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FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 10

Related Articles: Tank Troubleshooting Pt 1, Part 2, The Three Sets of Factors That Determine Livestock Health/Disease, A Livestock Treatment System,

Related FAQs:  Troubleshooting 1, Troubleshooting 2, Troubleshooting 3, Troubleshooting 4Troubleshooting 5Troubleshooting 6, Troubleshooting 7, Troubleshooting 8, Troubleshooting 9, Troubleshooting 11, Troubleshooting 12, Troubleshooting 13, Troubleshooting 14, Troubleshooting 15, Troubleshooting 16,

Lunula trigger died... reading needed   7/8/08 Hello wet web media? <Hey there Os> I am very sad right now because my beautiful lunula triggerfish died that was about 10 inches long without a clue. The only sign I saw was for him to look a little pale and sort of looked like maybe he developed lateral lign disease. He ate find yesterday but moved slowly and died today. I also have a gold puffer and Tessalata eel their fine ,although about two weeks ago the eel looked as if his nose had blood on it. <Related?> I also had an yellowbelly hippo tang I had to remove because it lateral line disease real bad and fins rotting. <... this system, your operation has issues> also every time I get a green bird wrasse it goes through the same cycle as the triggerfish and dies. <...> I have had a saltwater tank for over 10 years although this is my largest yet a 240 gallon fish only tank this the most problems I ever had. ps. water tested fine ph also please help as I try accumulate some of the rarest fish for aquarium system. ps. I also have a TurboFlotor multi 5000 skimmer big enough for twice the size in the sump and 2 mag drive 180's and bio balls <I'd pull these... see WWM re> and ChemiPure. this tank has been set up for over a year. Thanks sorry I rambled just a little upset. <Where's the boeuf? What re your set-up itself, water test results, foods/feeding... From what is presented, you have "water quality" problems... the HLLE, animals hemorrhaging, dying mysteriously... You'd do well to take the time to peruse here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm the SubWeb on Disease... to give you an idea of the types of info. we're looking for, some clues as to what is likely gone awry... Stop buying livestock and read. Bob Fenner>

problem with aquarium system, disease, helping yourself by giving data  07/07/08 Help! I set up a system of 12 aquariums all connected together using the same filtration system (for a total of 650 gallons) and recently there was an outbreak of a bacterial disease (symptoms include popeyes and small bubbles protruding out of the fishes skin/scales particularly on the head area). How can I properly treat the entire system so that I can avoid a re-occurrence of the disease? Thanks! Don <... what is/are the root cause/s here? Are there fine bubbles, some area where air and pressurized water are mixing? Need data. Bob Fenner>

