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FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 1

Related Articles: Tank Troubleshooting Pt I, IIThe Three Sets of Factors That Determine Livestock Health/Disease, A Livestock Treatment System

Related Tank Troubleshooting FAQs: FAQs2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, FAQs 5, FAQs 6, FAQs 7, FAQs 8, FAQs 9,

A large Leptoseris sp. colony (family Agariciidae) pic by DianaF in N. Sulawesi.

Help... Please! Hi Bob, I am so glad you provide this service. I am new to the aquarium hobby and could use any and all advice! We started a 80 gallon saltwater tank 2-1/2 months ago. We started our tank with 15 # of GARF grunge (garf.org). Once our tank cycled all of our water tests have been perfect. The only exception has been pH, which has been a little low, always at 8. We are currently using Sea Chem.'s buffer to raise pH to 8.2 - 8.3. <Should be fine> We began adding fish 3-1/2 weeks after start up (4 damsels, 1 Dottyback). During the next two weeks we added 2 clownfish, 1 flame angel and 9 corals (from GARF). Five weeks later we added a lawnmower blenny (We had some brown algae) and a regal tang. We have performed 10% water changes on all but two weeks since the tank cycled. <Lawnmower Blennies (Salarias fasciatus) really don't eat brown algae... really like filamentous greens.> Everything was going fine until the middle of October. After one of the water changes our salinity was too low. So my husband added 1 cup Instant Ocean to 1 gallon of water and immediately added it to the tank. However, it created a white cloud as it was added. Three days later the flame angel died. Within the next three days all the fish in the tank died. (Is there a humane way to assist a dying fish? Or just let nature take its course)? <Different methods exist. My favored method is to freeze the suffering animals in a bag of water> All the fish got a white film on them before they died. A friend told us that we probably burned the fish by not mixing the salt correctly. Is this possible?  <Possible, but unlikely> I cant find information on this. As if that wasn't bad enough, a week later our water began getting cloudy. We performed a 10% water change - no effect. The water is so cloudy that you can only see 1/3 of the way through it lengthwise (The color is a greenish haze). The corals and the anemone are still alive and doing well. (This seems odd to me since I thought corals and anemones were harder to keep)! <Many species "like" what appear to us as "polluted" conditions> We have added new carbons to the Fluval 404 and are planning on 10% water changes several times a week. We bought Kent Pro-clear - not sure if we should us this. What do you think?  <Worth trying if you've got it> Our water is still testing out very well (phosphate 0, ammonia 0, nitrite <0.3mg/l, nitrate >5mg/l, pH 8). Are we on the right track with the water changes? Is there a better solution? Any thoughts on why our water turned green to begin with? Do you think it's related to the fish deaths? Do you think it's safe to add fish? <Hard to state what the root cause is/was of the trouble. I would get some "real" live rock, I don't trust the "grunge"...> Here's our list of possibilities on why the water turned green: 1) We added DT's phytoplankton - maybe it created a bacteria bloom. Would our phosphate be 0 if it were a bacteria bloom? Is there anyway to test for a bacteria bloom? <There are general bacterial culture, concentration and counting methods... You can have a "bloom" with no reading of phosphate.> 2) We didn't change the carbon filter enough. Only changed it twice since setting up the tank. <Not likely a factor> 3) While cleaning the tank - maybe we cleaned out too much from the substrate and it somehow has this effect on the water. <Possibly> 4) All the above. <Good category... I suspect this system being so new, became unstable, perhaps triggered by the addition of the new salt... But would have not become de-stabilized if it had sufficient live rock, substrate> 5) We don't have a clue. Any advice will be greatly appreciated! Sincerely, Lisa  <Please do read through the WetWebMedia.com site starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm and beyond where the links lead you. Wait on doing much of anything at this point, allowing the system to "come to rest" where it will. It should clear in a few days to a week or so of its own accord. Look into the live rock, and after this is in place a month or so, we'll chat. Bob Fenner>

Re: Salt Water Woes Bob, I have a SeaClone protein skimmer (not the best in the world but i have a relatively small system) now that is removing a fair amount of junk every other day or so. no clear liquids as I've read some people experience with the addition of a skimmer. I've been unable to get yellow-tail blue damsels to survive as of yet. I've added two sets both which all died within 24 hours. EEL is doing great and after addition of skimmer ammonia levels are very good almost a yellow indication on my test strips. he is readily accepting foods and more active than in the past when water quality was poor. since this is a fish only system I've reduced the gravity from 1.022 to 1.020 - 1.021. i think as you've indicated i have a parasite infestation in the system. as I've have read the true eels are very very immune to parasites.  <Some, sometimes> I'm wondering what step should be next. i would like to possibly add some copper but I've also read on your site that copper can be deadly to eels. might be advisable to remove him to treat the tank although this wouldn't be a real viable option as I have no other system up and going. <Good idea to get/use one> the only other thing i can think of is that I'm possibly shocking the fish on temperature. when the lights are left on during the day they add a significant amount of heat (4-5 deg F). are eels less volatile on temperature changes?  <Yes, once again, for the most part, most species used for aquariums> I'm trying to work my problems around the fact that the eel is doing well. and the only thing I've come up with is a parasite problem as he may not be effected by it. <A worthwhile hypothesis... that likely calls for quarantine (another system), and at least environmental manipulation, a "fallow period" of the current one. Bob Fenner>

Ich in reef hi bob how's it going? I just had a few questions i was hoping you would be able to answer for me. I have a 55 gal reef(NH3, NO2, & NO3 @ 0, alk 4.5-5.0, calcium 450-500, use ro/di water) and I recently noticed my royal Gramma scratching on the rocks. Upon closer inspection, I did indeed notice white specks on fins, tail, and head. All attempts to catch the poor guy have failed. The cleaner shrimp and the Gramma have made no moves to get together and try to clean the Gramma's scales off. I only have one other fish in there- a tomato clown, who seems fine so far. My questions are: 1. How long will ick live in the aquarium without any fish hosts, provided that I do not elevate the temperature and that I do not lower the salinity, or make any other efforts to treat the tank. <Possibly months...> 2. Do you recommend removing the fish to a hospital tank and treating with copper? If so, how long should I wait to put the fish back in the show tank? <I would try a Gobiosoma Neon/Cleaner Goby first... might not be ich, perhaps more stressful, damaging to move the fish/es...> 3. Is there a chance that the Gramma may get better without any intervention on my part, or will he die? <Both are possibilities... I would try the "improved environment and nutrition" possibilities to tip the scale/balance in your fish/es favor here. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm> 4. What fish are not susceptible to ich? ( in the event of losses of my poor fishies) <Good question... Some are "less" susceptible, none are totally. Even Sharks and Moray eels can succumb to this protozoans influences. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, Erin

Question re mysterious Blue Tang, Emperor Angel health troubles... Dear Mr. Fenner, I am a proud owner of your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and have been involved in salt water aquariums on and off for over twenty years. I am currently experiencing difficulties with some of my fish which have me completely perplexed. Any help you can offer would be tremendously appreciated. <I'll try> I have a 150 gallon, primarily fish only salt water aquarium. I have had several fish in it for about three years. Over the last several months, some of the fish have begun exhibiting very strange symptoms. A hepatus tang appears to have gone blind. He doesn't seem able to recognize food visually although he knows when it is feeding time and will comb the gravel looking for food. He appears to be wasting away. He will just sit at the bottom of the tank for extended periods and his coloring is faded. Even with all of these problems he still exhibits a keen interest in feeding. Visually, I cannot detect any abnormality in the eyes or the area surrounding the eyes. <Hmm> A second hepatus has virtually disappeared. She constantly hides in the live rock and doesn't even come out to eat. For the first two plus years I had her, she would hide when a person approached the tank but after a few minutes would always come back out and be active. She would always come out to feed. This constant hiding has gone on for several months. As the fish is still alive, I guess it is getting food but the change in behavior has been significant. <Yes> I have a juvenile emperor angel that has had cloudy eyes for several weeks. In the past, he has had cloudy eyes for a few days but it always went away and didn't appear to have any effect on his behavior. Although his appetite is good, he appears to be having some vision problems (nowhere near as bad as the hepatus) and appears to be losing weight even though I can see that he is eating. The emperor angel also appears to have lateral line disease. He has several lesions on his body that have not gone away for several months. I change 20-30% of my water monthly. I have a biological filter, carbon filter, skimmer, UV and canister filter. I have four large pieces of live rock in the tank. <This may need augmenting...> I feed frozen Brine Shrimp Plus and Formula Two twice a day. Occasionally I put in some Seaweed Select on a clip. Since this problem surfaced, I have been putting in B-ionic Calcium Buffer System #1 Alkalinity and #2 Calcium daily and also adding Selcon vitamins to the food daily. <Good ideas, actions> The temperature fluctuates between 78 and 80 degrees. The lights are on twelve hours per day. <Nothing odd, conclusive, leading here...> Both fishes conditions have steadily deteriorated, even after I started regularly adding the B-ionic to the water and the Selcon to the food. In addition to the two hepatus and emperor angel, the tank contains a dusky Jawfish, flame angel, flame hawkfish, blonde Naso tang, yellow tang, niger trigger, green bird wrasse, maroon clown, royal Dottyback, hermit crab and a starfish. All of these animals are doing fine. None of them is exhibiting any unusual behavior. <Mmm, good input... as an "old salt" yourself, am sure you're aware that the above livestock would be mal-affected if the cause of the hepatus (aka palette, hippo, Pacific Yellow Tail Blue Tangs for browsers) and Emperor were "poor water quality", an anomalous metal poisoning, low dissolved oxygen...> What is happening? For two years my fish were very healthy and everything was fine. Now in the last several months, the two hepatus and emperor angel are in decline. Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated. Stephen W. DeFilippis <Mmm, we have a fine restaurant chain here in town called (Roberto De) Filippi's... sorry for the aside. I am equally stumped here... but would do the following in addition to what you are currently doing: Do add as much live rock and macro-algae as you consider prudent (just not so much as to crowd your livestock)... as both the tangs and Emperor eat a good deal of algae in the wild. Additionally, do go by the oriental food store, or said section of a large food market, and pick up some "sushi wrapper" (aka Nori) and or Kombu, soak this for ten minutes in the vitamin prep. and offer this daily. Again, I don't know specifically "what" the cause/s are here, but these changes may well effect an improvement.  In the hopes that it might "jar" something in your awareness, please do read over the tank troubleshooting section of our site starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

