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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance 3

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Valonia ventricosa and a nice Lavender Crust Algae on it... in Cozumel.

vacuuming rock hate to be a pain, but I love picking brains <ask away Hannibal...> I was wondering, during water changes in my FOWLR tank, I always vacuum all the loose crud off my rocks, good? bad?, I would think good, but love opinions...riot... <way good and necessary if detritus is there but its presence indicated a lack of sufficient or correct water flow. Most people simply do not have enough water movement in their tanks compared to a reef. Detritus ideally should never settle but be kept in suspension for skimmers to export. Best regards, Anthony>

Cloudy Water? Bob, like most I love the website!  <thanks kindly... do tell a friend :) > I am very new to this hobby but am snagged. Below I've tried to describe my tank. I am having a cloudy water problem. If I describe it I would say it is a white haze! This tank is 3-months old and the water has never really been very clear and is starting to annoy me. I know its not a algae bloom (i.e. not green) possibly a bacterial issue but not really sure?  <agreed... particulates or bacterial> I feed sparingly. If I had to guess I would say it was an ammonia spike but the testing does not bear this out?  <hmmm... should show up in tests unless you are using liquid test kits and have used an ammonia neutralizing dechlorinator like Amquel or Ammo-lock (they corrupt some test kit readings)> The glass is clean but there is some calcareous algae that is starting to grow and my scraper is not here yet.  <still a good sign... the corallines growing... not the scraper not showing up :p > I did have a 90 gallon Berlin protein skimmer running but pulled it about 4 days ago and have a Red sea Berlin turbo classic on the way(250 gallon) (the air stone was getting plugged).  <if the skimmer produces dark skimmate daily or almost so, no worries here... else a point for improvement. Very important> All of the livestock appear healthy, eating and swimming about. No parasites that I can see. No mechanical filtration but some filter media as shown in photos which I have attached. I'm doing a 30 gallon water change every two weeks even though the water parameters are all good. I purchased some Kent Marine Pro-clear and was no help.  <Hmm... that would indicate that the haze is not inorganic/particulate> I'm ready to beg, plead, pay whatever to get my water clean.  <just send beer... we'll take care of the rest. Bob's not picky... I like Sam Adams...Ha!> Any thoughts?  <yes... Guinness is good too> Further I am having some bubble problems from the return from the sump. <yes...micro bubbles... quite annoying.> The sump is pretty clear of bubbles but somewhere during the return bubbles are forming.  <excellent observation... an indication of pinhole aspiration after the pump> I re-glued the joints on the suction side of the pump and just placed flexible hosing on the pressure side thinking all the L-joints might be causing some problems. Any thoughts here? <you are correct... that is where the problem is. Despite re-gluing... the leak is likely still there. The trick to finding it is to systematically smear Vaseline on each joint one by one and wait 15-30 minutes in between to see which one is the culprit. Clean the Vaseline off and then address once found> Tank is about 3-months old 180-gallon tank with 38-gallon sump 2.3 watts / gallon of VHO lighting (280 watts full; 140 watts actinic) (need and want more) 6x per hour of water flow 500 gallon Venturi skimmer (on the way) 140 lbs of base rock 40 lbs of live rock (more on its way) 120 lbs of crushed coral sand (#3) Water Quality: Ph 8.2 Alkalinity 12.6 dKH Ammonia 0.25 ppm Nitrite 0.00 ppm Nitrate 0.00 ppm Calcium 350 meq/l Specific Gravity 1.204 Phosphate Low Temp range 77 to 81 <all good as above> Additives Dose Kalk as needed Kent marine SuperBuffer Kent marine Strontium and Molybdenum as needed Iodine as needed <Hmm... I'm wondering if you aren't dosing Ca or Alk too fast... not too much but in too concentrated of a slurry/too fast. Dilute your applications to see> Livestock 3 Domino Damsels 1 Yellow Tang 1 Maroon Clown 1 Sand-sifting Star 7 Conchs 50 Astrea snails 50 Blue leg and other Hermit crabs <Very interesting... to be honest. Hazes are usually easy to cure but no aspect of your husbandry stands out as deficient. Although an expensive solution, if you had any inclination to get a UV or ozonizer... this would do the trick. If not, I would focus on making the skimmer work to the max (one cup daily minimum and must be dark... not tea like). Extra iodine with caution may help too by spiking Redox. Do let us know what works for you. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Cloudy Water? Robert, beer is on the way! <Ha! I love this country!> What makes you have a suspicion of me dosing Ca or Alk too fast?  <the fact that there aren't too many things to cause a white haze... a possible carbonate precipitation was a thought if Kalk was going in too fast (AKA Snowstorm)> I use RO/DI water for dosing and make up water, as needed,  <you do aerate this water first correct?> no "ammonia neutralizing dechlorinator".  <very good> I do have plenty of inclination to purchase a UV system the question is, will my wife. LOL  <understood <VBG>> How do I know how much iodine is too much?  <good question... basically: no big increases in dose... just a slight weekly increase and when brown diatom algae suddenly grows faster than normal, you have crossed the threshold for the system at that time> On sizing a UV system would a smaller system work (i.e. cheaper/less wattage) but just take longer or is it necessary to purchase a system to fit the tank.  <they are all so relatively expensive that I would recommend investing in the right or higher rated system> I feel (short on experience)  <no worries... I'm just plain short> that you would only need to run a UV system during bacterial blooms of this nature so that the immune response of the animals that live in my tank are not compromised. <little concern about compromising fish immunity, but on the same token, a UV really should not be necessary. Just a thought. The aggressive protein skimming is the real key. It must produce coffee dark skimmate every day! NO such thing in a fish tank as low nutrient systems unless you are actually doing daily water changes AND skimming hard. Even then it is a stretch. All skimmers should produce daily>> Thanks in advance. Regards, David <best regards, Anthony>

