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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance/Operation 11

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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 10, Maint. FAQs 12, Maint. FAQs 13, Maint. 14, Reef Maintenance 1

New marine tank, move, help Hi, wanted to say thanks for all your help in the past, I guess it led to this point, a larger tank! <Ah, good> I've got a 40 gallon tank that's been running for about 2 years, and it's been fairly successful, most of the time.  Nothing is perfect, but I have the following:  a lot of xenia, mushrooms, huge colt coral, plate coral, anchor coral.  I also have 2 fish in there, a scooter dragonet and a blue tang (don't yell at me!)  Actually the tang was a baby in a qt tank that must have been in a piece of live rock I put in the 40, he was just there one day, don't ask.  I knew he needed a big tank when I got him, but I know little tangs are temperamental, and I wanted to make sure he adjusted properly.  The 40 is as follows:  40 AGA, SeaClone skimmer, SEIO high flow on a timer, 2 powersweeps, and a magnum canister I run the first week of the month after water changes with carbon.  I never paid any attention to most water parameters, except nitrates, which stay undetectable, I use RO/DI water, and all I add is iodine- I think the water changes keep the calcium up- good coralline growth, 150 watt HQI @ 10k and 2 65 watt actinics- not much light, but ok for a 40, I put a fan behind the tank. <So far, so good> I buy a new setup and I wanted to go with something big, and at the same time, manageable.  I like low iron glass, so went with a 180 low iron glass aquarium with 2 corner overflows. <Wowzah! Some upgrade now!>   The SeaClone was ok on a small tank, but I figured I would try the Berlin method, which was close to what I was already doing, and a SeaClone is not a large skimmer.  I went with LifeReef on the skimmer and sump, it made them match up and fit in the cabinet better- plus the LifeReef sump had a lot more features that I am interested in.  So I get 2 little giant pumps, 850's, one for the skimmer, one for the return- again, it makes the 'machine' compact and on one side of the cabinet.  I knew that with a larger water volume I may not want to top off all the time, so I plumbed the RO/DI to two floats in the sump- if the states of the switches are not the same, the water won't come out- added fail safe.  I wanted to try some SPS corals so went with 2 400 watt 10k Mogul halides, for a higher light color, I added 2 32 watt actinics to each halide, didn't look good so I added 2 140 watt VHO actinics, kinda kept the yellow out.  With the notion of keeping SPS corals, I wanted to know if this was adequate on a 6 foot tank that is 24" deep.  I should probably add one more 400, but I was thinking of trying a 250 HQI, any suggestions on that, or should I just try this first? <I would go with what you have currently for now>   I bought a Korallin calc reactor, but it's not hooked up- I figure I might need it once I get some SPS frags in there, don't know, time will tell. <Do rig up ASAP... worthwhile for maintaining overall water quality for all life, maintenance>   So if I make a reef gorge, with 2 high points in the tank I think I can get enough light on the Acropora I've been thinking about, is this reasonable? <If these are placed high in the water column> I was upset that I spent 150 bucks each on two pumps that don't have power switches, and I needed a way to control the co2 on the calc reactor when that gets going, so I bought an Aqualogic controller, 2 pH probes and 2 ORPs, and a temp probe.  I sprung for a chiller, 1/3 horsepower, at this point why not- I also incorporated a large fan in the canopy which gives me a 3 degree pull down, should help with PG&E. <Hee!> Ok, So I want to move this 40 into the 180.  I need a lot more sand, but I got about 80 lbs of liverock in the 40 that is really nice, the rock, not the tank.  If I don't increase the bioload, will I get away with this move?  How long should I leave the big tank running before I start adding life- I usually wait 3 months for snails, 6 for fish, and 12 for coral? <Likely a month to six weeks will do here... with moving some of your established rock, substrate to stir cycling on... hook up all... including skimmer and calcium reactor...> I still need about 220 lbs of aragonite sand, and I'll add the live sand from the 40.  I'm not planning on adding any more fish, and I have more than enough fleshies, so all we're talking is SPS, probably by this time next year- I know I'll get a decent sized bloom if I just dump everything in the new tank, and I hate trying to equalize the water after a nutrient dump, so, what is a reasonable time frame for this move, i.e. all at once, little at a time?  All at once and I can equalize the water one time, and be done, but put all your eggs in one basket and everybody gets scrambled right? <Mmm, maybe... I'd move a few "test" animals for a week or so... then the rest if all seems fine> Or do it over time, but equalizing water parameters would require plumbing the 40 to the 180, which I should probably do anyway huh? <Not necessarily... I would move all the water from the old/small tank when moving the bulk of the animals...> Sorry this is so long, just those few questions:  Enough light?  How fast for the move?  Without increasing bioload, will I be ok with 80 lbs of rock for right now? <Yes> I only ask because I've had problems with bad rock, and I DO NOT want to cure rock in my display-  I like to buy a couple really big pieces and cure them in a vat that I use- easier to clean and monitor it.  Also, the current on the new tank needs to be increased, I was thinking 2 620 High Flow SEIO pumps?  Should I add 4 and cycle them on and off?   <More would be better, cycling better better than not> If I add a light, should it be the new 250 HQI, or stick with the 400s? <Mmm, if it were me I'd go with the 250's, but many others here would encourage the 400's... there are some advantages of higher wattage in this size/depth system... but also some dangers...> Should I hook up calc reactor now, and prevent ph swings at night with it? <Yes> So many questions- this was a large investment, and I hope to do everything as close to right as possible.  Also, my ORP is reading 330 or so during the day- this sucks huh?  Too much stuff in that little tank I guess, <Yes> ozone is too dangerous I think, <Not very dangerous> I'll deal with it.  Also, I've kept a crocea clam high on a piece of rock in my 40 for some time, should I move him to the substrate in the new tank with the added light? <I would... though this species can be located on/in limestone rock> Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated, thank you.  A gentleman named Mike White helped me a great deal with this, he's a friend of Alf Nilsen, <Ah... Alf (and Sven Fossa) are friends... we have the same publisher in Germany (BSV)> and has designed some really nice tanks- and I'm thinking eventually of recreating the reef gorge aquarium (on a smaller scale) featured in Nilsen's book "Reef Secrets"  Thanks and have a great weekend! Thanks, Aaron <Thank you my friend. Do keep good notes... of your choices, the reasons for them as you progress here. Perhaps a few photos... Bob Fenner>

White dots possible (Crypt), ich pics attached, need to study, act Hi all, <Hello> well last time I wrote was about 2 weeks so I'll just fill you in on the setup because the same person might not get it well I have a 55 gallon tank (saltwater) run on Fluval 304 filter, I have just silk plants, and some rock in there along with the coral of course on the bottom and a veggie clip, heater, thermometer. occupying the tank are 3 striped damsels, 2 blue damsels, a yellow tang, a cleaner shrimp, and a royal Gramma all of them are small. the last 3 were gifts we only had the damsels to cycle the tank (I have sent the view of the whole tank). ok PROBLEM :(( starts as when testing my water before the shrimp and Gramma, the ammonia seemed to be getting high the nitrate and ph were fine I went to a well known aquatics shop one of the only ones near me and had them test my water they gave me some frozen bacteria not sure of the name (I'm pretty sure it was a good one because it cost me about $30 he said he had cheaper ones but I got the more expensive seeing as I thought it would be better) to add to the water to help it and said not to use the cycle which I was given by my pet store to "mature the tank faster". <Likely the Fritz/yme product> well I added the bacteria all seemed fine he said wait 2 days and re-test also when I bought the bacteria I purchased a better test kit one with vials that u have to add drops (before I had the strips) which seemed a little on the unsure side. 2 days after the tests started looking good about 2 more days later I noticed some brown looking stuff on the bottom looks basically like dirt, its on everything the plants rocks coral even filter I have sent 2 pics one of the filter tube and one of the bottom of the tank where not well but you can see the coloring difference. <Likely a diatom population explosion... or Cyano/BGA, or both... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marinvind1.htm re: Algae Identification, these two groups> I was told to not clean the tank until its cycle is about 2 weeks over <Good advice> but tonight I noticed little white spots on the fish some just look like little water bubbles but the one damsel has a bigger white dot on her fin looks like if you wet salt and formed it into a ball I am scared the Gramma and tang don't look like they have it, the shrimp is fine but the damsels look like they all have the little white dots. I also just tested the water because now my levels are alllllll off badly from what little I know. I wrote down everything so I could include it so here it is. <Good> ammonia is at .25 which is a lot better than it was pH seems like it dropped dramatically its 7.8 I know I need to get it higher but how? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the blue links above> nitrate 3 is also high at 40 need to fix this also but don't know how? <See...> nitrate 2 color is between 0 -.25  which is a lot better than it was salinity is between 1.022 and 1.023 temp usually falls between 80-82 the only other things put in the tank is their food which is a variety of tetra flakes , enriched frozen brine shrimp, and marine pellets along with a seaweed salad for the tang. I refuse to lose these fish :((  I mean the 2 blue damsels seem to be mean like they always pick on the Gramma since its so shy but I am attached to the tang and Gramma especially the tang (attached to a fish who would have thought) as for the shrimp he's doing what he's supposed to I guess he grabs on to his new fish friends and cleans them and they seem to like it all fine and dandy. I just need some advice and to know what I have to do to bring these levels correct and if the white spots are bad what can I do to help the little guys and what is this brown stuff that's all over everything. thank you sooooo much for helping I don't know what I would have done without your crew or your website :) and so sorry about the book I just wanted to make sure you had all the information you needed Angie <You need to study my friend... re Cryptocaryon: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm Quarantine... and ACT, now... to save your livestock. Your caring is obvious, you now need to translate that into ACTION... Remember, "thoughts w/o expression are worthless." Bob Fenner>

Stocking Question I have a 92 gal corner reef-ready tank with sump below (SR4 skimmer, trickle filter w/ bio-balls) and 36" lunar light which has been running for almost 5 months. It includes the following: 105 lbs live rock 2 cleaner shrimp 1 pink tip anemone 1 feather duster worm 2 curlicue anemones several crabs and snails 2 ocellaris clowns 1 strawberry Pseudochromis 1 Banggai Cardinalfish 1 Foxface Rabbitfish First question is: Should I discontinue the trickle (bio-ball) filter? I hear it can create more nitrates than one wants.<You can. 10% weekly water changes reduce nitrates and replace trace elements> Second: Can I add anymore fish? I was interested in a yellow wrasse and perhaps another fish. <I don't know that I would, the Foxface can attain a length of 9inches. If you are not too attached to the Foxface, try and trade him in on two more cardinals. They do much better in groups of three or more. James (Salty Dog)> Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thanks!  Patrice