I'm going to crack Mr. Fenner, I am going to apologize right off the bat because I have a feeling this letter is going to sound like I am going to unload on you. :( <You should do what you consider is necessary> I have a nine month old 75 gallon system. Sump, skimmer, water quality is wonderful. I have put a lot of money, love and time into this tank. Last week I was laid off from work (air line lay-off) and my dog died. I know, let write the country song. :) I am having a very hard time with money (work, and spent trying to save my dog). Yesterday I noticed my Yellow tang acting funny. He looked well, and was eating. He was being aggressive towards the other fish (something he never does) and swimming silly. Body slamming against rock and glass. Today it is worse. I think (maybe) I see white specks upon him. Ich came to mind (added a new bubble coral a week and a half ago) or stress from my new addition. <Good presumptions> The other fish are hiding way more then what I would think is normal. My mind is sooo frazzled that I am going to crack if this is ich or some sort of infestation. I have no money for a QT and added expense for treatment. Is there some kind of natural way to help thing along, or nip it in the bud? Raise the SG & temp? <Yes, exactly these. Inexpensive, and work.> Hell, it might be nothing and I am flipping out and "seeing things" LOL. I am more or less writing to vent my aquatic fears. Would it be at all possible for you to lend me a hand and baby step me through this. My LFS has me out purchasing $150+ QT and treatment gear. Having my system run fallow for six months. I read web sites who give all kinds of info as well as your web site. If it is shallow of me to say it then let it be so. I don't want to read anymore. Help. Libby Nickas <Sorry to hear of your job and canine companion losses. The environmental manipulation route (and vitamins to the food, once a week to the water) is the route I would go here. On a personal note, I'd like to relate my "daily routine" to you, in the likelihood it may help you toward re-centering yourself. Everyday I try to accomplish five "things" (categories of activity/results if you will)1. To improve my mind. 2. To improve my health. 3. To make a little money. 4. To make the world a better place. 5. To build my friendships/stay on good terms with others. This "agenda" can/may be as simple as reading a book, walking, writing a few words of an article, digging in the garden, chatting with the neighbors... At the end of the day, I count off this checklist in my mind, and "talk to myself" re being satisfied...  Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Hey! I have ??? (troubleshooting) Hello Robert I was wonder what is going on about writing an Octopus article on Arnold. <What is your status? How much have you written?> He still alive and doing well! Also a friend of mine had question on Diagnosing a Sickness! HE had a Powder Brown Tang that was lively, colorful and energetic in the morning when he left for work. When he returned that evening he was dead on the aquarium floor with his small blue spiny lobster picking him apart for food.  <Might be related events... or perhaps the Lobster, caught, ate the Tang> Dumb-founded, he fished him out and began inspecting the rest of his fish: (1) Yellow-Striped Clown (1) Lemon-Peel Dwarf Angel (5) Damsels All looked fine, except for the clown. Although trying to eat, he was lethargic and had a white film with small white speckles on the top of his head. His front yellow stripe was also faded and not as vivid as his other stripes. Anyway, come morning, he was food for the lobster and he had to fish him out. <Umm, bad pattern revealing itself here... remove the Lobster> Now... the dwarf angel and the damsels look great. No signs of illness. he did a water change and he doesn't know what else to do. What is causing this? <As stated, these losses may not have anything to do with disease, each other...> I should also mention that he had a Toadstool Yellow Leather Coral-Sarcophyton species in the tank which was doing well until it looked like what appeared to be a cigarette burn appeared on the flesh. It then began deteriorating quite rapidly, but he kept it in there in hopes that I could salvage it somehow. Could this dying coral make my fish sick? <Oh yes> he fished out the coral and threw it away before the water change. If it is ick I think I can help him! <I'd wait and see if ich actually develops before doing much of anything here. Have your friend read through our marine parasitic disease, troubleshooting sections on www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Salt Water Woes  Dear Bob: I've got a new small ~50 gallon salt tank and have had a terrible time getting things started. <Please elaborate> Sorry for the detail but I felt it may be necessary to troubleshoot this problem. 40 pounds of live rock was added initially using instant ocean sea-salt and crushed coral substrate. <How long did you wait before adding the live rock? Please read through Set up, live rock, saltwater... starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm> A power-head and a Rena-Filstar filter. Salinity is being maintained at 1.022 - 1.023. After about 2 weeks some black mollies were added and died. After several days I had found out black mollies may not be the way to go as they don't acclimate well to salt. The last set of fan tail mollies had 5 or 6 baby fish before they died. These baby fish survived for about a week.  <Mmm, am attaching a in process/publication piece on "establishing cycling in marine systems" for your perusal... actually, better wait.> I would not, do not use livestock, macro-life... to do this> I thought we were good to go at this time so we purchased a snowflake eel, potters angel, a damsel, and a dwarf fuzzy lion over the course of about a week. <No.... don't know if I can bare to keep reading...> The dwarf fuzzy lasted about 3 days before dying. Over the course of a couple weeks the angel and damsel began to spot up and finally died. After first indications they were treated with rid ich and Melafix with no help. <Both poor choices... as you know now.> Tank sat for a week or so after this and I purchased a diamond back goby, porcupine puffer, and a maroon clownfish. Porcupine got stuck in the power filter the first night.  <No, not more victims... please tell me you're making this up.> After this he did not eat and was treated with Melafix, died a few days later. Goby lasted about a week before it began to stress out and died. Clown died the same day. <Hmm, of course...> We then purchased 2 damsels which lasted just over a week. I then purchased a red volitans lion and a Anenome. The lion and Anenome both died within about 6 hours of introduction. <Stop...!> I have done 5-6 gallon water changes bi-weekly and all tests including ph are checked regularly and buffer is added accordingly. The only time chemicals (ph/ammoniac/nitrates/nitrites) have been out of whack was during the volitans lion/Anenome purchase. After introduction nitrites shot up to VERY high levels, a water change was initiated after they died, within 12-15 hours later the levels came back down. <Your system never cycled completely, is now infested with ich...> After this a few days later I purchased a clown and 2 damsels, they lasted about a week and died today about 8 hours after a water change. <No! Please don't buy anymore livestock till the root causes of your troubles are solved...> What's weird is the snowflake eel that I purchased way way back when is still alive and doing quite well. <They are tough/resistant to the types of insults/challenges being presented> He may stop eating for a few days after introduction of new fish but hasn't died. Also green algae growth is flourishing <...> ANY help would be appreciated; I have sought advice from lots of different people who tell you there own way of doing things but nothing seems to help. <My friend... we need to start at the beginning... Most important at this juncture is to emphasize that YOU must make up YOUR own mind about what you are doing in making this small aquatic world. Don't just listen and act on what anyone, including me states... Please take your time and read through our site, www.WetWebMedia.com and at least one good, complete book on marine aquarium keeping. We have MUCH to discuss... like how to get the resident parasite population out of your system... Environmental manipulation, either treatment with useful therapeutics and/or letting the tank go w/o fish hosts for a month or more... then a slow, deliberate plan of stocking, involving quarantine or at least dips/baths. I will help you if you dedicate yourself to proceeding with knowledge, resolve. Bob Fenner> -Bryan