Sick fish and general tank upkeep Hi Guys, <howdy> You all (Anthony) helped me out in June with a tank-wide Velvet infection which has cleared up nicely after your advice. A dip and QT'ing did the trick - plus a lot of patience. Thank you so much - you saved many lives :-). Your input would now be much appreciated on my next issue. <very good to hear> Tank info: 55Gal, Salt, 79DegF, Ammonia 0, Nitrite/Nitrate 0, PH 8.2, 50lbs live rock, live sand, 1 Small Toby, 1 Yellow Tail Damsel, 1 Scissortail Goby, 1 Banana Wrasse, 1 Small Green Carpet Anemone, 1 Maroon Clown. Protein skimmer, canister filter, U/V sterilizer. <Yowsa... the adult Banana wrasse and Toby are going to look like Laurel and Hardy. I once had a Male Banana wrasse that ate whole large crayfish! PS... the wrasse is dead if he eats the toxic fleshed Toby one day> I went on vacation for 2 weeks and returned to find my tank growing an ugly, stringy, long, fuzzy, brownish algae. It is happily populating my live rock. I got frustrated and used a very soft bristle brush to detach much of it from the rock. Then I took a low pressure power head and blew water on the rock in the tank to "clean" it a bit more.  <Yowsa... way too much work. A large water change and aggressive protein skimming would kick it out in about 2 weeks> Needless to say this produced a very cloudy tank which the filters cleaned out (or it settled) in about 3 hours. The rock now looks like it got a hair cut... The bad part is that the Clown now seems sick. It looks like it has lesions on its scales and some of its fins are ripped (but not deteriorating).  <perhaps a bacterial infection for the same increase in organics/pollutants that allowed the algae bloom> I doubt it is velvet or ich since it appeared so quickly (overnight). The lesions are not bloody but almost like the fish has been scraping on the rocks (which I never observe). Eyes are clear and breathing normally. It basically looks "beat up". Could I have released something in the rock cleaning?  <not at all likely... more so the stress of the event or the poor water quality in the weeks prior that precipitated the event. Did someone overfeed the tank while you were away or did the skimmer stop working to cause this?> Would symptoms point more toward bacterial infection than parasitic? <yes> If bacterial should I treat the whole tank or try to extract the Clown to a QT with antibiotics?  <the latter... with furan based meds daily for 5 days> It will be hard to remove due to the many hading places in the live rock so I would like to treat the whole tank if possible - but not if it would hurt things. <if the fish seems string you can try antibiotic laced foods first> Secondarily, what is this ugly algae and how do I get rid of it?  <as per above... aggressive skimming and nutrient control (water changes, carbon, etc)> Can I remove the rock and clean it without destroying the "good" stuff on the rock?  <don't bother... more harm than good> Is there some type of fish that will eat this stuff - the present inhabitants seem to be uninterested. Was it a big mistake to try to clean the rock in the tank as I did? <no worries> Any creative advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you guys. John <best regards, Anthony>

Thanks and to Success Bob and associates, <<JasonC the associate here...>> Love your website and all the helpful information and material compiled. I entered into the marine hobby last August with a 50 gallon saltwater aquarium. Along the way I had encountered by ups and downs losing many fish and had a period with a Ich infestation in January that didn't help. I had sent you e-mails and they were all answered. (Thanks) But at one point I just wanted to give up. Now I am glad I have stuck it out and my tank is running smooth without any problems, besides temperature do to the hot days in L.A. (getting a chiller soon). <<Glad to hear you've decided to stick with it.>> My longest survivors are my 2 inch Maroon Clown and a few Green Chromis at 9 months. At one point my clown had his dorsal fin bitten off leaving a "U" shape bite and his side fins all ragged. Placed the clown in a floating breeder for protection and let him heal. He's my survivor and the tang is no longer with us. <<Sorry to hear that.>> After this ordeal I slowly added a Coral Beauty, a pair of Firefish, Yellow Coris Wrasse, Yellow Tang, Lawnmower Blenny and one cleaner wrasse. (eats prepared foods and in my tank for 2 months). I also have a sand shifting starfish, 4 hermit crabs, 2 cleaner shrimp and 3 turbo snails. I have a canister filter, protein skimmer, 70 lbs of liverock/sand and do regular water changes and use R/O water and keep the salinity at about 1.021 at 81 degrees. I feed the fish a variety of dry foods, frozen foods and vitamins from time to time. The hobby takes work but the outcome is very rewarding, if done right and with patience. <<Much like many endeavors in life...>> Thanks for all the advice and the work put in to Wet Web Media. <<While I'd love to bathe in all the credit, I cannot - WetWebMedia is the combined effort of many people. I'm just happy to be here.>> But I am glad to say that I just another 30 gallon saltwater tank for my sister and that is coming along easier. My 50 gal gave me the experience of the do's and do not's. I am waiting to the day any the space to move up to a 150-200 gallon tank. Javier <<Cheers, J -- >>

Small creatures on the glass Hello Bob..... <<Actually, the wheel spun and you got JasonC this time...>> I'm hoping you can tell me what I have multiplying on the glass walls of my aquarium. I have a 33 gal saltwater with live rock. Over the last couple of weeks I've noticed very small creatures clinging to the glass. At first I thought they were salt crystals until I realized that was not possible. They have a body the size if a salt crystal and what appear to be eight legs there are now hundreds of them. <<Hard to say exactly without a photo. You would do well to check out this link - http://www.tcnj.edu/~maughme2/faq.htm - A Marine Hitchhiker & Critter ID.>> Thank you in advance if you can shed some light on this.. Les Davis <<Cheers, J -- >>

