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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance 8

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Related FAQs: Marine Aquarium Maintenance 1, Mar. Aq. Maint. FAQs 2Maint. FAQs 3Maint. FAQs 4Maint. FAQs 5, Maint. FAQs 6, Maint. FAQs 7, Maint. FAQs 9, Maint. FAQs 10, Maint FAQs 11, Maint. FAQs 12, Maint. FAQs 13, Maint. 14, Reef Maintenance 1


- Tank Setup - Good Afternoon, Man, I have been reading over your huge database and I must say, it's HUGE!! I think it would take 6 months to fully digest everything! (Well worth the reading if you have time though!!) I have quite a few questions and I figured I might as well send them all to you right now instead of breaking them up. My current set-up is as follows: Tank:    29 Gallon Live Rock:    30 Lbs Live Sand:    3-5 lbs (approximate) Life:    1 - Sebae Clown (3")    1 - Niger Trigger (3")    1 - Skunk Cleaner Fish    4 - Small hermit crabs    2 - Mexican Turbo Snails    2 - Sand Sifting Snails (I don't know the exact name, but they burrow under the sand) Filtration:    1 - 250 GPH hang on filter (for extra mechanical filtration)    1 - CPR CS50 overflow    1 - DIY wet/dry filter with 2.5 gallons of Bio-Balls    1 - Return pump with PVC pipe buried under live rock to keep things moving. With that information, here is one of my many dilemmas. I currently have a home made (ugly) aquarium stand. I would like to get a nice stand and wooden canopy (All-Glass for instance) but stands for a 29 gallon tank do not have enough room in the bottom for a 15 gallon sump (mainly depth).  >From what I have seen, they usually only have about 10-12 inches of usable space.  I have read that wet/dry systems may not be the way to go due to increasing nitrate levels? <This is true.> I would love to incorporate the Berlin method (with skimmer / live rock / return pump set-up) but I just don't think there will be room. I am sure there are ways of accomplishing this, but I think (unless you recommend otherwise) I would much rather look at hang-on-tank options. What would the best, most cost effective set-up be,  while using only hang-on equipment. Or what would you recommend for a tank of this size? <Perhaps an AquaC Remora and a CPR hang on refugium... powerheads for circulation.> You will notice that I don't have a protein skimmer yet, that is something I really want to get but haven't been able to justify spending so much money on such a small system (I did have the Skilter 250 but threw it away a few months ago due to a leak and all it ever did was produce extremely wet skimmate, barely any foam at all). Is there some sort of all-inclusive hang-on package that you recommend? It seems that Berlin set-ups are one of the best (are they really?), since I cant easily do that, what is my next best option? Is the CPR Bak-Pak an all-inclusive system? <I'm not really a fan of the BakPak - I've used this skimmer and it does work, but there are better options like the Remora.> (Skimmer & 3-way filtration) Also, you seem to love the Remora Aqua-C skimmer, do they have anything smaller? <No.> I remember the Skilter producing so many micro-bubbles in the tank. Is there any hang-on systems that stop micro-bubbles from getting back into the tank or at least limit them from getting back into the tank? <Both CPR and AquaC make bubble traps for their skimmers.> Your help would is greatly appreciated! Best Regards, Aaron <Cheers, J -- >

- Tank Setup & Crushed Coral - First of I am glad to find you site.  Very informative even though I hate reading long articles. <Time to get used to it.> Getting a 135 gallon salt setup this week.   It has been up and running as a fish only salt tank.   She has had it maintained by a local shop on a monthly basis.  The fish have been returned but the tank is still up and running so the bacteria bed should still be alive so if I have to cycle it wont be too long for it to balance out. The tank comes with 200 gallon wet/dry and pump, 4-24" light strips, few fake coral/decorations, and what looks to be 2-3" of crushed coral for the substrate. I hope to set this up as a fish with about 30-40 lbs. of live rock. <It would be in you and your fish's best interest to shoot for more rock - about one pound per gallon.> Need to test the water first to see if it has ever been treated for copper.  She has no idea. <Look at the silicone in the corners of the tank - copper will turn it blue.> Good thing was she had sharks and an eel and usually they don't treat with copper with those kind of fish. <Not usually.> Plan on getting a skimmer in a month of so when my budget allows for it (Euro reef clone as you suggested).  Question is how is the crush coral for a substrate? <Fine.> I have been reading a lot about the sand method.  Is it really necessary or recommended? <Your choice - crushed coral is fine, but I'd keep it at two inches or less and make sure you give a portion of it a vacuum every time you change the water.> Of course there is live and then fresh that has not been seeded.  The later being cheaper but I assume over time it will start to seed if new. <Yes.> I don't plan on buying and corals just the live rock for natural decorations  and hope that nice things grow out of it over time so I guess the lighting should be fine.  Think the bulbs are about 4 years old so probably should change them out even though the appear to be working fine. <Yes... they tend to go off spectrum in a year or so.>  Anyway what do you think?  <I think you'll be fine.> Especially about the sand? <No worries.> I heard crush coral works fine if you vacuum it every so often because it tends to trap a lot of things. <There you have it.> Thanks for you time, Andy <Cheers, J -- >

Marine operation I'm new to the saltwater aquarium hobby. I bought a bare 125 gallon tank (old one that I restored). It's all glass (very thick). I took advice from a friend and used play sand as a substrate, I've got about a 4"-6" sand bed. I want to do the whole thing with live rock and maybe some coral life and reef-safe fish. First off I was wondering if I should have used a different substrate. <You should be fine with the play sand.> Secondly, I tried to take the easy route and bought two Penguin 330 hang on filters. I didn't want to drill my tank and I wouldn't know how to anyway plus I didn't and still do not know much about how wet/dry filters (or other types) work I definitely wouldn't know how to install one. Everyone has told me I need a protein skimmer to keep live rock and corals. So can I utilize one with my setup or do I need completely install a new filter system? <There are a few hang on the back skimmers that would do fine.  I like the Aqua C, remora pro the best.> Another question I have is what makes live rock "live"? I ask this because I got suckered into buying 50lbs of "base rock" off eBay thinking it was live rock, but it wasn't. Will life forms grow on this rock to make such "live rock" or is it just useless? <If you seed this rock with live rock it will eventually become live rock.>My last question is I have two MaxiJet 1200 power heads on either side of the aquarium (blowing towards each other) is this adequate enough water movement (or too much) to keep coral life that requires such movement?<It all depends on what species you want to keep.  You can find more info on all of this at our site:  www.wetwebmedia.com.  Cody> I intended to add the following Live rock aprox 120-140lbs An Anemone About 4 clownfish 1 Yellow Tang and maybe some other smaller fish <Just make sure you have enough lighting for the anemone.  You can find more info on all this at our site above.  Cody> Thanks

Ambiguous smells... (11/12/03) Hi my friend has a partial saltwater tank and wants to know why it smells? <Um, without knowing a lot more about the tank, it's impossible to say with certainty. Possible culprits include dirty filters and decaying substances, either in the tank or in the substrate. --Ananda>

It's Not All About the Clowns! >Hey Folks, >>Hi Louis!  I wonder why I only just got this email.. oh well, in any event, let's see what's up. >I feel accomplished!  I bought my first two finned friends for my 55.   >>Awesome!  How's it feel? >Two Ocellaris clowns.  They seem to be doing fine in the QT.  It's been only 3 days though...LOLOL.... they are eating and are very active.  How nerve wracking to give them their freshwater Methylene blue dip!  Was 20 minutes too long?   >>Well..  if you used my own method of close observation, then no, it must not have been.  However, there are so many folks who feel freshwater dipping is too stressful in the first place that I think you'll hear gasps round the world.  In my opinion, it really depends on the FISH. >They seemed to be doing fine even at that point.  I was a bit nervous just thinking about what they were going through and the possible outcome.  I know the only lighting on the QT should be the indirect room lighting be it artificial or natural, but my QT is in a pretty unoccupied room in the house with mostly natural indirect sunlight, so these guys are truly bound by the cycle of the sun.  We do frequent this room throughout the day and not have to turn on the room lights during the evening when we enter the room.  The tank goes from dark to light at the flick of the wall switch.  Is this not a good thing?   >>Sudden changes can be a bit stressful.  I might keep a nightlight, or cover the tank (black plastic is cool, too). >I usually feed these guys in the AM, but because I do not get home until after dark, another feeding seems impossible, especially that they are already in darkness for at least 2 hours before I get home.   >>How about an automatic feeder? >Should I wake them up with the room lights to feed them or should I let them be with one feeding per day in the AM? >>Ah.. I see where you're going with this.  I would definitely set up a small light near the tank, and this will allow them to not be so surprised when you turn on the room lights.  It's really ok to use lighting in q/t with fish that are doing so well. >Didn't mean to go that far on the clowns...sorry.   >>It's not all about the clowns?  Oh yeah!  Your message said something about a starfish..! >The real question now is about the sand sifter star I also acquired.  An Archaster typicus.  As usual I did not read the website prior to buying this guy.   >>Ahem.. whaddya MEAN "as usual"????  Hrm.. >A complete impulse purchase.   >>Ay carajo! >You would think that I would learn eventually!  So now I read that he is not a good choice for a FOWLR or future mini reef tank.  Not to mention the coarser 1" top layer of my 6" DSB might not be the best for him Carib sand underneath 5" worth).  Now I am worried.  He buried himself immediately on Saturday (3 days ago) and has not moved from the same spot.  I know he is alive because he did surface briefly and then dove again.  How active are these guys?   >>They go through periods of great activity, and at other times don't do much.  Here's the thing with the star, it's not the substrate, it's not that it's for now fish-only, it's that you may not have enough of the right stuff for it to eat. >Should he be moving like crazy?  And what about feeding?  Should I be feeding him as I feed my brittle star?  How often?   >>This is more of a tough call.  They are typically detritus eaters, though I might wager that they pick up microfauna in there feeding habits. >If he is buried all the time and I lose track of him how am I supposed to find him to feed him?   >>You don't, my friend.  Consider feeding habits.  If he's buried and remains so, chances are he's feeding (assuming he hasn't up and died down there). >Am I better off cutting my losses, yet again, and return him for a partial refund? >>It's a consideration since your setup is relatively new. >I figured I needed some more DSB movement and was told he was a good choice.   >>They are, and can at times prove TOO voracious, or requiring a setup larger than what you have.  This is where a refugium can prove a lifesaver. >The snail route proved poor.  These damn guys are always over on their back and I have lost most of them since I was not there in time to flip them back over (Astrea, Nassarius, Cerith).   >>This is an issue that has buggered me for quite a while, do these creatures *not* get flipped in nature?  Of course, there is little glass or acrylic in nature.. >I have read many of your articles as I always do first but I guess I am seeking a bit more specifics. >>Oops... you said earlier that you "usually" do the opposite.  I prefer this tactic.  ;) >Thanks as always, Louis >>You're welcome Louis.  Marina

