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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance/Operation 12

Related Articles: Marine System Maintenance, Reef Maintenance, Vacations and Your Systems, Marine System Set-Up

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Ah, the humanity! Don't let this happen to you... Study business!!! Here's our very own Chuck Rambo, "hitting the streets" for change... to support his pet-fish habit. 

Bio Spira and Amquel, rushing a new marine system  9/30/05 Hello All! <Jonathan> When I set up my 29 gal SW tank, I had placed Amquel and aqua safe in   the tank. <These product names are proper nouns... capitalized> A day or two later I purchased Stability by Seachem which did not   seem to have a great effect as fast as I needed. <Ah, better> Then I purchased Bio Spira for a 55 gal tank since they didn't have   any smaller pouches. Anyway. I put the bio Spira in and waited 2 days. <Okay... for what?> My ammonia level is .25ppm Nitrites are 0ppm Nitrates are .20ppm pH-8.2 Now even though I had added the other products it seems the bio   Spira has done its work. in your expertise would you agree? or is   there something I did wrong or need to fix? . <Mmm, if this tank is just a few days "old", you likely have not fully/truly established biological nutrient cycling... you may/might not detect nitrite, but should "see" accumulating nitrate> I now have 2 yellowtail   damsels, a pink chromis 2 percula clownfish and an orange ridged   starfish. LFS said its all good but I prefer advice from a second   source. <... not a good idea to have placed any livestock in this system as yet... and what you have is too much and incompatible in your size system...> I really freak myself out when I read about ammonia poisoning    and find myself writing this to you haha. But regardless everyone in   the tank seems happy colorful and with clear eyes and skin. <I hope this stays this way> btw I have 5 2-3lb pieces of live rock 40lbs of live reef sand salinity is 30..SG-1022-1023 <Oh! Well... do be careful re feeding (keep this sparse) and do continue to monitor (daily) water quality> thanks for all your help and sorry if any of this is not clear or   repetitive. Im new at this and get a bit nervous sometimes over nothing. <Better to air all out... no problem> -Jon <Bob Fenner> UK marines, poor English, laziness in general  10/2/05 aloha again, thank you very much and I know how to spell the species names but fat fingers and a lack of coordination don't show this, <Then use the Net...> secondly, I have heard that many Centropyge angels are natural algae grazers and I figured seeing as my tank would be too small for a tang or Foxface one of these may help to prevent my Caulerpa from reproducing and spreading uncontrollably. <No> and a final note on my choice of skimmer, I am not sure whether you know but in England there seems to be a large ethos on "under skimming" tanks so as to preserve plankton populations in circumstances where a refugium would be impractical, <Have seen this. I write for a marine magazine there> I have heard of using a powerful skimmer on a 12 hour cycle but I fear that the constant switching on and off would damage the impellor and cause an oxygen imbalance throughout the day. <Better to have a poor design/engineered one if this under skimming is what you want to achieve... and leave it running continuously> best regards <What is it with the "i's?"... lack of capitals... please don't be/appear ignorant... use your grammar and spell-checkers before sending correspondence. Bob Fenner> Marine algae  9/27/05 Hi <Hi Sam>   I have got my marine tank set up for about 4 months now. I would you to give me some information about my tank. I have noticed that I have got some red algae and was wondering if you could tell me what this mean's. I have done a water change and nothing has happened and the PH level is a bit high and could you please help how to correct this. Please send me an e-mail back thanks. <One water change isn't going to cause anything to happen overnight.  Is it red algae or Cyano.  Ph being slightly high is of no concern. Read here Sam.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm  In the future, please do a spelling and grammar check before sending your question.  These queries do have to be edited before being sent as most are used in the daily FAQ's.  Not doing so just delays our response. James (Salty Dog)>                    yours sincerely Samuel High Nitrite Levels  9/26/05 Hi, I Have Had My 90 gal. Tank For about 2 months started with two Damsels.   Then when Cycle was finished I added a Snowflake eel and Scooter Blenny. The   next day I added 10lbs of Liverock and when I did a test I noticed my Nitrite level to be extremely high 5.0ppm, <Yeeikes> ammonia 1.0ppm <ditto> and Nitrate 10ppm I immediately did a 75 percent water change. The next day I did a 25 percent  change; however my reading were the same. Is there any suggestion of what I  should or product chemicals I could use to lower these levels? Please  respond soon thanks for your help so much. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm ... scroll down to the pertinent links to articles, FAQs... read. Bob Fenner>                                                                                Matthew

Tank Set-up critique  9/19/05 Hello crew, <Hi there> I am inserting a few select pics of my modest aquarium set up and asking for your advice on how I can improve the overall set-up as I move forward. <No pix... please attach next time> My equipment is comprised of: 75 gal. Oceanic aquarium w/o sump (used) 1.5 inches of aragonite substrate 1 pc blue ridge coral, 1 artificial coral decoration, 10 lbs lace rock Eheim 2217 canister filter 48" 130 watt coral life light with 2-65watt 50/50 compact fluorescent bulbs 150 watt Visi Therm heater 18 watt Coral life Super twist 6x UV sterilizer Aqua C Remora Pro skimmer with Rio 1400 powerhead Current conditions: 78 F RO water at 1.022 SG Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia = 0 Ph = 8.0 (maybe a smudge less - I hate matching colors!) Light on about 6 hrs/day no direct sunlight The filter return bar is located at the width side pointing downward at about a 30 degree angle from the water surface (left t o right in the picture below) Current occupants 1 - Punctato butterfly 1- Firefish The whole set up is about 9 months old I would like to add live rock and fish-only as my budget allows <Okay> Questions: 1) Can you tell from the pictures what kind of algae keeps blanketing the substrate and rocks? <The inserted pix didn't make it... but there are algae identification files on WWM... pretty easy to grossly match... likely a blue-green, others mixed>   I read your articles on algae control and have since added the protein skimmer which has helped but as you can see it still comes back regularly. <Happens> 2) Does my filter and skimmer provide enough water movement? <Mmm, not likely... I would add more of both here...> 3) Is their a rule of thumb for what the maximum weight of live rock for this system? <Not but generally, but a couple of pounds "per gallon" is getting near maximum for most types of rock, systems...> 4) I bought the tank from a friend who had used it for freshwater fish many years ago.  The glass had a smoky look to it which I assumed was lime or calcium.  You may even notice old suction cup marks in this stain. I tried vinegar, lime away even CLR to no avail when I bought the tank.  I thoroughly rinsed the tank and hoped it would clear up when filled with water - it did not.  Any ideas what this is or how to get rid of it? <May be the glass itself... I would learn to live with it> 5)  What can I use to clean the outside tank glass after water changes if not ammonia based cleaners? <Water... there are "aquarium cleaners" made commercially... some anti-static ones are worthwhile> 6) Should I complete my live rock purchases before buying fish or can I alternate for variety? <Better to place the LR first> 7) Should I turn off my skimmer during feeding time? <Not unless you have a lot of filter feeders, slow-feeding fish/es that need time to seek out food... If you do so, get/use a timer, that will automatically turn the skimmer back on> 8) any miscellaneous advice based on what you read or see? <Don't exceed the speed limit, drive defensively... Keep reading. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help you can provide. New to hobby  9/10/05 Hi <Hello there>   I'm new to this hobby as I recently "inherited" a 45 gallon  FOWLR.  I'm not sure how much live rock I have, if I had to guess I'd say  between 80-100 lbs. <Yikes... too much... taking up water space...> The inhabitants include one Mono, one black trigger <Too large for this sized "world">   and a dozen or so snails, and two hermit crabs.  Also there is about 2  inches of live sand.  I would like to make a serious effort to maintain  this tank properly, I would like to buy a test kit for this tank, my question is  what tests are appropriate for this type of setup? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm> Any help you could give  me would be greatly appreciated Thanx in advance Eddie <Welcome to the hobby! Much to know... and every bit/step a pleasure to master. Take your time, cruise through the linked files, indices on WWM... learn to and use the search tool... your answers are there. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater Fish Tank <mainly maint.> 9/8/05 Hi, <Hello there> I bought a 75 gallon tank that is reef ready, with an overflow box, and I have a few questions about it. I looked through the Google search, and the web but still have some questions. I am looking to start off the tank as a Fish Only With Live Rock (FOWLR) but the lighting in the tank I bought was  VHO bulbs I think they were 48" and when all of them are on it comes to almost 6 watts per gallon (5.75). Will so much lighting in a FOWLR cause an algae problem or be harmful to the fish? <Not to the LR, and not likely to your fishes... though there are some light-sensitive species sold> Also, When doing a water change, do you replace the water that you have taken out with fresh water of the same temperature and pH, because the salt stays in the tank when the old water leaves right? <Mmm, not if you remove water itself... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm and the linked files at top> When my tank has been up and running for a while I plan to stock it with these inhabitants: 1 blue hippo tang 1 inch, 1 yellow tang 1 inch ( they come together from LFS, I know they will grow :(  ) <This small specimens are more "touchy" than you'll likely want...> 1 royal Gramma, 1 maroon with gold stripe clown, cleaner wrasse, <Not a good choice... read on WWM, elsewhere re> sand sifting starfish (blue), <... what is this? Not a Linckia species I trust> and a flame angel. I hope this isn't overstocked because I have read about much worse.... haha. One last thing I thought I should mention was this piece of equipment I would like your advice on, if you have the time. It is called the Ecoaqualizer and there is a lot of information on it at www.ecoaqualizer.com It is a filtration device. Tell me what you think! Thanks, Christian <Do you wear a pyramid hat? Please use the WWM/Google search tool re this, this livestocks compatibility, needs. Bob Fenner>

EMERGENCY NEED SERVICE REPAIR!  9/4/05 Need help to assess problem & repair of 180 gallon salt tank.  All systems are down, tank was flooding our room <Do check your "Yellow Page Directories" re Aquarium Service... and call... ASAP. Bob Fenner> 180 gallon fish only salt tank..... had to shut down all power, the tank was draining itself, don't know if the pump is out or clog or what? Need service repair ASAP.  PLEASE ADVISE HOW LONG OUR FISH CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT THE SYSTEM IN OPERATION <Mmm, I do hope you called an aquarium service company in your area... Bob Fenner>

Re: EMERGENCY OUR SYSTEM IS DOWN  9/5/05 Thanks guys for a very prompt response!  We just hit the 24 hour mark of being up and running again and glad to report all is well.  We never found a network of 'drive to vendors' on your site only web based? <Yes... need to use "Yellow Pages" as directed> Our main pump shorted out as a result of too much water in our system.   <?> We had shut the pump down to move landscape and suddenly find our sump quickly flooding our cabinet and living room. <Poor design...>   It's speculation, but we have concluded our maintenance company added more water than what they removed in our last water change. <Yes... the transit volume is/was too much for your sump/s to accommodate> So lesson one... review your system after having your tank serviced by anyone for any reason. <Well-stated>   In going forward, we would like to look to you guys for more timely tips for all of us "Mike wrong ways" out here. To make sure we would not soon forget the fun, we got stuck with a limited number of stores open due to the holiday and those working keeping their weekend hours.  We made calls from Los Angeles to San Diego finally finding a store with our pump (Little Giant 4).  Even with our best efforts to rush the rescue, our Coral Beauty was laying on it's side struggling right before we fired up the new pump.  Thank goodness we have a peaceful community of fish that left him alone until he snapped out of it.  In going forward, please share the minimum emergency equipment people should keep handy when graced with power and what to do when they don't.  In our rush, all we could think of besides a wet vac was to fire up a couple of air pumps to keep oxygen in the system, not feed the fish and keep the tank dark. <Good moves> Ideas welcome and about how long they work would be helpful.        Debi Stanley-Viloria <Congratulations on saving the day. I would mark your sump/s with a minimum/maximum water level... place the Little Giant pump higher than floor level, have a spare pump on reserve. Bob Fenner>

