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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance 10

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Related FAQs: Marine Aquarium Maintenance 1, Mar. Aq. Maint. FAQs 2Maint. FAQs 3Maint. FAQs 4Maint. FAQs 5, Maint. FAQs 6, Maint. FAQs 7, Maint. FAQs 8, Maint. FAQs 9, Maint FAQs 11, Maint. FAQs 12, Maint. FAQs 13, Maint. 14, Reef Maintenance 1

Yes... a blue-green algae problem in the wild... Here in the Galapagos... From damage?

- Saltwater Aquarium Questions - Hey guys, just want to start off saying that this is by far the best aquarium site on the net whether it comes down to the amount of available resources, or the huge amount of helpful people ready to give advice.  On that note I'll just jump into it because I have a couple questions dealing with different subjects. First off, the scenario.  I have a 72" wide 125 gallon saltwater tank with a blue tang, a coral beauty, an orange tail damsel (starter), 2 blue damsels (what's left of starters), a dragon wrasse, and 2 clown fish, a gold striped maroon, and a Nemo type...yes, after 4.5 months, they are now fighting to the death.  Last but not least a snowflake eel.  The substrate is 3 year old crushed coral.  I have about 60 lbs of live rock.  I have a Fluval 404 as well as a partial undergravel filter that I don't think is working anyway, along with a SeaClone 150 protein skimmer.  I am probably going to remove the undergravel filter completely, and I am actually thinking about removing the crushed coral as well.  What do you think?  Would it be better to have nothing or to have live sand?  <I personally prefer a mix of both sand and crushed coral.> My dragon wrasse would definitely hate me if I left the floor empty. <That is for certain.> After reading over hundreds of the articles and E-Mails that are posted on the site, I am still left a little confused on some areas.  First, the wet/dry.  I've read that it wouldn't be uncommon to run one along with the Fluval 404. <There are no fixed ways of setting up an aquarium so this type of setup is as common as any other.> Ok, still a little foggy on how to hook one up to the tank that doesn't have any holes in it. <Two words - external overflow.> You wouldn't use a trickle/over flow device, it would be a pre-filter something? <There are devices specifically made to work as overflows that are decidedly not trickle filters.> Do you have any more information on that, or a picture of one that is set-up? <Do browse the online stores - these items are quite common.> Also, what are bio-balls? <Essentially just a type of media that the biological filtration bacteria will grow on.> Are those the plastic balls that fill up one side of the filter? <Yes.> Furthermore, I've read on some of the E-Mails, that it is advised to use the live rock instead of the bio-balls. <This is true.> Use the live rock that is in the tank? <Yes and any more that you can add, either to the sump or the tank - for a tank like yours I'd recommend at least one pound per gallon.> Move it to the wet/dry or leave it in the tank where it is? <Both would be best, although the typical wet/dry design doesn't really lend itself to conversion to a live rock sump. Best to keep the rock submerged and avoid the "dry" portion of the wet/dry filter.> Another set of E-Mails would be recommended to not even use the Fluval or the wet/dry, just live rock and the skimmer? <Yet another option... is how I run my tank.> Again I ask, the live rock in the tank? <Yes, although if you have a sump, you can put rock there too.> I don't really understand how that would be working, and even working efficiently enough without the required light. Correct? <Much of the stuff that makes live rock "live" will exist and even thrive without light. Most folk's concern about lighting live rock revolves around the pink/lavender coralline algae which does require lighting to thrive.> Another issue that I am concerned about is a low PH.  My PH is about 7.5/.6  and needs to be around 8.2? <Yes, most certainly.> Is that because of something that I am doing wrong? <Could be from any number of things - would recommend you turn your attentions to the alkalinity portion of the web site... many FAQs answered there.> My local fish store said it might have something to do with the filtration that I am using.  They said "buffering" might help if I did it everyday for about 7 days.  What? <Read up first.> Based on what you can tell from my knowledge on saltwater tanks, are there any good books or articles you could refer me to, to gain even more knowledge on fine-tuning the tank, which is what I'm trying to do now? <Would suggest again that you spend more time on Wet Web Media reading through not only the articles but the question and answer pages as the questions you ask are quite common, and so we've archived the answers there for you. There are also a number of good books including Conscientious Marine Aquarist [Robert Fenner] and New Marine Aquarium [Mike Paletta].> Any information that you guys could provide on any of this would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance. <Cheers, J -- >

Not a coral problem hi, we recently introduced some coral into our saltwater tank and it is turning black, together with everything else in the tank except for our yellow tank and the other 4 smaller fish. can you throw some light onto this? thanks, Karen <Mmm, yes. I suspect this is an issue with coral skeletons, not live specimens... what you are witnessing is opportunistic (mainly) algal growth... If you want these artifacts to be "clean" (i.e. sterile) you can periodically bleach/clean them... Please see/read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm Otherwise, there is no harm in letting these calcium carbonate pieces accumulate (ultimately green) material. Bob Fenner> Marine set-up I am presented with somewhat of a quandary; I have been researching quite heavily for the last month and a half the latest and greatest about marine aquariums and I have noticed two things: people no longer look at me askance when I say my marine aquarium is a 10 gallon tank and the term 'micro-reef' seems to now refer to anything less than 1000 gallons.  To explain my incredulous perspective, allow me to recite a bit of history. In 1986 I purchased a 45 gallon aquarium from my LFS and set it up as a marine aquarium (total cost for equipment: $208.00).  At the time I ran an undergravel filter with two lift tubes driven by a Whisper 700 air pump (six months later; when they became available, I replaced the airstones with powerheads).  I soon added a Magnum 330 canister filter to the system using it mainly for carbon filtration.  At the time the canister filter cycled the tank 7 times per hour; I never calculated the undergravel filtration rate.  A few months later, someone came out with a fluorescent bulb that mimicked natural sunlight; I added one to my system (which probably supplied a whole ? watt per gallon).  I placed both the light and the Magnum on a timer to run the hours approximating the daily cycle of sunrise and sunset.  In the tank I maintained the following: a Sebae clown, a tri-spot (now called domino) damsel, a copper-banded butterfly, a trigger (I believe it was a Hawaiian, am not precisely sure), a yellow tang, a pink tailed trigger, an arrow crab, a Sebae anemone, a brittle starfish (5" diameter) and a serpent starfish (8" diameter). <A LOT of fish for such a small tank> Live coral at the time was considered impossible; I even remember reading about the first living reef that was successfully set up by some marine institute.  I fed the fish Tetra flake foods and silver sides to the inverts.  I had no problems with compatibility; I removed the decorative coral (dead, of course) once a month and bleached it to remove the algae (always rinsing it with hot water before returning to the aquarium) and I did a 10% water change every two weeks to 20 days.  My test kits ALWAYS showed some ammonia and nitrites in the system (granted, this was probably due to the inaccuracy of the test kits at the time); and nitrate testing was problematic at best.  The pH fluctuated more than what is considered acceptable by today's standards and testing for carbonate hardness and trace elements wasn't even considered.  I was among one of the first people to use Tropic Marin sea salt; at the time Instant Ocean was the only thing available.  When the first submersible thermostatic heaters appeared on the market; I paid an exorbitant amount of money to own one (it wasn't so much that it was submersible; the fact that I didn't have to spend a week setting the damn thing where I needed it that was the attraction). And I had no problems.  People would, upon hearing I had a marine aquarium say, "Isn't that a lot of work?" to which I'd reply, "No, not really; just an hour every two weeks or so."  Nothing died, in the two years I had the aquarium, but I will confess the event that killed my desire to maintain the system: the Mini-Reef.  When the world finally figured out that Mother Nature had a better system than they could ever conceive of, and finally found out that natural biological filtration was the way to go, I simply gave up.  After spending $800.00 (1987 money) on my setup, to see it all swept completely and irrevocably into obsolescence in one instant, my heart was no longer in it (especially after seeing the $1600 price tag for a mini-reef).  Although after selling the system, someone had told me how it was 'impossible' to run a small marine tank, I set up a 2.5 gallon tank with a clownfish and an invert (can't remember what kind, a crab or starfish) and ran that tank for three years.  Sometimes I just can't resist a challenge. So, fast forward to the present, I ended up with a ten gallon fish tank and decided, "Why not?"  So I set up the tank using the advice of the LFS with live rock and sand.  Within 8 days the ammonia was zero, in 25 days nitrites were zero and in 41 days nitrates were at zero.  So much for the 60 day cycle time.  I added fish after two weeks and a live coral (silver bush (brush??) xenia) after 41 days.  Within a week the coral was acclimated and a week later it is now bigger than when purchased and there are new polyps in the center and several buds forming on the stalk.  In addition to the coral I have a false percula (which I paid $17 bloody dollars for!!  They used to be $5; I blame Finding Nemo for the ridiculous increase as damsels are still $5), a yellow tailed damsel, two turban snails, five Astrea snails, 5 red-leg hermits, an unknown hermit, and approximately 20 blue leg hermits.  Tank parameters remain fairly stable, with salinity the only variation; and that only when I go more then two days without checking it. The equipment being used is as follows: Penguin Bio-Wheel 125, 13 lbs LS, 5 lbs LR, 3 lbs dead rock, 50W Visi-Therm Deluxe heater, Current Satellite 40W light (10,000K w/460nm) to which I added a cooling fan and a Maxi-Jet 400 powerhead with a FLO rotating nozzle; added when I got the coral.   I perform a 5-8% water change every two weeks, typically to lower nitrates (they haven't gone over 5 ppm since they dropped to zero) and add trace elements for the coral.  Since I started testing for calcium it has always been over 400 ppm.  But, as you can see, there is a lot of equipment in the tank, and it does look crowded.  So I've decided to go with a sump, simply to have a place to place all the equipment and add more volume to the water to maintain stability.  Also I plan to add more coral and see how well I can do. So, after my long winded diatribe, I do have questions, and any advice or responses are greatly appreciated.  One of these questions is purely rhetorical, and I will start with that one. Is it just me, or have I been either extremely lucky or just skilled in maintaining marine systems that are considered difficult? <I'd say you have had a great deal of fortune in not losing more livestock considering the number/size of fish you've been keeping in these tanks>   The only hard and fast rule I followed is that although marine life can thrive in a variety of conditions, I have always known that stability is the key. <Very, very true.> Yes they can live in temperatures from 65 to 90 degrees, but not in the same day. <Well, some can, but none that you would keep in your aquarium.  I digress :D> I have always made changes slowly and generally over filtered. I've been reading about the unnecessary need for bio-media.  As my present filter has a bio-wheel and will be going away, I had thought to replace with bio-balls.  Now, according to your web site, these cause more problems than they solve.  So, should I just go with the Berlin system and use LR with a protein skimmer? <It's working for lots of people, including myself :D> I do plan to add a skimmer to the sump, should I add additional LR to the sump as well? <Well now that you've completed your cycle, you wouldn't want to add 'uncured' live rock to your tank without curing it first.  It will cause another ammonia/nitrite spike.  You can transfer some of your existing live rock to the sump if you like though.>  If so, is there any need for mechanical filtration? <Not really, but a frequently changed (like every other day or at least twice a week) sponge can help if your water is unclear or you've just stirred up detritus on the bottom.  A good skimmer is remarkably effective at removing (rather than trapping) large particles from the water as well.>   I believe that the filter bag is what is being used for that, but am not sure. Again, I greatly appreciate your time for any responses or advice. <That's what we're here for!  Happy fishkeeping, and good luck.  Matt> Sean R. Guthrie