Carbon for removing metals chlorine etc. To whom it may concern, I treated my 180 gallon fish only tank with copper about 3 weeks ago to control an ich breakout and I am now in the process of removing copper with Polyfilter and carbons. <I just wanted to mention for you and the daily FAQ readers, that treating the tank is a bad idea. Many things are affected or killed by copper and it is incredibly hard to remove completely. Copper is absorbed by your sand, gravel, and anything else calcium based. While you may eventually remove it from the water column, it is possible for copper to continue to leach out. It is also problematic for any encrusting or surface feeding animals, say mushrooms or snails added down the road.> The last reading I got was about .010ppm. Before the copper treatment I removed all of my Caulerpa. My question is, how tolerant are various types of Caulerpa to copper? <All algae use copper and iron in small quantities, but your level still seems dangerous to me.> I noticed in the past that this form of Caulerpa that I have appears to stay alive even with copper levels somewhat high. Not sure of the name but they look like long branches, pretty thick with little bell or umbrella shaped leaves attached to stems. Can you identify this Caulerpa for me? <It sounds like a racemosa type. You can confirm by looking over the pictures on www.WetWebMedia.com.> Can I add the Caulerpa back now that the copper levels are a bit lower? <I would work to lower them still prior to reintroduction. Also, when you feel you are ready, add only a small amount as a test and see how it does. -Steven Pro>

Re: Carbon for removing metals chlorine etc. <Anthony Calfo with the follow up> Thanks for the quick response. I have about 15 fish in all, some of them larger tangs, some sensitive butterflies.  <Yikes, my friend... have you considered that equals about 1 fish per 10 gallons of water with consideration for displacement for rocks, sand, etc. Heck even if that were not so and you had a large sump of say 50 gallons... that still leaves an overstocked tank. Do consider these fishes adult sizes (some larger ones by admission)... the stress of such close quarters as it relates to their overall vigor, rates of infectious disease, etc. And I understand that these are the 15 fish that lived... there were more in this tank not too long ago. Please don't take this personally Chris... just a factual observation> At the time they were all infected heavily with Cryptocaryon ich. I came back from a 3 day vacation and found the main pump had died.  <very sorry to hear it. Many of us have been there before. Hindsight is indeed 20/20 as they say. For the investment of several thousand dollars that you have here if not the very fishes lives... do consider keeping a second pump on hand with the hopes that a house sitter will catch it or at least that you would be able to respond faster on return. It doesn't even have to be a second top of the line pump... a $100 large mag drive for basic water circulation would be cheap insurance for this system. Voice of experience <G>> I suppose if I could of caught the parasite a day earlier I could have treated each fish one by one in a separate tank but this still would not have ended the life cycle of the parasite which takes at least 14 days to cure.  <hmmm... I don't follow or agree with your math. Have you ID the parasite to know if it is Crypt, Oodinium (Brooklynella, A Turbellid, etc). Each has very different life cycles and some can be broken in as little as 8 days. Still... I run a full 4 week QT myself. No treatment will "sterilize" your fish or tank of course... we are just using good sound fish husbandry to tip the scales very favorably for our fishes in doing so> The parasite would just re-infect the fish from the substrate when returning fish to the main tank. <if you abbreviated the QT yes> Removing them all to my quarantine tank and waiting 30 days for the tank to go fallow was not an option since my quarantine tank is only 20 gallons... <not the fishes fault the QT is too small (at the risk of sounding like I'm picking on you :p). You have a big investment in this tank and lives that depend on you. Be resourceful my friend! A half dozen nestable 20 gal Rubbermaid tubs would fit under a stairwell or in a small closet. The air pump, tubing, etc would all fit inside it. A small investment to have sitting and waiting just in case> it would not accommodate all of these fish.  <as per above suggestion> Some would have died within a few days for sure from either ammonia or nitrite poisoning due to the overload to the filtration.  <Ahhh... Chris. I see the problem now. You can claim ignorance (respectfully said, as in "without knowledge")... you have not been schooled on easy and proper QT protocol... and you are mistaken. The filtration for your hospital tanks (cheap sponge filters, e.g.) can sit ready, waiting and running in your sump at all times while the QT tanks or stacked/nestable tubs sit dry and out of your way. When needed... aged (conditioned) sponge filters are drawn and the display can be topped off after the QT and fish are taken care of. In fact, with the lower water level in the display for having done so... the fish will appropriately be easier to catch. Good planning. You just needed the right advice bud. Now you/we have something to grow from> I tried fresh water dipping the larger ones <excellent and helpful> but the parasites were already heavily infested on all the fish and in the substrate,  <actually tomites/larvae that linger and can easily be siphoned out before the hatch and re-infect> so in my case I had no other option.  <hmmmm> I think treating my tank with copper was a great solution... because NONE of my fish died and they are all fully recovered,  <honestly lucky... I wouldn't call it a great solution. I say this only for fear of it happening again and you hoping for lightning to strike twice. As they say... even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes. Heehee... I hope you have a sense of humor :)> look colorful and are eating great. I am not too sure if anyone else would have saved all of these fish unless they had a system that was 'fully capable of supporting this huge fish load' for the duration.  <easy there bud... you just didn't have the correct information at hand. Steve was just trying to advise you fully and not give you the short answer... you did ask for advice right:) If there are limitations to the advice desired... let us know. We get paid the same either way... nada, zip... nil... and like it that way <G>> I knew that the copper would be absorbed by all calculus materials and understood all of the negatives in doing this.  <I'm just amazed with all of the calcareous media in a 180 gallon tank that you were even remotely able to keep the levels therapeutically up daily (testing and dosing 2-3 times daily for most aquarists attempting this)>  I wonder how many people would have been this successful... in removing 15 fish to another system for 30 days then returning them... without one single casualty.  <All if they were prepared to remove them to a planned system for the purpose as all of us should have. If your question is how many of 15 fish would have survived in a 20 gallon tank, however... I agree with you> If you would you happen know of any such person please share this success story with me because that would be very interesting me! No disrespect, but having a large sized tank with adequate filtration readily available for quarantine purposes is an extreme luxury item and not many of us in the hobby would have. <again... just your lack of information on easy/proper QT protocol and preparedness. Do allow me/us to share more information on this topic if you want or need it. And please do not think of it as a "luxury". You scare me dude to hear you say it that way... it implies a lack of understanding of our responsibilities to out fishes. If I owned a Great Dane and lived in a studio apartment knowing that I would be changing jobs and moving in a year to a place that I couldn't take the dog... I wouldn't call the lack of a proper sized home or planning for its full lifespan a luxury... I'd call that poor planning (at least). The dog is not a dry good or commodity... it is a living creature of course. Whole different set of rules and obligations. Same thing holds true with a Naso tang for example that grows to 18-24" as an adult but lives in a 6 foot tank (especially if it must live with 14 other fish of any size). Please understand Chris... I'm not criticizing you (I'm just a wise guy :) )... but I'm not going to say that I didn't sense you feeling attacked of defensive from Steve's reply. I read the reply... and just as Steve stated plainly upfront, "I just wanted to mention for you and the daily FAQ readers..." your reply was answered to serve you AND the hundreds or thousands of people that will read this message as posted in our archives. It would have been unfair to you to not show you a better way, and it would be unfair to other/future readers to let them believe that this was an acceptable situation. I apologize if there was any miscommunication about the way we answer queries. For the record... we are available almost 24 hours a day. Thousands of people will attest to getting responses within minutes (!). Our advice is experienced and valid and free... always has been and will be. You must take it at that. Olive branch bud? If it gives you any more confidence in my second opinion, I studied fish pathology under Gratzek and Blasiola world/leading authorities on the subject. The advice I have proffered you here is based on their wisdom and recommendations of protocol. That's gotta count for something. I wish you the best. With kind regards, Anthony>