Re: EMERGENCY OUR SYSTEM IS DOWN  9/7/05 Bob Fenner wrote: I would mark your sump/s with a minimum/maximum water level <bright orange dots already mark them, but you have to LOOK at them for it to work BOINK!> <<Heeee! And heed them in turn!>> ... place the Little Giant pump higher than floor level <Great husband project if our configuration of valves/space will allow. <<May be prudent to drain, cap off the existing through-put/s... drill and fit new a bit higher up...>> If not, on our many calls, a shop owner had a good idea. No guarantee, but suggested if we ever flood again to wait 24 hrs. for the water logged pump to dry before trying to run it. <<Err... I would not do this... if the windings are compromised, could start a fire... then or later>>   We'll never know if the water damage alone killed it or we caused it to short out because we didn't wait?>, have a spare pump on reserve <Yeah, I figured you were going to say that, Another BOINK! What a couple of idiots we are! <<If this is so, then we can start a very large club>> When we had a boat we always kept a spare prop.... ON BOARD.>.  Bob, I asked another question that was missed.  What do we do if the power is out? When I ran a fresh water tank, water changes were the 'save the fish' trick and depending on number of gallons determined the frequency. Would frequent water changes also keep a salt tank without power? <Mmm, only to an extent... better to have some battery operated pumps, mechanical diffusers ("airstones"), be careful re re-starting up any air-tight gear...>   If not, what's a conservative amount of time a tank can hold before it's considered in danger without a generator? <Highly variable... some, an hour, others days... depending on the gear, stocking, ambient temperatures...>   J Thanks, Debi Stanley-Viloria  "Everything is okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end." <Bingo... "anything short of death may be seen as a mere inconvenience... and when you're dead, it doesn't matter any way". Cheers, Bob Fenner> Corallimorpharian, not coral purchase, good-consumerism, skimmer purchase  9/1/05 Hi I'm fairly new to the marine aquarium hobby and I had a few questions. I've read a lot of your posts and truly find it to be the most helpful site around. I have a 58 gal oceanic reef ready tank. I have a wet/dry filter with a Rio 2500 return pump. I've kept marine fish before and have been very successful. I've recently become pretty fond of coral but know nothing about it. I bought a small piece of two red mushrooms only because they were cheap and wanted to see if I could successfully keep them. My question is do I need a protein skimmer right away? <... would be better> I have 55lbs of live rock in my tank, the wet/dry like i stated before and my light is a 36" 192W Lunar Aqualight from Coralife. (1 actinic and one 10000K) Is my lighting ok? <For? Please read WWM re> The local pet shop sold me some additives to put in my water and they are: Kent Marine Iodine, Kent Marine Essential Elements, and Coralife's Purple Up! Calcium replenishment. Are these additives enough? <Please.... don't buy anything, have anything sold to you that you don't understand, can't test for...> My main question is probably the skimmer though. I really need to know if I need one right away or I can wait a while. I have 2 ocellaris clownfish, 2 cleaner shrimp, one coral banded shrimp, 1 snail, and one cheap anemone that isn't a host for any clownfish (don't know what its called). By the way, what makes a tank reef ready besides the pre-drilled holes in the tank and built in overflow? <This is about it... "it's a sales gimmick"... Keep studying my friend. Bob Fenner>

Yucky Surface Scum! 8/24/05 I have a 55 gallon reef tank; and do weekly water changes of 10%.  But after a few days a film covers the top of the water trapping in air bubbles and the things.  What is this film that keeps appearing and how do I get rid of it? Thanks, S. Montgomery <Well, it's hard to be 100% sure, but the surface film is probably some sort of collection of organics, which tend to accumulate at the water/air interface. This is one of the best reasons to employ an overflow that pulls water from the surface down into the sump and into a protein skimmer (drawing "raw" water from the surface helps increase protein skimmer efficiency). You can employ some sort of surface skimming (depending upon the type of filtration system that you employ), as well as aeration or a water return that disturbs the surface, to help displace this material into the water column for easier removal. Hope this points you in the right direction. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Killing marine fishes, easy ways 8/22/05 Hello, I have a red spotted hawkfish in my 29gal tank. I had a 1 maderine dragnet, 1 scooter blenny, currently have 1 ocel. clownfish, 2hermit crabs, 1 snail, & 2 cardinal fish. I had my maderine for 4mos. before I introduced my hawkfish. Shortly after introducing him I purchased a scooter blenny and everything was fine. About 3 - 4wks later I noticed the maderine grayish and then that night he died. The following day the scooter died too. <... likely from simple starvation> I thought it might have been the water but I got it checked and everything checked out fine. Now I have noticed my clownfish is hiding more than normal, not eating that much. What do I need to do to get the clownfish better or happy? Would the hawkfish cause that much problems in this peaceful tank? Please let me know. Thank you Felicia <... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/index.html Learn to/use the search tool, indices... re Mandarins, Clownfishes, Hawkfishes... small marine systems period. Bob Fenner> Thanks.. how about a date? <Not spam!> SW maint. 8/19/05 First of all, thanks for keeping all this very searchable knowledge handy. My reading about your advanced methods is costing me money though.  Let me explain. <Okay> I used had a nice reef tank that probably got old tank syndrome. Well not really'¦ maybe my version of old tank syndrome though.   My version is when your pockets get empty so your bulbs don't get replaced, the water changes become less frequent, Aiptasia takes over and you slowly lose your corals. <Heeee! I see> I have since regained my interest and some cash.  I got my Aiptasia under control with Joe's Juice and a CB Butterfly, got my Nitrates back in order with regular changes and got new VHO bulbs. In reading this website I learned I actually had to feed my corals!  What a concept; animals eat!  Who would have thought? <I know that I do... eat that is> Well that has led to increased debris in the water column and red Cyano and green hair algae so I read on.  In reading the website, I determined my Sea Close Skimmer is a POS and I needed to test my phosphates.  My Phos was reading 2 !   Yea I know!  On the advice of the website I have ordered an AquaC Remora Pro Skimmer with a Mag 3 as well as a Phosban Reactor with Rowa Phos.  I'm very excited to get my order.  Get the phosphate down and get some kicking coralline growth. But I do blame this site on my runaway spending! <You're at least complicit...> Ok so now lets talk about that date. No not that kind of date silly!   I was wondering why there are no dates on the posts? <Laziness... mostly on my part... as the person who has mostly "edited" and posted/moved the FAQs on to WWM... but I've been reformed (hallelujah!), and am dating them now!> As mentioned several time throughout the posts thoughts change on best husbandry methods and I think it would be helpful to have a reference to how 'fresh' the advice is.  My two cents for what its worth. <Is a worthwhile idea... my only "argument", were I to object, is the amount of time total I have to put into this, these exercises... three, four hours a day (every day) is about it... and this leaves little drive, time for other "content building" if I go over...> Thanks again for all the great info, Peter Williams P.S. I think my order patronized five of your sponsors (maybe)'¦MarineDepot, AquaC, RowaPhos, Aquarium Systems ( Maxi-Jet Powerhead), Three Little Fishes. <Mmm, one of the above. Thanks, Bob Fenner>

Small Tank 06/11/05 Hello there!! <SUP> Thank you for your quick response. I would definitely  not want the yellow tang or mandarin to feel cooped up. Would I be able to buy a bigger tank and transfer the current water and sand to the new tank. Then just add as much water and sand as I need to accommodate the bigger tank??   << Yeah that will work.  The best way to do sand is to put all the sand into the tank.  Then take 2 garbage bags and completely cover the sand.  Set a small plastic bowl on top of the garbage bags.  Now pump water into that container and let the water overflow into the tank.  This will cause no disruption to the sand and once the tank is full the water should be clear.>> You guys are awesome!!!!   Thanks Stephanie <<Thank you for all your support EricS >>

Re: Dark Brown Algae Thanks for your advice, I also did another 5 gallon water change last night and really cleaned up the sand bed good.  The algae didn't come back last night, we'll see how it looks today. One last thing I wanted to ask because aside from the dead anemone that polluted my water, I had also recently removed the filter media pad out of my overhead drip filtration system and I was wondering if that was a wise thing to do?  It seemed to catch a lot of the waste in the water because it would get brown after just a few days. After doing some research on your site I read that some corals feed on what is in the water; I have green star polyps, various zoo's, and mushrooms. The only thing I plan on adding are a few hermits (like 5) and a yellow devils hand. <If the pad is changed weekly, it does more good than bad for the system.  There will always be some dissolved nutrients in the water irregardless.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Jimmy Help with saltwater hermit crabs! Please help me!  My kids have returned home from a weekend trip to Mexico with salt water hermit crabs in a bucket of water with some sand.  What do I do?  It is 5:00 on a holiday weekend and I am very concerned.  Any suggestions?  Amy. <Sorry for the delay. You have read over our postings on these organisms? Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Misc. Marine Ramblings Thank you so much for the help on Jormungand, my green wolf eel. And for the help on my CCS, Callisto. I just had one more question, since its so difficult to find much information regarding the green wolf eel. <Jules... please don't write us in HTML...> Someone has recently offered to purchase me <Heeee! How much?> a tankmate or two for Jormund and Callisto and I was just wondering what species would be best for the tank. The tank I have is a 30 gal. running on a Penguin Filter with a Bio-Wheel. Hopefully, I'll be getting an Eheim system soon, although I was told it wasn't necessary. I was thinking maybe I'd get a porcupine (I'm sure I spelled that wrong...) puffer, but I am afraid that my tank is too small or my system can't handle that. <You are correct here> I was also thinking that perhaps I should get a critter that can help me keep the tank a bit tidier, like my now-removed hermit crabs had been doing. I know that shrimps are out of the question, but would a snail be in danger of being eaten by Jormund and would they even help much at all? <Not likely> I'm just afraid that I'm going to make the mistake of purchasing a critter only to have it become lunch.  <Then wait till you know more> Actually, I had one last question regarding plants. What type of plants would thrive in my marine tank? I just feel as if I should have more than plastic plants in my tank. I want something alive and easy to keep up. Thanks again. ~Jules <Read on... WWM. Bob Fenner>

Kent Salt vs. Coralife Hi again.....Sorry for the miscommunication....I have a 55 gallon with that list including the snake eel! lol! Never in a 20! I was just asking if it would be okay for a short period of time in a 20 gallon.  I really am wondering. <Carrie, as I said earlier, the eel is even too large for the 55. You certainly would have to use some ammonia removing media if you decide to do this.>  WHAT is the reason to aerate R/O for 24 hours, then add salt and do it again for 24 hours? I mean the salt is the issue with caustic properties when first added to the system without aerating it, right. So wouldn't just aerating the R/O with the salt for 24 hours be enough to get rid of the ammonia that the synthetic salts produce when initially mixed?  <You mentioned low dKH. By aerating before adding the salt, you remove any CO2 that may be present in the water. By adding the salt without aerating, any CO2 present will lower the buffering level of the new seawater.>  I was told by an experienced fish person that 24 hours is all you need with a strong powerhead with venturi on, pointed toward the bottom of the container to release the ammonia. Actually THIS may be the reason the ammonia is so high in my tank and coming back as I was not aerating ANYTHING, just dissolving and adding.  <You shouldn't have any ammonia in new seawater. I mentioned why I thought your ammonia level was up in the first email below.>  I will keep you informed as to the ammonia level once I do a 40% change with 24 hour aerated salt water. Thanks sooooo much for all your help, and I am so sorry if I am bugging you, but my husband is going nuts on how much time I am spending on this tank! I AM TOO!  <James (Salty Dog)>