The 4-1-1 On WWM... Hi Scott, <Hey there!> I am having computer trouble so I hope I am not sending you multiple emails here that are the same.  If so I want to apologize for inconveniencing you. <Hey, it's not an inconvenience...Sharing ideas is what this site is all about!> I really enjoy chatting with you Scott and don't want to take up to much of your time and cause you have too much Thai Iced Tea. <LOL...Too much is never enough!> Anyway Scott- did I miss something here?  I didn't get what you thought the film on my water may be or what you thought I should do about it. The problem is still there big time.  Just do water changes or what?  I did a partial water change last night. <I guess something was messed up in the response...Let's try it again... The film on the water surface could be anything from dust from improperly washed sand to organic material. Some ideas to remove the film: You could utilize heavy aeration to break the surface of the water, good surface skimming, or you can even place a few paper towels on the surface and quickly remove tem, taking off the film in the process. The most important thing is to find the root cause of the film and correct it... > I did ask you this last time and I hope you don't get to big a laugh at the question I am about to ask, but a small laugh is good for everybody. <I agree! And a big laugh is pretty cool, too!> But I read the Q&A and I don't know what all the LFS, DOC, RO etc. what all these letters stand for and you know there is some many of them.  I do know some of them but is there a place that you can get a copy of what they all stand for? <Actually- you bring up a great point! I guess we tend to take all of these abbreviations and such for granted, and assume that everyone knows 'em! I cannot be exhaustive in this response- but here are a few of the more common ones we use (in no particular order): LFS: Local Fish Store, RO: Reverse Osmosis, DI: Deionized (water), DIY: Do It Yourself, MH: Metal Halide (lights), PC: Power Compact (lights), VHO: Very High Output (lights), NO: Normal Output (fluorescent bulbs), DSB: Deep Sand Bed, etc., etc....There will no doubt be others that pop into my head at 3:30AM...But you get the idea!> Thanks again so much, Teri <My pleasure, Teri...Always glad to be of service...Or to offer a bit of confusion once in a while! LOL. Regards, Scott F>

New Tank Syndrome Over and Over Again? >I've had a 48 gallon reef tank for the last 4 months with little incident.  Yet every time I do my monthly water change (25%) something goes haywire for a few days.  Yesterday I did my usual change.  Rinsed the filter media out in dechlorinated salt water. Rinsed and added new reef carbon. (I have a Fluval 304 and a protein skimmer). Added dechlorinated saltwater made from Coralife mix. Everything was fine.  This morning the water is cloudy, coral are "pulled in" and one of my cleaner shrimp bought the farm! >>Hhhmm.. and you say this sort of thing happens every time you do a water change?  I'll tell you, most folks don't run reef with tis sort of filtration (the canister), especially if this is what you rely on for biological filtration.  My first thought on this is that if your water appears milky, you're killing off your nitrifying bacteria every time you use this method.  You need a more stable means of biological filtration, in my opinion.  If the shrimp kicked and the corals look so bad within 24 hrs., then it makes me think "ammonia spike".  This would jive with the killing off of the benthic bacteria (your nitrifying bacteria).  What you are seeing (assuming it's milky cloudiness) are free-floating bacteria that are allowed to take over when you kill the benthics.  It's a nutrient competition here, and you want the benthics to win. >I know I have to do water changes and clean the filter media on a regular basis.  Is this "drama" normal and should I just get used to it, or is there something I've done wrong or should be doing differently?  G >>No, it's not normal, especially in established tanks.  It IS normal for new tanks, and is known as "new tank syndrome".  My first advice is to alternate rinsing the carbon and the filter media.  I will also suggest looking into other forms of filtration as well.  A search on our site will net quite a bit for you.  Marina

Quick Question - Algae, Phasing in New Stock Ian, Thank you for the quick reply. One more quick question.  The algae has now spread across the tank. All over the substrate, glass etc.  Can you confirm that this means the tank has peaked and is now "creating" nitrites, and the algae should die out soon due to depleted food source.. and should (hopefully) be replaced by green/red algae?<I would check your phosphate levels in your tap water... this maybe the source of your problem>  Is it now "safe" to start introducing the second phase live stock..?<I would go with some hardier fish first, such as eels, triggerfish, basses/groupers etc.. don't purchase tangs or angels or they may get ich due to the new aquarium>  Sorry, one more Q...I can't find ANYWHERE (library/www) about the actual  (step-by-step) construction of a reef. How to make the base (foundation), how  to "glue" the live rock, add the coral etc.. what rocks are best, etc.. any  suggestions? or can I post my experience once its done on your site..?  <you can send us and email of your experience and we will post it here, I would  just ask fellow hobbyists that have reef aquariums.. such as friends from your  LFS etc, it makes a good conversation if you ask me lol>  In advance, thanks again<your welcome, IanB>

-A "Few" Questions- Thanks again,  last few questions (I promise and I'll leave you guys alone:) These are questions that I get different answers from different LFS's and I'm a little confused.) <A very common problem, usually bad, but not always!> I need to lower heat in my tank.  Currently I have a 75 gallon, with an Amiracle  wet/dry sl150, with an Eheim 1260 return pump (submersed in the sump), a 402 powerhead in the sump feeding an external skimmer, a 402 in the sump feeding my U.V. sterilizer, and a 402 and 802 powerhead in the main tank for added water flow.  If I take my Eheim 1260 return pump and drill a hole in my sump and make it external, instead of sitting in the sump, will this make a difference in generated heat in the water? <It may help a little, but not much. Evaporative cooling is my method of choice. I have a 120 w/ plenty of warm pumps, and 400w MH lamps above. All it takes is a $10 fan from Wal-Mart across the surface of the water to keep it cool year round.> Is there a way to lower the hum I get from my return pump, pushing water about 4 1/2 - 5 feet up? It kind of sounds like a refrigerator hum.<You could try a piece of filter pad under the pump. Larger mag pumps come w/ a noise reducing hard sponge-like thing, I wonder if those are sold separately...> Also, I'm assuming my water flow is plenty? Just wanted to know if you agreed? What do you think my return Eheim 1260 pump rate is at 5 feet up, (if it says 620 gph normally?) <I'm not familiar w/ the pump curve of Eheim pumps, but I would suggest increasing the water flow to around 700gph at full head pressure (~5ft)> My U.V. sterilizer is a double helix 18 watt and water flow running into it should be between 150-200 gph (a Hagen 402 powerhead that pushed up about a foot before entering the sterilizer).  BUT I'm not sure if it's working because I still get diatom algae growth all over my tank walls and still had an ich outbreak, is this normal? Does it not kill off this type of algae growth? <The UV sterilizer is NOT a total solution to algae or disease. You should still expect a normal amount of algae growth in the tank, and it is still possible for you to have an ich outbreak. The sterilizer would serve you much better on a quarantine tank, and even then used sparingly. Running UV's 24/7 is actually a poor idea in the long term.> Regarding quarantine, I am starting one for new incoming fish because I lost 2 to ich (or Greenex, btw I regret using.)  Is there anyway of knowing which killed my butterfly C. semilarvatus.  He was gasping a lot and I put him in clean quarantine water with no medication but by the next morning he appeared to have bruises on him as well as red streaks (which sort of looked like internal bleeding, and right before he passed on he trembled a lot for a few seconds. I don't know if the Greenex already did him in and it was too late or if it could have been the ich. <Sounds like secondary infections from either ich or velvet. Both of these will get into the gills, causing the gasping. Velvet does it MUCH faster than ich though.> If I keep a bare bottom tank with PVC hiding places, with same pH and temp as main tank, BUT the salinity is 1.015, when it comes time to put the fish in the main tank with a salinity of 1.020, will normal 45 minute acclimation be okay on them?? <You should keep your quarantine tank at the same water parameters as your display.> Won't this stress them out by the time they hit the main tank and make ich likely again? Also, would you recommend I always keep my quarantine with copper, even for new coming fish? And if not, does that mean I could keep live rock and sand in it for biological help? <No, and no. You are assuming that nothing is going to happen to the fish you are quarantining, which is what quarantine implies: keeping it apart from others in case of a problem. Running copper is deleterious to the immune system, otherwise unhealthy, and is useless unless there is a parasite present. I would suggest against using any live rock or sand in case you do need to treat, b/c you can't exactly dump this rock back in your display. Many of the meds that would be used target inverts; precisely the critters in your LR and LS.> Also, what copper test kit would u recommend for Cupramine?  Some only read to .25, and Cupramine says to keep at .5 dosage for two weeks. <I've used Fastest brand w/ mixed results (I've had more than my share of bad reagents). Try Salifert.> Can a maroon clown handle Cupramine? Do you think a Picasso trigger will be okay, with a hippo tang and a maroon clown? How about with feather duster worms? <Those fish will be fine. Remember this: Copper is toxic to ALL invertebrate life!!!> Thanks again, Sorry for the sporadic questions asking.  Just figured I would get to the point on each topic. <No problem, good luck! -Kevin> I really appreciate your help and this website altogether, Great help.  Anthony