HELP!!! LFS (X2) vs. Wet Web Media vs. Wife Hello Crew! <Oh oh> I would like to thank you for all the effort that you have put into this site, give yourselves a round of applause! <Clap clap... what is the sound of one fin clapping?> My subject title may not make any sense at first, but I can assure you it will in time. I have been out of the aquarium hobby (freshwater) scene for several years, but I'm trying to make a comeback by setting up a saltwater FOWLR system and slowly developing a Reef setup. Before plunging into an extremely expensive undertaking I decided to do some research. I found your site and started to read. I read everything that I thought would be pertinent to my quest for a great FOWLR tank. Before making a single purchase I consulted your site and when opinions varied I made the decision myself. <Excellent> The one area I thought I had a handled on was water chemistry. My degree is in Microbiology/General Chemistry and I use both everyday at work (the job relates to human disease not fishies). I think I must have read WWM for 3 months before making my initial investment. Skip forward to 12/10/05.Here are my purchases. 10 Gallon QT Tank with HOB Filter/ Heater/ Pump and Air stone 30 Gallon Refugium 125 G 72" L (Not Reef Ready) 1 Dual Bak Pak Skimmer with BioBale removed 1 Bak Pak 2R Marineland Tidepool 2 Sump with BioWheel 300 Watt Titanium heater (second back up is on the way) 3" Aragonite sand bed (60 lbs Aragalive - not real according to WWM) 6" Plenum in refuge Mag Drive 7 (Main return) Mag Drive 5 (Refuge return) 2 AquaClear 70 Power head with add on wave makers (main tank) 2 AquaClear 50 Power head (main tank) Lights - 65 Watt 50/50 for refuge Lights - 2 96 Watt 420/460 Dual Actinic, 2 96 Watt 10 K daylights, 6 moon lights, 2 cheap 25 watt strip lights Various decorative corals and clam shells (very Large) Timers for Lights (trying dawn to dusk (Display) and reverse photosynthesis on the refugium) Salifert test kits Refractometer 200 GPD DI unit (rechargeable) TDS Tester Electronic Ph Meter (calibrated every week) Oceanic Brand Salt Seachem Reef Advantage Calcium Seachem Reef Buffer Seachem Marine Buffer Seachem Stability Seachem Denitrate <You may well find you need little of the above chemical prep.s> PolyFilter Kent Osmo Prep Current Stock: 2 Clowns (1 = 1", 1 = 2.5") 2 Green Chromis (2 = 0.75 " 1 = 2") 2 Cleaner Shrimp 25 Astrea Snails 3 Turbo Snails 1 Huge Yellow Tang (5 - 6") Planning on above plus: Regal Blue Tang Coral Beauty Mandarin Goby Foxface Lo Royal Gramma On or about 12/15/2005 I set it all up and let run dry for about 1 week. I checked for pump, skimmer, heater, refugium and sump operation. The system worked as planned! My wife already wants to add fish. I told here according to the bible (WWM) it may takes months before we can add fish, she was not happy! Anyway I checked baseline H2O quality: ph = 8.2, S.G. = 1.022 (as not varied more than .001), KH = 10.7, Ca = 450, Amm = 0, NO2 = 0, N03 = 0, Temp = 85 (dropped the temp to 79). So off we go to the LFS just to look. We made a joint decision to just look and not touch. The first LFS had terrible looking fish, live rock, and just plain nasty tanks. We made a huge retreat and swore not to buy anything that swamp or otherwise moved on its own biological power, from that store. The second store had stunning fish and reef tanks. You should have seen my wife, like a kid in a candy shop! I spoke with the owner about my new purchase and told him about my plans. In a nutshell he said the crap I'm reading on the internet is hogwash.  <Mmm, beware of generalizations... wait, wasn't that a generalization?> He showed me a reef tank that he cycled in one week using a product called Stability by Seachem. He said not to cycle using uncured mail ordered live rock; just add Stability, 3 Green Chromis, and his cured live rock. So I did what he recommended. BTW, the live rock was the best I have seen, much better than pictures I have seen on the internet. So I purchased about 60 lbs live rock, 60 lbs of base rock, Stability, and three small Chromis (all 0.5 - 1"). I added the base rock, then the live rock, and added the fish using WWM acclimations procedures. I also started the Stability treatment as instructed. The fish did great and started eating Brine Shrimp immediately.  The fish did not appear to be stressed one bit. BTW, I did soak the shrimp in a vitamin supplement before feeding. I also ordered some Formula 1 and 2.  I did see a small cycle after adding the live stock, just as the LFS guy said would happen. The cycle started almost immediately. The Amm got as high as 0.25, the NO2 as high as 0.50, and the NO3 as high as 15. This is over a 2 week period and during that period we had a small diatom outbreak. When the levels started decreasing I added the following to my Tidepool Filter trays: Tray 1 = filter pad and PolyFilter, Tray 2 Carbon, Tray 3 = Seachem Denitrate. I also added some macro algae to my refugium (starts with a "C" looks like green rice noodles).  <Likely a Caulerpa species, unless you're in California> I put the display lights on a dawn to dusk cycle and the refugium lights on a reverse timer. Man, my NO3 just went straight to zip! Amm = 0, NO2 = <0.10, NO3 = 0, ph = 8.4, Ca = 470 - 390, KH = 9.3 - 12.8. My NO2 took another week to come down, but it finally went to 0. The refugium has bugs in it and the main tank is getting them. The guy at the LFS said not to buy anything until the NO2 got to 0.  <Good> At this point everything is fine, fish are happy, and H2O chemistry looks just like WWM recommends. Next we go to LFS and purchase a pair of mated Clowns (Nemo and Marlon), and 25 Astrea snails to help with the diatoms. The LFS said he quarantined his fish on arrival and uses UV lights and said I could just introduce the Clowns (I raise my eyebrow). <...>  He repeats "Quit reading WWM, it is a bunch of hogwash". <.... the folks "here" have a few centuries collective experience in the trade, science and hobby of aquaristics...> After a week the Clowns are fine, Chromis great, and the snails are eating the diatoms like crazy! Between my wife wanting to add more stock, your suggestions, and the LFS guy, I feel like a one- eyed cat watching two mouse holes! BTW, sorry for the long story but things start to get out of hand. Anyway, I had my wife go pick up 3 Turbo snails while I was sleeping (work nights). She goes to the store that we swear not to use (other store closed)! She gets the snails and a HUGE YELLOW TANG! She wakes me up saying that the skimmers are going nuts and not producing the smelly gunk, so I get up from bed and find 1 Huge Yellow Tang (4 - 5") and 3 Turbo snails in the display tank. At this point I'm freaking out! I thought it would be okay to introduce the Clowns in the display without a QT, if they screwed things up, I would just let the tank go fallow, and stop taking the LFS advice. The next day we noticed 2 small white spots on the fin of the Tang and it is Ich!  <Maybe> I can't get him out of the display tank to dip him and I thought well hell it is too late anyway, the display tank is already compromised. Before I go any further the fish are all doing well, eating good, breathing normal, and look happy. The H2O quality looks good but my KH and Ca seem to be dropping (8.1/350) and the ph is starting to drop (8.0).  <This happens... with time... fish tanks are "reductive" (am sure you realize this intuitively...) they go "acidic" due to overfeeding, driven nitrification> I think the thing to do is to try the natural way of stopping the Ich. I go to the LFS (good tanks, doesn't like WWM) and I tell him my story. He interrupts me and said "You bought your Tang from ABC pet store didn't you?" I reply, "Yep"! They tell me to lower my salinity to 1.016 slowly, and add two cleaner shrimp. <Good advice... but the shrimp would not likely make the drop... oh I see you know this below> I'm sold on the cleaners but not on the hyposalinity. I get the 2 cleaners home and they go to work on the Tang immediately (it was amazing). The next day all the white spots are gone but my daughter notice 3 black specks (Tiny) on the Tang. I'm thinking two things, Black Ich and I'm screwed. <Not to over-react...> The cleaners are still doing a job on the Tang and by the next day I see no black specks! The whole time I'm thinking I should just listen to the WWM crew and cut my losses. <Mmm, best to listen to all, sort out the facts, toss the chaff... make up your own mind... as you started this conversation relating> BTW, the LFS guy tells me once the problem is gone (via hyposalinity), I should raise my KH = 18 - 20 and get my Ca up to 550. He said this would help my coralline grow on the live rock.  <Uhhh, not a good idea> Ok, do you see my problem? I think he is absolutely NUTZ! Is this not NUTZ? As of yesterday my H2O chemistry is Amm = 0, NO2 = 0.25 (yikes), NO3 = 10, Ph = 8.0. I did a 10 G water change and plan on doing another today. After this I am lost! BTW, the fish and inverts still look great, eat great and appear healthy.  So here are my questions: What the hell should I do? Lower my salinity? Keep doing small H2O changes? Shoot the LFS guy? Shoot my Wife? Shoot myself for not doing what I had intended (listen to WWM) from the get go? <Shoot no one... take a series of deep breaths, perhaps a good length walk... consider your possibilities, options here... I would NOT lower the spg at this point, NOT add more livestock... Very possibly there is very little wrong with your livestock, system... the nitrite is likely transient... gone in a few days> Please help me from going fallow.  Thank you, Tony a.k.a "Confused, Frustrated, and Ashamed in Alabama" <Tony, you're doing fine in the big picture... You have good gear, a fine wife (do keep culturing her interest in the hobby) and a well-meaning retailer... they're (and we are) just human... with foibles, prejudices, prerogatives... that vary. Take all with a 50 gallon bag of synthetic salt... when/where in doubt (don't run in circles, scream and shout)... revert back to your science education... sort through the disparate material for what is real, what is speculation... Remember... testable, falsifiable hypotheses? Not all retailers are crooks, issuers of bunk advice, and certainly not all internet sources of information are similarly lacking. Take your time here my friend. Think. You will do fine. Bob Fenner>

Re: HELP!!! LFS (X2) vs. Wet Web Media vs. Wife Dear Bob, <Howdy Tony> Many thanks for all the kind words of wisdom. As per your instructions I took a deep breath, set back and drank a beer (as opposed to walking, hate the sport myself), and thought about my days as a pure microbiologist/chemist. <Mmm, good> BTW, you may clap with both fins! You're absolutely correct; in a panic I forgot one of the most valuable tools of my formal training, develop a hypothesis and prove that bad boy! <Ah ha!> I have gotten used to going by well-defined procedures and letting a computer do a majority of my thinking. <Dangerous my friend... I just saw the "Matrix Revolutions" show last night...> I seemed to have forgotten that a computer or a procedure does not always tell you the why, when, and how of something. Thanks again! <Welcome> As for my problems with the fish, all seems to be going great! Fish look great, Nitrites still up (but going down ever so slowly), and I stopped with the hyposalinity at 1.021 (after getting your email). Very gradually I will bring it back up to 1.023. <Very good> Turns out the macro-algae I had told you about is a Chaetomorpha sp.  I see no evidence of Ich, White or Black. I've got my fingers crossed hoping that I don't have to go to extreme measures to resolve this problem. I remember that nature has a way of correcting itself if conditions are right! <Indeed> As far as all the additives, I log all tank manipulations and additions into a spreadsheet so that it will help me determine what works and what doesn't. <A worthwhile exercise... am sure you will concur that much of what passes as "earnest additives/supplements" for aquariums are unnecessary, quite a bit pure voodoo> After a few months I should have a game plan (procedure) for correct maintenance for my setup. The products that I feel are not beneficial and/or do not produce the expected outcomes will be shelved. I still hold out hopes for the quick cycling products (Stability). <The BioSpira one from Marineland is "real" science... you can reference Tim Hovanec's papers re: aquarium nitrification.> I have access to some great technology for bacterial identification, so I'm pondering a little research on saltwater bacterial strains that support/help the nitrogen cycle. <Or let time go by...> My wife told me to tell you thanks, and said "I guess we should QT our fish..." The fish actually dislike me, for some reason they love her, go figure! <There is little doubt that piscines have latent intelligence...> Thanks again, Tony  <Bob Fenner> 

New tank help - algae going wild Thanks so much for your reply...now I have a few more questions after reading through many more articles... Why are 6 Chromis too many? LFS allowed me to buy them, very frustrating, they did ask size of tank but said nothing. <Damselfishes as a family are feisty, semi-social animals... the genus Chromis comprises species that are by far more easygoing... but need a good fifteen gallons or so per individual to "get along" in good company> I want to add a Sea Star, lawnmower blenny, 2 clowns, and possibly a tang. Is this too many fish? <Please read re seastars and aquariums... the vast majority don't live> About my nitrates, I have read through the site, still confused... my quick little dip tests read 40-60 PPM, but my Red Sea Marine Test reads Nitrate at 0. Hmmm what do I believe? <... I'd take a water sample into a nearby LFS and have them test your testers> I now know my setup is not the best it could be, one fish store allowed me to purchase everything and said it would run fine. Another, after I has set everything up, thought I was nuts. So, here is my setup and my question. 65 gal, Emperor 400 BioWheel filter, Fluval 404 canister, Red Sea Deluxe Protein Skimmer, and Aqualight 96 watt 10,000 daylight and 96 watt actinic blue lamps. I can't afford to get new equipment now - so how long should this setup last? Also, what should I replace it with? <Is a workable assortment of gear... perhaps a bit more maintenance to keep going... maybe limiting in terms of some livestock you might keep... but fine> Will all this brown stuff covering the rocks damage it more than it has already been? Anything I can do to nurse it back? Still do have some green and purple patches on a few pieces of rock. <Please... read on WWM re algae control...: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm  Don't allow yourself to become flustered... take your time... you will understand the few, but important underlying principles, the interrelationships of nutrient availability, livestock that use, produce it, light, circulation...> About the light - should I have the white and blue on at the same time? <You can... many folks have the "blue" come on earlier, stay on later than the "white"> Right now I do simply because I have no room for an timer. <! These can be located anywhere twixt the power source and cords...> If I should not have them on at the same time, how long for white and how long for blue? Thank you so much - Ceri. <Please search on WWM... see the Google tool on the home page, indices... take your time... Bob Fenner>

