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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance/Operation 13

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

Related FAQs: Marine Aquarium Maintenance 1, Mar. Aq. Maint. FAQs 2Maint. FAQs 3Maint. FAQs 4Maint. FAQs 5, Maint. FAQs 6, Maint. FAQs 7, Maint. FAQs 8, Maint. 9, Maint 10, Maint. 11, Maint. 12, Maint. 14Reef Maintenance 1

Misc. marine mis-mix mistakes and learning to use WWM   3/23/06 Hello. my name is chris. <Chris, your name's a proper noun... capitalized> I have just recently started a marine tank with l.r. Intensions on being a reef system in the future. My system is about 3 months old, general parameters are at acceptable levels. Haven't gotten all test kits needed yet, but all is well so far. I have a 20 gallon tank with one clarkii,1 Domino damsel, <Not a suitable choice in this size system...> psychedelic mandarin, <Ditto, for different reasons... See WWM re these> Coral Bandit shrimp. I do have plans on doubling tank size in near future.  I have two questions.    First, I just started adding some additives, Purple up and marine buffer. I figure the marine buffer is used in some shape by most. But my question is with the purple up and other products the same. Is it harmful to any specific species, and is it close to the same thing a Kalkwasser? <Mmm, read the label/s... not the same, but there is "cross over" in alkalinity use> Do you recommend using. if not any suggestions on additives and essentials would greatly be appreciated. <Posted on WWM...> I also wondered about breeding my clown fish. Should I Buy a couple more and hope they mate? <No, not here, now> Or do you recommend buying "mated Pairs"? <Best to "grow your own", unless a rare, unavailable as tank bred species is what you're hoping for> I've researched  site, and I must say Excellent work!  It seems there is so much info out there it's hard to know what is accurate. I do understand basics of most aspects of tank health, and breeding but just wanted to communicate with someone other than my local guy. One last question, I've been noticing these green little bubble like structures growing on my LR.   I can't seem to find any info on what they could be. <Algae of a few types> My snails keep them nice and clean but nothing seems to eat them. any info would be great. I realize I've asked a lot of questions, I've also spent a lot of time researching as well. Thank you for your time  Again, great website <Learn to/use it. Your answers are posted there. Bob Fenner> SW Algae Control, and a Cramped Gramma - 3/21/2006 Hi Crew, <<Good Afternoon.>> I just moved my 10 gallon inhabitants to a new 10 gallon which was cycled, and has live sand and rocks. I tried to take as little as possible form the old tank since it had some algae that were just impossible to remove. <<If you do not find and solve the reason behind this unwanted algae, it will re-grow in the new tank.>> So I scraped my mushrooms off their rocks and moved them to the new tank. The two candy canes went in as is, including some stubborn grass-like growths. My old tank had a 96watt 50/50 light which in response to my last email I was told it was too much. The new tank has a standard cover with an 18 watt bulb. <<I'm not sure why you did not just switch the light on the original tank, as opposed to having to scrape mushrooms and corals from rocks.  Was it suggested, for some reason, that you should do so?>> The mushrooms seem to like the new set up. They are all open wider than before. The only thing that seems to be suffering is the grass-like algae on the candy cane. I am hoping that the algae are missing the intense light and will continue to diminish. <<Likely.>> I am not sure what affect it is having on my snails. <<?>> Someone recently asked about a hiding Gramma. Each fish has its own personality and it depends on what other fish he has to contend with. In my case, he was up against a goby and cardinal so he is boss. But even so, he will rarely attempt to get food from the top and if my hand is in the tank he is gone where the goby and cardinal just move away. When I put him in the new tank he dashed to the closest hole which was vertical and he stayed head down like that for about 12 hours. <<Is this Gramma in the 10-gallon? If so, it is severely cramped.  You will want to look into purchasing a larger tank for this fish.  Lisa.>>

Red Film/Cyano   3/18/06 I have a 55G tank with a few corals and 3 fish. The tank has been cycled and running pretty well for 2 months with zero ammonia, zero nitrite, and low nitrate. I have a 10G refugium with a AquaC skimmer. About a week ago, the weather here spiked up and the tank went from 80 degrees to 82.5 degrees in about a day. After that 2 things started showing up in my tank. One is a white worm like thing that seems to stick to the glass and the other is red/maroon colored film that shows up on the sand. Two corals turned white soon after and died and I promptly discarded them but the white string like things and red film remain and I've done water changes and cleaned up the skimmer but can't seem to get rid of them or slow down their proliferation. Any help you can provide in identifying them and helping me get rid of them? I've attached photos.  <Not unusual for this to occur in newly set up systems.   Read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm>   Thanks.  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>


Serpent Star Question... mar. maint.    3/17/06 You guys have already helped me so much that I hate to impose more questions on you. I've done my best to research but have had problems finding the answer. So, here goes. I have 2 tank bred clowns, a Royal Gramma, 4 blue legged hermit crabs and a Ophiolepsis superba serpent star purchased here:   http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?pCatId=735 My stats are: 55 gallon tank Fluval 404 with only carbon About 2" of live sand AquaC Remora Pro with Mag Drive 3, 350 gph Maxijet 900 Powerhead Maxijet 1200 Powerhead 70 lbs. Fiji Live Rock Salinity 1.023 Ammonia: 0 Nitrites: 0 Nitrates: 40 Temp: 80 I'm in the process of correcting my feeding policies, having overfed for a while, ending up with a few shrimp leftovers on the sandbed each time. My serpent star isn't going after the leftovers so I've been feeding him freeze dried krill once a day.  Are there any snails I can add or crabs that would help with the detritus without being eaten by the Star? <Some snails might...> I'm trying to lower the nitrates so that the star becomes more active, but I don't want him eating the fish. Any ideas on ways of keeping him content? <Posted... on WWM> I'm also getting a lot of brown algae. Its not coming in sheets, so I'm assuming its some kind of single cell. Its covering my heater and pumps, so I'm not sure how to correct it, should I just wipe it off? <Mmm... I would be reading on WWM re Algae Control... perhaps a diatom phase here, but likely with a BGA component... nutrient availability, dearth of competition, predators... Many "roads" for you to consider in directing. Bob Fenner> Thanks for all your help, Best Regards, Ken

Clownfish Help... Perculosis? What a hoot mon  - 03/11/2006 Hi, my name is Laura and I started a fish only saltwater tank about 7 weeks ago. I let the tank cycle for a month with damsels and took them out when I was ready to get other fish, as I was told by my fish consultant. I started out with a royal Gramma, a coral beauty angel, who are doing great, and two percula clownfish. After two days, one clownfish died. I went to my fish consultant and from the way I described how the one clown looked before he died, he said it was probably perculosis. <Heeee! Sorry... this is a new one to me> I was going to wait and see how my other clown was for a while, and he looked perfectly fine, but he was kind of acting weird. At first he would hang out at the top a lot, then he would be fine. Then he would be at the bottom a while, then he would be fine. <Pretty typical behavior...> About 5 days later, I decided to get another clown to see if anything changed. He seems a lot better to be with a partner. Then, a few days later, I got a Heniochus Butterfly. <How large is this system? You're not quarantining new livestock...> The day I brought him home, I noticed a white string-like thing hanging off of both the clowns (underneath their bottom fins). I looked on the web and thought it could be a parasite, so I put a few capfuls of a Perma-Guard substance I have. <...? In the main tank?> I need to wait and see what happens, but I am still worried. Do you have any advice? Thanks Laura <Yes... study... don't rely on a consultant to make known what needs to be... You will not enjoy or have success this haphazard way. See WWM re Livestock Selection, Quarantine... and the needs of the animals you have, intend... Before their acquisition. Perhaps the reading of a good, general marine aquarium tome would give/grant you a good all-round understanding here. Bob Fenner>

New Tank/New Marine Aquarist - 03/05/06 You guys and gals are the best. <<Thank you>> I accidentally found your site 3 months ago and I think I know enough to give marine aquatics a shot. <<I see>> I read at least every question ever asked twice.  Bought the equipment and cycling the way suggested.  Now it is my turn to ask a question. <<Ok>> I have a 46 gallon tank with 45 pounds of live rock. <<Hope you left room for the fish/coral...>> All the proper equipment and substrate. <<Proper for what?>> The tank is in its third week of cycling (fishless of course), thanks to you guys. <<Ah yes...thank you for this.>> My stock list is this: 1- Royal Gramma, 1- Spotted Cardinal Fish, 1- Ocellaris Clown, 1-Yellowtail Damsel and 1- Mandarin in about a year. <<This tank is probably too small to support a mandarin, even then.>> One fish each month added to the tank after a 3-4 week quarantine. <<Excellent>> Does that look like a compatible list and the proper order of introducing the fish? <<It does, yes.>> I lied, I have another question.  Does the clown fish need an anemone to be happy? <<Nope...and I suggest you not even try keeping one until you have more experience/have done much more research.>> Thank you so much for the time and effort helping me out.   Mike   <<Is my pleasure to assist.  Regards, EricR>>

Privilege and Disgrace ... mar. lack of maint.   3/4/06 My cousin has been a reef enthusiast (as have I) for a little over a year. He keeps a 30 gallon FOWLR in his mother's house. Although i thought he was moving too fast with the aquarium (in terms of livestock) it was quite gorgeous and his maintained it well. It houses a pair of clownfish and a blenny of some sort. He has had a falling-through with his mother and hasn't been to her house in the past one and half weeks, so the aquarium has not been tended to. I'm not sure how long it has been since he has taken care of it. In essence, over 1/3 of the water is gone and the aquarium looks filthy. My aunt called me over, I had no idea the extent of the damage until now. It is an emergency so I cant be specific exactly but his corals look muddy and dead, even bleached. He has very little in terms of supplies and there is no way I can afford new equipment or even salt or even distilled water! (His two power heads are dead, lucky I found a spare) I added some water to the tank to try to balance out the salinity as well as cleaning the filter to allow more water flow and refixed the powerhead. <Slowly...> It was all I could do tonight. I am thinking that the best thing would to be to clean and disinfect the equipment, send any of the fish to the pet store for the time being and start anew, placing the live rock in a bare aquarium with filter, powerheads and fresh water. <Agreed> Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated, sincerely, domino damsel in distress <Ask your store/s for bags, to help house the livestock for now. Bob Fenner>