Sluggish Huma is the Least of it >Hello.   >>Hello, Marina today. >First of all, I'd like to say that your website has had plenty of helpful info.  My problem is with our Huma trigger.  He's pretty small, like about 1.5 to 2 inches in length.  We've had him for a month or two.  When I first got him, he was very friendly, much like he was my "Pet".   >>They certainly can be.  Or, they STALK you. >He always would come up to the glass when I came near the tank and he always ate everything I put in the tank, including trying to eat my fingers.   >>Better watch out for that, it is NOT so cute OR fun when they get big. >Lately, for the past week, he has gotten very sluggish and has been hiding inside of ornaments and sitting at the bottom of the tank.  His scales and fins look fine and our water has tested great.   >>"Tested great" tells me nothing. >We have been adding new fish to the tank, such as First, a month ago, all we had was a Maroon Clown, then two weeks ago we put in a Yellow Tang. >>Without quarantine?   Then, a week later we put in a Sailfin Tang and this week we put in our last fish for the tank, a Dolphin Tang.  We also put in this week a baby Banded Shark.   >>Oh lord.  No mention of quarantine, and WHY are you adding fish so FAST???  AND a shark??  Please, please, please tell me you researched before buying any of these animals.  PLEASE tell me you haven't put the shark on crushed coral. >Could all of this stress to him have caused him to act this way?   >>YES!  Watch the others, too. >We only have a 55 gal with a wet/dry filter below, but all of these fish are all babies.   >>You're going to end up killing these fish soon enough.  You are going WAY too fast, no matter how small the fish.  Not to mention that this is an awful mix of fish. >They are all very small.  Just barely big enough to not be eaten by the shark.  Is this too many fish for our 55? >>Uh.. YEAH.  The shark is the LEAST of the problems here.  I can only assume that you're buying first and asking questions later.  I'm sorry to be so harsh, but you have stuffed this tank FULL of fish, NONE of which are suitable for a system this size!   >We don't have any large rocks that take up room so there is plenty of swimming room, including a deco. of barnacles with plenty of hiding places.  This morning, I was almost sure my Huma was dead.  I went to pick him up with the net and he felt stiff, but when I scooped him, he slowly swam out of the net.  Have you ever heard of feeding them fresh garlic?   >>FRESH garlic??  Garlic, yes, fresh, no. >Would this help?   >>VERY doubtful.  Have you performed any water changes?   >He is eating less and less each day.   >>Of course he is, I doubt your water is testing very well at all at this point.  Test kit age and brand are at issue here, including ACTUAL readings.  Not to mention that it seems you've quarantined not one fish before adding it, you very well may have introduced something into the tank.  Shame on your local fish shop for not paying closer attention to how you're going about this, they're the ones who should be the experts (at the very least MUCH more knowledgeable!), and as such should be guiding you through this. >The only way he is eating at all is because I hold the food in front of his mouth until he nibbles on it.   >>This is how I fed "my" brood of baby bamboos. >Please help!! He is my favorite.  Thank You, Kristie Hall >>Ok Kristie, the brutal truth.  You have WAY too many fish in this tank.  I don't know if you've ever heard of quarantining fish for 30 days before introduction, but now you have for sure.  I can't say, "If you were my customer", because I never would have let a customer of mine end up in this situation, so, what's got to be done is return some fish.  Honestly, at this point I would return them ALL, especially the shark.  A 55 gallon is far too small even for a baby (which are much more "special needs").  The Maroon clown can get very aggressive with other fish, and the tangs.. well, just NOT suitable, again, for a tank this size.  The Huma is your favorite, so concentrate on making him healthy.  WATER CHANGES, large and copious, do not vacuum the substrate, just change the water.  To be safe, test the makeup water BEFORE putting it into the tank, especially if mixing using tap water.   Garlic has been known to stimulate feeding, but it's not going to be necessary if your water quality is pristine.  Extract would be a better way to go, though I have never used it myself.  I think your money is better spent on nutritional supplementation--Selcon.  I'm serious when I say test kit brand is an issue--Salifert, SeaChem, LaMotte--QUALITY, and RELIABILITY.  Start here, and then we'll move on.  Marina

Film (2 fer) Good morning crew <Yawn!>    Im trying to get rid of this film I have on top of the water. Do you know what this could be ???and how do I get rid of it??? It looks like its an  oil film.   Thanx <Likely "just" dust, perhaps an aerosol as well from the room, air circulating about near the tank. I suggest "dipping" or wicking it off when you do your regular water changes... with a pitcher... or a clean, non-scented paper towel... and maybe using surface disruption from a pump discharge, airstone... to prevent the film from covering (and smothering) your livestock in the meanwhile (this happens pretty often). Bob Fenner>

Film algae - 10/12/03 Good morning crew    Im trying to get rid of this film I have on top of the water. <Need more info here. Salt or fresh? What color is the film?  Do you know what this could be ??? <Yes I do and it is on our webpage in a great many instances. Wanna know what is, eh? I assume you are talking saltwater?? Here you go: http://wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm> and how do I get rid of it??? <Many ways. If it is algae then I recommend to either use a cup to skim the top water layer and replace the water you take out. I also point a power head outlet nozzle to the surface to really churn the water up. Sometimes pre skimmers with a sponge or some other mechanical filtration helps as well. Please look through the link above (a great many additional blue links inside the link) and read up on the many types of algae issues (again, assuming it is marine algae.) Also use the Google search tool at the bottom of our page and go through the findings. Thanks for the question -Paul> looks like its an  oil film.   Thanx

High temps (10-7-03) I just recently set up a 90 gallon FOWLR tank. There are no fish in it yet, but my temp seems to be a problem. It stays at about 81.5-81.9 F. I can't seem to figure out why. I am not running my lights yet, but when I do it will just be fluorescents. My return from the sump is a Mag7 and I have two powerheads running, a Maxi jet 1000 and a Powersweep 226.  I am stumped please help. <What is the room temp, the pumps should only raise it a couple degrees at the most.  Also is it in direct sunlight?  You should be ok where the temp is at now just make sure you don't have any major fluctuations.  Cody>

Initial fill, what to test? Hi crew, <Hello! Ryan with you> I have question about the initial fill on my tank.   I am planning on keeping various sps and at least one  of each T. maxima and T. squamosa. I have heard  conflicting opinions on what to do. I have not  purchased a RO/DI unit yet and need approx. 110gal water for my tank set up. The easiest thing for me to do would be to just fill the tank up with tap water and let it run for about a week; then mix the salt in the tank. <Tap water acceptable in some aquaria: Reefs are not one of them.  Either invest in a RO/DI unit yourself, or buy the prepared water from a quality LFS.>  (Why is the practice of mixing salt in the tank frowned upon by some?) <The initial mixing of salt in the tank is fine, it's just not safe once livestock is present.> So I guess one of my questions is will that be ok or will I regret it in the future b/c of silicates or some other stuff that will be in the tap water; or does my plan sound fine? <Investing in good water is truly SAVING yourself money.  The better your source water is, the less: Livestock will die, supplements you'll buy, frustration you'll endure.>  After the initial fill I am planning on storing tap water while aerating it b/f using it, its just that I don't have enough storage capacity to do the whole 110gal; so the tank is the only thing I have that big.  <OK...a cheap 20 gallon tank should be plenty of water to have on hand for a weekly water change.> I have plans to purchase an RO/DI unit in the near future. <So maybe just buy the water until you're there> One last question can you recommend some reliable test kits to use to make sure my tap water is ready for mixing with salt. Like what brand for chloramine, and anything else that would be helpful to > test for? <You should test for: Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, Ka, dissolved oxygen, ammonia, salinity, and calcium if you plan on reef-keeping.  As far as quality of kits, I've had decent luck with Seachem.>  Thanks a lot for your help and keep up the great work. - Ryan <I sure will, and you keep working on the new project.  I know it seems overwhelming, but just keep researching and you'll be fine.  Have you found www.reefcentral.com yet?  It's a great resource as well.  Best of luck! Ryan Bowen>