Brown stuff on sand Hi there Crew, <How goes it, Michael here today> Just LOVE your site.  Have been known to be up till 3 AM reading!  Very addictive.  <Done the reading till 3am thing many a time; and as far as the site, I'm just standing on the shoulders of giants, here...> A bit of history on our tank:  We had a 30 gal. tank for 9 mos. then switched over to a 60 gal. We increased the live sand to 2-3" and added 50 lbs. more of live rocks for a total of l00 lbs. LR.  We have an EHEIM Filter hooked up (I know we probably don't need this filter since we have all the LR but using it to filter the water before it goes into the chiller so the chiller doesn't get all messed up - Oh, by the way, we took out all the beads stuff  from the canister and just left the carbon pad in  in place of the beads, put in 6 filter pads).  <Clean those filter pads every 2 days or so, or you're going to be seeing high nitrate levels> Since setting up the 60 gal. tank, its been 4 mos. and  we've been at this now for l3 mos.  Have really been enjoying the tank. Tank inhabitants:  2 False Perculas (approx. l l/2" - 2"), 2 large Green Chromis- 2"+ (what was left of orig. cycling fish), 1 Regal Tang (half dollar size) <60 gallons is too small for any tang IMO>,  8 dome shaped Nassarius snails, 10 Vibro Nassarius snails?,  hermit crabs and 4 Margarita snails, a frag of Frog Spawn (2 heads orig. now 4!) <nice>,  2 diff. heads of Candycane corals, 1 with 14 polyps & 1 with 28 polyps, l large colony of Pulsing Xenia and several small frags from the large colony, l Crocea Clam (orig. l", now 2 l/2"),  and l Rose BTA E Quad. (found out after the fact thru your site:  Anemones & corals don't mix - luckily our anemone found a spot it liked on top of a LR towards the top of the tank under the MH and has stayed put). <I have what was going to be a reef tank until I decided anemones were just too cool...now it's a species tank :)> Tanks specs.:  SG l.025/l.026, temp. runs between 77 - 79 deg., pH 8.l to 8.2, dKH  9.5 to 10,  Alk. 3.35 - 3.5, CA 420 -425, NO2 (0), NO3 (20) <Way too high, and will likely cause algal problems>, NH3 (0). In the last 3 - 4 weeks, we've noticed: (1) the front of the tank getting a bit green (but easily wiped off  (2) lots of brown spots on the front & sides of the tank, needs to be scrubbed off with elbow grease! and 3) most annoying part and driving us crazy: golden reddish/brownish stuff accumulating on the sand like dust. It's not reddish/maroonish in color like we've seen in some other tanks. <Pest algae\Cyanobacteria due to high nitrates is what you're seeing> We've skimmed the sand of this stuff and doing 20 percent water change each week and 3 to 4 days later, we can see it starting up again and by day  6-7, you really notice it and we're skimming the sand again along with water change. What is causing this golden brownish stuff to keep coming back??? <This stuff doesn't come from nowhere - you have excess dissolved organics.  Try removing those filter pads out of the Eheim permanently, changing a larger % of water, and using a high quality activated carbon in combo with a phosphate remover, eg. Seachem's Seagel> We feed the fish l frozen cube of mysis every other day and flake food on other days.  RBTA is fed every other day with either shrimp, mysis, prime reef.   Every 3 days, we feed the tank with either DTPhytoplankton, Liquid Life Bio Plankton or Kent Zooplex.  Are we feeding the fish/tank too much??? <Possibly.  Try target feeding instead of mass feeding if you don't already> One last question, would it be OK for the fish if we were to lower the tank temp. from 77-79 to 76 - 78 F or would this be a bit too cold? <I've had marine fish only tanks at 76 for years with no prob.s, but I'd keep it closer to 78 with corals> Thank you for your time, knowledge and assisting us newcomers to this hobby.   Much appreciated. <Hope I was able to help.  Watch that nitrate level> Nemo   <M. Maddox> Dust Bunnies Hi gang.  Ok, I'm going to sound like a newbie here but I'm not proud :-).  I have never figured out how folks keep the surface of their sand beds pristine looking.  I have a nice barred goby who sifts the holy bajeezers out of my sand bed and this eliminates any algae that grows there.  But I can't seem to figure out how to get rid of the brown dust bunny looking crud that gathers on the surface of the sand.  The sand storms my goby kicks up make me thing that vacuuming isn't an option with this oolitic aragonite.  Picking the stuff up by hand is like trying to catch a greased pig and I want to be very careful about what inverts I put in there because I have a nice array of feather dusters and sea squirts on my live rock that make an easy lunch for many. When I used to run a canister filter I'd periodically stir it all up and let the Fluval suck it out but I don't use it any more. So....how do you do it??? >>Most people do it with a good skimmer and good flow in the tank to keep the detritus in suspension. The idea is to not let it settle in the first place. If a skimmer and increased circulation is not an option, I would add the canister filter one a month or so, stir it up and suck it out! >> >>Rich>>

Planning For Success Hey guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight!> Just want to start out by saying that I stumbled across wetwebmedia.com while looking for info regarding keeping sharks... Since then, I have come to realize that I'm not capable ( equipment-wise ) to keep a shark... my primary concerns are always of the fish's health and comfort in my tanks... <Excellent realization and philosophy! They are much better enjoyed in nature or in a public aquarium, IMO!> I've got my 55G glass filled up now with Instant Ocean- 1.022 salinity, 40lbs live sand, Red Sea Prizm Deluxe skimmer, one of those big carbon/foam freshwater hang on filters, fluorescent lighting. Water temp is regulated by home thermostat, I keep my living room at a steady 74-76 degrees. <If that works for temperature control, more power to you! I'd still recommend a thermostatically controlled heater, just in case.> Anyway, I've since added 2 very small Yellowtail Damsels and an equally small Percula Clown. I have always loved the way that Volitans Lions looked, and I would really like to add one ( smallest I can find is about 2 inches ). <Really not a good choice for this sized aquarium. These fish can reach lengths of well over a foot long, and really need lots of water to dilute their copious amounts of metabolic waste, and physical space in which to roam. Maybe you could keep one of the dwarf varieties in this sized tank, but not a "full-sized" version.> I don't have any live rock, so no coral, and haven't gotten any inverts yet either... I will be adding some live rock, possibly coral, and some inverts soon however... also planning on sometime in the future scrapping the Prizm skimmer and hang on filter for an Aqua C skimmer, and a Fluval 304. <Good choice in skimmers. Perhaps a sump-based "filter" would be more efficient, and do consider a serious lighting upgrade if you want to keep corals. Invest in good equipment the first time, and you won't regret it!> Anyway, back to the fish. They seem to be doing ok. I mean, 3 little 1 inch long hardy fish in a basically empty 55 gallon MANSION... <They'll grow well in that kind of environment. Their behavior is a lot more "natural" when they have lots of room...> The yellowtail damsels dug up their own little holes in 2 corners of my tank, but my Percula seems to have kicked one of the damsels out of his hole, especially at night. <Not an uncommon behavior...These fishes can be territorial> So this damsel has begun to hang out either by one of my 160GPH powerheads or right under my magnetic glass cleaner. Also, one damsel is more aggressive and sometime chases the fish around, but not too much. <Again- not an uncommon phenomenon with these fishes> I've been feeding them frozen Mysis shrimp that are vitamin enhanced. <Excellent food> They eat the shrimp but like to spit it out and come after it again. Maybe the shrimp's too big for them yet? <Quite possible. Try chopping it up a bit, or try smaller foods and see what happens.> Also my damsels become very pale at night when I turn off the lights and return to their bright blue during the day. Is this normal? <Yep. They will take on a drab nocturnal pattern.> And all of the fish go stupid at night, bumping into glass, swimming strangely and skimming the surface of the sand sometime even bumping into the little mounds that the damsels have created with their digging... <Funny observation- but again, a common occurrence. Nothing to worry about> I'm thinking that it's about time that I add some live rock for the little guys so they can hide and relax, maybe break up some of the powerhead flow also ( I have two 160 GPH ). <Good thoughts.> As far as the Lion goes, I'm thinking its a better idea to get live rock before I add him, because I've been told that these guys like to perch on rocks and hide out during the daytime, so would adding the fish before the rock be bad? <I think adding the fish would be the bad idea! Maybe a dwarf, but the damsels could pester it. Better to set up a dedicated tank for the Lionfish, IMO.> Other than being an inconvenience for me (working around fish, and risking getting stung while positioning rock)? Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated and keep up the great work guys! <Just think about the long term here. It would be so much better to dedicate a tank to one of these fish. In addition to being unsuitable for your tank because of it's size, a full-sized Lionfish would eventually make a meal out of his neighbors, the damsels. Rethink your goals here, or re-configure your system to accommodate such a fish. You'll both be happier in the long run!> Also, I've not given up on the sharks yet! I'm planning on acquiring a 240G tank for that project! <Gosh- I hate to dampen your enthusiasm for sharks, but even a 240 is too small for most of them. Really, we strongly discourage the casual hobbyist from keeping sharks. They have very specialized requirements that need to be met in order for them to live in captivity for anything approaching a normal life span. Very few home aquarists can provide this. Please read all you can on their care, and rethink this concept. Better to use the 240 for some Lionfish!> How's $750 sound for a 240G glass tank, stand and hood? Brand new! pretty darned cheap, huh? <Well, remember- you do get what you pay for! Particularly with large tanks, quality construction is very important! don't buy cheap if the tank is not well made. I've seen some real horror stories caused by "bargain" tanks! Keep up your wonderful enthusiasm, read all that you can, and move slowly! You'll have a lifetime of fun in this hobby! Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Moving to a new tank questions Hi, <Hey Doug, MacL here with you today.> We have a 75 gallon tall acrylic reef tank.  Moving to a 230 gallon glass tank so the tangs can grow up happier and we can clean it easier! <Nice move!!!> A few questions I couldn't find answers to on your wonderful site: 1) The Hippo gets ich once in a while.  We want it gone while we can let the new tank go fallow for 6 weeks! <Makes sense but maybe you also should look into WHY the hippo is getting ich? Crowded conditions? A stressing companion? Water not exactly where it should be?> We plan to clean the acrylic tank thoroughly before selling it. <Novus products work well>  As long as we clean it afterwards, will it be okay to quarantine the fish in it with CopperSafe after all the live rock and inverts are moved? <Yes it will> We don't want to cause problems for whoever buys it - but the fish would be much happier there for 6 weeks than in our 10 gallon quarantine tanks!!!! <Good point but please please please let the buyer know you have used copper in this tank. Glass tanks have silicon that holds the copper, for the life of me I can't figure out  how it could get held in acrylic but just on that chance the future buyer needs to know there is potential problems.> 2)  The molly miller algae blenny has a large wart-like growth in between his eyes that has been growing (looks kind of like a yellowish cauliflower in shape - but all one wart/not several. <Sounds like it might possibly be Lymphocystis.> He has hit it a few times which has made the edges red.  Is there anything you would recommend beyond very clean water and patience? <Really depends on what exactly it is.  Good, clean water definitely will help.  Take a look at the website and see if you can see any pictures that are similar.>  Also, will he be okay in the CopperSafe - or would it possibly burn the "wart" (so he can join his buddies in the big tank later without any ich? <Its more than likely not going to "burn" the wart off if that's what you are asking.> 3)  A small yellow watchman goby that resides in a separate nano reef will be moved to the big tank after 6 weeks.  He has never shown signs of ick.  Is it safe to leave him in the nano with his rocks and sand without treatment until time to move (sure don't want to introduce ich by mistake - but he always seems fine)? <That's a quarantine as well. You don't have to have copper to quarantine, just keep the fish isolated to watch for signs of disease.> 4)  Last one - I promise!  We are adding a deep sandbed. <A live sand bed or one that you want to become live?>  Would like at least 6" in the center then sloping down to 2 or 3 at the glass (don't' want just a big lump of a deep sandbed across the whole tank. <I understand, mine varies from about two inches to about six inches but my fish keep moving mine around.>  We have thought of building a 5 1/2" rectangular - 4 walled system out of acrylic sheets to keep the middle sand at the right height while hopefully allowing sand on the outside to slope down. <I can see where you'd have something built that would keep sand on it, but you'll need to watch the slope, if its too slopping you won't keep any sand on it.> Would something like that work?  If it covers a large area, would it be better to drill holes in it for critters to crawl through), use PVC to raise it off the bottom a couple of inches, or just leave the acrylic walls solid ? <If you do that you are making it more like a plenum system, is that what you want? or do you want a typical deep sand bed? If so then make it solid.  Sounds good, MacL> Thanks a million! - Doug Too Small? Yes (9/16/04) Ok, here is my question, and I am prepared for an assault of biblical proportion. lol.. <Lucky for you, I am not feeling Biblical this evening. Steve Allen with you tonight.> I currently have a  180 gallon fish only tank with 2 lionfish( a black, and a red), a Naso Tang, a Chainlink eel, a Zebra eel, a Bursa Trigger, and a Brownbanded Bamboo Shark. Am I overcrowded? <Big time.> I have a 2 SeaClone 150's on the tank one at either end, <2 junky skimmers are not as good as one great one. These skimmers have a very poor reputation. Search the FAQs and boards for opinions. Certainly not up to snuff for your bioload.> 2 Aqua-Clear 500 filters, and 3 powerheads in the tank to circulate the water. Right now, my shark is only 6 inches, and is eating like a little pig. <Which means he will outgrow this tank quickly.> My water parameters are perfect, and I clean the glass, and vacuum the sand every other day. I am planning on getting a bigger tank in about a year or less. <How big is bigger--500 gallons?> I am also using  a new product I just heard about, Purigen, and it is a great addition to my filtration in my opinion. <From what I've read on the label, the amount of this stuff you need for your system must get expensive.> Should I just have the shark in a tank by himself or will he be alright in there for a while? <This shark really ought to be in a tank of 240+ gallons, as should the Naso as it grows. With seriously upgraded filtration, regular substrate cleaning and frequent water changes this tank might be able to handle the rest of your crowd, though the Trigger may be pushing it.> I thank you for your website and all it's information. <Hope this helps. I'd suggest you do a lot more research in the FAQs and some good books about the requirements and compatibilities of your fishes. Steve Allen.> Dan.

