. If I saw white feces, (I'm not sure this was the case) In any event, it seems as if it was white, there may be a bacterial infection, correct? <Not always. If the fish is not eating, there are lots of possibilities. I'd keep sharp and for anything resembling a symptom of a stress-related illness (parasitic or otherwise. Otherwise, I'd keep trying to get the fish to eat. Monitor water quality, etc. to assure that no additional stressors arise.> If it turns out there was no white feces, what should I do? Thank you again for time and help! Eric <Man...if you would have asked me 10 years ago if I was gonna be writing about fish poop in front of 10,000 people a day, I would have thought you were nuts...Guess it's just all in a day's work here at WWM! Shows how much life changes, huh?? Seriously, I would not be overly concerned...yet. I'm more concerned with getting the fish to eat again. Stay on top of things, and be prepared to take actions if necessary. Feel free to let me know if you have any more questions! Regards, Scott F.> Re: On The Watch For Illness- Part 2 - 07/03/07 I definitely didn't suspect such a quick response, but thanks! <Glad to help!> And I was thinking the same thing, why do these things happen when I'm gone? <Someone's idea of a joke against us fish nerds!> And yes, friends are extremely helpful. After writing last night I watched my fish more extensively, did some more research, and found that he is now breathing rapidly (I read on the site that more than 60 times per minute is rapid... well, it's definitely more than that. More than 1 breath per second. I'd say about 1.5 er so, not quite 2... but it's sort of hard to gauge. <Hmmm...> Also, his fins are somewhat slower in movement than the other clown. I read over the clown fish disease section and he isn't showing any signs or anything from the other possible diseases/stresses. The one good (great) sign is that when I fed the rest of the fish some Mysis shrimp last night, he (momentarily) came back and started to swim a bit faster and eat, (90% sure he was actually eating, not just biting and spitting out) only to retreat to the top of the tank when done, and show the same symptoms. So, my question is this: does this change your recommendations? Thanks again, Eric <Well, Eric, the continuous rapid breathing is a cause for concern, and can point to several possible problems, ranging from environmental (ie; metabolic poisoning, etc.) to parasitic diseases, such as Amyloodinium, Brooklynella, etc. If the other fishes are not affected, and assuming you're getting no detectible ammonia or nitrite in your water tests, I'd be inclined to rule out an environmental issue for now. Even though the fish may not be demonstrating the other "classic" symptoms of he aforementioned parasitic diseases, I would consider them a serious possibility. Usually, thick, whitish mucous and the fish "gaping" are signs of Brooklynella...It's more common in wild-caught Clownfish these days, but still a possibility. Amyloodinium ("Velvet"), has similar symptoms in terms of loss of appetite, lethargic behavior, and rapid respiration. Eventually, very fine spots may show on the fish (although sometimes not) as the protozoa that cause the disease feed by liquefying parts of the fish (I know, sounds gross- it is) .Often, the first stop for these despicable protozoa is the fish's gills, which can account for the rapid respiration. You will eventually see "blemishes" on the fish's skin, and it may "scratch" itself on objects in the aquarium in an effort to remove the irritant. Many times, however, this disease can kill fishes before these other outward signs manifest. Rapid intervention is necessary. One good thing is that your fish is still eating. I would remove this fish to a separate aquarium with water from the display for further observation and possible treatment. If these symptoms do not subside fairly quickly (like within hours), I'd operate under the assumption that you may be dealing with Amyloodinium. Note that I did say "assumption"...you need to verify this to the best of your ability with the resources here on WWM and elsewhere. It's a very deadly disease, so once you're convinced that you're dealing with it, action is necessary. You can start with freshwater dips for 3-5 minutes duration, which may or may not be effective, but could cause some of the trophonts (if present on the fish) to drop off in a response to some osmotic shock. Next, a course of treatment with copper sulphate (a brand such as Copper Safe is good) should be undertaken. Copper can be harsh, but it works for me. Follow the manufacturer's recommendation to the letter when using this, or any medication, never treat in the display aquarium, and test for copper to assure that you are achieving a proper therapeutic dose. Copper is not everyone's favorite (some prefer Formalin-based products), but it has worked for me in the past and I would use it again. There is always some risk in treating a fish when you're not 100% certain what the disease is, and it's tough to diagnose a fish without being there to see with one's own eyes, so I'm giving you my best guess based on what I hear so far. You have to confirm this for yourself, and sometimes a bit of a guess is necessary. You need to prepare yourself for the possibility that you might lose the fish. However, if you intervene rapidly, and are correct in your "diagnosis", this disease can be defeated. Unfortunately, because this disease is parasitic in nature, there is the possibility that it is in your display tank, and may affect other fishes in there. Observe the fishes in the display aquarium carefully and prepare to take further action, if necessary. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Please advise, nano SW, BTA, troubles ahead - 07/01/07 I apologize in advance for what I think I did which is probably really bad. I inherited a tank from a guy my husband works with when his detachment was deployed. I said I would take care of his aquarium until they got back. it is a Resun dms-400. I believe it holds 12 gallons. there is about 10-12lbs of live rock, about 2 inches of live sand. He had one true perc. clown. one firefish, a fire shrimp 2 snails and one hermit, a few yellow polyps and some Xenia that were dying but I am proud to say I have gotten to come back to life and it is growing rapidly!! I added a heater and maintain temps around 78-80F. Just ordered replacement bulbs: CoralLife 50/50 mini bulbs. My readings are usually around: 8.2 Ph 0 ppm nitrite, 5.0 nitrate and .25 ammonia. <Mmm, do keep your eye on this last... may be not there... transient... but you want none> after a few weeks I got some snails and zebra hermits because there was an algae problem. The snails started to disappear and after investigation one night, I discovered a monster bristle worm. he is massive, predatory and I hate him! so I got some different snails, 3 Nassarius snails they have not gotten eaten! I added an elephant ear mushroom coral, <Gets too big for this tiny volume... and eats Clowns...> found a red mushroom on one of my rocks, and one small orange zoo. I got a smaller True perc to pair with the large one in the tank and also, after the worms started attaching a feather duster I removed it and got a six-lined wrasse <Not enough room...> to eat the worms. I think i already know what you are going to say...too many things in a small tank.... to make matters worse I got a Small BTA <...> when I noticed the male Clown using the Xenia as a host, Xenia didn't like that. ( this all occurred over a 3 month period) I plan on getting a larger tank so i thought the small BTA would be ok for a bit while I get the funds and set up a larger tank for myself. <All may crash by then... too likely so> One week after BTA and wrasse are in the tank everything is great, the BTA is on the opposite side as my corals so no issues as of yet and I am sure he is not moving from his rock, he seems happy to be where he is. <No... is a sort of "stand-off"...> The clown male is just starting to go into the BTA!!! I did a water change early this week (about 50% every 7 days normally) because the levels were way higher than normal! DUH i think it is because there are too many things. my LFS told me everything I was doing was ok and now I am not so sure. <...> I also noticed the wrasse had a white spot on him when he got here, ( i know i didn't QT him, no QT tank) now i believe it to have been ich or velvet, because it is now on the male clown and looks like a pimple behind his fin and on the wrasse a bit more like a rubbed off area but not really. (will attach pics) <I see, but very blurry> I decided to treat it with some No-Ich today. <No!> I am scared something bad may be around the corner <You are fortunate for this premonition> and I love the tank and my fish and don't want to risk it. I am asking if what I am doing is ok or not, what you would recommend I change or take care of immediately to hopefully avoid any death or problems of any of my live stock! I would be willing to get the new tank going as soon as possible to save some lives even though no one seems to be in emanate danger except for the ich. Your site is very helpful and I value your opinions! Thanks for your time. Rachael <I would hold off, hope that this "spotting" is not pathogenic. This system is too overcrowded, too likely to be poisoned, unstabilized by treatment... and you do NOT want to try such administration in the main tank... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm Scan, the titles... from top on down... and work on getting that other, larger system going... and NOT buying anymore livestock... I would hate to see you lose your livestock, and lose you as an earnest hobbyist. Bob Fenner>