New Saltwater tank 5/16/05 Hello, Let me first say that since I have found your site, I have been voraciously reading as mush as I possibly can on all the topics - even those that don't really pertain to me.  Unfortunately, I started my saltwater tank before I found this site and have realized I already made many mistakes in setting it up.  <Glad you have benefited! Unfortunately, you are not alone. Many people find us after getting questionable advice. No worries, though.. it isn't hard to get back on track!> My question is about changing things in the tank if it isn't too late. Right now my set up is as follows: 75 gallon bow front tank 2 Millennium 3000 filters that hang on the back 1 SeaClone 100 skimmer About 2 inches of crushed coral and about 50 pounds or so of some kind of rock (not live rock) 5 damsels, all about 1 - 2 inches (3 with 4 black stripes and 2 domino's) Water temp is at 79 or so one 48" 40 watt 10,000k bulb and one 48" 50/50 bulb The tank has been up and running for 16 days now and the ammonia level is high (but I attribute that to the cycling proceeding as it should), the nitrite is rising and there is a trace of nitrate now starting to show itself whenever I test the water. This morning I noticed some brown spots on the rocks and even some on the coral bottom. I was expecting this to happen before the green algae starts so it's no big deal. I recently acquired 2 Fluval 404's and would like to hook them up to the tank, replacing the millennium 3000's one at a time, maybe 1 this week and the other in 2 weeks so the bacteria can establish themselves in these units.  Do 2 of these filters sound like too much or is there no such thing as too much filtration? My other question is about adding live rocks that have been cured by the LFS. Now that the brown algae is coming on, can I take the existing rocks out and replace them with live rocks or would that be too much change for the system. I consider myself lucky that all my fish have survived so far and seem to be showing no signs that they are is distress, so I don't want to do anything that will cause them any more grief than what I have put them through already. Any advice for a newbie? Again - amazingly great site and I look forward to continued good reading and knowledge gains! -John  <Personally, I am not a big fan of power filters or canister filters for marine tanks, but the Fluvals are better than the Millenniums (if for no other reason than aesthetics). Be sure to clean them often or they could contribute to nitrate accumulation!  Switching to live rock is a good idea in my opinion, but unless you get pre-cycled live rock from a local source, you will essentially have to start over since the live rock itself will have to cycle and this will endanger your fish. Unfortunately, the sea-clone skimmer is very ineffective. CPR bak pak and Aqua-C remora/remora pro skimmers are much better and well worth the extra money. I would also suggest reducing the depth of the crushed coral to 1/2 inch or so. At it's current depth, it will trap a lot of detritus out of the reach of a vacuum and will ultimately lead to nutrient problems. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Hi Bob - Can you help please? Marine operations issues mainly My name is Diane. <Ah, the huntress> I started my aquarium around the first week in February (this is my first experience).  I've purchased a number of books since making the decision to have a saltwater aquarium and have been reading, reading, reading, web-surfing and visiting LFS's from one end of California to the other!    <Good> I'm finding that there is so much conflicting information out there that I'm confused with what is really the best approach. <Ah, keep reading, contemplating... sifting through your exposure... maybe keeping written notes, asking questions... you'll soon be able to sort fact from casual opinion, myth> So, I'm trying a little of this and that (in moderation) and seeing how it affects my little inhabitants.   So far - everyone is surviving and looking healthy! I don't know all the "lingo" and acronyms, so please bear with me a little and I'll try to explain what I've got and give you a little background.   My tank is 50 gal., acrylic, Tru-vu w/built-in overflow.  It's a wet/dry filtration system (Aqua Clear Pro 75 ). The return pump is a Rio 2100 (which I hate and is one of the reasons I am writing). The pump in the protein skimmer is also a Rio 600 (don't like it either).  <Mmm, these can be switched out for much better units... not hard to do> I also have a small powerhead in the display tank for added water movement for the anemone (rose bubble-tip). The lighting is a 36"/192 watt - Aqualite PowerCompact Lighting System, w/dual switches (both on timers).  I have about 100 lbs of live rock (is this too much?) <No, not functionally... aesthetically... is up to your evaluation> 20 lbs live sand.  Inhabitants are 2 humbug damsels, three blue damsels, 2 yellowtail damsels, 2 ocellaris clownfish, 1 yellow tang, 1 lawnmower blenny and 1 rose anemone.  Not added at the same time, of course.  In addition, my cleanup crew consists of 3 peppermint shrimp, 6 Blueleg crabs, 2 Mexican turbo snails, 1 decorator crab, a few each of cerith snails, bumblebee snails and Blackfoot snails.  My water has never EVER spiked with ammonia, or nitrites, and nitrates have never exceeded 10-20 range.  The only difficulty I have some times is that the pH seems to be too high (around 8.8).  <Mmm, you must be adding "something" here> I've switched to bottled water (R/O) for the water changes and 'top-offs' but now notice that the pH is too low (around 8.0).  I think that it is better to have it too high than too low, isn't it?  <Better to be a little too low...> Maybe I should try mixing a little of both. <Perhaps... this is likely what I would do... Going forward with your practical experiments you can look into buffering the newly made up, stored water...> I use Instant Ocean salt. I test the water at least twice/week for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH, salinity and temperature, (which is a constant 78 degrees).  All readings seem to be perfect. Prior to adding the blenny, I was beginning to experience the rock, water and glass turning green.  Not a slimy green, more like a powdery green.    <Yes... algae...> The lights were on approximately 10 - 12 hrs per day. I was cleaning with a magnet 3-4 times a day but it would come right back.   I added the blenny and cut back the lighting to 6-7 hrs. day and what a difference it made!  I just added the yellow tang last weekend and so far, he seems to be adjusting well.  I think there is enough green algae for both him and the blenny to survive.  I am also supplementing their diet with green seaweed on a clip a couple of times a week.   I do a 10% water change weekly plus rinse out the filter media in the sump area (above the bio-balls) every two to three days and replace it completely every weekend. The overflow was so noisy and so was the return pump so I added a piece of filter media in the overflow (rinse 2-3x week) and also one under the water pump (change when I change the water.  It is just amazing how quiet everything is now.  And the water stays so clear.  I am going to start removing the bio-balls this week when I do the water change (10%) at a time until they are all gone.  Also, have a bag of activated charcoal in the sump down by the water pump which I change monthly. <All sounds good> So, now that you have all (or most of) the background, here's my 1st problem.  Every time I shut the aquarium down so that I can do the water change, the Rio 2100 pump won't start back up.  I end up having to take it out of the water compartment, take it apart and turn the propellers a couple of times.  Once I put it back together and put it back in, it works.  This is a real pain in the _____.  So, I just purchased a Mag-Drive 7.  I want to change out the Rio pump and put this in but I'm afraid to do it, as I don't see any control valve for the water, and it says that it pumps 12 1/2 feet high!  This could be a problem....  :o)    <Mmm, there are other size Mag pumps... but this one should be about right... I'd put it on and see... if too much pressure and/or flow, you can switch out for a smaller model (best) or devise a restriction in the discharge side... a valve, a fitting... But likely will be fine> My other problem is that the protein skimmer doesn't hardly skim anything! I'm getting maybe a 1/4 of a cup of junk (at most) per week.  I want to replace it with a better skimmer but don't know what to get.  Can you make a recommendation? <An Aqua-C model... these are chatted over on WWM> I want something internal (not hang on outside type) that works really good.  I don't plan on having any more fish but do plan on adding a lot of corals, etc to make it a really nice reef tank.  <Yes> Thanks for taking the time to read this long message.  I appreciate whatever advice you can give me. Thanks and best regards, Diane <Glad to share. Bob Fenner> Marine questions, using WWM Good Morning ( 2:00 am here ) I have a quick question or two if you don't mind, ....Last night, I  realized that my fish had developed ick (I wrote to Anthony about it, & he  was a Great help) I set up quarantine tanks, gave the fish freshwater dips,  & placed them in the quarantine tanks, ....I plan to start lowering the  salinity of the main tank & quarantine tanks tomorrow, as well as slowly  raise the temp.....  The fish (1 false percula clown, 1 coral beauty angel &  2 domino damsels) are looking MUCH better, white spots are gone & the  damsels aren't pale in color anymore.  The damsels are still trying to rub themselves on the pvc fittings in the quarantine tank, .....should I continue their treatment with a copper product or wait a bit to see if the itching stops? <Mmm, please read on WWM re...> ....also, this angel beauty is injured, ...( missing 2 fins & has  some scraps ) every night I get my flashlight out & look at my live rock to  try & figure what grabbed him, ...the only thing I can find is a bristle  worm (not sure how big it is, I have only seen part of it) could a bristle worm have done this to my fish? <Yes> I also see tons of tiny little bug-like  creatures (almost transparent in color) on top of the substrate, ...are  these bad bugs? <... please read on WWM re> .... the angel is improving, (actually starting to swim with his little nub of a fin), I read that I should be feeding him a diet of high quality foods, ...what foods exactly & what vitamins? (I'd buy him filet mignon if I thought that would help) =) Is it possible to have a snail without a shell, ....or is it a nudibranch that I am seeing? <Both are possibilities> (looks exactly like a snail missing a shell, was found sucking on the  tanks glass)  Are any of the fish listed above sensitive to copper treatments? and finally, .... <Read... WWM> How long does it take a bubble tip anemone to split? I have one (named "Bubbles" ) that has been half-way split for over a month, it is split from  one side all of the way to it's mouth, they other side looks  normal ) ....it likes to stay under a rock ledge, during the day it  shrinks up at times & then opens up extending it's tentacles towards the  light (power compacts at 4 watts per gallon),....is it dying? It doesn't wander  around, .....water parameters are good... What should I be feeding her? (I keep reading conflicting advice) I'm sorry for so many questions but the guy at my LFS seems to know even less than me, ...& that's very scary! Thank you for your time, ....also please let Anthony know that I ordered  the book that he recommended today. Also please know that I did read, & read to try to find these answers  before I decided to bother you, ...I also tried the live chat but I kept getting  an error message. Julie <Bob Fenner> A question about top off water Hello WWM. Simple question here. What or should I be adding to my top off water in my reef tank. I have read a lot of people trying different things and I was wondering what would you do? thank you. teddy P.S -- whassup Bob Fenner? Still waiting for my test!! <You'll get it soon... Your answer is posted a few places on WWM... try the search tool, indices... Bob Fenner> 

Re: Disappearing fish, lack of reading WWM Thanks! Sorry to keep bothering you but your info is so useful. Great site by the way, has helped with many other problems. I think the crab is a color variation of Portunus sp. How can I entice him out so I can get rid of him?  <This is posted on WWM...> Also my 2.5 in. Sailfin, Zebrasoma veliferum, is experiencing some massive color loss on his dorsal and anal fins, down to the base. No labored breathing or odd behavior. I'm sort of worried right now but the water is fine and he is the largest thing in the tank. He is the largest thing in the tank so he's not being picked on. He eats Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, finely diced fish, romaine lettuce, and Nori seaweed. Is this disease, malnutrition, or none of the above. <Perhaps nutritional in part... skip the lettuce... but likely mainly psychological... Please see WWM re the genus care> Can I stop the progression and or return it to its original condition. <Yes... this is also posted... Zebrasoma, Acanthurid systems...> I am planning on adding one more fish because of my recent loss, a reef safe fish that is very colorful and very active. Any suggestions? I currently have a sixline wrasse, a hippo tang (my pride and joy), a sailfin tang, royal Gramma, 2 percula clowns. Thanks for your help. Brian  <Yes... to read... Bob Fenner>

Algae Control Hello WWM Crew! <Hello Doc> Thank you for all your insight and helpful advice. I am having a red/brown algae overgrowth problem in my 120g marine tank. I have read through a lot of the FAQ's on your website, but I need a little more direction. My tank is about 5 months old and it is doing very well, my fish (2 perc clowns, 2 firefish,1 royal Gramma) are doing well, and so are my anemones (3 long tentacled). The red algae is over everything. What can I do to limit/stop its spread? I have moved my power head to change to water flow (but it blows my anemones all over- and I don't want that) and I have kept the lights off a few less hours a day. How much less light can I have on before I affect the anemones? <You should have at least 10 hours per day.>Is there anything that will eat the algae-fish-invert? <Most critters won't touch the red algae.  I'm thinking it is Cyanobacteria.>  Please help......<Geez, this is all clearly explained in the "algae control" section on Wet Web Media.  You don't mention nitrate/phosphate levels or other parameters, water changes, etc., so it's hard to give a helpful answer.  James (Salty Dog).