Re: Carbon for removing metals chlorine etc. Thanks! Yes, I do have a sense of humor and I can definitely take a joke. <cheers my friend! And good to hear... it nice to be able to look at things with a smile whenever possible :)> I will follow your advise as I have always done before. To be quite frank, most all of my education on fish keeping has come from the Wet Web Media site and I do speak very highly of the site to others.  <I am especially thankful that you/anybody finds it useful enough to refer to others... indeed a sincere compliment and the purpose of it all... helping others to succeed for the greater good of all.> Since I am fairly new to the hobby, (2 years) I agree I still have lot's to learn but I have been very successful considering the short period of time that I have been keeping fish.  <agreed.... but a wonderful journey and education it is. You are definitely on the right track by pondering and questioning.> I'll admit that I am influenced at times by the advise of the LFS guy.  <as we all are or have been. We all would like to have and hope to have the worlds best LFS in our backyard. Indeed, we hope that any and all such merchants would advise us accurately and responsibly> He is the one who told me to defiantly treat the tank with copper.  <alas... one can get good advice at a "bad" store and the worst advice at a great store... it happens.>  In the future I will follow proper QT protocol as suggested in WWM. <it is no fun :) but such methods exist because aquatic scientists (at least in this case) have done the research and shown us a clear path. The numbers don't lie (statistics on morbidity and mortality).> I just need to be more pro-active, more prepared for when any such disaster would happen again and yes I will try some of the techniques as you mentioned.  <excellent, my friend. And knowing that you, I and most folks don't have unlimited time to research and become experts on this and any hobby field... let me suggest that you hone the pursuit of information to get the most bang for your buck: aquarium societies and national conferences like MACNA (Dallas this year www.dfwmas.com) are some of the e very best places to get free, generally unbiased and accurate information open the hobby. Up to date and current too. They are a collection of the most dedicated and/or advanced aquarists all getting together for fellowship and to pick each others brains. Gets my vote for improving your understanding and enjoyment of the hobby> Thanks very much and I apologize if I offended.  <no worries at all, bud... I was worried you were upset or offended. Its all good :)> At the risk of sounding uneducated at times my goal is always to get the right answers. Thanks very much! <its excellent to ask and challenge most times... better than ignorant silence!> Oh by the way, I have 2 large PVC connected sumps, wet / dry having a very large tower of BIO balls, (15 Gallons!) and other sump with great skimmer <very impressive!> and Caulerpa. I suppose with this filtration I was able to make it through the storm. Lot's surface space in overflow for beneficial bacteria to grow. Most of my fish are small as you can see below so I think I have not overloaded per say but I will definitely stop adding here. <agreed... most have small adult sizes. Indeed do stop adding. As it stands the 3 tangs and 2 butterflies have a collective adult length of about 48"... that's a lot of fish :) And the Trigger...well, heehee... you know. Agreed. The tank is very fine right now. And has plenty of fish for the 3-5 year picture... before the trigger starts to clean house <G>. Do keep learning, sharing and growing... with kind regards, Anthony> Tank Inhabitants... 8" Blue Hippo Tang (large) 6" Purple Tang (large) 4" Kole Tang (med.) 5" Christmas Wrasse (small) 5" Threadfin Butterfly (med.) 4" Raccoon Butterfly (med.) 1" Percula Clown (small) 1 1/2" Clown Trigger (I know, but he's harmless now) 1" Velvet Damsel (small) 3/4" Blue Damsel (small) 2" Bi-color Pseudo (small) 4" Bi-color Angel (med.) 3" Checkered Blenny (small) 1" Green Chromis (small) 3/4" Gold Neon Goby (tiny and very helpful)