Cloudy eye... RMF schwipe at "Fixes", small SW systems 6/5/07 Hi Crew, I have a Royal Gramma for over 2 years. I recently noticed a cloudy spot in the center of one eye. <If only one this points to a physical trauma as cause... rather than a toxic condition, pathogenic disease (if bilateral)> I did some reading about cloudy eyes and was wondering if this is in fact what I have been reading about since in this case it is not the whole eye. I also found some advice to use Melafix. <Not by me... and a good case in point why I DO NOT endorse such "phony remedies"... The strength of force, suggestion that they are cures...> Is there a consensus about this? <Decidedly not. May I ask you... if you had an eye ailment, would you pour tea into it? This is what these "fixes" are... Melaleuca leaf extract here> For some reason or other my impression from the Crew is that not much is thought of regarding this product. I have a bottle of the stuff that is probably 2 years old and never used. Any idea if it spoils? <Yes> Someone asked (6/4) about fish for a 20 gallon and mentioned a royal Gramma, neon gobies and cardinals. In my case (10 gallon) the gobies and Gramma get along. <This is too small a space for a Grammatid> It is the cardinal that the Gramma pushes around. <...> But when it comes to feeding time the cardinal holds his own. If I had to do it over I would probably go with a firefish instead of the Gramma. The Gramma colors are very bold but the firefish have some nice colors to them as well and they do not get bossy like the Gramma. Thanks <The root problem very likely here is crowding, territoriality... the aggressive behavior is causing too much stress, the one fish has likely dashed itself onto something hard... Fix their world, don't try to band-aid symptom/s... Bob Fenner>

NANO Setup - Inverts... Terrible mis-mix in too small volume, iatrogenic problems 6/5/07 Hi :) Sorry this is rather long mail :( <No worries, take your time...> I recently (3-4 months ago) started a nano reef. It started with 1 percula and one cup coral <Mmm, how big a tank? What species of Dendrophylliid? These are not small animals/colonies... need stability...> and 1 polyp <Of what sort? A Clavulariid, Stoloniferan I take it... many of these are too toxic to house with other Cnidarian Classes organisms in small volumes...> with the sand and liverock. The polyp disintegrated (heat I guess around 32 degrees C). The cup coral was happy as I saw him put on a layer around his polyps and would open the polyps fully. Due to the heat, I kept only 1 actinic on (extended duration) for 2 months. <... not enough light strength nor quality...> Last Tuesday I got a chiller and added an LTA <... no> and one more clown, a mushroom (all 3 from old tank) and one *new* polyp. The polyp opened a bit (around 60%) then last night I added one (injured) leather coral <I know you're not, but I wish you were joking here> The leather started giving off mucus and I pulled it off in like 10 min.s. <Too late> Now the polyps and the cup coral do not open much (around 30% only opens) I know it was stupid of me to put the injured coral in the tank. But it's base had dissolved into talcum powder types due to the heat in my other tank. So I wanted to save it :(( <...> Its crown was folded (from many weeks) and some brown color in some areas. More stupid things, I decided to save the tank and dump the coral as I thought it was dead. Put it in a plastic bag and left it for 6+ hours. Before disposing it, I looked and saw some polyps extended. Then I knew it was not dead and am trying to restore it to health. From last night, I have kept the coral (only crown is left) in a separate bowl and change water every 6 hours. Attached an airpump also for air exchange. I add red sea coral Gro vitamin 5 ml every water change. I have loosely rubber banded it to a small piece of live rock to attach to as I did not want to use putty thinking it might add stress. <Won't, wouldn't work in any case> The coral crown is folded (was that way for weeks) and was rather rigid when I rubber banded it. Not at all flaccid like when they are dead. 1. What can I do for the polyps? 2. What can I do for the coral? <Move all to suitable circumstances...> HELPPPP please!! Many thanks In Advance (as always :)) Ranjith Tank Specifications and parameters 25G 26Kgs liverock 10-12 Kg.s sand from the beach (clean one that's not commercialized and no dumping) Lights: 76W total 2 Philips T3 actinic (20W+20W) 1 PL Daylight 36W (don't know Kelvins) Both are on timers for 15 and 12 hours daily respectively Circulation: 1 Azoo 1500lph attached to a mini SCWD types Return flow from the chiller (350Lph) Water Parameters: Amonia-0 Nitrate->5ppm CA-500ppm Alk-3.2 Meql (wrong spelling I guess) <No worries. I understand what you're stating, milliequivalents per litre> Ph-8.0 to 8.2 (stable across night and day) Temp: 26 degree C +- 1 degree C Additives: RedSea Coral Gro vitamin supplement RedSea Mag + Stron + Molyb + Green + Trace Kent marine 2 part additive Food: RedSea marine Gro Cyclop eeze Tetra bits (freshwater one) Frozen and fresh shrimp for anemone Livestock are 1 Bi-color blenny 2 Perc clowns 1 LTA 1 Cup Coral 1 Bi color polyps 1 Brown mushroom 1 Grape Caulerpa and sea weed 2 snails 2 small starfish <This is an unsustainable mix for this volume of water... in particular the Anemone, Ecsenius and Caulerpa... Please... Read on WWM re each of the species listed... make notes re their "Systems", "Compatibility"... this information can be searched for or found by perusing the indices... What you have currently will NOT work... Bob Fenner>