Re: Salt Water Woes (going to fast on too little information, understanding, help) We added the live rock immediately as the tank was setup. All the advice I have been given was from other people such as pet store owners etc.. <Way past time to seek out other help, advice, business.> what sort of treatments do you suggest? <Please see our site re parasitic tanks: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasittksfaqs.htm> during the fishes episodes with ich I have gotten products such as rid-ich and Melafix and have removed the carbon filter. <I read this... didn't fix the problem, couldn't...> I'm just wondering what to do next, green algae growth is doing very well and it is super green. better over the past few days then i have ever seen it. <Study my friend. Stop taking any ONE person's advice into action.> eel is eating regularly and hunting (not trying to escape my aquarium anymore due to poor water quality) a lot of people and books have suggested the addition of a protein skimmer. would this we a wise purchase?  <Yes> any brands can you recommend? on your site it mentions not adding this until you have had your first cycle. so i needed more info on this. <Skimmer selection is covered there, WWM> I'm basically wondering what the next step would be. also would you suggest not cleaning the tank to allow sufficient growth of bacteria to break down ammonia and nitrites? <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Fish loss Hi Mr. Fenner First of all I would like to take the time to tell you that your book" the conscientious marine aquarist" is by far the most useful book that I have read to date....Especially your chapter on marine butterfly's and how you categorized them as good, questionable and bad choices. <Thank you for this. Much good help with that book> I wish more wholesalers and retailers would be influenced by this.... <I have tried (relentlessly) to have such influence... now on our website (WetWebMedia.com). I will not give up> I have been keeping marine fish for over 15 years and I have had 2 instances of fish loss 2 months apart with the fish having the same symptoms. I am forwarding my post describing the conditions and 3 pictures that I took. <A nice Holacanthus ciliaris... with what looks like terrible bacterial involvement...> I know you must be a busy man ,If you had the time to take a look at the above mentioned, and give your opinion on what might be my problem and possible solutions to avert this from happening in the future, It would be greatly appreciated. Since my post I would like to tell you that my red sea Sailfin that was affected has since pulled thru and shows no signs of any problem. His slime coat has completely regenerated and has no markings to the naked eye. I wish I had some pictures to show you how bad he looked). I have also relocated my Rio 1700 powerhead (used to circulate water in my tank) from the bottom of my tank to the top to improve gas exchange. <Do agree with this change... something/s in the way of environmental quality must have been way off here...> I am also thinking of upgrading my sump pump to a silent sea ss 1200t 1080 gph at 4'.Robert one last question when will the sequel to the marine aquarist be forthcoming?....George <Thank you for this as well... Am hoping my friend/editor/publisher James Lawrence (Microcosm cum TFH) will free up resources to help me here... in the not too distant (years) future... Else wise, maybe another conspirator... much to book-works (layout, editing, sales, distribution) that take more than one erstwhile writer/photographer. Bob Fenner>

Newbie got himself in trouble need help to save fishes hello I have a 29 gal eclipse that I started on Sept. 15. i set up the tank with 20lbs bio active live aragonite reef sand & 4 pieces of Fiji live coral <Live coral in a brand new tank? Not a good idea> and water from the shop. the next day I added 4 caps of Cycle solution 1/2 cap of essential elements, 1 1/2 caps of pro buffer and 2 damsels.4 days later i put 4 more caps full of cycle solution ,and 4 days later again. I checked the water every thing was ok. on the Sept.  24th I cleaned the bottom of tank <Another error...> & 20% water change. the store recommended i use the cycle solution to speed up the cycle time and use essential elements once a week same with pro buffer. is this ok. <Not the approach, protocol I would use. Mine can be found in print and on the net here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm> on Sept 25th all levels of water were perfect so i went ahead and put a blue tang and a puffer. <Ten days after setting up this system? In a twenty nine gallon tank? Did the LFS endorse this?> I went home and acclimated the fish and released them .later on me and my girl friend thought they were lonely so we went to another store and bought a yellow tang, clown and a neon goby and 3 turbo snails. <No!> the next day the goby was dead. I now feel guilty for his death because we put too many fish in I think.  <You are correct... too much of everything... too quickly> btw that's not all on the 30th my girl friend and i still thought the aquarium looked like it could fit more fish so we put in a flame angel, cardinal and a blue damsel <Please tell/write me you're joking...> now the tank has 9 fishes and I feel totally at fault for their suffering right now Oct 1 the blue tang is swimming into the coral to scratch himself and swimming to the bottom of tank and swiping his tail sideways on the sand in a quick motion like he scratching himself the yellow tang is swimming on the glass back and forth puffer seems to be breathing heavy. the nitrite is dangerously high .4 or .6  <Your system is not, has not cycled... "things" looked fine simply because all was new...> all other levels ok I know i messed up by rushing it . can you give me some advice on what to do? <If your store will take back all your livestock, return it to them. Leave this system going a month operating on its own...> I know I practically brought this upon myself sincerely Eddie I will be more patient and considerate from now on please help me .  <Please take your time reading through the WetWebMedia.com site... get yourself at least one good complete marine aquarium book... read it... and look for a store that won't allow you to make these errors. Bob Fenner>

Ich problem Alright here's the situation..... I have a Coral Beauty Angel and a Tomato clown that both appear to be infected with ich. I placed them both in a separate tank and treated the tank with Copper Safe. I came home from work and both fish appeared to be in even worse condition. Worrying that I may have done more damage then help I took both out gave them freshwater dips and put them back into the main tank. They both are still breathing very rapidly and will not eat. The angel has white patches on his eyes and both fish have fins that appear to be becoming torn. Can you recommend a better medication or way to treat them. Right now I'm feelin pretty horrible about the whole. Thanks for your time. Kyle <Yikes... have been out on holiday... hope your livestock are still thus. Many things to ask, relate. Have you taken a look through the ich, marine parasite FAQs sections posted on our site (WetWebMedia.com)? Please read through the Tank Troubleshooting area first: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm And we'll continue. Bob Fenner>

HELP!!! I seem to be chasing one problem after another. There is so much information, it's hard to keep up!!!!  <Indeed, impossible> You have been a great help so far!!! I need to keep things basic. I returned the black ribbon eel, got a dogface puffer and everything went downhill. I lost the dogface, and my cowfish and now my black volitans lionfish stopped eating. The dogface and cowfish had small white dots on them and then died. My LFS gave me copper treatment, but now I see my two activated carbon filters may have reversed the effects. I'm also hearing pros/cons on fresh water dips. My tank is 90 gal, 1250 gph filtration includes undergravel, two eclipse and a protein skimmer. Water quality is excellent in ph, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate. I don't know what other things I should be testing for. So, if/when I get another fish (after solving this "ich" (?) <Likely> problem) what should I do? Dip, quarantine, ???? Does my activated charcoal neutralize the copper? You help would greatly be appreciated!!! Thanks........Paul <We need to step backward, perhaps to your beginnings in the marine et al. ornamental aquatic hobbies here... as you state, to make/keep things basic. Please read through the "Marine Set-Up" and "Maintenance" sections of our site (www.WetWebMedia.com) and the area on "Tank Troubleshooting", "Marine Parasitic Disease" and related FAQs pages... Lots to talk over here, one item at a time. Will be out on a liveaboard for this next week, but Zo may respond to your intervening queries during this time. Don't add any livestock to this system in the meanwhile. Bob Fenner>

My poor fish I am a newbie that purchased a 65 gallon tank with an ecosystem of operation. I added 30 pounds of LR and used the wet bacteria live sand. I also added a more intense homemade lighting system based on your recommendations to other people. I waited 4 weeks and added a clean up crew which did a great job and have slowly began to add fish. 2 weeks after adding them suddenly my fish have begun to die (percula, royal gamma, red scooter, and a damsel).  <Yikes...> They are fading in color and swimming somewhat erratically in circles. I checked my water and it looks like this Salt 1.02 PH 8.2 Ammonia 1.0 Nitrite .25 Nitrate 10 <Not good... you should have zero ammonia and nitrite.> Do you think I got carried away with feeding? <There should be NO feeding given the above measures. And if possible, no livestock> I called the kid at the store and he said my fish were under major stress or had ich and that I should turn off the lights and let everyone calm down. <What? Did he come out and see the situation?> I know this isn't your recommendation. How long should I deprive the tank of food? <Until there is zero NH3, NO2...> Is this something that takes a few days?  <If you, your livestock is fortunate.> I have left 3 tangs, my clean up crew, a wrasse, the crabs, one lonely blenny, and an urchin. I have a feeling I will wake up tomorrow and everything will be laying dead on the bottom of my tank. <It's possible. Do you have another system to move this livestock to? Will the store "take them in" for a while to let your system fully cycle? Besides not feeding, you should increase aeration, add some cured live rock, and possibly a "starter culture" (like Fritzyme, Hagen's "Cycle"...) to further the establishment of nitrification.... do these NOW!> The fish don't appear to have any kind of film on them or parasites. They just fade in color and parish within a few hours. I feel like a failure and a fish killer. Trisha <Slow down, consider your options, the needed actions... read through the "Tank Troubleshooting" section: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm and go. Bob Fenner>

Re: My poor fish Ahh Bob I awoke to a dead tang this morning. The guy from the store came out to my house this afternoon on his own time and helped me a bit. <Admirable> My fish definitely have ich. I went by your advice on everything as far as increasing aeration, no food, and I purchased the product you recommended for my ammonia and nitrite problem. I am removing the fish and putting them into a quarantine tank at the store so this is good.  <All positive steps> He brought with him an elixir of sorts to hopefully preserve the fish until they can be placed at the store. From now on I will be purchasing the fish and leaving them in the quarantine tank at the store for at least a week before bringing them home. The fish that seem to have lead to all these problems came from another store in town. What a mess.... Thank you for your help. <Press on my friend. You have progressed much. Bob Fenner>

