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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance 6

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Related FAQs: Marine Aquarium Maintenance 1, Mar. Aq. Maint. FAQs 2Maint. FAQs 3Maint. FAQs 4Maint. FAQs 5, Maint. FAQs 7Maint. FAQs 8, Maint. FAQs 9, Maint. FAQs 10, Maint FAQs 11, Maint. FAQs 12, Maint. FAQs 13, Maint. 14, Reef Maintenance 1


Re: follow up on email from 3/1/03 with Craig (marine maintenance) Hey!!  I followed the rec's from your reply.  I made the following changes:  calcium supplementation, doing fresh salt water exchanges and increasing the water flow in the tank by adding another sea swirl and placing 4 submersible pumps each doing 400 gal per hour....  The filters on the r/o d/I filtration system were changed about a month before the problem occurred. <Make sure all filters are properly seated and there is no accidental by-pass... Test product water before use.> I stopped increasing the Kalkwasser dosing and just drip in 3 liters each night... I would add the calcium supplement in the am and the alkalinity supplement in the evening several hours before the lights go off and the Kalkwasser drip is started...  You asked about certain parameters at the time of the crash...  ph 7.8 in the am 8.1 later in the day.. the sp gravity was and remains high at greater than 1030. A salinity refractometer is on the way from Milwaukee instruments. <This should be between 1.023 and 1.025, NO HIGHER, certainly not 1.030!!!   Also, only dose alk as needed/determined by testing with quality test kits. 3.5 to 5 meq/L is ideal. High alk drives calcium down and vice-versa. Best to maintain moderate levels of both the too high for each.> At the time of the problem ammonia, nitrate, nitrite and phosphate levels were zero ... the calcium was 250 to 225 level. <Very low here. You want 380-450, no higher or lower.> I didn't have a mg test kit then to test the water before the corrections. <Do get one to check magnesium while using Kalkwasser.> The total alkalinity level in the 5.6 to 7.0 dKH range. <This should be more accurate then a range! 5.6 dKH is 2 meq/L, very low alk.> The new parameters are as follows ... ammonia, nitrate, nitrite and phosphate levels are  zero.  The sp gr is 1030 or greater.... <Yeow!  Too high! slowly lower to 1.025, use a good quality glass hydrometer or use overnight shipping on the refractometer, this is important!> The pH remains in the same range as before... <Normal fluctuation, the Kalk should keep it at 8.30 fairly constant if done correctly.> The total alkalinity is 8.4dkh ... the mg is 1900 mg/l... calcium is 500 ppm... the carbonate hardness is 7dkh. <These are based on volume.  IOW, high SG/salt content makes these too high in replacement.  Stop Kalk and any calcium until calcium is 450. This shouldn't take long.  7 dKH carbonate alk equals 2.5 meq/L, too low. Raise to 3.5 - 5 meq/L (9.8 - 14 dKH) with a balanced buffer/carbonate supplement like Seachem. Follow directions closely. Your mag is a tad high, but will come down with use/return to Kalk when calcium drops a bit.> The tank continues to look the same with the brown algae on all surfaces: the glass, rock and crushed coral bottom....the glass needs to be scraped about every 3 days or so to keep clear. <Still indicates silicates, phosphates, and enough nitrates to fuel diatoms/algae. This may take some time to use up/remove with water changes.  My concern is/was the lack of proper testing kits to keep params in nominal ranges. This appears to still be somewhat problematic, these need to be consistent and you need to develop a consistent system to make sure SG, pH, calcium and alk are consistent.> The behavior of the tank inhabitants remains the same and I have lost more of the snails ... the fish, sea urchins are active and eating. <I'm concerned with high SG. This could be the problem.> The protein skimmers need to be dumped about every other day. <This is good!  Perhaps clean every day to help with algae.> I don't know if Craig will get this or if someone else will do this. I had hoped that I would start to see some changes by now, but nothing seems to of been changed much so far ... send more help and help me get through this...Chris <I think your SG might have been the problem combined with low calcium (now a tad high) low alk for sure. You really need to get your system in place to hold these with normal ranges without fluctuation esp. too low. Snails need calcium and carbonate alk to function and too high SG is bad for all. Get these right! I wouldn't worry as much about the algae as the water params. One follows the other.  Anthony wrote a great article on calcium and alkalinity at WetWebMedia.com, you better read it a couple times! It will definitely help.  Craig>

Live Rock or fish first? - 3/10/2003 I have a 55 Gal. about 2 weeks old from start up. Equipment includes a Lifeguard  FB 300 with Penguin 550 power head, a Magnum 350 with canister with Phos-Zorb, and Magnum 250 with just a Micron cartridge. just until tank cycles) <I doubt the micron filter is providing much of a benefit beyond reducing suspended particles from aragonite/sand addition, etc> Have 5 damsels right now to help cycle. <That's quite a bit all at once in a completely new tank, even for a 55 gallon and small fish.  Be sure to keep up with water changes until the cycle is complete.> I would like to add live rock, mushroom and polyp coral down the road.  I realize  I should get a protein skimmer and tossing  two back and forth....CPR Bak-Pak and AquaC Remora. <Either would be fine.  Just be sure to get it as soon as possible, and most definitely before receiving any of the rock.> My question is when should I add live rock.? <Well, if you have a way of going back in time, add the rock before the fish, and use the rock to cycle the tank.  It not only cycles more quickly, but it is much less hazardous to the poor fish cursed with the title of "expendable."> Would it be easy to add now while tank is cycling if the rock is not cured? <No.  You would almost be assured of losing most, if not all, of your damsels.  The die off/curing process will also cause the tank to cycle again while it adjusts.  Cure the rock first!  With fish in the tank, add the rock slowly once it is fully cured.> Also would the equipment I have and plan to use be enough to have a successful tank (adding live rock and coral)? <Well, with adequate skimming, a deep sand bed or plenum, and plenty of rock you not only don't need much of what you have, but could just cause yourself more problems.  There is a whole lot of information on set-up here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm.  Be sure to read the sections on Deep Sand Beds and plenums, especially if you intend to attempt keeping corals in the future.  Also, if you are able to find a temporary home for the damsels, I would move them so their lives will not be as much at risk while you make the changes or additions J> Can you give me a tip on some lighting with out breaking the bank for this type set up also? <Power compacts will give you the best illumination at a reasonable cost.  The link above also has links to lighting FAQs.  While reading them, just keep in mind what your future livestock desires are.> Thank you very much!   <No problem.  Have fun, and look out for those damsels!  Scott V.> Bruce

New Tank, fish killer! First off, thanks for taking the time to read my email. I've read through many of the posts on the site and they are very helpful. Also, sorry for the length of this email.<no problem> Detail on the equipment and testing is at the end. After doing some research I made the purchases to start a saltwater aquarium. I went to the LFS that I knew had been around the longest. They advised me to get the current setup that I have, except the extra PH and LR. I did some more reading and found that I shouldn't hookup the UV during the initial cycle so that was/is left off. After I got the water in and ready later that week I went back to the store to get some starter fish... I was thinking "nice" damsels or Chromis, I was sold on that my tank would easily support a False Clown (non- tank raised) and a Royal Gramma. With that I also purchased some rock (cured LR) for the fish to hide in. <The live rock will cycle the tank by itself.> Two days and all the tests were coming up good. The fish were eating fine, but the clown passed away. Didn't get to see for sure (Wife flushed him before I got home) but she said that he had lost his color and looked overall whitish. Two days after that the Royal started looking like his "breathing" was labored so I figured it had to be the water. I had setup an extra 10 gallons of saltwater at the same temp and with a pump circulating it just in case so I used it for a quick water change. The next morning the Royal had died as well. After this I decided to visit another store. This one dealt mainly with marine fish and had many clients that they used as references. They advised me not to use the UV and I needed to add more LR and give the tank time to cycle without fish at this point. So I purchased 35lbs of Marshall Island LR. They want me to go towards a natural filtration method using LR and down the road a refugium.  <very good> After a week I came back to the store to have them check my water. This was to verify my tests since I never had a large ammonia spike, .2 but more then 0. They tested my water, pH and Nitrite, and said that it was ready for fish again! Of course I was excited so I got a school of blue/green Chromis 6 in total, 2 red leg hermit crabs, and 2 turbo snails. He did tell me that I'd lose 1 or 2 of the Chromis because they didn't transport well. Well that was last Thursday and I'm down to 1 Chromis. I made sure I was not overfeeding, if anything maybe underfeeding. They eat everything within 3 minutes once a day and it was adjusted once the fish count went down. Water test are still fine so I'm confused.  <add less food a couple times a day> Another tidbit of info: The output is aimed at one of the larger rocks as the LFS person said. When I did this the amount of white particles in the water increased dramatically. I've added another PH point towards the overflow, a little to the surface to ripple it, that seems to minimize it yet they still exist at a level that I've not seen in other good tanks.  <a skimmer would help> At this point I'm not sure what to do. Not sure if a different water test is needed, <not if your doing fish only> different filtration (skimmer), or anything else. What would you suggest? < Add a skimmer, once you see what it pulls out of the water you'll never be without one.  Some good choices for skimmers are Aqua-C or Euro Reef.  A good skimmer and some more LR will be enough filtration but the refugium would be highly beneficial. >   Thanks again for your help, Dave Schwiegeraht <  Also consider picking up a good book such a the Conscientious Marine Aquarist by  Bob Fenner.  Hope this helps, Cody.   Livestock: 1 Blue Chromis 2 red leg hermits 2 Turbo snails Bristle worms seen 4 or 5 Anthropods (bug looking things) Porcelain crab from the LR Setup: 75 gallon with built in overflow live sand (1.5 inches) 40lbs live rock SmartLite 48" PC (half 10,000?K Ultra-Daylight and half  Ultra-Actinic). Aqua Clear Aquatics 125  Wet/Dry IO Reef  Crystals Meg-Drive 950 Maxi-jet 600 on opposite side (to ripple surface) 9 Watt Double-Helix UV (Not installed) Source Water: I have a General Ionics whole home system (Filter and Softener) Food: Maine Flake and Frozen brine shrimp Water Tests: Using FasTest powder tests pH: 8.3 Nitrate:  <10 Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Salinity:  1.022 Temp:  77