Algae, marine, control I have a 47 gal. salt-water tank with a Fluval 404 canister and a Turbo twist UV sterilizer on it, and I'm still having problems with algae. The UV helped a bit, but I still get a lot of growth. I'm wondering if I need a protein skimmer, and if that will help. If you have any other suggestions, I am open to them. <The skimmer will definitely help... the best suggestion... read on WWM re algae, their control. Bob Fenner> 

New Tank Questions Hello Everyone,  <Hello Stan> And THANKS for taking the time to help those of us out here who actually need the help. <You're welcome>  I'm new to reef tanks, but have been keeping fish (both fresh and salt water FO) for several years now. I've set up a reef tank, which I believe has just about cycled and the LR cured but I still have these burning questions that hopefully someone can take the time to answer or steer me in the right direction. Hopefully not away.  But first here is my setup. 140gal Oceanic RR tank, 160lb LR, 120lb LS, 2 x 1.5" standpipes going to sump with filter bag, Euro Reef 8-2 skimmer, Aqua 25w UV, Outer Orbit 2x150W HQI-MH + 2 x 110W PC Actinic + moon lights, 2 x 250W heaters, 2 x 2500 Rio pumps for return and Wavemaster Pro running two Maxi jet 1200 in the tank. My plan for now is to house no more then a dozen smaller fish (gobies, 3or4 green chromis, and a tang) with a variety of soft corals, polyps, anemones and maybe a clam. Question 1: What's the best way to clean the filter bags on the sump ? With all the rock finishing curing, they seem to be getting clogged, and doing a better job holding water then letting it flow thru.  <I would back flush the bags and rinse several times in FW till no brown tint is in the rinse water.> Question 2: What kind of lighting schedule should I be running ? How long should the actinics be on ? How long should the MH be on ?  <In a new system as yours, I would start the MHs out at 6 hours per day, increasing daily by 1/2 hour and hold at a 10 hour per day cycle. Actinics, 1/2 hour before and after halide cycle.> Question 3: I'm getting brown algae on the live rocks now, is that something that I should be concerned about, or is this a normal part of the cycle ?  <Normal. Hopefully the lights were out during the uncured rock cycling.> Question 4: Do you see any major problems that I'm heading for with this setup ? Is there something that I should watch or change ?  <You have a well thought out system. You are starting off on the right track.> Thanks again guys, and I'm this is answered somewhere else on the website, I'm sorry, but I really looked and searched, but didn't find it.  <James (Salty Dog)> 

Weird SPG, Marine Plumbing Issues Hi again. Got GFCI issue under control. I was having 2 other issues in setting up the 120 gal tank with 15 gal aquarium as sump. Have nothing but saltwater in tank right now. Sump specific gravity seems to stay about 2-3 points higher than that in the tank (example: tank 1.021, sump 1.024).  Is this normal and OK? If not what is happening and how fix it? <... What? Should be the same... I would try tapping your hydrometer to remove air bubbles... getting another tester...> A lot of tiny air bubbles coming from sump back to main tank. <See WWM re "tiny bubbles"> AquaC urchin skimmer in sump, Quiet One 3000 return pump on opposite side of 15 gal. sump. Estimate getting about 300-400 gph flow through. I am experimenting with placing baffles between inlet/skimmer area and return pump area, but so far little help.  Any suggestions or basic theory? <This is posted on WWM... see marine plumbing article, FAQs...> Thank you. <Please use what is posted... it will benefit you greatly. Bob Fenner> 

Some Questions re marine maintenance Hi Was hoping you could help me out with a couple of questions: <Will try> 1) I have a FOWLR 50 gallon tank with sump stocked with: 1 x Firefish 1 x bicolor angel 1 x Dottyback (Diadema) 3 x Chromis The bicolor has been in for several months and my most recent addition was the Dottyback which I added about 3 weeks ago.  All the fish are reasonably feisty and temperamental except the firefish who just keeps to himself but is still somewhat social. I have seen the Dottyback take a few swipes at whoever gets in his path.  My questions is can I add a clown fish? and if so which one would you recommend? I was thinking of a tank bred false percula, but don't know if a small one would get hassled in the tank? and don't want him to get stressed and get white spot? This fish would be the last addition to my tank. <I would not add any more fishes here w/o taking some out> 2)I feed them those red slow sinking pellets in the morning and bloodworms/brine shrimp at night. Do the pellets get old and go stale? I have had mine for a few months and not sure if I should discard the rest? or do they last a while? <The pellets do indeed "get old"... if you have more than you can reasonably use in a couple of months, it's best to place the extra in a small "zip-loc" bag, squeeze the air out and store in your freezer> 3) I have bioballs in my sump and I have heard that they result in the accumulation of nitrates. Could you point me to an article or advise on what I should do?  <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bioballfaqs.htm and the Related FAQs linked beyond> 4) I have noticed on the overflow partition that there is red algae. it is not hairy.. just a film of it. There has always been algae on it because I never bother to scrape it off. However I have recently noticed that it is starting to have small air bubbles form in it. Is this of concern? I did a search and found something about Cyanobacteria - and read that it could be a bacteria instead of algae. What are your thoughts on whether this would be algae or not? I have scraped some of it off with a blade and siphoned it out, but not sure whether this was a good or bad option. <Not really a problem... I would just wipe, scrape most off during routine water changes...> 5) Sea water vs. synthetic - Bob doesn't recommend sea water - but if you go to an LFS and buy the water (in Sydney Australia) they take sea water and then they say that they put it through a filter aerate it and then sell it. As I live next to the sea, I could quite easily collect the water.. but what would I use to filter it? <This is posted on WWM... please use the Search tool or Indices...> Whenever I make synthetic water from my drink filter (not RO) I get bad algae the week after. <Unusual... what is in your drinking water?> Assuming that RO is not an option - what would you recommend I do? Thanks for your help and advise  Always appreciated. Regards Simon <Tolerate, physically remove the algae, use biological helpers... Bob Fenner>

Frustrated by Some Opinions, How to Distinguish  Good from Well Meant LFSs? Hello Bob. <James> It seems I argue my points more and more of late. The latest barrage has been from a close friend. He insists more frequent water changes are bad. I am having reasonably good success thus far. Nice coralline algae is growing on my LR, the water is clear and the water parameters are not much different from when I first wrote you except that my nitrates are now lower in 20-30ppm range. <Mmm, "nothing succeeds like success"> It seems every time I go to a fish store I get some new great opinion. The best one came of late about sea salt mixes and that of course the one I use (instant ocean) is not the best and that they should be switched off. Another great one was the magical appearance of copepods (not sure if I spelled this right) after a year in tanks... pardon me for saying so but that sounds more like alchemy. Am I wrong? Does there not have to be some for of eggs or larvae in small quantity for a large sight distinguishable population of this food stock for mandarin fish (what do they actually eat?)... <These and a whole host of other small invertebrate life, larval forms...> ...later on in a tank's development? <Mainly folks feed exogenously... and/or have live sumps/refugiums> I am getting a 55 gallon tank this weekend and am very excited! The 5 mini-bow has been nice but I am looking forward to a large volume of water to keep my little friends in. <I'll bet> Sincerely, James Zimmer Garfield, NJ <Hang in there James... Believe your own eyes, evaluations... be critical (not negative, just discerning) re input from others... seek to understand underlying principles... sort the wheat from the chaff my friend and you will do fine. Bob Fenner>

Lots of Questions...Many Answers! Hi All Angie Again, <Hey there! Scott F. here today!> First off, I want to thank you all on basically getting me through the first few months of this saltwater setup, You are all great. <Thanks...We appreciate that!> Here's the basics again :) 55gal saltwater, Fluval 400 filter, salinity is 1022, ph is a little low but I just did a water change 3 days ago (is that normal?) <Hard to say...many factors contribute to lowered pH.> , nitrate 2 is 0.00 ammonia is 0.00 but the nitrate 3 is very high over 0.50. I don't know why everything else seems fine. I did about 30% water change because in the past month I have done 2 and I seem to have a growth spurt of green algae, and I don't know why. <Algae problems are almost always related to excesses of nutrients and immature or incomplete systems to export them. Do read up on the nuisance algae facts on WWM for lots more on this. Tip: Perhaps your source water is high in nutrients, and is contributing more to the growth with every water change...Consider pre-treatment (RO/DI water).> I wrote about 2 months ago and I got a reply that what I was having was a diatom bloom. I believe that was the term. A brownish color all over everything. I did everything and it went away. Then all of a sudden, green algae 2 weeks later,  so I did a water change- and 2 days later, its back. I did another water change 2 days ago, and within 24 hours a light green film is back on the crushed coral and the rocks. It's driving me crazy. <Again- do a search on the WWM site and use the keywords "nutrient export" or "nuisance algae"...LOTS here on this stuff.> Occupying the tank is 2 Ocellaris clowns, 1 Royal Gramma,1 Yellow Tang, 1 Blue Hippo Tang, both small, 2 3 Striped Damsels, 1 Blue Damsel, a Porcupine Puffer also small , 3 Hermit Crabs, and a Peppermint Shrimp. I did have a Blood Shrimp and a Cleaner Shrimp but they died after the first water change. Why was that? <Again, hard to say. These animals are much more sensitive to environmental changes than fishes are...> OK- the main questions I wanted to are:  1. I feel that it's time for a skimmer. Any suggestions on a good one, or the specifics of a good one? <Look into Aqua C and Euroreef. Both are excellent, well-engineered, and offer reliability and good customer support.> The people at my LFS are nice, but not so well-informed on salt water. You should hear some of the things they told me during my first set up! lol. <I can only imagine>   2. how can I get rid of this horrible green algae? <No magic...It's all about nutrient control and export. The information is right here on the WWM site...> 3.Is there a way to maybe change the coral on the bottom because most of it looks stained from the algae. <I would not disturb the coral. Removing the coral will not end the algae problem. Cutting off the source of the nutrient excesses that are causing the algae will help eliminate it. In the absence of the sand, algae will simply flourish on the tank's bare bottom or any new substrate you add. Work the problem!> I remember when I set it up. I had to let it sit before adding livestock. Does that still go? <Sounds like you're referring to the nitrite cycle. This applies to systems whenever you need to establish biological filtration. Disrupt the process, and you will see poor parameters.> 4. Would you suggest live sand or live rock? <Both can be helpful, and are an important part of a good reef system.> 5. How can I lower the nitrate? <Many easy steps that you can take. See the WWM site for more information.> And last but not least-its about my baby, the puffer. How fast do they grow? I had him about 2 months and he has doubled in his size but seems very happy. <That's a happy camper!> It's odd cause when I come near the tank he like wags his back "tail" and comes to the top. Odd, huh? He seems to have like a scrape on his back, but I'm thinking it's because of him trying to fit in the holes of the rocks. <Could be...Keep an eye on him.> Sorry it's so long, but I have no where around here to go. <That's why we're here!> Thanks again, Angie <Angie- a minor request for future queries: Please remember that not only do we answer these queries, but we have to edit them as well. Place make the effort to use caps where appropriate, etc. Doesn't have to be perfect, but if we spend as much time editing as I needed to on your email, we may not be able to answer nearly as many queries! I'm off of my soapbox now! Thanks! Regards, Scott F.>

Condylactis and Featherdusters and a Snowflake Eel.. I have a 55 gal with about 36lbs LR, 20lbs LS, a Pajama Cardinal, Clarkii Clown, Royal Gramma, Domino Damsel, Lawnmower Blenny, and a Yellow Tailed Damsel, snails, blue legged hermit crabs, brittle star, camel shrimp, and a featherduster "cluster", lettuce Nudibranch, and a Florida Condy anemone. <<Ok. Know a few things: The Domino will become LARGE and VERY aggressive. This cannot be stressed enough. It will outgrow the tank eventually. Also, be careful of the brittle star, many species are known to prey on fish.>> My question is when I introduced the dusters into the tank, I VERY gently placed them on the LR, will they attach themselves to the LR? <<If they like it there, they will. If not, they may slip their tubes and take up house where they like conditions better. Target feeding helps prevent this.>> Because a couple of the clusters fell off and seem to be "blowing in the wind". <<They can attach themselves where they wish, though they cannot "wander" the same way anemones can.>> Also, the anemone, I placed him at the top of the LR, and he moved into a "cave", and seems to be sitting there. He has been there for about 2 weeks now, it hasn't lost any color, and seems to be happy, so should I leave it there? <<Yes.>> Oh, and I was thinking about getting a Snowflake Eel, how much harm would it do? <<After it eats what it can catch, it will QUICKLY outgrow your system, which is stocked to the limit already.>> Thanks a lot. Michele <<You're very welcome. Marina>> 

Algae and new aquarist Hi, Just a quick question.  I recently placed live rock in a new salt  water tank.  After a couple of days the rock started to be covered with  golden brown stuff that is spreading rather quickly.  Is this good or  bad?  Thank you, Larry Great site by the way. <Oh good, then use it: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm . re Algae, Control... Bob Fenner>