Lunare wrasse and panther grouper (mysterious loss of health) Mr. Fenner, I have two fish I'm having problems with. they are both the same 125-gallon with a 175-gallon aqua-clear pro-series wet-dry filter with protein skimmer and a UV sterilizer. the wrasse has been lying on the sand for the past week, coming up every other day to eat only a small amount.  <Very strange> he used to be a very voracious eater, hogging all the food. he is now hanging out "stuck" to the overflow. <Yikes...> he is not really stuck, because he can move when he wants to, but he is suctioned up against it. the panther grouper appears to be blind (maybe.) his eyes both have appeared cloudy for the past month. he has currently joined the wrasse at the overflow. all water conditions are fine, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, pH. salinity 1.021, temp 78. tankmates include volitans lion, zebra eel, Miniatus grouper, Naso tang, clown trigger, and one very lucky damsel. i know that the Miniatus has been picking on the panther since his eyes turned cloudy. can you think of anything that might be causing these fish to quit swimming and eating? thanks for any help you can offer! Tracy <I can think of a few possible influences... from toxic materials that might have made their way into the tank (from aerosols, cleaners et al. in the systems vicinity), nutritional deficiency, to stray electricity... to more. But none of them would single out just these two fishes and leave the others unaffected. I do suspect that this may be simply a "coincidence" of internal parasitism (?), harassment damage (?)... But I would "do" somethings. Like increase your aeration, execute a sizable water change (maybe 20%), add activated carbon to your filter flow path, and start administering a vitamin and iodide complex to your fishes foods (daily) and water (weekly) to improve their overall health. Please read through the section on tank troubleshooting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm to see if anything in this piece "jogs your memory/awareness of potential problems. Sorry to not be of more specific assistance. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick fish . . . arg Thanks Bob, I will do exactly what you said! Bye bye hawk (Saturday), hello hospital tank for the gobies. Haven't been running the light in the 10 gallon -- always treated my freshwater fish that way, is that good for the marine fish when sick as well or should I be putting the lights on? <A good idea to keep any "extra" light off (indirect room lighting is fine). Less stressful. Of course, "light-using" invertebrates are different> I do have a sand sifting star in the tank, should I take him out as well?  <Leave it in the main tank, no extra food needed> Or just supplement his food (I believe he exists on detritus). Do you think that the LFS was right in telling me I could keep an anemone in there?  <Hmm, "maybe"... am inclined to not encourage you... these animals are not easily kept. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/anemones.htm> It's not that I don't like the idea of an anemone in there, it's just that it doesn't seem like enough light . . . course if it turned out to be unhappy I could always move him to the bigger tank.  <If it lived> He was suggesting a sebae but I have a bubble in my main tank and it has been doing fine, but of course, that has a huge amount of light in it . . . but the bubble is happily perched in the rocks so maybe if I put one up in the smaller tank that would be OK? He said to count compact fluorescents as twice the wattage, which gives me 64 watts and a 25 gallon, 2.56 watts per gallon, doesn't sound like much. <It isn't... "When in doubt, count it out"... my advice> Thanks again for the advice, I will let you know how it goes! Cari <Very well my friend. Bob Fenner, who wonders at the derivation of your name... We have a plant, Carissa grandiflora, the Natal Plum as a part of the standard "California Flora".>

Re: sick fish . . . arg Actually, you are right -- full name is Carissa! Never heard it when growing up, and got teased mercilessly for it, so shortened it to Cari . . . starting to become more popular now, seems like once a month I meet another Carissa! Thanks again for all your help, I truly appreciate it! I just didn't believe that the anemone would be OK in there . . . will follow your advice! Carissa (-; <An honor and delight my friend. Bob Fenner>

PLEASE HELP MY ITCH Dear Bob, Firstly may thank you for the excellent advise that you have passed onto others through the 'FAQ' section of this site, which has given me and I am sure many others sound guidance. <I am very glad to read this> Unfortunately despite your advise, sometimes in a moment of weakness, all of the advise can go out of the window, and with it problems can ensue. So having committed the cardinal sin, PLEASE HELP !! I have an 80 gallon REEF tank, to date very healthy and disease free. Then suddenly, YIIIIIKKKKKEEEs! the dreaded 'ITCH'. <This does happen... need not be so dreaded> The tank had run soundly for the best part of four months. It contains approx 80 - 100 kg of live rock, well seeded and showing brilliant growth. A blue carpet Anenome, a white malu Anenome, and various polyps and other soft and squeegee critters. It also contains a Royal Gramma, several Damsel fish, a scarlet Hawk fish, a fat flame angel and YEP, the dreaded powder blue. <Now you know why I caution people re this species...> The tank had been running in absolute health for quite some time, when I was tempted by a rather fat flame angel. I introduced the angel to the system with no apparent problems. The angel settled in very quickly, suffering no loss of appetite. Several days later, one of his eyes went dull. The next day the condition had got worse so I tried frantically to catch him, but due to the Live rock arrangement, I was unable. I went back to the retailer and asked for advise. They told me that it was likely a bacterial infection and that I would be better letting the fish fight it, as It was still very healthy and eating well. After about a week, the fish is still struggling to fight it. Is there anything that I can treat the tank with that will not harm my live rock or inverts. <You could soak its foods with a vitamin and iodide preparation... this is about all I would do... Foods laced with antibiotics could be tried as well, but I would hold off on using these here.> To make matters worse, on a subsequent visit to the retailer, I was offered a small powder blue. The retailer had ordered a dozen by mistake and was selling them off cheap. (?10.00 each). <Wow, this is cheap> I was temped, selected the best looking one and took him home. He was healthy and eating well. <Oh, oh, the fearful "forecasting" in writing... what happened next?> a few days later, I was watching the tank, when the main lighting turned off and the moon light simulator engaged. Under the blue lights, and much to my disappointment, I saw white dust like markings over some of the fish, who were also scratching themselves. What can I do ???? I have a powerful Tunze skimmer on the system and a large UV running 24hrs a day. I can not catch any of the fish, as they head straight for the hills, hiding behind the rock. I have inverts, so cannot add copper. <I understand> I am considering reducing the gravity in the tank and taking the temperature up, as I have read in your response to others. What would be the correct levels in a working reef. <A thousandth a day downward till 1.017 unless there is too much apparent stress... and add cleaner organisms... Please read through the following sections and beyond: http://wetwebmedia.com/parasittksfaqs.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/clnrfaqs.htm> What else can I do, as it seems that I am not going to be able to isolate the fish? Is there anything that I can put in the water to help things alone? <The prep. mentioned. I would not try, don't endorse the use of "novel" epizootic treatments ("pepper sauce medications")> I have added a cleaner wrasse who is busy working, but should I add more? <Yes, some Hippolytid, Palaemonids shrimp... and maybe a couple Gobiosoma gobies> will the problem go away (as the retailer has told me), <Hmm, well, the hyposalinity, cleaners and vitamin addition might effect a cure here... but by "go away" by itself, no. You will be fortunate to "strike a balance" with your system having a resident population of parasites and hosts (this is very common in marine aquariums)... keeping the balance shifted in your fishes favor hopefully going forward. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm over till you understand the concept> and If so, If I quarantine the fish is it likely to happen again. <No... the "problem" (the ich, Cryptocaryon) is now entrenched in your system. Much the same as a predator-prey relationship, you now have "some foxes/some rabbits"... Bob Fenner> PLEASE HELP. Many thanks EDDIE

What is happening to my fish? Bob, I have nobody left to turn too! Sounds bad doesn't it? <So far, yes> Anyway, here are the details. I have a 580 gallon tank and believe I have done everything necessary to maintain a healthy environment for my fish. I have a wet/dry with 35 gallons of bio-balls, 2 large skimmers (Euro-Reef and a DAS II), Canister with carbon, 2 600-series Fluidized bed filters and a 350MG ozonizer with an Neptune unit running the ORP, PH, etc readings and controlling. The water quality shows perfect parameters across the board. The only problem I can think of is that the temperature is high (around 78-82 F). <Shouldn't be a problem... you likely know there are many chemical, physical parameters that can be dire that are not in the realm of testing...> So what is the problem you ask....well...my fish seem to have some skin type disease. My Jensen Wrasse scratches itself on the substrate a lot and has lots of scrape marks on its head and down it lateral line. <Ah, an important clue here re your Wrasse> My Miniatus Grouper's entire face is turning white (looks like some sort of peeling effect only on its face). My Black Trigger appears to have white-ish area on its sides and near its head. looks like a duller, lighter patches along the fishes side. Finally, my Emperor Angelfish has cloudy eyes and what appears to be skin wounds or legions (not be attacked by any of the other fish that I have noticed). <And more "fuel to the fire"> This is really bizarre and seem to have some from nowhere real quick. I do large and consistent water changes, add vitamins, and feed a varied diet (as well as seaweed, etc). Could the temperature be the issue? <Not likely> Please advise, Regards KEN H <A few "major" and many minor possibilities here... For sure I would do the following: Remove (I would do this all at once, but others would phase in the removal) all the 35 gallons (a wealth of plastic!) from your wet-dry... replace them with about the same volume of live rock in a sump (with lighting, macro-algae) if you can find the space... And do check to see if your vitamin prep. includes "iodine"... if not, or even if so, augment this with addition of potassium iodide solution... There are a few things more I would likely do/try, like adding (yes, a plug) Leng Sy's "Miracle Mud" (EcoSystem Aquariums), some more/new live rock... Your fishes difficulties are almost for sure due to "water quality" issues... short chain fatty acids, phenols, scatols... that are mainly being "produced endogenously"... by fish wastes, your wet-dry... and can best be alleviated/solved by removal of the "balls", addition of LR, macrophytes, iodide, even "mud"... The changes brought about by the above will be obvious in a few days to weeks... You'll be impressed I assure you. Bob Fenner>