Best laid plans... 9/29/03 Hi there, <howdy!> I would like to start off by saying that you have THE BEST site on the web. Thank you so much for all the information you provide. <thanks kindly my friend> I have a bit of a dilemma. I have a 125 gallon, with sump, protein skimmer (name of which escapes me right now, don't like the thing anyway-getting different one, any suggestions would be great) <definitely... many skimmers on the market aren't worth the price of shipping... I strongly recommend an Aqua C or Euroreef skimmer... do check out availability at your LFS, or seek customaquatic.com or Marinedepot.com for example> had a UV 36 watt but it is no longer working. Also another item I would much appreciate a suggestion on which to purchase of quality. <absolutely no need for a UV on the display tank... nearly useless for disease control in systems with a substrate... best for QT and bare-bottomed displays. Use Ozone instead for the display, or invest in a quarantine tank (best)> Now, I had a 55 gallon tank set up also, both tanks set up for over a year, both maintained on a regular basis (water changes, water tests done weekly, fish kept constant eyes kept upon them for any signs of any problems.) Well, a sibling owned the 55, decided he wants it back, as in right then, tells me all my fish will fit in my 125. I could have throttled him. He may be younger than me, but he is bigger than me. Now I have an over crowded 125 gallon. They were Q/T'd first, at least he gave me the time to do that.   <ahhh... excellent> Here is my list of fish and amazingly they all get along. Dogface puffer, Coris Wrasse, Aus. Har. Tusk, Tassel File (who rules the roost), Queen Angel, and then my bad boys, the triggers... A Pineapple, Huma Huma and a Clown. Size range is from the smallest (Tassel file)3.5" to the 3 largest of 5" them being the Tusk, Clown Trigger and the Dogface. <wow... that is one heck of a mix. And a staggering amount of fishes to keep re: their potential adult size cumulatively. They need to be thinned out soon or graduated to a larger tank or they will suffer in time from the crowding/stunting> Now thankfully, said sibling has found something more useful he needed of mine and I now have the 55 back in my possession and has been for about 4 months. You know, he never even set the dang thing up!!!! <arghhh> I have yet to set it up due to illness and surgery. I have been quite thankful to my friend who has been helping me or rather doing my water changes and having my water tested for me. The 55 would have been set up as soon as I got it back, but I could not help with getting it up the stairs, and I already am asking so much of my friend. Because of the over crowding, I have upped my water changing schedule. <very wise> All fish are quite healthy except for the Clown trigger who eats but thins right back out, so I have been adding a couple of drops of garlic to his food, but am moving him into Q/T today since I am not seeing a change. thinking internal parasite?) Any ideas on what else I might do for him? <hmmm...do verify if it is indeed internal parasites. Have you seen any evidence? Stringy white feces? Else, do consider simply that it is getting outcompeted for adequate nutrition in the tank. Feed more dense matter like freeze-dried foods (like krill) with very high protein> Should I add half the 125 water and half new water to the Q/T? I usually add Receiver 2 also. It has been suggested that in regards to the Clown that I add to thawed food (Mysis-his favorite now and only thing he will eat) Kanamycin and then refreeze and then feed him this. Would this be your recommendation? <not at all... there is no need/evidence or symptoms to medicate randomly... it could do more harm to an already stressed animal. Simply feed it well in isolation. Selcon soaked frozen and freeze-dried foods. Some dry pellets too> Now with the 55, can I take substrate from the 125 to add to the 55 and water from the 125 plus new water...will this help quicken the cycle time? <yes... better still, some live rock and/or dirty filter media (power filter, etc)> I also have the foam filter that I can add to it that I put in my sump, so that will help also, correct?   <excellent> The collection of fish have been in the 125 for perhaps a bit over 6 months. I cannot say for sure considering how ill I was and how much time I was in the hospital. 3 surgeries in a year with the last one in June. I am getting my strength back. <and wishing the best for you from here> I have always done my best to keep my fish at optimum care and understand that they need more room, which I am quite happy to give them. Up until now, I have just not had the physical ability to do so. <you do indeed sound very conscientious/empathetic... I have all faith that you will do your best to provide> I do not plan on stopping with just the 55 gallon and do plan on getting other tanks, larger of course. :) And of course MINE so no one can take them from me again and I don't run into this problem in the future again. Which fish do you think I should move once the 55 has cycled? I have my own ideas, I am just curious as to yours. See if my head is on straight yet. :) <the Tasseled file has the potential to be a real monster... gets my vote for the first man... er, fish out> Thanks for listening and I understand if you want to spear me, shoot me, or harpoon me, but I do take very good care of my beloved babies. Ellie Bledsoe <no worries... to your health and happiness :) Anthony>

Best laid plans... continued 10/4/03 Hi again :) Thank you for your advice and kind words Anthony. <always welcome my friend> I have a new problem, relating to the same dilemma as before. I was telling my dear brother how I was going to set up the 55 gallon (drill another hole in the back of the tank) and he freaks on me and tells me that he is only "loaning me the tank for an undisclosed amount of time" and I am NOT to make ANY changes to it what so ever. Well this is all news to me. <your brother has issues :p With all due respect. Where's the love <G>?> Ok, I can deal with this, given my current situation with my wet Darlins. I need to get that 55 up and running. I have been looking at filtration and wanted to run what I am dealing with and what I am thinking of by you and if you have any suggestions that would be absolutely fantastic! <my advice is to not use this tank for fear of your brother demanding the tank sooner rather than later and really compromising the fishes. Instead... do extra water changes in the meantime or (better) give up some of the current fishes to spare their lives/crowding until bigger quarters can be had> Obviously it is a 55 gallon ;) overflow upper right corner and then return is drilled in bottom - 6" in left side. Or it can be the other way if so preferred, which is how the tank was set up prior to being taken from me. I had a magnum 350 running on it. Funny thing that, never did come back with the tank and it was mine to begin with. Don't mind it being gone though. Was a bit of a pain with the up-keep on it. I haven't decided if I want to run a sump on the 55 or not. I am somewhat leaning towards a Ocean Clear in line 340 with a Quiet One 4000 for the pump (or would the 6000 be better?). <save the money on the more expensive pump and buy your own new tank <G>... freedom!> The O.C. 340 is for 100 gallons to 266 gallons. I am always thinking the bigger the better with filtration, not to mention the fact that this particular 55 tank will eventually leave my possession again in some "undisclosed" time at which time I will already have a larger tank, make that tank S. :)   <eggs-actly> Now is the Ocean Clear a good product? <yes> Easy with the up keep? I have noticed that hospitals and doctor's offices use this filtration system (been to enough of them over the last year) but I also notice that the fish are changed out regularly. (Again, noticed this because of the frequent trips to said places.) <good/durable filters... but not especially convenient to clean IMO> I did get the pleasure of going out to dinner for the first time in a very long time and the place had a very nice fish only tank and of course I snooped to find out what they were running underneath. The manager got upset with me for getting under the stand. LOL  So luckily my friend spoke Chinese and told the manager that I was just looking and that I was doing no harm. The system was the Ocean Clear. <this story just keeps getting stranger... :p> I can either set it up with it as an over flow from the upper right and the return from the bottom, but circulation would be poor, true? <Correct> So it would be best to set it up with the draw from the bottom of the tank and the return from the upper right top of the tank, best circulation. <no... concerns with back-siphoning with a deep return. Just a return at the top is fine.> Add a powerhead and bam I am in business. Course with other added bonus features i.e. skimmer and Ozone ;)  The fish I will be moving will be the Tassel File, The Har. Tusk and the Coris Wrasse and possibly the Dogface (he gets picked on, poor guy) Now mind you, this is only temporary digs for them, larger tanks on the way. People round here sell em up cheap starting in the next month or so. Gotta love Christmas coming up and people needing money! Especially the people who don't know how much a 240 gallon with all the fixins is worth. I see them for $1200 OBO all the time. <if a new tank really could be as close as the holiday season... and if you have money perhaps for it (or the above mentioned equip... then by all means, do not stress these fishes with a move into a "loaned" 55 gallon tank. Buy a new 55 now... or sell some fish off... or do extra water changes for another 2 months, etc... but don't run them through such very temporary housing only to move them again in the near future> Ok so that is it for the 55 gallon. Any suggestions or advice is always appreciated. <as per above> Regarding my clown trigger. Man, my picky boy. In the 125 gallon, he never lacked for food, he is just not a "go getter" he is very methodical about his eating. He is like a "taste tester" takes a bite, spits it out, tries something else and does this for a while until he decides what he wants then he eats slowly. Now in the Q/T, I feed him Mysis and Krill and some Silversides. He now has a name, Finiky Igit, of course with all my love. He is just driving me crazy! He will still methodically "taste test" and pick out only the Mysis and leave the rest. So I tried just feeding him Krill. Nope. He would rather starve. He won't take pellets, he likes dried seaweed. As in tearing it to shreds for fun. Ugh! So, is it ok to feed him just the Mysis? <he will die prematurely on mysis or any single/whole prey item. He must be forced/helped to eat other foods... even if that means keeping the fish isolated for training> I have seen no evidence of any white stringy stuff like you asked last time in his poop. So he is basically doing the exact same thing he was doing in the 125 as he is doing in the Q/T, would it be ok to move him back? <the fish is simply starving from attrition -  a nutritive deficiency from the very limited diet. It cannot go back into the community tank> I miss him in there and am not seeing anything wrong with him. He just seems like he eats, gets fat and happy and his belly thins out by next morning. Any ideas as to what might cause this? <this is not rocket science, mate... if all you or I had to eat was potatoes every day for the rest of our (limited) lives... we would die of a dietary deficiency too no matter how  many potatoes where available to us> When I first got him he was quite the eater, methodical, but he loved his scallops, prawns, and clams,( was a "taste tester" from the beginning) now he won't touch them. The other's love them.  If I can get a good enough picture of him when he is thinned out would that be helpful to send along in a different email?  Sorry to be so long winded, just trying to cover as much as possible. :)  Edit anything you like. Thanks again for your wonderful site and expertise! It is so appreciated by so many, especially all of our wet pets. :) Ellie Bledsoe <do give thought to the above, in all sincerity. Else I fear your overstocked aquarium will soon be just another statistic... Anthony>