New tank help - algae going wild, need to read WWM I am new to this whole marine aquarium thing, loving it so far and love your site. Have lots of questions hoping you can help me with. <Will try> I have a 65 gal tank with 75 lbs live rock. Tank cycled in 2 1/2 weeks but the rock has suffered. All white now - is it dead? Will it come back? <Maybe> I added 6 Green Chromis last week - still have 6 fish swimming in the tank - much to my surprise. One had a white patch on the base of his fin, he can't move the fin. He eats and is happy, just worried about the white patch, what could it be? Local Fish store said not to medicate, it should heal with good water. Is this true? He actually could move the fin a bit yesterday. <Six damsels of this species is too much in a sixty five gallon system... do agree with your LFS... not much to do...> I am concerned about my water. Nitrite and Ammonia are good, but have high nitrates - over 40 ppm, could be closer to 60 or higher. I have high nitrates in tap water. Do I need to buy a RO system? What can I use to reduce nitrate? Assume other fish won't do so well with this high number. <... see your statement above, lauding our site? Take a read there re these issues... the search tools, the indices...> Since adding the fish, I turned on the lights more. Now my white live rock has turned into a brown mess - almost overnight. wow algae growing like crazy. I want to add a blenny to eat all this stuff. What type of blenny should I get?  Thanks for your help - I am sure I will have plenty more questions for you! <Read on my friend. All there for you that you want/need. Bob Fenner> 

Re: New tank help - algae going wild Thank you, thank you, thank you. Went out and bought some snails and crabs today to help with algae, and will cut back on white light. At least I feel better now that my system is at least OK. <Real good> Will avoid the sea star, and asked if LFS will take Chromis back. That's a negative. I can't kill them, kids would kill me, so I will wait to see how well they "play" together. <Ditto> Again, thank you. When I need to upgrade my system, I will for sure contact you. Most straightforward, not trying to sell my anything, advice I have received. Crucial to my success as a beginner.  Much appreciated - Ceri. <Welcome. Bob F>

Big Tanks, Big Maintenance? Bob, <James> One thing that always bothered me in reading some queries is the size of the tanks some newbies start with (large).  I'm sure most don't realize the cost of maintenance and equipment they will need to be successful. <Interesting point... many more people fail from difficulties in "stability" from having too-small tanks... I always suspected (maybe assumed) that folks with the money for larger systems would have more means and commitment to keeping them up... I found a parallel to this in purchases of less/more expensive psittacine/parrot birds in the past> I've been there a few times and although the large tank are initially impressive, much has to be done to maintain them properly.  I've had a 180 that was a total headache as far as overall cost.  Ironically, the tank I've enjoyed the most is my present 29 min-reef.  I can afford overkill on skimmers etc. to make this very satisfying, along with about one hour of maintenance per week.  I wish more newbies would do more research on what is required before they jump in over their head. <Amen, brother> I'm sure your well aware of the fact that the more things you have to clean/maintain along with cost takes the fun out of keeping marine animals.   Just thought I'd like to add this to your other thousands of emails to read:):):). Regards, James (Salty Dog) <Heeee! Thanks. BobF> Novice marine aquarist    I love your site. Reading the articles and advice has helped a great deal, but I'm still confused about a couple of things. I have a 55 gallon with an Amiracle wet/dry, built in protein skimmer (that rarely works). <It's not you, these are feeble> The tank has about 3 inches of sand/crushed coral, and I've started to add live rock slowly (about 15 lbs right now). The tank has been up and running about a year, with a featherduster, bi-color Pseudochromis, a clown and 2 other small damsels, and 2 hermit crabs. They're all healthy, but every time I try to add a fish or two, something happens to the new ones. Always the same pattern. I take a long time to acclimate them, and they start feeding within 2 hours after introducing them. They seem fine for the first 2 - 3 weeks, co-existing peacefully and accepting food without difficulty, but then die suddenly, often with no signs of parasites or fungus. The older tank members stay fine. Any ideas? <Mmm, something is awry with your water quality that your current livestock have "gotten used to"... It may well be that this will all change with your addition of more live rock. Do you measure for nitrates? I am given to suggest that you look into a better protein skimmer... am sure you will be shocked at the gunk it removes> I have read several times that eventually the bio balls should be removed, but hesitate to do so when my protein skimmer is less than effective, and with only 15 lbs of live rock. Am I wrong to leave the bio balls? <No, can do real good... and should not make much functional difference when you have more live rock. However, the skimmer will make a HUGE difference> Should I increase/decrease the sand/crushed coral mix? <Until there is some reason to do otherwise, I'd leave as is> I do about a 30% water change every month. Temp is a constant 79 - 80 degrees, pH is fine, no ammonia problems, and no problems with nitrites. Occasionally the nitrates begin to rise, but I'm thinking that the inverts would be bothered first by that if the levels were too high. <Not necessarily... especially if this occurs slowly, many invertebrates can tolerate huge amounts of nitrates. I've seen culture and holding systems with thousands of ppm...> Finally, It's clear I'll need a new protein skimmer, as the Amiracle doesn't work. What would be your preference?  Thanks so much for any help you can give me. <Likely an Aqua-C unit... unless you have plans to up-size your system... than a Euro-Reef product would be my choice. Bob Fenner>

Aquarium pH, worms, WWM Bob, <Karen> Hi! I have two questions for you.  The first being:  When do I need to become concerned about "Bristle Worms" in my aquarium. <When they're too many, too big, and eating things you'd rather they didn't> I have several and the largest, to my knowledge, is about an inch. <Ha! A mere speck> To my observance, none of the coral or fish seem to be bothered by these creatures.  Also, by what means do you suggest ridding of the aquarium of bristle worms should it be deemed necessary. <This is posted on WWM...> On to the second question, what would cause the PH of a system to drop (26 gallon bow front tank)? <Ummm, please use the Google search tool on our homepage: www.WetWebMedia.com for "bristleworm control", "marine pH"...> Frequent water changes are done (usually 20 %once a week, give or take a day (I use RO/DI water and the aquarium salt is "Instant Ocean", and add ph buffer)) and on the weeks I know it's going to take 10 days between water changes I use  active carbon in my filter for three days (I have a protein skimmer). Calcium & strontium is added weekly and iodine bi-weekly.  I do try to be "frugal" when feeding my fish.  If you have any idea or suggestions about the PH drop I'd like to hear them.   I appreciate your time and advice.  Have a great day. Karen <Do take a read on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Supplemental Filters Dear Bob and Staff, I stir things up a bit on the live rock with a turkey baster about once a week. A lot of debris flies around during the process. My question is since I am only running a wet/dry filter with two overflows. Would it be wise to buy a canister or diatom filter and maybe use it once a week to pull floating debris out of the tank instead of hoping it will make its way to the overflows? <Hello Jim.  Yes, it would be a good idea.  I use a Magnum HOT for this purpose.  It is versatile in that you can use the micron cartridge for water polishing, or the media canister for whatever. James (Salty Dog) Thank you! Questions, marine operation - 1/9/05 Hi Bob, and Anthony, and Mike, and... all. <Mike Maddox here...too bad there's three of us.  Oh well, I'll pretend you meant me, and take it as a compliment... :D> I wanted to talk to the best, since my LFS can only tell me why I should sell my car to buy the new fish that I "absolutely must have." <If I had a car worth something, I'd sell it and buy aquarium stuff!> I recently added a juvenile dwarf zebra lion to my 40? gallon (36x16x18) tank. <~44.  Why do you have a lionfish in such a small aquarium?  Will outgrow it quickly, if it isn't already too big> PH is 8.2, ammonia and nitrites are 0, and nitrates are 10 ppm.  Filtration is managed by an Aqua C remora (an excellent product), pulling 2+ cups of crud a week, and an Emperor 280 with carbon, which I change every three or four weeks. <Sounds good - I love the remora's also!> Lighting is two 35 watt bulbs, which will be replaced with 95 watt VHO's when they burn out.  The tank has 40 lbs of live sand, and 30 lbs of live rock, arranged in two equally sized piles at the ends of the tank, thus a large open sandy space in the middle.  Algae growth is up and down. Along with the lion, the tank is populated by several turbo and Astraea snails, six scarlet hermits, a sand shifting star, and an emerald crab.  My questions: I want to add some soft corals, and/or anemones (and a clownfish, I can get free maroons and perculas from a buddy of mine, would these work well with the lion?) to the tank.  I know that this mix is not recommended, but could it work if I put the anemones on one rock and the corals on the other.  Incidentally, which group is more compatible with the lion, would anemones pose a threat? <Either make it a reef tank, or make it an anemone species tank; it's too small to be an aggressive fish tank.  I would absolutely find a new home for your lion ASAP.  That size aquarium would be nice for some clowns + anemone, OR some corals, not both.  When you upgrade the lighting to VHO, you should have enough lighting for soft corals or a bubble-tipped anemone> Oh, and are there any small, herbivorous fish that would help eat algae, I would get a tang but cannot upgrade to a larger system for two or three years at the least. <You may try a lawnmower blenny, but they don't always eat a lot of algae either.  Urchins would be your best bet, if you have enough algae to support them - but don't get an urchin until you find a new home with your lion> Sorry to bother you and thank you very much for your help. <Not a problem - anytime> Pat <M. Maddox> Starting a saltwater tank Hi.  I have successfully kept a marine tank for a good two years...this was about 8 years ago.  I moved...blah blah blah.  Now I am settled into my own apartment and am working on establishing another marine FO tank.  It's a 46 gallon tank, I have basic filtration...(UG filter, two powerheads, and a tetratec300 power filter with the new heating capsule which it turns out I don't need because I have a hard time keeping the temp. below 80F. << That doesn't sound like basic filtration, but maybe outdated filtration.  That type of mechanical filtration really is second to biological filtration. >> I think I may need a chiller??? << No way.  don't spend the money on a chiller for a 46 gal tank.  Cool down the apartment instead. >> I plan on adding a protein skimmer and live rock in the next week or two. << I would get rid of the undergravel filter plates. >> Anyway...the tank has been up and running for two weeks...pH is fine.. Alk is normal, Ammonia is at 0.75ppm, Nitrites and Nitrates are hardly detected.  When I set up the tank, I added Kent Marine's "Essential Elements" and have added "Biozyme" bacteria every day for the first week.  I know I should wait for the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels to rise and then drop, so I know the "cycle" is...."cycling"....right?  I have just heard about how people get impatient waiting for these levels to drop...when I'm sitting around waiting for them to rise.  I just don't want to put innocent little damsels in my tank and then watch the toxic chemicals peak and torture the little guys. << Yes, I think you have the right idea.  I would add live rock.  This will cause a spike, but if you don't add fish for several weeks you'll be fine. >> Should I just keep waiting?  Thanks a billion. << At least for the live rock to settle and the tank to mature. >>                 -Jimmy <<  Blundell  >>