Panic attack (Marine system crash) Hey Bob, I came home yesterday to a tank that looked dead. My mushrooms, frog spawn and pipe corals all looked like schist. I checked my water and it tested good and salinity was great, also the temp. I went to my LFS and they tested the water also and ok. They asked if I used tap water to replace evaporated water which I do. They said it is either the tap water causing phosphate problems from copper tubing or a possible dying starfish, so like a moron I tired desperately tore apart my tank to find a healthy blue Linckia starfish, but today it doesn't look so good, <The star may be looking so due to the search... or consequent to the loss of vitality of the other livestock...> plus my tank needs rearranging. Am lost, what should I do, I replaced 30% to 40% water already and my tank looks like a pile of rocks with half dying corals. Should I wait awhile to rearrange my rocks? Jason <Do you have another system to move the livestock to? A friend who can lend you tank space? I would move all if this is practical. Please read over the "Tank Troubleshooting" piece: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm ... anything here bring sources of trouble to your consciousness? Bob Fenner>

Re: Panic attack Bob, OK everything's cool, I only lost a green frog spawn and a coral banded shrimp, plus that stupid blue starfish. Anyway I added that Rena XP2 canister filter after the mess and Everything is looking awesome. I moved the rock around and it looks better then before, I guess things happen for a reason. My tank must have been set up good because all the fishes and corals pulled through great, almost all. Anyway I have a lighting question. I read the article on lighting on your site but I was wondering if you think the Custom SeaLife replacement housing with the blue and white bulb for the Eclipse 3 hood will be enough lighting for any corals I put in, or should I invest in a power compact system with a separate blue and white light. <Either will do> Also how much light should I be using (I have my lights on a timer for, on 10, off 14)? <Examine your light-using life carefully... I would grade up the hours (not all in one day) to 12-14 hour light hours> How much wattage if I decide to upgrade. Remember, I have a 30 gallon tall set-up.  <3-5 watts per gallon... of compact fluorescents> Bob thanks again for all your help, without people like you reef keepers would have no outlets for their questions. Most LFS are less educated then their customers. <Then I ask you to pledge yourself to help them. Volunteer your time, go in and speak to their customers with their permission. Let the good in you shine on others my friend. Bob Fenner> Thanks again. Jason

Massive Fish Loss Hi Bob, <That title is unsettling...> I have a 72 gal bow front marine aquarium started in Feb 2001. It is a fish only tank with sand and Tufa rock. I have a large Amiracle wet/dry, AquaC Remora Pro protein skimmer, UV sterilizer and a 2 powerheads for circulation. Live Stock is: Panther Grouper, Snowflake Moray, Clown Trigger, Yellow Tang, Blueface Angel (juv), 4 Damsels and a FFExpress cleanup crew. I realize this is a significant load and every 4 or 5 days I measure a slight trace of ammonia & nitrites (.2 or less) - <Not good... as you know... very stressful to have to live in a veritable sewer... this system is way overloaded... physically and psychologically> it comes and goes, <So do we... let's make it later> and PH is at 8.2. This is been going on for a while (2 months or so) with no adverse affects - till now. <No deadly apparent ones...> About 5 days ago my Clown Trigger seemed to have this white powdery residue on him, and in spots it's pealed off similar to a pealing sunburn (that's the best way I can explain the pealing). His spirit is somewhat reduced but he is still eating. I did have a high Nitrate reading (100+ ppm) in the tank, and did a large water change (50%). I also noticed this on one of my large Domino Damsels, but not as severe. <This is too much water, too much waste, too much fish...> Well, things got significantly worse......I removed the trigger and put him in a quarantine tank and treated it with Maracyn (recommendation by a LFS). <Did they recommend a much larger system?> Well, the trigger didn't make it overnight. A day or so later I noticed the grouper has what seemed to look like pop-eye in one eye and the damsel getting worse. So I did another 50% water change and medicated the main tank with Maracyn. This was probably not the right thing to do, but I don't have sufficient equipment to individually hospitalize all of my fish. On Monday I lost my yellow tang - he looked pale, but was eating the day before it died. Tuesday I lost my angel and a damsel. Both were eating and looked okay the day before they died. Man, I feel helpless!!!!!! <You are not helpless... you are the one to make things right.> Today, the grouper is still hanging in there.....Still has pop-eye and nothing else visual. The eel I can honestly say shows no debilitating signs and is still eating. Ironically, the snails and hermit crabs seem totally unaffected by what's happening...Why? <They're scavengers for the most part... waiting and scavenging> I introduced about 30 lbs of live sand about a month ago. I feed them a variety of foods. Frozen krill, frozen silversides, brine shrimp cubes, frozen specialty jell-based foods (formula 1, trigger formula, etc.) frozen squid cubes, fresh chopped clam, fresh scallops and romaine lettuce. All of them soaked in Zoe. <You're just lacking space... perhaps more vigorous filtration for the larger space> I have also use supplements such as Zoe, Zoecon, and essential elements. I have twice fed the carnivores live shrimp (krill size and transparent in appearance) that the LFS says are caught locally (Long Island, NY). Do you think these could be a carrier of something, or something in the other foods? <Not likely a/the factor> Can certain types of algae growth do this? <What? Bring about livestock losses? Yes, but this is probably not a cause here> I have a tight glass top, due to the eel, so could there be a lack of oxygen present? <Maybe... can be tested for...> I know my water quality has been on occasions sub-par, but would that cause this massive fish loss, <Absolutely> or am I going through this "wipe out syndrome" I've only briefly read about?????? I read a lot on your site but obviously not enough. - Please Help Thanks, Ed <Keep reading, studying, thinking deeply on your situation my friend. You've placed a few thousand gallons worth of fishes in a seventy two gallon box of water... this is the primary reason for your losses. Start with fishes that are and stay smaller, or look to getting a much bigger system. Bob Fenner>

Decease Question Bob, I have a Clown Trigger that seems to have this white powdery residue on him and in spots it's pealed off similar to a pealing sunburn (that's the best way I can explain the pealing). His spirit is somewhat reduced but he is still eating. I did have a high Nitrate reading in the tank but have since did a large water change. Do you have any idea what this might be? It seems to also be present on my large Domino Damsel, but not as severe. <Perhaps environmental... something related to the cause/s of the nitrate you mention... perhaps a parasite. Who knows?>

Copepods Mr. Fenner, On 3March01 I decided to start up a 50g salt aquarium & am hooked on the hobby. Your book was very helpful, although the sections I ignored are now coming back to bite me.  <Yikes... as are the ones we left out...> The 2 of my 5 fish are now in a new quarantine tank for crypto, & my main tank has just shown hundreds of copepods living on the rear & sides of the tank-in the algae. My tank specs: 50g, 2-fluval 304, UV sterilizer, 2 powerheads, 50lbs live rock, 40 lbs. LS, 2-coralife actinic & 2 daylights @ 12 & 11hrs. resp. protein skimmer-but turned off while still treating main tank w/Greenex. My trouble started when the LFS suggested Catalina blue water due to its simplicity, well 10 gals jumped my salinity to .28 & the next day all 5 of my fish had spots. (Baby clown trigger, powder brown tang, red sea Sailfin, flame & juvenile emperor). <All of these in a fifty gallon?> After treating for 2 weeks w/Greenex in the main tank, I lost the trigger & pb. I then set up a hospital tank & put the 3 others in it & treated w/Cupramine. The emperor didn't make it, but the other 2 are doing great. I have 2 more weeks in the hospital tank & wonder if there is anything I should be doing to the main tank to get rid of the crypto & now, copepods. <Please read over the "Marine Disease" sections on our site: (WetWebMedia.com) re letting the tank go fallow, lowering spg, elevating temperature... No sweat on the copepods, crustaceans> Can I put something in the main tank to eat the cods, or do i have to wait until the crypto cycle is over? <Wait my friend. Patience. Bob Fenner> Thanx in advance for your advice Craig