Fish for 20 gallon SW, 6/4/07 Hello, <Hi> I have a 20 gallon with 2 shrimp (L. amboinensis) & 4 sun coral colonies (1 yellow; 2 orange; 1 black). I have two Tubipora currently in separate quarantine tanks. (One smelled really bad when I opened the bag up and it didn't look nearly as healthy as it did last week when I paid for it/leaving it at the store-I was told if they didn't make it, or over half didn't make it they would compensate me). I also plan to add Heliopora and Caulastrea sp. (most likely curvata). Equipment is AquaClear 70, Tunze 9002 skimmer, 130W PC. As a trial, currently about 5 inches of the tank is separated with a tank divider and holds Chaeto. If that doesn't work out then I'll opt for an AquaFuge HOB refugium. In about a month I would like to start adding fish and was considering one Royal Gramma, a cardinalfish (2 if allowable) either Spotted/Pajama or Orange Lined (Apogon cyanosoma), and 1 or 2 neon gobies . The Royal Gramma is the main fish that I want to have and selected the others around that choice. Which of those should be placed in the tank first? <Gobies, Cardinals, Gramma.> Which should be placed last? <Definitely the Gramma.> The tank is set up with a sandy open area in the center holding the sun coral display with a large rock cave to the left and a medium cave on the right joined by intertwined Tonga branches in the back of the tank. Thank you again for a great helpful site. Regards, Debra <Might have trouble with the Gobies and Gramma. The body shapes are close enough that the Gramma might get aggressive over time, so you might need to separate these in the future.> <Chris>

Completely Baffled 4/24/07 Crew, <Good afternoon Michael> I just can't piece together the information on your site to answer my specific situation. I have a 20 gallon aquarium, 35 lbs LR, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, salinity 1.025, pH 8.4, Calcium 400 and alkalinity 13.8. I have a 10 gallon sump, a Remora skimmer and an Ecosystem hang on back refugium with Chaeto and miracle mud. I use RODI water. <Sounds like a nice system> My system has been running for 4 months. About 2 months ago, I introduced 5 Nassarius snails, 5 Cerith snails and a scarlet hermit crab. All seemed fine. About a month later, I introduced a turbo snail, a xenia, and a couple of Zoanthids. Over the month that I had the first batch of snails and hermit crab, they all died. After three days of introducing the turbo, xenia and Zoas, they all started to decline. I removed the corals to QT and lost the xenia the next day. The Zoas haven't opened up for 3 weeks. The next day, the turbo dropped off the back wall and was laying upright. I moved him to QT and lost him the day after. <Sorry for all the losses> While the corals were still in the display, I noticed my Flame Angel nipping at them. <<This system is too small for this species. RMF>> The next day, the Flame was swimming slowly and it looked like he had a case of Popeye. So, he went to QT. After 3 weeks of QT, I reintroduced the Flame to the display yesterday. <Had his condition cleared or did you just go on "Recommended Quarantine Times" - careful observation and judgment is needed> Within 12 hours, his condition declined and he was laying on his side on the bottom of the tank. <Reintroduction/Acclimation technique?> Back to QT he went this morning. Already, he is looking better. About 5 days ago, I introduced a leather and a mushroom. The leather shrunk and lost it's skin. I was blowing it off under a powerhead everyday. Yesterday, when I blew him off, his tips were lifeless. <This can be normal behaviour for leathers upon introduction - "Sliming"/"Moulting"/"Shining"> The leather and mushroom went to QT. The mushroom is slightly open but the leather doesn't look good. <Are these in separate quarantines? Otherwise you are effectively shrinking your display tank and moving the same stock together. What was in you tank fish wise before you added the crabs initially> So, since the only livestock I can get to thrive in the tank are three clowns, I have moved everything to QT. The fish show no signs of disease. But there has got to be something in my display tank that is killing everything. The only thing left in the tank is 25 lbs of LR and a 4" DSB. <Where has the other 10lb of live rock gone, placing it quarantine may introduce whatever is wrong to the quarantine and then back again after treatment of the fish> Should I let it go fallow for 2 months? Do I leave the rock in it during that time? I am stumped because from what I can tell, my water perimeters are near perfect. Any help would be appreciated. <More information is needed here. What do you feed? What is your acclimation technique, as particularly with crabs this can be critical to their health, past this they are normally very hardy and did you supplement their scavenging. What is your water change regime? It may also be worth buying a new test kit and try this on Nitrate etc. Reply with the above and anything else of note that you can think off and I'll try and help more> Michael Svehla <Look forward to hearing back; let's sort this. Olly>