Newbie with questions, glitches <<Greetings, JasonC here at your service...>> I have a new (1 month old) 29 gal office tank. So far everything's fine, but I have a few questions. Here's the lowdown: Tank ------------------ 29 gal "Top-Fin" 30x12 35 lb Fiji LR 10 lb base rock 2 in Caribbean aragonite Aquaclear 200 (sponge & carbon) Penguin 550 powerhead Prizm skimmer :( 200W heater 1 NO fluorescent - came with the tank <<ok...>> Water ------------------ Temp 82 F SG 1.025 Ph 8.0 Ammonia/Nitrite 0 Nitrate 20 Phosphate > .05 Livestock ------------------- 1 yellow-tail damsel 2 ocellaris clowns 2 Mithrax crabs 1 skunk cleaner shrimp 5 scarlet hermits 10 Trochus snails 1 tuxedo urchin 1 sand-sifter star Glitches 1. I can't seem to get the Ph above 8.0 - 8.1. <<Not all that uncommon with new tanks... you might try some Arm & Hammer baking soda as a buffer to bring up that pH. There are also commercial buffers that will accomplish the same thing.>> 2. Three hermits have been found dead out of their shells. I'm down to five. They fall off the rock and land upside-down, they also wedge themselves under pieces of LR. One is dead behind the rock where I can't reach him. <<Also not all that uncommon... some snails for whatever reason just don't seem able to right themselves, or get stuck by the current. I think it's a Darwinian thing. You might have to break down some of that rock to get the dead snail out.>> 3. Prizm doesn't seem to skim much. There's only a little foam (but the water is crystal clear) <<This is mostly due to design... as skimmers go, these rate very near the bottom in performance, sorry to say.>> 4. Two Fromia starfish (shipped FedEx) have died. One dissolved starting at the ray tips after a few hours in the tank. His replacement met a similar fate after a few days. I acclimated these over a four-hour period, adjusted Ph, etc. I did expose them to air for a few seconds. <<Exposing them to the air is the big no-no, but also your low pH should be fixed before you try any more of these. Interestingly enough, it is ok to mix seastar shipping water into your main system, so in the future, after acclimation, just dump the whole bag in.>> Questions 1. I want to get a BTA for the clowns. I'm thinking of getting the CustomSeaLife PC24265 (2x65W PC 50/50 6500 lux). Will this be enough light? <<I'm sure some folks would tell you this would be fine, but I'm not one of them. There are only a few anemones that don't need intense lighting, and 130w of PC fluorescent probably won't be intense enough. Likewise, your tank is on the small side which makes managing water quality a challenge at best. I'd avoid any anemone in a system of this size.>> 2. I can get everything in the tank to accept food -- except the sand sifter. Does he need food supplements? What about the snails? <<Well, two things about these... one, they need a productive live sand bed, as they thrive on the fauna found within. The other issue is that this same fauna is needed for other things, so that a seastar like this can actually become counter-productive. I would recommend against keeping this animal in this system.>> 3. The clowns are about 1 in and not very strong swimmers. It looks like they're straining against the current sometimes. Are they going to exhaust themselves? <<I don't think so... unless they are undernourished or otherwise compromised somehow - picked on or parasite plagued. These fish have an odd tendency of purposely swimming in strong currents - whether for exercise or entertainment is difficult to say, but as long as they are eating I wouldn't worry about it. Cheers, J -- >>

Re: lionfish growth, sudden-light reaction Hello, I was wondering how fast a volitans Lionfish would grow?  <Under "good" circumstances, quite quickly... have seen let's say a two ounce one double its weight in several weeks...> Also do you know why my adult Naso and Sailfin tang flip out when the light is turned on? <Many fishes and non-fish animals really don't like to immediately go from dark to light or vice versa... it's a very good idea to have an "intermediary" light source near the tank (like a room light on a dimmer let's say) to more gradually have the day begin/end, then be too abrupt. Bob Fenner> Thank you!!!!

Siphoning Hi, someone here says gods from the sea, you reply not gods but walrus, just to be impartial leave it in: well connected guys with the reefs. <<And greetings to you.>> I'm having problems with siphoning detritus. As I said in other messages I perform 10% of water changes in weekly basis. I use only 1/2" - 1 1/4" of sand fine grain not sugar size. With the water change I make the siphon work, but the manure of my Yellow Tang does not come out (and my Yellow Tang really knows how to defecate). It seams that it is to heavy to goes through the siphon. I tried to take it off with a sifter but it becomes a mess. The last time I tried to use a ladle but was inefficient either. The siphon I use start in a 2 1/2" diameter tube and ends in a 3/4" hose. If you have other method or idea to be successful on this matter please advise me. <<Hmmm... perhaps it's time to put a little more sand in there and add some creatures that would eat that crap. Nassarius snails are quite good at clean up as are the brittle seastars [provided they aren't green].>> Carlos. PS, yesterday I order the Anthony Calfo Book, I hope it will arrive in a few days, eager to read it. <<I think you will enjoy it.>> Bye <<Cheers, J -- >>