Re: Copepods Mr. Fenner, Thanx for your quick response. I have read the articles on your site & have lowered my salinity to 12, temp is 82.(over 2 weeks ago) To be more specific on my questions: 1. Could the sudden rise in salinity from 20 to 28 have caused the crypto breakout? <Yes, of a certainty this one stressor is important> 2. Now that I have a quarantine tank w/2 fish in it. What exactly will be the process when I introduce them and some biological feeders (to eat the copepods). Do I quarantine the gobies or wrasses in the same tank w/the 2 fish? Or do I put them directly in the main tank. <Do quarantine them together... and just one goby... for the duration of letting the parasitized tank go fallow... the goby will aid in eradicating the problem on the fish in quarantine> 3. Do you think 5 small fish in a 50 gal is to many. The largest fish that I have is a 3.5" red sea sf tang.  <This fish grows to plate size plus in the wild...> Next is a 2" flame angel. 4. Will you be attending the Superzoo 2001 exhibit in Anaheim this weekend?  <Oh, yes! Just Sunday I think... bunches to do back home...> I'm flying out from Las Vegas to go to it w/my brother. He's hooked on this hobby too!) <Hope to run into you there. Bob Fenner> Thanx again, & maybe we'll see you this weekend. Craig

Update on my sick fish Hi from Colorado, You were helping this last week or so and I wanted to update you and ask a few more questions. I have a tank with 1 flame angel, 1 Maroon, one Banggai Cardinal, bubble Anenome, and a cleanup crew. I finally got to Denver and purchased a hospital tank...not too expensive... <Well worth the cost in what it saves in livestock and heartbreak> and put the Maroon clown in it. Remember he had been lethargic and had white spots on his head. I treated him with 5 days of Ampicillex....got advise from several people as you suggested. He seems to be acting ok, he ate a little on Saturday, but still has the spots...they look like white fuzz...one is under his chin. That is a full course of antibiotic,....any suggestions now? Put him back in the main tank? <I would leave him/her where it is for now... the "white markings" may be "just" the fish... it should repair fine in time...Perhaps the use of liquid vitamins on its foods, once a week in the water would be cathartic> Saturday the flame got little white spots on his tail and fins.....yep....thought it was ich. He never acted weird or did any scratching. Today I was going to get medication (copper) for him...and the spots are gone and I'm puzzled.  <Yikes... the "ich" protozoans may just have cycled off as a single generation... if so, they'll be "baaaaacckk". Have you read through the WetWebMedia.com site on environmental manipulation, use of cleaners?> I am doing water checks everyday and all my levels are zero or normal so I am very puzzled. Should I still treat everyone and do the decreased SG and increased temp in my tank or just watch? <At least do the environmental bit> I ordered another cleaner shrimp (have one) and two neon gobies...for ich control. Was that the right thing to do?  <Oh, yes... and disregard the above question from me> Since the gobies help with ich...do I have to separate them for several weeks before putting them in my tank? <No, they should be fine to simply acclimate and add> The Banggai cardinal looks fine...but has natural white spots anyway...and it sure is hard to tell. Well...any advise on the next steps would be appreciated. Thanks! Sara <Please read through the "Tank Troubleshooting" section on the WWM site. Bob Fenner>

Update Mr. Fenner, I just wanted to touch base and give you an update as to how life is in the aquarium. When I last mailed you I asked about adding some more live rock. I had 60lbs before and now have a grand total of 75. All cured of course. My LFS gets Walt Smith LR in large amounts. I am very pleased with the quality. I hope that adding the rock will help bring more stability and will give my future additions a better chance. <Yes it will> Yesterday I checked for any stay voltage in the aquarium and thankfully found nothing. <*)))>< All of my readings for water quality this past week have been perfect. I wonder if you think it would be safe or even beneficial to add a cleaner shrimp?  <Yes, no worries> I wonder about parasites and such things living in the aquarium that are not affecting my established fish but are killing the new additions. Perhaps a neon goby or two as well? Just an idea. :) <Maybe just one> I hope all is well with you and you enjoyed your 4th. Thanks again! Josie <Yes my friend. My hope for you as well. Bob Fenner>

Re: losing fish Ok,... all fish (except one Perc) are dead. Actually my Lawnmower Blenny is still in my tank (I can't catch him). The Perc is in a quarantine tank (purchased last night and setup) and appears to be recovering. Both of my dwarf angles and my two other Perc's didn't survive the cure. <Too typical... as you state... the "cure" in this case was the source of mortality> My question is now,.. what do I do with my main tank??? How long does the Brooklynellosis live? I still have the blenny in the tank, is he doomed? <Keep the main tank going... and unless you intend to keep more Clowns, don't worry... let it run without other fish life for a month or so... Brooklynella hostilis will die out, be weakened over this period of time w/o hosts... the Blenny will likely not be mal-affected> Thank you for your quick response to my last message but I fear that I got in touch with you too late. When I arrived home last night, both angles were bad off, the Flame was lying on the gravel looking exhausted and the Coral Beauty was swimming straight up and down. Both perished in the hospital tank. Services we held at 10:30pm and 11:15pm Brian Alster <Do sign up and browse the listservs in ornamental marines (their links on the WetWebMedia.com Links page) and read over the "Tank Troubleshooting" and related areas on our site (WWM). We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

What I have learned (follow on to possible anoxic tank situation) Mr. Fenner, It means a great deal to me to have your help doctoring the problems in my tank. I want to apologize for the jumble of sentences that made up my last email. Whenever I become discouraged or frustrated with anything and I need to articulate to someone the source of those feelings, I talk/write too quickly. <I do understand this... condition. Was treated for similar difficulties for years as a child.> My dyslexia takes over and not a fraction of my college education comes through. I appreciate your tolerance of my previous email, especially knowing that you have so many e-mail's to read and answer each day. <A pleasure my friend> I spent yesterday reading WWM Toxic Tank and it's three components. I'll give you an overview of where I stand after reading it. Twice a week, sometimes just once, I record my water quality. Ammonia 0 and only a slight spike after a death and treated immediately. Nitrite & Nitrate thankfully 0. Alk 7-8 dKH and never a rapid change. Consistent SG of 1.022 and Ph 8.0-8.2, again never a over night kind of change. Temp is always the same unless it is very hot outside and then only a degree or two change. I do wonder about oxygen levels now. If I have enough that is. I will test that tomorrow when I go to the LFS for some supplies. I have an air pump & stone in case that test comes out low. <Do run it in the meanwhile if you have any doubt> All of the fish I buy come from a store with a good reputation. I have never seen any presence of disease. <Wow, impressive.> Color, weight, and behavior look great to my eyes. Parasitic infestation yes. All of my livestock spend a minimum of two weeks in my twenty gallon quarantine tank. I have never seen any signs of parasites or any other disease in my main tank. They are given freshwater dips with Methylene blue, quarantined, and when all looks well they are places into my tank. There is nothing in the tank that could rust or corrode and poison the system. Live rock, live sand, the return to the filter, the Eheim pump for the skimmer and a power sweep power head for movement. I will from now on ware gloves for the aquarium only. In the past I have had clean hands (no soap, rings, lotion,) but now I will be on the safer side. All of my equipment is for the aquarium only. My water is filtered, chlorine taken out and aged for a week. I use distilled water for my top-off. I do a 5gal. water change every week (too little?) I am actually proud of my water quality. The only household cleaner used in that room is glass cleaner. I spray it away from the tank onto a cloth and then wipe on the outside of the aquarium. No over stocking, no over feeding. Perhaps bad frozen brine shrimp? I doubt it. <Not bad brine... but do eschew the use of ammoniated cleaners altogether... even just sprayed in the same room they are trouble> Compatibility and the correct order of stocking the tank is a concern of mine. I have placed the docile fish first then the more combative ones and only fish I know from my readings that will get along. Never knowing individual personalities of course. Just some chasing but no knock-down-drag-out fights and no damage. Hmmm... this is a long email. Sorry. I'll stop here. If you have any impressions or ideas thus far let me know at your convenes. I don't want to take advantage of your generosity. I'll mail you Monday about the oxygen. <Ah, good, and also good to get more of the "big picture"... your care seems exemplary.> If you are really interested in my sending you some cookies or treats my offer still stands. Just give me an address and I'll send them out ASAP. <Don't tempt me... have some whole bags of a few varieties of Oreos and Chips Ahoy (tm) left over from cooking/serving a few hundred friends after a run on Friday as it is, yikes!> I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. I have run Creative Confections successfully out of my home for four years now. I think you will be pleased. :) <I'll bet. Thank you for your kind offer and thorough letter. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Thank you! Josie

Re: Oxygen testing, anoxia caused losses Mr. Fenner, I went out this afternoon and got a test kit for the oxygen level in my tank. 7ppm was the result. <Well, that's right near saturation... a swing and a miss... or the problem might still have been low DO and transient...> From what I have been reading that is a good amount for a SG of 1.022 and 78 degrees. I wonder now what I could be looking towards as a possible problem as to why I am unable to keep other fish besides my three damselfish and yellow tang. They are eating and behaving well. I did a 5gal water change today (as I do every Monday) and from what I can tell my aquarium should sustain more marine life. There are no abnormalities in my quarantine tank. It matches my main system as far as water quality perfectly. <Maybe they're "ganging up" on newcomers...?> If in fact my tank was getting in the past some of the fumes or actual glass clean in my system, how long does it take to get out and not cause harm? <Almost instant... a handful of minutes> If it was in my system and causing harm, why would only newer fish die from it? Because they are weaker from being shipped and handled? <Yes, plus the conditioned response, or lack thereof of the extant livestock> If it would be of any help I can take some pictures of my aquarium and email it out to you. My digital camera gives good quality shots. Maybe you could see something I might be blind to. Or I could just be grasping at straws. :) <It's possible, and worth a try> Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions of where I might focus my attention on. There is no rush in getting back to me. Best wishes, Josie <Am still suspicious of "tramp metal" somewhere... a rusting magnetic cleaner, forgotten metal thermometer, rusty clamp... does your local shop have a low concentration iron test kit they'd let you test a water sample against? Maybe sufficient stray voltage? Bob Fenner>