- Please Help!!!!!!!!! I'm in Trouble - <Good morning, JasonC here...> I have live sands in my tank but my fish dirty it up with their waste should I leave it or how can I clean it up? <You can use a gravel vacuum to give this a going over once a month. Other than that, more circulation in the tank with additional power heads would help.> What food do you recommend flakes or frozen shrimps? (I have two percula clowns, bi color blenny, six line wrasse, and a royal Gramma) <I usually recommend away from flake foods and brine shrimp, and more towards a mixed diet of shrimp, krill, mysis shrimp. Please read this article, I think you will find it helpful: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm > I also have an anemone crab do I really need an anemone for it or can it survive by itself and what do they feed on? <They will likely eat anything you put in the tank for the other fish. I would recommend that you not try and tackle the anemone, the crab will be fine.> What do you guys recommend me to get to stir up my live sands? really important) <Nassarius snails.> I use c-balance and marine snow for my tank what else do you guys recommend me to put in my tank, I have live rocks and yellow and green polyps, a candy hard coral and planning to throw in a brain coral and a tri. clam the purple one. my tank has 4 to five watts per gallon its a 20 gallon size tank I have two power compact with four bulbs two day two blue at 50/50 watts each <My friend, I would recommend first that you get a larger tank - secondly, the additional life will likely push the precarious balance of this system over the edge in the wrong way. Your tank is too small.> please help me a beginner. I have my tank running about a year, please response back ASAP thank you <Please start informing yourself - our site has over 1,000 articles about livestock and their responsible care, not including as many pages filled with answers to common questions such as yours. You would do well by yourself and your fish to go through our site and start reading. Cheers, J -- > Maintenance/lighting/stocking Hey, <Hey> When I do a water change I do about five gallons every two weeks. The tank is a 25 high so its about a 20% water change. <I'd do this weekly.> Yes, I have a skimmer and I empty out a full cup of brown smelly liquid every day. So it seems to be working very well. <cool> Since I emailed you the algae growth has gone down a little bit but not completely. <may take a while to die off.> For a 25 gallon do you think about a half cup of carbon should be enough? <Sure, or maybe a full cup and alternate switching out half a cup every couple of weeks.> For lighting in my tank I have 2x55w PC's. On for 12 hours and mounted about 4 inches from the surface. The tank is 18 inches deep so I am getting about 4.4 watts per gallon. <These lights may not penetrate down to the bottom of the tank, so if it is a reef you are going for, lower light creatures towards the bottom, higher towards the top. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm  > If I was to get the Dwarf Lionfish I would remove the Damsels before. I am still thinking about what kind of fish to get. I am leaning more toward the mated pair of True Perculas. <In a 25gal I would go with the clowns over the dwarf lion.  Best Regards, Gage> Thanks, Chris Hepburn

Starting Off On The Wrong Foot... We have a 70 gallon salt water tank.  Three days ago we added 3 new fish: A clown fish, a Cow Fish and the third one I am not sure of.  I was wanting to know if it was okay for the cow fish to be in the tank with the other fish. We have a lot of damsels, but have 17 fish in all. <That's a lot of fish in a 70 gallon tank, even if they are small ones! You have to do some very, very serious water changes several times a week to keep a bioload like that in such a volume of water...And even then-wow!...Time for another tank, if you ask me! And no quarantine? Don't skip that step!> We have only had our tank for about a month now so I am trying to find out things as we go. <Yikes! So much better to plan ahead, rather than to "fly by the seat of your pants"...It seems to me like you need to slow down a bit (quite a bit, actually)...Learn some of the fundamentals of husbandry (maintenance, water quality and water testing, protein skimming, population compatibility, etc) Everything we are being told does not seem like it is necessarily true. <Yep- that is all too common in this hobby, unfortunately...You really need to read, ask questions of people whom you respect, and even then, you need to make your best decisions...> Also, our fish have been acting strange the last two days, since we put the new fish in. (Now I have read that we were suppose to quarantine them for three weeks before we add new fish.). <Yep- always, always use quarantine! It works...and there is no more effective means of keeping diseases out of your tank, IMO> Since yesterday we have a large dragon sifter that will not leave a smaller dragon sifter alone. <I'm not sure if you are referring to a Dragon Wrasse, or some kind of "sand-sifting" goby?> He constantly is chasing him and keeping him in a corner or hiding. <Not a goo thing...constant chasing can lead to stress for the smaller guy...And stress can lead to disease....> And now today one of our damsels is acting very aggressive and will not stop aggravating most of the fish. <Very common with damselfishes...They are very aggressive and territorial...> But the cow fish I am really concerned with.  The damsel acts like he is biting the cow fish.  I was wondering if this could be signs of ich because I have noticed that the cow fish has a few more white spots on him than we had noticed before. <Could be...stress- remember? Also, the cowfish is a REALLY bad choice for a damselfish-dominated tank, as it can and will release a toxic substance when stressed, which can kill everything in the tank, including the cowfish....Very real possibility of this happening here! get the cowfish into another tank ASAP!> I see white specks floating in the water and maybe some salt like specks on one other fish. <Not sure what the white specks in the water are (possibly debris or something else), but spots on the fishes is a pretty good indicator that you're dealing with ich, or some other parasitic illness.> But I'm not sure if I am not just trying to find a solution and think that something is there that is not. <Well, white specks on the fishes is a pretty good sign that there IS something there, IMO!> Any help would be very appreciated. <Well, if you are dealing with ich, or another parasitic illness, you need to take immediate action to avoid a wipe out here. If it is ich- I'd purchase a Rubbermaid container or another suitably large aquarium to serve as a "hospital" tank, and begin moving out your livestock for treatment with an effective medication. Meanwhile, let the main tank run without fishes for a month or so to let the parasite population crash for lack of hosts...> Also if you could tell me how I find out how to take care of a salt water tank;  how much to feed the fish? Which fish can be put together?  Strange behavior?  Which behavior is normal? Thanks.  Michelle <Gosh, Michelle...SO many questions...All of which can be answered by spending a little time on the WWM site, or perusing a good marine aquarium primer, such as Michael Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium", or Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist". Your enthusiasm for the hobby is awesome, but you really need to s-l-o-w down and learn the basics here...These issues should have been thought through before you even set up the tank...You can be successful...it just takes a bit of planning and careful attention to the basic rules of aquarium keeping. If thee is a good local fish store in your area, explain to the owner that you are just starting out and need a little "hand holding"...Any decent store will bend over backwards to help you succeed. Also, see if there is a marine aquarium club in your city...You can really get some great advice and assistance from some knowledgeable people who aren't trying to sell you anything...Just move slowly, and plan ahead...Then, you'll be successful! One step at a time, okay? Good luck...We are all learning something new everyday. Enjoy the journey! Let us know if we may be of further assistance. Regards, Scott F> - Excuses are like... - Wonderful info guys  Thanks for your helpful insight, and your right in that I should check my reef to give me some knowledge as to what really is going on. But one reason (I know its not a good one) is that I look at my animals in the tank, if they are doing good all out and colorful etc. I continue my regime. <No need to justify this with me - you're not taking care of my tank. I would just add that many animals look great right up until the time that they crap out and take a turn for the worse... leaving the care taker mystified as to what happened.> If not then I do a water change 10-20%, and continue on with my routine. This most of the time takes care of any concerns or problems with my animals. I know the more I talk the more I get myself in trouble. But it works wonderful for me, and I'm not saying that everyone should as I do. <And honestly, I don't recommend that anyone do this... including you. Really.> Again Thank You for your helpful insight  Robert. <Cheers, J -- >