Keeping A System Running Well Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have been reading your site for a long time. You guys (all of you) really know your ....ah.....stuff!! <Well, we're learning more ourselves every day!> I have a 175 gallon bow front with about 100 lbs. live rock. Its filtered with two Fluval 404s, and an Aqua Clear 300. It has a CPR Bak Pak 2R skimmer, (am looking right now to upgrade, got it when I only had a 55gal.) Although the Bak Pak pulls an incredible amount of nasty looking stuff out. <That's good to hear! If the skimmer is yanking out a lot of nasty skimmate on a regular basis- stick with it!> And  2 - 802 powerheads for circulation. The tank's inhabitants are a Fire Goby, Percula Clown (false), Fire Shrimp, a 3 1/2" Sailfin Tang and 3 1/2" Juvenile Emperor Angel. <Well, you're gonna need a larger tank in the future for the Tang and the Emperor...Do consider their ultimate adult size!> Do you think this is adequate filtration, and water circulation? <Well, your water quality parameters and the health of the fish will determine that. Nitrate. pH, Alkalinity, etc. are all part of the equation.> What do you think is the carrying capacity of the tank? <I'd say that you've hit the maximum at this point. With two potentially enormous fish (the Tang and the Emperor), you'll need to exercise restraint against adding any more fish, IMO> What types of fish do you feel would be good additions if any? <I'd hold on new additions, as outlined above...> What would you guys suggest for maintenance animals? <Well, even "maintenance animals" add to the bioload in the tank, so I'd rely on your siphon hose as the next "maintenance animal"! Regular water changes are the weapon of choice for tackling or preventing any water quality issues.> It seems like I should have more in there than just the fire shrimp, Although its cool to watch him perform his cleaning duties. I thought fireshrimp rarely did that in aquariums? <They will clean, although not as often as the more "typical" Cleaner Shrimp.> The Tang and the Emperor have some tiffs, periodically during the day. nothing major, but it does cause some undue stress.) Do you think adding another fairly aggressive fish to the mix would kind of balance them out, and give the two of them something to think about other than each other? <Well, not in this sized tank. The potential negatives would cancel out any possible benefits of a "dither" fish.> If so, what would you suggest? <Well, I sound like a broken record here...> Also, the Aqua Clear 300 doesn't quite fit over the molding of the tank, and therefore sits up kind of high and the overflow is higher than the waterline. It causes lots of bubbles in the water from the drop, and drives me crazy. Is it necessary? Or do you think it could be removed without diminishing filtration? <Well, removing a filter will definitely remove some filtration capacity, but you could counter with some extra filtration, such as a canister filter, etc.> Thank you for your time and knowledge. And I very much enjoy reading your website!!!! Oh, no I haven't had any water quality issues in the tank as of yet. Water parameters all ok. SG. 1.023. ammonia 0, nitrite 0, ph 8.3, alk, 4.0, dKH 11, temp 79 degrees. I haven't ever really tested for nitrate. I guess I never had a reason to. I just make sure I do water changes on a regular basis.( 10 -15 gals a week). Maybe I should test for nitrate? <I would- it's a real "eye opener"; a great "yardstick" for measuring overall water quality. Worth knowing!> The tank has been running at this size for about  4 1/2 months. But was converted from my other tank (55gal) using all the rock and established filters and gravel. Only new filter was 1 of the 404s. It came with the tank. Bought it on eBay for $350.00, tank, stand ,light (120 watt 72" 4 bulb strip, also have a 220 watt strip w/2 55watt 10k day, and 2 55watt actinic) ,and filter. Anyway sorry to bore the hell out of you. I was just curious if you guys had any advice on how to make it better, or do you think its alright the way it is? Thank you so much for your time. <I think that you're on the right track! Keep up the regular water changes, watch the population, and keep observing your fish and animals carefully. Good luck!   Regards, Scott F.>                                                                   Brian Marine Water Testing Hi, I have been using your website for a few days and have decided to break down and ask a question. I am new to keeping a marine aquarium and need some help.  I have a 55g 48" long aquarium, protein skimmer, canister filter, and powerheads for circulation.  for now I have the stock fluorescent lights that came with the aquarium.  Inside I have 30 lbs of aragonite, and 20 Lbs of live sand >Shouldn't mix fine with coarse< Also a few small pieces of live rock.   My setup has been running for 3 weeks now with all of these things in place, one week ago today I introduced three small damsels to the setup.>Damsels will be very territorial in a short time< now for my question, I have a red sea marine lab test kit, I have tested the water like everyday and have no ammonia, no nitrite, and no nitrate. after all of the reading and research I have done, this does not seem normal.  shouldn't I have seen an increase in these somewhere along my timeframe?  My PH is holding steady at 8.3 and I have a constant water temp of 78 F.> You won't see a rise in ammonia until right around a week after you added the fish, your tank is too new to see any kind of nitrate reading, and the nitrite reading won't come until you can read the ammonia level< Specific gravity is steady at 1.023 so far the only activity I have seen is some dark green stubble growing on the surface of the live rock.>In a newly set up tank, lighting should not be used until the bio filter cycles as there will be an excess of nutrients in the water, both from the live rock and the fish waste which will cause algae to grow quite rapidly in a new system<  The fish are feeding and seem to be acting normal.  In the mean-time I have setup a 20 gallon quarantine tank in case of an emergency, and also for my next purchase of fish. >Don't purchase any more fish till the tank cycles, and then give it some additional time< Thanks in advance for any help you can provide! and thanks for providing such a great website! James (Salty Dog) Roger Cunningham Snail for detritus Hi, I have a 55g reef tank and for the most part things are good.  The one problem I have is detritus build up on the live rock.  My tank is over 2 years old and the original "clean up crew" has slowly disappeared.  I really have no algae so I didn't want to put the Astraea snails back in and starve them.  The Nassarius snails are great but stay in the sand for what I can see.  Is there a good snail that will 'stay' on the rocks and take care of the detritus?  I also have been using a turkey baster to blast the detritus off but seems to settle right back down on the rocks.  Thanks for your input! -Brian <Brian, there are not any snails that I know of that will do what you are asking.  I would consider using more power heads or installing a wave maker to agitate the water in different directions to prevent the detritus from settling.  The turkey baster is a great idea but can be cumbersome sometimes.  Good Luck. MikeB.>

To vacuum  or not to vacuum Greetings I have a 55 gallon reef aquarium with about a 3 inch aragonite sand bed and about 70 pounds of live rock, I run a CPR BakPak skimmer (I try to stay right on top of its maintenance). My question, when I do my water changes should I try to clean up my substrate by pushing my gravel cleaner to the tank bottom then just sucking up the nasty looking water this thing pulls up or should I just leave the whole thing alone. I notice I get a thin layer of brown algae on top layer of sand but only in certain spots of the aquarium and right above the sand bed I get a green layer of tough to get off buildup (aka razorblade) on the glass. As always Thanks in Advance, Aron <I say vacuum! Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: To vacuum or not to vacuum part II Bob- Thanks for the reply I have a 55 gallon aquarium what do you recommend for weekly water changes? 5 gallons a week or less? That would be about 20% a month. Once again thanks <Uhh, see the link from our previous correspondence? Bob Fenner>