Ich? I have been cycling my 12 gallon eclipse with two damsels in it for about a week and a half. One of the damsels (a black and white striped one) has started to contract some white dots on his fins. He doesn't seem to be scratching that much. He is eating and behaving normally. I have read the various articles on treating fish in various dips and with copper and such. I have also read about using bio-cleaners. The only problem is i have liverock so copper in the tank would be a bad thing right? and it might be too early <Umm, yes to not putting copper compounds in with live rock... did you dip/bathe or otherwise do anything to the damsels before putting them in this system?> to add bio-cleaners as my tank has not completely cycled yet?  <Not a good idea> My salinity is at 1.023 and my temp stays at about 80 degrees. i have another damsel (a blue one with a yellow tail) and he seems to be fine, no spots or anything. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <Two of the type damsels in a twelve gallon tank is too much... "stress" of different sorts is likely the real cause of the apparent trouble here... Take a read through the "Three Sets of Factors that Determine Livestock Health" pitch on the WWM site here> And if you knew the specific names of the fish and wanted to throw them in that would be cool too. not the scientific ones, just the common names. <Look on the site under the genera Dascyllus and Chrysiptera... see them there?> Thank you very much, Ben <If it were me, mine, I'd try to wait on this system cycling completely... then try the environmental manipulation listed on "Marine Diseases" in various places... and hope that your system doesn't retain an entrenched protozoan parasitic situation. Bob Fenner>

Cursed tank Mr. Fenner I am in need for some serious guidance. At the first of the year I started my first marine tank. 75gal, with a skimmer, filter, wave-maker, heat 78 degrees SG 0.022 <1.022>, all other levels are normal. I have fifty pounds of live rock and a base of about 20-30 lbs of live sand. Just a forty watt light for now but I plan to upgrade by next month to a 440watt power compact lighting system (slowly.) <Good idea> As of right now I have four damselfish and a yellow tang. I do feel either my tank, or myself is cursed. <Interesting> So far in two months the death toll is; 1 flame angle, 1 hippo tang, 1 porcupine puffer, 1 Sharpnose puffer, 1 saddle-back puffer, 4 damselfish, and one maroon clown. Not all at once. I try to stock my tank one at a time. One goes in, all is well for about a week, then they show no interest in feeding. Either I can never get them to start to eat in the first place or they loose interest after about a week. I vary their diets. I offer many selections of what is recommended for that particular fish. I come to the tank in the morning find the bodies and break out the activated carbon to clean up after them. :( I really want success. I want a colorful array and my dream fish of a puffer. I just don't know what I can do. I am so discouraged I now understand why so many people give up on this hobby. Still, if at first you don't succeed, try try again. I need help, a mentor, someone to point me in the right direction. I have read two of your book. My freshwater tank is a success because of your knowledge and my being able to apply it. I find with the marine tank I am out of my league. I know you must get hundreds upon hundreds of e-mail's. I'll just cross my fingers and hope that maybe you can help me through this. <I will gladly help you. Please read through the "Toxic Tank" and "The Three Sets of Factors" sections posted on the Marine Index part of our site: www.WetWebMedia.com first... something is amiss/awry here... either an outright poisonous situation, caused by? Metal, a cleaner getting into the system...? Or a lack of oxygen (very common)... or? The articles may well jog your consciousness> I cater out of my home here in northern CA. I'd bake you the best cakes, cookies, and confections you could hope for free if you could be enticed into helping when you could. :P  <Hmm, "will work for cookies" for sure> :) If you need any other information I will be quick to respond. Take care and thanks!! Josie <Do read over the WWM site, and we'll be chatting. No more livestock till we determine better what may be wrong here. Bob Fenner>

Unusual and sudden fish death Hello Bob, <Lorenzo Gonzalez here for Bob, who's on safari 'til mid-June.> You may remember me as the marine ich case you helped with around 6 months ago. Thanks for that! I have just lost my first fish since, and I am reasonably certain it's not ich. I wonder if you can help me decode this sequence of events for a cause of mortality. Today - 10 days: the RIO 800 pump that powers my skimmer dies. AquaC should really reconsider using this substandard pump. I begin hunting out a new one.  <I agree whole-heartedly.> My research indicates that the tank should survive without skimming for a while before water quality becomes an issue. I perform a water change. Today - 4 days: I find a pump (the Maxijet 1200) that is supposedly compatible. I order it. Today - 2 days: Everything is still normal. I feed the tank and the fish both feed very well. (This is a 30G low-light tank with a cherub angel and a royal Gramma, plus assorted small inverts.) Yesterday: I install the Maxijet 1200 pump. I also take my Eheim Surface suction extractor out of storage and feed the pump off it (really cleans the surface well and feeds the skimmer with surface water.) I jury rig these all together with parts from both kits. Some notes: I didn't rinse either device, and probably I should have. The Eheim had been in an old aquarium box with many other supplies, none of which are harmful to fish. The pump was new in it's box. Yesterday, two hours later: Feeding time, and both fish are hiding, which is very very unusual. I assume all my fooling around in the tank installing the new pump scared the wits out of them, and I feed the tank anyway, perhaps half as much as usual. Both fish come out, the Gramma right away, the angel after a short while. Both fish stayed out until an hour or so later when I went to bed, making me believe that they were indeed just scared. <Did you rinse out your Remora before this? Never leave water standing like that, loaded with bio-stuff, where it will all die without circulation.... It's possible that there were chemicals in/on the other 'new' equipment, coming from storage it can be hard to say...> This morning: The cherub angel was lying on it's side at the bottom of the tank when I first checked it this morning. It was not breathing that I could see, but I rapidly prepared my quarantine and placed it in there. It is now very clear that it is dead. It's spine is arched to one side (concave to it's left). There is no apparent swelling or redness of its gills, nor any fraying of any body part. It's colour also seems good. <Poisoned.> I also tested the water this morning. All parameters I could test for seemed good: PH 8.0, Nitrate <5ppm, Ammonia undetectable by my kit. <Huh. That seems to rule out my 'dead water' in the skimmer theory...> <<Not necessarily Zo... the ammonia could well have been transient... disappeared by the time the testing was done. Bob F>> The other fish is still hiding (?), and I wonder if I should trap it and place it in my quarantine until I know more about this problem. I suspect poisoning of some sort, but of course I have no reason to believe that they would sell me a pump that's going to poison my tank. <I've frequently rushed new pumps into service without first rinsing... never lost fish because of it! regards, Lorenzo> Any advice much appreciated, Paul

Re: Unusual and sudden fish death <Paul, sounds to me like you've made a pretty decent diagnosis, and that you've done everything possible/responsible to rescue your dependents. -Lorenzo> Hi Bob, I thought I would send you an update on my system collapse. Shortly after my message to you this morning, I moved the fish into the quarantine tank. It behaved as if very sick, but again no obvious signs of cause. At this point I had been unable to notice any signs of distress among any inverts, and I had been suspecting a fish disease as a possibility. For reference, here is a rough inventory of inverts: 1 tiger tail cucumber 1 cleaner shrimp (pacific red polka-dot one - fire?) 4 blue-legged hermits 1 red-legged hermit 3 turbo snails, 2 baby snails that came in with some rock (5 mm long) 1 emerald green crab 1 white sand starfish 1 royal blue urchin At 4pm or so, I noticed that my urchin was losing spines rapidly. They were littered on the substrate around it. At that point I decided the tank was a write-off and that I needed to get everything into my 10G hospital. (Now crowded as you might imagine.) I have also put my live rock into the 10G tank, about 15-20 lbs of it. Some more notes: 1) The protein skimmer ran for 12 hours last night and has been running all day today and has not produced any foam at all. This is very unusual, especially since the system has not been skimmed for almost two weeks - could this be indicative of some solvent in the water? 2) The protein skimmer did not run for around ten days, and ran intermittently only for a week or so before that (the RIO died slowly). During those ten days, the reservoir in the Remora would have held standing water. Could this standing water have poisoned the tank? Again, any advice or input would be most welcome. As we stand, I have placed everything in the 10G but the fish still does not look well and I am worried about everything else's survival. I also have no idea how to reclaim my main tank. I have purchased a carbon filter packet for my AquaClear 200, which I will run on the quarantine tank until I have ruled out the MaxiJet 1200 pump which was added to the main system the day before it collapsed. Best regards and thanks in advance, Paul <<It is likely all these "resultant" problems stem from the original poisoning cited before... all indirectly linked to the Pump failure... Bob Fenner>>