Questions about Live Rock, Lighting, and Protein Skimmers for 55 Hello, (bare with me as I am fairly new to this hobby). <No worries, we have all been there> I recently started up my 55 gal. saltwater aquarium a few weeks ago and I currently have 3 damselfish in there getting it cycling. I now realized I would want to go up to a FOWLR tank but the lighting I have is only one 40watt florescent. I'm thinking of adding around 40 lbs. of Fiji rock soon because I enjoy the look, and of course, the biological filtration, but I want to know how good my lighting situation stands. <This should be sufficient for fish/live rock> In the future I'm thinking about maybe adding a toadstool leather coral because I remember reading somewhere they are very hardy and will host many clown fishes. <They are rather hardy, but I don't know about the former> I am not thinking about adding any corals other than the toadstool. What type of lighting do you recommend for the live rock and maybe a toadstool later on. HO? VHO? CF? or am I ok with the 40w..and how many watts will be sufficient for my 55gal. <I would recommend you try to find existing tanks to see what kind/type of light looks good to you. I would think that if you kept the leather middle/high in the tank, 100-150W should be sufficient.> Also, if I decide to buy uncured Fiji rock what steps do you recommend in getting rid of all of the unwanted hitchhikers? Is all I have to do to cure it is put the rock in a separate tank, throw on a skimmer and some lighting, do weekly water changes (daily maybe?) and occasionally rinse the rock with a powerhead w/ saltwater to remove more hitchhikers? Is there an important step I'm missing? Also, should I run an outside power filter when curing or not. <Check here and the blue links at the top of the page for curing live rock http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm. BTW, most rock will arrive uncured to an extent cause of the time out of water.> Also, I've been looking for a protein skimmer for my 55. I've been eyeing the Excalibur Hang-On because the price is right at my LFS($110 w/pump) and I've also been looking at the Prizm Skimmer and the CPR BakPak2. I've heard that the Prizm is very loud and won't be able to hang up w/ my 55 and I've also heard the Bak Pak may barely keep up also. I'm looking for H.O.T. model skimmers and I was wondering of your opinions/experiences with these models and some other H.O.T. recommendations. <Of the skimmers you list, the CPR BakPak would be the choice. For more opinions, info, see here and beyond http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm. I like the Remora and Remora Pro with surface skimmer box> Thanks for your time! <Thank you for visiting us, and come back when you need. Don> Steve

Little Shop Of Horrors? (AKA The LFS From Hell) Hello Crew: <Scott F. your Crew Member today!> When I last wrote to you, I had a 20 gallon reef tank that I had set up for my son in his room.  After a number of questions, the last of which was regarding the green star polyp's general decline, you wisely advised me that I had overstocked my little tank.  As a result, I purchased a 58 gallon tank, added 40 more pounds of live rock (making a total of 65 pounds), added another powerhead (making two, but since have added two more and a Red Sea Wavemaker), added 40 pounds of live sand, and transferred the water, live rock and livestock from my 20 to the new tank. <Nice upgrade!> Actually, I had my LFS do the transfer (believing that it would go smoother and cause less problems than if I did it). <You'd be surprised...> Although they did set up the tank remarkably quickly and seemingly well, when it came time to transfer the livestock they simply netted the fish (without testing either tank, and after reducing  the water in the 20 down to about four inches) and dropped them into the new tank. <Not the best technique that I've seen, I gotta tell ya!> The two ocellaris clowns survived the transfer, but in the morning, my Flame Angel and Yellow Tang were dead. <That's a shame...> When I went to my LFS to ask about what could have caused the problem, they conceded that the techs should have acclimated the fish and that the stress could be the culprit. <Nah...? Really? Those guys were friggin' brilliant, huh? Sheesh!> With that in mind, they advised me that, because I added the fully cured additional live rock and sand, my tank was cycled and ready to go. <Without running any water tests..? Remarkable...but consistent with the other horrible happenings they brought upon your fishes already> Based on that, and with their assistance, I purchased a royal Gramma and a Chevron Tang. <Wow...I really hate these guys!> Both fish appeared to immediately adapt well to the tank.  I also acquired a colt coral.  As a result, I had the clowns, the colt, the green star, a polyp rock and assorted cleaners in the tank.  Afterwards, however, I had the LFS maintenance people out because one of the live rock they sold me had Aiptasia on it.  I used "stop Aiptasia" on the one I had seen, and thought that there were additional ones on the rock.  They came out to test the water and replace the rock.  When they got there, they said the other "critters" on the rock were actually feather dusters and that the water tested great. <Hopefully they did more than just check specific gravity and temperature before they made this determination...I wouldn't give these guys the benefit of the doubt, if you know what I mean...>  The next day, however, my Chevron Tang was dead.  I called them back out to check the tank again, and again they said everything was great.  They did say, however, that the royal Gramma showed some signs of small amounts of ich.  I got a cleaner shrimp to try and tackle the problem and started adding, at their advice, Garlic Xtreme to the food. <Well, in all honesty, the best way to treat ich is in a different aquarium with the administration of appropriate and effective medication, such as copper sulphate or Formalin. Garlic has some potential benefits as a preventative, but its effectiveness as a "treatment" has not been proven scientifically yet...And- because these guys didn't advise you to quarantine the new fishes, you now have ich in your tank, where it can be a potential problem for all of the fishes. My advice is to remove all of the fishes to another tank (I'm sorry to put you/them through this again, but it's the best way) for observation and/or treatment with proper medication, and let the aquarium run "fallow", without fishes, for about a month...This will break the life cycle of the ich parasite. In the absence of hosts (fishes), the parasite population will "crash"> Again, on the LFS advice, I added a Foxface to the tank and, later still, a purple tang. <Ahhrrghhh! You're killing me here! I don't usually like to "bash" a LFS, but these guys are incompetent, at best, and downright cruel at the worst...Not only are these fishes totally unsuited to a tank of this size, but to even think of adding ANY fish (let alone two fishes with demanding husbandry requirements and a reputation for being "ich magnets", even under optimal conditions) to a tank that has an active ich outbreak (particularly without a quarantine period) is just plain stupid...> Now, the purple tang is dead, the two clowns have died, the royal Gramma has died, and only the Foxface survives. <A miracle in itself...> The water continues to test well and all the inverts appear to be thriving.  I have even added a brittle star and a sand sifter star, another cleaner shrimp and two peppermint shrimp.  All are doing very well. < I'm surprised that they didn't recommend a Mantis Shrimp for algae control, or a Zebra Moray as a sand sifter...!Glad to hear that the inverts are doing well, but I'd step back a bit and review the situation before adding any more animals to the tank...Arm yourself with a good basic book on marine aquariums, such as Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist", or Michael Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium"...And spend some time on the wetwebmedia.com site...Time well spent..> The purple tang had a little ich on it, but the "disease specialist" at the LFS said nothing that would cause its death. <After all, these fishes are made of titanium, and live to be 300 years old...Sorry for the sarcasm here...but I think you need to distance yourself from these fish-killing morons post-haste. Simple as that. Is there an aquarium club nearby? You need some real, impartial advice from some knowledgeable people, not a bunch of sales people who see a dollar sign every time you show up at the front desk...It's best for you, it's best for your enjoyment of the hobby, and most of all- it's best for your animals> He was, however, very white when he died.  It all happened, with him, overnight.  The clowns had no visible signs of ich or any other parasites on them. <The cause could have been any number of possible diseases, some of which don't even show visible symptoms until it's too late...Hence the value of quarantine> Do you have any idea, other than the usual stupidity on my part for stocking too fast, what could be going on here and what I need to do.  My son really loves this tank and my wife is, of course, getting tired of the turmoil it is causing.  I am using a CPR BakPak 2R skimmer and relying on the live rock. Should I add a mechanical filter to the system?  Any help would be appreciated. Scott <Well, Scott- don't be too hard on yourself. You were relying on what should have been a group of people who understand your needs and desire to grow within the hobby. They saw a quick sale, instead... Now- to your problem... It seems to me that there are two distinct possibilities: 1) A disease or diseases in the tank, or 2) Lingering ammonia or nitrite levels. Other possibilities are some sort of toxin, or even poisoning from some additives or something...You really need to take charge and get yourself a few basic test kits, and see for yourself what's up with the water chemistry. I'd opt for the fallow tank routine, as far as fishes are concerned. Don't add any more animals, conduct a complete review of your husbandry procedures, and read, read, read...If you slow down a bit, surround yourself with some good mentors (hobbyists or employees of a better LFS), you'll learn a ton, and come out of this miserable experience a better aquarist. You can do it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Staying On Course... Hello WWM Crew! <Scott F. here today> Sorry that this e-mail is a novel. but I m having a problem with Nitrates in my tank ( I know, you get a ton of e-mails over this!  I am sorry to add to them. but this is truly bugging me).....and I am looking for some verification and some extra advice on how to lower the nitrate level in my reef aquarium.  First off, after spending 6+ hours reading your posted e-mails of nitrates and in a few different other areas, I think I might now know a few ways I can improve the nitrate situation in  my reef tank (live sand, more live rock, and a refugium for starters).  O.K. we have been running this setup for a little over a year now.  We have a 30 gal. reef only tank.  We have about 2"  of what our LFS said was live sand...but just discovered today is actually coarse crushed coral (I am sure we need to probably siphon out the old crushed coral, then add about 4" of the "sugar -size" sand then cover that with probably 1" or so of the crushed coral) for a good working substrate. <Yep- the "sugar-sized" sand is best, IMO> We also have 30# to 35# or so of Fiji live rock (we plan to add more as finances allow).  We have a Penguin 301 power head to circulate water, a Bak-Pak protein skimmer (good for up to a 75 gallon tank), 2-65 watt VHO lamps (one actinic blue, one actinic white. URI brand)  a Penguin Bio wheel, we also removed the wheel about 3 weeks ago when we learned that it is a nitrate breeding ground,  (we use the bio wheel for filtration and water circulation), Macro algae (a few big handfuls of feather Caulerpa (sp.?) a new addition since last week to help with nitrate in the long run...will be put into refugium when we get it up and running), 10 red-legged hermit crabs, 1 sea cucumber, various star fish (the most prevalent are brittle stars as we just had a population explosion on them a week ago) 4- 1"x1" pulsing Xenia (sp.?), 3 mushrooms, 1 bubble anemone, and what we think are 2 button polyps, and 1 feather duster about 3 inches in diameter.  Our husbandry consists of the following steps (our Sundays are very busy around here!  LOL!!!)  ....1) a 10-20% weekly water change where we also lightly vacuum the top 1/2 inch or so of the "live sand" (see above about our "live sand"), 2) top off water is added via our NSA water filter, then salted, allowed to age and then tested before adding to tank, 3) thoroughly cleaning all equipment as follows: protein skimmer cup daily, skimmer tubes and box weekly, skimmer pump weekly, filtration system box and tubes weekly and changing filter weekly, and filtration pump weekly. <Good habits to have!> 4) We test our water every 1-2 days (levels as of today: ammonia 0 mg/l, Nitrite 0 mg/l, Ph 8.2-8.4, KH is high at 15 dKH, Phos. unknown (don't have test kit yet. just learned today that we needed one), Calcium is 425, Alkalinity is also unknown (I was told that the Ph was also Alkalinity...but found out differently today. need a test kit for it), Nitrate is also high at 12.5 mg/l (all test kits are Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, except the nitrate kit which is Tetra) Nitrate has been our problem for 3 weeks now. I'll get into that next, temp is at 80, SG is 0.22-0.23.  We have great coralline algae growth, no brown or dark colored growth (called diatoms?), no hair algae, everything looks excellent, everything is accounted for, nothing dead, Xenia are a nice pink color and pulsing very well, everything looks excellent and behaving normally, feeding is extremely light  (as advised by our LFS...light amounts of phytoplankton 2 times a week). Even with what we "think". and think being a key word here.... are great husbandry skills, something is still very wrong...we cannot get our Nitrate levels to drop below 12.5 mg/l.  What I think happened is that our Bio wheel started the nitrate explosion (we had been using this system for a little over a year now, then BOOM! huge problem....when we pulled the wheel, the nitrates were off the chart) added to that the substrate we have (which is not really doing anything if I read everything correctly, it's the "wrong size grain" and not deep enough to remove nitrates etc....) added even more to the problem. <Good thoughts...many biological filter media and incorrectly sized sand beds are major contributors to nitrates...Your continued efforts to change these factors will reward you with lower nitrate levels> So our LFS guy said to pitch the wheel and do a series of 20% water changes a day, for 5 days in a row and to retest the nitrate levels, and that they should be much lower (by the way, we had run our last nitrate kit the week before and didn't have a replacement for it yet so we had our levels tested by our LFS which led to the discovery of the high nitrates. could they have built up that quickly over a one week period?... so with new test kit in hand we headed home to combat the Nitrate problem).  Even though that sounded like a lot of water changes...I know that the "solution to pollution is dilution" (big grin). so we did it.  It brought our level down quite a bit, but they were still very high at 100 mg/l.  So, we went back to the LFS to double check our levels (thinking that maybe there was something wrong with our test kit) the LFS test verified the same reading.  Then they suggested getting aggressive by doing 50% water changes every other day till levels were down to 0...ok...sounded kinda feasible...nitrate levels were extremely high for a reef tank...and they needed to be lowered as quickly as possible to keep from killing off the tank. after the first two 50% water changes everything started looking really stressed, so at that point, we backed off some, waited 3 days then did a  20% water change instead of a 50% water change (which everything started perking back up again), waited  2-3 days then did a 50% change then 2-3 days later another 20%....we have alternated the water changes for the last 2 weeks....our levels should be nothing...but they are still reading 12.5 mg/l (which is still high for a reef tank).. Now, what I am thinking is that all those massive water changes so quickly disrupted the cycling of the tank...and it is acting like a "new tank" all over again...is this correct thinking? Also should mention that we tested our source water and it was 0 in Nitrate so I know it is not the source water, it could be feasible that our sea salt mix may be the culprit, but the box says Nitrate free (by the way Instant Ocean is the brand. but it is still a possible cause). Should mention the additives here as well. we add calcium as needed (brand is Tropic Marin), and we add Reef Solution daily as suggested by LFS (which are vitamins and minerals and EcoSystem Aquarium is brand...could this by why KH is so high?. and how can I lower it?. we should be between 8-10 dKH) We are going to be adding a refugium (sp?) to help with stability when finances allow...probably in a month.  So here are a zillion questions.... what else can we do to lower nitrates?  Should I have gotten as aggressive with the water changes as our LFS advised us to do?  I have read that 12.5 mg/l is high for a reef tank but not to bad a reading...am I worrying over nothing?....should I continue the aggressive water changes suggested by my LFS? Or should I just let the tank "settle down"?  ARGHHHHHH!!!!   <Well- I agree with your procedures thus far, with the possible exceptions of the constant large water changes...I think they are too disruptive...I'd much rater see you employ smaller (like 5% of tank volume) twice weekly changes. Consistency over quantity here...Also- the nitrate level that you are reporting is certainly not "awful". You do not need to be taking overly aggressive steps to get the nitrate to undetectable levels...Just small, consistent steps will get you there. We, as hobbyists, tend to get overly fixated on a "good number- "0" nitrate, 400ppm calcium, 380mv Redox, etc...Just look at your tank...it sounds like it's thriving...Yes- undetectable nitrate is a good goal- but don't wreak havoc on an otherwise successful tank to get there! Just be steady and consistent...> Also...up until this point we had no problems with our nitrate levels.  They just exploded....we didn't add anything new when this first started, nothing died,  the nitrate levels  just blew up.  I look forward to your reply and any suggestions you might have...good and/or bad....because I obviously have no idea as to what is going on!  Thank you for taking the time and reading this novel!  I truly appreciate it! Lee <Lee- you're doing fine...just "stay the course", slow down, and you'll be fine! Good luck! regards, Scott F>