New Tank Q's (9/15/04) Sorry if this is a repeat I received an error - <No problems. I only found this one copy. Steve Allen responding this evening.> I am so happy I found your site and hope you can help me figure out what I did wrong. <Sometimes its nothing you did.> I am new to Saltwater aquariums and am in need of assistance. My tank has been set up for only about 2 months and today I woke up and Puffy (Porcupine Puffer) was stuck in the intake of my powerhead. He was stuck from the tail up to midway up his body. after I was able to gently unlodge him he had a huge bump on his side within about 10 minutes he was stuck again this time in a different powerhead but now stuck face first. Sadly within about 4 hours he died. <Sorry to hear. This is an all-too-common fate for these slow-moving fish that are always nosing around rather than darting about. You need to put screens on these intakes. They should have come with one that fits. If not, the place you bought them from ought to have what you need.> Now to make a very sad story worse I also had a 2.5" Clown Trigger who also was found dead at the bottom of the tank. <Smaller Clown Triggers are notoriously non-hardy and have a high mortality rate. I strongly urge you not to replace this fish with another of the same. They grow rapidly and become very mean. They have been known to kill all of their tankmates and to literally bite the hand that feeds them. A Picasso Trigger is a far better choice.> Info about the tank: 110 Gallons 4ft W X 3 ft H X 2 ft D <this is an odd size. Very deep tanks will relatively little surface area can be quite difficult to oxygenate. I would not run this tank without a skimmer (the foam adds oxygen), perhaps even adding ozone to this. If you were to consider ozone, you need to study it's pros & cons carefully. You also need lots of circulation with surface agitation. I would also recommend against a tight-fitting lid. Eggcrate to keep jumpers in and expose the surface to fresh air would be better. You can buy the plastic grates for lights at Home Depot and cut to size--works great.> Lifeguard Fluidized Bed Filter <This filter depends on a high flow of fully-oxygenated water. Do be aware that a power failure can kill this biofilter in just a couple of hours. If you turn it back on right after a significant power outage it will spew forth a toxic load of microscopic dead stuff and biochemical products of anaerobic metabolism and decay. You do not need a fluidized bed filter when you have live rock and live sand. They are also nitrate factories.> 2 Aquaclear Powerhead 402 2 Aquaclear Powerhead 3000 <quality products> 2 Activated carbon Filter - Marineland Magnum 350 (convertible Canister filter) <You run 2 of these? Many people do not like canister filters in general, and this brand in particular. I like mine for micron/diatom or chemical filtration for a few days at a time. Do bear in mind that you must clean them frequently to remove the nitrate-producing detritus.> Heating source Immersed about 75 lbs of live rock 3" live sand bed <The fluidized bed is more trouble than it's worth when you have this for biofiltration.> water quality at this point Amm- 0.25 <Probably from the dead fish. With your biofilter, it should clear in a couple of days.> Salinity - 1.022 <I prefer to keep 1.024-5, since that is what real seawater is. I strongly doubt that 1.022 is low enough to prevent parasitic diseases (hyposalinity therapy for ich is 1.010) and sea creatures were designed to live in full-strength seawater. The only advantage to a lower salinity is to save money. I'd rather pay a little extra to do my best to mimic real seawater.> Nitrate - 20ppm <I would not let it go higher. Since you had a trigger, I'm guessing you are not doing a reef.> Nitrite - 0 ppm Alkalinity - 180 ppm PH - 8.0 I cannot see what I did wrong to make things go so badly  Please help me. <I don't think you did anything horribly wrong. Here's my suggestions: screen the intakes, consider testing for dissolved oxygen (kits are available) to see if there's a problem, get a skimmer (no ozone yet), lose the fluidized bed, consider adding some more rock and/or an inch or two of sand, carefully re-consider your stocking list and stick with a good plan once it's been made (no impulse buys), and quarantine all new stock for 4 weeks before adding to your display. The whys and how's of these suggestions can be found in the FAQs by searching on the key words. Hope this helps.>

Shooting For Success (Startup Tank Questions) Dear Crew: <Scott F. your Crew Member today!> I apologize for asking these questions, as I am sure that the information is out there somewhere, but I have been unable to find it. <No problem- that's why we're here...> What should I be aiming for as in the "perfect" water parameters?  I keep the specific gravity at about 1.024.  The ph is 8.2, ammonia and nitrites are at 0, and the nitrates are at about 10ppm.  Alkalinity is 6.4 KH (2.29 meq/l), up from 6.1 KH a week ago.  The calcium tested out at 580 ppm this morning. <Sounds good, but the calcium is higher than you really need. Back off the supplementation a bit to get the calcium/alkalinity dynamic back in line.> I have been changing 10 gallons per week with water purchased from my LFS.  Initially, though, the tank was filled with tap water.  The tank has been up and running for a little over 5 weeks now. <Well, I would not get overly fixated on certain numbers. It is certainly important to hit certain "baseline" targets (i.e.; 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, undetectable nitrate/phosphate, etc.), but you should also spend a lot of time just looking at the animals and how they are reacting. While no substitute for regular testing, just taking a daily look will help you assure that all is well> As far as other equipment goes, 1200 gph return pump, two Rio 600 powerheads in tank, probably about 70 lbs of live rock, 3 1/2 to 4" of sand, G1x skimmer produces about half a collection cup of noxious stuff every other day.   <Sounds good!> The tank is 60 gallons, with large CPR hang-on-the-back refugium, and a sump that runs with about 10 gallons of water or so (lots of room for overflow if the pump stops).  The only occupants are 2 Skunk Cleaner shrimp, 2 Camel shrimp, 1 Green Emerald crab, 1 Sand-sifting Starfish, 2 3" smelt, about 12 misc. hermit crabs, 7 of the "Sandbed Clams" from Indo-Pacific Sea Farms  (genus "Tapes") and 6 or so misc. snails. <Nice diversity of animals!> I am not planning on adding anything else at the moment, but within the next few weeks I was considering adding a prawn goby/tiger pistol shrimp combo if I can ever find one.  I would also like to add a few flasher wrasses, some zoanthids, and eventually an anemone/false Percula combo.  Are these plans feasible/advisable? <All sounds fine, but do reconsider the anemone unless you can meet its very demanding husbandry requirements (like very bright lighting and stable water quality).> Any other suggestions for fish? <I am a big fan of many small gobies and blennies. They are colorful and have wonderful personalities! Do a little searching on WWM and elsewhere for possible selections! I also like the Royal Gramma. It's a great all-around fish, is super colorful, and generally quite peaceful and hardy!> I am sorry for the long email, but I have so many questions and no one else to ask. <Not a problem! Best of luck with your tank! Regards, Scott F.> Too much marine system maintenance? Scott:  I'm really glad you mentioned my "getting in the tank too often", as I've been wondering if I've been too much of a Mother Hen, so to speak. <I'd rather you be involved with your tank on a regular basis, but there is a fine line between good husbandry and excessive interference with your tank. I know, because not only have I crossed that line before- I completely erased it! Seriously, my advice is to pick a maintenance regimen that is appropriate for your animals and your lifestyle, and stay with it religiously. Consistency in maintenance is far better than compulsive cleaning in response to some sort of problem. Better for you- better for your animals!> When I was setting up my tank, cycling, doing my stocking, etc., most of the advice given to me about things I wanted to do was to "sit on your hands", as my fish guys knew that I really kept a close eye on the tank, and were trying to teach me to move slowly and cautiously. <Very sound advice> Unless, of course, there was a death, and then I was to move decisively to remove it, but with as little hoopla as possible.  I'm probably testing too often, but I had a lot of deaths in the beginning stages, and I really want to prevent future occurrences. <Nothing wrong with that, but your live longer, enjoy the hobby more, and spend less on test kits if you simply resolve to testing parameters once a week or so.> Also, thanks for your input about my stocking.  You're right, they ARE a great group of fish, and I've really grown to love them individually-so I'm delighted that you aren't advising me to either get rid of some or immediately buy a larger tank, as both of those aren't very palatable ideas at this time. <Nope- your stocking list looks great to me!> I've had to force myself to stay out of the fish store in order not to buy "just one more fish", as all the boards talk about.  I certainly understand the impulse.   <We all do! You're certainly an inspiration!> Okay, 5 to 10% water changes once a week on the same day every week, or should I aim for every 8 or 9 days? <I'd go for 10% per week on the same day. It will be easy for you, and will simply become part of your routine. This is a good regiment for an established tank, because you'll be removing many excess nutrients before they have the chance to accumulate and deteriorate the water quality. I really believe in regular water changes. In some instances, two 5% changes a week is even better, but let's try 1 10% change per week now and see how it goes, okay?> Your help is MUCH appreciated, as I want all my pets to live happy lives and to be glad that I'm their human! Cyndy <I'll bet that they are glad, Cyndy! I wish you much continued success with your tank! It's sure nice to hear from such an involved hobbyist! Stay in touch with us! We're glad to be here for you! Regards, Scott F.>

Restart of marine tank <Hi Lisa nice to talk to you again, MacL> Got my tank going again, 46 gallon with live rock...so far so good....0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, ph 8.2, nitrates still a bit elevated at 10-20. <We need to get this down. Possibly cut back on feeding? Another water change?> I began with 2 small false Percula clowns and added a Rainfordi (or known as a Court jester) goby.  <Nice choice I love those lil guys.> Here is my question...been reading a lot about this goby....only had it a few days...seems okay, do not see it eat yet.  Been trying brine and marine cuisine...seems to be picking off the live rock a bit. <They will eat the yummy stuff there first. Probably eventually start eating prepared foods>  Will it be okay?  I know it isn't unusual for it not to be eating right away.  Also...thinking of adding a bi-color blenny...is that a good choice?  <I do adore the Bicolors, they have such amazing personalities but they are a tad pushy to other fish.> If I also get a Kole tang down the road, would they compete too much for the algae in the tank? <Bicolors in my experience are not big algae eaters, lawnmowers would be more in that direction.  And please remember that you'll need to be prepared to find a new home for your tang when it outgrows the tank. Sounds like things are going well for you. Let me also suggest you made sure you have a large current at the top of the tank for oxygen exchange. This will help your nitrate problem. MacL> Moving livestock to a 180 Thanks for your reply!  I will be moving up to a bigger (120gal or bigger - maybe 180-200) tank in the next year - I figure I have that long before the dragon wrasse and the yellow tang grow much bigger.  You are right, he is already starting to boss the others around a bit.  I'm not sure what my friend was thinking when he got the dragon - they get to be at least 12" long!  Would a 180 be appropriate for the tang and the dragon? << Much better. >> I have to admit that I don't want to sell him - I'm kind of attached to him (I know it's silly, but he's got a lot of personality) << You should see what it is like when you own a puffer. >>.  I'm thinking of keeping the 55 running for the smaller fish.  Is this crazy? << We all do it, and end up with multiple tanks. >> Also, what lighting system would you recommend in addition to my 65W 6500K + 65W 10K + 2-65W blue actinics?<< Halides.  Like a 150 watt double ended bulb. >>  Should I get MH pendants (worried about heat - tank is already running hot) for my BTA? << Yep, it is worth the effort and money. Those lights are awesome. >>  It seems happy so far (bubble tips appearing, not moving, P. biaculeatus moved right in to it).  I guess when I move up to the bigger system I'm go ing to have to add/replace lights anyway. << Yes, you may want to wait until that time anyway.  Could be cheaper, and you can make sure you get a good set up. >> Thanks again so much!  It really helps to have knowledgeable people to talk to. <<  Blundell  >>

New marine tank, continuous ammonia, no skimmate Hi guys! Just a couple of quick questions.  My tank has been up and running now for two weeks.  I have LR, LS, a skimmer and HOB.  My ammonia has been 0.25 steady for one week.  I'm not skimming anything either.  My LR and LS are now covered with bright green with yellowish tinge mIcro-algae.  Is all this normal? <Hello Susan, All normal occurrences you're witnessing. As soon as your ammonia drops to 0, you might want to think about introducing some herbivores. I recommend snails, go light on the hermits if you decide to add those. Expect outbreaks of different types of algae from time to time until your tank matures. :) Cheers Jim>

Tank Check Up! Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> I have a 10 gallon marine aquarium with one Pajama Cardinal, one Yellow-Tailed Damsel, and a tank raised Ocellaris clown fish. I also do not have any live rock, corals, or anemones. My readings are as follows: specific gravity-1.023 ammonia- 0 nitrites- 0 nitrates- <30 temp- constant at 79 degrees I have no live rock and one regular small hermit crab to eat brown algae and clean substrate. I perform 20% water changes diligently every two weeks and always test water and salinity at least once a week. I know this really isn't a question, but I just wanted to see how my tank is doing and to make sure that  everything is ok with it. <Well, based on your husbandry techniques and water quality parameters, I'd say that things are looking good. You have a nice mix of fishes and a steady environment. Aggressive maintenance is important in a small tank. I would not add any more fishes to the tank, and would continue to maintain excellent water parameters.> I also use aerated, RO/DI water that is very well treated and for salt I use Instant Ocean. <Excellent!> Thanks for your time and your response, <My pleasure! Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.>