Hi alk and hi calcium   3/4/06 A chemical mess Hi- <High> I have a 109 gallon reef tank with many mushrooms, SPS corrals, <Yee hah! Head 'em up little doggies!> two clowns, two wrasses, a large anemone and lots of reef janitors. <Union or no?> It is an established tank (over 2 years).  Everything is doing fine, but I notice limited growth in coralline and all corals. I had a smaller tank previously with no substrate and always had issues maintaining alk, ph and calcium levels but had extensive coralline and coral growth so I talked with many experienced aquarists and they recommended a plenum system for my new tank in order to help maintain ionic balance. <... Mmm, better to go with no substrate rather...> Since I had the plenum all tests have been relatively normal as you will see below except my alk is always hi at 18dkh plus and the calcium is always around 480-500.   <... define normal> I read all of your articles and summarized that not too many aquarists have this issue and have not had the "snowfall" issue that some others had.  Here are my readings. 18 dKH, calcium 500ppm, phosphates have always been hi-over 5mg/l, salinity at 1.021, <... should be near/er 1.025> Ph is 8.4 during day and 8.3 at night, ammonia and nitrite are zero, non chelated iron is zero, chelated is also around zero but I have been adding iron weekly so I am thinking my test kit is too old. Nitrate is around 40ppm <Way too high> and the r/o water is at 10ppm <Your unit needs maintenance, cartridge replacement> (but I use Seachem Prime to detoxify).  All of my other test kits are new (Salifert test kits for alk, ph and calcium) I noticed that since the alk and calcium were hi the amount of skimming debris has been reduced.   <Ahh! Yes> I use a Rena Filstar Xp3 canister filter, a sand bed filter hang on filter, 2x250 metal halide lights with two Marine-Glo actinics, an Aquarium systems hang on protein skimmer and two powerheads on a aquarium systems wave timer.  I use a five stage r/o system and the water alk level tested from it is 2.6dkh <What should this be?> with a ph of 7.0. I have little algae growth (coralline or green/red) and the only additives I have been using to try and increase coralline algae growth is Purple Up from CaribSea and Kent Marine Iron/Manganese. Other additives are Seachem Prime (only with water changes), Red sea Salt (again only with water changes) and Wardley's sodium biphosphate <... not a good idea... among other things, a source of your phosphate...> to lower ph/alk.  The hi calcium levels spike when I use Purple Up but otherwise maintain at 500ppm. I perform a 5 gallon water change every 3-4 weeks and change filter media every 2 months. With my old system (without plenum) I would have to change 20-25% water every week and dose heavily with calcium and buffers to keep my ph, alk and calcium normal.  I have been told by other aquarists to not change the water as frequently and this will lower my alk/calcium levels, but this is not the case-I actually find my ph and alk with rise while calcium stays the same. The only answers I can think of is either my liverock, base rock (I have over 200lbs) or the substrate of over 2" thick of crushed coral maybe producing the hi levels of alk and calcium and therefore may have to be reduced or start with more water changes and or adding Wardley's sodium biphosphate.  In the past I tried this but had only a temporary reduction in alk.  What about using acid or vinegar?  What are the dangers of this? Does coralline algae grow better in lower alkalinity tanks? I was hoping there would be a safe additive that I could use-can you help? thanks in advance, Al Standaert <Where to start here? You have a sort of "Dead Sea" effect going with the mix of chemical species present... If this were our only correspondence, I'd encourage you to re-read what books you have, worthwhile (accurate, significant, meaningful) parts of the Net... on marine water chemistry en toto... You can/could do a few things... but don't know you well enough to gauge whether you have the wherewithal to look into (sufficiently), stick with a given plan... I'll grant you a clue though: Simply adding more of anything won't help you here. What do you want to do... change out the substrate (entirely or almost), large consecutive water changes to get you (back) to somewhere you can grow corallines? Read and think this over... Bob Fenner> Suspended red algae ... numerous iatrogenic problems, SW   3/3/06 Dear WWM, <I, not "i"> recently treated my 55 Gal tank for ick <... not your main tank? No...> and then treated the  tank with Maracyn TC for secondary infections. the result was a full bloom of  red suspended (algae?) <Likely... a BGA> i have done two 15 Gal. water changes in the last five  days.  it has been reduced from a dark (blood) red to a purplish  pink. i lost three clowns a powder blue tang <Inappropriate for this size system> a goby and four damsels in the  process.  I'm left with a lonely yellow tang an empty pocket book and  a heavy heart.  i have a Skilter 400 filter <Insufficient...> and a Coralife full  spectrum light 30lbs of live rock and live sand and started the tank with  Bio nitrites Jan 1.  this is my first marine tank and my kids think I'm a  failure. can you help me?   <You can definitely help yourself...> the red algae is not like anything i have seen  online.    yours truly, "red in the face" <Put some time aside, read on WWM re Marine Set-up, Maintenance, Stocking... you've made a few grievous, avoidable errors... educate yourself. Bob Fenner> Tang... trade-in, mar. maint. - 03/02/2006 Ok. I am going take action. Do you guys know anyone who would take the Tang? I have to call my LFS and see if they'll take it back. <Either there or local club members who may be interested.> Maybe they'll give me 1/2 credit for the hippo. I will start the 5 gal water changes every week. I'm also going to get a cpr500 wet/ dry in April. <Do read up on wet/dry filters and nitrates.> I am adding another 5 pounds of LR. this Friday. That would make it about 26 lbs. total. Just one more thing and I'll stop bothering you guys. <No bother.> Would that organic waste build up really cause an ammonia spike? <Yes. When your system failed, things would've piled up quickly in this small tank.> I had everything I have now for about a month already and ammonia and nitrate were both 0. <I thought you had high nitrates (nitrite maybe?). This system isn't only about a month old is it? Sorry, can't remember.> This spike happened after my filter broke - maybe I lost some bacteria since I threw out the media. <Not too much. Probably uneaten food/waste not being removed here.> Anyhow, I will dose w/ AmQuel and do water changes temporarily until I can get to the LFS, get rid of the Tang, and get some bacteria and more LR. <Be sure not to just toss the LR in. Cure it first.> Will more LR help along w/ the departure of the Tang? <Yes.> Thanks 1,000,000,00 times again!! <You're welcome John. - Josh> Mar. maint. - 03/02/2006 How's it going Josh? <It's going.> I've been quite busy and meant to ask you a question regarding the, " little white snails w/ a cone shape?". I found numerous small snails within the skimmer, and have found the same in the bottom of my skimmer cup from time to time. I'm not sure what they are, but they do sound similar to what you described. These guys are all quite small. In fact I've not found one larger than a grain of rice and most much smaller. They have a hard cone shaped shell and are round to slightly oblong in shape. They are extremely small and almost feel like barnacles when I removed them from my skimmer & cup. <Are these attached (have to be scraped off)? Likely spirorbids.>   Do these sound like the snails you are referring to? And if so, Why the beware? I checked out the WWM site page on snails, and found several pictures and a description of a snail which could be it, but due to the size of the ones I've found, Can't be sure that they are the same. The thing I've noticed about the snails in my skimmer/cup, is the shells appear to have a circular ridge pattern on them wide at the bottom of the cone and smaller as they make their way up to the cones tip. Sound familiar? <Can't say really, hard to picture.> Any input on these snails would be greatly appreciated! <The ones I was thinking of are predatory. Not really a big problem now, but a nightmare if you ever decide to try a clam.> One other quick question. I have been looking at fish lately and would like to add one or perhaps two, but I'm concerned about my tank size. Having only a 50g, I'm somewhat limited. I should have gotten a 75-90g). <Then you'll wish you got the 125...> I was considering either a Flame angel or a Splendid Pseudochromis, or both? Which is the hardier of the two? <I've heard that the Flame Angels are becoming less hardy of late, so I'd go with the Dottyback.> And would they be compatible tank mates? (Keep in mind I've got a six-line wrasse). <Sorry, but can't recall all of your tank mates. Some simple research should answer your question though.> Hope all's well Josh!    Trever <Well enough thanks. - Josh> Why do we make it so difficult? Musing on SW aquarium keeping, human nature - 02/27/06 I'll keep this short, but would love to get involved. I had my first aquarium in 1965, almost never been without one since. Did saltwater for about three years when I was in the Philippines, but went back fresh when I came home. Raised (and sold) several hundred freshwater angels, demonstrated to my knowledge the first ever use of a tool by a fish; Female angle fish would grab mouthfuls of Riccia (floating freshwater plant)  and use it to clean the spawning slate; <Neat> got so good at plants that I was selling Amazon swords the size of dinner plates for big bucks. Got out of freshwater primarily due to a divorce ( it may have been the 30th tank, or maybe 31st, I'm not sure) When I got established again, I got back into diving, and discovered all the stuff you could just pick up in the waters off the Florida keys. It was still legal then, (1985) and after a few trials and errors, I discovered how to bring back stuff alive. (It helped that I had access to medical O2 ) For the last 20 some years I have kept a variety and constantly changing quantity of what I called "Reef Tanks" even before it was a popular phrase. I digress, again I would love to enter into a dialogue, but my purpose in this missive is twofold, first; YOU GOT ONE HELL OF A WEBSITE! , Second, I love your patience with the newbies, and I probably was first induced to stick around and read more when I read for the 2d or 3d time some variation of "This is what I would do, but; there are other opinions, so do your homework and make your own decision." <Only honest...> My bottom line is the 3 things that bother me most about this hobby. All three are applicable to both fresh and saltwater. 1. Fish diseases do not (with rare exception) just jump into your tank out of nowhere. Fish get sick because they are stressed, in almost all cases the pathogens are already present in the water, but the fish, if healthy, can and do resist these pathogens.  In my 40 some years of diving the world's reefs, I've never seen a sick fish, unless it was hanging out of a barracuda's mouth! If you keep your tank healthy you keep your fish healthy. You can't medicate a single fish in a communal system, so you either have to fish him out (pun intended) or medicate the whole tank. Unfortunately I have too often heard that exact thing offered. "Here ya go, just dump this into the tank and it will take care of everything."! 2. All things being equal, if you set your system up with any kind of attention to detail at all, and sort of pay attention to the rules of tank set-up and break-in, as far as I'm concerned, the only test kit you need is for the Nitrogen family, and you only need that to get started, and to monitor additions of livestock to your tank. I recognize that if you are going to get into specialized and hard to keep stuff, you may need to get more scientific in your monitoring, but do you want to do marine biology research, or create a nice show tank that keeps everyone happy? 3. A saltwater system takes months if not years to cycle and mature. I get such a kick ( or not) out of reading the same sad story over and over again regarding, green algae, blue algae, red algae, diatoms, etc. The problem is, (and you may have noticed that this is all going to the same place) that your LFS and their poor pimple-faced employees, are going to push you toward, and try to sell you this cure, or that cure, most of which only make the situation worse. Are we in this hobby (I prefer to call it a passion) to keep the pet supply business, in business, or are we in this hobby because of our love of and for the creatures that are for a short while entrusted to our care? Wes Newport Sr <Do agree with your points. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Bob Fenner>