Staying On Course (Pt. 2) Hello Scott F. (and the rest of the WWM crew!!!) <Good morning!> Thank you for replying so quickly!  Ok...I have taken a deep breath and will slow down and I will definitely be doing the smaller volume water changes!  Hopefully will be able to get the nitrates down to "0" in a few more weeks (or less.. LOL), and will keep you posted!  You guys are awesome!  I like the fact that I can go to your site and continually add to my growing knowledge on an ever changing fabulous hobby!!!!!   Best regards! Lee <You're going to be just fine, Lee! Keep workin' it! Scott F>

180G FOWLR and DSB question Hey guys, I have a question regarding my 180G setup.  Of course, just like many of the intrepid readers, I started my first marine aquarium without doing all of the appropriate reading.  And did everything bass ackwards. But I'm learning. <That's the important part.>  Here's the situation: 180G 5'L 2'W 3'T 160LBs of aqua cultured live rock (with about 8 billion little crabs and stars and a mantis shrimp in there somewhere.) <Watch your fingers.> 140Lbs of live sand (about 2-4" - which is where the problem lies, it's just a big nutrient sink right now) 5 damsels- 2 yellow tailed demoiselles, 1 blue devil, 1 4-stripe (humbug?), and a jewel.  (ARGH!  LFS people here in North Florida are bad) Nitrates are WAY too high, around 30-40ppm. <I'd start with some water changes to get those nitrates down.> Now that I've read about DSB's and NNR, I'm wanting to increase the depth of sand bed to 5-6". Here's the question.  I've bought 120lbs of SUGAR-FINE aragonite.  Should I spread the aragonite (slowly) over the top of the live sand?  Or should I pull all the rock, all the sand, and place the aragonite on the bottom?  I know that will be a lot of work, but I'm willing to do it if it will make things right. <It's up to you, it will make a mess either way, I would probably pull the rock and add the sand to ensure even coverage then throw everything back in.> Still learning and reading EVERY day, <Awesome, best regards, Gage> Philip