New Fish, New Trouble? Hi there!  I hope you can help me... <Will try! Scott F. here today!> A long time ago I had a salt water tank - a very small one - that I enjoyed  a lot and had much success with.  So when a friend offered us a free setup - 45 - 50 gallon corner tank complete with lights, filter, etc., we jumped on it. <Sure!> We setup the tank for saltwater and waited a long time to add fish. We first added a Green Chromis and a Yellowtail Damsel.  It took forever but the tank eventually cycled completely and the water has been very stable since.  I try to do weekly water changes and everything is basically staying at 0 except nitrate which with the water changes is staying around 10 (20 if I wait too long to do a water change but I do try to do weekly).   <Not bad at all for a fish only system!> I have a Fluval canister filter and do not run a skimmer. <Do consider one for the future! It will make a big difference in water quality> Anyway - after waiting for the tank to become stable, we decided to add two more fish and we chose a Clown fish (percula I think?) and a Sweetlips and a Yellow tang.  The Sweetlips was an ill advised purchase (we didn't do our research and listened to the man in the store - bad bad bad) and he died that night. <Sorry to hear that. It was a bad choice, in a number of ways. If you learned, then the fish did not die in vain, I guess. Do remember to quarantine all new arrivals in the future, okay?> I'm not sure what exactly happened to the clown - I came home one day and he was stuck under a piece of coral.  And I mean STUCK!  I don't know how he got under there. <You'd be surprised!> So now we are down to the three fish - the Chromis, the Yellow tail damsel and the tang.  All was fine EXCEPT the damsel and the tang decided they didn't like the Chromis (and I didn't know I should have had several - not just one) and they wouldn't let him eat. <A not-t--uncommon experience with these fish> I tried everything to get him his own food but they would not let him eat it.  One day I found him fighting just to swim upright and he kept getting taken by the current.  He even looked emaciated.  So I gave him his funeral. <Gosh, I'm depressed here...> Now I just had the tang and the damsel and the two of them were doing absolutely wonderful.  When we bought the tang he had been beat up a little bit and his fins were a little chewed.  The store told us if we treated him with VitaChem he would be fine and his fins would grow back in about 2 months.  Well, we've been feeding him the darn stuff for what feels like forever and I just don't see any fin regeneration. <Well, there could be several factors here: There still may be some battles going on that you aren't seeing, your water quality might be a bit off, or, the fish could simply be tearing them on decorations or something. Investigate all three possibilities here.> But otherwise - he's been a happy healthy fish. Swimming around and acting happy as could be. We've been feeding him flake food which he's been gobbling up and I've been sure not to clean all of the algae out of the tank and he's been grazing on it. <Good to hear!> He's a little baby tang.. nowhere near full size. <Well, sometimes the little guys can take a beating in transit, collection, etc.> So it's been a long time with just these two fish and everything looks dandy so I decide to go get one more fish.  I had a credit for the sweetlips - so I went and used it on a beautiful Flame Angel. <A nice choice, if selected carefully and quarantined first!> The Flame Angel is somewhat larger than the tang - but not too much.  I got the Flame Angel just this past Monday night - 3 days ago.  He acclimated wonderfully - actually eating the very next morning and the other fish accepted him readily and they all swam around together.  On Tuesday I fed, for the first time ever, a frozen food with Spirulina. <A good food choice> I put it in a floating net so the fish could peck at it and graze on it all day long.  Well, the tang and the angel knocked it out of the net and it fell to the floor of the aquarium where the two of them devoured it within an hour or two.  On Wednesday I started noticing the tang acting funny.  He ate his "breakfast" but wasn't too happy looking. Today - Thursday - he didn't want to eat breakfast unless the other two fish were nowhere near  him.  Though - he is eating - just not with his normal zealousness.  He is swimming erratically - sometimes floating all the way up to the top of the tank and hanging out there for a few minutes before swimming around like a freak and then going back to the bottom.  He'll dart around aimlessly.  He brushes up against the angel fish.  He sometimes starts swimming at a slight angle.  He just doesn't look healthy.  At times he even holds his fins close to his body and not fanned out.  This feels like it came on all of a sudden and I wonder if the angel has something to do with it, the sudden introduction to the Spirulina or what??? <Could be anything...possible disease brought in by the new fish, some aggression...Probably not the food, though> One other thing that may be helpful to know is that over the summer the tank had gotten up to 80 degrees when we normally keep it around 77.  I couldn't get the temp down from 80 and decided since the fish looked ok and were acting fine that 80 degrees was probably fine for them.  Today I noticed the  tank took a drop down to 76.  Could the temp be a problem? <Wildly fluctuating temperatures are a cause of stress, and your tang will be the first to let you know it! A definite possibility. They like stability in their environment. Something to work on here>  Since he was used to the 80 degrees maybe he thrives more at that 80 degree temp? <Well, stability at whatever temperature that you choose (within "acceptable" range, of course) is important.> If you have any suggestions at all, please help.  I don't want my little yellow tang to die!! Thank you! Deb. <Well, Deb- it sounds like you really care about your little pals! My best advice is to do all that you can to keep the environmental parameters stable, and that starts with temperature. Do embrace some sort of quarantine procedure in the future when adding new fish, so that you can isolate the potentially sick ones and keep them from introducing illness into your display tank. Keep up your feeding of good foods, and your regular water change schedule. Consider adding a protein skimmer. DO observe the tang very carefully for signs of illness, and be prepared to act calmly and efficiently if the need arises. No "knee jerk" reactions, okay? Study diseases and fish health right here on the WWM site (lots of information that will help you!), and let us know if you have any more questions! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Hurricane, electricity, trouble Hi Crew <Hello, Ryan here> I live in Brandon fl, We are under a hurricane warning and I think there is a good chance of losing power for an extended time. This means my 90 gal reef is in grave danger. I have a 200 with nothing in it right now so I have a good supply of saltwater on hand. What is my best chance to save my reef and fish. I don't have a generator <Wow...best of luck to you.  I hope you've still got power, or this message will come too late.  Keep the surface of the water broken, either by stirring the water, or with a battery operated air-pump.  Use your 200, and make some make up water so that you're ready for a water change.  Temperature control will be tough, just try and keep it from overheating.  Good luck, Ryan>

Specific Gravity for a FO Marine Aquarium (8/13/04) What is the lowest advisable permanent specific gravity for a FOWLR tank containing Lionfish and a Porc. Puffer? <1.017 to 1.020> I have heard the lower the S.G., the lower the chances for parasitic infestation (within reason of course) is 1.021-1.022 too low? <Nope should be fine and you can go even lower in a FO marine set up to between 1.017 and 1.020, with the exception of fish from the Red Sea where natural specific gravity is higher @ 1.027, Achilles tangs, some seahorses, and several fish that have symbiotic relationships with invertebrates like clownfish. These require a consistent specific gravity of 1.023-1.025 to thrive. For additional information on specific gravity in marine systems please have a look at this article......... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/spg_salinity.htm

Operating the Gravel Vac and Other Questions Hi there <Graham at your service.> I have a 55 gallon fish only tank and about 100 pounds of live rock. I've been trying to figure out how to vacuum the substrate. Do you hook the hose on to your air pump or what? I tried this but all that happened was it blew air into the water. <You can buy gravel vacuums specifically for cleaning out your substrate. These devices are very simple to use and often will give you a reason to also do a water change while cleaning your substrate. You can often buy a gravel vacuum for under $10.00. I would highly recommend them.> Currently I have 5 fish in my aquarium, 1 Scopas tang,1false percula,1 orange lined Chromis (he's lost his orange line and is turning brown) a six line wrasse and a dwarf Hawkfish. I was wondering what else to put in with these guys. I was planning on a mated pair of coral beauties valentini puffer another false Percula and a mimic eibli surgeon are these good choices? <A dwarf angelfish would be an excellent choice for your aquarium. Many do not get large and have a wide array of colors. A coral beauty of flame angelfish would be great fish to add, as well as another Percula clownfish. I personally would not add another tang to the aquarium. Tangs are grazing fish which require ample amounts of space to swim.> thanks a lot. <Take Care, Graham.>

Please Help Us! - Marine System Dear WetWebMedia Expert: << I hope you'll settle for me. >> We would appreciate your help with a problem we are having with our marine system. Your website and Mr. Fenner's book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, have always been extremely helpful in solving various problems we've encountered. We setup a 220-gallon aquarium in October 2003 with the intent of having live rock and medium aggressive fish (such as triggers, angel etc). We have attached a diagram of our system.  We added 100lbs of live rock and a 3-4 inch pink sandbed.  The tank cycled in a month.  We were going to add more live rock, but the live rock in the tank started to accumulate hair algae.  We added a Naso tang (quarantined first, of course) and thought we solved the problem.   Then the black algae took over.  Although we have always changed 10% of the water weekly, changed the drip plate pads and vacuumed the debris off the rock and sand, it seemed that there was an awful lot of debris for so little amount of fish (over time we have added five blue devil damsels, one tomato clown, one fox face rabbit fish, one sailfin tang and one chocolate chip starfish).  We were feeding them clams, shrimp and brown algae but not overfeeding them.   We felt that the water wasn't circulating enough.  There was always debris suspended in the water, on the sand and on the live rock no matter how many times we changed the water or vacuumed/turkey basted it off.  First, we replaced the pump (it seemed not pumping as well as it first did).  That helped a little.  We added a powerhead to see if the black algae would disappear and it did. << That would have been my recommendation, so I'm glad it worked. >> The water was clear too but the powerhead was only a temporary fix.  It seemed to us that Perfecto's JetStream Aquarium overflow/return assembly design didn't really circulate the water as we expected.  Therefore, we added an Eheim 2260-38 canister filter.  That really solved the majority of the problems.   It has been two months since installing the Eheim and there is no black algae. The live rock is covered in beautiful purple coralline algae (it even spread to a piece of dead coral we had in the tank). << With all that is going well, I'm wondering what your problem is and what this email will lead to. >> We feel we have resolved some of our circulation/filtration problems but wish to make more permanent modifications like the following: 1.  Add more live rock - 100lbs+ (Could we substitute some dead coral pieces for live rock and let coralline algae infect it?) << Absolutely.  My recommendation on this, is to add as much live rock as you can afford, and then fill the rest with dead terrestrial rock. >> 2.  Add a protein skimmer (should we get an Aqua C? what model?) How and where would we add it?  The wet/dry has no prefilter sump. << I would look at other skimmers in homes and stores, and see what people are using, and liking.  Then, see how it will fit to your tank.  Then, well it is all up to you. >> 3.  Should we Keep the wet/dry but eventually remove the bio balls and use the sump for mechanical and chemical filtering (put the protein skimmer here)? -or-    Add another Eheim and get rid of the wet/dry -or-   Replace the JetStream overflow/return assemblies with some homemade version with Eheim canisters attached? << Well I'm not a real fan of bioballs.  I would remove them, and set up an algal refugium.  However, this isn't a quick move, and it is stressful to a tank that is already running.  But I would still do that. >> What would you suggest? In case you haven't received our system diagram, we have the following components:  A Perfecto Marineland JetStream Aquarium with two overflow and two return assemblies, An Amiracle Wet/Dry with two boxes for bioballs, A Supreme Mag Drive Pump Max output 2400 GPH, A UV sterilizer 40W. << Keep in mind you can never have too much water movement. >> System Parameters: Ammonia:0 No2:0 No3:80 (this number hasn't gone down despite all our efforts including massive water changes - our water was tested no phosphates and we use Corallife salt) PH: 8.2 Salinity:24 We would appreciate any suggestions you may have in making our system a better one. Sincerely, << Hope it helps. >> Nancy and Rocco <<  Blundell  >>

Cleaning substrate and fish compatibility Hi there. <Steve Allen tonight.> I have a 55 gallon fish only tank and about 100 pounds of live rock. I've been trying to figure out how to vacuum the substrate. Do you hook the hose on to your air pump or what? <No> I tried this but all that happened was it blew air into the water. <Not unexpected. There are a number of ways to vacuum substrate. The cheapest/simplest is with a gravel-cleaning siphon available at any pet store. Just vacuum with water changes. Personally, I use a Magnum 350 canister filter with the micron filter insert. The water goes back into the tank, so I can vacuum to my heart's content without fear of taking out too much water. There are also motorized gravel vacs you can buy that are hand-held and self-contained, but they seem rather wimpy and flimsy to me.> Currently I have 5 fish in my aquarium, 1 Scopas tang <Needs at least a 75G tank to thrive.> ,1 false Percula, 1 orange lined Chromis (he's lost his orange line and is turning brown) <Could be a sign of stress, malnutrition or disease.> a sixline wrasse and a dwarf Hawkfish. I was wondering what else to put in with these guys. <Nothing at this point. You need to figure out what, if anything, is wrong with your Chromis. Any other fish that go in there should not be ones that can/will outgrow the tank.> I was planning on a mated pair of coral beauties <almost impossible to achieve in captivity> ,a valentini puffer <too big> another false Percula <you might be able to get it to pair up with the one you have. Read the clownfish FAQs about this. Do not add some other species of clown.> and a mimic eibli surgeon <I'm guessing you mean  Acanthurus  pyroferus, which grows way too big for your tank and will not get along with your Scopas.>  are these good choices? <Maybe the clown, and/or a single Coral Beauty.> thanks a lot. <Hope this helps.>

Questions regarding marine tank, very new, with fish Dear Mr. Fenner, <MikeD here> I am a humbled newbie aquarist from Kumamoto Japan trying my hand at being a conscientious marine aquarist.   Someone recommended your book in a forum and I straight away purchased a copy of your book-which has been very educational-.    And let me say, I admire your willingness and generosity in answering questions for so many people.<In today's world help is closer than it used to be...only 15,000 miles or so, for example!>  I'd be very honored if you would read this my situation and if possible give me a few pointers. My situation is this,,, I purchased 2 small Percula clown fish after 2 weeks of running the 15 gallon tank.<Mistake #1 ...a new marine tank needs to cycle which takes an average of 6 weeks, with few short cuts>  The next day,  some sort of filmy clear white substance (about their own length) was dangling behind them as they swam.<This was likely their slime coat, so overloaded  it had to be shed>  This fell off after a few hours then, after a few hours more hours they stayed stationary for hours on end swimming against the gentle current but not moving from a fixed position.  The next morning they were dead.<If you were to check your water chemistry, I suspect you'll find elevated levels of deadly chemicals>  ( this is what got me investigating in forums) .  I can't really find any disease with these symptoms.<It's not a disease, it's an uncycled tank and chemical poisoning>  A few days later I purchased 2 damsels and they also died within a week after showing signs of what I guess was ich.<definite white spots? Stress would bring that on as well as the tank needs another 3-4 weeks > After reading your book and many other articles I've decided to "Fallow" my tank; Not purchase any more live stock from that store; and perform Methylene blue dips with future acquired fish.<Simple adjusted freshwater might be better...Methylene blue is deadly to some fish>   Here are my questions.  Will raising my tank temperature to 34C to quicken parasite cycling, slow or halt the beneficial bacteria cycling process?<It will speed up the ick cycle> Its been a month since I started up the tank and my previously white and yellow substrate and shells are turning brown (ugly) in color is this algae?<this is likely diatoms, a normal stage in new tanks, often helped by increased water flow> In the end I wish to have 2 neon gobies, 2 Percula clowns, and...is a  hippo tang pushing it?<Yes, there are NO tangs that don't need at least a 75 gal. tank, with a 100 being even better>     Here are my specs 15 gallon to be fish only ( I do regret getting such a small tank) 125 gph power head Air pump with stone No LR<LR would be a BIG assist, as it provides bacteria and will, in effect, BE your filter> Protein Skimmer Remora (being FedExed ) <Try to be more patient, my friend, and yes, I know, that's easier said than done..> Best regards, Asma Hirahara

New Tank Questions Dear Mike D<Hi again> Thanks you very much for your quick reply.<You're welcome>  Your answers put my mind to rest as I thought my tank was heavily infested with some sort of parasite.<Understandable as the cycling process can be mystifying when first beginning.> Nevertheless I will keep my tank empty till the nitrite is undetectable.<Excellent and thank you!>  I purchased about 5 pounds of LR today as you recommended.  I'll give up surgeons until I get a larger tank.<Another very good decision. I suspect that eventually you'll end up truly enjoying this hobby, even with the bad beginning.>  Again, thank you.<You're VERY welcome> Asma