Moving On Up... Thanks for all your help I have received from you guys. You're the best! Hope you can help again with a couple of ?'s. <I'll give it the "old college try"....Scott F. with you today!> I have finally finished up my stand and canopy for my 150. Just need to stain it and seal it, so we will be moving our fish to their new home once I finish up my wet/dry filter. <Cool! Now the fun begins> The fish we have are in a 55. Consists of a 3in Porcupine Puffer, 2in Hippo Tang, a 2in Yellow Tang, and a small Snowflake Eel. <Wow! Quite a crowd...Glad you're moving up to the 150...> and a baby Clown Trigger that's isolated because my puffer has killed and ate 3 already. He just cant resist those clown triggers. Beautiful fish with a mean streak. Neither can my puffer, I guess LOL. <Good reason to keep him out, huh?> Here's my plan to move them: I will drain water from the 55 into 5 gallon pails with air stones, then place fish in buckets, move the 55 gallon tank to its new location then put fish and tank water back in it. Once the 150 temp and water have stabilized will take half the bioballs out of that filter into the 150's wet/dry filter. That should give an established filter without having to wait to cycle it. <Not 100% guaranteed! There will no doubt be some ammonia and/or nitrite as the beneficial bacteria "get up to speed" to keep pace...> Or is this thinking wrong? The fish will be put in the 150 in 2 week intervals, with the tangs going first, then the puffer then the trigger when he gets bigger. Then one tang will go into the 55 with eel, as that is going to be a reef tank. <Sounds like these fishes will be a tight squeeze in a 55. Tangs need a lot of room, and the eel is a big producer of metabolic waste...Do reconsider this plan> Am I going about this move right any help would be greatly appreciated by me and my fish. <I like the idea of "staggered" introductions. Definitely the best way to do this. Do monitor basic water parameters all the while, and take appropriate actions to correct anything that gets out of whack...> I know the puffer and clown get big, and they will get bigger tanks as needed for them as they grow. <That's the way to do it...Make sure that you keep this "commitment" to them!> Thanks for the input in advance. <You're quite welcome! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Help with survey       I was wondering if your web site can help       Would it be possible for people visiting your great website, to down load a Q&A form       Which they can fill in and post       A friend of mine wants to try and form ideas and theories about what       different factors effect our tanks       The form will need to be printed out and filled in and posted       I just want to get a feel of how many would be prepared to do this       If you feel this is a good idea, please let me know       The info will be made available to all who help       Cheers Fellow Reefkeepers   <Send it on. Bob Fenner>

The Family That Plays Together... Dearest Mentor, <Hey, there! Ya got Scott F. again today!> How many days can my female clown go without eating? She is still swimming a bit, but mostly hiding in her cave (a dark green coffee cup). The male has been "showing" her food (he is so sweet), but she has only tasted a bit. This is the third day, which I've read isn't horrible but... <Well, it would be nice if she start eating, but I wouldn't worry just yet. Keep trying..> My husband is now on-board and has his own questions. Yippee! Crystal (still waiting for one last book, Bob Fenner's of course...:)) <Worth the wait! LOL> Currently we have a 150 gal tank with a 30 gal sump. We are using an Excalibur protein skimmer that is rated for 150 gal. We have a green hair algae problem. I was wondering if we should go to a Nautilus Te 23" Protein Skimmer that is rated for a 300-gallon tank? <I like the idea of "over-sizing" a skimmer. I am partial to some other brands, however. If it were me, I'd check out the Aqua C models (look at the EV240), the Euroreef CS8-2(pricy but great- and EASY to use), or the ETSS Evolution 750 (another pricey one- a bit fussy- but world class once it's dialed in).> I test my water every week and it completed the initial cycle about 3 weeks ago. It has been fine since. I used phosphate sponge for the first couple of weeks and haven't needed to since. <Good. Phosphate removing media are helpful in a pinch, but they are no substitute for excellent regular long-term husbandry practices (i.e.; frequent water changes with RO/DI water, aggressive skimming, regular use of chemical media (i.e.; activated carbon and/or Poly Filter), careful stocking and feeding, etc...> I was wondering if a better skimmer would help with the algae problems? I was also wondering what other benefits a better skimmer would have on the system if any? As far as the algae is concerned what be the best way to attack the problem? <The better skimmer would be able to process more water in a more efficient manner, removing far more dissolved organics than an inefficient skimmer. As far as attacking nuisance algae- the bulk of it is husbandry and nutrient export processes, as indicated above> I currently have about 25 Astrea Snails, 5 Molly Miller Blennies, 2 emerald crabs, 1 Sally Lightfoot crab, 20 blue legged hermit crabs, and maybe 15-20 Baja snails that is all that is left from the original 30 I put in the tank. Oh, yeah, there is also 140 lbs of live rock, soft coral frags, a pulsing xenia (doubled in size), 1 Bubble Tip Anemone, 1 Yellow Tail Damsel, one Cleaner Shrimp in the tank and hopefully a pair of Tomato Clowns that will go back into the tank in 3 weeks. I was wondering if adding more cleaner critters or maybe a fish or 2 might help. <Well, I think that you have enough "cleaners" at this point. I'd focus on the nutrient export issues. Sure, you could consider a tang, but I would not rely on it to be your source of algae control. Also, remember that tangs have special needs which must be addressed, so consider that if you're going that route..> We were thinking of adding a Blue Hippo Tang, a Coral Beauty, and 7 blue-green Chromis. What do you think??? Erv <All are nice fishes. I really like the Coral Beauty- a great Centropyge angelfish that usually (in my experience) has shown little interest in corals (which bodes well for any SPS aspirations that you may have!), the hippo tang gets pretty large, so consider that choice carefully. Chromis are wonderful little fishes to keep in a small school, and you'll enjoy them...Sounds like you'll have a great community! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Strange new film on water surface Hello,     I attached a picture of what I mean. There is a film covering about half of the surface of the water in the tank. It's only on half because the powerhead on one end blows it to the other end. Oddly, it *looks* like dust, not really oily or organic looking. <Could be dust of some sort... or even an aerosol from cooking, possibly a "spray" used in the house. I would remove it with a clean paper towel "wicking" across the surface, or possibly by dipping the edge of a pitcher in the tank>     This stuff came about after I added a Tunze skimmer. I also started using a new glass scrubber at about this time, but I rinsed it well before (I did not rinse the skimmer). However, I really am beginning to believe this is from Red Sea salt mix--but maybe I am crazy. <... not crazy... well, not regarding this issue )0!> When I bought that bag, I poured it into two separate empty gallon water jugs for ease of use. I started using the *2nd* jug when this stuff showed up. Twice now I have skimmed this stuff from the surface with a small plastic cup, only to have it show back up when I added more water. I just bought some Instant Ocean mix and will try to remove it again tomorrow.      Still, any ideas or comments on the possible source? (BTW, tank is nine months old, no fish(2) health problems except for seemingly a bit constipated_just_lately. I'd explain but that'd be longer and more <Good observations on your part... As stated, I would remove this surface film... consider switching salt mix brands... Bob Fenner>

- Infrared Auto Top-off? - I saw on your website that infrared auto top-offs are the best.  Where can I buy products like this?  Thanks! Mark <It took a few google searches to come up with something, but I came up with a product called AquaSense. Here's some reviews: http://www.saltcorner.com/sections/reviews/productreviews/aquasense.htm by Bob Goemans and http://www.animalnetwork.com/fish/library/articleview2.asp?Section=&RecordNo=185 by Richard Harker. I'd check with Marine Depot b/c I found this  http://www.marinedepot.com/dp_aquasense.htm on their site, but with no price or availability. Good luck and let us know how it goes! -Kevin>

Aquarium Inheritance <Hello! Ryan> I presently have a 29 gallon saltwater tank that I "inherited" from a friend. <Welcome to the world of fishkeeping!>  In it are one spotted hawk and one white anemone with pink tips.  I was wondering if the filter is adequate for the tank.  It is a whisper filter for the 30-60 gallon tank. <No, it's not.  I would supplement filtration with a protein skimmer, live rock.> There are no other filters on the tank at this time.  The specific gravity remains constant in the 1.020-1.023 zone and the fish seems to be doing well, although the anemone always seems to be rolled up in a ball. (Occasionally he is open).   <You need to know that an anemone isn't a starter animal.  This animal needs the salinity at ocean levels (1.025) and has a high light requirement.  It also requires near perfect water quality.  Since you haven't mentioned the lighting that came with your tank, I assume it's a standard set with an actinic bulb.  This anemone has NO chance at long term survival in your setup.  Please donate him to any pet store that has proper resources.> She informed me that I should do partial water changes every three weeks and change the filter at that time also. Is this a good plan? <Sure, for the Hawkfish> Is this a good size tank for these two species?  There is an actinic light on the tank as well that I was told was for the anemone. <Please think carefully about what I've said above.  This sounds wonderful for the hawk> I also was thinking of starting a 65-75 gallon freshwater tank.  Can you tell me how many parrot fish can be housed in this tank at one time, and can you add puffers to this mix or is that a bad idea?  Any suggestions on some interesting fish that I could put in there, besides the usual angels, etc, etc? <Parrots are an interesting choice- I've seen a great display with Parrots and a school of clown loaches.> Once again, what would be a good filter system for that size tank?  There are so many filters out there is staggering!  <A wet dry would be ideal, but not always affordable.  There are some decent canisters out there, but they require very regular maintenance.  Search our FAQs for some positive feedback on filters!  Good luck! Ryan> Any help you could give me in the matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help!  Brenda Hepp

Aquarium Inheritance pt. 2 <Hello again!> Thanks, Ryan for your help.  I am going to return the anemone immediately to a fish store that I believe she purchased it from originally. <You're doing the right thing.  Not only could the anemone suffer, but discouragement is the biggest reason we lose aquarists.>  If they are that hard to maintain, it isn't right for me to have one, considering I am just starting with my salt tank. <Yep>  Should I just keep the one spotted hawk in the 29 gallon tank, or could I add one more fish?  If I can add, any suggestions that would be hardy and compatible? <Try a Royal Gramma.  Easy, beautiful fish with loads of personality.> I will investigate the website for filter suggestions for a freshwater.  I appreciate all your help! Thanks again.  Brenda <Anytime!  Keep us posted- Ryan>