General Marine System Q's Hi.. was hoping you could help me out with a couple of questions? But before I ask them, I just wanted to say that I have just purchased The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and think that it is awesome - well worth getting shipped from the US to Australia. <Ah, good> ok on to my questions: 1) I have a 55 gallon tank with Sump stocked with 1xfirefish 1xdotty back (Pseudochromis diadema) 1xbicolor angel 3xchromis I recently added the Dottyback and I was told by the store that he would be suitable with the firefish. <Mmm, sometimes...> and to some extent they have been fine - although the other day I noticed that part of his antennae is now missing. I can only presume that it was done by the Dottyback and I have seen him take the very occasional swipe at the firefish. <I see> I have noticed two white specs on the body of the firefish and am not sure if he could now be suffering from ich. (Are firefish prone to these types of diseases?) <About medium. I would not "jump to conclusions" here, or treat the system...> I will continue to monitor him. What course of action do you recommend? Will its antennae grow back? <Yes> I don't have a quarantine tank - although this is my next purchase when I put together some money. <Good> 2) I have had my tank for around 8 months... so it is quite well established. However my skimmer is a JEBO venturi style skimmer - which as you probably know is crap. However I did not know this at the time. It has only ever produced wet skimmate. I am trying to get it to produce dry skimmate but am not sure how to? I have tried the following: - cleaning the skimmer - fine tuning the bubble height - the pump appears to be quite strong, so I added a tap to reduce the amount of water being pumped into the skimmer - this seems to have made a slight improved difference in that it fills quicker and slightly darker although am not getting anything dry. What do you recommend I do (besides buying a new one) which I will do after I get the quarantine tank? <I would write the manufacturer re. To me, it sounds/reads like you've done most everything...> 3) I was talked into buying some Seachem marine buffer.. what do you think of adding this as a general maintenance routine (which the store recommended I do every week)? <Mmm, a good, useful product, but not one you likely need to use, considering your bio-load, system... Likely your regular maintenance, water changes are sufficient to sustain pH, alkaline reserve> Don't know a lot about chemistry, but am I trying to learn. <Good http://www.seachem.com/products/product_pages/MarineBuffer.html > Thanks for your help Simon <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Brown Stuff, Spending Money on "Algae Control" w/o Knowledge Hey wet web crew. You have been a great help in the past and was hoping you can help again.  Here is my tank stats, 55gal reef, 29gal sump, 2 170gph power heads on each side, 260w PC lights w/ 2 moon lights (really cool), 2 RIO 1400's pumping up from the sump.  The sump has about 3.5 in CaribSea special reef grade sand at the bottom, lots of Macro (Chaeto and grape) about 8 mangroves, 36w PC over it, and about 15lbs of live rock. The main tank has about 45lbs LR, 1.5 to 2 in sand bed (I have another 50lbs of Southdown I am planning on putting in there I just did not know if I should put it on top of all of this). <You can, but I'd mix it in after rinsing, a few pounds at a time> 30 blue leg crabs, 20 Cerith snails, 2 emerald crabs, 2 peppermint shrimp, 1 percula clown, 2 yellow tail damsels, 1 small - Montipora digitata, 1 small Montipora cp, 2 small leathers, multiple mushrooms and 1 tiger tail cucumber (bought this to help clean it up). Skimmer is a Red Sea Berlin 60 - I know it is small and will be upgrading soon but it does produce a cup full every couple of days. Nitrate are 0, Phos .1 a little high I know. I have been battling that for  months, been using Phosguard constantly. <Why? What's the source of your phosphate?> pH 8.2, SG 1.025, ammonia 0. Sorry if I am going too much in detail but I want to make sure you have all of the info. <Good> If you need more though let me know. Now for the problem, I had a really bad problem with hair algae for a long time, finally got rid of most of it but some is still around, then the red stuff came and covered everything, got rid of that with Anti-red... <... Mmm, not really... the root problem/s are still there...> ...within a few days my tank was covered in brown stuff. <Bingo> I am guessing Diatoms/detritus? Is this the die off from the red slime? <Go to the head of the class!> I try to do a water change weekly about 10%. This has been there for about a month maybe a little longer and does not seem to be going away. I wipe it off, siphon off as much as I can but it comes back easily within a day. I have rarely been feeding my animals for the last few weeks in hopes of helping to get rid of it but it is not helping. My coral, sand, glass Everything is being covered with this stuff and I do not now what to do now. I have tried putting some macro in the main tank but that gets covered within a day and almost kills that too. What can I do about this and what could be causing it? Please help <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm.  Scroll down to "Algae..." and read on! Bob Fenner> Strange growth on an all but abandoned marine system? Question about some strange substrate growth.  Tank has been cycling for about 9 months now, but I am a broke college kid and my tank is at my parents house about 2 hours from my college.  Process of getting this tank together is very slow and tons of research, mainly because of lack of funds. <Heeee! Not too much lack... you're going to school, have a tank...>   I've had some interesting experiences and mishaps with fish, and right now there is only one damsel fish in the tank.  For quite the time I had four fish in there, 2 damsels, a Yellow Tang, and a four eyed butterfly, but now, like I said some unfortunate experiences and mishaps, I am down to one damsel.  System is as follows, 55 gallon tank, 20L sump, Berlin Classic Skimmer, 500 gph return pump broken up into 2 exit outlets to the main tank, foam Polyfilter pad on entrance to sump.  For a while I had a brown growth on my sand bed, and with my biweekly water changes (would do weekly, but college is too far and not feasible to go home every weekend), this was under control and the problem mostly went away.  This time around when I went home to do the water change, there was a dense fairly dark green growth covering the substrate even where the water flow is fairly strong underneath the return outlets.  When I did my water change and went to vacuum the substrate, the green growth did not even move or come up.  It in fact was hardened and broke apart in chips, so now I have these fairly disgusting looking green chips all across my substrate.  What is this and how do I get rid of it? <A mix of organisms... mainly algal... can reduce by cutting back, perhaps out the lighting... feeding... I'd let the tank go very low metabolism... till you can be back at it full-time> On a second quick question, like I said, I am a broke college kid but I am about to order  some Premium Fiji Live Rock from liveaquaria.com.  Any experience with this company, is this a good live rock? <Yes... they buy good products from the best of companies> Also I was considering after I can hopefully fix this substrate problem to increase my sand bed depth and then add some Arag Alive, good idea, bad idea?  Thanks for all your help. <... A worthwhile possibility. Take your time here my young friend... Read over the issues of algae, control on WWM, these product types also... costs little, yields much. Bob Fenner>

Algae I sent an e-mail yesterday about an long-standing algae issue and cannot find a reply anywhere. I am new to the forum community and could use a hand.  <Bob, I searched the suspected folders and could not find an email from you. To get help on algae problems, do a Google search on the Wet Web, type in the keyword "algae control". James (Salty Dog)> 

Compatibility Hi guys... <Hello Debi>  Since our last write in, we've been busy little bees. Love to tell ya it's because we are so forward thinking, but in reality, we were in a mass panic to save our fish from an ich outbreak. We managed to save 16 of our 22 fish. Our Recipe (which all info came from this site) was:  1) UV Sterilizer 2) Food soaked in garlic extract 3) High vitamin diet 4) Opened up our bulk heads and put in directional tubes for lots of circulation 5) Offered more calm by adding some larger coral display pieces (they make such great fish condos!). <Yes they do>  We need a break, and so do our fish, so we decided not to add any stock until we have an 8 week track record since our last death. <Good>  We are 4 weeks in the good and must say everybody looks stunning. Even our sand sifter stars seem to hold hands and dancing. Ok, so the good news, everyone in the tank can act like fish again. And boy are they. So what's up with that? Well, I caught our Pixie Hawk having way too much fun hunting and taking out our Scarlet Hermit crabs. We did check, and the little guy is just doing what comes natural to him. No wonder he's been so happy! So what janitors are right for a fish only tank? <It would be better to trade in the hawk.>  The crabs figured out that if they came out at night, our Green-bird Wrasse wouldn't bother them. That worked out great until the Pixie Hawk declared himself the Night Stalker. We didn't want snails crawling up the viewing panes. Any suggestions on rock cleaners or a particular size crab that we might have better luck? <Well the larger the crab, the better, but then the larger crabs could catch/eat smaller fish. Still better to get rid of the "Exterminator".>  If it helps to know, we have a tank depth of 30" and have eight 40 watt bulbs, 6 white, 2 blue, 2 purple if lighting is part of the consideration.   Print this because it's true: You guys are great...thanks to you, we've avoided a lot of mistakes and with the ones we have made, came out with better than average result following the advice here.  <Keep in mind Debi, that there is no better resource than reading. It's how we all learned, along with experience. Most death problems come from incompatibility. It is a must to research your animals before buying to avoid future problems. James (Salty Dog)>

Bleached anemone/MH lighting/Cowfish in quarantine tank Hi, all I hate to bother you again, but after hours of looking for an answer, I have not really found it. I bought a bleached anemone knowing chances were, it was going to die but I did it anyway thinking maybe I could bring it back. It was green bubble tip, very pretty when it came in. I was hoping someone would buy it, but no one did!!! It had very poor lighting in the tank it was in next to none...pc I know for lighting and the bulbs are old and owners will not replace them. I don't understand why not, but to my question..  I have a metal halide over my quarantine tank, I don't know how many hours to run it on this bleached anemone. I don't want to burn them up or put them in shock after having very little light, even when I was just running my pc light 10K the anemone started getting under the rocks. This is only the second day so I am really confused as what I need to do. He did take a small piece of silverside and a small piece of clam, so I am hoping I can help him out here, but I don't want to stress him out anymore.  Oh yeah, my water is ok, except for my nitrate at 20 fixing to do a water change, and the little maroon clownfish refuses to leave his side, should I go ahead and put the clown in the main tank??? <Don't have to.>  I think he might be pestering the anemone I also purchased a longhorn cowfish. <Be careful with these. They can release toxins in the water.>  My main tank is 135 gallon, but I hate not to quarantine these fish right now as they seem healthy and show no signs of being sick, but this is a small tank for cowfish and I don't know if it would be ok with the cowfish being under metal halide very long. I know he doesn't have scales and if this would bother him in anyway.  Please let me know what you think, sort of confused on what I should do and I want to say thanks for all your help.  <I would return the cowfish. If it happens to rub up on the anemone, chances are good that toxins will be released. As for the anemone, start with one hour of MH lighting and increase one hour daily. Also, in the future would you please Cap all the "i's". These questions become future FAQ's and it requires more time to edit before posting. Thanks, James (Salty Dog)>

Algae Control Hello Bob, I started a 90 gallon tank about 3 months ago and have accumulated quite a bit of the green hair algae. I have two other tanks where none are present, any idea. I got some kind of pill from our aquarium supply guy for red algae that worked, anything you know for the green stuff. I do regular water changes (every 2 weeks) and have a Fluval filter (canister) and skimmer plus loads of live rock.  <Chris, there are several things you can do. Please read the posted link. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm  James (Salty Dog)>  Thanks  <You're welcome>

New Hobbyist - Old Problems 3/22/05 Hi WWM Crew, I have been gifted a 75 gallon marine tank that my son received when it was left, intact, in the house he bought. The fish: Blue Damsel, 2" 3-striped Damsel, 3" 2 Domino Damsels, 31/2" & 41/2" Tomato Clown,4 1/2" Clarkii Clown, 31/2" False Percula Clown, 21/2" Yellow Tang, 41/2" Yellow tail Angel, 5" 2 Spidery looking Starfish, I don't know what they are called. Do I have too many fish in the tank? Can I add some invertebrates for the clowns or is it too late since they are not accustomed to having them?  <This isn't too many fish, but the tang and angel will outgrow the tank. You could add inverts for the clowns. The issue is not what they are used to, but rather lighting and water quality.> I have about 65lbs of live rock, 2.5-3" of crushed shells with little critters living in them covering the floor of my tank, a Skilter 400 Supreme Aerating Power Filter and Protein Skimmer, 2 undergravel filters, a Hagen 802 Powerhead (400 Gal/hr) and a 300 watt heater. Is this equipment adequate? Do I need better filtration?  <I am a fan of the philosophy "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", so if it works, it works. However, most marine aquarists would not choose this type of filtration. If you are inclined to change it, I would remove the undergravel filter, remove the power filters and upgrade the skimmer. In order to do this, you would essentially have to break the tank down and set it back up. You have plenty of live rock to provide all of the biological filtration.> The previous owner didn't tell my son anything about caring for the tank other than to feed the fish and keep the salinity between 1.02 and 1.023. He had the tank for 3 months and did 1- 50% water change when they moved the tank to a new location. All fish survived. They never checked the chemical levels.  <That salinity is fine for fish, but a bit low for inverts. I would slowly increase it to 1.025. I suggest 10-20% monthly water changes and monitoring pH, Alkalinity and Nitrate. I suspect that the nitrate will be very high due to the under gravel filter and power filters.>  I moved the tank from Ohio to Indiana in September and immediately visited my LFS. They gave me advice on feeding and water quality testing but never mentioned water changes. As a result my nitrate levels got really high. They told me that nitrate levels didn't matter as long as I didn't have invertebrates. I found your site and did my first water change a month ago, 25%. And a subsequent 20% a week ago. I plan to do a 10% change a week from now on. My water quality is well within normal parameters now.  <I disagree with the recommendation about nitrate. Nitrate itself is fairly harmless, but is often an indicator of other issues. 10% a week is a great water change schedule. Replacing the UGF with a sand bed or simply removing it all together will help with the nitrates. Also, be sure to keep those power filters clean!> I set us a hospital tank, at my LFS's advice last week for my Clarkii Clown. He/she has developed a black fungus on his/her tail. I treated him for 1 week with PimaFix, did a 25% water change and am now treating him with a 2nd course of PimaFix with MelaFix added to it. As recommended by my LFS I have removed my Charcoal filters during treatment. "Stripe" is eating and acting normally and seems to feel just fine. Is there anything else I should be doing for him? Am I doing the right treatment? Thank you in advance for your assistance. Peggy  <If the problem is getting better, I would continue this regime, but if you don't see improvement soon, I would switch to an antibiotic medication. Be sure to use high quality foods, since nutrition is very important. I like Piscine Energetics Mysis shrimp, Ocean Nutrition frozen formula foods and dry foods by Ocean Nutrition, New Life Spectrum and Omega Sea. Good luck! AdamC.>