A little hard to follow... marine maint. Hello folks <Hello! Ryan with you> Several ? here.  System is 30 gal 45lb live rock,20lbs live sand,65watt pc's, aqua c remora skimmer, red, watermelon, Ricordea, frilly shrooms,zoos,2 skunk cleaners,1 blood red fire shrimp, orange, sand sifting, serpent stars, purple firefish,2 true perc clowns (small), green mandarin, and true Lemonpeel angel, various hermits and snails and Tigertail sea cuke. System running 1.5 years. Water parameters good. Recently refished after ich outbreak. Fallowed for 3 mos. Is this too much stock? All were successfully there except 5 fish during fallow. The angel was shipped larger than I expected he is easily 31/2-4 inches, but beautiful. Will he compete for the same food as the mandarin (pods exploded during fallow)? or just the algae on the rock? He is also very active is this normal? I know he may not be reef safe but so far no problems. My clowns are trying to make host of frilly Shrooms will this work out? I feed ocean nutrition 1,2 and brine plus. anything else this angel might need food wise? He eats constantly. <Mark, we have tried very hard to keep this board "Search engine friendly" by keeping our punctuation intact.  Please, please try and use a little care when asking these questions. In response to your query, yes, you are vastly overstocked.  There's no way that an angel, high-care goby and pair of clowns can live happily in a 30 gallon tank for long.  I'd pick up something larger if you'd like to keep these beauties all together.  No, a clown won't host in a mushroom anemone, but he'll keep looking for a home until he finds something suitable.  As for food items, I'd recommend as much fresh algae as you can manage, with frozen Formula 1 & 2 as back-ups.  Mysid shrimp are a great food source as well.  Good luck, Ryan> thanks mark Houser

Learning From Experience (marine keeping) Hi all, <HI there! Scott F. with you today!> Pete Cushnie here, new (marine) aquarist. I was wondering if I could pick your collective brains & get your thoughts. I will try to be as succinct as possible, else a novel ensue! <I've read a few during my time with WWM, believe me!> New tank, running approx 6 wks now. I have been reading extensively, and have tried to be very careful about setup and species selection. I have made a couple mistakes along the way, but I've been learning as I go. <We all do! That's how we learn.> I have picked up your books "The Conscientious Aquarist" and "Reef Invertebrates", and have learned quite a bit from them so far. The tank: 72G bow-front + 10G fuge. 2-3" Aragonite in main tank, 4" sugar-fine Aragonite in fuge. Approx 60lbs LR in main & 10lbs or so in fuge. Running an Eheim Professionel II (2 chamber, marine safe heating element, moderately loaded w/LR, carbon, & "Phos-X") + AquaC Remora with Maxi-Jet 1200 in a pre-filter box. At the moment, 2 Maxi-Jet 1200's, one at either end, eventually to be put on alternating timer (waiting for it to arrive). More jets will be added soon after. Another 1200 is in the fuge for the return. PH 8.4-8.6, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10-20, SG 1.023, Temp 76-78*F. Lighting, ehhh, don't ask. Not adequate. One of the next things I'll be addressing in the near future. <Good...glad that you are thinking about needed upgrades> I'm preparing water in my 'aging bucket' and have been doing water changes on average every 10 days or so. <Good schedule> A rough chronology of livestock added & problems encountered: After about 1 wk of running with LR & Aragonite (no fuge at this point), added 6 hermits (4 red & 2 blue) & a Sand Sifting star. About a week after that, 4 Green Chromis & 1 Checkered Goby were added to "kick the nitrogen cycle into gear". Went away for Memorial day weekend, and had tank on an auto feeder (Eheim again). Whoops! Came back to a lovely Diatom bloom. Cut WAAAY back on feeding. <Feeding does contribute to nuisance algae blooms, but diatoms are often caused by excessive silicate in source water. Check silicate in your source water and consider the use of an RO/DI unit with a high-silicate removal membrane> Added a Spiny Brittle star, 7 Astraea & 3 Turbo snails to aid in consumption. Scrubbed my walls, snails went to work on the rock, & skimmate went into overdrive. <Cool!> Diatom bloom (mostly) controlled. Another couple of weeks, & a false sense of confidence kicks in. Added 2 clowns, a Percula & an Ocellaris. Again, please don't beat me up, but at this stage I had no isolation tank, so the Clowns went directly in (properly acclimated of course). Reality has now popped me one with a double whammy of Cyano bloom + Ich. <Yikes...The ich could have been so easily avoided, as you now know! Chalk it up as a lesson learned...> Added Phos-X to the canister in an attempt to reduce nutrients (water test shows 10-20 ppm nitrates in the well-water, assuming some phosphates as well), & recently got the fuge setup & plumbed in. Still too early to expect too much assistance from the fuge yet. Added a cleaner shrimp (L. amboinensis) to help combat the Ich, but not in time for the Percula & 1 Chromis, unfortunately :-( Presently, 1 other Chromis & the Ocellaris still show signs of it however. I have an 10G isolation tank setup now, but still not yet hospitable for fish (cycling). <In the future, keep a sponge filter somewhere in your system, so that it can colonize beneficial bacteria and be available at a moment's notice for use in your quarantine tank. Just add some water from your main tank, pop in the sponge, and you're ready to go. Great for emergencies, or those impulse fish purchases!> Present status & plan: Trying to feed only moderately in order to limit nutrients. Waiting for a wave timer to assist with circulation. I intend to have the MaxiJets at either end of the tank alternating, with a couple lower force jets at one end to blow along the length of the substrate (hopefully) to deliver detritus to the overflow. <Good thoughts> On my LFS's recommendation, added 3 Red-Footed Conches, as they are supposed to be Cyano grazers. I can't find any info on these, could you advise on these fellows? <Unfortunately, I'd have to have a species name or photo, 'cause the common name doesn't help me identify the animal..> Definitely have a big red foot, with a brown & black striped shell, with a very sharp, pronounced 'fang' on it, for lack of better term. I have some Gracilaria in the fuge also. <One of my favorite macroalgae; adored by many herbivorous tangs> I also will be replacing my lighting soon, and I am hoping that this will be sufficient to quash the Cyano. <Well, the addition of animals alleged to consume Cyano or other nuisance algae are helpful, but they address the "symptoms", not the root cause. Nuisance algae are almost always caused by excesses of nutrients in the system. The key to their control or elimination is to control and export these nutrients from the system. See the WWM site for a lot of good information on this topic.> But I am still left with the ich issue. 2 of my remaining 3 Chromis look very good (the cleaner shrimp has been going to town on them, in fact, I think he might have indirectly killed the 1 that died by over cleaning (possible?)). <Probably damaged an already stressed-out fish> 1 Chromis still looks pretty rough though. The Ocellaris has some small spots on him, and I have not noticed him being serviced by the cleaner shrimp at all. Checkered Goby seems to be doing just fine. Actually, he was harassing the Percula while he was on his last legs. Is this fellow opportunistic, perhaps? <Hard to say> I realize you guys don't care for Kick-Ich, but my LFS loves the stuff, so I figure, can it hurt? Is it worth a shot at all? <Well, I personally do not care for this stuff. As far as I am concerned, these types of "medications" can "hurt" because they can give an aquarist false hope of a cure, delaying the implementation of more tried and true techniques. This is just my opinion, and I cannot emphasize that enough. If it were me, I'd rather use a commercial copper sulphate or formalin-based product in a separate treatment aquarium.> What about an anemone for the Clown? I'm thinking if he won't take treatment from the shrimp, maybe something a little more natural for him? <If you don't have adequate lighting, please don't even entertain the idea of an anemone just yet. Also, I am not aware of any potential "cleaning" offered by anemones. Please also note that anemones are not required for a clownfish to be happy in captivity> I notice in your anemone selection faq's, though, that mixing anemones with corals or sponges is a bit of a no-no, and I would like to have some corals eventually. Any thoughts here? <I am a big believer in not mixing them. we've all done it, but it really is not a good way to go in the long run, IMO> One of my goal fish is a Mandarin Dragonet, and although I realize you folks would rather see them left in the wild, but I would still like to add one, and am doing my best due diligence to build up an appropriate environment for one (ONE!) :-) I figure, if nothing else, I can do my best to at least offer one an appropriate home and increase its chances of survival. <I agree, if you intend to house one of these fish, you need to have the "infrastructure" in place ahead of time. A well-established tank, with a substantial population of microfauna> The live rock seems to be doing well, many little critters & worms, & even a tiny Nudibranch (somewhere!). There's some orange growth I believe to be sponge, but can't be sure. Some coralline growth is present, but slow. <All good things, though> I'm not sure what other information I can give you at this point, so feel free to reply with questions. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer. Conscientiously, Pete Cushnie <Pete, it sounds like you're doing just fine; learning from the inevitable challenges that this hobby presents. Keep learning and growing in the hobby. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

New addition making a mess? MacL, <Hi again!>      Thanks so much for the quick response! I just wanted to answer your question about my tank.  Yes, I have live rock, about 95 pounds worth. <That's good> Also in rereading my initial e mail I may have not clarified myself, I only feed one of the 2 foods in the evening. <I still think perhaps you need to cut down just a bit.  Although like I said I'm bad about over feeding myself. I love to watch my fish eat.> But I will definitely cut it down to one feeding a day. <See if that doesn't help.> I was amazed that canister filters produce nitrate, what might be a better choice? <Personally I like canisters but the media that is used in canisters can hold and contain nitrates. Also, since you took everything out and replaced it, it is possible that you took out all the bacteria that you had in there to (eat) the nitrates. In other words, it might have messed up the bacterial balance. Changing things the way you previously did it probably kept things in a better balance. I have to tell you in my canister its empty unless I feel like I need to run carbon for some reason. I basically use it only for circulation.> And yes I changed all the media at the same time, I try to do them every other time so I only clean one at a time but I was really feeling like an overachiever that day I guess!  Oops!  Won't do that again! <Really best to do it the way you were, only part of it at a time.>  Also at the end of the e mail the response was cut off, so I didn't get an answer to the questions about the skimmers! <On the skimmers, the remora's are hang on and I'm not positive as to the rating on the older canister.  I believe its rated for a 150 but the website for aqua C is www.proteinskimmer.com to be absolutely sure.> Thanks so much again! <Glad I could help.  Good luck, MacL

- Additives & Testing - Hi, I could not find all the answers by searching the web. I am planning to setup a marine tank with fish, invertebrates (shrimp), live rock and Caulerpa? <Ok.> I have found information for live rock which requires calcium. What additives will I require for the above setup? <Some form of food for the shrimp... calcium as you mentioned. A source of light for the Caulerpa. Perhaps some iodide/iodine from time to time, but not often... suggest you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/suppleme.htm > Is there a chart etc with this type of information? <Not exactly - there is a lot of variation from system to system, so that a chart doesn't always cover all situations. Please read that article.> What type of testing will be require for the above setup? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm  - beyond that, perhaps calcium and alkalinity tests.> Thanks Mohamed. <Cheers, J -- >

- Protein Skimmer and pH stability - Hello, I've read your website so much that I thought I'd provide some of the insights that I've gathered from my reef back to you.  I recently purchased a pH controller and a calcium reactor.  Well, when I hooked up the controller I noticed that between the end of the day and the next morning the pH would go from 8.24 to 7.98.  Also, the skimmer was not producing dark liquid color skim and when the riser was lowered on the Euroreef, protein skimmer, it would produce hardly any skim at all.  After much reading on your website I decided that the best course of action was to bring the skimmer closer to the surface of the sump.  The protein skimmer was sitting in about 8 inches of water so I bought some mouse pads at office max to place under the skimmer.  I raised the skimmer up about an inch, which placed the intake of the pump within an inch of the water surface.  I then reduced the length of the riser until the skim was a dark green color.  To my amazement once the skimmer was more properly tuned the pH fluctuations disappeared. <Interesting.> This morning the pH was 8.15.  Maybe this condensed information will prove helpful for another enthusiast. <Let us hope so.> -Brent <Cheers, J -- >

Ammonia spike caused by gravel vac? <Hey Richard, Mac here> My FOWLR tank has been running for over 8 months, with the ammonia cycle long since completed.  Tank is a 125 gal with dual overflows, sump, 50-micron filter bags attached to overflow hoses going into sump, AquaC EV120 skimmer, Mag Drive 1200gph return pump, 2 powerheads in tank (300gph each), 130lbs LR, aragonite substrate about 1-2" deep. <Nice> Livestock includes yellow tang, royal Gramma, six line wrasse, chalk bass, green Chromis, dragon goby, and Foureye butterfly. A note on the Foureye:  your site shows that it is a poor choice for an aquarium.  The store had it labeled as an Atlantic Reef Butterfly.  It looked cool, was not expensive, and they said it would get along with my other fish, so I bought it.  I then looked it up on your site, found a picture, and realized the exact species.  While I never would have bought it had I read your site first, I must say that the fish was doing quite well during the two weeks before the sudden death.  There was no indication that he would not survive.  He did not eat what I was feeding, but was constantly picking at the rocks.  Looking healthy after two weeks, I assumed he was getting whatever food he needed. <Just a note, he probably was, the problem with them in a reef tank is that eventually he will start eating things you don't want him to eat. Like corals, feather dusters, etc.>   Back to the problem.  My testing has always shown zero ammonia and nitrite, nitrates about 20.  <Tad high on the nitrates, you really should try to take them down a bit more> On my LFS advice, I have kept the salinity very low (1.017 SG) to prevent parasite infection. The store keeps their tanks at 1.015 and the fish look great, even the ones that have been there for months. Last weekend, my Foureye butterfly and dragon goby both died a day apart. LFS said the butterfly had what looked like ammonia burn.  He had reddish patches under the skin, with no other signs of abuse.  He looked and acted perfect the day before. The store tested my water and did find ammonia to be about .25. <hmmm, just a note here too.  It might be a wise idea for you to invest in some test kits at some point.> Both of these deaths came after I did a water change and vacuuming of the entire substrate. LFS now thinks that my vacuuming released an ammonia spike into the tank.  Looking back through my logbook, <very important you are to be commended> I do find that a number of my fish deaths (unfortunately there have been many) did happen within a day or two of a cleaning.  They now tell me not to vacuum the substrate, that it interferes with the biocycle going on underneath. <The filtration system you are using is the live rock system with a bacterial bed in the sand.>  Is this true?  <This is a wonderful system and is working for a lot of people.  Your fish store is correct in saying that when you vacuum out the sand you are pulling out both the bacteria and probably lots of wonderful creatures and animals that make your sand bed both fascinating and functioning.> What do you recommend as a cleaning regimen to go along with water changes?  <Definitely keep up the water changes.  If you think you are seeing a lot of detritus on the sand there are creatures that you can use to clean them that will not disturb your bacterial bed.  Narcissus snails, fighting conchs, even several of the serpent stars will do a wonderful job with that.  Most fish will not bother a serpent star either.  You could always do some gentle vacuuming of just the very tip top of the sand.  In fact, I have been known to get my net and grab something off the sand.>  If my vacuuming didn't kill the fish, any ideas on what did?  <Technically its not the vacuuming but the ammonia rise that did the killing.  But your disturbing the sand bed could have caused the levels to rise.  Its good that you are jumping on this and trying to figure out what could have gone wrong.  Butterflies are more sensitive to ammonia levels and that's probably why he was the first to go.  Since your tank is fish only, I really would recommend getting an ammonia test kit.  You can make the ammonia level go up by massively over feeding the fish and then their waste products. Ask me how I know this?  Been there done that!  Seriously we all probably have. Having the kits at home will help you to get a jump on this and do a water change before there is a big problem.  Good luck with this.>