Mysterious Tank Problem   7/5/08 Crew, I am in desperate need of your help. On Monday of this week I purchased a new filter for my 55 gallon marine aquarium. I am changing from an old hang on Emperor 400 to a canister filter rated for a 100 gallon tank. <I do hope you left both going for a while...> To prevent too much of a mini cycle I smeared some of the "goop" from the old filter pads onto the sponge media in the new filter. Two days ago (Wednesday) my Lawnmower Blenny died. I was really bummed out about this because he was one of the first two fish I ever purchased for my aquarium and that was four years ago. I really didn't put a whole lot of thought into it at the time. I did my usual "oh crap" tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH and the results were 0, 0, undetectable, and 8.2 respectively. All of the usual suspects were fine and all other livestock appeared normal, so I decided that it must have just been time for the Blenny. I arrived home on Thursday and all was apparently well. Today, since I had the day off, I decided to go ahead and do water change. I changed approximately 10 gallons of filtered (reverse osmosis Kent Marine Hi-S 120 GPD) oxygenated, pH adjusted water like I do every one to two weeks. The only thing different this time was I had a brand new sediment filter and carbon filter installed. <This last... can be trouble... really need to be soaked, flushed for a few gallons> The silicate membranes are less than a year old and the only thing that I did to those was reseat them in their housing. The unit worked as normal, trickle product and torrent waste. After I changed the water I was sitting at my computer desk and heard "buzzing." The protein skimmer was foaming like crazy and was dripping onto the power strip. Caught it before anything shorted out, removed the collection cup from the skimmer and let everything continue to run on the spare, dry power strip I have. I checked on the aquarium and no one seemed any worse for the ware. I fed the fish and went about my business. I checked back a couple hours later and my maroon clown was being feasted on by hermit crabs, my yellow tail damsel is nowhere to be found, and my Sebae anemone is shriveled into a ball. My first thought was the anemone died and poisoned the tank. So I grab a large mug from the cabinet and scoop out the anemone, keeping it submerged just in case it isn't dead. All of the invertebrate life aside from the anemone is fine. I have many tiny hermit crabs and snails all of which are fine and two urchins that are not showing any ill effects. I removed the fish carcasses. This is really disheartening because I have had the damsel since day one after the tank cycled and I have had the Maroon and the anemone for three years. I retested everything <For what you have tests for...> and it was exactly as I stated before so I didn't kill them with the filter change I don't think. The electricity is a possible candidate, <Mmm, no> but would you have eaten right after you had been severely shocked? <Not likely... now... a glass of wine...> My last culprit for all of this is sulfur. During the water change today I hit a pocket of very dark green to black sediment while vacuuming the substrate and the smell was unmistakable (rotten eggs). <Mmm, a possibility as well... but the invertebrates would have been mal-affected as well> So since everything is dead I decided to investigate. I started moving rocks around and found that under roughly half of them (the half of the aquarium where the anemone and clown resided) there was black sludge that I immediately vacuumed away after having disturbed it. After all of this I remember the anemone in the mug, I thought it was dead until I started to pour out the water and it was attached to the glass, so I returned it to the aquarium. Please if anyone can offer some kind of help in explaining what has happened I would be eternally grateful. Here is a brief synopsis with timeline because I am apparently long winded after I read over this email. Monday: purchased and installed new filter -->Tuesday: Replaced RO unit cartridges-->Wednesday: Blenny Died, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate undetectable, pH 8.2, made up water for water change-->Thursday: No problems here-->Friday: sulfur pocket during water change, electrical incident, fed fish (they ate), fish died, anemone shriveled, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, and pH values unchanged, found much more sulfur on investigation, contacted WWM crew Setup: 55 gallon salt aquarium Approximately 50 lbs. of live rock Substrate is a mixture of crushed coral and live sand Fluval 404 canister filter Aqua C Remora Protein skimmer 440 watts VHO lighting Ammonia, Nitrate, and Nitrite 0 pH 8.2 Kent Marine Hi-S Reverse Osmosis unit for water filtration Michael L. Burroughs, MT (ASCP) <I do think the Salarias was coincidental and that the carbon filter was likely a root cause... the sulfur pocket perhaps a co-factor. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mysterious Tank Problem   7/5/08Update As it turns out the anemone wasn't dead after all. I looked this morning and it isn't in its full glory but it is open, now since I moved it yesterday I have to worry about it wondering around until it finds a new home if it is in fact healthy. Michael L. Burroughs, MT (ASCP) <Ah, good. BobF>