New Tank Hi, <<And hello to you.>> I am writing to you on behalf my friend who has recently set up (3 months ago) a 120 gallon tank in her office. She added a black dog faced puffer three weeks ago, previous occupants were one gold domino damsel and a cleaner wrasse. Unfortunately, she did not use a QT tank and the next morning before the lights came out noticed white spots on the puffer's stomach where the cleaner was picking; these spots quickly disappeared once the wrasse moved on. Within a week, there were a few spots on the fins, however, the puffer was allowing the wrasse to clean him so we were going to monitor. The few spots on fins have not become worse or better, however, I noticed within the last two days the puffer is only pumping one gill, so this morning we did a 10 minute FW water dip. The odd thing is when I put the puffer in the FW, very white spots came out on the back/stomach area again then went away. A bunch of stuff came off the puffer, and larger whitish things too, maybe it threw up?? <<perhaps... or something from the other end... ;-) >> The puffer really began to stress out at 10 minutes, so I removed from FW dip. The puffer is still not using his gill, and I can still see a few white spots on fins and one little spot of cloudiness on the fin. I never see any other spots on body, other than the two times mentioned that seem to disappear as fast as they appear. <<This is not really abnormal for puffers - their skin is sensitive so you see these things more often.>> Also, the little damsel, has no signs of anything, however, within a few days ago has began to breath heavier and twitch a little, she opens her gills for the wrasse, but the wrasse only cleans the outside body. <<Interesting, but keep the faith - damsels and puffers are quite resilient.>> We went out last night and purchased her a 20 gallon QT tank to get her through this and so she can QT her fish in for a few weeks before releasing into the 120 gallon. <<Good plan.>> I took 15 gallons of water out of my 72 gallon reef which has been set up for a year, and has not had any new additions from for 4 months. I added 5 new gallon mix as well. I tested the water this morning and there are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, nitrates 20, ph 8.3, alk 2.5. <<Sounds like it's ready to go.>> We are going to try and catch the damsel, (which will be hard as this is a FOWLR tank) and the puffer tonight. I thought of using copper in QT tank for the damsel, but, I know I cannot use that with the puffer's scaleless skin. <<Actually, you can, you just need to be cognizant of the fact that the copper will irritate the puffer and cause stress, but probably not more so than the disease already is. If you do choose to use copper, do stay within the recommended dose. If this concerns you, stick with the freshwater dips, perhaps one every other day. These fish are very hardy and should be able to tolerate this regimen.>> I will continue the FW dips daily, but, I feel we will need some medication either in FW dips, or placed in QT tank. <<You could also use formalin or a formalin/malachite green mix like Quickcure.>> Right now all fish are in main tank because, I needed to get water tested in QT tank first. <<I wouldn't be concerned about this if you are set on dosing medications in the QT tank. Reason being that a biological filter would be well-challenged to develop in this situation. Best to know you are in-line for water changes every day in quarantine - perhaps 10-25% daily.>> Please help me with a plan of action.. both fish are absolutely beautiful and we really want them to be ok and need help with treating both simultaneously. Also, please lend advice on the main tank. should we leave alone for 4 weeks with no host or will she need to do hypo salinity? <<I would go for six weeks, and dropping the salinity to 1.018 - 1.019 for a week or two during that time would help as would raising the temperature to about 82F or so.>> As always thanks, Nikki <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

New Tank Hi! <<And hello to you...>> I am a newbie to the salt world on my own. My uncle had a large tank for years that I learned the basics from, but in age, the details escape me. I have read a TON on the WWM site including most of the FAQ pages and even bought the book! I have a few small questions. Here is my setup: 75 gal glass 1 emperor 404 filter (dual BioWheel) 1 retrofitted Skilter (As protein skimmer) 2 oscillating powerheads for current 1 regular 40 watt light (soon to upgrade to better 50/50) 80 lbs live sand 4 lbs of live rock (upgrading to 45 total this Thurs and 75-80 total in 2 weeks)' temp 82 PH 8.2 ammonia 2PPM Nitrate - none added fish on 7/20 My questions are these: 1. I am using 2 damsels to cycle my tank. What are the MAX PPM the Ammonia and Nitrate should get to. I'm worried that the ammonia will get too high <<Hmm, no easy way for me to say, it's different for every system. Suffice to say, the ammonia/ium will likely go higher, the nitrite higher than that.>> 2. How long does it usually take to get Algae to grow someplace in the tank?? I am told that is a good sign the tank is relatively healthy <<It's a sign that things are on the move - bacteria beginning to develop, and etc. Perhaps four weeks... again varies from system to system.>> 3. I've heard different timings on waiting to add another fish. some say with the additional rock and the live sand I have, 10 days is enough. Others tell me 30 days minimum. what is a good timeframe? <<You can determine the timeframe by doing lots of tests. There is no one answer here... it is different for every system.>> 4. Also, I've heard that weekly changes are a minimum, but others (including the tank we have at work) are monthly. Once the tank gets established is monthly ok? <<It is 'ok' if it's the best you can do, but you can do better. I do 10% every two weeks on my tank, but... if you miss a week, it's not the end of the world.>> thanks for the help and if you ever come to Cincy (or will be nearby) drop a note! We'd love to meet ya!-Rich <<Cheers, J -- >>