HLLE & Other Questions (5/21/04) I have a 3" yellow tang in a 55 gallon tank. It is extremely healthy with nothing abnormal in his behavior. It is also an aggressive eater. The problem is that it is has red abrasions on its head which are like holes with white inside, it almost looks like several huge scars. He has had this for a while, but just recently its lateral line started fading to a white color. None of the other fish have this disease( they are extremely healthy). Could all these symptoms be an indication of HLLE? <Sounds rather likely. I'd suggest you read up on the subject and seek possible causes. There are a number of theories. Maintain pristine water conditions and excellent nutrition, including lots of marine algae.> If not what is it? <One wonders about a bacterial infection, but I'd expect the fish to be acting sicker.> I know the disease is nutrition and water quality related, but my water conditions are very good and I feed it marine flakes, formula II preparations, and red dried seaweed (it also eat the high protein food I drop in for the other fish). <Might at some Selcon too. Live Gracilaria is an excellent tang food. Learn about it at www.ipsf.com > So what could be its causes and remedy? <There was an excellent series of articles in Freshwater and Marine Aquarium last fall. You should be able to find it at a good library.> Second question, I am in the process of curing live rock. But before I place the rock in the aquarium, I want to remove all the nasty pests which reside within the rock. I know bristle worms and mantis shrimp are among these pests. <Actually, most bristleworms are beneficial detritivores. It's the big fireworms that are a problem.> My questions are: What are the nasty pests that I need (and want) to remove? <Check here: http://www.reefs.org/hhfaq/ > What do they look like? <I really can't systematically describe them all. The site I mentioned has great pix. Also, you should consider buying Nilsen & Foss?s "Reef Secrets." Great book with good info on this subject and a lot of other subjects. And how do I remove them? <A brief dip in hypersaline water w ill drive most things out. Search WWM on the subject of removing hitchhikers for info. Hope this helps. Steve Allen.> 

Playing With Sandbeds Ok, Guys I bought some sand for my tank and am now pondering how to clean it? Should I buy a starfish or let it be. Should I vacuum it, I'm just worried that all the sand will go up the vacuum- please help. <My recommendation with sand beds is to siphon only from the top 1/2" or so, if it all. You really want to leave the deeper layers undisturbed, so that you don't inhibit the denitrification processes that occur in these deeper layers. Just go slowly and carefully. Or, as you suggested, you could use animals such as brittle stars to help do the job, too.> Also my friend wants to breed clowns in his 45 gal bowfront. the clowns are probably all his livestock except for a cleanup crew, and some nice corals-maybe a pink tip anemone, some 'shrooms and lots of LR to go with it. My question is how can you tell male to female? Is the female larger in size? <Well, usually, one of the fish in a pair will turn into a female, who may be recognized by-you guessed it- her larger size! Your should arm himself with a good book on these fish, such as Joyce Wilkerson's "Clownfishes", which has lots of good information on these fish and their care.> Anyway, I gotta roll- gotta get up early for school. Thanks for reading, Aaron <Don't be late, Aaron! Regards, Scott F.> 

Trouble Getting Started (5/24/04) Hi. First off, thank you for your great service. We find you very well informed and appreciate your advice. <Steve Allen this evening. It's my pleasure to play a small part in this service.>  We are in a smaller community in Ontario and although we have a few pet stores in our area that sell salt water fish and equipment the advice and info they offer is a bit limited. They do try to help but don't always have the answers. So I come to you for your thoughts.  We set up a 50 gallon marine tank about 2 months ago. We have live rock and some soft corals that are doing well. About 3 weeks after the set up it was safe to add some small hermits and snails. Next we added a brittle star fish, a cleaner shrimp, and a small red crab (name?) <There are many.>.  They have all done well and are still doing fine. Our first fish was an Auriga butterfly <nice fish>, then 10 days later 3 Kole tangs. <Too many for this small tank.>  The Tangs died between 10-14 days after we added them. I believe I made the mistake of over feeding them things like romaine lettuce, spinach, etc. <Not necessarily bad foods, but macroalgae are much better.>  In addition I was feeding the butterfly minced sole fillet and minced shrimp from whole shrimp. I realize now that I was probably contributing dissolved organic nitrates. <Overfeeding is an important cause of elevated nitrogenous waste levels. So is overcrowding.>  From the beginning as the tank began to cycle, we had been fighting Cyanobacteria (red stringy algae like stuff) then later green hair algae. <Nutrient control is key here.> I tested the water diligently and had good nitrite levels(0.1), ammonia 0.0, and ph of 8.3-8.5. I try to keep the specific gravity between 1.025 and 1.027. <I'd keep it a little lower--1.024 range.>  After losing the tangs we added 4 small common clown fish. <Too many again.>  They and the butterfly fish died about a week later. It has been about 2 weeks that I have been "cleaning up" the tank. I have removed as much of the hair algae as possible. I do water changes of approx. 10 gallons per week and replace using distilled water. I do wonder if I have the protein skimmer (turbo-venturi system) set up properly. I have it set that there is a small turbo effect in the main cylinder but opened just before the outflow spews dissolved (tiny) bubbles or foam? The thing is I have no or very little organic waste collected and don't get foam in the collection cup. <You need to make the adjustments needed in order to get the foam to come up into the cup.>  For me to collect foam/waste it must be set at a level that spills back into the tank. I don't think there is much organic waste at this time but I am still wondering if it is set correctly? <This can be tricky. You may want to contact the manufacturer for suggestions.> I think that I am heading in the right direction but before I add any more fish I want to make sure that the conditions are right. I would welcome any comments or info you can shed on this "long winded story" I have sent you. Are there other water tests that I should be doing? <Test your phosphate--it's fertilizer. If elevated, you can remove with phosphate removing resins and water changes and by not feeding too much.>  Looking forward to your response.  <You also need to be much more realistic in your stocking plans and be more patient in adding fish. I'd leave this tank fishless for at least a couple of months while you bring the algae under control and get the system well-balanced. (If I could do one thing over with my system, it would be to not add fish for six months from start-up.) Plan advance exactly which fish to buy and add them one at a time, quarantining each fish for 4 weeks first, from most shy to most aggressive. Yes, it will take many months to finish the additions, but most marine aquarium problems are a result of impatience. A fifty gallon tank is a small tank for a marine system. It is too small for any Tang, let alone three. It is too small for any Butterflyfish. I would not recommend any more than a single pair of Percula or Ocellaris clowns. Four clowns will not get along in this small tank. Here are some more realistic fish though consider: Firefishes, Dartfishes, Shrimp Gobies, Royal Gramma, Flasher or small Fairy Wrasses, and the Long-nosed Hawkfish (may be a risk to the cleaner). If you ant a body form similar to butterflies and tangs, consider a genus Centropyge angel such as a Flame or Coral Beauty, though these do sometimes nip corals. You can fit may a half-dozen fish in this size range, counting the clowns. If you get only one clown, then you'll be able to have six different species rather than five. I assure you, it will not be "lonely." Hope this helps some.> 

Mixed Bag... residual Cu, marine lighting, chemical warfare... Hi crew... daily reader and big fan of the site here.  Hope all is going well for the new CA mag.... love the first one. <Glad to hear that! Adam and I have big plans for the magazine. We've got some great articles by some well-known authors, and several new columns coming up. Look for the next one in early July!> Anyway, I have a few unrelated questions. <Sure> First, I have a FOWLR 35 gal tank with 2 false percs in it. I also use it for a hospital tank and quarantine tank on occasion. I treat it with Cu once in a while when I have a fish in need from my main tank.  Would it be OK if I put a snowflake moray in it? When the eel gets too big, I want to move it to my main tank.  Will the Cu hurt the eel?  Is the tank just too small?  The LFS says it'll be fine, but you know how that goes. <Well, to be quite honest with you, I'd avoid placing a Moray in this tank for a number of reasons. Copper in it's chelated form will generally not hurt the eel, but I'd avoid putting the fish in there nonetheless. The physical size of the tank (i.e.; the volume of water) will be a huge challenge for you, because of the copious amount of waste material that these heavy feeders will release. Maintaining good water quality (which is very important to these fish) is tough in a tank with this small a water volume. You also have to take into account the amount of water taken up by the rocks. Then you're talking about a REALLY small water volume. And your clownfish may end up on the menu, so that's another reason to hold off on acquiring this fish for this tank> Also, I was reading about the "watts per gallon" rule when it comes to clams, but I see most people who have them use metal halide lighting. I have a 55g tank at work and would like to get a couple clams, but I use VHO's & PC's.  I have (3) 110 VHO bulbs (2 daylight & 1 actinic) and (2) 65w (blue). Is this adequate? <There are many opinions on this. I suppose the best way to look at the lighting needs of clams is to think of them as having the same lighting requirements as demanding SPS corals do. They need a lot of light, and the high levels of light are most efficiently supplied by metal halide. I have seen clams maintained under VHOs in very shallow water, and they were attractive, but I think that for long term success (and that is the goal, right?) metal halide is the best way to go.> Lastly, I have a sea fan and a leather coral.  They both open fully, but I have heard these two can have chemical "warfare". Is this true? (if it's a sea fan, wouldn't it be "fanfare"? ;) haha. Richard. <Hah! Cute joke! Seriously, though, such allelopathic competition is quite possible, especially in a modest sized aquarium between some of these species. I suppose with heavy protein skimming, regular small water changes, and use of chemical filtration media (activated carbon and PolyFilter), they can be kept together over extended periods. Regards, Scott F>

Re: Perculas and Tangs and Algae Oh My!!! Steve, <Hello again.>   Thanks for the info. <My pleasure.> I have now quarantined my ich sick fish in a low salinity tank (1.014) and they seem to be doing ok. <I'd slowly take it down to 1.011.> The ich spots are still there but are slowly going away :-). <Does take a little time.> My Prizm skimmer removes approx 1/8 cup of thick brown Pepsi colored liquid per day. I am surprised that cleaner wrasses do not survive long, mine has lived in my tank for approx 6 months feeding mostly on frozen mysis and brine shrimp. <Consider yourself very fortunate. Either that or the fish has been mis-identified by the LFS that sold it to you.   I am considering incorporating a canister filter of some sort to improve detritus removal, any suggestions? <As a former canister user, I strongly advise against this. Gunk builds up quickly in there and starts to produce large amounts of nitrate. You would need to open and clean it as much as twice a week, sometimes even more, this gets old really fast. I would suggest a HOT powerfilter with easily-changed cartridges instead.> I have heard good things about the Magnum HOT filters and the Fluval canisters. <Mixed reviews of these exist on various forums. I was satisfied with both for EW, but it is such a project to clean them. The open-top powerfilters are much easier to use. If you have live rock/sand, you do not need a Bio-Wheel or similar device as part of it.>   I am also curious as to the effect of carbon on a mini reef environment. I have read that carbon should only be used in a reef tank one week out of the month to prevent yellowing water. Any insight here would be greatly appreciated. <Again, opinions are mixed. Running carbon at some point is good. Some do run it constantly. Search WWM for a variety of info/opinions.> I still feel like a newbie having only discovered internet marine sites within the last few months. <even the so-called experts should be learning new things.> Thanks Again, Michael Mandziuk <You're welcome. Hope this helps.>

Marine Tank, cloudy My tank is somewhat cloudy and I can't seem to remove the cloudiness from my water.  I have tried a 30% water change and it helped a some.  I have put in some stress Zyme with some success. However, there is still some cloudiness to the water.  What should I do to help the water quality? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watrqualmar.htm and the associated FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

Reusing salt deposits Hi all; <Good morrow Dee> I looked through the FAQs and couldn't find anywhere this was mentioned...so here goes.  Is it safe/advised to reuse the salt deposits that are left on the tank?  i.e. if I scrap the deposits off, can I then use that salt when I mix my next batch of water?  It's not like it's a huge cost savings, I'm mostly just curious. I appreciate your help. Deirdre <This is actually a very important question... turns out that the several salts that make up real and synthetic marine water are differentially soluble... that is, they go in, and come out of solution selectively. So, what one sees accumulating on tops et al. is not an across the line proportion of solids... and there can be serious ramifications of allowing this drift in composition to increase. Thus it is generally a good idea to push those salt deposits back into your water... with a few provisos... Not to let the situation get out of hand but to do this on a frequent, regular basis (weekly let's say). To not push these encrustaceans onto sessile invertebrates (like corals) as they may well do chemical and physical damage if so. And lastly to prevent pollution by not having too much "other gunk" accumulate in the salt grit that you are adding back. Of course it is best to prevent as much salt creep as possible... by having good cover over the tank, restricting air stone, other splash in the first place... but adding back salts that have left solution while doing routine maintenance gets at least one thumb up from this aquarist. Bob Fenner>