I thank you, more importantly my fish thank you ... mar. maint.   2/22/06 Hi WWM crew! <Hello> I happened to stumble across your site about 6 weeks ago and all I can say is wow! Thank you so much for giving us access to your (all of you) wealth of knowledge. <You're welcome.> I have a 29g setup that's been going for about 2.5 years , and yes it's had its problems. After the tank cycled all readings where good. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, and PH 8.0 - 8.2. But I have always had a huge problem with Nitrates being 100+. After spending hours on your site and discovering LR I have added about 15 pounds of it over the last 5 weeks (bought it and cured it in a ten gallon qt tank for 2 weeks then added 5 pounds per week). I have also cut down the feedings to 1/3 cube of brine shrimp. Both those things helped SO much, my trates are down to 20 and are still falling (20% weekly water changes over the last 3 weeks as well). I usually do a 10% weekly change. Going to be adding more LR as money permits. <Do consider purchasing a good protein skimmer to further improve water quality.> My livestock consist of: 1 Four Striped Damsel 1 Yellow Tail Damsel 1 Royal Gramma 3 Turbo Snails 3 Blue Legged Hermits I do have two questions for you guys. Can I add another fish? <You are pretty much at your limit.  Can add more inverts for color though.> If so, what would recommend? I have the blues, white/black, and yellow/purples covered as far as colors. Regarding my filtration. I currently use a UG filter <Yuk> topped with about 3.5-4 inches of crushed coral with two powerheads (can't remember the brand but they say 660 on them) and an Emperor 440 Biowheel. I know the UG filter is not the best thing, but it's too late now and I don't have the finances to change it. I am saving for a skimmer (Remora C per your suggestions) and when I eventually get it can I stop using the UG filter but leave it in place and just keep the powerheads for water flow? <Yes, but do not leave them connected to the lift tubes.> I really don't want to take everything apart to remove the plates. <You really need to vacuum the substrate when you perform water changes or hydrogen sulphide gas will start emitting from the substrate causing big problems.> Can I also get rid of the Biowheel and just rely on the skimmer and LR for filtration? <Yes, once you have about 30-40 pounds of it.> I'd also like to change out the CC for a finer sand bed but one thing at a time huh :) <Don't think I'd do that with a UG present.  Sand will eventually trickle into the plates.  When you discontinue use of the UG it will/should act as a plenum.> Thanks again for all your hard work, it's very much appreciated. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Best Regards, Jason

SW algae control reading list  - 2/21/2006 Hi! I'm not sure if these question has been asked or not. Sorry if they have been...  checked your site but... I kinda new Anyways, I have a 46 gallon bowfront tank with moderately fine coral rubble substrate that is around 2 inches deep. I'm trying to find some kind of invertebrate or fish that'll clean the substrate, but all these "sifter" species seem to be for sand only. An example is the diamond watchman goby, for whom I have a strange affinity for. Also, the sand sifting star looked perfect... but then I read your site, and read about how they all go crazy and die within a year or so... and suddenly they did not seem so perfect anymore. I currently have around fifteen (cerith?) snails, a few margaritas, around a dozen red reef hermit crabs, a couple Trochus snails, and about six Nassarius snails... but the substrate is never even close to clean. I think I have a rogue pistol shrimp... but I never see him, I can only hear him at night (*click* click*). Should I mix in some sandy substrate for a sand sifter of some sort, or can you recommend something else? What sand sifting/aerating species do you recommend? Thanks a million, Norris, OR <... take a read through the "Marine Algae Control" articles, FAQs files... there are a few approaches to controlling, delimiting algae in a small system as yours... review your options and try a few. Bob Fenner>

Chromis, cardinal, English, understanding disease    2/17/06 Hello, <Hi there>          I have a 70 gallon saltwater reef setup. ammonia and nitrites are 0. ph is 8.2, and nitrates are low. <How low can you go?> Various Cardinals, Firefish, Yellow Tang, shrimp and crabs. I had 4 Green Chromis in that tank for over 6 months. What happened to each of them is odd, and I can't figure it out. One by one, they all eventually showed the same symptoms.. They are as follows: first shyness/skittishness, then reluctance to eat, and then don't eat at all. After that they either hide allot <Perhaps it was their allotted time?> until they die, or start swimming in circles. No apparent disease on them at all.... The other problem I have is a Cardinalfish that has injured its mouth, and now wont feed. <Perhaps it's wont to feed?> I moved him to a quarantine tank so it doesn't get harassed and has to compete for food... Any advice on these issues? Thanks in advance, Nick <Maybe you should read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Rust or something    2/17/06 I need help. I have a 55 gal tank I just put together. You can see some  stuff <Stuff?> but it has like a brown fog to it. Is there a chemical I can use?  Please  help. <Based on your vague description I'll bet it's probably a diatom outbreak, common in new setups.  Should pass with time. Wouldn't treat with chemicals.  James (Salty Dog)>   250 Gallon Marine System  - 02/16/2006 Dear Bob Fenner, <Christopher> Recently I have been having major problems with my tank. Well I at least think they are major. I have referenced your site a billion of times <More than me!> I love it for it provides me so much information. However, I still cant seem to fix the problem that I'm having. It seems like every week that I test my water I'm experiencing poor water conditions ( high ammonia 0.4ppm and high nitrite 0.3ppm according to the Fast Test Kits made by Instant Ocean). I feed my fish every other day and I do about 25 gallons water changes every two weeks on my 250 gallon tank. I rinse my sponges weekly. <... you might want to get rid of these> I guess its time to explain what exactly makes up my set up... 1. 250 gallon tank 8x2x2. 2. Built in overflows 3. 2200 gallons/hr of water return. ( 1 Sen 900 and a Mag 1200) <You need more pumping than these provide... actually likely less than half the rated flow...> Water drains approximately 2100 gallons a hr <And better/more drainage...> 4. A Berlin classic with a mag 950 <And a better skimmer...> 5. 25 watt UV 6. Phosphate Reactor 7. 3x2x 10 inch high refugium newly set up about a week ago. <Oh, this will help> 8. Three 175 watt metal halides 9. A Seio 1100 circulation pump in tank. 10. Roughly 200 pounds live rock 11. 40 gallon sump with a wetdry <Sans media?> 12. 2 inch thick sand bed I think that's everything! Now to the fish 1. 12'' Volitans Lionfish 2. 11'' Spotted Grouper 3. 8" Banana Wrasse 4. 10" Naso Tang with Streamers 5. 7" Orange Roughy 6. 20" Coral Cat Shark ( 3 months old and feeds like a champ) 7. 300 Nassarius Vibrex Snails. 8. 5 Sea Cucumbers 9. Huge amount of Keamorf <New spelling... at least to me... you?> algae in sump...( the kind that just floats and doesn't root) Type of macro algae. Supplements that I add to tank weekly 1. Kent Zoe vitamin supplement 2. Kent Garlic to tank <Cut this...> 3. Sea Buffer if need be. 4. Lugol's Iodine if need be 5. Strontium if needed 6. Magnesium if needed. 7. Calcium and Alkalinity if needed Keep in mind I only add one thing in a given day if needed Water that I use is R.O. water Food that I feed fish 1. Krill ( I rinsed this well prior to putting it in tank) 2. Unprocessed Squid. ( I gut the squid and rinse it prior to feeding it to my fish) I feed just the meaty parts. No ink sacs or tentacles 3. Algae Strips for my Naso. How I have been performing my water changes I add 6 gallons of water to sump and then I proceed to stick siphon into sand. I allow the debris to get shaken up and then I pinch the siphon tube to allow the sand to go back to the bed and I then I open the siphon tube to allow waste to be sucked into the bucket. I repeat this process until I do roughly a 20 gallon water change every two weeks. <This all sounds good... but would do every week> Lighting I leave the lights 8 hrs on main tank and 12 hrs on my refugium. Last night I tested water and the Ammonia read 0.4 ppm and the Nitrite read about 0.3ppm.. I have had trouble with saltwater tanks ever since I got into them and that's been for about 15yrs. I just want a stable tank. However I like big fish.  I have a major hair algae problem which hopefully will start to go away once the refugium gets up to speed. <Likely will> My lion recently I noticed its got some white dots on eyes and a little bit on tail. I have been feeding him medicated food with Furan 2. What is that on the fish? <Environmental stress....> He eats like a pig and doesn't scratch or look stressed out. Fins look good too.  I was thinking of getting rid of my grouper, roughy and banana wrasse this weekend. Ill bring it back to where I bought them get rip off on store credit and then come back three days later and watch the asshole sell the fish for double the price that they gave to me for credit. Doesn't that suck? <There are worse consequences> Bob please help  I am getting very frustrated with this hobby. What should my plan of action be to help achieve good water chemistry? <... a few things... some of which you've done (the fuge)... but you need more circulation, to modify the wet-dry...> Is getting rid of those three fish that I mentioned ( the grouper, roughy and banana) going to make the difference and get me the water chemistry that I need? If I keep just the lion and shark and Naso and feed the shark and the lion twice to three times a week and feed the Naso every other day will this help keep my water in check? PLEASE HELP ME BEFORE ITS TOO LATE...IM LOST AND CONFUSED!!!!!! Sincerely, Christopher Faiola <More reading, less fretting Chris. See WWM re Marine Filtration, Maintenance... your answers will be revealed to yourself there. Bob Fenner> New Marine Aquarist - 02/14/06 Hello WWM, <<Hello Steve>> I have been keeping freshwater fish for about 13 years on and off.  For the last 8 years I have kept planted tanks and have breed many Lake Tanganyika cichlids. <<Cool!>> About 2 months ago I dove into a Marine setup. <<Welcome to marines!>> I have been collecting parts and trying to read up on it. <<Wise>> This is what I have so far.  It's an acrylic 44.5 gallon tank.  It's about 2.5 ft tall, 9 inches wide, and 3 ft in length. <<Yikes...9" wide...you're gonna wish it were wider my friend.>> Yeah the tank is quite tall. <<Less problematic than the width...aquascaping will be a challenge.>> I have three 65 watts PC on the tank.  One 50/50, one 10K, and one blue actinic. <<Mmm, depending on what you plan to keep, likely not enough wattage/punch for a tank this deep.>> The tank has been cycling for about 3.5 weeks now.  I started the tank with live sand and live rocks. <<Sounds fine.>> Probably about 30 lbs of live rock.  In the tank itself I have 6 damsels to help cycle the tank. <<Ugh...don't like to see this.  Better, more humane ways to cycle a tank (the live rock would have done this on its own).>> They are of different variety, 1 blue, 1 yellow tail, 1 yellow belly, 1 velvet, and two which I'm not sure of, but they are white with 4 black vertical strips. <<And the will all be terrors in a tank this small...the last two more than the others.  I really do recommend you consider taking the damsels back to the store.>> When the tank is ready, I will move the damsels out (probably back to the LFS) <<Ah, good!>> and replace them with 2 clowns, 1 hippo tang, some live coral, and some cleaner shrimp. <<Please reconsider the Hippo Tang...this fish is inappropriate for this tank.>> This week, I noticed that there is brown (algae I assume) on the sand and rocks that are exposed to the light. <<Yes, diatoms...part of the natural algae succession.>> I only keep the light on for about 5 to 6 hours a day, and then supplementing that with a moon light for another 5 hrs at night. <<The moon-light is for your enjoyment...really does nothing for the tank/inhabitants.  I would run the main lights 10-12 hours a day.>> I'm assuming that when I get a clean up crew in there, this will not be so unsightly, I hope. <<The sooner the better.>> The question that I really have is this.  I noticed that when the light is on, there are air bubbles forming on the live rocks and sand bed.  Similar to what you see in a planted fresh water tank, when the plants produce O2.  But the air bubbles are only present when the light is on.  I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not with a marine tank. <<Nothing to worry about, part of the nitrogen cycle.>> Also I have not yet performed any water changes....not sure when it would be good, since the tank is cycling. <<Test your water for ammonia/nitrite/nitrate, if these values are zero you can begin your water exchanges.>> I also will be adding a protein skimmer, but have not done so yet, as I'm yep you guessed it, waiting for the tank to cycle. <<Sooner is better than later, add the skimmer now.>> How do I know when the tank has cycled? <<When the previously mentioned readings are all zero.  Do have a read here and among the indices in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm >> I'm getting a bit anxious to add what I really want in there. <<As in many things, but especially marine systems, patience is a virtue/advantage.>> As for the PH it's around 8.3...not really sure because of the damn color code.  (I'm in the process of getting a digital one) <<good>> Sorry it's just that with fresh water fish I've learned that keeping a stable water parameters is more beneficial to the fish than trying to maintain it at a given level that is not normal for my water. <<The same logic applies here my friend.>> I live off of well water, so my water comes out of the tap around 7.7/7.8 which my Africans love.  Like I said easier to maintain that with weekly waters changes, than to try to but it up to 7.9 and then maintain it there.  One last question.  I was thinking of perhaps getting a purple lobster some blood red shrimp with the cleaner shrimp, but am not sure of the mix.  Will the lobster make a tasty and expense meal out of the shrimp? <<Likely, yes.>> Can I keep both blood red and cleaner shrimp together?  Can any of these shrimps be inter-mixed in a tank? <<Probably...with adequate rockwork in which to hide.>> Thanks, Steve Regards, Steve Ng <<Welcome, EricR >> New Marine Aquarist II - 02/15/06 Eric and the WWM crew, thanks so much for your advice. <<Welcome>> As for aquascaping....I have all of the live rock on the opposite side of the overflow, piled up in a sort of right triangle way all the way to the top of the tank.  This leaves half of the tank open for the fish to swim in.  I'm not sure if that is a good thing for Marine fish. <<Is fine.>> In my fresh water Tanganyika cichlid tanks I leave the middle of the tank open with piles of limestone on both sides to curb aggression, but with limited space, I decided to just pile it up on one side only.  Should the same be applied here? <<Possibly, but will depend on your tank inhabitants.  If aggression is/becomes a problem you 'may' be able to relieve this by creating habitat (territory) at opposite ends of the tank as you have learned with your cichlids.>> I'm only planning to have about 5 fishes in the tank.  2 clowns, maybe some blennies, a dwarf angel perhaps.  I've scrapped the idea of the Hippo Tang as per your advice below. <<Is really for the best my friend.>> Is there a tang that I can house in a tank this tall and narrow (30"x9"x36")? <<In my opinion, no.>> I'm also planning to add some coral, both soft and hard.  I need to read up on that to see which ones can be mixed together. <<Please do a Google search on our site re Reef Garden, Garden Reef, and Biotope to see what we/others have to say/recommend.>> I know that my son likes the feather dusters, so I will most likely add some of those....that is as soon as I find out their requirements. <<I'm very happy to hear you will be doing your research BEFORE you make your purchases.  Much frustration to be avoided/lives to be saved by this.>> Thanks once again Steve <<Regards, EricR>>