She's Doing It Right- What's Going Wrong? Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> I'm relatively new to the marine hobby.  I've had freshwater tanks forever. I tried Saltwater several years ago, but was steered wrong by conflicting info from different sources. <Not like that ever happens, huh?> After much reading and hemming/hawing - I've decided to give it another go.  My set up is: 90 Gal 3 Fluval 404's (one chemical, one biological, one mixed) Seaclone Skimmer Compact Fluorescent 50/50 lighting (96 watts total) about 60 lbs of live rock crushed coral substrate some Caulerpa (? spelled right?) As far as I've read, this should be OK (planning on a few powerheads for the future) <Should be fine, just make sure that you service the filter media regularly and keep that skimmer cranking out a couple of cups of dark, yucky stuff per week> Anyway, My question is this, I've just gotten my first fish from Flying Fish Express (I've been to literally every LFS around here within in an hour drive and none have decent SW fish - all seem to have ick or something else going on.)  Figured I'd try FFE since they seem to have good reviews. Anyway... I have a small QT set up with my new arrivals. <Awesome! Glad to hear that!> 2 False Clowns, 1 yellow "Coris" wrasse, and one yellowtail blue damsel.  The damsel - and one clown seems very unhappy.  The one clown is moving about the tank (nervous, no doubt), and the wrasse is just lying on the bottom (as I've read they do for a while).  But the damsel - which should be the hardiest of the group is just "sitting" on the bottom, with very dark color and not moving at all.  And the other clown is just "hovering" seeming very distressed.  Is this normal ?  I floated them for 10-15 minutes, then put each into a separate plastic container and gradually added some tank water (2 -3 times over about 15 minutes) then drained the water off and placed them in the QT tank.  I tend to be more nervous about my new fish than they ever are!  (Even w/ my freshwater tank - and they are easier going than these guys!). <Well, there are a lot of possibilities here- first, many fishes react negatively to the stress of capture, bagging, acclimating, etc.- even the so-called "hardy" ones! Keep an eye on these fishes and monitor the QT tank for ammonia. This is a definite possibility. Remember, you can run the filter media for the QT in your main system for a while to "populate" the media with beneficial bacteria, so that it's always ready to go...Skip this step, and you're basically exposing the new fishes to an uncycled tank!> The water in my main tank is: SG = 1.022 Ammonia = 0 Nitrite = 0 Nitrate = >10 (hard to read the color chart) Dissolved O2 = 7 ppm Alkalinity = 12 PH = 8.2 Temp = 77-79 <Sounds fine> The main tank has been going for a little over a month (cycled in 3 weeks) -and I used the main tank water for my QT tank with the exception of diluting the SG to 1.018 (using water made with a filter that is supposed to filter out all the silicates, etc. etc.) as everything I read said to do. I've been reading your site for days now and found it very helpful.  Please let me know what you think? Thanks! Diana <Well, Diana- I'd check the QT water for ammonia, as stated above. Keep a close eye on all of the fishes, monitor other water parameters in the QT as well. Be prepared to take immediate action (like large water changes) if you have an ammonia or nitrite reading...Hang in there! Let me know if you need more help. Regards, Scott F>

- More Anemone/Clown Questions - Hi Jason. Thanks for answers: <My pleasure.> Now a couple more questions. I am leaning more towards anemone/clowns as I did the math last night, and no question that this is cheaper-- at least initially. 1. As per circulation: What do you think of a Maxijet 1000 and Maxijet 600 facing each other? <Sounds good to me - you don't want to blow the anemone off its perch, so this will likely be fine - you might want to consider putting something over the intakes though, just in case it does detach - you wouldn't want it getting stuck to a powerhead.> 2. Are all Clarkii complex clowns mean? Mine was mean. However, he was really only mean to the Kole. Perhaps he was mad as he considered the Rhodactis her turf. Only trouble is it took up a third of the tank. Do you know about the Red Sea ones. <Bob says Clarkii's are the most variable... if you use the Maroon clown as the peak of aggressiveness and the percula as the bottom of the scale.> A. melanopus (sp??). These *are* CB btw. Are Clarkiis less mean than Tomatoes? <I would expect the captive bred ones to be a little less aggressive than their wild cousins.> I want a natural symbiont to the anemone. <Good plan.> > <I thought I read you had started an aquarium club... > does this not mean you could ask a fellow member to watch the tank for > you?> I haven't tried this. Maybe this is workable.  And yes the group is still going. <Do check - I think it will be worth your while.> 3. I guess the question is more frequent feeding vs. more $$ light? The only thing as long as I do frequent small water changes anyway, how much food will $100-200 buy (I'd say the answer is LOTS). <Right again... especially if you home-brew - say shrimp in a blender.> BTW will the light I have retain color? I don't want a white anemone living off Big Macs. :-) <Well... that's a hard one to predict but also something that would be correctable - just augment the light if bleaching begins to occur.> > buckets on wheels. <Or perhaps a Radio Flyer.> I like the Radio Flyer idea!! Very cute. :-) <And practical. But someone does - US Plastics, I think - make a caster set for the standard five gallon bucket, so that's also an option.> Thanks, --des <Cheers, J -- >

New Fish and supplements for a reef I have a 6 week old 90 gal reef tank with 1.5" fine sand base and 90 lbs of Kaelini rock which was cured for 4 weeks in the tank. S.g.- 1.023 ph- 8.2 ammonia-0 nitrite- 0 nitrate- 10ppm kH- 11. I have a sump with skimmer, 350 magnum canister and powerhead. lights are 2-vho and 2 MH 175 watt 10000k that are now on for 6 hrs a day. First question is for evaporation replacement can I use straight RO water or does it have to be buffered or supplemented? <All water should be aerated for 24 hrs min. Then you can test and supplement as needed> I have 1 coral beauty who is eating and suing fine now. Also have 2 perculas as replacements for 2 of the same. First percula was sucked into overflow and second died yesterday. He seemed very stressed and not eating. I am worried about the replacement pair. Is there anything I can do/look for that will help them survive? <Get them into a bare bottom QT tank for a minimum of 4 weeks. See here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm> My rock, while the lights were off seemed to be growing a light green coralline algae. Since my lights were turned on 2 weeks ago the rock color seems to be turning white. Is this normal and how long does it take rock to really start growing? <Yes this is normal. Regrowth depends on water quality> On-line store thinks my calcium is low. I do not test for this at present nor do I add any supplements. Should I be testing for calcium? Should I add supplements and what type? <You should test for anything that you are thinking of supplementing. How else could you know when you are in the optimum range? Please see the FAQs on www.wetwebmedia.com for info on Calcium supplements and water quality, Don> thanks

Cleaning metal halide hoods sorry to bother you guys for this. <No worries, fire away> 90 gal reef tank. I have a 4' hood with 2 VHO and 2 MH lights. I have a powerhead with 270 GPH flow. I have it set so it aerates. The problem is the bubble pop and I am getting a salt buildup on the hood which is starting to dim the MH. Do I need this powerhead to aerate or is their enough oxygen with the skimmer. There is a small % of micro bubbles from the skimmer. The hood is 4.5 inches above the tank. Any suggestions? Thanks <4.5" is very close for a MH and could be more like 8-10" depending on wattage. Salt creep is a fact of life in a marine aquarium. Cleaning the hood/lens should be part of your weekly maintenance. In answer to your powerhead question, a reef should have 10-20x turnover in GPH for a reef depending on inhabitants. That would be 900-1800GPH. This would include all powerheads and skimmer flow. Don>

Marine maintenance Bob help my tank looks like a xmas tree. ok its a 55 gal and 3 mo.s old. I have done everything you told me to and everything was going great all my tests are fine and nitrates at 0. then I added different lights because of my living rock and purple coralline that was going away. Everything is living fine including the color in my tank. The lights I added are 2 fresh and salt water fluorescents 32 watts each and 1 actinic 40 watts. I went out and bought a strip light and put them in that and was told I would be fine (couldn't afford $400 for a new hood) and was leery about making my own that you told me to be careful of. I checked all I wanted to grow in the tank mushrooms and corals and everything I chose all said it was fine for low light and beginners (he guess who that is) I haven't bought anything for the tank yet just the things that came with my love rock ( 4 polyps, feather duster, 2 small pink mushrooms  that have doubled in size, 2 carpet anemones, and a glass anemone. all which were not there when I bought the rock or I should say I didn't see them. I  have 2 double BioWheels I forget the name of them but they are the best ones and 2 penguin 660 powerheads I do a water change 5-10 gal every 2 wks. my fish store told me to buy Kent marine liquid calcium and Kent marine SuperBuffer for the coralline and corals I want. I added them both twice since I bought them 4 wks ago. <What are/were your measures for alkalinity, calcium? How did they change with the addition of these products?> I also have 3 large dead coral for decoration pieces that I was going to set things on later as my tank matured. (corals etc.) At first I thought this algae would be great because I wanted a cleanup crew but wanted stuff to grow first so I didn't starve them in a new tank but this is ridiculous are there any cleanup crews that eat this stuff or what am I doing wrong. <Please read over http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ re clean up crews> someone told me I didn't need to add the buffer because that is what my coral does is this true. <Don't know what you're trying to accomplish by adding> also they said I didn't have to monitor my alkalinity as long as my pH was fine and not to worry about measuring the calcium because all it will do if I have too much is make a great coralline growth. <Not so. Please read WWM re alkalinity, pH, coralline algae> Please help. Thank you Misty PS don't know what I would do without you. Hugs <Study my friend, buy nothing till you understand what it is you're doing. Bob Fenner>