New Hobbyist - Old Problems Part 2 3/30/05 WWM Crew, Thank you so much for your reply. I am happy to report that "Stripe" is looking much better. The blackness is about 1/2 gone. My LFS says to give him a 2 week break and if it hasn't cleared up in that time to run another course of treatment. Would this be the right course of action since the problem is clearing up (but not gone), he has had the maximum dose of PimaFix that the bottle recommends, or should I switch to the antibiotics?  <I would use antibiotics as a last resort. You really need to know that the antibiotic you choose is effective against the infection your fish has. Also, antibiotics usually don't kill 100% of the infecting bacteria. The ones that survive are most resistant to the medication, and eventually immune to it.> Should I continue the MelaFix for another week? I have ordered Bob's book and am searching your website for advice on how to introduce him back into the display tank when he has fully recovered. Thanks again for all of your wonderful advice. Peggy <I would discontinue any treatment as long as the fish seems to be improving. Plenty of good food and good water quality should be all you need to return it to good health. Glad to help! AdamC.>

Macro Algae, gobioid stocking... using WWM Dear Bob, <Mike> I am setting up a refugium for my tank. I have been on the site of Inland Aquatics, and there were so many different species of macroalgae to purchase that I was overwhelmed. From reading on your site, grape Caulerpa is not a good algae to get, you also mentioned that certain different species grow well together. Could you please suggest a few macroalgae for me so I don't end up buying something that will not be best for my tank?  <... these are listed... on WWM> Also, I like sand- sifting gobies like the blue-cheeked goby, and the shrimp goby, and such. If I get a pair of them after my refugium is set up, and I seed it with copepods, will they be too much for my pod population?  I am dying to get a mandarin, or perhaps a scooter dragonet, and if the gobies will be too much competition for the mandarin or scooter, I won't get them. <I would not place these in the actual refugium itself. The space requirements for these... as guidelines are also posted on WWM> One last question before I go, I have a Picasso trigger, that is very friendly to my fish. I also have an orchid Dottyback, that has been doing very well, despite being attacked a few months ago by a damsel that I immediately removed. Since then, I have nursed it back to health and it is doing fine, but now I am worried because the Dottyback is very shy around the trigger, and since my trigger is like a vacuum around feeding time, the Dottyback, hides in the rocks, and stays away from the trigger instead of coming out for food. It hasn't eaten much in the past week or so. I have tried using a turkey baster to put the food near the Dottyback, but now it is scared of that too, and the trigger has quickly learned that food comes out of the end of the turkey baster. Do you have any other suggestions? <Separate these fishes. Bob Fenner> Thank you for answering my many questions, your responses are always greatly appreciated.   

Sand Stirrers/Macroalgae/and Refugiums Hello again! <Hi there> Thanks for all the previous help. I hope that I may one day repay you all for your help, kindness, and wisdom. <You will> I'll try and make this as short and sweet as possible. I am in the process of upgrading my 55G reef tank and after perusing your FAQs (my favorite way to spend time during "downtime" at work!) have a few questions. 1. I am currently upgrading my sand bed to a DSB and have 2 Nassarius snails (I think they¹ve become a couple! We have a bunch of little snails now...) cruising the substrate and a Orange-spotted sleeper sifting the top. I wanted to add an Orange Marble Star (they are SO beautiful!) for detritus and have been thinking of maybe a Fancy, Banded Serpent Star as well. Is this too much? <... for how large a system? Are there other organisms that will "done out" of food by having the burrowing star?> I don't want my stars starving. Maybe I'd be better off with just one star and a few more Nassarius snails to keep the bed clean? 2. I'm adding an Ecosystem 40 Refugium as well and was curious as to what Macroalgae you'd recommend? <This is posted...> I've read mixed things about Caulerpa. (I live in California, I read that somewhere that it isn't legal here? Is this true?) <Correct>  3. Is ok to have any critters in my refugium? Snails or hermits? <Posted> OK, that's it for now. I've upgraded my lighting and circulation thanks to you all (and a lot of reading) and my corals are looking very happy! Thanks again. Best, John Kelley <Keep reading! And enjoying the process. Bob Fenner>  <Editor's note: Please search re: California's law re: C. taxifolia - very specific as to species, link posted some weeks back.>

Suspended Debris Hi all, You guys are great. <Thank you>  And the peoples' responses and experiences are a gold mine! I have been reading this site for 3 months whenever I can. I've been into the hobby for just as long. I think my wife and friends and family think I lost it! I have a 150 AGA (tall-29")and talked myself into an UGF set-up because this tank is viewable from almost all 4 sides and I did not want the very visible overflow tubes. After reading and researching (after the fact of course) I bought an Eheim Professional 2 canister filter. I plan to remove the 3 ea. Penguin 1140 pumps from the UGF system one each month. Ammonia and Nitrite have been 0 for a long time now (since cycled) and Nitrate changes from 0 to 5-10 PPM. Would this be OK as long as the parameters hold?  <Should be OK, you will basically have a plenum then. > To get to my real question, I can't seem to get rid of very small debris that is floating in the tank. The problem seems to be coming from my 80# of Dynasty live rock. A lot of critters that live in the rock but are never really seen in the day or night are ejecting their waste. As I sit and watch the rock there will be a puff of waste here and then a little bit later there will be another over there. Kind of like what my Mandarin Goby expels (who's doing quite well thanks to you guys). The UGF system and the Eheim together does not seem so clear up the water and yet I'm getting ready to de-commission the UGF. It is not a real extreme problem but again I do not know if the clarity will get worse when the UGF goes away. <Your tank is new yet Mark, and not fully established. This will go away in time.>  I have tried keeping the in and out of the Eheim together and at each end (separate) from each other and there is not a noticeable change in clarity. Any thoughts on this is greatly appreciated.  <Give it time> Supporting info; I had a SeaClone 150 but now have an Aqua C Remora Pro with a Mag 7 pump. I could not sleep for the first 4 days because of the initial air bubbles but love it now. I bought a CPR 24" hang on lighted refugium and stocked it with Inland Aquatics' Cultured Detritivore Kit. My Mandarin loves me and thanks you guys for it. I added a piece of LR and some macro algae (Gracilaria I believe is how it's spelled).  <Gracilaria>  I'm not an expert but it looks to me like he doesn't have a care in the world. 2ea. 36" 10,000K 1 1/2' dia.. 30W lamps Coralife  Salt is 1.023, dKH 11, pH is 8.0 - I know I need this needs to come up but this sounds like a real scary endeavor and I'm afraid I'll do more bad than good, but still reading. I also keep an Excel data base for keeping track of parameters and animals. I also add 2T Phytoplankton twice a week.  <Your pH level is nothing to worry about> Live stock: 1 ea. Flagfin Angel 1 ea. Saddleback Clown 1 ea. False Percula Clown 1 ea. Electric Blue Damsel 1 ea. Banggai Cardinal 1 ea. PJ Cardinal 1 ea. Banded Coral Shrimp (molted twice now) 1 ea. Hermit crab (molted once) 1 ea. Condy Anemone (Hoss my saddleback seems to be tethered to it) A few small snails and mollusks. Planning on 1 more Angel of some type or a couple more Cardinals and a few more Hermit crabs (maybe some Lefties) Thanks < You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> 

Smoking and Wood Stove Hello WWM Crew, I'm a newbie and have been researching for two months. I am ready to take the plunge. I'm planning a 90 or 120 gallon tank, wet/dry filter and protein skimmer, etc. I plan to start with a FOWLR and hope to add corals at a later time. I've heard some horror stories about using scented candles, aerosols and non-aquarium sponges. I have a wood stove (same room) and my wife smokes. A friend told me that people smoking in the house will kill the fish over time. Is this true? Is the wood stove an issue?  <Well, I smoke fine cigars in the same room as my tank. I haven't lost anything yet. If you want to be on the safe side use Polyfilters, Chemi-Pure or a good grade of carbon. As far as the wood stove, I really don't see where that is a problem. James (Salty Dog)><<Relative to other sources of pollution... tough call... I would wash your hands, arms before placing them in your tanks. RMF>>

Algae growth, getting around WWM Dear Crew, First off, thanks for the fabulous website, it has been incredibly helpful. Okay, I have a few algae questions for you. I am starting a 29 gal live rock/reef tank, and it has been running for a couple weeks with the Walt Smith Int'l. Fiji LR (by the way great recommendation). A few days ago I started to get some really nice purple coralline algae growth, but also some red rust like growth. I thought it was nothing, but today, the red growth really rapidly spread, and is all over the rocks, and starting to take over coralline. I looked through the FAQ's and it looks like red algae. <Mmm, yes... but is actually very likely BGA... Cyano... feel it... very slimy?> What should I do to get rid of the algae, and not lose coralline? Also when do you think it is safe to start adding specimens to my tank? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Sincerely,  Devin O'Dea <Time to send you to WWM... re curing live rock, blue green algae and corallines... Please use the Google Search tool on the homepage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ and/or the indices. Bob Fenner>

New 90 Gallon tank 3/7/05 I've had my Oceanic 90 gal. bow tank up for 7 months with ~120 lbs of live rock, ~4-5 in. of live sand as substrate-an AMiracle reef sump (10-15 gallons) with 25W UV sterilizer, LifeGuard mechanical and chemical filters (using PhosGuard) run by 1200 GPH pump.  Salinity is 1.022 and water temp 76 deg.-calcium is ~400-450. I have noticed I'm losing color on my rocks-is there something I can do to change this?  <Maintain proper alkalinity, strong water movement and increase the salinity to 1.025.> Can you suggest lighting? I would like to keep soft corals and some anemones-would halides be the best choice and if so, what wattage should I get?  <There is no simple "best choice" 4-6 48" VHOs would provide plenty of light for most any coral. So would 2 175w metal halides. Both choices require awareness of heat build up. MHs are generally more expensive initially, but lamp replacement is less expensive (fewer lamps and they last longer). Unless you intend to keep anemones (other than bubble tips), a lot of clams or certain Acroporas, there is no reason to get more than 175w MHs.> I am thinking of getting a filamented flasher wrasse (what color is this when mature? I would like to get one that is reddish-also thinking of the carpenters),  <What you see is what you get unless you have a harem and one develops super- male coloration.> blue tang and yellow. I was told to put the tangs in at the same time-is this necessary? Also, does the location from which blue tangs are caught make a difference in their appearance? <Blue tangs with yellow bellies are occasionally imported from east Africa, but at a very premium price. I would add the blue tang first and let it get established since the yellow will be more aggressive. Please quarantine! All tangs are very prone to ick.> Can I get more than one wrasse if they are not of the same species? Or will they fight? Just overall, wondering how many fish I should keep in this tank and if you could recommend some...  <You can keep more than one species of wrasse as long as you stick to the relatively docile flashers and fairies. Most other wrasses are too aggressive to mix. Beware also that the result of ANY aggression is often a flying leap onto the floor.> The more I speak with people, the more confused I get!  <Sounds like you are speaking with the wrong people! Seriously... there are many ways to skin a cat, and what works for some doesn't work for everyone. Stick to the basics at first... good water quality, regular water changes, good water movement and filtration and learn what works for you.> Also, are males generally more colorful than females? <In many cases yes. Some fish are almost impossible to tell apart, and it is rare for the females to be more flamboyant than males. In fact, in some species (like flame angels) the males are selectively collected because of their superior color.> And do I have to worry about aggression if I focus on just getting males? Is there a specific order in which I should introduce new fish-or does it really matter with the community fish I am considering? <It is always good practice to introduce the least aggressive fish first so that they can establish territory and get acclimated without harassment. Males are more aggressive, and having multiple males will increase aggression.> Sorry about all the questions, I am new to the hobby. JC from Massachusetts  <Glad to! It's what we are here for! Best regards. AdamC.>