Salt Water Aquarium question Hello Mr. Fenner, Recently got a copy of your book (The Conscientious Marine Aquarist), and I love it! <Glad we have found each other, closer> My problem is this, high nitrates. Six months ago I pulled the tubes out of my UGF thus making a "plenum" but haven't seen a huge decline in nitrates. (still showing 100PPM). What is the best way to reduce nitrates? <Welcome to another avenue of information, inspiration, communication; our website: WetWebMedia.com. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the related FAQs files> And is there a way to convert an Eheim 2213 canister filter into strictly a nitrate magnet. <Mmm, not easily> If so what is the best way to do this? <Most approaches call for increasing the overall surface area of a non-clumping media (like Siporax) and slowing the flow rate down tremendously), like one pass per hour or less (a drip)> BTW my current setup is 55 gallon SW aquarium 50-60 lbs. live rock UGF converted to plenum 2213 external canister with surface extractor four power heads for flow Sea clone skimmer <You should read through the WWM Skimmer Selection area re upgrading this skimmer> 1 yellow tang 1 Hippo tang 1 sail fin tang 2 Yellow tailed damsels 1 6-line wrasse 7 turbo snails 2 emerald crabs 1 peppermint shrimp 1 Haitian anemone Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you, Brian Bottarini <We'll be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Change to Saltwater Hello Bob and crew... <howdy!> I send yet another email, thanks for all your patience and speedy replies. <our pleasure> I have a 54gal corner tank, a 200W heater and a smaller one (I think 150 or something like that) Fluval 404, and 204 canister filters, the large one with carbon, foam inserts, and the Fluval bio media, the small one with the foam inserts and that cotton-ball-like filter media. There is approx 1"-1 1/2" of crushed coral on the bottom, and some large (10") shells. Currently there are some African Cichlids in the tank, but I am looking to switch over to a saltwater setup...I have been bitten by the bug I guess. Anyhow...I was wondering what changes would need to be made for a FO setup, other than adding the salt and a skimmer. Should I keep it as it is, with just these couple of additions, or should I go for it and get some live rock, replace the crushed coral with sand, and build it from there. <add much live rock, keep filters the same for now, consider siphoning out most of the crushed coral and leaving alone OR adding a deep sand bed of a reef tank is likely. And yes... skimmer is crucial... buy a good brand (see archives)> I was hoping to have a small school...maybe some green Chromis or something of the sort... <gorgeous fishes... perhaps some Firefish too if you'll keep this peaceful tank> I would like a couple slightly larger fish, but I am not sure what will go with the schooling fish,  <many fine choices... do read more here on Wet Web Media about them> perhaps a tang (I guess this would require the live rock) <this tank is not big enough for a tang in the 2 year picture> or a wrasse of some sort... <yes... many fine wrasses, beautiful too> but anyhow, I guess there are far too many options to go through here. Any insight you might have would be just lovely. < the support/wisdom of a good local aquarium society would be invaluable. Do see if you can find (or start) a local club> Thanks Chris <best regards, Anthony>

Just chit-chat (LR, more marine maintenance) Hey guys, <<And hello to you.>> I can't tell enough how valuable I find your site to be...so I won't even try, hehehe. <<Fair enough.>> Anyways, I just wanted to write and let you know that I started to cure about 45 lbs of live rock this afternoon. I bought a 45 gallon rubber-maid bin (plenty of room to add more rock, btw), added water last week and aerated it overnight before adding salt the next day...currently with 1.023 SG...it's been circulating with powerhead since last week...added rock today after scrubbing off while rinsing with tap water from hose...btw, one must really use gloves for this or suffer from what I call invisible piercing pain syndrome... <<very true.>> also, don't scrub off or rinse in tub, I found out that the bits and particles that fall off don't go down the drain nicely...rinse and scrub outside with hose... rock will stay in bin about a month (with testing, water changes, etc)...My LFS told me that I can add calcium during the curing...I don't think I will unless I read otherwise on this site. <<Oh you certainly can, and it won't hurt at all, especially if you want to the coralline to explode.>> I wanted to mention that I was using a Visi-jet protein skimmer bought in December of last year. For the last month or so, it was not producing anything good (or bad) into the cup. I figured that it was just junk, so I got an AquaC Urchin skimmer, which works incredibly AWESOME!!! But I put the old junker into the bin where I'm curing my rock, and guess what? I poured out more than a quarter cup of coffee colored gunk within hours of turning it on today!!! <<Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. I'd bet the jet-jet couldn't help but skim.>> In fact, the jet-jet is currently producing so much dry-foam that it was overflowing when I got home from dinner tonight! <<Mmmm... tasty.>> I think this happened because I actually cleaned out some of the gunk last week before I set it in the bin for the LR. Before this, I never cleaned it, which is probably why it stopped working in my tank. Lesson: take better care of your investments. <<OK!>> Here's another tip that I learned...I recently upgraded to 220 watts of PC lighting for my 55g...the day after initial setup, I noticed that my thermometer read "over 84 degrees"...ya see, I have one of those sticker thermometers that goes on the outside of the tank and doesn't read past 84 degrees....I bought a new thermometer, one that goes IN the tank this time, and the temp reads 78 degrees, while the sticker still reads "over 84"...my theory is that the intense lighting heats up the black sticker, so the sticker is actually getting hot and not really the water. Lesson: buy in-tank thermometers... <<OK again!>> Last, I have been using Hagen test kits lately...are they to be trusted? <<Hmmm... not familiar with this brand although many of the test kits are actually all made by the same company. If your are suspect, make use of your LFS and ask them to test/compare your water.>> My vision is blurring now. Thank you, Randy M. Yniguez, MA "Those Who Take The Initiative Will Reap The Benefits" <<Cheers, J -- >>