Thanks and Some More Questions.... Hello Kids! I wanted to thank you for the info that you previously gave me about installing a protein skimmer. I installed it in the sump and it's busy making cappuccino now! Fortunately I have more questions to ask! Just to give you another overview of my tank, here goes: 75 gallon tank w/ 70 pounds o' live rock and some soft corals (Xenia, Zooanthids, mushroom polyps, colt coral and a finger leather) and one SPS (hammer) blocked by a piece of LR from the rest of the tank and no soft corals close to it.  One Sebae anemone that is in a corner by itself, no corals close to it (at least 15 inches). Two perc clowns that live in the anemone, 1 yellow goby, 1 cleaner goby and 1 mandarin goby. 20 gallon sump with bio-balls in a column with additional 10 pounds LR and Caulerpa. It is full of amphipods and other good stuff that would bite you if you were to put your hand in. 1- I asked about adding a hippo or sailfin but you (being Anthony) said that the tank is too small. If I were to add Banggai Cardinals (tank raised o' course), how many could I add and not be overstocking? <A pair at the most> Currently I do 10% a week water changes and nitrates are zero, and thangs in the tank look happy to be there. 2- Will running the skimmer 24/7 be detrimental to my filter feeders? Are there optimal times during the day or night to run the skimmer? <not really, and the skimmer ultimately foams better at night> 3- Currently I am running lights in the refugium 24/7. What would a benefit be of running the lights on the opposite lighting schedule of the tank? <Running lighting 24/7 can be very detrimental to photosynthetic machinery in the refugium algae. Benefits of running lighting on opposite schedule are a more stable pH and higher O2 concentrations at night> 4- Should I place the zoanthids at the bottom of my tank so that they don't spread close to my other corals, or just wait till they get close and trim them up? <I would place them relatively far away> 5- Would it be a problem to add clams to the tank? Is there any merit to the claim that bristle worms eat clams? <Shouldn't be a problem as long as your lighting is sufficient, definitely do some background research on the species you are most interested in keeping. In general, no, bristleworms will not eat adult/sub adult clams> 6- do you people have a good time doing this? I have a great time reading your postings so know that you have a fan here in Colorado who really appreciates the time that you put into doing this work. <I very much enjoy it :) > thanks!  Miguelito

- Tiny Bubbles - Hi Crew Member Of the Day. <Hello to you, JasonC here...> I have three independent questions about my 55 gal FOWLR tank. 1.  Could you tell me why when I do a partial water change of 14 gallons every three weeks on my tank, my Aqua-C Remora protein skimmer fills my tank with thousands of tiny bubbles for two to three days?  I use my regular, municipal tap water that is treated with Tetra AquaSafe.  If the answer you provided above doesn't explain, could you also tell me how to prevent these bubbles in the future? <The skimmer is skimming the Tetra AquaSafe. This is actually pretty normal, and there's really no way to 'stop' it other than discontinuing use of the water treatments. If I remember correctly, Jason Kim over at Aqua C has done some research on this and has found that Amquel will cause the least amount of disruption in the skimmer, but you should still expect some as the additives are skimmed out.> 2.  I run a Fluval 304 loaded with floss in the bottom tray, Carbon in the middle tray, and the ceramic pellets in the top tray.  When I clean my tank, I alternate changing half of the floss and half of the Carbon.  When I go to start up the Fluval, I prime it with the up and down lever located on top and air bubbles come out of the return which isn't bad.  The problem is then again thousands of microscopic air bubbles come out with small particles of white stuff.  As the floss is located in the bottom tray and the carbon bags don't show any white particles/fibers, it doesn't appear to be floss.  Do you have a guess as to what this is?  I didn't know if this is a common problem with Fluvals or not. <I'm not sure exactly what that is, but I would rinse both the carbon and floss before putting them into the canister.> 3.  My tank has 40 pounds of LR, a Heniochus, a pink spotted watchman goby, and a percula clown.  Can I add a Huma/Huma trigger or a niger trigger to the tank safely. <You could, but you would have to make a commitment to upgrading the tank size within a year. Both of these fish grow pretty quickly. If I were to chose one for this mix, I'd go with the Niger Trigger.> To finish out my stocking I was wondering if with my three fish and a added trigger upon your suggestion, if I could add a coral beauty or if that would be too much. <I'd do one or the other, not both. I'd go with the Coral Beauty instead of the Trigger.> Once I get rid of these air bubbles, I cant wait to go fish shopping.  Don't worry, I will quarantine them to avoid any problem e-mails! <Sounds good.> Thanks. <Cheers, J -- >

Algae problem and tiny bubbles in my sand - 8/5/03 Hello, <Hello> I have been reading the FAQs on your site and find them fascinating and full of knowledge. <Yes, indeed>  I have a question for you that I couldn't find in the FAQs. <Possible> I have a 20gal aquarium that has finished cycling several months ago. After cycling, I added a few snails (4) and hermit crabs (2) and (1) Black Molly to take care of a little brown film that was left on the live rock and glass.  They took care of the brown film in no time at all, except for some patchy areas on the live sand. <Hmmm>  I have been waiting patiently for the film to disappear before adding any more live stock to the tank.  The film hasn't gotten any worse or better in the last 3 months.  I read that by upgrading the lighting that this film may eventually die out, <Has been known to help, but sometimes can create a bloom if the water parameters are extreme> is this true?  I have used this technique with fresh water tanks before and eventually replaced the brown film with an easier to manage green algae by adding more lights. <Partially true. Again, depends on the source of the algae. Check your nitrates.>  I recently replaced my 30 watts of NO fluor.s with a 96w PC and within an hour the sand has started to produce a lots and lots of bubbles. <Normal. One such reason is because of the increased photosynthesis via tiny algae cells in the sand>  Is this a good thing or a bad thing to be happening? <More of a good thing than a bad thing, me thinks. More like life happening. As long as the tank water doesn't "smell" then just let it happen. Use your finger to stir out the bubbles before water changes> My tank parameters are within those listed on this site and routine maintenance and equipment (skimmer, UV sterilizer, power heads for circulation) working as should. <How is your water change regime? It is a good practice to change about 10% minimum, but I like 20% weekly! Siphon the algae of the tank floor if possible. -Paul> Thanks for any info or ideas. Brian         

-Consistent ich- Dear WWM crew, This is my first try at a saltwater tank, and I purchased it about six to eight weeks ago.  I have a 55 gallon tank, with a power head 301 pump, a magnum 350 filter, and have crushed coral at the bed of my tank.  I recently upgraded my light system to  a SmartLite set up with 65 watt PowerCompact bulbs.  The problem I have had is a high mortality rate of fish due to ick.  I have gone through about 4 yellow tangs, 4 clown fish, 2 blue tangs, a rusty angel, and a lot of money and frustration. <Eek!> I initially used about 4 blue damsels to cycle my tank when I first got it. I also have about 6 turbo snails, a hermit crab, a red banded shrimp, about 3 feather dusters, and 3 anemones. The anemones are great looking sometimes, bad looking other times. <What kind of anemones?> I have my lights on from about 7 in the morning to 10 at night. <That's a 15 hour day, no doubt stressful to your inhabitants. Keep it under 12 hours.> I live in Paso Robles, Calif., where it gets real hot in the summer time.  My water temp is about 82 degrees right now. <Has it gotten much higher?> I have sought advice from the guy at the pet store where I got my stuff at, and have tried to follow it as much as I can.  I  have about half a tank high full of live rock.  I stopped mixing my own water and started using the fish stores water to improve the water quality.  I took a test about 30 minutes ago and I have a real low ph reading of 7.4 to 7.2. <Definitely a big stressor that could lead to ich, check your carbonate hardness.> My nitrite is 0, my nitrate is o, my ammonia is about.25 . <Ammonia should be zero always and forever once you have cycled. Any trace means that the biological filter has been disturbed or can't keep up.> How do I bring by ph up? <Add one of the many available marine pH buffers. Check your carbonate hardness, it must be very low if you never add buffer. Bring your carbonate hardness up to 8-12 dKH and the pH should raise itself and become stable.> It seems if you look at my tangs cross eyed or something, they get ick. <Your water quality is not so good; hence your fish getting sick. Remove the stressors and the ich should follow.> I used this stuff called kick-ick, and it stopped it a little, but not enough to save my fish.  I currently have  4 Chromises and a clown fish in my tank, and they seem to be hanging in there.  My question to you guys is, what next? I love my tank, but the money drain is frustrating.  I love tangs, and all the colorful fish, as well as the anemones, but what am I doing wrong  that keeps killing them? <For one you need to fix your pH; should be around 8.2> Do I need a protein skimmer? <I would strongly suggest it> Is my filter sufficient? <If the tank is half full of live rock, that should be all the filtration you need.> Are my lights on too long? <Yep> Do I need to just settle for a giant lizard terrarium? just kidding, I think] <Haha, yes I'd highly suggest one ;) > I feel like I'm so close, yet so far away.  Anyways, I would really appreciate some sound  advice from your neck of the woods.    Thanks so much. <Get everything under control before adding more fish, and PLEASE, quarantine quarantine quarantine EVERY fish before they enter your tank. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm for more info. -Kevin>   Roger