Free Log, Anyone? If anyone is interested in a easy to use log. It is available here for free. http://www.joejaworski.com/aqualog/  James

Misc. Marine Maintenance Brine to clean Fluval in a marine tank? Expert advice needed! I recently added a 404 Fluval canister filter to my 46 gallon marine tank. This tank has fish, live rock, crushed coral substrate, invertebrates, a cleaning crew of snails and crabs and a few corals. Anyhow, I was told that brine shrimp could be hatched in the filter to help keep it clean. Ever hear of such a thing?  <Interesting... no> I'm somewhat confused as it is, as I have read and been told soooo many different DO'S and DON'TS about running a canister filter in a marine tank. Do I clean the bio-balls? Should I even have them in the filter?   <I wouldn't clean bio-media here, but they can be used to good advantage in canisters> What about the under gravel? Bad idea? <What about it? There are articles, FAQs on WWM re UGs> It seemed to work OK in the past. All I have used in the past for filtration is an under gravel, live rock and a small protein skimmer. I do use R/O water (NOW) and change about 5% weekly and that seems to keep the Cyano from being a problem. And believe me, that can be a serious problem. Just my 2 cents, but tap is bad for a marine tank, VERY bad!  <Sometimes, places. Bob Fenner> 

- Brown Algae & Little White Specs - Hello! <Hello.> I'm new to the hobby, my tank has been going through its cycling process for about 1 week. Everything is going well at the moment (I think!), pH 8.0, Ammonia .25 Nitrite .25, Nitrate 40. I know these levels are high, but the ammonia and nitrite levels have been reducing.  Now for my questions, all over most of the sand bed and the glass some brown looking film has appeared, almost overnight. Is this just part of the algae bloom that most people tell me should happen?  <Yes... pretty typical in new systems.>  Oh, and how long would it normally take to disappear?  <May not disappear on its own... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm > Also, all over the glass I have noticed absolutely loads of tiny white specks that are moving about. Are these what are known as copepods, and are they a sign that everything is going well?  <More likely to be amphipods... and yes, a good sign.>  I would just like to say that your website has loads of great information and have recommended it to loads of people over here in the UK! Many Thanks in advance for your help. Louise <Cheers, J -- >

Brown Algae & Little white specks on glass... del Bob Hello! I'm new to the hobby, my tank has been going through its cycling process for about 1 week. Everything is going well at the moment (I think!), pH 8.0, Ammonia .25 Nitrite .25, Nitrate 40. I know these levels are high, but the ammonia and nitrite levels have been reducing. Now for my questions, all over most of the sand bed and the glass some brown looking film has appeared, almost overnight. Is this just part of the algae bloom that most people tell me should happen? <Yep> Oh, and how long would it normally take to disappear?  <Mmm, might not...> Also, all over the glass I have noticed absolutely loads of tiny white specks that are moving about. Are these what are known as copepods, and are they a sign that everything is going well? <Mmm, yes> I would just like to say that your website has loads of great information and have recommended it to loads of people over here in the UK!  Many Thanks in advance for your help.  Louise <Ahh, thank you Louise. Don't fret re the algae "outbreak" at this point (you can leave your lights off if this will help... reduce the growth and your detection of it!)... all will be well... in a few weeks... with the system "fully cycling"... In the meanwhile you can read up, enjoy the anticipation of future events. Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

Holes in Decor First I would like to compliment all of you on the great site.  <Thank you> My Set up is a 6 month old 29 gallon fish only (one 6 line wrasse, 2 yellow tail damsels and 2 ocellaris clowns) with Caulerpa, 3 hermit crabs and amphipods (I think). Anyways my first question is related to my wrasses feeding habits. He is still pretty new (1 week and is acting normal as far as I can tell) and has not taken much of the food I have tried to give him ( flake, brine shrimp and plankton). I have some kind of microcrustaceans in my tank that I believe to be amphipods from the descriptions on your website. I see the wrasse and the rest of my fish pecking at the ground often throughout the day to eat these amphipods. I was just wondering if these are enough to fulfill his dietary needs... <Yes, if there are enough of them>  ... because the other fish still seem to eat what they used to eat before I discovered I had these amphipods. <Fish are like humans, they have food preferences. I'll take a pizza before a salad.>  Since I discovered the amphipods in my tank I have lost 3 of my hermit crabs. Do you think this could be due to the amount of food the crabs had to eat... <I'm sure the crabs had enough food to survive>  ... or possibly them attacking while the crabs were molting? <The fish you have don't normally harass hermits> ( the amphipods clean the tank very well). <You're sure the dead crabs aren't molt skeletons?>  I have been noticing more and more pin sized and slightly larger holes in my fake decorations since the "arrival" of the amphipods. Any clues as to if this could be related to normal wear on decorations in marine tanks or if the algae that was sitting on the decor before the amphipods "cleaned" them could have caused these holes would be appreciated.  <Maybe, may just be a reaction from the seawater, the algae isn't going to cause any holes.> Thanks in advance for any advice or help you could give.  <James (Salty Dog)> 

New equipment I recently heard about a product that controls nearly everything in a reef aquarium and is electronic as far as light dosages water motion and can be hooked up to your computer.  I was wondering if you knew what the name of the product is and a little info about it.  I heard it was created because some Microsoft head designed it because he was a hobbyist. Thanks Patrick <There are computerized controllers... Neptune, Aqua-Dyne... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marcontrolfaqs.htm  Bob Fenner>

- Pest Algae in a New Tank - Hello, <Hello.> I am fairly new at the Marine Aquarium scene and have a few questions. I have a 75 gallon glass tank and a 55 gallon acrylic sump. The sump is simply divided into 2 equal sides and there are slits at the top and bottom of this divider,  where water passes through. I read Conscientious Marine Aquarist, and had visions of an elaborate refugium in this sump, with various chambers and functions. The LFS advised me that this was all I needed. The water leaves the overflow, goes into the sump, passes through the divider and back up to the display. Does this accomplish anything?  <It increases the volume of your system... you could still add some live rock to the sump and increase your filtration.>  I have decided to plant some mangroves in the sump, but other than that it just seems to be circulating.  <Huh... mangroves grow well over ten feet tall... do you have the room?>  Which I'm sure is a benefit, but I thought my sump would be performing more tasks.  <And it may yet.>  Also, I have a CPR BAKPAK in my system, and I think this may be my problem. My water clarity and algae is out of control.  <The BakPak does not "cause this.">  My tank is disgusting looking. I do water changes constantly. The BakPak fills in about an hour. I'm only running fluorescents about 8 hours a day to try and retard the algae growth, but its not helping. I only have about 40 lbs of live rock and a 4" sand bed. my readings are always perfect. since day 1 I have only had perfect readings in nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, pH, and phosphate.  <Does that mean zero across the board? Try to avoid using words like perfect - if your tank water were truly "perfect", you wouldn't have a problem with pest algae... If you had zero phosphates, I'd be at a loss to understand what is feeding your algae.>  I do not use RO/DI water, I use tap water with a conditioner.  <This is a big cause of why your skimmer fills up so quickly - the conditioner is being skimmer out.>  Is that a bad idea?  <It's not a bad idea, but you need to understand the cause/effect loop. Your skimmer fills up every day because you're using a water conditioner.>  I just cant figure out why my tank is so dirty looking. I did add some small aragonite gravel on top of the sand bed and I wish I hadn't. it has turned brown and dirty looking. I have red slime on my live rock and some kind of bubbles growing in this green slime. all my livestock seems happy though. the only thing I lost was 3 peppermint shrimp. I have 3 green  Chromis, 2 true percula clowns, and a yellow tang. The LFS advised me to exchange my CPR for an ETSS Reef Devil in sump. Do protein skimmers filter out the cause of this algae bloom?  <Not directly, but they can filter out compounds that the algae would use as food.>  I really want sparkling clear water! Should I add some other kind of filtration? Is there any other equipment that would help my plight? What about U.V sterilizer, phosphate reactor?  <If your water readings are perfect, what would you need any more equipment for?> anything else? <Examine yourself, your habits, your husbandry... the beginning of awareness starts within.>  Please advise.  <Please read here and FAQs beyond:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmerfaqs.htm > Thank you, Brandon R. <Cheers, J -- >

Strange Disease, vague input Hi! I have an Engineer Goby that looks very sick. At first I thought it was Ich, but it looks like white mould. Do you have any idea what it is and how I can treat it? Thanks! <Not from this explanation... Please read the disease and Goby sections posted on www.WetWebMedia.com There are search tools, indices there. Bob Fenner>

Some aquarium software Dear Mr. Kaechele, <Bob Fenner in his stead. Will cc him here> You might care to add links somewhere on your site to three free fishkeeping programs I wrote, called Brack Calc, Can I Keep It?, and Fish Tank Tool. http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/software/software.html Brack Calc is a tool for estimating salinities in terms of masses of salt per unit of water and for converting between salinity and specific gravity. Can I Keep It? is a program for newcomers to the hobby, helping them to understand what makes a successful community tank and to figure out what combinations of fish are likely to work well together. It includes information on 48 common species of freshwater fish. Finally, Fish Tank Tool is a utility program that allows the user to quickly work out various aquarium parameters, estimate the number of fishes of different sizes that can be kept inside it, and to perform a variety of other conversions and calculations. All are free, and the last two programs were designed specifically with newcomers to the hobby in mind. Brack Calc is a bit of a one trick pony for a specific type of advanced aquarist. If you do decide to include these programs on your web page, I'd appreciate it if you would make it clear that both Mac and Windows versions are available. Sincerely, Neale Monks <Thank you for your note, your work, and interest in our hobby. Bob Fenner> How am I doing so far? Saltwater system operation Sun, 6 Feb 2005 Hi there, <Hello Sandra, Salty Dog here> First of all thank you for all the information and this beautiful website! I have a question. Since two and a half years I've had my 180 gallon saltwater aquarium. Before that, I started out with a 55 gallon, did some mistakes, learned from them, and after a year I decided to go for a bigger system. About the tank: 1 Pro 150 wet-dry filter 1 SeaClone Protein Skimmer (for 150 gallon) <These skimmers WILL NOT handle a tank that large> 1 Prizm hang on Skimmer (for 60 gallons) 1 Maxi Jet Power head for extra circulation <You don't mention the pump size of your Pro 150.  Keep in mind you will need close to 1800 gph of total circulation for this tank.> Lightning - 3 Deep Water<What is a deep water bulb?>and 3 Actinic-Daylight bulbs (10 hours a day) WATER QUALITY- (I use real sea water, leave it in another tank for a few days so the bacteria can die off)<If the real seawater is collected at the shoreline it is really not recommended for use.  Any pollutants that may enter the water are usually at the highest concentrations in shallow water.> salinity - 1.023-1.024 ph-         8.0 temperature- 82 F <A bit high, 75 to 78F is the norm> no ammonia, no nitrite, no nitrate showing (stable since a few month after I set up the aquarium)<I a large tank, nitrates usually will not show up for quite some time.  With the skimmers you are using, they will though.> various algae, green, red, brown. STOCK- 1 angel imperator - since a year and a half (hasn't grown very much since) 1 French angel ( I am planning on taking him out since he nags the imperator from time to time after he grew bigger) since a year 2 ocellaris clown fish for almost two years ( they have grown up to 3 inches since)   1 fire cleaner shrimp since a year and a half FEEDING- Tetra Marine Granules, sea veggies (from time to time) <This is not a good diet for the overall health of fish.  This explains the slow growth of the angels.  Try using Ocean Nutrition Angel Formula (frozen cube form).  The sea veggies are a good algae supplement.> DECO- Have used coral skeletons and stones with a lot of hiding spaces since. I clean the tank once a month and do 30 gallon water changes every month or two <10% a week is the norm along with cleaning>(I get real seawater from a close beach, get it at night when the water is "cleaner")<I'm interested to know why you think the water is cleaner at night> Until now everything has been great, fishes grow and the water quality has always been good! But now I am planning to add some more fish from time to time. I was thinking about a banded possum wrasse, Falcula and yellow longnose butterflyfish and maybe a flame angel (of course, not all together), what stock would you recommend for my system?) but my concern is that since quite a time (around a year already) the imperator and the French angel get "cloudy" fins from time to time, they swim to the cleaner shrimp and get cleaned almost daily, then it disappears again for quiet a time and shows up again. They don't scratch themselves, or don't act differently and either have the clownfish been affected. I am not sure, but I don't think its a parasite, maybe more a bacteria,  what do you think?<I think the overall health of the system is not there.  Angels do require extremely good water quality, that is why weekly changes are best overall.> My concern is, I don't want to add new fish without being sure that they might get infected from whatever the angels have. I have only added NO-ICH once like two years ago when my fish had an ich problem, but haven't used medicine since cause of good quarantining, and hopefully don't have to use it either.<Good, at least you do quarantine.> Also, I am planning on leaving the "corals" behind and I want to try using live rock. (then I would have three different "filters" in my system) I have been reading and researching a lot about curing it in a quarantine tank till no more ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are detectable. (by the way, I am located at the Dominican Republic and someone will get it for me right here out of the sea, they say in water of 40ft deep cause of less contamination?)<Yes> Although, there are so many creatures living on live rock, that I am a bit afraid that even though I take all the precautions it might do harm to my stock or water. Which things to take off, which ones to leave on, what is dangerous and what is harmless...I read a lot about it, but there are just so many things. Your opinion? Your advise? I am just very proud that after such a long time of doing mistakes and learning, I kinda have it all figured out with healthy and growing stock that I don't want to do anything to risk it. <This area has such a large scope that I could not briefly answer this.  I recommend doing all the research on wet web and other sites on invertebrates and learn what can be detrimental to your tank.  Mantis shrimp for one is not recommended.  Some starfish such as the chocolate chip will eat some corals, snails, etc.  This list could go on and on.  Do search the wet web and other sites.  Drs. Foster & Smith does have a compatibility chart on their site, look at that.  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog)> I would really appreciate your answer to my email, thank you so much for listening! Sandra