Question regarding the fish. Is there an easy fix for impatience? 4/21/07 Hi there, <Hello> I had a question regarding a dead fish. I set up a new 20 gal hex tank and added live rock and had 80F temp, 1.012 Salinity <I hope this is a typo, and you meant 1.021, which is still too low.> and 8.2 Ph level and let it run for 10 days. At this point the nitrite level was rising <!!> but I got so impatient <!> that I had to put a green chromi <Chromis?>, Javanese Damsel, and Domino damsel <Very aggressive, should not be mixed with other damsels.> with two snails, just to see something in the tank. <That's a lot of life to sacrifice in a toxic soup just so you have something to look at.> My Green Chromi<s> disappeared after a day and today I found the dead body stuck in difficult part of live rock inside the cave . <Yes, that is because nitrite is deadly!! > I tried my best but I couldn't pull out the fish and just the reverse happened, I further pushed it and its out of sight now. I know a dead fish in there is not good but I don't want to take off all the rocks which is perfectly set up. <Well I bet the remaining fish don't really want to live in a tank with a decaying body. How much live rock could there be in a 20 gal tank anyway? As aquarists we have the responsibility to provide an appropriate environment for the wildlife we are keeping.> Is there any invertebrate that I can put in there which will take care of the situation so the ecology of tank wont get misbalanced <unbalanced> because of dead fish? <While there are plenty of scavengers that will eat a dead fish, as you will find if you will do some research here, that still will not remove the waste from the environment. A dead fish will produce waste whether it decays on its own or is turned into poop by a scavenger. Please remove the dead fish. Maybe some tweezers or a bit of suction with a siphon hose might help?? Your remaining fish are suffering enough with the unfinished cycle of the tank. An abandoned dead fish will probably do them in as well.> Also when should u <you> start the protein skimmer in new tank? <Preferably before you overload the tank. Usually after the cycle is complete, but since you jumped the gun, you need to be skimming now!> I already have the skimmer but haven't used it, and it's been two weeks. The tank is running with just filter. <Please slow down and read, understand, the needs of the life you are attempting to keep. Much information is available that would help you avoid this problem and the upcoming problems you will have if you don't develop some patience. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nanoreefsysart.htm is a start, plenty more links to follow there.> Thank you and hope to hear from you soon. VICTOR <Please do check spelling, punctuation/apostrophes, and capitalization ("I", beginning of sentences) before sending. I corrected most of your typos, but many crew members would have returned to you for correcting before answering. We receive many e-mails daily, and it takes a lot of our volunteer time to correct every one so that they are suitable for posting. Thank you. Alex>

(Sick?) Domino Damsel... Mis-stocked, over-crowded small SW system... with Crypt... No reading of WWM 4/21/07 Hey everyone, <Andi> My fianc?and I are fairly new to the marine aquarium set up. Our tank is a 16 gallon, <Small volumes are difficult to keep stable...> and we have quite an eclectic collection of things in it. I'll start off by describing our set up, hopefully it'll help you diagnose our problem. We've got about 15lbs of Fiji live rock, some polyps corals, a feather duster, an anemone, <Not suitable for such a small tank, with other cnidarians...> a sand sifting star fish, a small purple and orange lobster, <Too predaceous for this setting> three crabs, <Ditto!> two snails, a false clown fish and a domino damsel. Aside from our anemone shriveling up last night, everything in the tank seems to be doing fine. Our tank is fairly new, it's been running for about two months now. We check salinity every day, it's constant and adequate, and we use a standard reef test kit once a week, which has so far shown all positive results. <... this subjective evaluation is of limited value... Need to see/read the actual results> My question is about our Domino... <A Dascyllus species is inappropriate here... Please see WWM re> about a week ago, a patch developed on his tail, where it connects to his body (on both sides). It began as kind of a faded black, and is now almost pink, you nearly see through him! Also, this morning, I turned on the light, and lo and behold, he's covered in little white specks. Ick? ACK! The clownfish has been nipping at him a bit, not too much, and I'm wondering of this has anything to do with it. What is the best solution to hopefully save my tank, and Domino? Hospital tank and let the main tank run without fish for a month? <... posted... Need to remove all fishes, treat elsewhere...> What about the invertebrates in the main tank, should they go in the hospital tank too? <... posted> Help! We're fairly new to this, and so far your website has been phenomenal for info. We cannot rely on the advice of those selling our fish and supplies to us, since one guy sold us an anemone and a false clownfish, and we found out later that the fake clownfish would not and should not go in the anemone. Gee, thanks. Anyways, all the help and advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. You guys do a wonderful job, keep up the good work! Andi <Your system is mis-stocked, you haven't read, even searched evidently... Read re Crypt, all the species you list... and quickly... all are soon to be dead. Bob Fenner>

Fish disease ... Clown in a tiny, unstable world... not for long... Another lost aquarist leaving 6/17/06 Ok.... I have a quick question. I have a 12 gallon mini reef tank and I had just purchased one percula clownfish (the only fish i have in there). When I first got it, I observed it and didn't seem to have any cuts or wounds. The next day, I saw a white patch which i think is fungus growing at the base of the dorsal fin. <Environmental...> As time went by, it started to spread. It looks like a person pealing from a sunburn but instead it is white. It doesn't seem to have that cotton outgrowth as fungus do. What Can it be? The clownfish is fine and all. Still eating, swimming regularly. It is not ich for sure. Another question, If a new fish were to be added, is fungus similar to ich where it stays in the water column and infects the new fish as well? Thank you. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clndisfaqs.htm and the linked files above, and further on WWM re "Small Marine Systems"... Bob Fenner>