School project What organisms can I put in an aquarium to make it self-sustained and why? <There is a friend, Bill Stockley, here on the Big Island of Hawai'i who makes sealed glass containers with a small shrimp (Opelu) a bit of sea fan skeleton, some algae and a bit of nutrient added to water... and these (with energy in the form of light and heat) are self-contained for several months... Why? A balance between production of food by the algae, wastes and nutrients from the shrimp consuming the algae... Bob Fenner>

Overstocked Tank 4/20/04 Thanks for the reply. You are right; we are considering a 120 gal tank soon. <I suggest at least 300g for all those fish. > Right now all the fish seem to be ok. My husband told me that our dog had gotten behind the cabinet and had knocked the plug out of wall so the pump was also off for possibly a day. <Oops, bad doggie! I would try to block that off. > We checked all our water conditions, the nitrites were the only thing that was up a little and we went ahead and put in I think it is called" TLC" to help with water quality.  <Never add a chemical before trying to fix the problem with a water change. > We also did a full water change. <Full? As in all the water? Never change more that 25% of your water at a time. > I did ask the guy that sold us the fish; he told us that it is normal for the dogface to be turning different colors like that. Is that true?  <Puffers are very moody camouflaging fish that do change colors a lot. Sometimes darker colors are a sign of stress, if it is accompanied with listlessness & loss of appetite. > I appreciate your help. We are obviously new at this and I guess got a little over zealous with fish. Like I said right now they are all small, but our next plan is too start another tank. We have another 55 gal that is empty. Do you think if we get that one ready, would that be enough to split the fish between the two tanks?  <Sounds like a great idea. Make sure to use Bio-Spira to instantly cycle your other tank, immediately before transferring your fish. It would also be a good idea to set up a 20g tank for quarantine.> Thanks again for your help. We are total novices here, but learning new things all the time. Any help is appreciated. <Why not get familiarized with your hobby by going through some of the FAQs at the WetWebMedia site? ~PP>

Lots of Questions (4/15/2004)  I'm a beginner at establishing a saltwater tank, so I know I have a lot to learn. <Always an excellent mindset, and you've found the right place for hoards of info. I learn something new every day here> I have a 16 gallon "fish-only" tank with live sand substrate. I'm using a wet/dry filter, basic lighting and a Tronic heater. I keep the water around 75 degrees, the salinity is around 1.022 and I'm trying to get my Ph level up to 8.3 with a Ph increaser. <I recommend Aquarium systems or Seachem buffer products for this> It is currently around 7.5 - 7.8. <Ouch! Definitely start adjusting it...but do so over the course of a few days>  So far, I've tried keeping 2 fish at a time in the tank for cycling. Bosley is my False Percula clown and I attempted (an easy care fish) a Damsel. The Damsel died after 2 days in the tank. At this time my Ph was 7.5 and all other levels for nitrates, nitrites, ammonia and alkalinity were right on the mark per the test strips. <Likely the low pH was the cause of mortality. Is this tank cycled?> She was a shy fish and typically cowered in the corner for the first day or so, but had taken to venturing out in the tank a bit more before she passed on. She seemed very healthy, but by the second day, got sluggish. <Stress due to water conditions>  The next day, I tried to add a Royal Gramma. She lived 2 days and passed away tonight. <Don't add anymore fish until you get your pH to a steady 8.2-3> Another shy fish who took to hiding under the heater. Yesterday, she did get brave and swim out several times and got a little more active, but the funny thing is that on the trip home, she constantly swam upside down in her bag. I thought perhaps this was a sign of stress. At any rate, once I got her home, I placed her bag on the counter and it fell into the floor. I did not see any damage at the time and she swam fine that night and the next day in the tank when she came out. However, tonight I noticed her laying to the side against the back of the aquarium. She seemed to be getting lethargic, so I removed her from the aquarium and placed her in a bucket with water from the aquarium. <Why?! Moving a fish from a display tank to a quarantine tank is one thing, but a bucket does not make a good home for a fish at all> She passed on within 20 minutes. <As to be expected> I never saw her or the Damsel eat, and the Gramma did jump at a bit of Krill that was scooped up in the water in the transfer to the bucket. However, when I put some more Krill in with her, she did not eat. <Definitely don't feed a fish when it's being kept in a bucket! No need to introduce more organics...> I'm feeding them Krill (typically one or two pieces broken up into small bits) and frozen variety cubes (half of one every other day) yet none of the fish seem to even bother with these. <Interest in food will increase when water quality has been improved>  At any rate, I went ahead and removed Bosley and did a 10% water change (delaying my cycling), worked on the Ph and added fresh dechlorinated saltwater to the tank to ensure my salinity maintained it's 1.022 reading with the hydrometer. I can find no evidence of any diseases and Bosley seems to be active and doing great. The tank has only been set up about a week now. <Never introduce fish while your tank is cycling! Cycle your tank with one hardy fish, or the fishless cycling method (see our faq's) but most definitely never introduce organisms during the cycle, or perform water changes! Let the tank cycle for a month, or until ammonia and nitrite read 0 and you have a nitrate reading>  I have several questions about what could have killed my "easy/beginner" fish, the Damsel and the Gramma as opposed to my "moderate care" Percula. I added 1 tsp of Ph Increaser when the Gramma was in the tank, should I remove the fish when I am adjusting Ph levels or anything else for maintenance? Of course, the Gramma could have been the victim of the fall from the counter, but that does not make up for what happened to the Damsel (Please don't label me a "fish-killer", I feel horrible enough about that...lesson learned). It also doesn't make up for the way she was swimming on the trip home (upside-down) but then fine later after the trip and the fall. <Don't add any more fish until the cycle has completed. Also, because you only have a 16 gallon tank, I wouldn't add anything more than your clown and maybe one other clown\damsel\Gramma. 2 small fish is all your tank can hold>  Another question might be the effect on smoke (nicotine) on the environment. I smoke and Bosley likes to be hand-fed. Is it possible that I may have contaminated the environment by putting my hands/fingers in the tank after smoking? <Not likely. Adding them during the cycle is likely the cause of death> If so, why did it only affect the Damsel and the Gramma but not the Percula? I've also wondered if this could be the result of DO (Dissolved Oxygen) in the tank, but could that happen in a tank that hasn't been set up very long? The filter system seems to working fine and I rinsed everything, including the new tank, in plain  fresh water before setting up. The only thing that I can tell from my research that I don't do is the freshwater dip when acclimating them to the new tank, but it didn't seem to affect Bosley. As a side note, when adding new fish, I float the bag for 10 minutes, add a cup of aquarium water to the bag, float for 10 more minutes, add another cup of the water and then scoop them out of the bag after 5 or 10 more minutes and add them to the tank. This is what was suggested to me at the store.  As you can tell, I have a strong affinity with my Percula, Bosley. I'm worried now that if I don't nail down the problem, he may become the next victim. My next goal is to get a Pearly Jawfish, but I want to ensure that it is safe and get my tank more established before obtaining one. Any help you could give me or websites you could point me to add to the many I now have on my favorites in my research, would be greatly appreciated. <Percula\Ocellaris clowns are very hardy. Hopefully he will survive the cycle. Allow the cycle to complete (no water changes\animal additions for 1 month) and test the water. Make sure you regularly add a buffering compound to get your pH up to 8.2! Make sure your top-off water and salt mix is also 8.2 before adding it to the tank. Also, read our FAQs regarding the cycle process>  Thank you in advance for your advice, <No problem, good luck to Bosley!>  Mia  <M. Maddox>

Next best move Dear Crew,  <Michael here tonight>  Thanks for the great site and hope all is well. <I could use a billion dollars and my own planet, but otherwise than that, all limbs accounted for...> I just started out in the hobby and am enamored. I've spent countless hours staring at my tank, and also at my computer staring at your website. <Reminds me of me> My question is what is the next best move for the overall health of my tank. Setup: 46 gal, 2-3" crushed coral substrate, 45lbs. live rock, hang-on filter (Tetratec 300), Aqua-c remora skimmer. <Good choice of skimmers, I have one as well and love it> Fish: 2 blue damsels, Pseudochromis, yellow tang, 2 perculas, CBShrimp. Plus, cleaner package from Foster & Smith (snails, hermits, serpent star). <The yellow tank will outgrow your tank in a year or three> I do small twice weekly water changes, monthly vacuuming, and all levels stay pegged at zero. <Excellent husbandry> Calcium about 350-425.  First: I feel like I've made the wrong choice with crushed coral and should have gone with sand. Both for bio-filtration purposes, and for the fact that overall, fish seem to prefer this substrate. <Depends on the species, I've seen triggers have fun with crushed coral 'remodeling'> If so, then should I convert to sand? If so, how? Can/should sand be vacuumed? <For your current setup\inhabitants your setup is perfectly fine. Crushed coral needs to be gravel vacuumed for detritus as benthic animals have a harder time stirring it, but as you do this, I wouldn't worry. As for sand being a better bio filter, I believe you would be referring to a 'Deep Sand Bed' (see below). I would keep the crushed coral and avoid the stress to your animals and the hassle to yourself>  Second: Should I setup a refugium? Would something less than 10gallons be worthwhile? <A refugium is always worthwhile. You could also set up a DSB in a refugium - for more info read our FAQs, and the archives of www.reefcentral.com have several hotly debated threads on the subject>  Third: Should/can I add more live rock, how much is too much? I have 45lbs. of Fiji in there now but it does not look full enough. (If I get more LR, can it go straight into the display tank?) <Your choice, really. You have enough for biological filtration, but if you want to add more, it would not be detrimental. "Too much" is relative, just make sure there's room for fish to swim! If you plan on adding the LR directly to the tank, add it in small amounts to avoid ammonia spikes from die off, and use only cured live rock>  Also, I feel like my damsels dominate the tank, making the other fish less visible, especially my tang. But, I'd feel guilty giving the damsels to my local LFS because I have very little faith in their livestock care. Do you think that it'd be a bad idea to get rid of them somehow? To give them to the LFS? <As long as they aren't abusing any of your fish, I would leave them alone. Your tang will eventually outgrow your aquarium anyway>  Your advice is invaluable and such a help to a beginner that is just getting his sea legs. <Aye matey, no problem> Your website is like the temple of the aquarium community, where all come to learn, grow, and find support. <Definitely learned my fair share here> Thanks for your devotion. <Thanks for the compliments, they are always appreciated by the WWM Crew>  Sincerely, Keith Tallbe  <M. Maddox>

The Importance Of High Water Quality Hi. <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I really like your site.  Lots of good info.  I have a 30 Gal. Salt with 1 coral reef light, 1 Prizm Protein Skimmer and one Aquamaster 350 aerating power filter.  I got the tank at Christmas (cheers to the wife!!) and had it cycle for about 3 weeks prior to putting anything in it.  I slowly added 5 lbs of live rock and then 2 damsels.  After about a week I added a Goby, a feather duster, a snail and 3 crabs.  About a week later, I put in 1 Orange Clown and one Yellow Clown.  That is when the trouble started.  The yellow clown started chasing everything around. <Different species of clownfish can be rather territorial, particularly in a smaller system> I added a fake plant for the others to hide in and that helped.  About 2 weeks later, I added a small Angelfish.  So - to recap for ya -2 Damsels,1 yellow clown, 1 Red Clown, 1 Angelfish, 1 Goby 3 crabs, 1 snail, 2 Hermit crabs. <Wow! To be quite frank, that is a very large bioload for a 30 gallon tank, particularly when you take into account the fact that the actual water capacity in this tank (when you take into account the displacement caused by rock, sand, etc.) may be much less.> After this was all going for about 2 months, I added a Dwarf Lion. <Ohh...a bad choice in this tank...> It died in 48 hours.  After that I started to have a bad brown algae problem.  This is was coincidental to the lion dying, and I think It was caused by the tank getting hit by sunlight. <Well, algae is caused by nutrients AND light. Light alone will not cause nuisance algae blooms. You didn't mention anything about your water quality parameters, but I'll bet that you have considerable phosphate and nitrate levels in there. A smaller tank with a heavy bioload is a surefire way to grow lots of algae. Do review the WWM site for information regarding nutrient export and other ways to lower the level of dissolved organics in your tank> But, after the lion died I started to notice small strands of hair like junk on my rocks and other items. <Sounds like some sort of algae) Then my fish started to die one by one.  I got to the Yellow clown before it was eaten by the crabs.  It had what looked like fungus or light fur all over it.  The eyes were cloudy also. <Well, it's impossible to be certain, but if you are talking about a possible bacterial or fungal infection, it is quite possible that water quality played a role in the fish's demise> My feather duster and crabs are fine.  The little amount of hitchhiker coral I have looks good.  I have not put any new fish in the tank, did a major cleaning, am changing 5 Gallons of water every 4 days and moved the tank out of the sun.   <Good moves. You should, however, devote a bit of thought as to what may have caused the algae problems and disease in the first place. By improving overall water quality, you will create a less stressful environment for your fishes, and provide less nutrient load to "feed" nuisance algae> What do you think happened and what should I do at this point? <As above, go on an aggressive campaign to embrace regular water changes (with high quality source water, such as RO/DI), use of activated carbon or Poly Filter, adjusting stocking level, etc. Consistency in procedure is very important!> Also - I have never been a fan of using a lot of chemicals. <Neither have I!> The only thing I have add was Prime Dechlor by Seachem. I hope to hear from you soon.  Could you please respond to this e- address? Thanks for your help. Eric "The Fish Killer" Schnellmann <Hang in there, Eric! You won't need to keep that Fish Killer" moniker for too long. You're learning more every day! Just take a few fundamental steps to improve overall water quality and husbandry, and I'll bet that the problems you mention will be a thing of the past. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Old Tankmates, New Battles? Hi Scott, <Hello there, Teri!> Haven't talked to you in awhile, things have been going pretty good. <Always glad to hear that!> The tank that I had been talking to you about is doing great, I did buy a Blue starfish and a White sand starfish for it.  The blue one was beautiful... Yea, that's right- was. It died about a week after I got it.  I was crushed he was really a beautiful blue color.  < Don't take it personally, Teri. Those blue Linckia starfish tend to be among the least hardy of all starfish kept in aquaria; usually they are stressed or damaged beyond recovery before they even make it to your local fish store.> Also about that time I noticed my shrimp was no where to be found.  I took the star back where I got it and he said I didn't do anything wrong it looked like it had some kind of disease.  It still upset me, I love my little friends and I don't what to do something to hurt them. <A great attitude to have!> Anyway that's not what my problem is now.  I went to work out of town for about 3 weeks and while I was, I found a ad in our local paper back home about another tank for sale. The people were moving like the first tank I got.  Well I had asked my husband to call about it and get me some info.  He didn't just call, he went and looked at it, and called me to tell me it looked good to him. <Ya gotta love that guy!> He doesn't know anything about my fish but he knows I really like them. <Yep- ya' really gotta love that guy!> So, anyways, I had him buy it, and I called the guy who moved the last one for me, and he brought to my house and set everything up.  Well, I got home about a week later.  It is really nice, 120 gallon with wood cabinet, wood hood, lights, sump filter, skimmer-complete set up. It has about 100 pounds of live rock, 2 damsels, 1 hawk fish, 1 clown, 2 crabs and loads of tiny tiny star fish.  Well last week one of the crabs died.  This past weekend I noticed that my clown has no tail fin, somebody has eaten his tailfin and part of his fin on his back.  Now all these fish came with the tank ,why would they be eating on this little guy now?  <Well, if it really is the result of aggression, not water quality, it could simply be as a result of territorial disputes occurring in the newly re-set-up tank. Remember, established territories were disturbed during the move, and there is a certain amount of "jockeying for position" that occurs in a new tank.> What can I do?  I can't put him in my other tank, I already have a tomato clown there.  This little clown is really cute it has a yellow stripe on his head and two white down the body of him.  I noticed one day it was hiding in a rock and looked like it was standing on its head really funny looking, but I haven't seen it do that again. Anyways, what can I do? Please help. <Well, if it were me, and I could not identify the potentially guilty party, I'd keep a very close eye on the Clownfish. If he appears to be declining, or if obvious aggression is occurring between tankmates, you may want to try removing the clown to a livebearer breeding trap or otter temporary facility for a little TLC. On the other hand, if you can identify the aggressor, you may want to give him or her a "time out" in a similar container, and add the fish back after the clown has had a chance to establish himself once again. Either way, be prepared to intervene with the clown> Thanks again! And Scott, I hope you haven't been drinking to much Thai Iced Tea <Not possible! Can't get enough of it!> Scott have a Happy Easter if I don't talk to you again I just to tell you I hope you Have a Easter. Thanks Again, Teri <And the same to you and your family!>