- New System Questions - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I have question maybe you can help me out. <I can try.> I am a novice who just started out with a 75 gallons salt water tank. I setup this tank around Thanksgiving of 2002 and added approximately 40 pounds of live rock a week or so before Christmas. My equipment includes a Magnum 350 filter using carbon and a couple of bio wheels that came with the kit. And a power head as well. A couple of weeks before Christmas I purchased 6 Damsels and put them in the tank. Since then 5 of them had went to Heaven. Two of them just died within a few days after going in. Two of them died courtesy of the power head. And the other just simply died for some reason. A month or so ago I added a Yellow Tang and 2 Clown fish. A Tomato and a Peculiar. I was told to feed the them with Formula 2 but couldn't find them from my local pet shop so I feed them the algae sea weed plus flake foods. <Do try to locate some other frozen foods like mysis shrimp.> In the beginning I used Hagen test kits but found them not to be accurate so I purchased Aquarium Systems brands of test kits. Even after placing the yellow tang in I noticed my parameters don't really move up that much, especially the Nitrate. I was told this should go up pretty high but even when I change water it still has not gotten up there. <I don't agree with this statement - you really don't have a large enough bioload [number of live animals in the system] to drive the nitrates through the roof. I would expect a small amount, like 10-20ppm, but not much more unless you never change the water.> I normally remove about 10 gallons when changing water. I have lights on about 10 hours a day. So currently I have the tang, 2 clowns, and a damsel for a total of 4 fish. Everything seems to be OK as far as I can tell but I notice that the glass and the surface of the sand gets dirty like in less than a week after I clean off the algae. <Cleaning the glass is typically a weekly chore for all aquarists that care, some clean more frequently.> Especially the surface of the sand. It seems like these orange/brown algae just grows on it. <Sounds a lot like Cyanobacteria - Blue/Green algae - here's an article that covers this topic: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm > Sometimes I try to stir up the sand and the sand would somewhat white again but then it will turn orange/brown in a week or so. Please let me know what you think. <You would benefit by more circulation within the tank - three or more powerheads would do wonders.> Whether I should add more fish, Maybe I am not doing these tests correctly? <If you do decide to add more fish, please read these articles first and consider adding a quarantine system to your regimen: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm & http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm > How can I get my Nitrite level down? <Hmm... you're nitrates don't really seem that high - the presence of some nitrates is pretty normal. Just perform your normal water changes for now - you might consider adding a large quantity of cured live rock - this would help.> I have attached my test results and a picture of my tank so you can see what I am talking about. <Actually, the results in that spreadsheet don't make a lot of sense. You might consider taking a sample of water to the local fish store to see if your results compare to theirs. At this stage in the game, you shouldn't have any nitrites. Any amount of nitrates is fine, but ammonia [NH4] and nitrite [NO2-] should read zero. Please give this article a read just to familiarize yourself with the process of establishing a nitrogen cycle: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm > Thank you very much. Vinny Huynh <Cheers, J -- >

Skimmer, Algae and bioload Thank you for your answer! <You are always welcome my friend!> The measures for amm and nitrite are 0 and 40 for nitrates, I scrubbed the LR with the same water from the tank with a toothbrush and I rinsed the LR in new batch of saltwater and put them back, after probably 3 or 4 hrs. <Not as bad as it could be, but the nitrates are your problem for sure! Feed only what your fish will eat in about five minutes. Clean up, vacuum, etc. any food they don't eat.> Probably because of my Latin habits we like to feed enough our fish, but quite honestly I do not know how much is the right amount for my load I use a variety of mysis, variety packs from ocean nutrients for trigger, angel etc., silver sides, blood warms, seafood mixes and sometimes I add 1 ml of reef complete, now that I cut back to every other day the fish look desperate when is time to eat and I am afraid I am not doing it correctly. can you advise? <Feed as above, only what they eat directly. Perform water changes to reduce nitrates as well as controlling feeding amounts. Once the nitrates are gone, the algae will be too!  Craig>

2/05/03 - Quest for fire! Greetings Bob and crew. <Hello and sorry for the delay. These are busy times!!!!!! Paulo at your service>  I've got a couple of quick questions for you if you will. <No worries> I set up my 45 gallon marine aquarium about 5 months ago and noticed after a couple of days that I had a few unexpected hitchhiker anemones on my live rock. <Heheheheh - did the salesperson tell you that they are an added plus that is why their rock is "Premium" live rock?????> At first I was thrilled with my "score" until my searches for an ID lead me to the dreaded Aiptasia. <Oh yeah, baby!!!!!>  Well, I haven't taken any steps to remove them as of yet (3) and thankfully they have not reproduced. <Usually reproduce with excess nutrients left in the tank from overfeeding and poor water changes etc. etc. blahblah......=) >  I did however read the Q&A's about eradication of these bad boys, and had an idea for a new technique.  So, if you'll humor me I would like to get your thoughts before I attempt anything detrimental to my system. <Uh oh> You see, I have this blow torch :)<Holy Smokes!!!!! What are you up to????.....> and I thought I might blast him with some fire. I then thought about not wanting to overheat my rock, thus killing all the desired life <Good choice in my opinion> so as a solution I could place the rock in a Rubbermaid container or the like with some system water, only exposing my little friend while I lit his fire. Crazy? < Yeah, I wouldn't deem that as a necessary practice. In fact a bit overkill (no pun intended) but there are much more interesting, environmental and down right cooler things you could do to eradicate these pests anemones. Please check here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aiptasia.htm and see if there is not some sort of solution that will do far less potential collateral damage to yourself if not the rest of your animals> Next question:  We all try to minimize the noise our tanks emit, but inevitably have some moderate humming with all the equipment running.  Well if you put your ear to the glass that noise is significantly amplified.  Now, I'm no scientist but I am a diver and I did learn that water is a terrific conductor of sound waves.  So my question is whether or not this drives our marine friends crazy. <I am also an avid diver with about 100 dives a year round the world as time allows for various marine biology related experiments and vacations et al. I know what you mean about sound amplification. Do you notice any adverse behavior with your fishy friends? All tanks fresh or salt will, of course, have some sort of electro hum or some noise regardless. Imagine a stereo or TV a bit too loud would easily be carried through the glass/acrylic quite easily. More can be said here of course, but in all, I wouldn't worry much about the hum unless it is driving you crazy or if you are noticing strange behavior in you animals.>  I can't imagine living in an environment with what must be a constant deafening noise blaring all around me. <Seems like more and more these days things are louder and louder. (So I say as a souped up Harley goes by outside.......**What**....***huh?** **Can't think.** **Can't....**concentrate**)>   Lastly, I came downstairs a couple of mornings ago to notice my yellow tang had a parasitic isopod attached to his anal fin.  This little beast was nearly half an inch in length.  I was able to snap a couple of photos with my digital cam but my tang is a bit camera shy, so they are not the best angles. <Understood>  I can however, forward them to you if you have an interest. <Definitely. Pictures always seem to help narrow the playing field> About an hour later the isopod was gone.  How worried should I be about this creature reaping havoc on my livestock? <Reaping havoc? How so? Is there a spot left over or scale(s) missing? Isopods aren't all bad. Very important piece of the ecological pie. What symptoms are there for such havoc? Curious.........Definitely depends on how the animal is reacting> Should I make every possible attempt to fish him out ASAP? <Couldn't hurt but should ID first. There is some info on isopods etc to be found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/isopoda.htm> Thank you for this wonderful web-site and all the contributions you have made to this fascinating hobby. <Yes. Bob is great. He has done all he can to insure that fellow hobbyists have a place to come for that one question or for reassurance. Can't say enough about this site either. The pleasure was/is all mine. Thanks for your question. Hope I was of help. Let me know how things turn out, Jesse. Peace my friend......and sorry for the delay> Best Regards, Jesse Canizio Boca Raton, FL  

Marine maintenance Hey guys! Back to pest you again. How is your new year going? <Like a dog and I'm wearing Milk-bone underwear> Still looking forward to meeting some of you at That Pet Place in April. <awesome bud :)> I live 25 minutes away. <hmm... now the real question is do you eat sushi? I was a swanky new sushi bar near the Pet store but didn't get to try it (Blue something was the name?)> From the FAQs it looks like you have been busy. <heehee... yep> My 125 FOWLR (55 sump and 38 Ref) is coming along nicely with the usual algae speed bumps and boy am I learning patients! <excellent... patience is necessary for success> Anyways, I have two quick questions for you. First, I have a few extra Coralife Day-max freshwater bulbs laying around and I decided to use them until I get better bulbs. <sorry to hear it <G>> Since adding, the back and sides of the tank look like a football field. <oh ya> Green algae has spiked but only on the glass and not anywhere else, not even the refugium or sump. I am guessing its because of these bulbs. <bingo> My readings are 0 across the board. <I'm not a fan of Coralife bulbs under most any circumstance. But, at least here we can say the spectrum is not appropriate> Secondly, I was doing some digging for aquarium supply deals on E-bay and came across a bid for a 6 month old Kold Ster-il unit in excellent condition and I scored it for $30 (no media - no biggie) !!!!!! <holy cow!> What are your thoughts on these units? <outstanding> My RO waste water really works on me and I feel bad about dumping all that water down the drain. I think this will help. <cool... agreed> I also like the fact that it doesn't strip the buffer and other good minerals. Although other than their web site, its hard to find reviews or other proven usage info on the web. But again $30, no complaints there. I have found E-bay to be a very useful tool in finding those steals and deals and so far no rip offs or bad product. I am hoping this was a diamond in the rough... <very much so> Thanks Tim Turner Reading, Pennsylvania <be seeing you soon :) Anthony>