Just A Phase... G'day my knowledgeable American friends, <Hey There! Scott F. at the ready today!> First I'd like to congratulate you on this wonderful web site, far better than any others I've seen (although it is doing my head in trying to convert gallons to litres and F to Celsius!!) <Yeah- what's up with us Yanks? LOL> After reading through all your FAQ's and multiple discussions with my LFS I am still confused regarding a few things. A quick background first... I am in the process of setting up a 6'x2'x2'(600L) FOWLR tank (120kgs of live rock and very thin substrate of crushed coral), I plan to have a lionfish, zebra or snowflake moray, a blue tang and perhaps a wrasse and an angel of some sort. <Okay...that's a pretty full load for this sized tank, but workable> It is currently running with a 50L sump filter (bio balls and polyfibre prefilter) which passes through about 3000Lph, in the sump is a Jebo venturi protein skimmer run by a Rio 2100 (producing 1/2 cup a day of mid brown liquid). <I like that!> My question is.. is this enough filtration?? I have a spare Fluval 404.. should I add this to provide extra mechanical filtration? or do I have enough already? I also have a Rio 1400 and Rio 600 powerhead in tank for circulation... Enough?? <Well, it's hard to say at this point, because you have to see what kinds of water quality parameters you're getting after the bioload starts kicking in. If you manage the tank well by not overfeeding, maintaining your aggressive skimming, regular small water changes, cleaning of mechanical filter pads, and use of chemical media (like activated carbon), than the live rock and bioballs in the system should do an adequate job...> My tank has been running 4 weeks and is currently in the cycling phase...ammonia 0.5ppm, nitrite 0.25ppm and nitrate 0. My tank is being overrun by brown diatom algae, should I attempt to mechanically remove some of this?? <You can manually remove it, but it will probably keep coming back for a while...very common in new tanks with abundant nutrients and "immature" biological filtration. It will go away in time..> Will it smother and harm my live rock? (only have 40kgs at the moment plan to add more as the weeks progress). Should I be doing water changes this early in the piece or should I wait till it has cycled further?? <if left unchecked for extended periods, the nuisance algae can choke out desirable life forms. However, this is a phase the tank is going through, and it will go away with time and good husbandry. Don't do any water changes until after the tank has cycled...Hang in there!> My lighting consists of 3 rows of Coralife 10000k and 1 row actinic for 12 hours a  day. <Fine for a FOWLR tank, IMO> Again I thank you for you wisdom and advice... I hope the metric values don't make it too hard!! Joel Willis Canberra, Australia <No problem, Joel...And we all speak the same "fish nerd" language- so even units of measure aren't that disorienting, huh? Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Trouble With Bubbles? Hello WWM, I have a 75 gal FOWLR, I have about 2-2 1/2" of live sand. The tank has been running for about 3 months. Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate about 50+ppm. I have about 500 gph pump running the whole thing, UV, and wet dry, built in overflow. 40 lbs LR. This morning I noticed on the side of the tank bubbles in the  sand (against the glass) and also looks "browner" like algae but not sure. This is only on that one side, now there is a bit of sun light that was hitting that are for 2-3 hours in the AM (I have fixed this), what is this? How do I fix it and prevent it? <Probably just that- oxygen bubbles caused by the algae doing what they do best...photosynthesizing...I wouldn't be too worried about this phenomenon, as long as all water chemistry parameters are within acceptable limits. As an aside- do consider getting out of the "biological no man's land" with your sand bed depth...Less than 3 inches but more than one half inch is too deep to be fully aerobic, and too shallow for complete denitrification...I'd suggest kicking it up to 4 inches for maximum long-term success...> While I am at it I would like to run my stocking plan by you. <Sure!> I have two clowns, one diamond goby, two shrimp, small clean up crew. I want to get a butterfly and a small angel, and maybe a Naso. I know these might eventually out grow the tank so I will be getting a new tank in about 1 year or so.  Would these be okay for about 1 year together? <I'd pass on the Naso, myself. They simply get too large and too aggressive to be successfully kept in this sized tank for anything but the shortest period of time. As far as a butterfly, you could look into the Long Nosed Butterflyfish (Forcipiger flavissimus) or Klein's Butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleini). Both of these two guys stay relatively small, adapt well to captivity, and are generally hardy. Keep in mind that you run the risk of coral and invert munching with most butterflyfishes, so if you switch to a reef type system, this can be a factor affecting your decision...As far as a "small angelfish" is concerned, I love Centropyge angelfishes- my favorite fishes (as Scott Michael would say)...My all-around favorite Centropyge for most captive situations would be the Flame Angel (C. loricula). It is gorgeous, adapts well to most situations, lives a long time, and is generally well behaved. Again, as with the butterflies, the potential exists for invert munching...Study the risks, and go for the species that appeals to you, fits your system's requirements, and your skill level. Good luck with your search! Regards, Scott F.>

- Re: Small Marine Tank Setup - Dear Jason, Thanks for the tip... <My pleasure.> Here's an update of my 15gal tank and some questions.... 12 Jul Readings: Salinity - 1.022, pH - 8.0, KH - 13, NH3 - 0.0, NO2 - 1.6. , NO3 - 10.0 15 Jul Readings: Salinity - 1.022, pH - 8.3, KH - 13, NH3 - 0.0, NO2 - 0.0. , NO3 - 2.5 Managed to get the pH up.... = ) In less than three days, my nitrite and ammonia has dropped to zero... I wonder why but reckon that it could be due to the reason that I have changed my old overhead filter (on the 13 Jul) to a canister filter (Model: Eheim 2217) that is meant for a 160gal tank (at 264gal per hour).  They said that using a filter that is meant for a larger tank is good. <I'd agree with that.> At a higher rate of water circulation, is this really so? <Is also beneficial.> The filter bags in my canister filter consisted of active carbon, fine crushed coral (for biological filtering) and cotton pads.  The shop that sold me this included a special formulated pad (not sure what it is) that is meant for chemical and biological filtering... not sure what it is but it is a reputable marine shop in our small country (Singapore).  It's their special formula for small marine tanks and is reputed to last for six months (with proper care of course). <Keep an eye on it, make sure it doesn't get clogged - the cotton and the carbon will need regular cleaning/replacement.> Questions: 1) Is it possible for the cycle to complete so fast? <Yes.> Less than a week considering my set-up... <Not much water.> I just did a 10% water change.  Am I ready to add some critters? <I'd go with a little more live rock if you can fit it and let it all stew for at least a month or two - let other critters [one's that ride in on the live rock] get established first.> 2) Some brown algae are appearing on the LR and glass... I was told that this will be expected after cycling? <Often the case.> I did some scrubbing and added a turbo snail... <Sounds good.> 3) I also bought and added some Caulerpa taxifolia to assist with the external removal of nitrate and also to rob away the nutrients to prevent further growth of brown algae.  What do you think?  I heard that Caulerpa taxifolia can spread real fast and requires regular trimming.... <Any type of algae used for nutrient removal needs regular harvesting.> what other things should I observe for the Caulerpa in my 15gal tank? <Honestly, I wouldn't add this.> Right now, the "residents" in my tank includes a blue yellow-tailed damsel (I chose it over the other damsels because they are less aggressive considering the size of my tank), 3 feather dusters and a turbo snail and a bunch of Caulerpa taxifolia... what other fishes can I include for my set up? <One more, small fish.> I am thinking of something useful such as a blenny? <Possible.> How about Invertebrates... I thinking of adding cleaner shrimps... and if so, which type is preferred and how many? <One cleaner shrimp of any type you choose would be fine.> Perhaps some small polyps as well? <Try not to pack this tank.> Husbandry techniques: 1) 5% water change weekly + regular top up. 2) Add 5ml of Seachem Reef Calcium weekly to assist in the coralline algae growth after water change (I feel that this is crucial in my 15 gal tank for nitrate export), <Coralline isn't going to export much nitrate for you...> 3) Add 5ml of Seachem Reef Iodide weekly <I wouldn't do this without testing.> 4) Add Kent Marine MicroVert weekly (about 3ml in a syringe squirted onto the feather dusters)... <I'd skip this and use DT's phytoplankton instead.> Is the dosage ok?  I don't want to add too many supplements since it is a small tank but are those above alone enough for my small reef set up.  If I added the small polyps, do I need to raise the dosage? <Depends on the type of polyps.> My deepest apologies for asking too many questions but I really want to be a responsible marine tank owner... Knowledge is important. Thanks! Caleb <Cheers, J -- >

Storing Tank (7-15-03) Hello - my name is Jon Blodgett, <Hi Jon, Cody here today.> I enjoyed your website but had trouble finding what I was looking for.  I am taking down my saltwater tank and have given the fish and live rock to a local pet store.  I will be moving soon and will be unable to take it with me.  However when I am eventually settled (3-4 years) I would like to start up again.  My question lies on what to do about the filters and primarily the crushed coral.  I read on your website about using vinegar to clean the pumps/filters, etc.  What about the gravel?  Should I clean it, let it fully dry, then bleach it and rinse it thoroughly before using it again, along with the few rocks that were not live rock? <That would be a good procedure and needed because the bacteria will die and pollute the tank in the future.> Does the bacteria die and dry up?  And would it pollute my future tank when used again? <Yep, just rinse well.  Cody> Any info would be great.  Thanks for your time. Sincerely, Jon

Mid Course Correction (Pt. 2) I took a sample of the saltwater and had it tested at the local pet store. They tested for ph, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. Everything tested almost perfect. The Ph was just a hair low, and the nitrite was just a hair high. <Well- nitrite should be undetectable...do recheck> It wasn't enough to be overly concerned about, however I will be cautious and test for them a little more frequently. The others tested perfect. I am not concerned about any predators in my tank. My tank is pretty well open to where I can see everything and I haven't seen or heard anything out of the ordinary. I have watched at all hours of the day and night. I will be testing for the calcium and iodine levels in the next few days, once I get a paycheck to buy those tests. Should I be concerned with any other chemicals? <Well, I think that you're monitoring the important parameters already, but it can't hurt to check things like iodine down the line, if you keep crustaceans...Just keep up the sound husbandry techniques and you should see good results for a long time to come! Regards, Scott F>