No Permanent Damage Hello, <Hi! Ryan here> I love the site; have been reading as much as humanly possible for the last two months.  I caught a case of information overload and did not read any info on filling a tank for the first time. (sorry). I purchased a 55g tank, Aqua C remora Pro HOT skimmer, 2 Aquaclear 802 powerheads, I maxi-jet powerhead, 1 millennium 3000 filter. I put 150lbs of Southdown in last night. (4-5 in. DSB). Here comes the big screw up. I mixed the salt water with RO water in 5 gallon buckets and added to the tank. Turned on the powerheads and the filter and went to bed. I did put a heater in only to find out this morning that it is not working. The only parameters I tested last night was sg 1.022 and ph 7.9. So now I am left with an extremely cloudy tank and cold water 68 degrees or so. <It's okay, could be worse> I read up on filling a tank this morning and obviously I have made a huge error.  Water was not properly aerated and the salt was not properly dissolved before adding it to the tank.  I called the misses this morning after reading some more information and told her to just turn everything off (out of disgust of my mistake). My question is would it be better to just drain the tank and refill properly being that the only thing in the tank is the sand.  Or ??????? <Please run your filters, skimmer at max.  The powerheads can also be run now.  Run carbon, and a PolyFilter.  A heater is essential, so get one in there.  I can't tell if you have live rock in there or not- if not, there should be no problems.  Just filter, skim, heat and give it a few weeks.  Ryan> Thank you for your time and this will never happen again. Jason

Marine operation/maintenance and red algae I'm a newbie learning the ropes and finding your site was priceless.  (maybe you should do MasterCard commercial....)  You guys are awesome for all you do! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!  (should I suck up some more?) <Please no more!  We all do this because we love the hobby.  It is sincerely our pleasure!> We are building a reef.  Going very slow!  A little over three weeks into it and tank has cycled and Coralline is coming on STRONG! Only thing we've added is 6 Turbo Snails.  Refraining from adding creatures is HARD, but know (thanks to you guys!) that patience will insure success.  We want to continue research and have a complete livestock list and a clear plan of attack rather than randomly adding things... It is a 55g w/ 88lbs live rock and a 10gal overhead refugium.  I'll spare you the rest of the peripherals and get right to my ???'s. <That sounds like a lot of rock!  Is there any room left for animals<g>?  It sounds like things are coming along nicely, and Kudos for your patience!> In the refugium I have an 8lb live rock which has lots of barnacles.  When we first bought the rock it was covered with waving cirri.  I have since seen many dead cirri floating around.  Inevitably they are dying from a lack of phytoplankton? <Phytoplankton or other suitable food.  These animals typically are not long term aquarium survivors.> They are, however, reproducing as we've seen many cyprid larvae running around.  "What the hell is your ?" (You asked that at just the right time!)  Is it worth trying to feed these and save them or not?  I found a post,  regarding DT brand liquid phytoplankton, suggesting that this brand had appropriate size particles.  I could shut down the 'fuge flow for a short time and feed them, so as not pollute the display.  I feel responsible to try and support them since I bought them (in a round about way). <DT's will provide food for many larval organisms, and if you wish to use it you will likely see some benefits.  No matter what you do, it is unlikely that you will grow anything but amphipods, copepods and mysids to maturity.  Because of long pelagic larval stages, most other critters will be killed or eaten before they can "grow up".  DT's will simply make them more nutritious food items for your corals and fish!> Second ?.... I attached a photo of a plant also growing on this rock....  I'm guessing that it is in the Rhodophyta family, but haven't been able to find a photo exactly matching it....  Is this a good plant to leaving growing for nutrient export?  Lastly, I would like to add some additional snails to help keep microalgae in check (still researching what we want for macroalgae).  Can we add these without quarantine since there's nothing else in the tank?  Thanks again!  Brad <Your algae is too small to be sure, but it is most likely Gracilaria.  It has the advantage of being great food for herbivorous fish, but is relatively slow growing compared to Chaetomorpha or Caulerpa.  You can add the snails without quarantine, but if you wish to follow a strict protocol in the future, you must wait several weeks before making any other additions.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Set up notes - 3/10/04   Paulda, thank you for your patience. I've been a bit of a pain in the ............. I know. Forgive me. <No worries. It is what we do>  No more hysterics, I promise. <Glad to hear> Below, are the numbers you asked for. Your words are in the black and white, mine in blue. I need to know salinity,    (Between 1.023 & 1.026) <Try 35ppt at 1.025 Be sure it remains stable> PH and frequency of what you dose and how much  (7.8 to 8.2 according to that 5 in 1 "crap") <Crap. Get hard evidence of this. Have your local pet shop do a full test on your water as a starting off point> I never dose, believe it or not. <Well.........not exactly true right?> Only when I see a problem, like now. <No panicking> But I've stopped per your 'order'.) <You know!> also we need the units of alkalinity. ( dKH is 7.8 ~~ that's 140ppm  divided by 17.9,..........right?) <I believe so>   No Dosing!!!!! Dosing free zone.  (Done!) <Good to hear> Change water 20% a week over the next month. (Will Do!) <Excellent> My guess is your water will stabilize to standardized reef Alk and CA numbers.>  (Let us pray!) <It will. I know it> May 10th, huh? I've got that on my calendar! <Can't wait> Muito obrigado! Um beijos e um abraca!! <OK> PS Here's a picture I wanted to share with you I did last year at a salon. How does YOUR office look? <Ocean blue paint with lots of dive relics and pictures from our various adventures and 5 tanks on a rack system. Nautilus shells, hammerhead shark jaws, a crap load of dive books and aquarist books. Oh yeah, and computers ~Pauly>

Troublesome tank - 3/11/04 Paul, what does the 35 ppt mean?>>>> You said: >>> <"Try 35ppt at 1.025 Be sure it remains stable"> <35parts per thousand (natural seawater) Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/spg_salinity.htm> Anyways, here's my specs today for today:   a.. dKH today is at 8.3!! >>> LaMotte test system. color turning system)   b.. My ph is high @ 8.4 <Fine as long as it maintains itself>   c.. Salinity is 1.021       I'll bring up the ph <you mean bring down the PH? I would leave it be. You are no dosing machine now> and leave the rest alone, that is till I change 20% of the water in a few days. tell me Paulito, is there anything I can do about that Cyanobacteria? <Keep at it. Likely a phase you system is going through. I cannot really offer any other advice that that which is already available here at WetWebMedia. Check your salt water for phosphates is the only thing I can think of> It just won't relent! I even took a large rock out of the tank yesterday and sprayed it hard with tap water. <Not good. I would take a soft bristled toothbrush and scrub lightly. Then siphon out> I hope this wasn't a terrible thing to do. <Not a good thing to do>     One last thing before I go, can you identify this plant for me? <Not a good enough picture unfortunately> Suddenly, it's growing all over my tank! After almost 4 years, I'm finally getting some plant life in my tank. <Excellent. Let's hope it is something you want> Thanks Paul, Take care of yourself, till we chat again, <Until next time> Cheers! Pamelita!

Algaes and Salt Creep My aquarium water has a film over it's surface that looks oily with small bubbles in it.  <Sounds like built up organics, good surface movement and protein skimming helps.>There is also a light film starting to coat the glass surfaces <Algae, just wipe it off as it grows.> and a white crust forming on the filter.<Salt creep, just salt that's building up on your equipment.>What could this be?<See above.  You can also find lots of info at our site: www.wetwebmedia.com.  Cody>

Bubble in New Tank Hi,<Howdy!> Just setup a new tank (SWFO), and there is nothing in there at the moment except for the Heater & Stuff, Anyhow when I look into the tank I see little bubbles Hanging of the inside Glass. Are these anything to worry about?<Nothing to worry about, and they are probably gone by now.> Sorry could be dumb question.<Not at all!  Cody> AO

- Live Rock, Water Quality, Temperature, and Skimming - Hello WWMCrew I know you folks are very busy and can't answer every email! <<Actually we do>> I have searched through google but found no response to my inquiry.  Can you please tell me if the new thought of 2 pounds of good live rock per gallon negates the need for a skimmer? <Personally, think two pounds per gallon to be excessive - wouldn't leave room for much else in the tank and would reduce the effective water volume of the system. Irregardless, I think most all marine tanks will benefit from a protein skimmer, live rock not withstanding.> I have been told by my local fish store that it is not necessary to add a denitrator to my 80 gal reef. <Would agree... live rock would help with this as would a deep sand bed - both need considerably less maintenance than a denitrification device.> I heard from other sources that nitrates will not harm inverts or fish? <At low levels this is true... once you get to about 60 - 80 ppm, fish will start to bum out.> I have an 80 gal reef with a tidepool II wet/dry. I have a chiller and keep my temp at 74 deg. I was also told by my local store that temps, can get into the high 60's and that's OK? <Don't agree unless you are doing a cold water system with temperate organisms. Tropical temps typically don't fall much below 75 degrees or so.> (I am not doing a cold water tank). <There you go then... don't drop the temperature any lower.> Could you tell me who has the best skimmer that's small. <Many brands... would look for the ones that will fit your size needs and then narrow down the list.> I have no cabinet space available with the chiller so I need a skimmer to go in my sump. I would really like your opinion on which is the best because I am having a terrible time with my Berlin Turbo on my 210 fish only tank.  I do have 135 LBS of the finest live rock I have ever seen but I am a water quality freak I do 25% water changes monthly on all my tanks and would do more if I could afford all that salt. <Hmm... well... most water quality freaks I know change their water much more often than that. Would encourage you to go to 5% a week or 10% every two weeks but not wait much longer than that... or perhaps consider not flushing your toilet for a month... is the same type of situation... the fish are swimming in their wastes.> thanks Kirt <Cheers, J -- >

New tank fits - 3/4/04 Hi,     I have spent a lot of money on my salt water setup (well a lot for me) and it just seems to be getting worse. <Sorry to hear this, what is going on?> I have had my 40 gal tank for 9 weeks. It cycled just fine. I use RODI water and used live sand and base rock. <So far so good. What about live rock. Did you have any of that. Base rock does have some ability for filtration but usually a more dense rock. Takes a long time to colonize> Two weeks ago the few fish I bought died. <Whoa!!> The fish store tested my water and everything was fine. <what does that mean? There is more to water quality than no ammonia and no nitrites> They said my ph was 8.0 and I should bring it up a little so they sold me some Oceans Blend ph/alk buffer and some calcium. <Great. They always have a selling solution.. PH too low could be caused by many things but the easiest way to replenish low PH is a water change. Low PH is not uncommon when lights are off. It is natural and normal for the PH to drop off a bit oxygen drops when the lights go out (usually to 8.0 or so.> I followed their instructions for about a week. Then my water got cloudy. <Likely PH may have crashed and alkalinity and calcium is out of whack. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm

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