Green water problem   2/14/06 I have a 55 gallon marine tank with CPRs protein skimmer...With 25 lbs of live Fiji rock and some live sand.. It has been set up for a couple of months.. the water is stable with testing, but it is green in color?  Can u explain why not clear and causes of this or point me in the right direction to correct... Thanks Cary <Simple algae growth... can use chemical filtrants alone to remove most of this color... better/complete filtration methods in the longer/more steady haul. All covered on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Wet Web Media...Easier to use than a grammar check - 02/14/2006 How often after my 55 gal tank has cycled should I do water changes? <Uh...Have tried the search tool? What lives here?> Have an Eheim filter system and a skimmer I'm just not sure how often should change their water and how much thank you if you can help..... <I suppose I could throw you a bone here... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/faqstips.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm > I'm am planning to go from a 55 gal tank to a 125 gal tank do I have to change my filter system out as well as my skimmer? <Try those links...and the related links from there. - Josh> Tank advice  02-05-06 Hi guys, <Jason> I sent the e-mail below on Feb. 2 and hadn't gotten a reply yet.  It has since dawned on me your reply might have been only posted on the website rather than in addition to an e-mail back to me.  Is this the case? <Doubtful... we do "lose" a bunch of incoming evidently. Thanks for re-sending> This was the first time I have done this so I am unfamiliar with how it works.   If so, how can I find your reply?  I tried looking today under some of the FAQ's but there are so many of them I am not having much luck.  Thanks very much for your help, and sorry for being so naive about how this works! JT Previous message sent on 2/2/06: Hey guys, Thank you very much for this website.  I have returned to the hobby after about 10 years away and am amazed at how much things have changed.  I have thoroughly read the articles and FAQ's from other hobbyists looking for answers to my questions and generally have been successful.  Finally decided to break down and ask a few myself.  Tank has been up and running for a year and a half and set up is as follows: 120 gallon tall, 4x65w PC (Orbit), overflow box feeding a Pro Clear 150 wet/dry with built-in skimmer, Quiet One 4000 as a return, UV sterilizer, 3 powerheads in the tank for circulation. Livestock is 150 lbs live rock, 4 firefish, 2 percula clowns, 1 lawnmower blenny, 1 diamond watchman goby, 1 royal Gramma, 1 valentini puffer, <Keep your eye on this biter> 3 blue damsels, 3 blood red cleaner shrimp, assorted snails and hermits.  Also a few mushrooms and polyps, I know that is all I can ever support with my lights.  Tank has 4 inches of medium-grade sand because I used to have some jawfish which I unfortunately lost early on to a cryptocaryon outbreak.  Having problems with high nitrates and thus BGA.   Water quality is ammonia and nitrite 0, nitrate 100+, salinity 1.024, phosphate 0, alkalinity 10.2.  Never would have bought a wet dry if I had known about this site beforehand.  After reading this site have made LOTS of changes.  I shut down the nitrate factory by removing all the bio-balls, replaced with 5 inches of sugar-fine sand and Caulerpa and added a small PC that runs 24/7.  Added 30 more lbs live rock to the tank, bringing it up to 150.  Replaced the 3 maxi-jet 400 powerheads with maxi-jet 1200's to increase circulation and keep the BGA from settling.  I feed once a day, only as much as they can eat in 5 minutes with no left-overs, and I don't dump the thawed cube water into the tank when feeding.   <All good moves/changes> Tank housekeeping has been neglected due to getting sidelined by major knee surgery, so I know I need to be more consistent with vacuuming sand and water changes.  Have been only topping off with gallons of spring water from my local grocery store.  The main questions I have for you guys are: 1) I am concerned the 4 inches of sand in the tank is my main problem with nitrates, i.e. nutrient sink (other than my poor housekeeping lately).  I knew nothing of NNR or DSB's when I set the tank up, just wanted the jawfish to be happy.  I now know the sand is sitting at the border between what is beneficial and detrimental for NNR.  Plus the watchman goby moves it all the time so in some places it is a couple inches, other places 5-6 inches.   Should I remove all but a little, or add more? <I'd keep testing for now... see if this is about right> Read Anthony Calfo's article on DSB's and seems like this size (medium-grade) is okay for NNR but maybe I need more? <Depends on the present grade, other sources of denitrification and export> 2) The Pro-clear 150 that I have converted to a full-on sump came with a skimmer but it doesn't work very well. <These canisters are a royal pain to keep up with... clog faster and faster with use>   Plan on getting an Aqua C remora to hang on the sump at the first chamber where the overflow comes in.  Do you think this will make a significant difference in its efficiency, having it pull water from the sump rather than the tank surface itself? <Mmm, not much> The Aqua C urchin won't fit in this first chamber due to the Pro-clear bubble trap at the overflow inlet.  I figured if it is still pulling in water from the overflow (which is surface water anyway) and before it goes through the Caulerpa and sand bed it would be fine.  Read all of your information on skimmers and seems like Aqua C is a sure thing, definitely better than what came with my filter. <Yes> 3) My very expensive Pro-clear "sump" is only 12.9 gallon capacity according to specs.  Is this too small to be doing any good? <Not too small>   Should I just scrap the whole thing and put a 40 gallon Rubbermaid tub under my stand, fill it with sand and macroalgae and a bigger skimmer? <Would be that much better, yes> Nitrates have come down some but not a whole lot since I converted it to a DSB with macroalgae. <Takes time...> I appreciate any advice you can guys can give.  And thank you again for the website, it has been an invaluable resource for me.  Sincerely, JT <Thank you for writing (back) so well... You are indeed on a "better" path. Bob Fenner> One Eyed Sailfin Tang... named Lucky   2/2/06 Hey Gang:    <Stan>   Quick question.  A little background first.  I have a Sailfin Desjardin Tang in quarantine (8 weeks).  The reason he's there is because a couple of weeks ago, one of his eyes started getting white and cloudy.  At the advise of my LFS, I treated him with Penicillin for the last two weeks.  The white around the eye has gone away, but his eye lens is still cloudy.  The LFS says that he may of lost his eye, and that will always be there.      Other then that, he seems and acts very health and eats like a pig.  My question is, can I put him into the main tank ? <Yes> Is the white/cloudy eye something that I need to worry about ?  Is it contagious ? <No and no> If you had this guy, what would you do ?  Treat some more with something else ?  Return him ?  Accept him and put him in your main tank ?    <The last>   Any comments/advise would be appreciated.      Thanks.   -Stan <Have had and seen many fishes thus "afflicted". They almost always do fine. Bob Fenner> Multi Tank Systems   1/30/06 Hello, <Hey Sean.>     I will be adding on a 75 or 90 gallon in the next month or so and was wondering if you thought it would be ok to share the sump and skimmer with my current setup. <Depends on equipment.> Here is what I currently have: 60 G drilled tank (did it myself with Dremel-worked great) <Awesome, I don't touch power tools, hehe.> 4" DSB and app 60lbs live rock 6' DIY counter current skimmer that pulls the nasty out very well <Sweet, you are very talented..> 40 G sump w/ 1900gph Little Giant 15 G refugium also being used to hold new cuttings Fairly heavy bio load including: 2 true percula, coral beauty angel, 6" lunare wrasse, 3in yellow tang, black sebae clown hosting with Condy, asst soft corals and mushrooms, and finally a snowflake eel. <Yes is quite a heavy bio-load, do keep in mind the potential size of the wrasse, tang and eel.>   The snowflake and the wrasse will be getting moved into the new tank <Better.> as room in the main tank is starting to get small with the corals I have added.       Here is my dilemma, I would also like to add a lion to the new tank. <Not a Volitans I hope, a smaller dwarf species may work.>   Would these 3 messy eaters risk fouling the water too much if plumbed in with the reef tank. <The larger water volume would actually make the system stability greater, but lots of flow and weekly water changes are a must to keep the nutrients from accumulating is a must.> I could build another skimmer if that would help. <Wouldn't hurt, I would do it.> Also could you recommend a species of lion that would work long term with the eel and wrasse in 75-90 tank? <Look into Dendrochirus Zebra.> By the way, I love your site. <Thanks!> Sean <Adam J.>