Miscellaneous marine maintenance Respected sir                  Well sir thank you for such a quick reply. In my tank there is lot of brown algae. I want to know is this kind of algae is harmful. Also I want to know that people add chemical elements, what are they. Are they harmful? Waiting for your reply. <Please go to our homepage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ and write in your terms: brown algae, chemical supplements... follow the links. Bob Fenner>

Quarantine/FW DIP ETC Hi crew Please could you tell me where you have a full explanation about the WWM quarantine and FW dip etc protocol. <Yes. This is posted on our WWM site. Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm and through the linked (at top, in blue) FAQs files, related articles> I'm confused here, the new fish should be treated with medicine in the hospital tank or just should be watched for a week or so without any medication?? <Most cases, unless showing signs of specific infectious or parasitic disease, without. Bob Fenner> Thank you Viken

Re: salt water set up Hi I have a 180 reef tank and I have 2 questions 1) despite the fish load ( 1 lg hippo, 1 med juv emperor and 2 clown fish) there always has been ick , is there anything to do to get rid of it. I have a deep (5 inch) sand bed <Yes. Please read through our parasitic disease area, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm and the associated FAQs (in blue, at top)> 2) I plan on setting up a sump in the basement with the main tank upstairs, any ideas how to pull this off? As far as pumps, sump size etc.? <Yes... these ideas, possibilities are covered in articles and FAQs stored on WWM. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks Frank

Re: Old Coral Hi How are you today? I have a coral question. I have some very nice large pieces of dead coral (branch, red pipe, blue, etc.) that I once had in a marine fish only tank about 20 years ago. They now sit on a shelf under my 55 gal reef tank. This coral was in a tank that was treated with copper on occasion and also sitting on the shelf over the years has probably absorbed some nicotine from my wife's smoking. In you're opinion do you think there is a way to make this coral safe to use in my current tank? There is a couple of pieces that I would like to use. <Should be fine to do a "bleach wash" of these pieces per this protocol: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm the bleach (hypochlorous acid) will actually "eat away" (dissolve) the surface of the coral pieces... and take the copper and nicotine out with the rinsing. Bob Fenner> Thanks Dennis

Don't Shoot me... I'm just the messenger...signed, Anthony Anthony, Thank you so much for your sarcastic response to my questions about my tank. <truly my pleasure... its how I often elect to deal with fellow aquarists that don't like the answers we give to their questions so they ask them over and over again> First of all, let me point out that the first thing I did in my email, was thank you for your comments on keeping an anemone in a 75 w a power compact.   <duly noted and not lost on me> I said how I did not want to destroy a precious resource and was not willing to spend $400 on lighting for a single anemone......I said that I would now go in a different direction.   <actually... I think you said the anemone was "not worth it" but I agree on premise either way> Point being, I am not some ignorant moron who goes and buys anything he likes and kills it.   <is that a rhetorical statement or would you like a second opinion?> I've read the entire WWM site 4x over and I have several books. <Holy crap... you have read several thousand pages at WWM 4 times over? Dude... I bow to you. I (!) have not read the entire catalog of WWM pages even one full time. I'm quite sure you are over-qualified to be chatting with most aquarists. Certainly me> Yes, I have a 6in Emperor in a 75.  I am sorry that you are so offended by that. But as you acknowledged, this is not a bad situation right now.......and I did mention that a larger tank was in the future. <sure. OK. if that makes you feel better> I don't think that my keeping this fish which cost me a lot of money warranted the condescending tone I got from you.   <you may be right... if the fish was less expensive perhaps it wouldn't matter ?!?!?> You are very quick to say "get a bigger tank."  Thanks pal, I'd love one, but unfortunately for most of us in the real world getting a 300gall tank ASAP is not always an option......hence I will be waiting on that for a while.   <exactly my point and problem with your ignorance... don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger. It not my fault you choose to inappropriately stock your tank. I didn't talk you out of getting a school of Banggai Cardinalfish for an standard angel, wrasse and gaggle of other fish and invertebrates to shoehorn them into a 75> In the mean time I said I was getting rid of most or all of my other fish to make the tank as big as I could make it for him.   I asked you if you could suggest a nice mix of inverts to put w my angel......."none." Really?! Funny but I've had inverts in w him in the past.   <that doesn't make it right... it just makes you lucky.> Sorry I offended you so much again when I innocently asked about Harlequin shrimp........my God!!!!  In no way was I thinking of going and getting them guy......that's why I was asking you.   <Huh? Riiiiiight. Let me be clear then... if you had no intention of buying them, I beg you not to write in asking about every other thing you don't intend to buy. We can wax philosophically about those some other time> And like I had mentioned that wasn't much about them on WWM. <what part don't you get here? All you need to know is there: they eat the tube feet of echinoids! If you can't feet tube feet... then you can't feed Harlequin shrimp> I eventually found some info hidden in the FAQS and obviously I would never get something like that.  But I noticed you keep them.   <on this point you are simply mistaken. I have never owned a single Harlequin shrimp in my life. One of our other crew members has experience with them> And you ONLY feed them Chocolate Chips????!!!!!!!     <again... you are mistaken. If you haven't picked up on my eco-sensitive style of husbandry by now... I would never use a wild-harvested prey of limited availability (and high mortality on import to boot) to feed another delicate import> Don't they eat several different types in nature?? Perhaps you should consider donating them to an aquarium that could better meet their dietary needs............dude. Rick <Rick... I'm thinking that one of us picked a bad week to stop doing crack. I'm also reminded of a saying: "Throw a stone into a crowd of dogs and the one that yelps is the one that got hit". I'm certain that you are yelping now because you know that there is merit to the argument... your tank has (single!) fish alone that are too large to reach adulthood in it. By your own admission, you are not getting a bigger tank anytime soon. That's just wrong. I think you know it. Forget every other fish and invertebrate that you mentioned... if the angel and wrasse alone only reach half(!) of their adult size,,, that still leaves 18 collective inches of fish in an 18" (OD!) wide tank. And I'm the bad guy? Please. Good luck, Anthony>

Shocked!! Hi Anthony, <cheers, Jen> [Rick] really did pick a bad time to stop using crack.  What a jerk, asking for info that is given free to ears that will hear, then throwing a fit when he finds out he was wrong about some aspects of his marine fish keeping. HUH. I just wanted to write and tell you thanks for being such a good source of info, and wit, to some of the luckiest fish freaks around. I continue to recommend your site to people I know that have marine, fresh and other tanks.  Lots of love from my fishies, Jen. <Thanks kindly for saying so, dear. We really do let it roll off our backs. We talk to so many folks that inevitably somebody will be unhappy for some reason by virtue of the sheer numbers. Indeed, Rick really just needed to take my/our free advice for what it was worth... just one opinion in the information gathering process. Lord knows we all get our grumpy days... hoping for better ones for all :) But thanks again for your support and appreciation! Anthony>

I can't see clearly now (or Fine Sand in a new tank) Good Evening WWM! <<Yes it is, nearly 60 here today :)>> Going on my 2nd day after putting down an Oolithic DSB. Although the water is clearing somewhat when can I expect it to be done? My LR arrived yesterday so I had to put it in the 55gal tank as well. Currently running all PH's, PS and a Canister. I'm hoping the Nitrogen Cycle has started ( used 6lbs of live sand as seeder ), not to mention the LR in the tank. Also, it looks like the tank glass has been covered with a silty film. I have an algae scrubber that could be used to rub it down or will it eventually dissolve into the water?  Since this is my first Marine Tank, I'm unsure what is acceptable.  Am I worrying over nothing? <<Mostly. The hardest thing to learn here (at least for me) is patience. Only bad things happen fast is the rule of thumb. Keep the filters/skimmer clean and wait. A few days at most. Regarding the cycle. You do have test kits eh? See here an beyond http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupii.htm for more info. Cycle can take many weeks so take this time to keep reading/learning. If you don't have any books on the topic yet, I would suggest the Conscientious Marine Aquarist by our very own Bob Fenner. If you are going down the coral road, then the Book of Coral Propagation by the one and only Anthony Calfo. Both of these books are good reads and a great way to start you library>> Thanks. <Have fun Scott, Don>> Scott