20g Tank, Fish and a Shoehorn - II - 05/16/2006 Morning fishy people... <Good morning.> I wrote in a day or so ago about my Regal Blue Tang with this mysterious illness. If you recall, I had mentioned I was keeping critters from my 90gallon in a 20gallon while my 90gallon was being setup with a sump. During that time I had introduced a antibiotic powder of some sort to treat Cyanobacteria. I had used this before in my 90 gallon without any issues and it worked... temporarily. Note: I realize it's not a long-term solution... <Nor a "good" solution, in many/most cases.> hence I have setup a sump for my 90 gallon and am going to setup a refugium etc to help with nutrient control. In summary, my 2.5" Regal Tang was hiding in a hole in the rock breathing heavy... and did not come out for the day. The next morning he was stuck up against a powerhead... unable to move away on his own free will. Two days prior, he was actively feeding, etc. ANYHOW... I had also mentioned my water quality was fine. Water quality was not fine. <I suspected something might be amiss, here.... This is why we end up asking the actual numbers - "fine" to you may not be fine at all.> Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrates were in check... HOWEVER, my pH which always remains at 8.2 had fallen to about 7.8. <Argh!> My other fish seemed to be doing fine. The 20 gallon was a 3 week temporary situation for my fish... not a long-term establishment by any means. <Still.... So much life in such a small space is just asking for trouble. Even splitting this life up among a few Rubbermaid tubs would have been better. So much livestock crammed, even temporarily, into a tiny space is really testing the limits of your animals. Not a safe plan.> Anyhow, my 90 gallon is up and running with 100lbs of live rock and a 35gallon sump with aggressive protein skimming. <Sounds great!> Salinity and water temperature I keep at 1.024 (or is it 1.0024?) and 24oc. In order to attempt to save my Regal Tang, I used some egg crating to section off a corner of my 90 gallon tank. My Tang is in the corner by himself. The water quality is good... meaning pH 8.2, no traces of ammonia, nitrates, or nitrites. I had introduced a Royal Gramma into the 90 gallon along with a Flame Angel. <Uhh, I DO hope you've quarantined them....> They look at the Tang, but really don't go to near the egg crate. Yesterday afternoon, my Tang's breathing had slow down and he seemed to be doing a little better. If I brought my hand up to the tank... he'd swim backwards away from it. He seemed alert and was looking around... but still not swimming much. I was curious if it was the eggcrate that was now freaking him out... and he did seem better. I removed the eggcrate and he started swimming around... although somewhat lopsided - as if he'd had a stroke and didn't have full control over his movement? <Better to keep this animal separate from other livestock until he's fully recovered.> Anyhow, he swam right into a rocky crevice where my Royal Gramma calls home. Next thing you know, little Royal Gramma started nipping his face because the Tang was in his hole. <Not surprising.... These little guys can be tough. A sick/injured/weak fish is easy to pick on. Again, better to keep the damaged fish separate from all other livestock.> I managed to rescue him and he appears to have no physical damage. He's back in a egg-crated off corner of my tank and is once again breathing heavily. When you guys responded yesterday, you suggested that perhaps the Dottyback in the 20gallon had attacked him? <Is possible. But that pH change is enough to really cause some problems. It may be the Dottyback had no hand in this.> There was never any physical evidence of nipping, etc. NOTE: The Dottyback is being taken back to the fish retailer and is not being introduced into the 90gallon with the Royal Gramma. I have 2 clowns and a CBS in the 20 gallon tank. I have managed to get the pH back up to about 8.0 by doing 30% daily water changes out of my 90 gallon sump. So... I learned that obviously some fish react to water quality differently. <Ohhhhh yes.> That introducing a medication in a small tank is very dangerous because it can quickly alter the water quality in such a small tank. <This is dangerous in ANY tank; just more so in a smaller system.> In the meantime, do you think it's possible for my Tang to recover from this? <Only time will tell.> Again... no visible physical damage... still breathing very rapidly over past 3 days... but in a safe environment. <This is probably the best you can do for now.> Regards, -Dave Brynlund <Wishing you and your tang well, -Sabrina>

New Aquarium Issues S/W Hi guys, great site! Ya'll are an incredible resource and you're so good at answering questions I just had to submit one. <Okay> A little over a month ago I converted an Eclipse 6 to salt water, my first marine aquarium. The standard light was replaced with a "natural light" curlicue bulb from Home Depot with a waterproof socket, etc, so lighting is great. A friend has been helping me (she's done SW tanks for years) but my problem seems to be stumping her as well. Her aquarium is over a year old and she gave me about a pound of her live sand to start. <Good> I added about 7 lbs of Fiji live rock and more sand to give me about a 1 1/2 to 2" sand substrate. We let the aquarium cycle till ammonia and nitrite were at 0, and then the problems began. Brown algae quickly starting growing in the tank. <Normal... especially with small tanks (yours is tiny)> I added a yellow watchman goby and an anemone porcelain crab, letting the algae continue. The new guys seemed happy, so I decided to add some cleanup critters to help deal with the algae (which was now growing all over the live rock, the sand, and the sides of the aquarium). I bought a banded serpent star, acclimating him per your instructions. The next day, one of the star's legs was broken in half. Over the next two days he totally disintegrated, losing all of his legs and literally falling apart. <Very, too common> I removed the pieces and did a massive water change to combat the nitrites which were now in the .5 range. After water change, the nitrites next day were 0. A week went by and I thought I'd try it again. I bought a small feather duster, two turbo snails and a sand sifting star, acclimated all. The feather duster made it a week before dropping his feathers, though he still appears alive (I can see him at the end of his tube, just featherless). The Turbos made it about a day before dying. The star made it two days, dissolved into a mess. I removed all, massive water change, and decided to give up on stars. Nitrites returned to 0 after the change and stayed there. I then decided to get real cleanup critters and added 5 blue legged hermits, 1 scarlet hermit, an emerald crab, a few more Turbos and some Nerites snails. The crabs and Nerites are doing fine, but the Turbos keep dropping like flies. Help! In the 6 gallon tank each night for the last 4-5 nights I've come home and found the nitrite at about .5. I do about a 4 gallon water change (r/o water with Oceanic salt mix added) and remove any dead critters, then check everything after the change. It'll be fine. By the next morning it'll be at about .25 and by the time I get home the next day it's back to .5. I'm stumped here. Obviously something is producing nitrite (I don't think I'm overfeeding as last night I did this process with no food and today the level still climbed overnight). I have fed a combination of DT's and some fish blend, but don't do it excessively. My goby and crabs all seem to be very happy. My feather dusters can't agree, one dropped his feathers, then other has 'shrunken' the length of his feathers, and the last seems perfectly happy, though each sometimes emits a slime trail in the water. Can you help me stop the needless slaughter? (and nightly water changes)? Many thanks, Mike <Mike... the most important "thing" you have working against you is the size of this system... too inherently unstable... but close behind it is the newness of your system... you need, would do best to stop putting livestock in here and just let the tank go as is for a month or two... the ping-ponging of nitrites are a strong clue here... Read on my friend... on WWM re nano/small marine systems... set-up, maintenance... Bob Fenner>