Upgrading to a (much) bigger tank  - 01/23/2006 Hi guys! Firstly, many thanks for the website, so far I've kept a marine tank (successfully!) for a year using no other literature than is available on your site, it's great! I'm unsure about the conversion between UK/US gallons (I'm located in Scotland), <U.K. is slightly more...> so I'll give sizes in litres (liters if you prefer!). The tank I currently have is a little (very?) crowded, and in a bit of a bad position in direct line with a window (lots of sunlight, quite a bit of algae despite no phosphate, problems keeping it cool in summer due to coolers costing more than my car etc). So I've decided to move it into another room, and at the same time get a much bigger tank to replace it. (I have a powder blue tang, a bi-colour angel, a Klein's butterflyfish, two maroon clowns, a false percula clown, two blue/gold Fijian damsels and a goby, along with a couple of cleaner shrimp and a hermit crab that stowed away on some live rock - all that in a 170 litre tank, although all the fish are pretty juvenile and have a lot of growing to do). <Thank goodness> The tank I plan on upgrading to is around 700 litres. My filtration is currently down to the live rock, of which I have 20 kilos or so (I'll add more gradually to the new tank), a trickle tower with about 6 kilos of very porous rock in it (running water through at around 3000 l/h) and a small canister filter which is mainly there just to suck up bits and pieces. I also have a Deltec MCE 600 skimmer which is rated to normal stocking at 700 litres (what's your opinion on that figure?). <Is on the high side, but a good unit/product in my estimation> Now for the questions! First and most importantly, I don't want to leave either the new or the old system under-filtered during the move, as such what would be the best order/timescale to move things? Will my current biological filtration be adequate for the new tank (i.e. when I add more fish)? <I would add more... in time... my choice? A refugium of as large a volume as you can fit... perhaps the existing tank...> Or should I plan for a sump or a bigger trickle tower? I will be adding more live rock as finances allow, before I add more fish. <You can/could just add this as cured, a bit (a few kilos) as you can afford it... unless it's appreciably cheaper to "buy by the box" (perhaps with a friend)... in this latter case I would cure it outside your main system> Also, what order (if any) should I move the fish in? I'm unsure if the powder blue would be aggressive towards fish that it was previously accustomed to if it was added first, any thoughts? <I would move the Klein's, goby, and the damsels in first... then all else a few weeks later> Finally, what would you regard as "normal" stocking, over and above the fish I already have, for a 700 litre tank with a full compliment of live rock? <Don't know if I'm following you here... I would hold off on other additions for a few months> Many thanks for all the excellent info on the site! Ross. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Lemonpeel Angel and slime algae - Need more help, Please. Mar. maint. f' - 01/23/2006 Mr. Fenner, Thank you so much for your prompt reply to my questions on Friday. I returned the Lemonpeel angel Saturday morning. He was not looking too good. They said they would try to nurse him back to health, and if he makes a full recovery, will try to re-sell him for me. That is the last time I'll buy without doing my own research first. <Amen as the saying goes> To answer your question about my local water supply - it's not recommended for human consumption (I figure if old people and babies aren't supposed to drink it, neither am I). Everyone says not to put it in an aquarium. <Shades of Deuce Bigelow!> Now for my new crisis: This morning (Sunday) I checked out my tank and noticed little white spots all over my goby (I figured out by looking at the picture on your site that my "green goby" is a rippled coral goby). It looked like he had rolled in the sand. My first thought was "Ich". <Likely so... Crypt> I went straight to your site and looked up what to do about ich, and this evening I went to PetSmart (it was as soon as I could get there, and my fish store is closed on Sunday) to pick up needed supplies and pick the brain of the one guy there who knows anything about marine aquariums. When I got home, much to my confusion, there was not one white spot on my goby. <Read my friend... and quickly... this "point" generation has simply cycled off... is reproducing... off-fish... will be back...> Now I'm thinking maybe he did roll in the sand. But my ocellaris clown's fins were maybe looking a little cramped, so I put in a little stress coat (Mr. Petsmart had recommended it, and I have used it often in freshwater, I put in 1/2 the amount recommended on the bottle). About an hour later we noticed my protein skimmer going crazy! Water was overflowing out the top onto the floor. <A common reaction, yes> I quickly unplugged it, removed it, took it apart and cleaned it (rinsed). I tested and had ph 8.2, 0 (or maybe slightly more) ammonia, 0 nitrites, and around 30 nitrates. I then changed out about 2 gallons of water. I set the skimmer back up, but it continued to foam crazily and pour those little tiny bubbles that you say are dangerous into the tank (this was new, wasn't doing that before I shut it off). I finally got it to run without putting out the tiny bubbles by completely cranking off the air-flow. So basically right now it's just moving water, not skimming. Is it the stress coat that did it? <Yes> Am I going to have to break down my aquarium to get rid of it? <No... will subside (has subsided) in a few hours> Thank you for your help. Karen Garrett <Read... re Crypt... and soon. Bob Fenner>

Letting Others Run Your Tank - 01/22/2006 Ok, <Hi there Ryan.> I guess you read me wrong when I first sent those emails. The research part isn't bad it's just a lot of info to. learn. <'Tis, but it's your only true protection.> I have a lot of fun with my tank, and yes I did run my tank through the cycle with the lionfish in it. <Patience...I know it's hard but you've got to pace yourself or it will catch up to you in a very bad way.> As for my other big tank I heard it wasn't that great to not put in starter fish. <From who? Wouldn't be from folks trying to sell those "starter fish" would it.> Also I heard that switching fish stores isn't that good because it's harder to trace a disease? <Uh...From the same folks? This just doesn't make any sense! QT...QT and it's a moot point. (Enter Pinocchio) "There are no strings on me!" Take the reins man! Research for yourself, don't let others make this harder than it needs to be.> Thanks Ryan, <Sure thing. - Josh> Nutrient/Waste Problems, not always solved by livestock   1/22/06 Good morning, <Hello.> I have a quick question for you guys or girls. <Sure.> To let you know what I have. I have one clown, one blenny, <What species? Makes a difference.> one green Chromis, two hermit crabs, one turbo snail and one sand sifting sea star. <The latter will either starve to death or outgrow the tank, generally they are not good aquarium specimens.> All this in a 29 gallon salt with live rock and a sand bottom. My question is, with the few fish that I have they make a lot of waste. I only feed them every other day. <Keep in mind even with this feeding regime it is still quite possible to overfeed.> I was wandering should I get a couple more hermit crabs? <No this may help with the symptom but not the problem, which is likely, an overabundance of nutrients. I would utilize a siphon, more water flow and water changes. What type of filtration do you have?> The two I have now seem like they don't really like the sand bed. Maybe to big for it and they sink? <Hermits prefer the rock-scape for the most part in general, I would imagine a sand star (though inappropriate) has the sand bed well cleaned and sterilized in a 29 gallon, no?> Would I be better off getting some dwarf hermit crabs? <I would not add any more 'cleaning critters'.> If yes then how many? Thanks for your help <No problem.> Cody <Adam J.>

Black smelly substance in tank   1/21/06 As usual, I enjoy your site greatly. I recently moved a 30 gallon tank from one room to another in my home. This particular tank has been in operation for a couple of years with no problems. After moving the tank I noticed an unfamiliar smell coming form the tank. I then noticed a black, almost tar like substance in my skimmer and in the mechanical filters. <Best to clean, scrub this out> This stuff REALLY stinks! An odor I have never smelled in one of my tanks before. An almost old mildew, old house smell. <Mostly algal accumulation> I have an anemone in an isolation tank waiting to be put into this 30 gallon tank. I am concerned about its placement with this black substance and odor. <Me too> What is this stuff and what can I do? I have already done a water change. PS My 90 gallon tank has really done great since I changed from a wet/dry to a lighted DSB, thanks to your advice. Dallas <See WWM re cleaning filters... I'd lightly bleach wash these items... Bob Fenner> Green Sponges, Brown Tube Colonies, and Popeye? Big tank, simple questions, reading WWM.   1/20/06 Hi crew. I bought one Royal Gramma and a pair of  Firefish four days ago. I have a 330 gallon tank with a skimmer, UV sterilizer,  refugium, and wet dry filter. Other tank inhabitants include fanworms, two  anemones, 14 Nassarius snails, 13 turbo snails, two brittle stars, 19 hermit  crabs, and twelve green Chromis. I'm writing because I noticed that the Gramma  which has been feeding and acting normally, had a swelled up left eye today. <Tell me... you're quarantining all these... not simply placing in the 330...> I  think it may be Popeye, since there is nothing else wrong with him that I can  see, and none of the others have it. Also the Nitrites are at 0 ppm,  Ammonia is at 0 ppm, Specific Gravity is .23 ppm, <Likely 1.023> and pH is between 8.0 and  8.3. Is it Popeye? <Is... just a descriptive term... doesn't relate etiology/causative mechanism/s> If so what can I do? <Read... on WWM... If unilateral... likely just from a bump/whack...> My second question pertains to a  green sort of mass that came on a piece of live rock. It appears to be smooth  and is beginning to spread onto the base rock. Is it an encrusting sponge? <Might be> Last  of all, several clumps of small brown tubes came on the live rock. They appear  to have small fans for filter feeding, but i don't think they are tube/fan  worms. What are they? Thanks for your time. GG <... go to WWM... use the search tool, indices. Bob Fenner> Set up/New to marine aquariums   1/20/06 Hi, <Hello Tonya> I am relatively new to marine aquatics  (approximately 10 months beginner). I have been doing freshwater, particularly  African Cichlids, for 8 years. I have a 30 gallon with a Supreme Skilter 250, 1  Cap 200 pump, 1 Mini-jet pump, a Coralife Aqualight Deluxe Compact w/50/50  daylight 10,000k/True Actinic 03 bulb, a single strip light w/Interpet  Triplus bulb. In the tank I have 25# of live rock, Indo-pacific live sand, 1  Hawaiian Hawkfish, 1 Green Psychedelic Mandarin Goby, 1 Blue Damsel, 1 Jumbo  Tiger Turbo Snail, 1 Turbo Snail, 3 Nassarius Snails (very small), 2 Red legged  Hermit Crabs, and 2 Zebra hermit Crabs. I am planning on turning my 125 gallon aquarium  into a reef/fish aquarium when I think that I have sufficiently gained enough  experience and knowledge of the marine tank. And my African Cichlids have died  off. I seem to be having to change the Bio-Matrix  carbon/floss pads approximately every 3-4 weeks.<Really should change these more often.  The trapped waste will soon lead to higher nitrate levels.> The adjustment of the air flow  valve seems to constantly fluctuate, for the skimmer. Is there something else  that I should be doing to alleviate this problem. Or is it just cheap equipment  that will always be giving me a headache? <I'd try cleaning the unit and see if it improves.  May be a note on this in the manual.> I am a person with minimal means of  cash flow. <Me too, join the crowd.> Should I consider using my Rena Filstar XP2 for the tank and buying a  minimal function skimmer? <I would. James (Salty Dog)> Thank You for your assistance, <You're welcome> Tonya