What's Wrong With The Water? Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> My question relates to quite a few different articles you've already probably produced. Basically, I converted my Juwel Rio 180 into a marine tank, with live rock, t5 lighting, fine crushed coral substrate, hang on Prizm skimmer, UV and external 2235 Ecco filter with  Rowaphos, carbon etc.. in it. Basically my problem is this tank has been running well over a year but everything new added seems to die. <Not good...> My current stock is pyjama wrasse, black and white clown, sally lightfoot crab, 2 cleaner shrimps, Brittlestar and various red and blue legs, corals = brown xenia and large elephant ear, but recently I've had a blue cheeked goby go missing, loads of red legs, blue star fish, snails constantly get dragged out of there shell and eaten etc........... <That's gonna happen with certain wrasses in the tank...Unfortunately!> My second problem is the constant growth of hair algae which covers everything and is smothering corals, even though Rowaphos has been added, water changes upped and lighting improved and circulation improved? <Well, remember- nuisance algae problems are solved through nutrient export. Water changes are a great start, if done frequently, and in small amounts (like 5% twice weekly). However, if your source water is high in phosphate, nitrate, silicate, etc., than nuisance algae can flourish. All that you'll be doing with water changes is to resupply them with new "fuel" for growth! Consider using RO/DI water. This can help eliminate many nutrients before they even get into the tank.  A couple of other things to consider: First, make sure that your skimmer is pulling out at least a couple of cups of dark, stinky skimmate twice weekly. If it isn't, you'll have to adjust it or replace it with a unit that can do this. Another consideration- your substrate. When using any type of substrate, you can accumulate a considerable amount of detritus that may not be completely broken down. The rule of thumb on sandbeds is 1/2 inch or less, or 3 inches plus. Otherwise, you can have a "biological no man's land", in which the sand bed depth is too shallow for denitrification, but too deep to be fully aerobic...A big potential problem! Be sure to keep it clean.  Use of chemical media is great, but you need to address the root causes of your problems. Water quality starts with good husbandry procedures. Also, be sure to change these media frequently. Am I wasting my time and money! with this size tank, or would this be the same no matter what? Thanks in advance. Carl Stevenson <No Carl- please don't give up! With a little research, a lot of persistency, and some time, things can turn around dramatically. Be sure to test your water regularly. With tests for basic parameters, you'll know exactly what's going on in the water, and you'll be able to determine what steps need to be taken to correct them. Also, make sure that your bioload is not too much for the tank size and filter system that you're using. Continue to study the vast resources available to you on the WWM site, and feel free to call on us if you have any more questions! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Magic Elixir? Hello, I have another question not related to this.  I was curious if you are familiar with a product called "SPECIAL BLEND" made by a company called microbe lift? <I have never used nor know anyone who has used this product. After finding a reseller and reading the benefits, I think I will stick with a good skimmer and regular water changes as these will do what the product does. Don><<Actually, this is a pond product, but other bacterial adjuncts are sold for marine and freshwater aquarium use. RMF>> Thank You, James

- Seeing Spots - <Good morning, JasonC here...> I have searched the site quite a bit (suggestions to follow), but cannot find an answer... QUESTION: I have developed several small white/hard spots on the glass of the tank. There are as well a few small pointy ones too... What are they? <Most likely a calcium-based tube worm, very common and a sign that things are on the move in your tank. Scrape them off the viewing panels if they bother you.> About your site.  When searching for a topic, I am brought to the page - unfortunately to the top. Somewhere as I scroll-down will be the reference I am looking for... Somewhere... <I will work on a solution... it's a toughie.> Second.  If I keep searching for several topics and decide to return to WetWeb, basically, I cant get there from here.  I have to just start all over back at the home page via address bar or my bookmark.   Real bummer if I was on a specific page. <What would you suggest would be more helpful? I'll consider all suggestions.> Thanx guys;  Stacey <Cheers, J -- >

Fire damage and care package from WWM friends 6/22/03 <Howdy, dear :)> Anthony, how are you? <very well, my friend with hope for you in kind.> I have to tell you what happened on May 28...my house almost burnt down! Yes! and I lost all of my Reef Hobby!!! <Oh, no!!! I am so sorry my friend. :( > the fire marshal blames the culprit on a 2-55wt PC Hamilton Ballast that shorted out. He thought it was the fan...but it's the ballast. <Wow... for what its worth... I have not envied the quality of their products from the 1980s (felt as though I had been cheated a couple of times... or rather, poor value for quality/price paid). They simply advertise heavily and that's what keeps them in business IMO. Have heard my share of complaints over the years.> Their was a fire...but mostly smoke damage...what a horrible mess!! <I have been through a fire myself... truly smoke and water damage is the worst. I do sincerely sympathize with you> I do not know at this time if I will ever get back into the hobby...too much I had established for many years. <Ahhh... don't let one big bump in the road dissuade you from a lifetime of peaceful enjoyment of our beautiful hobby. In fact... once you get back on your feet, I'll call on my friends to get to gather a care package of frags and critters and we'll mail you a/box(es). Perhaps our mates on the WWM forum can spare some just the same. Sending some love to Texas :) Just let me know when you jump back in the saddle.> My main focus is getting back into my home. All of my friends tell me not to let this spoil my passion for this hobby... at this time...I can not even think about setting up. <Understood and agreed... all in good time. And we are most grateful your life was spared, above all> You take care... it was a pleasure to correspond with you, keep in touch and I am as a anxious in receiving the book as before. <small consolation... but we can only hope it will be a pleasant escape from recent matters of the day. Yes, please do stay in touch too my friend. We'll get your next tank started nicely. Truly part of what fellowship in this hobby is about!> Take Care, Holly

- Algae Distress - Hi Bob! <Actually, it's JasonC today.> I'm in algae distress!!!  I need your help I have a 15 gal marine set-up with some live rock.  Recently I've added a light strip.  Well now the rocks are covered in a disgusting dark green slimy looking film and I'm not sure what to do! <Sounds like blue-green algae, Cyanobacteria - here some reading for some background: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm > I have 3 light strips....1 power head....protein skimmer and a filter. My tank use to be beautiful with nice growths of micro-algae, now it's an under-water dump!! Please help!!!!! <You're going to have to get in there with your hands and perhaps a tooth brush and clean that stuff out - is quite natural. Look for things you might be doing that encourage its growth - perhaps solutions you add to the tank, etc... cut back or curtail their use and see how that helps.> Thanks Christine <Cheers, J -- >

- Algae and Other Questions - Hi guys, <Good morning, JasonC here...> Greetings from Rainy Seattle (although we have been blessed this week with sun)!!! We have just moved our crew (1DBLSB Butterfly, 2 Firefish and one Neon Goby) over to their new 55 gallon home. They are all doing beautifully well. We have around 55 pounds of LR, 192 watts of Actinic and white total, protein skimmer and two power heads to help our filter with water movement. The LR is starting to get a burgundy algae on it as well as the sand. The front and side of the Aquarium gets a light greenish yellow film.  I follow Scott's 5% twice weekly routine and our water is great. I just don't know if the algae is good or bad. <These things are all relative. The algae is probably BGA, but if it doesn't bother you... you could let it go. If the tank is relatively new, then it might pass through this phase.> I have thought about one more powerhead lower to the ground as well, thoughts? <Yeah... if you want to deal with this, that's how I would start.> Papillion (the butterfly fish) picks at the rock and seems to be eating these hairy pieces but it doesn't look like he's eating the burgundy algae??? <There's not much that eats BGA.> I have read a lot of the stuff you guys have on algae. Lawnmowers being one of your recommended faves. will this blenny hurt our Firefish and goby? <Probably not - it's an algae eater, but your on the edge of being socially full... more fish in there could create issues.> What can I put in there that will be safe for the reef and all residents? <Start with the powerhead... and don't be concerned about too much flow rate - the fish will like it, I guarantee.> I am not a huge fan of crabs as they can have peculiar behavior when corals and anemones are present. I don't trust them:-) <Me either.> We eventually want a clown fish and anemone pair, so I am being very careful about who resides in this watery three ring circus:-) Just 3 more please: 1. Can we put purple Firefish in with our red Firefish? We thought having four Firefish 2 red, 2 purple might be really pretty? <I would really think twice before adding any more fish to this system without getting a larger system. One of the biggest 'tricks' [if you can call it that] in marine aquarium husbandry is learning to understock.> 2.  I add Kalkwasser when I top off. Do you like this stuff for coralline algae dev? <Well... more importantly, the coralline likes it, but you need to be very careful with the stuff as you can throw your pH off. In this type of system I prefer the two-part additives for calcium.> 3. With 192 watts of combo lighting in a 55 gallon, can we keep an anemone happy so we can have the Clown relationship? <No, and again, this tank is really to small... and likely after you add the power head, too much flow. Ideally Anemones need their own, specialized systems with a lot of light.> Our LFS is trying to sell us 650 dollars worth of Halides. We just can't go that route yet. Thanks guys. One day when we are wiser in this hobby maybe we can join the WWM Crew and help answer questions for poor unsuspecting souls who do not yet know that this is an addiction. And rehab will be necessary. Thanks Again, Christy Evans <Cheers, J -- >

A True Hobbyist Thanks for getting back to me <your very welcome> Sadly, we tried everything but it was too late and the fish died.<sorry to hear about that> I still can't believe how quickly he deteriorated.<yes, in order for fish to live for long periods of time regular water changes have to be performed> We're going to leave things a couple of weeks and start again with some new new fish <I would make sure water quality is excellent before more fish are added> - possibly a bit more hardy than the ones we had.<agreed> Hopefully, our luck will be changing by then.

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