ICH Problem In 24G Nano Cube I have a 24G nano cube, 30 lbs live rock, 25 lbs live sand, 1 Lysmata shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 serpent star, snails, hermit crabs, 1 clownfish, 1 coral beauty, 1 blue tang, and 1 mandarin green goby, no corals as of yet. <... the Centropyge Angel, Tang... even (especially!) Mandarin can't live in this size volume> All fish are relatively small 1 to 3 inches at the most. Three weeks ago, I immediately took out a domino damsel (used to cycle tank) after noticing white spots which I assumed to be ich. <Too late... once noticed, already infesting your system> Could the domino have spread the disease to other fish or to the tank since I took him out as soon as I noticed spots? <Yes> Could inverts such as shrimp, serpent stars, snails, and crabs carry the disease? <Mmm, not carry per se... but can be vectors, physical carriers... as well as the water that they might be transported in...> Could they have become infected? I thought I was on the clear, but on Sunday 2 weeks after I took the domino out, I introduced the coral beauty, and blue tang together to the main tank. All was well, and on Wednesday after coming home from work, I noticed the coral beauty, and blue tang were covered with ich. What happened? Did they catch the ich from my system as the crypt reached the theronts stage? <Bingo!> or did they carry the ich already and showed signs soon after I introduced them in the tank? <Doubtful... but yes, a remoter possibility> Why don't the clownfish, and goby show any signs? <Mmm, they're "stronger"... the goby is "slimier"... they will contract the ich in time, with debilitation, further cycles of the parasite> I am so confused. I don't see signs of ich on the clownfish, therefore we can assume that the new fish carried the ich in, but then again, the clownfish doesn't come anywhere near the sandbed. What do you think? <That our economy is in trouble, that there's too much government...> I've read the section on crypt, but I am so confused regarding certain issues. <Mmm, take all a "bit at a time"... your situation is not uncommon (unfortunately) and you obviously (from reading here) have a good mind... capacity to understand what has gone on, can go on... what your choices are. Of course, would be great to go back in time, dip/bath, quarantine new livestock...> Here is my main question, does ich need to be transmitted to a fish, or can an "ICH FREE" fish develop ich on its own??? <Great question... Marine ich, "Cryptocaryoniasis" must need be transmitted to an otherwise non-infested system... put another way, there are specific "ich-free" systems, fishes... And for thoroughness sake, freshwater ich (Ichthyophthiriasis) is actually capable of "lying dormant" and surfacing given enough balance in its favor for expression> I plan to place all the fish in a QT tank and treat them, should I move the serpent starfish also to the QT tank, or any other inverts as well? Do you have any further advise? Much appreciated..... <To keep reading... no to moving your invertebrates... Bob Fenner>

Re: ICH Problem In 24G Nano Cube Hey Bob, the economy will always bounce back, but I don't know about our government, you do have a point. <Heeee! Just ask the Soviets, or the Romans for that matter... what happens when the gov't spends more than 20-25% of the GDP... on to fish> Thanks for all answers. Tonight, I was able to catch the blue tang, and I gave it a freshwater dip for approx. 10 min, but seems that the white spots are still there. Were the spots suppose to disappear, if so should I try again? <Mmm, the spots are actually the fishes' reactions to the ich parasite... sometimes go, sometimes no> I used a Meth. blue solution with treated tap water, but I have no idea how much the concentration was. <Not important... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/methblueart.htm > I dropped 1 drop to make the water blue. I did use treated tap water with the same temp. and pH as my main tank water as the freshwater dip. I'm trying to set up a QT tank, but until then I thought I'd give the tang a dip to rid it of the ich that it has so badly. <Mmm> I don't think he's going to make it, and I know you said he's probably not right for this size tank. But I'm stubborn to make this work....good news is that all fish are eating well. We'll see about tomorrow. <Bob Fenner>

Crash on nano highway... Hello Crew, you have been great about answering questions before, I hope you can tell me what the heck happened. <Will try my best> I have an 18 gal/nano with a 6 lined wrasse and a sailfin tang, <*CRINGE* a sailfin shouldn't be put in anything less than a 100g! Please do a bit more research before purchase, especially for a nano> some zoos, a few leather mushrooms, pulse xenias, candycane, blood shrimp and a few hermits. <All good except for the sailfin and sixline, find new homes for them ASAP!> Lights, dual 40watt daylights and dual 40 watt actinics, <ok> filters are a Fluval 204 with bio/media and bio-Chem Zorb with a surface skimmer. Also an AquaClear 250 with bio/media. I do 3 gal. partials every Sat, All of my parameters have been right on target, I do have to add iodine twice a week to keep in spec. <If you don't already have it, slowly add about 20lbs of live rock, and slowly remove the biological media from your filters. I wouldn't run a nano or any reef with bio medium in a filter...turn your AC powerfilter into a refugium and use your canister for chemical\water circulation> I bought some sea salt maybe I shouldn't mention the name for pretty cheap. <Don't skimp on salt, ever. I've used Instant Ocean for 11 years, I highly recommend it> I've noticed that my mag. has been dropping steadily and I've been adding buffer to keep my ph constant. <Low quality salt most likely, with half the necessary magnesium content...definitely try IO> Friday night I added (per directions) 1 ml per gal of mg. additive and added a buffer along with an cal. supplement (also per directions), I awoke Sat. morn to find my tank cloudy and my sailfin tang on the bottom of my tank. After some testing, my ph was 7.8 ( it was the morn though) <No excuse for a pH of 7.8 ever. Time for large water changes with a new salt mix, and better circulation\aeration> no ammonia but I had 80ppm of nitrates. <They will definitely accumulate in a nano, especially with bio medium in the power filters. You should be doing 50% water changes weekly in a nano with a good quality salt mix, will alleviate your dosing problems as well. Incidentally, are you measuring nitrate-nitrogen or nitrate-ion?> I was told (post advice) that I should never add cal. and mg. the same day. Is this true, or do you have an idea of something else that could have caused this? <Depends on the alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium levels. The cloudiness is probably precipitation of alkalinity due to the calcium\magnesium addition. Time for 25% water changes daily for four days or so, and keep an eye on your calcium\alkalinity. For more info on water chemistry see Randy Holmes-Farley on www.reefcentral.com, he's incredibly educated on water chemistry> I started doing a partial and I know this is not recom. but I changed about 70% of the water in the tank. <Not recommended by whom? No reason not to do a water change> After about 3 gals. were added my tang began trying to swim and started to get his color back. He's doing well, the only thing in the tank that I lost was an emerald, he was cool and I'm sorry to lose him but it could have been much worse. <Will continue to worsen until you find new homes for your fish> Everything in the tank seems to have recovered but it's got me a bit worried about the future of my tank. What can I do different, I'm very meticulous when it comes to my aquariums. <Please heed the above advice, and educate yourself further on nano-reefs and their inhabitants. There is a lot of good information here, as well as www.reefcentral.com, and www.nano-reef.com> I also have an 210 Malawian tank that is doing great, <Much more forgiving than a nano-reef :)> Hopefully you can steer me in the right direction and this won't happen again. <It is most definitely possible to set up beautiful and successful nano-reefs, with the proper knowledge of such systems. My coursed of action for the immediate future would be: 1. Go buy a high quality salt mix, 2. Proceed to perform large water changes every day for the next few days, 3. find new homes for your fish, 4. spend as much time possible reading everything you possibly can from our site and the links above. For future reference, dosing usually isn't necessary in a nano, and I advice you replace dosing with frequent partial water changes for the time being. You don't have any high demand organisms in your aquarium, you should be just fine with weekly PWC's> Thanks for your help, Jerry S. <Good luck - M. Maddox>