Pet-fishing, serendipity... marine maint. f' Thank you for all the great work and numerous answers and patiently written suggestions... I wish I could do more than "thanks". I have taken your advice over aquatics business and working at "local" fortune 100 petstore as an "aquatician" :) Not to take more of your time I will ask away... 1- Before I dropped out wildlife and marine biology, I have witnessed our profesors breeding even lobsters in a 55 gallon tank with a 55 gallon sump in almost freezing water and couple of construction bricks in it. Now I didn't pass that class, lol. But I believe in keeping it simple does work most of time. Question is if you somehow agree with this, could you point out, as hobbyists, what are we over-doing or which merchandise is advertise to hunt our self satisfactory side? <Very good point... unfortunately... "Madison Ave." rules in the west... and more and more of the world as time goes by evidently. And folks are quite well "conditioned" to buying... something... to dispel their induced anxieties, wishes... including in the realm of pet-fishing. How to make known what needs to... is indeed a tough practice... As you state, often the bare necessities excel beyond extra efforts. WWM, and our article and book writing are largely attempts at expanding this notion. What does one need to "acheive perfection?"... Really, to "just stop doing all that other stuff"... Not a very Christian idea (no trilogy need apply), but a valid one.> 2- I have been reading an article written by you, about specific gravity and salinity here at http://wetwebmedia.com/spg_salinity.htm At the "Setting/Manipulating Spg" section, the last paragraph it says:   "An interesting note on the topic; Walker and Herwig cite several instances correlating rapid reduction of specific gravity with spawning activity. They suggested that lowering spg as a factor in captive breeding along with light and temperature manipulation techniques." Question is, (I'm new to the marine "hobby". Only 3 years so far) I used to "imitate" the rain, to get my cories excited and lay eggs, (I know I've been shallow lol). I wonder the note above is pointing a similar effect in saltwater systems, too. <Yes, of a certainly> Since English is not my native language, I apologize for any frustration I might have caused mostly by not being very clear. <You have made yourself known... there is nothing more.> Thank you for many things dear Bob F. Bora <Welcome Bora. Bob Fenner>

Re: Iodine... let's make this marine op.  - 01/12/2006 Ok , we took water in today to be tested, here are the numbers: Nitrate 80ppm, <Wow!> Nitrite trace only less than .25, Ammonia 0, PH 7.8 ( they say it should be 8.3) do you agree? <Somewhere 8 or above will be fine.  With your gross overstocking you will have a difficult time keeping the ph much higher than what you have.> Gravity was 1.023................we will now start changing water 10 gallons every 3 days and  lower the temp to 78 (do you agree) <I think 10% per week will be fine but the only way you are going to improve the situation is by removing some of the fish.  You didn't mention whether you reduced the load.> The Selcon will be here in a few days, in the mean time we purchased 6 dozen ghost shrimp and will try to get him to have some interest in them a few at a time in the tank.  Did not buy the iodine as I wasn't sure I should use it with the garlic extreme and/or wait for the Selcon to arrive. <Quite possible he may not care for the garlic extreme flavor.  If he is not eating, try feeding the shrimp without the garlic bath.> Also bought a product to remove any traces of copper which they had us use for an infection on the Niger trigger about 8 weeks ago.  Said the copper stays in the tank forever. <Poly Filters will remove any copper that is dissolved in the water itself but glass, rocks, etc all absorb copper and this would take a very long time to remove, but should pose no health problems to the fish as it will be at residual levels.>  Will also wash the canister of the canister filter system.  So glad you are out there to ask these questions as the people at the local fish stores really know so very little about anything. Said they had NEVER heard of porcupine puffer getting lockjaw. <Most are just retailers trying to make a buck and need only know the basics as to help out newcomers.> Thank you, <Your welcome.  Please keep in mind that a minimum tank size of 90 gallons is recommended for porcupine puffers if you plan on keeping this guy for any length of time.  Just want to stress the importance of your stocking level.  The 30 is much too small for the puffer itself yet alone a 30 high with even less surface area than a standard 30. Please DO consider purchasing a protein skimmer if you're not using one.  This will help immensely in lowering nitrate levels.  Don't waste your money on cheapos, get an efficient one, well worth the investment.  James (Salty Dog)> Marcia

Re: have not reduced the number of fish ... iodine?  1/13/06 James, <Marcia> We have not lightened the load as we do not have another tank, although my husband is looking at 125 gallon tanks, but cannot find a place for it in the house, at least not a place we can enjoy it on a daily basis, will work on keeping the puffer alive and then find a new home for the rest or buy an BIG tank.   We talked to the fish store owner yesterday, they said we really can't put a protein skimmer on the tank because of the eclipse system. <Oh boy, this system isn't efficient enough for the party you have going on in that tank.>  We bought from people that had been doing this for 20+ years fish only because they claimed to be so knowledgeable.. Now we have this real mess on our hands. <Yes, a concerned dealer would warn you about overcrowding/fish selection, proper filtration, etc.  Problem is most are just interested in selling.> Thank you again.  I will set the copper removal product aside and return it next time I drive in to town. <Another aside, he could have easily told you to use a PolyFilter which I feel is effective in copper removal, even turns blue letting you know copper is being absorbed if that is the sole reason you are using it for.  I wonder what he soaked you for the copper removal product.  PolyFilters can be bought on line for 6.50 and probably wouldn't cost 80 cents to mail.  Problem is with the Eclipse, I don't believe you can fit one in unless you have a compartment for chemical media then you can cut the PolyFilter into small squares and place inside.  A less effective method would be to hang the PolyFilter in the tank, just take much longer to remove the copper without water flowing through the pad. Keep in mind I'm not pushing PolyFilters, other products work also its just that they do remove many impurities in the water. One last note, Marcia, please don't keep changing the subject of the query.  Makes it easier for us to keep these responses together for posting.  James (Salty Dog)> Marcia

125 gallon Marine System Op.   1/11/06 Hi guys: <Adam> I have purchased an existing 125 gallon tank and had a professional move it to my home about 2 weeks ago. In the tank is about 100 lbs. of live rock and I did transfer the water with the tank. The fish in the tank are the following. 1- 5"-6" Powder Blue tang 1- 5" yellow tang 1- 5" Copperband Butterfly 1- 3" cardinal Pajama fish 2- 3" Clown fish 1 - 3" green Chromis 1 - 5" star fish All fish made the trip well although I did lose another Cardinal Pajama fish within 48 hours. Since that time all the fish seem well although the ammonia is a little high it seems to be settling down. I did add a Bicolor Tang and a Coral flame the about 3 days ago and found the coral flame dead this morning. The Bicolor seems fine. I also added 3 Domino fish last night at less than 1' long each. I also added a three soft corals within the last week as well. The water is crystal clear and the ph (8.2) and temperature (78 degrees F.) is fine. My set is the following. 250 gallon wet/dry filter with a protein skimmer built in. a u/v unit a Phosguard filter Is there anything I should add? <You will actually want to STOP adding things for awhile. Let your tank settle a bit (read month or more).> What about supplements? <They are over rated. 99% of what your tank needs can be found in a quality salt mix and frequent water changes.> Any food recommendations? <Use quality frozen foods, little to no brine shrimp, and a live phytoplankton product.> Right now I feed them all frozen. San Francisco Bay Formula # 1 & #2, Brine shrimp and Bloodworms. <Keep the brine to a minimum as it is only as nutritious as cotton candy.> Thanks, Adam <Make sure to do plenty of reading and research about your tank and its inhabitants in the next month. It would also be wise to research all animals before purchase from now on. You will also want to read up on proper QT (quarantine) procedures.> I also have high intensity florescent lighting with moon lights. <These may need to be upgraded in the near future to meet your coral needs.> Saying hello. Marine op. 01-06-06 First of all, LOVE the website & it is always a pleasure to talk & read about the world beneath the waves. <Thank you for your kind words.> I just have one question but like everyone else who enjoys marine gardening, I must tell you a little about me and my set-up. The salt bug bite me when I saw my first 29 gallon hexagon with a white coral branch going from top to bottom with  2  yellow tangs plus a small cinnamon clown. Since then 23 years later always having cared for marine life within 29s & 55s were my pleasure till I bought my home in 98.  Currently running a nice 90 gallon with about 60 lbs of or what is or used to be live rock (bought used). Equipment ( 1 )  SUPREME power filter 600gph, ( 2 )  pen Plex Mako power heads and a PRIZM Deluxe protein skimmer ( skimmer a must ) up and running in its  present state since 99. Upgrading to the new 3 bulb florescent  *ASAP* . My guests include ( 1 ) fine example of a PICASSO TRIGGER 1 year old, ( 1 ) SABER CLOWN 4 years old constantly looking for his anemone that got sucked thru the under gravel, ( 3 ) 3 striped damsels 2 years old ( 2 ) blue devils yellow tails & ( 1 ) royal damsel since the tank started in 99,  ( 6 ) domino damsels 1 year old,  ( 2 ) lemon damsels 4 years old . Of course some have gone and went, but I enjoy my little carnivores. Diet consists of small frozen shrimp, Formula Two flake & brine shrimp. My routine consist of water changes ( evap.s & skims account for  5 gallons and I remove another 10 gallons thru gravel vacuuming (about every 6 weeks or so), changing filter pads and of course the carbon that is in a  14oz  Tupperware container in the back of the power filter. (drilled myself) NEVER having tested the water once, in fact I have not tested or brought a water sample to my LFS in many many years. All fish stay in tank when cleaning and water changes. This has turned out to be the simplest & the most inexpensive setup I have ever cared for. My question to the team @ WWM, does having a larger size tank allow for this good fortune thru water stability or have I just accepted the facts that Damsels  &  Triggers are the hardiest of all & that  attention and TLC are the real keys to success when viewing the sea from your couch . <Your larger water volume and choice of tank inhabitants are key to your success. However, do not discount TLC as it too is one of, if not the most important aspect in keeping aquariums or anything in life at its optimum for that matter. Travis>                              Mark J. Zupkosky