How am I doing so far? Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2005 Dear James (salty dog), Thank you for your helpful answers and sorry if there was some information missing, I am trying to provide it to you so it looks clearer.  I will try to purchase a better skimmer as you said that the two I already have aren't enough for such a big tank. as I don't have that many fish in my 180g tank (only 4) I figured they aren't causing too much biological waste. But why aren't they enough if one has the capacity for 150 gallons and the other skimmer for 60 gallons?  <Sandra, in my opinion, many skimmers on the market are overrated, the Prizm being one of them. I'm not saying it is a bad skimmer, I use one myself on my 29 mini reef, works great, but I wouldn't use it on much more than a 40 gallon. The SeaClone works as a skimmer goes, but is very inefficient, especially in reef tanks.>  To the light - by deep water bulb I meant that they are fluorescent lights with a deep water effect (also have actinic and daylight bulbs) they don't heat up the water that much, such as other lights, cause it's pretty warm here in the Caribbean anyways. As you said, temperature is a little high, am trying not to get it higher!  <You may have to incorporate a chiller in your system.>  I have had my tank since two and a half years and no nitrites or nitrates ever showed, do you think that after that period of time they will just show up now?  As you say Sandra, you have a small load in the system now where a balanced system is functioning taking care of that, but as you add more inhabitants the waste will increase. This is one reason we don't like to see high stocking levels.>  The angel fishes aren't slow growing (only the imperator hasn't grown that much), I got the French angel in size of a walnut, and now he is the size of my hand ( I guess the diet isn't so bad after all) <There is probably some benefit in using natural seawater as there is more than likely a plankton supply that the fish consume.>  Thanks for telling me about the other foods, although I am sure I wont get them here on the island. I will try to vary their diet. Well, its logical that sea water is cleaner at night, first of all tourists aren't bathing themselves have suntan lotion or any kinds of oils on their skin - which will be in the water as well, motor boats don't contaminate the water at night etc. <I just don't feel the items in the water you mentioned are going to be completely gone at night.> I would appreciate it if you could maybe tell me what you think that the angels have? Do you think it is some kind of bacteria, or parasite? It disappears for quiet some time then sometimes it comes back, is it normal that they get cleaned by the cleaner shrimp frequently.  <Yes, the shrimp are doing what they do best.> What kind of skimmer would you recommend?  <I like the AquaC brand myself.>  Oh yeah, by the way, the water pump in my wet-dry filter circulates 500 gallons per hour. Besides that one I have another pump in the tank which helps circulating the water, there is constant movement in the whole aquarium. <That is what we like, constant movement.>  Thank you again for your time and all the information.  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Too much money, not enough knowledge, too little patience and WWM I have a coral beauty that has seemed to develop 5 white spots on its body today... is it marine ich? <Maybe> ...hope not because I am new to this hobby and I don't know what to do... <Mmm, then you'd be better off spending your efforts studying> the beauty was in my display tank in which I have 2 clown fish, 1 yellow tang, I yellow shrimp goby, 1 cleaner shrimp, 6 hermit crabs, and three snails... all my levels are fine, pH 8.2, nitrite 0, ammonia 0... salinity in the display tank is 1.024 in my 30g tank... so far the only one that does have it is my beauty and I don't understand how he got it... should I get a U.V sterilizer because I don't have one? <Not necessarily...> ...the others are not showing any of those symptoms yet, I hope never!.... I have put my beauty in a qt but what should I do with him? what and how do I feed him in the qt?...is he a goner?...how do I treat him?...if it wouldn't be to much too ask can you give me a step by step process on how to treat him if he is sick?   thank you so much <No, thank you. Please go to www.WetWebMedia.com and put the following terms in the Google search tool: Ich, Quarantine, Ultraviolet Sterilizer... and read on! Bob Fenner>

Re: Nitrates and Ich... learning to use WWM Thank you very much for your response to my last question I really appreciate your site.  I have a few more questions to ask if you don't mind, about nitrates, ich and pH. I know bacteria breaks down ammonia into nitrite and then another type of bacteria will turn the nitrite into nitrate.  My question is what to do about the nitrate.  I know that you do water changes to take the nitrates out of your tank but is there another way to control nitrate levels. <All sorts... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and see the links above... in blue? Read them> The reason I'm asking is because my tank got a little thrown out of balance.  37 Gal Ammonia .03 Nitrate: 60 pH: 7.7(I know this is really bad) temp: 79F 1 blue damsel, 1 coral beauty, and 1 sand sifting sea star (I know).  The tank has a 4 inch sand bed and 4 lb of live rock.  I just recently added some live sand to the aquarium (25 lb) to bring the sand depth up for my sand sifting sea star.  Before I did this the readings on my tank were fairly normal. <Likely a bunch of the life in the LS croaked, decomposed, lowering your pH> .01 ammonia, Nitrate: 10 ph: 8.1. My question is basically how the pH could get so messed up like that in a matter of 3 days. <Easy to do...> I decided to do a 10% water change and added a little baking soda mixed with water to raise the pH. <Good moves>   The other question I have is about ich.  My blue damsel has been acting a little weird lately.  He has been rubbing himself up against the heater, the glass, and the live rock in my tank.  I checked him out and there are not visible spots on him.  He has approached my cleaner shrimp a few times and allowed the shrimp to clean his mouth.  I've been told by my pet store that this could be Ich but wonder if he is acting weird because of the pH. <Possibly. Good speculation>   I was also told to treat it I should not feed my fish for 3 days so that there energy is spent on fighting the infection rather than digestion. <Interesting>   Personally I'm a little suspicious since energy kind of comes from food and the fish need energy to fight the infection.  Also I was told that I don't necessarily need medication to treat the ich and that I should be able to run its course naturally.  Also where does Ich even come from? <Please read here..... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm and the links... Chris, learn to help yourself... WWM, the Google search tool, the indices... Bob Fenner> Christopher Swanson

Singin' the Cyano, Again Hi I have a question.  I'm very new to this. I have a 33 gallon salt water fish tank.  At the moment I have two shrimp and a brittle star fish.  It seems I'm always cleaning my tank.  I have this red stuff growing on the gravel and on the sides of the walls it's everywhere I've been told its algae. But is it good or bad? <N/either.... it's BGA/Cyanobacteria... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm  and the links... in blue, above> Someone told me I could leave it on the back walls and it will grow and look nice, is that true? I've also been told to clean it all.  If I don't it will come back faster the next time, is that true? I want my tank to look nice and real right now I have fake plants in there and I have two white fluorescent bulbs. Please can you help me? I've looked everywhere and cant find any information. Thank you, Courtney <In the process of study, you will come to understand the root causes of these outbreaks, their control. Bob Fenner> 

Marine operation I have a 265gal (84Lx24Wx30H) tank that's a few months old now, and after reading site, and researching further into the hobby, I have many questions. I was hoping you could help me with a few for starters, I know I am close to or past having a "full" tank here is a list of my current inhabitants number type size (") 1 yellow tang       4 1 sailfin tang 5 1 Naso tang       5 1 Koran angel       4 10 clown        1.5 2 blue fin damsel 1.5 1 blue damsel       2 4 yellow tail dams 1.5 1 domino damsel 1 1 watchman goby 3 1 dragon goby   3 2 scooter blenny 1.5 1 lawnmower blenny 4 1 four-stripe dams 1 1 pseudo Chromis 3 1 pink and green cucumber 5 1 banded coral shrimp 2 sally lightfoot crab 3 emerald crab 2 peppermint shrimp 3 camel shrimp 30 asst snails 2 sand-sifting starfish 10 hermit crabs 1 cleaner shrimp everything in the tank is very peaceful and do not have many problems with aggression (other than a few damsels that I returned to the LFS) <You must be very good with nets!> I have a large wet-dry with a built in skimmer running a 1200gph return pump as well as a large powerhead (800gph) for extra water circulation the lighting is orbit 72" compact fluorescent with 4 96 watt daylight bulbs, and 2 96watt actinic (also has small LED's for moonlight) my sand bed is about 200 lbs of fine live sand I currently only have about 50lbs of live rock, but I plan on adding more, in small intervals how many things have I done wrong so far? <None that I can see> things on the to-do book are to add a refugium, and a hospital tank. I am planning on using a 20 or 30 gallon for either possibly a 10 (depending on space under the stand) is there any way I can run these as separate sumps (so I would basically have 3 sumps, or should I try to put them in line with the main sump? <Do maximize the volumes... and yes, can be, should be run separately> I know I need to be able to separate the hospital tank under bad circumstances, but when not in use I would like the water volume in the hospital to be used as extra capacity for the main tank, to increase my water volume. <Just a matter of extra valves, plumbing>   right now my sump holds about 15 gallons of water putting me around 280 total, I would like to be 310-330 total.  only problem is I cant figure out how to rig the plumbing. <... this is a very small sump for the size of your main tank... what happens if/when the pump from it stops? Plumbing, you can study, have others look over, send to us for our input> second question, I have small particles floating in the water and was wondering if I should try to run a second filter to aid in polishing the water. <Maybe... worth the cost, hassle to service a physical/mechanical filter? Perhaps the added refugium, time will negate such a need> third item I have been doing about a 30 gallon water change every 2 or 3 weeks, all water tests look good so far. I know this isn't the optimum 5% twice a week, but I don't believe I could afford my water bill with that many changes.... <Water is cheap... think about your overall investment, maintenance... even just electrical consumption... maybe don't think about this last> is my current change enough? or should I bring well water over from my parents house to increase my water changes? <Mmm, you're joshing right? I would change more water likely... but the grand arbiter is yourself, your observation of your livestock... in big systems, many folks get away with very little fooling with water quality, changes> I have been running a salt tank for close to 2 years now, but it was a 30 gal, which was in need of constant water attention to keep everything happy, so I decided to upgrade.  I just want to make sure I am doing everything right, as now I have much more of an investment at stake. <Seems fine> I am pretty sure I have gotten ahead of myself in more ways than one, but I was hoping to get put back on the right track with some good advice. Thanks for the help Daniel <Keep on... keeping on. Bob Fenner>  

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