Using old dried out live rock in a reef tank Thanks to you very much Blundell. Hope you enjoyed the Christmas holiday. I've few more questions to ask (really sorry to keep bordering u again ...) 1. For the 10 fishes in my FOWLR tank, I feed them with 3 type of foods : pallet food, Japanese Nori and frozen Artemia. Will it be sufficient? << Sufficient yes, but I'd certainly use some frozen foods like prime reef or formula one. >> 2. I have a friend who quit from marine fish hobby half year ago, he has 60 pounds of 'dead' live rocks placed at his backyard without any water. I plan to setup another tank and plan to put the 'dead' live rocks on my sump tank as 'Berlin system'. Can the 'dead' live rocks server the same function as 'live' liverock. << Yes it can, but it takes time.  The great thing about live rock is all the surface area (which this rock has) for bacteria (which this rock lacks).  So it will take seeding from more live rock, but after a couple years it will be fine. >> 3. based on your answer for no. 3 below, what is the reason to promote the grow of algae?  << Algae is wonderful!  It is a food source for many inverts and fish.  It also takes up nutrients out of the water and basically keeps the tank clean. >> 4. my current FOWLR tank is fixed at 1.019 sg and with 0.3mg of copper level, will it be ok ? do I need to remove the copper to 0 level and set the sg to 1.023? << The specific gravity is a little low, and I would bring that up.  The copper is a bigger issue.  I'd be tempted to toss all the water and not chance it.  Otherwise, I'd use copper remover until it test 0, then use even more copper remover just to be sure. >> Happy new year 2005 to you in advance. << Good luck. >> Best rgds, PJ <<  Blundell  >> Clumping substrate problems 12/29/04 Hi, you guys have been great in the past. I'm getting ready to set up a 55 gallon SW tank that was from Santa. I already have a 29 and I'm upgrading. The substrate I used before was the Carib sea Aragonite live Fuji pink sand. <the sand is a fine quality I'm sure... the "live" part is dubious and subject to interpretation <G>. If its live, I'm dying to know how and how long without food and in sealed bags> I loved the way that it looked but after having it up for about a year the sand is turning brown and getting clumpy. <not the sands fault... this is from a (typically) lack of adequate water flow (most people are deficient here... needing minimum 20X turnover). More frequent water changes and siphoning/sand stirring would help too> I don't know what causes the sand to start clumping up, <I do... and can tell you this is from the pH dipping too low (as with at night from lack of adequate buffer/ALK in the tank) and/or spiking the tank too much or too fast with calcium supplements (common)> but it looks gross. I thought it was the diatoms at work but I have phosphate remover in my filter and my levels are zero. I use distilled water from the store. can I use spring water? <perhaps.,.. but it is of variable composition and potentially worse (nutrients) than your tap water. It is not necessarily "pure" water like RO , DI or distilled... just from a "spring" - whatever that means :p. Deionized water that is aerated and buffered before use gets my vote every time>> Is it my sand? Can you recommend a better sand. <its your husbandry my friend... not the sand that's the cause here. No worries... easily corrected> I wanted to use the same sand in my 55 but not if it's going to do that again. I have no under-gravel filter, I have 2 power heads, and protein skimmer. 25% water change about every 2 weeks if things go good. What could be the causing this? What do I need to change? Please help me! <lack of water flow is the most likely problem by far... not enough or not distributed well enough, causing dead spots that accumulate organics over time, aggravated by infrequent spikes of calcium supplementation (daily doses are better than weekly)... and/or severe swings in pH (have you tested this after the lights go out? Are you dipping below 8.0 at night?) Anthony> General advice for beginners First of all I would like to thank the crew for all your help. I started out with SW 18 months ago and you have helped a lot. But I did learn a lot and would like to share some of it. << Please do, we have lots of readers and I'm sure they'd love to hear from you.... >> I have a 10 gallon with a penguin mini filter, 2 inches of sand, 50 watt heater and a standard cover with 1 fluorescent bulb. The serious hobbyists probably look at a 10 gallon as something just not worth bothering with, but for many of us that is all the room we can spare. I started with dwarf seahorses and gave up and changed to normal fish. I lost a lot of fish during the first 8 months. The main thing I learned is to have patience. In the beginning the test numbers simply show you what direction you are heading in but the tank is still not mature and any little thing will end up stressing and killing your fish. Just changing the filter pad would mess up the tank. Cleaning a filter pad was less of a problem if I washed it in salt water. Cycles of algae growth and cloudiness all happen just as they are described in the articles available on this site. After about 8 months I finally felt that the tank was in good shape. I see no difference in the tests no matter what I do. Replace filter, add fish etc. I am sure there are limits but once you have an established tank there is a lot of backup to handle the load. I do use a product called 'right now bacteria' (which I found on a site called yukonshoppingcenter) whenever I add fish and others have used it when starting a new tank. I have no proof that it works but it is cheap enough to use whenever I am changing the bio load. I did not know about it when I first started and I used Cycle but I did not feel that it did much. In any case those who just look at the tests results and say that the water is perfect  (I was one of them) and they can add fish after cycling for a whole 3 weeks, well it just does not work that way. So you can either listen to the crew and save yourself a lot of grief and money or you can do what most of us did and go out and buy all those beautiful fish only to have them die. Also read as much as you can about anything you want to add before you add it. You need to know how compatible it is with what you already have, size issues, feeding issues, lighting, level of difficulty etc. I do not qt new fish simply because I do not have any space for it. I did get ick from a fish bought at a local LFS but never from those I got online. I change a gallon a week.  My fish are carnivores and I feed them carnivore pellets (can't remember the brand), and from brine shrimp direct I use their golden pearls, garlic flakes and dried Mysis. About once a week I hatch some brine shrimp which I feed within 12 hours of hatching. They do not like regular flakes nor did they take to dried daphnia. I do not clean the sand, my critters do it for me. The only thing I have from my first purchase is a small hermit. Besides that I have 2 red legged hermits. 1 cerith, 5 Nassarius and 6 Nerites snails. The Nerites are about the size of a pea and they never seem to sleep. I had other hermits but have changed to snails over time. I have a Gramma, a neon goby, a clown goby and a chalk bass. I added the bass and the neon a month ago. I probably should not have added the bass because of its size but it is a beautiful fish. I also have a red mushroom, a green mushroom and an orange Ricordea and 3 small rocks that the mushrooms came on. Some Caulerpa prolifera which I trim often. I feed the fish twice a day and leave the lights on 12 hours a day. Ammonia and nitrites 0 and nitrates 10-15. PH 8.4. I use a deep-six plastic hydrometer which says I am at 1.023. For hiding places I have a plastic cave and a number of large clam shells that I prop up with stones. I clean the glass about once a month. Just depends on how much growth and how the Nerites are cleaning. Any suggestions for long term care would be appreciated. Is there anything that happens adversely to mature tanks that I should watch out for. << The biggest problem with mature tanks is that people start neglecting them.  They still to be fed phytoplankton (more than new tanks) and they still need their water changed. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Water Quality Questions I have well water with a purification system on it. I add stress coat to the tank, it says that it removes chloramine from the water, however, I am pretty sure it only breaks it down and leaves the ammonia still in the water. <Correct> Since I have well water, I am pretty sure that water doesn't have chloramine or chlorine in it since we don't add any in there anyway. The only thing we use in the purification system is salt and of course that helps to soften up the water a bit. So my questions are does well water contain any type of chemical in it that I really need to remove? <If it's safe for human consumption and free of all chlorine/chloramine, I'd say your golden> I still add stress coat in every time I do a water change. <Why?> The pH levels only need to be raised slightly, <Why?>  which well water is always more acidic anyway.  <Maybe in your area. Not so everywhere>  Should I add an ammonia remover to tank?  <Why? Your source water does not have any. Good bio filtration will handle the fish waste> Does the ammonia bags you add to the filter really remove the ammonia from the tank or does it just mask it? <I think it just changes it into a safer form> Also if you have an established tank, I have had mine up and running for about two years now with regular water changes and I check everything with the kits as well.  <If you are testing, why the worry about ammonia? If it's zero, great. If not, do a water change> The tank stands empty right now because I transferred some too large fish into another tank. I want to add new fish to the 10 gallon tank I have had for awhile now, and I was thinking about adding nothing but cardinal tetras, I want to put at least 10 of them in there, if I add them all at once, do you think there will be a problem?  <Maybe. How long has it been empty? The bacteria will starve out without an ammonia source. If your bio filtration is still strong, you may be OK adding them all at once. Just test for ammonia and nitrite until the bacteria adjust to the increased bio load in the tank. Do water changes to correct any spikes. This "mini cycle" will adjust much faster than a new tank startup> I have heard that adding too many fish to a brand new tank will cause an ammonia/nitrate spike. But if you already have an established tank, does this same thing apply? <As above> I would think it would be okay to add this many at one time and not see a problem, but I could be wrong. Thanks for any info you can give to me. <Think I covered it. Don> Any advice is greatly appreciated.  I have read essentially all of your FAQ postings and responses regarding the below concerns before generating this email.  A couple of questions/conflicts remain.<O.K. Maybe I can help.> First the background - 125 gal SW, with crushed coral substrate, two of those top mounted "emperor" BioWheel filters and a protein skimmer.  No under gravel filter and depth of substrate is about 1 inch.  Fish, Naso lituratus, white spotted puffer, squirrel fish and yellow tang. No inverts.  The tank was up and running for about 6 months without incident until (stupidly) I added an unquarantined yellow tang (before I had found this site and excellent advice regarding quarantine procedures).  Also, I have now purchased the Conscientious Aquarist so I'm trying to mend my ways.<As are we all.> So - my new Tang brought Ich and Turbellarians to the party.  I fresh water dipped him when I noticed the black spots on him to no avail (4.5 minutes in FW and Methylene blue) and have since moved him to a hospital tank.  The other fish look good but I'm sure the tank is colonized with Ich and maybe Turbellarians?  As such, I'm willing to do a full tear down rather than go fallow for 6 weeks and still not be entirely sure the Ich is gone.  So here are the questions: 1. Assuming I tear down - how do I sterilize my gravel and is this necessary?<I find the best way is to wash the gravel in freshwater.  It will kill the parasites quite easily.> 2. If I don't tear down - other than killing my nitrifying bacteria, what is the downside to treating the heck out of the vacant display tank (will move all the fish to QT's prior to TX) with copper?  Will it eradicate the ich and any other worms/parasites? <Yes, it will.  The problem will be that you can't go with a reef tank later on.> 3. Regarding the yellow tang in the hospital tank - if the life cycle of the ich is so short (24hrs) and I have no gravel in the tank, why treat with copper as part of the "two front" ich treatment, rather than just vacuuming daily for several weeks, especially since the treatment seems quite toxic?<Vacuuming will not remove/kill the baby forms of the parasites and that is what the treatment is for.> 4. Regarding the yellow tangs black ich (Turbellarians), the website remarks that a fresh water dip is all that is needed but in another area formalin is recommended as well... I have no idea where to get formalin in Hawaii, so how essential is that piece?<It is just an added method.  Formalin will also help to mitigate further diseases.  Quick cure has formalin in it.>  Are there any web retailers and if so what formalin product do you recommend?  Also how quickly can the Turbellarians move to colonize the system - the tang has only been in for a week or so?<The tank is colonized in 24 hours.> The general goal is to start from scratch and re-establish the system using better QT procedures rather than doing stop gap measures to deal with the ich etc. Your expertise is greatly appreciated..... <I would treat the tank with copper for 6-8 weeks and that would be my preferred method.  It seems that either method you do will work and I have done both methods.  I recommend treating the tank because your other fish are not sick and the disease can be controlled.  I would only tear down the whole tank when all the fish are sick.  Good Luck MikeB.> Marine system operation Hi: <How goes it, Michael here after a five hour nap :D> I recently had a friend who had a 75 gallon marine tank with about 15 inches of fish that includes a yellow tang, maroon clown, six damsel fish a Birdmouth wrasse, a flame angel and a couple of blennies. <cool - not really quite enough swimming room for the tang, though> He recently moved and offered to give me the entire set up free of charge. <Wow, nice if you want it!> He knew I was interested in the hobby and wanted me to have his set up, so I took him up on his offer. <Smart guy> I have done a lot of reading through books that he gave me and every free minute is spent on the internet reading everything I can. We transferred everything to my house and set it all up and have had it all running for four months now with no real problems. I still have all the fish and they appear to be doing great. After doing all this reading though I am confused about the filtration system. What he gave me were two pump type filters that hang on the back and the water runs through a nylon bag filled with activated charcoal and then a fitted sponge. One of the filters contains two bags and sponges and other is a single. <Sounds like the Aquaclear power filters...are they boxy and a translucent smoky gray?> My question is how often am I supposed to rinse the bags and the sponges out and how often should I replace the carbon. <I would alternate the carbon replacement about every week and use a smaller amount...what I would do instead of purchasing the pre-filled packets of carbon, buy a filter bag and a bag of quality carbon (Seachem's is excellent) and just use a smaller amount and replace more often> My confusion came when I read you should never rinse out the filers with tap water because you would be killing all the beneficial bacteria. <If the only bio medium is the sponges (and no live rock) then I would add some sort of biological medium, such as bioballs or live rock.  In the meantime, stagger their cleanings at one week intervals and don't worry about using tapwater when  staggering> Am I supposed to leave these alone or do I just rinse the bags and not the sponges? <Rinsing the bags will only remove accumulated wastes trapped by the bags, it will not remove the organics absorbed by the carbon> The more I read the more confused I get.  <Welcome to the hobby!  Keep reading though :P> I am hoping to add some live rock and keep reading about the use of Protein skimmers. Do I need one with live rock, and if so can I do away with these mechanical filters? What about getting bio balls to put in the filter? So many questions that I'm hoping you can just give me answers to without being referred to more confusion articles. P.S. I also have a 15 amp UV sterilizer with the set up. Please give me suggestions, but ones that won't empty my wallet.  <I would definitely add bio-balls to the filters, then you can just use the sponges as mechanical filtration (after about a week of seeding them).  With a fish only tank, I wouldn't remove the mechanical filtration, just make sure it is cleaned often (at least once a week).  I would add live rock, but slowly, to avoid ammonia spikes, and make sure it is cured before adding.  A protein skimmer is a superb addition, I wouldn't run a marine aquarium without one.  AquaC makes some great and relatively inexpensive hang-on-the-back units, check them out at www.proteinskimmer.com or www.MarineDepot.com> Thanks for your help and I love your site. <A huge wealth of information, I enjoy helping out> A.J. <M. Maddox>

Substrate bubbles Hello WWMedia Crew, <Hey Chris, MacL here with you tonight.> My marine tank has a thin crushed coral base mixed with sugar size sand, when I disturbed the substrate bubbles come off the substrate, what is this. <Its the denitrifying affect of the sand. Take a look at this. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm> I have searched the info on your site with no luck, my search was " bubbles coming off substrate when disturbed", can you answer this and give me some reading on this and any info if I need to fix this.. <Look up sandbeds on the site and denitrifying affect and you will find TONS of stuff Chris.  If you have any more questions don't hesitate to let me know.> Thanks Chris From OZ

Cleaning Filter Media He there: <Hi! Scott F. with you today!> I am new to marine fish keeping and new to your site and I absolutely love them both. <Awesome! Welcome to the hobby/obsession and WWM! We're thrilled to bring the site to you each and every day!> My question has to do with the filters in my tank and live rock. I have a 75 gallon tank with about 15 inches of fish and 50 pounds of ocean rock (nonliving) so far. I know now that I am not supposed to rinse my filters out with tap water, but I am planning on adding about 10 pounds of live rock soon, and maybe 10 more pounds later. I am hoping that my non-living rocks will eventually become living and have somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 pounds of live rock. <A good plan. Yes, given the passage of time and a good husbandry routine, you're inert rock will become "colonized" with a variety of interesting life forms.> My question is in regards of how often should I clean out my filters once I have live rock in the tank and how should I do it. Thanks for your help and thanks for your site. A.J. <Well, A.J.- if you're referring to filters that use some sort of mechanical filtration media (like filter pads, etc.), then you need to keep them clean! Mechanical filtration pads can become victims of their own success, trapping excess organics and detritus if left unattended, which can degrade water quality as the trapped material decomposes. I'd clean any mechanical media very often (like weekly, or more frequently if you find it necessary). Most media can be rinsed in freshwater without any problems. After all, you're not worrying about damaging any bacteria; the purpose of mechanical media is the removal of gross particulate matter, not biological filtration. If you are referring to bioballs or other biological media, then the answer is that you really shouldn't ever need to clean them. Biological media should be largely left undisturbed. I hope that this is the information that you were looking for. If you have any additional questions, feel free to write us again! Regards, Scott F.>

High nitrate level and not reading WWM how do you lower your nitrate level? my level is at 140. I have done a water change of 50 gallons in a 150 gallon reef tanks. also I have put Amquel plus in the tank. I also have put de-nitrate in there too. please help? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the Related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

New Tank Setup, Nitrate Issues After searching, I couldn't find any discussion to my own particular situation and I really want specifics. <Very good.  Ryan with you today.> Quickly, a month ago I set up a 90 gal. FOWLR aquarium.  I have used only distilled water.  We have a Tidepool wet/dry with filter pad, Kent Marine chemical resin, and then cell-pore bio balls.  Pre-filters on everything.  Have a SeaClone skimmer on it and plan to also add an 18 Watt UV.  I added 45 lb. Of Fiji live rock and 60 lb. Of Lalo live rock.  With no fish in the aquarium, I used this to 'Cycle" the aquarium.  It worked as the levels rose:  all 3, ammonia went very high, then dropped so I couldn't detect it.  Then followed by nitrite and nitrate together.  They both were off the charts.  Shortly after, the nitrite was not detected and the nitrate dropped to about 40.  And I have been waiting and waiting.  Will it ever go down?  I don't want it there! <You can keep the nutrients processing quickly by increasing circulation and skimming.> I have scrubbed all prefilters and siphoned substrate, pulled all live rock out and scrubbed with new toothbrush, and 25% water every 4-5 days. <Hmm...I'd say that's a lot of work! Half as much is just fine.>  It will drop that day (of all that cleaning) to 20 then drive back up a little less than 40.  Did I make a mistake in cycling with live rock?  What is my source of organics? <Dying sponge, algae and micro-organisms that are slowly polluting the water.> I have one damsel and try to be sure he eats every flake or brine shrimp or I am in there with a net! <OK> Is it that live rock?  How often do I need to take apart all the aquascape and scrub with toothbrush? <About once every three years once you're setup and ready.> I am discouraged as I want to get more fish but don't want to start off on the wrong foot. <Slowly, be patient.> I want that nitrate to be close to zero!  Will you please help?  <Please increase your circulation, make sure that your skimmer is pulling some good gunk!  Good luck, and sometimes it takes time!> Renee' Dodson