Total Eclipse! Many blessings upon thee for the infinite patience thou bestoweth upon unworthy neophytes such as I <Wow- how can I live up to a rep like that? Scott F. with you tonight> ...Your prior two responses have been much help in preparing me for my setup. Just a few more quick questions: (To refresh: 29g long (18" tall) Eclipse3 setup, FOWLR, future inhabitants to be pair of perculas and cleanup crew) 1. I will be replacing the two bulbs that came with the hood at the beginning with one Power-Glo and one Marine-Glo (clearanced at PetCo for less than $5/each - if this setups will work I think I'll stock up!), and put them on a separate timer (12 on/12 off).  Will this suffice? <The light duration seems okay to me> 2. For the first fill-up, can I mix the salt and water in the tank and aerate/heat it in the tank for a week before I add substrate and LR?   <Sure. That's a perfectly acceptable> I will be using the Rubbermaid container for mixing new well ahead of time.  The RO unit, though will have to wait, although we have blessed with excellent tap water. <It's good that you have quality tap water. You may want to prefilter it with activated carbon in a box filter for a while before use, too> 3. Given the expected bioload, until I can find a skimmer that the hood will accommodate, could I   A) Simply do water changes weekly or bi-weekly (1-2 gallons, perhaps)  or B) get a hang on skimmer and run it - perhaps in the evening - at regular intervals (daily or weekly). <Well, if you get a skimmer (which I highly recommend), you may want to execute 2 small (like 5% of tank volume) water changes a week. There are some DIY skimmers, and modifications that I've seen people make to Eclipse hoods to accommodate skimmers. You may want to post on the WetWebMedia chat forum to see if any fellow hobbyists have done this.> I have been looking at some of the better DIY plans, and have thoughts of modifying one of them for my space requirements.  Any thoughts on that? <You may be able to modify an inexpensive counter-current skimmer to work in this system with relative ease. Even a simple skimmer is better than no skimmer, IMO!> You will be happy to know that the deluge of silly questions will abate once I receive my hardcover copy of TCMA! ;) <Hey- there are no silly questions in my book! Never hesitate to call on us if we may be of service!> Cheers, JPM <And thanks to you for stopping by!>

Re: 40 GALLON SETUP Hello to all,<Phil here!> I've got a couple of quick questions for you.... My setup: - 40 gallon glass tank (36" x 12" x 24") - 40 lbs live sand - 33 lbs live rock (adding add'l 45 lbs) - AquaC Remora protein skimmer with Maxi Jet 1200 - Whisper Second Nature 3 backpack filter for carbon inserts - Dual heaters / thermometer - 1 powerhead (low end) - Single 24" 30 watt florescent (upgrading to 210 W PC) My inhabitants: - 15 blue legs - 1 scarlet reef hermit - 2 yellow tail blue damsels - 1 yellow tang<This tank is too small for this fish!!> - 1 skunk cleaner shrimp My tank has been running for approximately 5 months now, and the water parameters seem to be doing quite well, although I currently only test for ammonia (0),  nitrites (0), PH (8.3),  KH (9) and salinity (1.022).<This should be more like 1.025> Initially when I set up my tank I used that way overpriced "live sand in a bag" crap (pardon my French), and made the mistake of following the recommendation of 1 lb per gallon.  After researching the links on DSB, I realized that you generally recommend a range of around 4"-6" + for optimal performance.  I currently have around 33 lbs of live rock, and am placing an order for an additional 45 lbs from FFExpress per your endorsements.  Before I do so however, I would like to increase my DSB. What would be the proper procedure for doing so in my situation?  Can I simply add some fine sugar sand / crushed coral atop my current sand bed, or will burying the mature substrate cause more harm than good?  Would you recommend stirring the two together in tank?<You need to remove the current substrate and add the "sugar" sand.  No mixing, it becomes a real pain if you mix!> Additionally I am concerned that due to the dimensions of my tank (36"L x 12"W x 24" high "show tank"), and the fact that I only have one powerhead, I may not be getting enough water flow over the sand bed.  In light of the aforementioned dimensions can you recommend a good place for additional powerheads to get the desirable turbulent water flow.  I've attached a picture I created in paint with the current positioning of my filtration / powerheads.  (OK so I got bored one night....)< Try and put another powerhead on the other side of the tank.  One powerhead on each side.  One on top and one on the bottom.> Finally, what additional water tests would you recommend I add to my repertoire?  I plan on adding some inverts once I upgrade my lighting. Calcium? Nitrates?..... Your continued help on my aquatic journey is much appreciated! Best Regards, Jesse Canizio Boca Raton, FL <Jesse, I'd start testing for nitrites and calcium.  I'd add the new powerhead.  I'd remove the yellow tang!  If you do this I think the tank would be really nice.  I love your paint drawing!  Trust me it's better than I'll EVER do! :)  Best Wishes Phil>

- Eclipse Questions - Many blessings upon thee for the infinite patience thou bestoweth upon unworthy neophytes such as I... <Good morning.> Your prior two responses have been much help in preparing me for my setup.  Just a few more quick questions: (To refresh: 29g long (18" tall) Eclipse3 setup, FOWLR, future inhabitants to be pair of perculas and cleanup crew) 1. I will be replacing the two bulbs that came with the hood at the beginning with one Power-Glo and one Marine-Glo (clearanced at PetCo for less than $5/each - if this setups will work I think I'll stock up!), and put them on a separate timer (12 on/12 off).  Will this suffice? <Yes, it will work fine.> 2. For the first fill-up, can I mix the salt and water in the tank and aerate/heat it in the tank for a week before I add substrate and LR? <I don't see why not in a system of this size. Just remember to rinse that substrate before you put it in the tank.> I will be using the Rubbermaid container for mixing new well ahead of time. <A good plan.> The RO unit, though will have to wait, although we have blessed with excellent tap water. 3. Given the expected bioload, until I can find a skimmer that the hood will accommodate, could I   A) Simply do water changes weekly or bi-weekly (1-2 gallons, perhaps) <This would work well.> or B) get a hang on skimmer and run it - perhaps in the evening - at regular intervals (daily or weekly). <Also a good option.> I have been looking at some of the better DIY plans, and have thoughts of modifying one of them for my space requirements.  Any thoughts on that? <Small, frequent water changes will likely do you just fine in a system of this size.>   You will be happy to know that the deluge of silly questions will abate once I receive my hardcover copy of TCMA! ;) Cheers, JPM <And cheers to you. J -- >

Water film I have a 55 gallon reef tank four years old. Occasionally I get a film on the top of the water. My lighting is two 40 watt bulbs. One day light and one actinic bulb. I have a Sea Clone protein skimmer which filters up to 100 gallons. One power head on each side of the tank. Looking into the tank the water is crystal clear but looking through the glass up the film can be seen. Any ideas what can cause this occasional problem. thank you. Ceil <Proteins and wastes tend to collect on the surface, this is why overflow boxes work best for removing and routing them to the protein skimmer for removal. As this is an "occasional" problem, it is likely related to cyclical water conditions, perhaps from water changes containing various elements, a dirty or inefficient skimmer (Sea Clones are not particularly efficient), filter sponges or perhaps just before your water change or after dosing various elements, notably iodine. A skimmer box will surely remove it and water testing is in order as well.  Craig>

Keep Your Water At Arms' Length! Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. either> Thank you for taking your time to reply to my questions. What procedure should be taken to clean your hands/arm before working in the tank. With soap, it seems to keep to your hand, but w/out introduce germs, plastic gloves are a sort of a pain & only cover my hands. <I must admit- I have a pair of the Coralife rubber arm-length gloves when I work in the tank...And I still wash my hands (no soap- just warm water, before I start working. Anal- yes- but it works for me!> Second question: Does Tropical Sciences "Marine Max" work, or worth using? It states to help prevent disease & prolong life, it seems to me it smells & looks similar to "Vita-Chem". <Not familiar with this product...I'll stick to regular water changes, protein skimming, and good husbandry as my best "additive'!> Third question: Do you feel that pushing 940 gallons in an 80 gal ( 48"L) tank is to much? I have it pushing through 2 flexi link heads. Also, is it best to point the heads towards the bottom or along the tank, or one of each? ( FOWLR )Thank you for your help & website! D. Mack <I like that amount of circulation! I'd point some outlets towards the top, and a few in the middle-to-bottom areas...Try to create no dead spots.. Take care! Regards, Scott F>

Calcareous Tubeworms blooming from excess nutrients You mean that my protein skimmer should fill up weekly.  Mine doesn't. <I could probably guess your skimmer brand too. Seaclone... Prism...? Hmmm... at any rate, yes my friend: a well tuned and well designed skimmer should yield a full cup of dark skimmate daily in a tank that is stocked and fed well. 3-5 cups weekly is a minimum necessary from any tank and may not even be enough (as evidenced by algae blooms or blooms of filter feeding syconoid sponges or worms as you have seen in your tank)> Should I do weekly water changes?  I haven't been.   <monthly is a bit frugal but can work if large enough (30-50%) and carbon is used weekly, tank is lightly fed, lightly stocked, skimmer works well...etc. Else, do consider small weekly water changes (10-25%)> I change carbon monthly. <excellent. Its even better to change 1/4 weekly (same monthly amount of carbon... just changed more often for improved water quality). So much has been written about nutrient control and skimmers in our archives... please do browse on wetwebmedia.com. Best regards, Anthony>

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