Re: 150 gallon, filter, skimmer, stocking Hi, This is a resend (below) and, I apologize if I am jumping the gun, or just plain inpatient, I was concerned it did not get to you.  I hope you had a nice Holiday.  Joanne    <No worries, and thank you> Excellent response to all my unending questions Thanks so much.     I am very interested in the imperator Angel.. As a matter of fact the LFS has an adult (colors) at the shop (for at least a month now) He/she is lovely and somewhat personable (as fish go :) This is how the angel became a must. Is this fish too large for adding should it be a juvenile to start?   <"Just" changing... about four inches total length is the best... Your 150 gallon system could accommodate this species for a year or two... then you would want/need a larger system> The size I am concerned as the other fish are or will most certainly be smaller to start.  Also has had the bi-color angel for the same amount of time in very good shape, on hold per your instructions.   So My firm list: 1 Imperator Angel- must have 1 Pink tail trigger- good advice thanks. 1 Dwarf puffer- Valentini Puffer 1 Bi-color angel 1 Tomato clown **Snowflake eel (will the eel be able to eat the clown, puffer or bi-color?) <Will not harm these fishes> 1 Pair of Kole tangs (can I actually have a pair.. aggressiveness) or should I mix one Kole with       a blue tang (not powder blue) for different shape or is a blue tang also too large? <Better to have two dissimilar/genera here> And pending on your advice with the tangs, what would be the stocking order of this bunch? <The Clown first... a few weeks going by, the Toby, a few more weeks... the Dwarf Angel, then the trigger, lastly the Imperator> (from reading any tang would preferably go last and if there is more than one they would go together.  Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. <Can place these tangs in any order> Will I be able to have any emerald green crabs with this bunch? Or are they much too tasty? :) <I would leave these out... trigger snacks> **This is a dumb concern of mine, but it worries me as far as the meat eaters go eel /trigger what specifically will they eat? (have read per your site meaty food) what is that exactly? How much? <Most any whole (or small size) or cut foods... fish flesh, mollusks, worms... fed once, twice per day>   And looking ahead to the future.. If I go on vacation can they live on flake food or dry foods? Fish sitter not likely to chop up foods and feed individually. <See WWM re... best to pre-measure, stick in freezer... hide all other foods> Your thoughts on a skimmer. While your e-mail sat in the spam zone.. Oops (btw- that has been corrected) so sorry.  I purchased a Tunze Doc 9010 in tank skimmer  I had read some good things on your site about them. Sure hope it's a good one $$$. <Is> On my Christmas list- "the conscientious marine Aquariust".  I got it, great book! <Oh, I know the author...> Best regards, and thanks again for taking the extra time to help me. Joanne <A pleasure. Bob Fenner>

Re: Can I offer some assistance, Hi, Bob    <Joanne>   Please show me or do tell how I can help.  I would be very happy to help a good cause.  I have been in freshwater for years (10).  And a few reading, trying, and learning saltwater.  I am quite good with the Internet and computers, organization as I am an Engineering Clerk, not a lot of fun but oddly enough, I am good at it ;).  Feel free to contact me.      <Am doing so. Please do send along a brief biog. of your experience (for posting) and make it known if indeed you do have time to help with the freshwater queries>      I do however have questions of my own I have been unable to get a response to, if you would not mind too much.  This is somewhat altered form the original as I found some information on my own.      150 Gallon, Skimmer, Stocking         I am very interested in the imperator Angel.. As a matter of fact the LFS has an adult (colors) at the shop (for at least a month or two now) He/she is lovely and somewhat personable (as fish go :) Eats like crazy, I watched.  This is how the angel became a must. Is this fish too large for adding should it be a juvenile to start? <Four inches or so is ideal, but one in captivity for a month, small enough is fine> The size I am concerned as the other fish are or will most certainly be smaller to start.  Also has had the bi-color angel for the same amount of time in very good shape, on hold per a wet web media crews instruction.   So My firm list in the order I think they would go in:    **Snowflake eel (will the eel be able to eat the clown, puffer or bi-color?) <No... is a consumer of crustaceans... shrimp and small crabs... can, will eat fish flesh if trained to it, but rarely consume live fishes> 1 Pink tail trigger- good advice thanks. 1 Dwarf puffer- Valentini Puffer 1 Bi-color angel 1 Tomato clown   1 Kole Tang   1 Imperator Angel- must have And pending on your advise with the tangs, what would be your preferred order off stocking this bunch? <Did send along> Can I stock by two's or should there be a month or so between each one. If I am full up or over, please do tell. I purchased a Tunze Doc 9010 in tank skimmer  I had read some good things on your site about them. Sure hope it's a good one $$$. Best regards, and thanks again for taking the extra time to help me. Joanne <BobF>

Insurance Policies And The Ever present Backdoor - 12/13/2005 Gentlemen/Ladies, <Or Josh if that'll work.> I had a 167 gallon aquarium, set up in my living room, and the front face blew out. Unknown cause. <Doesn't sound like this is headed toward "happily ever after".> My homeowners insurance company has refused to pay my claim on the contents of my living room. <Typical...taking payments is just...easier.> Standard coverage (ho3 personal property replacement) doesn't cover aquariums? <This would most likely be categorized as "Flood Damage" or some other class.> My question is have you or any one you know of dealt with this before? I am taking them to small claims court over this and would like to know how others have dealt with this issue?  <I really feel for you on this one. I don't (nor do I know anyone who has) have specific experience with this situation but have dealt with insurance claims before. Review your policy in its entirety (including limitations). Personal property is probably not going to have this covered due to the nature of the damage. Many times you need various "adjunct policies" for true complete coverage. Think of all the poor souls caught by the hurricanes, submitting their claims and finding out they never actually had flood damage coverage. I think that with this being an "elective box of water" you will probably lose.> Thanks for your help <Wish I could. - Josh (whose wife has been forced to tell people that the Health Department can't help them until the sewage actually backs up into the home, Dep. of Ag. covers the yard pipes not ten feet away. Laws and stipulations...)

Re: Tank won't support more than 2 fish  11/30/05 Thank you for the quick response. I confess I have not checked ammonia hours after introductions. You are correct in assuming I'm trying to add larger fish. I'm really trying for a Naso tang. I would like to add one other tang (Kole or hippo) for a total of two. Then fill out the tank with Anthias, Chromis, and other smaller fish. I plan to add my emperor last as I've grown rather attached and want everything to be perfect when he goes in.  Can you give me suggestions to supplement my biological filtration to make adding fish easier? If you think adding bio balls to this tank would help I am open to anything.  <Brian, one other question...Have you ever used copper in the 265? If you have, you may have enough residual copper there to cause problems with the denitrifying bacteria.  <<Do you mean nitrifying bacteria, mayhaps?  Marina>> If proper acclimation procedures aren't followed, this will add to the problem. Getting to the question at hand...If it were me, I'd buy some instant denitrifying bacteria and add it to the tank a couple hours before your next introduction. I'm looking at the original query here and I don't see my responses present in the text. By chance did you copy/paste your original query into the body of this text? James (Salty Dog)> Thanks  <You're welcome> 

Teach your children well...  11/15/05 Dear WWM Crew, <Hello> Hey my names Joey and I'm 14 years old and I just started a 30 gallon tank. ... <Joey,,, I's, not "i's"...> got 7 pounds of live rock. a 5" zebra dwarf lionfish, 4" Sargassum, and a medium sized hermit crab. I have only have the zebra and Sargassum for a day. the Sargassum has eaten a lot, but the zebra hasn't yet. I just wanted to know what additions I could make onto this tank. THANK YOU GUYS sincerely, Joey <... Don't know quite what you're getting at here... WWM has "Systems" and general FAQs posted for these groups of fishes... Take a look. Bob Fenner>  <<I do, he wants more fish, and he's got too many already.  Will someone please supervise this boy?  Marina>>

Overstocked + Under-Filtered = Poor, Poor Fish - 11-07-05 Hi guys! I have a 45 gallon with one of those filters that hang on the side of the tank with the three medias. <<Hopefully cleaned weekly and NOT your only source of biological filtration.>> It's cycled for a month and has had fish for another month. I have a Lion, Picasso, and Niger. <<You are overstocked my friend.>> I have two questions. - My Niger is sick Very pale, sits at the bottom of the tank. <<Not surprised>> Fins look like they are rotting started with the rear fin and has spread to the rest, he does come out to eat though. LFS says parasites. <<I disagree>> And sold me Cupramine which I have used for the last few days according to their instructions and no major change. Niger still looks really bad. <<Stop dosing the tank and perform a couple large water changes.>> - My tank gets dirty very quick including ornaments just days after scrubbing walls and ornaments. LFS says not enough biological filtration and suggested to add an under gravel filter. <<Mmm...I would go for some live rock instead, and/or a fluidized-bed filter.>> That would keep my tank cleaner and allow me to add more fish  <<NO!>>  and stabilize Ammonia levels which at the moment constantly fluctuate because feeding my fish daily makes it rise, therefore I must feed every other day. <<No again, having your tank grossly overstocked with insufficient biological filtration is causing your ammonia problem. Find another home for the triggers and have a good read here and at the indices in blue at the top of the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishinvsetup.htm>>  Any advice is greatly appreciated. <<Regards, EricR>> Marine Set Up - Too Lazy to Find Info Already Present 10/9/05 Hey Crew, I hope you answer my question quickly! I just set my aquarium in a new location and the water is still cloudy. Will it be ok to put my fish in the tank now? All of the Ph, alkalinity, nitrate, nitrite, specific gravity, and temp. are the same. Should I turn on my skimmer and/or my power filter?  <Aaron, plenty of information here on this subject. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm   James (Salty Dog)> 