Re: Marine Help Thanks for your help Bob, <You are welcome>         Though I was afraid I was going to lose the Star so I took it back to the LFS and got a refund. As for the Regal Tang it started breathing really heavily one day and hiding a lot. When I woke up the next morning it was dead. <Not uncommon for this species... for whatever reason/s not a very suitable aquarium choice> My one Clown fish started doing the same thing but looks like it is recovering (I hope....). Now my tank has gone really cloudy and a lot of algae is growing on the rocks and ornaments. I tried doing a large (50%) water change last night and cleaning the rocks and ornaments off. It's cleared a bit but not completely clear. I don't know what's going on here. Will a skimmer and some live rock help with these problems? Regards Eric <Yes, if the rock is cured already, it and the skimmer will help tremendously. Have you read on WWM re "Water Quality?"... you should. Bob Fenner> Pt 2: Set up and Stocking Questions 11/27/04 Adam, Thanks for your answers. Received earlier answers from Bob (feel as if I should call him Dr. Fenner, but recognize his dislike for that title--and suspect you have similar high credentials) but yours added "grist to the mill."   <I think Bob and I would both take exception to "Dr." since neither of us is!  Most of us are just experienced aquarists with a shared love of the hobby and strong belief in the conscientious pursuit of our love.> Bob suggested I add an additive, which I did, and the ammonia has come down tremendously (from more than 5 ppm to 1.5 ppm); is that the time to start changing the water? Am beginning to get an algae bloom--brown--which I never had in my overcrowded nano tank. <I generally reserve the use of such additives for emergencies, but there is nothing wrong with their use.  Yes...  I would start water changes.> (And I knew the life in it would get too large after I bought Dr. Fenner's book, which of course was after I  bought the tank--the lady I gave it to put it all in a 55 gallon tank, which  relieved my concerns.)<Kudos on letting your animals go to someone with a bigger tank rather than letting them suffer overcrowding!> Should I be concerned? Or just let the tank cleaners get the algae when I add them? <I would probably scrape the glass and remove what algae I could and then siphon out the remnants during a water change.> Is it really o.k. to add brittlestar for that  purpose? I think they're cool, but have been a bit afraid of starfish,  since they eat crustaceans. <Some brittle stars are risky... choose a serpent star.  See this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/echinoderms/echinoderms.htm > Also, regarding the fish stocking scheme, are you stating that if I get rid of the planned shrimp/goby combo (love Jawfish, so pick it above the symbiotic  relationship), <Keep in mind that Jawfish require at least 4" of sand of mixed size (sugar size up to small rubble) to build a suitable burrow.> then I could successfully keep two of the banner butterfly fish?  Would make me very happy to do so, but wouldn't want to put them in an unacceptable environment. Any advice would be appreciated.  <I would suggest a bare minimum of a 75 gallon tank for Bannerfish.  They grow fast and get large and are active swimmers.> Forgot to state that the light is a "compact fluorescent." If I doubled it, do you think it would be sufficient for a bubble tip? Best regards and many thanks for your assistance. Margaret <You would need quite a bit of light for a BTA.  Please write back and remind me of your tank size and current lighting to specifically address this issue.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> I hate to pester you with more questions Guys, I haven't bothered you since my last email because I've been busy reading as much as I could on your site.  It's great!  I still have what are probably some stupid questions, but I don't seem to be clear on some things.  First let me tell you what I ended up with (I'm sure you don't remember but this is my first saltwater tank).  It's a 45 gal. corner tank.  After reading everything I ditched my old equipment and upgraded.  It has a Via Aqua 750 canister filter, CPR BakPak, and I gave up the UGF for 20 lbs of liverock.<sounds good>  I know this isn't enough liverock, but I plan on adding more later. <agreed> The substrate is about 3/4" of crushed coral.  It's been set up now for about a month.  I have one 2" tomato clown that I just added.  The ammonia has been 0 for a while, but I still have a little nitrate in it.  I've been testing the water daily and making partial changes weekly.<good> My first problem in water chemistry.  I'm mixing Instant Ocean with distilled water that I buy bottled.  (I read all the info on using tap water, but I live in a agricultural area and have well water.  We don't drink it, but it hasn't seemed to hurt the other pets at all.  After I added a water softener, I just started using it cautiously in my freshwater tanks mixed with bottled spring.  I know it's loaded with dissolved minerals and metals.  So I'm afraid to try it and don't have enough water pressure for something like a RO system.)  The carbonate hardness is too high, 17 dKH,  after I mix the saltwater and I have trouble keeping the PH over 8 in both my mixing can and the tank.  I used SeaChem's Marine Buffer and it helps some with the PH problem (added after the salt) but it still fluctuates.  Last night it was finally up to 8.3 but I suspect it will be down some when I check it tonight.  The water I start with has 0 dKH and is very acidic.  What am I doing wrong when I'm mixing the salt to end up with such a high dKH?  It's in a 33 gal. trash can with a Maxi jet 1200 circulating it.  When I buy water I can also get spring or just purified tap, would that make a difference?<not really> What is the best filter media for the canister filter?  I currently have 1 L. of Ehfisubstrat, the 2 types of filter pads, and carbon and deNitrate in bags.<that should be sufficient>  I've have freshwater tanks for 25 years and have always used certain things like UGF and carbon, so I guess I'm a little set in my ways.<yes I would say so>  I'm not sure what is best for a saltwater tank and I keep going back to what I've always used.  I'm starting to think the carbon should go but I don't know what else to use.<I would use a Polyfilter as well. Will pull most harmful agents from your aquarium in a timely fashion. Good luck, IanB> Thanks so much in advance, Dawn New Aquarium recently set up a 55 gal aquarium( about 2 weeks ago) and am currently cycling the it with 10 lbs of LR, 40 pounds of LS (with 30 lbs dead sand), and three damsels. I also have some decorative dead corals in there too. I am running a protein skimmer and two 50 gal. AquaClear filters. A few days ago I started to notice a grayish blackish bacteria ( maybe?) growth on one of the pieces of live rock. Over the past few days brown spots have been appearing on the white coral pieces and the black hair like growth has spread to them and the sand bottom. I have read my butt off, but no mention of this. I was wondering your thoughts. Thanks for any help in the matter. >>>Greetings, No worries. There are all kinds of things, sponges, macroalgae, etc that are going to die off and rot. Just part of the process. You will also get diatom and algae blooms, again just part of the cycling process. Good luck Jim<<< How often to replace filter cartridges <Hello,> I searched your website for this information, but never could find exactly what I was looking for. <O.K.>I have a 55 gal. salt water aquarium with about 50lbs. of live rock, 1 fox face, 1 cardinal fish, 1 black Sailfin blenny, 1 sleeper head goby, 1 hermit crab, and 1 coral banded shrimp.  I have a protein skimmer and an emperor 400 filter.  I have heard conflicting views as to how often to replace the filter cartridges, and whether it is okay to just rinse them every so often instead of buying new ones.  I have thought about just rinsing them out and using the media baskets for putting activated carbon in, as the price of the new filter cartridges can add up quickly.<Don't we know it.> I also found one thread on your website where a person said that his filter cartridge had grown critters (like shrimp?)<Copepods> and said that he was going to leave it in as a "refugium" and just put activated carbon in the media boxes.  Last time I replaced my cartridges they had some living, shrimp like critters living in them, and I threw them out.  Would it be better to leave them? <I would shake them off into the tank before I throw out the cartridge.> I guess my main question is what you consider an ideal maintenance schedule for replacing (or rinsing) the cartridges out and replacing media, and I had also heard that this type of filter can lead to nitrate build up.<Only when it is not maintained.>  My current Nitrate level is about 20ppm, and I have no desire to get any sensitive invertebrates.  Is this an issue. <No, I don't think so.> Sorry for the long question, and thanks for any help you can give me.   Justin   < I would let your water tests indicate when it is time to change your filter pads and cartridges.  If you find that there are copepods and amphipods on the pads then you can feed them to your fish if you wish.  Every tank ecosystem is different.  Change the pads and water on a regular basis and adjust according to the water quality needs.>

What to do with a dirty filter?? (I have a few questions) (Sung to the tune of "What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor") Hey there oh helpful ones! <Ahoy Angela> We have a 29 gal reefish tank with mainly inverts - here's the list - Lights are 2 55w PCs -50lbs of live rock, 4-6" DSB -Pair of cleaner shrimp (that won't stop producing eggs).  Is it common for the male to carry eggs as well? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpreprofaqs.htm>   Both of ours carry the eggs and release the larvae regularly. -Tiger pistol shrimp/yellow watchman goby/firefish goby- These three all share the pistol shrimp's burrow and seem to get along. It's funny to watch the big firefish squeeze into the burrow.  I didn't think they'd all get along in that situation. -50 or so zebra and blue hermits and one little red hermit...I have tons of empty shells for them in the back of the tank so we don't have too many wars. -Various(30+ I lost count) Astraea, Nerites, Cerith snails and 3 bumble bee snails. -2 flame scallops (don't buy these folks, you'll spend all your time feeding them!!) -3 peppermint shrimp -Scooter blenny - he was my first fish in there and feeds well on various frozen foods.  He loves to hunt for pods as well. -Neon Dottyback (for amusement purposes) -Pair of true perc clowns and their anemone (An "African anemone" can't find info on them) -4 Feather dusters, an x-mas tree worm rock, plate coral, trumpet coral, green sea mat, and several reddish sponges that came on the LR that have been doing great. We also have a rock designated for those little purple and green anemones that split all the time that a lot of people consider nuisance (came with the LR).  They'll eventually travel I know. <Sounds like a very healthy, full system> OK now to my real question...I have an Emperor 400 filtering all of this and have never had a problem with this tank (knock on wood) even though it has quite a few animals in it.  I do small (5-10%)water changes 3 times a week, but I have never rinsed out the filters.  This tank is going on 5 months old, still new.  We pulled out one of the filters tonight and there were literally hundreds of those Gammarus (sp?) shrimp and other pod like creatures all throughout it.  The filters look great so I figure they're keeping it cleaned...and I don't want to kill them.  So do we need to change these filters eventually or will we be ok with all those creatures working on it? Thanks for all the help! ~Angela <I would be very careful re changing the filter, or cleaning it... If there is room, consider placing a filter pad (can buy material, cut to fit) on top of the existing "old" "dirty" one... and just periodically removing the new one to rinse, and/or replace. The old one can likely best serve as a sort of biological filter bed. Bob Fenner> Clear Tank for Acrylic Aquarium Bob or crew, <Howdy> Is the product Clear Tank from RMR Industries LLC a safe product to use on acrylic tanks.  Clear Tank is a spray-on product used before tank setup that is claimed to be safe and make cleaning the interior walls of a tank easier.  Have you any experience with this product?  Should I use it on a tank that will have live rock, fish and corals?  I purchased this product to make cleaning of coralline algae from the acrylic easier and reduce scratching, but I am somewhat leery of using it. Thank you, Joe Rouse <Mmm, haven't used... don't see how much of anything could last, work in aquariums... but the product is promoted for this use: http://www.cleartank.com/welcome.html I might check with the various specialized BBs (Reefcentral, Reefs.org) for others input who have actually used this product, before trying it myself. Bob Fenner>

Cleaning of fake corals Hey guys, I was curious- How can you clean those fake corals that are actually built into the tank?  Do you have to bleach the whole system? <Hopefully they are removable by themselves... Please see here if so: http://wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm If they are permanently attached you are faced with doing what you can to clean them in place> Also, is there anything that can prevent algae growth, something that can be added to the water? Thanks! Al Haggerty Grand Junction, CO <Please see WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Red bubbles Hi Bob <Linda. Sorry for the delay in response> I just love your web site, I have read for hours and hours and I still do not know what my problem is.  We have decided to take out the bio balls from our wet/dry filter and put in a refugium and the deep sand bed.  We had about 1 1/2 inch  to 2 inches of crushed coral and just put the sand on top.  We probably have 2 inches of the sand on top in some areas maybe 3 inches.  We changed 2 weeks ago and our nitrates were above 100 at the time.   <Yeeikes!> The nitrates have gone down some but we have a bad problem with bubbles all over the tank.  In the sand it is clumping and some of it floats as a clump to the top of the water.  It is red with bubbles.  It is also all over the corals.  My husband thinks this is normal and not to worry but I am so worried. <Me too... this is very likely an "outbreak" of Blue Green Algae (aka Cyanobacteria)... born of excess nutrient availability... and in profusion, BGA can be trouble...>   Should my sand be deeper.  We also did not pick up the rock we just pushed the sand around the  rock is that OK?  Please let me know if this is part of the cycle of the new sand or is there something we need to do?   Thanks Linda <I would do a few things here. One, change a good deal of the water (like a quarter) while gravel vacuuming. Two, place some chemical filtrant in your filter flow path... A few other possible avenues to speed up the die-off of the BGA are detailed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm Please read this article over and the related files (linked, in blue, at top) as I'm sure you know the layout already. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