Re: Unusual and sudden fish death Dear Bob, Glad to have you back. Hope you had a wonderful time. <Yes my friend, thank you... great to see "old acquaintances" in the field/industry at Aquarama... and to dive in warm clear waters... with the chance/gamble of taking/making images and video... 'sides the tremendous "battery re-charging" of rest, lack of phones and other modern diversion/tools... and great friends like Lorenzo to add so much to my and others knowledge and enjoyment here> Thanks for your reply, I agree. At this point, I have a specific question: How may I reclaim my main tank? Do I need to completely drain it and scrub? I hope not. If we are right, and the pump failure triggered all of this, the water in it should be OK now, and I could do a 50% change with fresh water and move everything back into the main tank, no? <Likely yes to the less drastic approach. This is the route I would take at this point> Any help warmly appreciated, Paul <Be seeing you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Unusual and sudden fish death Hi Lorenzo, Thanks for your input. I have two last questions: 1) How can I reclaim my main tank? Do I need to get rid of all of the water? <Bob here. No need to go this drastic route> Do I need to empty it and start from scratch (thus losing my established sand bed?) Can I simply run charcoal against it for a week or so? <Do change about half of the water, vacuuming the substrate, and then the use of activated carbon> 2) How long can I run my 10G without protein skimming? Right now it's literally running off an AquaClear 200 with carbon and bacto-media. Thanks, Paul <Perhaps indefinitely. Monitor water quality (at least aspects of nitrogen) and make water changes as necessary. Bob Fenner>

Disease control, prevention: marine <RJ, Lorenzo Gonzalez here standing in for Bob-on-safari...> I have a 55 gal saltwater tank with live rock and two fish, a 6" clown trigger and a 6" panther grouper. I just added the clown trigger a couple of days ago and I am noticing that he is developing what looks like lint on his body. I am thinking it is Ick.  <Like 'lint' as in puffy soft lint? Or small, bright white speckle lint? Puffy soft lint is more likely a fungus. Hard white spots is more likely ich.> I went to the pet store and got some copper treatment. Will adding copper to the tank hurt my live rock?  <Copper is deadly to bacteria and algae, deadly to invertebrates of all types including crustaceans and mollusks. In fact it's just plain poisonous. Fish don't like it either. Think 'chemotherapy'. Yes, it will in fact kill your live rock and everything on/in it.> How do I perform the copper testing and how long does it last for? I have another 20gal tank with some rock and a small niger trigger in it. Should I put the clown in there to treat him with copper?  <If you think the two triggers won't kill each other in such a small space, sure. You might be better off putting all your live rock in the 20 if it'll fit, and 'coppering' the 55, with the grouper and the clown in it. After the treatment, you'll have to run carbon for a few weeks in the big tank before you put the live rock back.> I would appreciate any help as I already lost one trigger to Ick once and do not want a repeat. The panther grouper seems to be doing just fine. <In future, use that 20 as a strict quarantine, and never buy more than one fish at a time. That's the long term solution/protocol for these problems. Best of luck, Lorenzo>

White spot again Bob, I'm sorry but you are probably sick of hearing from us. I'm ready to give up and I saw that you said that white spot was the most common reason people give up on this hobby. I believe it. I just can't stop getting upset about losing these little fellows. <I understand my friend> Last night I read that tangs are vulnerable to black spot as well (we noted that the white spot became black spot). I think they recommended a dip in Cupramine? or something like that. It was in John Tullock's The Natural Reef Aquarium. I'm starting to wonder if our tang has this too and we need a dip. How long do you leave them in there? I did not see this information on your dips section and I hear varied advice. <Please read through the "Dips/Baths" section on our wetwebmedia.com site... I would not use anything (likely the product Cupramine is what you're referring to), but pH adjusted freshwater here... if doing a dip at all... better to utilize biological cleaners...> Now all the damsels are getting the white spot on their sides. We're losing hope. We broke down and put a damsel (yellow tail) in the hospital tank with copper just to see what would happen. He slunk to the bottom and hid behind the heater. He curled himself in the corner trembling and then appeared to turn white. This seemed like a much more traumatic response than what we found upon initial introduction to our home tank. I watched him for a while and chased him out and he appeared to swim OK but was truly light (like they are at night). Is this normal behavior during copper treatment in a hospital tank?  <Common behavior... very stressful just to be caught, moved to bare quarters... let alone as a social species to be so isolated...> We left him in there for about 30 min to 1 hour and then I put him back in the main tank and he swam away quickly as if nothing was wrong (except the white spot). Our ammonia level wasn't that high and nitrite was rather low in the hospital tank. We used Cupramine and the level was .2 (what the manufacturer suggested starting with). What was weird was when we measured the amount of water and added the specified amount of Cupramine, our reading was negligible. <Not really that weird... compound in new water rapidly removed at first use...> My husband won't tell me how much Cupramine he added but the kit indicated the correct level (we used a year-old Seachem kit that we assume goes with Cupramine).  <I would have your dealer check your kit... for compatibility, age/usefulness of reagents> The temp might have been a degree off but I think it was the same as the main tank (we got a digital thermometer to get more accurate readings and I think it reads 2 degrees high--funny, huh?). <As in humorous? Unusual? Not either to me...> I checked your FAQ's and disease recommendations and I could not find a description of what "normal" behavior is in adapting to copper. By the way, we have been struggling with this white spot for a week or 2 now and no one looks like they're having trouble breathing. Does that mean we don't have Amyloodinium? <Maybe> The Tang looks like a skeleton even though he grazes a lot. His behavior is still great (friendly, inquisitive, active). We tried every Nori/kombu etc. and are hoping he'll learn to like it still. I've been trying to stay at home more and hand feed him flakes enriched with vitamins (since he spits out the Selcon). He no longer wants the frozen food and I worry he's developing food aversions since he's sick. We're still raising temp., lowering salinity in the main tank. Perhaps we need to be more aggressive on the salinity but we're not sure we want to kill our cleaner shrimp and crabs and we do have this hospital tank (I wish we'd gotten it before the tang). <I do wish you could state all this to the folks in the trade... who could easily eliminate the simple scourges of reef parasitic disease ahead of supplying them to/through the hobby> One more thing. I think I've heard this elsewhere or from you. Can live rock house the parasites? If we let the tank go fallow for a while, will the parasites live in the rock? What can we do about this? I assume coppering the live rock will kill the coralline algae. I also saw you said that coppering will kill the ammonia eating bacteria so I guess we should be having massive water changes in the hospital tank. <Please read through the FAQs on "Parasitic Tanks" and "Parasitic Reef Tanks" on the WWM site... yes, the system has the real problem...> Grieving in advance of the funerals...Thanks for listening. Allyson <Do read over these stated sections... and develop a working protocol to tip the overall health of your situation in your fish/hosts advantage. Please read over the "Tank troubleshooting" section and independently "The three sets of factors that determine livestock health". Bob Fenner>

Yellow Tang has spots on fins! Hello Bob, I have had a 75 gallon tank in operation about 5 weeks with 6 damsels of various types in it. It is a FO tank with live rocks - 40 lbs and Tufa . It has crushed coral - 2 inches with a layer of oolite. I also have 2 emerald crabs and 10 blue hermits. I traded in the more aggressive damsels -4 and purchased a beautiful yellow tang and 2 perc clowns - tank raised. This was on Friday. Today I noticed a discoloration? on the tangs front fins. I really can't say it is a spot . It is more like a 1/4 in line that looks like part of the fin. There are 3 or 4 on the right fin and only 1 on the left. All my reading indicated that coral disease and white spot ( Ich) are small round surface bumps like a pin head. What I see is not at all like that. She is eating great and even tried to get one of the emerald to clean her-- no success there - the crab held out its claws and tried to attack !!. <Or defend itself more likely from a presumed attack> I did notice a high ammonia level. The protein skimmer overflowed and was shooting a ton of bubbles in the tank. Could the measurement have picked up Nitrogen - which I herd could be caused by a skimmer gone wild - and not true ammonia? <No... the ammonia was generated by life inside your system> The level settled right down once i readjusted the skimmer? <Okay> If i need to treat the whole tank, are the crabs in jeopardy to the medication? What medication to use .? <I wouldn't "treat" the system with a medication... at this point I suspect the cause of the apparent marks on your Yellow Tang are more water quality related than parasitic... Please see the "Environmental Disease", "Tank Troubleshooting", and "Marine Parasitic Disease" sections of our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for background... I would likely do the environmental manipulation listed there and add a biological cleaner... and hold off on any other livestock for a month or more. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Russ

Ich, Velvet? I recently isolated my Domino damsel in the hospital tank due to her attitude. About two weeks later, I noticed what appeared to be ich or marine velvet on her body. This malady only appears in the morning and by noon she is clear of all of the white specks. Every morning she is covered and every afternoon she is clear. I treated the tank (10 gal) with a copper based ich treatment which so far has had no effect. <Yes... mostly "stress-related" susceptibility here... nighttimes are more stressful...> Water numbers are good, S.G. is a little high(1.27) and she is the only fish to have ever been in this tank. Any suggestions? <See the "Marine Parasitic Disease" and "FAQs" sections on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com re environmental manipulation, use of vitamin preparations here. Bob Fenner>

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