New tank setup questions Greetings Gentlemen! As Steven suggested a couple of weeks ago, I have been researching and deciding what I want out of my tank. I have read through most of your site and the numerous FAQ's, and am a little unsure of what I have in place so far and what I have planned for the future is going to work. By the way, your site has become my favorite place to point my browser to! My tank (new setup): 75g 25" deep, 48" long, 13" wide 60lbs LS 20lbs Fiji LR (adding another 90lbs this week) SeaLife Systems Pro100 WD (w/ pre-filter) SeaLife Systems Pro100 PS 2 400gph powerheads 1 150gph powerhead 1 48" PC strip lite with 2 Custom SeaLife Inc "SmartLamp" lamps (10,000K Premium Daylight and Ultra-Actinic) So far the water quality tests have been where the recommended values should be (but it has only been 1 week). My questions: It has only been 1 week since I placed the original LR, so can I place the LR that is on the way directly in the tank (after inspection and cleaning if necessary of course)? <Yes> I have researched the lighting, and I am not sure I am interpreting the data correctly. What I read says that the PC lights provide 3.5 times more light (lumens) than normal output fluorescents. <They are more powerful per watt, but not that much more.> The amount of wattage I currently have is 110, but if I interpret the data correctly, I have the equivalent of 385 watts. Is this correct? <No, I would ballpark 110 watts of PC at the equivalent of 160 watts of normal output fluorescents.> MY LFS recommends another 48" strip equipped with the "SmartLamps". Would that be too much? <Depends on what you want to keep.> How would I cycle the photo periods if all of the lamps were the same? <I would still cycle them so that the lights coming on would not be too abrupt.> The corals would consist of purple bulls eye mushroom, blue stripe mushroom, bubble coral, flower pot, <Avoid the Goniopora.> yellow polyps, green button polyps, leather coral, bubble anemone, and a carpet anemone <And also leave out the anemones.> (for the clowns). I will probably introduce these corals in a couple months. Any potential problems there? <See notes above.> How long do I need to wait before introducing my clean-up crew (immediately after curing the LR)? <Sure> I plan to have left-hand, scarlet reef, and blue-leg hermits, Astrea, turbo, and margarita snails, 2 brittle stars, 2 peppermint shrimp, 2 cleaner shrimp, and 2 cucumbers. Do you see problems there? <I would leave out all the hermits and the cucumbers.> As for fish, I would like to have 1 coral beauty, 2 blennies (or more if recommended), 2 gobies, 2 common clowns, and 1 Niger or bursa trigger. I won't be introducing the fish to this tank for several months. Do you see any problems there? <The Trigger is an odd choice with the rest of these fish, but could be done.> If this were a computer system setup, I would be confident enough to jump in head first. This hobby is so new to me though; I am a bit overwhelmed by all of the material available. I just want to make sure I understand what I am reading so I don't kill the life I plan to introduce. I thank you in advance for your valued advice. Dave <Have a nice evening. -Steven Pro>

Cloudy water? Hello folks, Please advise on how to clear up water? <Please search through the website for your answer.> Thanks, John <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Nitrate Removal Hi Bob (or whoever), <Hello> I have written to you before regarding a v'small marine tank I had setup, which may I say was very successful indeed. I have now converted my brackish tropical tank to full marine (after removing any fish that wouldn't tolerate a full salt mix). I am trying to use the same method in which I succeeded in with the v'small tank i.e. not interfering with it as much as possible. <Good approach> Before with the v'small tank the only thing I ever did was top up the water and feed tiny scraps of food for the corals and for the blenny (excellent suggestion you made to get one for algae clearance, not a lawnmower type but sufficient). My next question is this: Now the 2 foot tank has been converted and has all the coralline contents of the v'small tank I am having a problem, the no. of fish (approx 1/2 pound of fish poss. a bit more very excessive for a tank this size, minimum feeding though) in this tank now outweighs the amount on nitrate the rock can accommodate. Currently there is 0% ammonia 0% nitrite and the tank has been cycled for ages, using the method as before I do not wish to constantly cycle the water to remove nitrate and other such toxins, please tell me which of the following would be the most natural way of reducing nitrates (and other possible toxics and poss. introduce some trace and calciferous elements). I would like to emulate nature as much as possible (i.e.. not use protein skimmers and chemicals). should I use 1. a live sand bed (along with all the setup difficulties) with slow trickle feed and plenty anaerobic bacteria (possibly in separate 12x10x10 tank full of sand). or 2. a v'slow trickle filter filled with a material that will support anaerobic bacteria. <Mmm, in order, the above... I'd use 1, then 2, then 3... or perhaps all three. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm for my expose on nitrates in marine systems... and the many FAQs linked. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance Alex. (Sandgate, Kent, UK)

Random Questions Hey man... My name is Yorgos Gregory. I work at a local pet store in the fish dept. I just had a few random questions for you. 1) Could you help me clarify the difference between the nitrogen cycles in fresh and salt water tanks? <There are very similar. The bacteria involved are different for each.> 2) Can instant ocean salt be used for a brackish tank? <Yes> 3) Do you have any extra tips on keeping bicolor angels? <No longer a hardy fish. Getting a good specimen is probably the most difficult part. Most are doomed due to collection and shipping practices. More info can be found here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/Centropyge/index.htm> 4) What do you recommend as the best brand for frozen marine fish foods? <I am very partial to the Ocean Nutrition line, but there are other good one. I also use Hikari and Sally's.> 5) Do you have any tips for altering pH (up or down) without using a buffer or chemicals? <Water changes for raising pH as it has a tendency to drop over time. There is a discus breeder's trick of using peat to lower pH. Using a keyword search, I am sure you could find it.> I found your web site a few months ago. Now I live and swear by it. I hand it out daily to the customers in my store. Thank you so much for your time and work. Any answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lighting and Calcium Question I currently have a 90 gallon FOWLR set-up. I have an eco-system mud filter coupled with an Eheim canister for mechanical filtration. I also use a Red Sea prism skimmer and I cannot get it to produce much waste. Lighting consists of three 40 Watt fluorescents, two fifty-fifties and one 10,000k daylight bulb. My problem is that I cannot get coralline algae growth. I add the Kent two part alkalinity and calcium twice per week per the directions on the bottle. I do not test for alkalinity or calcium. Would you recommend more frequent dosing or should I buy test kits? <Get, use the test kits. Don't waste your time, livestock, money w/o testing for anything you supplement> Also, is my lighting sufficient? If not, will the addition of another twin bulb fluorescent fixture, bringing the count up to four 40 Watt bulbs, be sufficient? If so, what color combination do you recommend? I have also been looking at power compacts, what is the minimum wattage that I can get by with considering my set-up? I am trying to find the least inexpensive way to accomplish sustaining live rock with coralline algae growth and no corals. <I understand. Please read through the mass of information (facts, opinions) on marine lighting posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/index.htm  following the linked files (in blue at top) of various parts> I have also been looking at different skimmers since I am unhappy with the prism skimmer. Would the AquaC Remora Pro skimmer be suitable for my set-up? <Yes... please peruse the WetWebMedia.com site re "Skimmer Selection"> Thank you for your help.

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