- Tank Sprung a Leak? - On my 125g tank-what a mess!- I woke up this morning to hearing the water rushing into my 125 from my Magnum 350 and my Emperor 400 making churning sounds.  The tank was completely full before I went to bed!  Oh-no- I jumped out of bed, ran down stairs and sure enough-  the tank had lost about 6 inches of water. I quickly unplugged the heaters and  turned off the Emperor (fortunately the water level is high enough to still run  the magnum)- it seemed as if the water was  leaking out from the Emperor. But how?  Then in cleaning up the water  off the floor- I noticed that the puddles of water just kept  growing. Another close look at behind the tank and the  plumbing.  Water was slowly coming out of an airline hose.   My air pump died the other day- so I unhooked the airlines from the  dead air pump and left the two airlines still hooked up to the undergravel  tubes.  Could it over a few days build up enough air pressure (gravity- or  such) in the tube to syphon the water up and out of the tank? <Actually, the siphon was caused by something called capillary action: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/capillaryaction.html Fluids can defy gravity and move up small diameter tubes to the point that a siphon starts and then gravity takes back over. Any time you have an air pump below the water level of the tank, you really should have a check valve in the air line - a very inexpensive part - which would have prevented this from ever happening.> This is the  only thing I can think of - everything else seems to be in working condition.  (Not sure about the heaters yet - I'm just hoping that they were cooled down enough before the tank water lowered past the minimum water line on the heaters so that they didn't burnout - which brings me to another question -  could this have electrocuted my fish? <Only if the heaters cracked.> They all seem fine- besides being a  little shaken up and irritated by the loud rushing water coming into the tank.  But I have heard of fish being electrocuted this way- what's your take?)   Thanks, Mbuford <Cheers, J -- Thank you so much for your response.  Capillary action- it all makes sense now- I just never thought of two little airlines being able to siphon so much so fast.  In the 7 years of having fish, having a check valve in the airline was never suggested to me before.  I'm surprised that I haven't yet ran into this problem until now!  As they say, you learn something new everyday!  I'm just so glad that this was the problem and not a cracked tank- 125 gallon aquarium doesn't come cheap, you know what I mean? (this was definitely it, after taking out the airlines and filling back up the tank, no more water leaking onto the floor- what do you know!!) Well, out to get some check valves-  again thank you much!! Marine in CHINA!!! Dear Bob, <Hi Dave, MacL here with you. Bob I believe is in Hawaii and working on tons of stuff> I honestly, honestly do not know where to start with this. So we will just go for it and see what happens:- <Lets give it a shot!> First and foremost, I love fish, invertebrates, algae etc etc and have lets say 'tinkered' with the marine (Mainly Fish) systems whilst I was living in the UK (Home). I was certainly not an expert, but managed by constant attention, very undivided attention so my previous wife called it, and the continuous adding of extras, changing lights, filters, you know the story I am sure, to keep some of the things in the tank alive. <Sounds lovely> My problem was as a great deal of others, little patience to wait for the right times to do things, it had to be now, or at least very soon. Anyway the point of that was that I have a little knowledge about marine systems and have read a few books on the subject during my UK time, generally after some major disaster in the tank, but it helped me to learn as I failed but tried. So, I hear you scream what do you want? Well, last September I relocated through business to Shanghai, China, and had a nice sized living room with plenty of wall space for the tank I have always wanted. So, this time I did my homework…….I thought. I ordered several books from Amazon, including your own Conscientious Marine Aquarist, and read about everything. Then started looking for the shop that would support all of my requirements from supply to after sales service. Then I looked again, and then again, and then……they have just not found this an interesting enough pastime yet I feel.<Possibly shipping problems?>  Fresh water tanks and supplies everywhere, but marine just one shop!! Well, two or three actually but the other two only had a single show tank; as there main business is actually the tank manufacture, not live supplies. So, as my brain once again stopped functioning due to my passion, I went along to this shop with my little Chinese English speaking work colleague and did some business. I explained, again I thought, exactly what I wanted with the new knowledge from my recent in depth book input. The little man said no problem and even came round to the house to measure up and discuss the tank location and design. At this point once we had agreed everything, I paid some money. In real terms against European and presume USA prices the cost looked fractional to what I had expected and will let you know this later. I had decided on a similar tank to his main showroom system which dimensionally was 1.8m long x 0.6m deep x 0.75m high (0.15m for lights at top). So around 170 US Gal I suppose. The deal we had stuck included all of the tank, equipment and live stock for a total of 18,000Rmb or approx: $2,100 USD. This included sump and filtration, chiller, heaters, pumps, cabinet stand, lights, timers, protein skimming, livestock etc, so did not think that this was too bad a price for what seemed an eye-catching system. We had discussed timing for the delivery, and then waiting for the biological stages etc, live rock, protein skimmers, before introducing the live stock. Everything I had learnt from my past experiences and recent readings I thought we had covered in detail so that I could start on the right foot. Oh dear, how wrong can you be in China? <The language barrier is tough> This is not un-common here, in the past year I have learnt many lessons about our cultural differences, and also understood that the Chinese, although very nice people and I do honestly love living here, have little respect for animals of any kind. There opinion is that it is usual for a few things to die before you get to where you want to be, and this is accepted by there cultural back-grounds. Unfortunately it also applies to marine aquarium systems!! So what happened? Well, a few days after the agreed delivery date for the tank and equipment the system eventually arrived at the house. I think eight carriers arrived for the installation into the final location, which was a 'cover your eyes' experience all on its own. But about two hours later the tank was in position and looking I must say very nice. <Good start anyway> This was after the complete removal of the under cabinet support legs so that the sump could be installed, oh, and the chiller. But they put it all back afterwards and it looked the part, especially when I had installed all of the screws for the supports that they seemed to have forgotten about. But I thought nothing of this as I love to mess about with new things anyway, so in the end I stood back looking at the empty system thinking, yes, this is it. Of course the water should have been put in on this day as agreed to circulate for leaks, and then mix the salt water the following day. However, I was told that I had to wait for about 3-4 days so that the sealant could cure. Ok I though no big deal a few more days wont hurt (A new experience for me this, accepting to wait). So, a week later they decide to arrive at the house, un-announced (I was at work), to fill the system immediately with the water and salt to mix. I get home to see this and happily found that there were no leaks, a result I thought. We then telephoned them on several occasions to mature the system with a bacterial culture as they had not done this. After a few days of discussions and my insistence that they were not to put the culture in with the first live-stock as they wanted, they arrived and matured the tank. Ok now for the long wait and continual testing to confirm when the cycle was ready to accept living things. You can therefore imagine my amazement to come home from work 7 days later to see these people dropping, and I mean dropping, a few pieces of live rock, soft corals, hard corals, sea apple, red algae, clam, 2 boxer shrimps and a stinger anemone into the tank. I just dropped my computer case and held my hands on my head for a while watching in complete disbelief. It was impossible to communicate to these guys as not a word of English in spoken by them. <Youch and double youch.> They smiled at me a lot though. I got my Chinese friend to have just a strong little word with them the following day however, not that it did much good as the following day they once again appeared at the house and installed in a similar manner, 23 fish!! Now you may ask why on earth am I letting them into the house like this. Well, unfortunately neither the wife nor I are in the house during these visits, we have a maid for want of a better word who thinks she is being helpful by letting these guys in to my pride and joy. So now we have a week old tank with water, several occupants and a panicked owner who is frantically checking everything in sight. So what have you got left in the tank I hear? Well, we started with 5 spotted damsels, 5 Chromis damsels, 4 striped damsels, 5 yellow tailed damsels and 4 clown fish (2 + 2 of different types, large types). I thought at the start I may have a chance with these fish as they, apart from the clowns maybe, are quite tolerable of water quality (I think). However, the clowns were the first to die, all of them, <yes they would be the most fragile of what you put in> I have 4 spotted damsels, 2 Chromis, 2 striped damsels and 3 yellow tailed damsels. As for the inverts, we had the finger coral fall apart, 1 boxer disappear, 2 soft corals disintegrate, but in general terms the inverts and corals have rallied remarkably well. I am sorry but I can not see the exact name references for all of these creatures in any of the books I have, and just do not know all of their names.<its okay I'm following you>  I have taken pictures of everything however in and on the tank if you would like me to send them to you if it at all helps. I was not sure if your server would accept attachments or not.  <it will as attachments> The equipment that is fitted to the system I have now found is I believe not the best. I also understand that they apparently 'copied' this set up from a German internet site. Oh dear, oh dear. Anyway, the heaters, chiller, protein skimmer (May be too small, think I will install a second one) all seem to be functioning correctly. The filtration, as there is virtually no live rock in; or available, that is fitted consists of a built in overflow box containing a layer of foam, then bio-balls, then foam down to the sump. <Basically a wet/dry system if you want to read up on it.>  The sump is then fitted in tank 1 several layers of foam, then tank 2 is full of very large coral stone, tank 3 the same and then into tank 4 where the pumps and heaters and skimmer etc are. The forth tank is way too small for all this equipment by the way, and I have had to do some real trigonometry to get it all in there. So basically there is some mechanical filtration and biological filtration going on, but that is about all there is. Big sump though, about 1m long x 0.5m wide x 0.5m high with 4 sections.  <Okay so you know you need to add some live rock> In trying to summarize, which will still go on for ever knowing my Shakespearean approach to information, I had the following fitted at the start (There is little point in names of equipment as they are mainly Chinese):- * 1.8m x 0.6m x 0.75m tank with overflow box in corner. * 1/2HP chiller * 4,500 LPM submersible pump back to tank * 2,800 LPM submersible pump to chiller to tank * 2 x 300W heaters * approx: 1m x 0.5m x 0.5m sump with 4 compartments mainly fitted with large coral stone and foam * venturi skimmer 0.3m tall (I had to argue even to get this fitted at the start, but it is removing quite well) * 4 x 0.75m long white 25w fluorescents, 2 x 1.5m long blue 40w fluorescents ( I was told blues x 10 hours, whites x 8 hours. Have changed to blues x 12 hours, whites x 10 hours)  Water quality, forgot to mention this. Right at the start of the life in the tank I detected a small level ammonia, quite a high nitrite with a low to medium nitrate 50ppm. <Actually that's pretty high Nitrates, pretty high nitrates : {> But within a week when most things were still alive the levels had dropped to zero for ammonia and nitrite with less than 10ppm nitrate. <So the tank was cycling> So on the main this SEEMED like a good set of water tests. But we are still only into about the fifth week of livestock, and now have massive loss of life as far as the fish go, but the inverts seem to be coping? <Sounds like it> After the start of the death cycle with the fish and some corals I have added the following (in panic desperation, again!!):- * 2 internal powerheads at each back, top, right and left side rated at 1,000 lph (2 weeks ago) On timers intermittently and together to create instability   <Good more circulation> * Recently 2 powerheads 1,000 lph at bottom, front, right and left which I have set to operate very infrequently to try and clear the detritus at the base. * 8w UV on the recommendation of another shop, but this looks too small from the books. But again, most books seem to go against UV's for invert systems, so it may be a good choice to go small permanently running? <I would think so> * Recently, yesterday added ? Kg carbon to the third section of the sump only on one side. My reasoning for this is that the tank from the end only looks very green, not yellow, but green? * Also added 4 cleaner shrimps in a vain attempt to help the fish maybe? Yes they are scratching themselves, some anyway. No I don't have a hospital tank, but honestly do not think that I would catch these super quick guys now the tank is full of hidings etc. <They will help keep them parasite free> Also added a blood shrimp, sorry, was just too attractive, Oh and 2  small 'nemo' clowns which I know I know I shouldn't, but again the thinking was that these little guys had literally just arrived in the shop, and I think they have at least the same chance to stay alive in my tank than the shops. Sorry, you really do have to see some of the Chinese methods to believe. So that is about it at the moment and any help, advise you can give would be gratefully appreciated. I really do hate it when anything dies in my tank, even the other 2 small fresh water tanks I have, which are doing superb with fish that only cost about 10 cents, I still detest washing these guys down the WC. <Add very slowly now. A couple of fish every couple of weeks until you have your tank steady and stable. The problem you are going to have is that some of your damsels are very aggressive> I am probably wanting too much too fast again and doing all the additions and messing are possibly some of the cause, but most of my assistance has only been after things went sour. So if there is anything you can scream at me for being an idiot, but will help me to keep these amazing creatures breathing or at least surviving, not sure if they all breathe or not, would be most appreciative. I am trying, honest. <You aren't doing badly just be prepared to do lots of water changes.> Very best regards Dave - Flow rate Discussion - Hi, I recently asked a local pet store about flow rates and such, and when it came time to discuss the sump and skimmer, he basically said that the amount of overflow from the tank into the sump is NOT that important, but rather how much water the skimmer can process. Is this correct? <Well... in one way, both are related... if a sump only sees 100 gallons in an hour and the skimmer can process 200 gallons an hour, then the skimmer's limiting factor is the flow rate of the tank.> In other words, he said that if a skimmer can only handle, lets say, 350 GPH, than this is all that is really required to flow from the tank into the sump. <Well... there's no harm done by moving more water through the sump and past the skimmer than the skimmer can process... there are other benefits to be had from high flow rates besides what the skimmer can provide.> I have a 75 gallon reef and was worried that my flow was too low. I have 750 gph going into the sump, thru a Euro-reef CS6-1 skimmer and returned by a Mag 9.5. I also have 3 Rio Powerheads in the tank in which I am planning to get rid of once my OceanMotions quirt arrives....in which I will utilize it with another Mag 9.5 into a closed loop set up. (the OceanMotions squirt looks pretty awesome by the way...) <Am not familiar with this product but your current setup sounds like a 75g fish only I ran for quite a while... no worries.> Is the local pet store correct in his assessment about skimmer/overflow volume? <Not exactly.> I told the owner that I have been at your site almost every night reading and learning, and... this same local pet store advised me (while in a conversation) that I "Read too much and I should just listen to him as he has been doing salt water tanks for over 20 years"  How can a person read too much? <Well, I don't one can read too much... and I've been doing saltwater fish for roughly 20 years myself and I still barely know anything. I think it is possible for one to have one year of experience 20 years over which is very different from 20 years of growth and learning.> Mike oh....thanks by the way......great site. I just take you for granted these days. Sorry.... <Cheers, J -- > - Saltwater Aquarium Questions, Extensive Follow-up - Alright, I'm back for some more knowledge.  I must say this site is pretty incredible.  Every time I come to it for one reason, I end up finding something else that I might have wondered at one time, or discovering things that I might have been doing wrong all along, and the correct way to them.  Alas I am still left with a couple questions.  Just so you know, I'm doing my best to compile a list of questions to send at once instead of firing off every time one comes to mind. <Are you also doing your best to look through WetWebMedia for these answers? Chances are they are already there...> Hope this helps the burden I can imagine you are under for responses. First, you mention that mixing the crushed coral and the live sand is your preferred substrate. <My "personal" preference, yes.> I hadn't even thought of that, so I did some looking up on the topic (www.wetwebmedia.com of course), and came across a bunch of different issues that I'm now faced with.  I read keeping the size of the substrate relatively similar was important.  Well, with crushed coral, wouldn't that automatically throw out Aragonite (spelling?)? <Crushed coral is aragonite... is an overloaded word that simply means calcium based. What most folks might consider "aragonite" might be a smaller grain size, but essentially is all the same stuff.> I looked at a bag of that in my LFS and it is like flour!  Would that still be an option? <Sure.> If so, I can definitely see is going straight to the bottom of the coral.  Wouldn't that be a bad thing? <Not necessarily.> Does size really matter....sand size? <Think some folks make a bigger deal out of it than necessary.> I also read that sand bagged with water is a bad choice, or not the best rather?  Agreed? <Is perhaps a waste of money, and hardly "live" as the label implies.> The live sand would also help buffer my low PH (7.7) right? <Any calcium based sand will help in the buffering department, it does not have to be live to provide this benefit.> Then moving into the External Overflow.  I've been reading a lot about CPR Overflows since I don't have any holes in my tank.  Out of all that I read on this and the LifeReef version, I didn't see anything saying whether they are recommended or not. <Well... short of having holes drilled, you don't have many other options.> I know they wouldn't be above having an actual reef tank with the hole there, but as an alternative since I've already got my 125 gallons tank up and running. <Well... the presence of a drilled hole in a glass box doesn't necessarily make it a reef tank, it's more about the contents of the glass box.> I've read a lot about how they're going to flood the room if the power on the pump goes out. <Most of the good overflow boxes don't break siphon but do require regular maintenance to make sure this doesn't happen.> I thought it would automatically break the siphon and then start it again when the power is back on. <No... if the siphon breaks, then you're in trouble... the CPR has a fix for this by attaching a powerhead but I've see this system fail too. Best thing to do is have multiple overflows for redundancy.> Did I miss something? <Try to find one at a local fish store, once you see it, you will understand.> From what I can imagine, it would continue to flow water into the sump until the water level was below the intake from the tank.  As long as my sump is large enough to hold the difference right? <Correct.> The second issue I was reading about on these, was the sponge filter on the overflow growing bacteria in it. <It must be cleaned regularly.> How would this be a bad thing? <It could clog.> Wouldn't it just be doing what the canister filter is already doing in addition to what the water is going to go through when it reaches the bio-balls? <Canister filters must be cleaned too.>  Speaking of bio-balls, is there a recommended amount per gallon? <None if possible.> Onto another topic, just to confirm what I've read.  It IS recommended to "blast" the live rock periodically with a power head to remove all the detritus (spelling again?) that has built up on it? <Could use a turkey baster... doesn't need to be "blasted" but dusted off would be fine.> I've noticed when I have to move a rock a small cloud of "debris" comes off, so curiously I pointed a power head at it, and wow.  If using the live rock as a filter media, I can imagine this building up over time, so would it be necessary to "rinse, or blast" it occasionally or will the "live" part of the rock take care of all that stuff? <Some but not all... regular maintenance is required.>  Either way I should probably get at least a couple crabs or shrimp right? <They typically won't keep the rock dust free.> A coral banded or a cleaner? <Cleaner would be best.> Think my dragon wrasse will leave them alone? <No, they will be a costly snack.> My clown fish are still going at it. <You must separate them.> They've effectively torn the heck out of each others fins.  Which one do you think I should take out? <Your least favorite.> If I get a mated-mate to make the pair for my gold striped maroon clown, would he leave the percula (spelling still?) alone, or would both maroons go after the other one? <Probably the latter.> If I get rid of the maroon I can have more than 2 percula's though right? <Yes.> The other way around doesn't work though right, only 2 maroons at a time? <Maroon clowns are classic bullies, and if they don't mate up you may be stuck with only one.> One more.  I might be moving into a house so of course everything will have to be torn down and then reset in the house.  This is theoretically (spelling) going to kill/change most of the bacterial organisms living in the tank.  It will be close to a completely new set up in the house right? <Depending on the duration of the move, it is quite possible to have your tank up and running without having to re-cycle it.> Meaning that if I manage to successfully transport my livestock, they'll go into shock when I replace them in their homes.  Am I right? <Only if you are careless or haphazard.> Do you have any recommendations for this process? <Please read the FAQs on Wet Web Media... many Q&As on moving tanks.> Ok I lied, a couple more.  I don't know how able you guys are to give personal opinions on specific brands, but does the Seaclone 150 skimmer suck? <Well, essentially any answer I give is a personal opinion. So for that matter, any skimmer is better than none - are there better skimmers than a SeaClone? Absolutely.> I have had it setup now for almost 3 weeks and I don't think it's produced anywhere near a full cup of waste yet. <All tanks are different but this is a notoriously low-yield skimmer.> My tank cannot be that clean, however, what it has produced, has completely removed the brown algae from the glass.  Something my lazy snails have never come close to doing. I know it is highly improbable that'll you'll know off the top of your head from a description, but it's worth a shot, especially if it's bad.  On parts of several pieces of live rock, I have this clear "gel" looking substance forming, even balling up in one place looking like a white cactus.  My dragon wrasse always kicks up some coral which some lands on rock and sits for a while.  Well this gel has engulfed and completely formed on top of the crushed coral preventing it from falling off now.  Sound like anything familiar? <Could be one of any number of things.> I'm only running about 80 watts of 12K actinic light, which is still getting the coralline going, but not nearly enough light for corals.  There's also 2 clam like things in a little crevice of my live rock that just sit there and open and close, like it's eating particles that float by it.  No way it's a clam right? <Could be a bivalve of some type... could be a barnacle.> One never opens but the other is constantly doing that.  They're about the size of a shirt button. Alright, I'm sure I've kept you on your toes enough for one day.  My apologies for the lengthy battery of questions, but once I start, like I said, I just keep finding more and more things that I'm curious about and wanting to expand my knowledge on, even if they don't pertain to my setup.  I'm even thinking of taking a marine biology course.  Sound helpful? <I wouldn't hurt although most 100-level marine biology classes are especially difficult as it's meant to weed out individuals who aren't super-dedicated to the subject matter. Ask around before you spend the money.> Maybe even a part time job at a LFS or Sea World! <That would probably provide much more practical knowledge and experience.> Sounds fun now.  What kind of requirements do you think they'd have? <Depends at which one you apply... Sea World will most likely be more discriminating but both will likely welcome individuals with enthusiasm and a desire to work.> Well thanks again for the help in advance.  I can definitely speak for EVERYONE when I say it is greatly appreciated and gives great peace of mind on some issues.  We're just trying to raise the little ones (fishes) the best we can.  They grow up so fast these days....oh sorry.  The End. <Cheers, J -- >