Multiple Questions Re My New 10g Marine Aquarium (11/23/04) Hi, <Hi, Leslie here this morning.> I am very new to marine aquariums, and have a few questions. With the wealth of information out there (a large majority of which is conflicting and/or confusing. I have found myself more worried about the status of my tank inhabitants and at the same time less able to assess the situation. <That's why we are here. > I have a 10 gallon tank which I started out with live rock and sand for 2 weeks before adding a four-striped damsel. After another 3 weeks, I took my water to be tested by the local store where I purchased the damsel, and was informed that it was "perfect". Over the next two weeks, I added 3 small hermit crabs, a snail, and colony polyps. Throughout this time, the specific gravity and temperature have been very steady with regular top-offs of fresh water and weekly 10% water changes (using distilled water). I thought I was doing everything right, until learning from your website articles that I should have put new arrivals in quarantine before adding them to my tank (something that will be done in the future). I also found information that I should be checking the water chemistry (such as pH, nitrates etc) weekly. Is this correct, and if so, what should I purchase to do this? <Yes, this is a good habit to get into. There are a number of test kits available. I like the Salifert or Fastest test kits. > I am also still confused about filtration (please excuse my ignorance). I have a millennium wet/dry filter that hangs on the side of the tank and boasts "venturi air injection". Is this adequate? <Yes, should be just fine> Now to my paranoia. My Damsel has been displaying symptoms of an infection (although, I admit, only something I noticed after reading about it). He always seemed to brush against the live rock and filter etc, but appeared to do it in order to brush up things to eat. However, now he does more 'scratching' without the apparent reasons he had before. He does have a slight gray color on his nose and around the front of his gills, but I cannot say that it wasn't there before because I wasn't attentive enough. Is this something to be worried about? I don't want to be subjecting my damsel to treatment unless I am sure. He still eats voraciously and appears to be his curious, active self. He does appear to spend every other hour or so sitting at the surface by the filter and breathing more rapidly though. I don't know if that is normal? < 10g is small for 4 damsels. These are mean little territorial fish and require some space. The minimum tank size recommended for this fish is 20g and as they mature will bully each other especially in small aquariums. It is possible that the fish displaying the symptoms is being picked on or stressed in some way by the other fish. It is also possible that you have some water quality issues in a newly cycled tank up only 2 weeks. Either or both could be the cause of your sick fish. Rapid gilling, sitting near the surface and hanging out by filter returns are all indications of that there is some sort of a respiratory problem going on. Those symptoms coupled with the rubbing on tank decor aka flashing would be suggestive of a parasite infestation with a possible secondary bacterial or fungal infection as evidenced by the gray coloration on his face and gills. I would place the fish in a quarantine tank and consider medicating it with a good broad spectrum antibiotic in combination with hyposalinity. Information on both can be found here...... http://www.petsforum.com/personal/trevor-jones/hyposalinity.html and these articles by Steven Pro http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-08/sp/index.htm http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-10/sp/feature/index.htm http://reefkeeping.com/issues/subject/disease.php That 10g size is very limiting in terms of what you can keep. You might want to consider a slightly larger tank if possible .... say 20 or 30 gallons. A larger tank will be more stable and you will have many more options in terms of inhabitants. Most of the small marine fish require at least a 20g tank or larger. Please consider trading in your damsels for a more passive fish in such a small aquarium.... perhaps a small goby > Also, one of my hermits seems to try to escape the tank by climbing the glass, and the snail often climbs the glass clear out of the water. Is this an indication of anything? <Nope, should not be a problem> I have also noticed very very small (both length and width), transparent, worm-like creatures in the live rock and sand. Friend or Foe? <Friend> Sorry this is such a long e-mail, but I truly am frustrated/confused as well as concerned. < No worries my friend.> I want to provide a good environment for my new pets, and would hate to be inadvertently causing them harm or neglecting them. Please help!! Paranoid Beginner < Hope this helps and best of luck with your new tank, Leslie >

Filtration for 29 Gallon Tank Hi Bob, <Hello, Gage here> I have read a lot of you FAQ's and they are very helpful, but I have yet to come across one that helps my specific problem. I have a 29 gallon tank which will be set up to keep SPS corals and as well as a mated pair of Green Clown Gobies, a Scooter Blenny, and some clams. When I ran this tank previously without a skimmer, even with 45lbs. of cycled live rock, I had a horrible slick on the top of the water. This has made me sure that I want to skim this tank. I also previously have kept a Scooter Blenny, but it died while I was on vacation because it wasn't getting enough food. This makes me sure I want a refugium. My question is - should I do a hang-on skimmer (such as the Remora Pro) and use a spare ten gallon under the tank as a refugium? Or should I get a hang-on refugium (i.e. Aqua Fuge) and have my ten gallon hold a "real" skimmer and other media? <I would probably go with the hang on refugium and the skimmer in the sump idea. The hang on skimmers are good, but if you choose to go with an in-sump skimmer you are going to have a lot more choices and will probably end up with a more productive skimmer. Best Regards, Gage> Thanks, Michael