Bristleworms 10/9/05 Hi.  <Hey, Mike G here> I have three questions, so I'll send them in three separate emails for your convenience in posting. First off, you guys rule. This is by far the best marine website in the entire universe, and I've looked quite a lot. Once I get some cash, I'll send you a donation. <Always good to hear the site is appreciated.> Here are the specs for my display tank: 55 gal ~100lb of live rock <Sounds very full! I've 60 lbs. in my 55 and it looks stuffed!> pH: 8.2 at night, varies by <.2/day <Have you considered a reverse-photoperiod refugium? The oxygen produced at night serves to stabilize the pH level, as .2 is a bit stressful on a day after day basis.> Ammonia: 0 ppm Nitrite: 0 ppm Nitrate ~0 ppm (might be /slightly/ higher than 0ppm, but less than .05, I'm partially color blind, so it's tough to tell sometimes) Calcium: 400ppm Temp is about 79-80 degrees (I know a little warm, but it gets really hot under my lights during the summer, and I can't afford to keep the house at 70 degrees to cool it off) <80 is fine for a reef. Some recommend higher (~82F) Specific Gravity: 1.020 <A bit low. Consider bumping it up to ~1.023-1.025> Lighting: Aquaclear 300 light strip with (2) "10,00k 65w Daylight," (2) "True Actinic 03 Blue Lights" and (4) blue LED moonlights The tank is 24" high. (mechanical) Filtration: (1) Aquaclear 300, (1) Fluval 204 (which I think I shouldn't have purchased after reading your website) <Agreed. I'd get rid of the AquaClear and canister, nitrate factories. More harm than good, in my opinion.> and (1) CPR "BakPak" protein skimmer thingie. Since I've got you now, can you recommend some good corals and anemones that would work well in this system? I hate to admit this, but I have not had luck with anemones, would like to change that, since they are so pretty. <Mushrooms, Leathers, Zoanthids, Xenia, Star Polyps, Photosynthetic Gorgonians (do check on the species to confirm this before making a purchase... far too many azooxanthellate Gorgonia perish due to lack of food in captive systems...)  After the tank has matured more and softies are growing well, all those labeled as brains, torches, frogspawn, bubble corals could be kept. As for anemones, try to get a captive clone of a bubble tipped anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor.>  Also, I dose (or douse :-)) with Kent's Essential Elements, Zooplex, Phytoplex, and Chromaplex at least weekly. <Just my personal opinion here... never had success with Kent products, never would recommend them. Expensive, hyped up, etc. I prefer to dose only calcium (I use B-Ionic) and let all other minerals and etc. be kept up with my water changes (most good salt mixes contain more than enough of these). Again, just my opinion.> I have no fish in the tank right now (they are all in the quarantine tank, per my next email). I have a closed brain, a mushroom rock, with several polyps a tiny, tiny anemone growing on it, <Likely Aiptasia or Majano. Do look them up, determine whether you have either, take offensive action. These guys are real pests.> a Feather Duster, about 15ish small hermit crabs, 2-3 turbo snails, and a couple other snails, 1 or 2 Imperial Crabs... <Not familiar with the crabs you speak of. I Googled it and came up with this guy: http://www.onecrab.com/images/crabEdu_ImperialCrab.jpg. If they look anything like that, I think it would be safe to assume they're not safe.> and some Bristle worms (Bristleworms?), which are the subject matter of this email. I also have some baby leather corals growing (like the size of large ants), and I'd like to make this a reef tank. <Always a good choice.> Last night I dug about 4 bristleworms out the live rock. I think there are at least 2 more in there, maybe more.  <Probably. They reproduce very readily in home aquaria, and are very beneficial detritivores.> They gross my friends out, so I thought I'd get rid of them.  <I'd keep 'em. They do no harm and much good, and help to keep your reef a more natural, functional system.> Also, I know there is a type of bristleworm that is harmful to corals.  <There is, but it is one species. Most every other bristleworm is benign, and odds are very good that you have a good one.> A few months ago I had an open brain that was I think something was eating at. I'm wondering if it may have been these bristleworms.  <Doubtful. Imperial crabs? Disease? The bristleworms would be my last choice.> I started noticing them when the open brain showed up, but I bought a couple other things at the same time. I have attached a photo of one of the bristleworms I pulled off a live rock. They are substantially a pinkish color, with white, uh, leg-type things <Seate (See-tee)> on their sides. They are much smaller than I thought. When they creep around, on the live rock, they must stretch out a lot. The dude at my LFS (that's "Local Fish Store" for the newbies) said that it's generally only the blood-red ones that are harmful to corals. So my question is: Are the attached photos the blood-red (bad) bristleworms? The photos make them look blood red on the ends especially, b/c I had to stab them w/a toothpick to get them, but that's not how they generally look as I hope you can tell from the photo. <Can't see the photos (.dat files), but they sound like the typical, common bristleworms that live in most every reefer's aquarium. Harmless scavengers, I'd not worry about them at all.> If so, do you have any suggestions on how to catch them, other than picking the rock up and waiting for them to come out when they realize they don't have any air? Finally, can I make a suggestion? Can you guys lose the acronyms in your postings? It took me about 2 weeks of reading several hours a day to figure out what LFS was. I thought this was a typo or something for Latter Day Saints the first time I saw it...couldn't figure out why so many Mormons would be into saltwater fish...  <Hah! Will try to "fix" abbreviations in my future responses.> Finally, a key would be helpful (it was really difficult to figure out that you guys were typing inside the greater and lesser than signs). Can you use bolded words instead??  <It is to my understanding that bolding the responses would take a considerable chunk of Bob's time, and he already spends several hours/day on WWM.> <<This has been discussed at some length long before now.  It is (now, again) Marina's time it would take up, and yes, it would not only take up a great deal more time, but it would make our format even more confusing, as bold text is used for titling queries only.  A tip for those having trouble - highlight a few lines at a time with your mouse.>> One final suggestion: I think the search feature should compensate for misspellings, or spacing issues (Bristleworm <> "Bristle worm" presently).  <The search feature is not under our control... it is designed by Google, and works like Google, so we can't really change that. I'm not even sure if it is possible to have a search ignore spaces, else queries typed with them that would previously be valid may look something like this "reefsafeangelfishcentropygespecies" which would spit out no results, and I'm not sure if a search could perform a spell check.>  Thanks, Rusty in Columbus, Ohio (Go Bucks)  <No problem, glad to assist. Mike G>

Marine questions that could be answered by reading WWM 10/9/05 (Here is my last email with better spelling and explanation.) My Percula Clownfish who I believe is now the male, has some white dots along one side of his body near the dorsal fin. However, the dots are not exceptionally white or much of a color at all, nor are they protruding from his skin. You cannot really see them if viewed directly from the side but, more at an angle from the top. Therefore I am not sure if this is a case of Ich or just a genetic feature, maybe just a virus even. <Likely just "stress"... mucus from same> He is still very happy, eats his food and is active with normal respiration. None of the other tankmates are experiencing any problems or disturbances. Water Chemistry pH-8.1 Ammonia-0 Nitrite-0 Nitrate-20 Phosphate-.25 I do have another quick question. I have a live reef sand bed. I have not carried out a large 25% water  change yet, and I am not exactly sure as to how to clean the sand as I do not want to disturb bacteria nor do I want to suck any up with  the siphon. I have a cleaner shrimp if that means anything, along with the starfish. <... what? See WWM re gravel vacuuming, marine/reef maintenance.> Next, I am beginning to have a diatom outbreak which I have been told is the final stage of tank cycling and it will soon turn to green algae at which point I can go about removing it. What do you think, is this true? <Maybe... see WWM re> Lastly, I am one of the people who believes in the undergravel filter. I know that you may tell me to take it out which I really would prefer not to do because I really don't think its helping or hurting the tank since I do not know how much water or debris is actually flowing through the aragonite reef sand anyway. It is not my primary source of filtration and I do have a hang on filter as the primary source along with a protein skimmer which I will have soon. Speaking of skimmers, when it is installed, will it be necessary to add the trace elements weekly? If so, what do you recommend? <Please read... on WWM re supplementation> Again, thank you for your help! -Jonathan <Keep reading. Bob Fenner> 

Basic Help With Marine Issues 10/8/05 Hi Crew, I wasn't sure if you guys got the first email since I haven't seen a response so here it is again.  <Sorry for the delay. With the huge volume of mail we get, it sometimes takes a day or two to write back.> You guys are a very dedicated and informative group for people out there just wanting to do the right thing. <Thanks! We are glad to help!> Basics: 220 gal. tank, Live Tonga Rock (250 lbs.)/Fish only with live Aragonite fine sand substrate (about 5" deep). Water: Ph 8.3, dKH 12, Ammonia .2, Nitrate 0 - trace, Nitrate 10, Salinity 1.023 (I think). Question is that every store or technician that I have test my water comes up with slightly different readings than my home test kit that was provided with my aquarium. The aquarium is about 6 weeks old and I test every day. I have a wet/dry with Aqua Medics protein skimmer, currently using Poly-filter, trickle filter pad, bio balls, and refugium. I also have two large Seio power heads and a 40 watt gamma UV sterilizer.  <There is some variance between test kits, especially because the hobby grade kits are generally mediocre quality. I would be very surprised if your ammonia is really .2 with live rock AND a wet/dry. FWIW, you will probably always battle nitrates with the wet/dry present and you have plenty of live rock to phase it out.> The aquarium was started up with this cured live rock and 1 week later I added a blue damsel, the next week a 2" Volitans lionfish, week four a 5" Fiji bi-color Rabbitfish, and week six a 30" Zebra Moray. I did not know about the QT procedure until reading your site, but the store has a very good reputation on healthy fish however going forward I will use a QT tank during acclimation. All fish are eating well and act like they would eat as long as I provided food.  <This is a lot of fish... and fast! With so much fish load in a short period of time, it seems a bit more likely that you have a small amount of ammonia present. Glad to hear you will use QT in the future!> Questions: Guy at the LFS said I may not see an ammonia spike during the cycle process because of the cured live rock.. in which I have never seen anything higher than .2 Ammonia and that is only on one test using a Hagen test kit. The other three test kits Mardel strips, and my home dropper kit show 0 Ammonia and 0 Nitrate. Even another Marine fish store tested my water and said there were no Ammonia or nitrates. How can there be such a variance between test kits?  <See above comments about test kits.> Also I had a glass thermometer that was reading a daily high of 84 F down to 82 F, and I added a digital +/- .1 degree thermometer with a probe that reads 82 F - 80 F with the same daily ambients.. what's up with that?  <Aquarium thermometers are also notoriously inaccurate. I would trust the digital. If you want to do an amusing experiment, look at all of the thermometers on the shelf at your local fish store... some will vary as widely as 5 degrees!> Two different tests for Salinity have shown reading with the same test water of 1.023 and the other 1.025 using Deep six plastic hydrometers where both said were calibrated using an accurate refractometer.  <Are you seeing the theme? Ha! Plastic swing arm hydrometers are highly variable (even the same one, from test to test) and are prone to error due to build up of "crud", temperature, etc. Refractometers are much more accurate.> My skimmer is really working well, with me emptying a substantial amount of dark looking coffee water and a thick layer of dark brown mud stuck in the cone (I clean this out of course with tap water and dry well before placing back). <Excellent!> Anyway I know I probably stocked my tank too soon and hope I don't lose any fish...what levels of Ammonia start a fish to die or stress? <This depends on the fish, although all of yours are pretty tough customers.> Also my lionfish seems to shed his slime every time he is out eating the prawn or ghost shrimp (is this normal)? I can't get him to eat frozen yet, so I alternate between guppies, ghost shrimp, and prawn shrimp. placing drops of Zoe into the bag. Actually I use the Zoe on almost all food that I feed, is this okay?  <This is OK as a temporary measure. As soon as you can wean this fish onto frozen foods, be sure to provide it with foods of marine origin. FW foods don't really have the proper profile of fats for marine fish.> Last question for now: is it normal after a good feeding of large brown shrimp (bought at the grocery store) a zebra moray for him to hide (rest) in the rocks laying his head sideways on a rock with his mouth opening and closing. I am afraid this may be a sign of stress?  Your comments are greatly appreciated. Steven  <I am not sure what "brown shrimp" are. That said, they should be raw and still have the shell on. Better yet, some specialty seafood markets and Asian markets sell them with the heads still on. Be careful not to provide the eel or lionfish with too large or too frequent meals. If the food takes too long to digest, it can actually spoil and rot before it is passed. If these animals take more than a few seconds to be able to swallow the food, it is probably too large. Best Regards. AdamC.>

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