Growing Pains...(Getting A Handle On Husbandry Issues) Hello WWM, <Hey! Scott F. with you tonight> I have a 72 Imp. Gal. tank. its running for over 2 weeks now and I've originally purchased 2 Ocellaris. The smaller one died because of stress, so I bought more Ocellaris. <Quarantine? Did I hear quarantine? Do embrace the practice of quarantining all new fish from now on, okay? It's so easy to do- and the benefits are sooo great!> The three were in harmony for a few days when I noticed one had his mouth wide open and looks like he's in a lot of trouble. He wouldn't eat and days later he died.  Now a day after an Ocellaris died another Ocellaris showing the same symptom-open mouth!- now he's not eating.. it's almost a write off :( when my fishes often show signs of stress they die. <Think about the source of the stress... Acclimation difficulties? Poor selection? Environmental lapses? Address each potential cause and how to address it.> No ammonia is present, low nitrite and nitrates all other fishes seem to do just fine.  I've lost so many fishes over the couple of weeks (mainly due to the ammonia spike) that I'm thinking of giving up the hobby!  Just because I feel like I'm a bad caretaker! But all I do is worry about them. I'll send a picture <You're not a bad caretaker... You just need to re-evaluate some of your techniques, and learn from your mistakes. It's important to choose your fishes very carefully, and to obtain them from a reliable source. Rigorously quarantine all new arrivals without exception. If you have an ammonia spike or other environmental anomaly, you need to refrain from adding any new organisms until you get a handle on things. Apparently you did see the ammonia spike through, which is good. But you do need to do a little detective work in order to determine what caused this lapse in water quality to begin with. Usually, you can get a get a good idea what happened if you take a methodical approach. Review the WWM site and other sources for a review of basic husbandry techniques. With a little work in the areas of fish selection, quarantine, and husbandry, you'll be fine! Hang in there, and feel free to contact us in the future if you need some additional assistance. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Marine aquariums and septic tanks I have a question?   I was just wondering will the saltwater routine water changes affect my underground septic system for my house I have always had county sewer in the past, but seeming I have an underground septic system and drain field and I am not sure what it is made of , my home is only 3 years old I am assuming that it's not metallic. Your thoughts please, I just don't want to have a premature expense, for a question that has never been brought up to me before. <Good question... there's little physical damage that running marine water along with other material down your septic system, but there might be a biological problem if there was too much marine comparatively. I strongly suspect that you're fine here. Bob Fenner>

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