Ich in small tank I recently and I think unfortunately purchased a 6 gallon Eclipse setup that my LFS had setup for saltwater. <Uh oh...6 gallons? This is your first saltwater experience? Almost every book says buy the biggest tank that you can imagine ever owning> I have had success with freshwater but jumped into this pretty uneducated. <You have no idea how sad this makes me. If you don't start a crash course in saltwater literature very soon you are likely headed for some depressing times ahead> The tank had been running for several weeks at the store <Yes but the store could afford to add more fish every time one dies...and they probably did large water changes and tested the water constantly. You're going to need to do the same thing to have any chance at success> with a gold striped maroon clown, <Oh jeez...this fish is way too big for this tank. Even if the fish is small he needs more swimming room. If not aggressive already, he will become aggressive in the near future. One of the best reference works for the saltwater hobby is Marine Fishes by Scott Michael. I don't think that I have ever found a fish listed in that book that needs less than 20 gallons. No matter how you look at it, a 6 gallon tank is really reducing your odds for success. These tanks are too hard to keep stable and nearly all marine fish grow too big to keep in a tank this small> a Dartfish <Needs at the very least 20 gallons. The maroon will quickly start picking on this peaceful guy> a Condylactis anemone <I'm feeling your pain. I don't like the way any of this sounds. The Condy? Another poor choice> and about 3 lbs of live rock. <Good idea!> I have had the tank for about 4 weeks and last week the anemone died. <Yes...and the one you have now will likely die also...maybe not today or tomorrow...but soon> I removed it immediately but now my other fish have ich. <Have you been testing the water for ammonia? Even if the fish are small, the tank is already psychologically crowded. The Condy could have been a carrier. Have you quarantined anything?> The guy at the store has had me treating the water with quick-cure. <Not a good choice. But good luck anyway!> After reading here I lowered the specific gravity and started showing improvement until yesterday. The clown is now completely covered <With cottony-looking stuff? That's Amyloodinium AKA marine velvet. Covered with what looks like salt? Cryptocaryon AKA ich. Both common and both kill> and is showing some difficulty swimming. Any ideas? <Keep reading and learning> I plan on purchasing a much larger set-up next month but after educating myself a bit I understand that that wont be ready for several weeks. <My friend, there's really no way to be gentle about your situation. You have bought a tank with live animals that you apparently know very little about. This is NOT a recipe for success! You need knowledge fast and unfortunately you're going to need to spend lots of time reading/learning and buying a couple of books. The saltwater hobby really isn't difficult if you set the tank up correctly, stock the tank correctly, and maintenance the tank regularly. Please get started learning right away. Your critters are depending on you! I wish that I could solve your problems with this email but I can't. Read at WetWebMedia.com about setup, maintenance, stocking, etc> Please help...a dead fish is not what I wanted to give my wife for Christmas <Ummmm...If I were a beginner I would never even attempt a 6 gallon Eclipse setup. You're asking for problems. I really am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. David Dowless>

Re: ich in small tank Thank you for all the info but as I expected the damage was already done. Christmas began with dead fish. Thank you for your help and after some reading I will be purchasing a much larger system in the near future. I thought about using the eclipse setup as a quarantine tank for that. <A six gallon system is very small for this but can work if the fish are also very small. Only one fish at a time please and feed lightly...very lightly> Thanks again for your help and a very informative website. <You're welcome! Keep reading and learning...THAT is the secret to success. David Dowless>

Crabs & snails Yesterday I received a shipment of a tiny pallid clownfish, 12 turbo snails and 12 Mexican red leg crabs. I woke up today discovering an ammonia spike in the tank. Up until I found your website, I would put any crab or snail I bought directly into the tank. <!> I removed 6 of the snails and did a 50% water change. The snails appeared dead. Some of the crabs also appear dead. I was feeding them all with flake food. <You just received these animals yesterday and you are already feeding them?> I am at a loss here, darned if I do and darned if I don't. I have them separated from my main tank, but I'm afraid they'll all be dead in a month. What should I be feeding them? Also, it's only a 12 gallon tank. I never even thought of snails as ammonia producers, but these guys are really big. <A twelve gallon system? The animals are likely the origin of the ammonia... from decomposing...> Am also worried about the clown in there. I guess I must have overstocked this tank, never even thinking about crabs and snails as they are detritus eaters. <A common misconception... both are generally omnivorous... with some specialist species...> I have adequate circulation, only one of those hang-on filters with carbon in pads and the sponge with pump. <No skimmer?> So how do I save the remaining newcomers and what do I feed them? I am planning to feed Formula One to the clown and I'm pretty sure most of it will go around. <Do you have any live rock in this system? I would utilize same... to stabilize the water, add ready foodstuffs... and look into a mix of small frozen foods> I got a good buy on the critters and thought I could save on shipping by getting everything at once. Oh-oh! Is it too late?? Connie <Too late for? Perhaps for saving these organisms, but not too late for you to gain more, better grounding in what you might do. Please take a long read (it will be hours) through our root web, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm (the marine index of WWM)... on set-up, small systems, stocking... feeding, quarantine... Help is available; we will assist you gladly. If you would like a more open forum, pls consider join our BB: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ Be chatting, and studying. Bob Fenner>

Re: crabs & snails Dear Bob: Thank you for responding so quickly (not including the rap on the knuckles). I have really been good with the fish and I had spent all afternoon on your website trying to find out how to handle these animals. I have been very lucky that the ones I already have were healthy; I am sure I am not the only one, however, so it is a good lesson for everyone who reads your letters, as I do. <Yes, the intention> I sprinkled some flake food on top of the water when I went to bed last night, I didn't actually FEED them. <Ahh, good> What I didn't know, but just assumed watching the crabs racing around when I feed my fish ,that they liked the same stuff. The snails, however, are totally different and are more dignified in their approach. Also, they really like to work at night. I knew they liked algae but that was it. I will start my long read anon. Thanks again, Connie PS: Only lost 2 out of twelve crabs, 7 out of 12 Turbos, jumbo size. (not what I ordered.) <I do hope that they will improve, do well in your good care. Bob Fenner>

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