Oxygen... I think, SW troubleshooting    6/27/08 Hey guys - <Hey there! Benjamin here.> For starters, you rock! We love you. <It's nice to be loved. Thanks!> I have a 110 gallon display w/ 100 #s live rock, ~1" live sand, 6x32W NO tubes, 2xpowerheads + a 20 gallon fuge w/ ~5" live sand, tons of feather Caulerpa, 65W CF + 20 gallon sump w/ EuroReef RS80 and heaters. Total flow is around 2000 gal/hr. Temp: 79, SG: 1.025, pH: 8.2, Ammonia, Trites, Trates: 0. In the display are 2 clowns, a Longnose butterfly, a powder blue tang, two skunk cleaners, two emerald crabs and a bunch of snails and hermits. Tank has been up and running for about a year. The tang is the newest addition and has only been in there for a month, but he is kicking butt and has already gone from looking like a skeleton to being nice and plump. I do a 10% water change every week. <Sounds good> All of my fish breath quickly. They always have. The butterfly probably flaps its gills twice per second. The clowns and the tang probably three times or more per second. From what I have read, this is a sign of there not being enough oxygen in the water. My problem is that my skimmer is running all the time with the air hose completely open and the overflow pipes from the display overflow box to the sump vigorously stir the surface of the water in the sump. My sump is full of bubbles. It would be hard for me to believe that I am not dissolving enough oxygen in the water. I guess my questions are: Is there any way to test the dissolved oxygen content in water? <Kits are available. Can be difficult to get a good reading, but workable> and Is rapid breathing a symptom of anything else besides low oxygen? <Can be symptomatic of nitrite poisoning> What do you suggest I do? Since I have had excellent luck with this tank so far, I really don't want to mess with anything. The fish seem to be doing great - I only notice how fast my fish are breathing when I see how slow others breathe at the fish store. One more thing, I am not sure if this is relevant, but I have always found it odd. All the fish tend to stay on one side of the tank. It is the side I feed them from as well as the side where the most amount of return water comes from the sump. It looks like the prefer to occupy about 25% of the volume of the display tank. Sometime I catch the tang and the butterfly foraging the live rock on the other side, but that's it. <Sounds like they're going where the oxygen is. For a tank of this volume the surface of the 20gal sump may not be enough aeration- bear in mind saltwater can only hold so much air, so after it reaches saturation it doesn't matter how much air is in the skimmer if it's fractionating oxygenated water. I would suggest adding a couple of medium power heads toward the surface of your aquarium, or redirecting the ones you have to increase surface agitation. A rippling surface is a surface that exchanges gasses> Thanks in advance for you help, <No problem, Al. Best of luck!> Al <Benjamin>

Re: Oxygenation - 6/27/08 -- 06/29/08 Ben, <Al> Thanks for getting back to me. I took a few measures since my last email. I rechecked the trite level so we could rule out nitrite poisoning. <Good> I also bought an O2 test kit from my local store. You were totally right. It is difficult to get an accurate reading. I did the test three times and each time, it looked like the level was between 5 mg/l and 8 mg/l. That is as accurate as this test (Tetra) gets. The instructions said that saturation for SG:1.025, 79 degrees is somewhere around 6.3 mg/l. Due to the results of this test and the performance of my skimmer, I feel comfortable with the O2. Do you have any other ideas as to why my fish have always had rapid gill movement and/or why they always keep to one part of the display? <I think due to sampling error (we as hobbyists can't exactly do these tests in an oxygen-exclusive environment) that I wouldn't rule out low dissolved oxygen.> Due to their good behaviors and eating habits I am reluctant to change anything unless its necessary. <I'd give the increased surface agitation a try. That shouldn't cause any significant changes in the ecosphere.> Thanks again! <Very welcome!> Al

Fast Stocking; Repeated Mortality - 6/19/08 I'm on the verge of having a break down! I'm very patient when it comes to fish tanks, but I keep losing fish, and I don't want to keep getting fish just for them to perish when they hit my tank. I would rather them go to a tank that they can thrive. <An understandable- and noble- desire.> Can you please help me get to the point when my tank is that tank? You are probably getting tired of hearing from me, but here goes, I'll give you everything, so you know where I am. I have a 75 gallon tank with a Remora Pro, and an Emperor 400. I only run the Emperor for about an hour or so a week, with just a generic filter pad with no charcoal in it. I'm just using it to pull some debris out of the water. <I'm curious as to the reasoning behind this...one hour a week can't be doing any good, and you're probably cooking strange things in that filter pad during the six days it doesn't run. I'd just plug it in and let it run...an aquarium of this size will need filtration, as you are aware.> And I dump out the Emperor once a week at every water change, and rinse out the filter pad. I also have 80 lbs of live rock, which I have built up against the back wall of the tank, I don't know if this is advisable, but I did it because I have 2 Hydor stage 4 power heads and a stage 3 all blowing off the front pane of the tank, and it seemed to strong of a current for my softies, so now with the rock against the back, I get the same water movement and it seems less abrasive to the corals. I have a Coralife power compact with two 65 watt 50/50 bulbs which i leave on from about 7 AM to about 11PM, I work 12 hour days and the tank is next to our bed, and I like to watch the fish to wind down at night. <Far too long. Consider reducing to a 12 or 8 hour photoperiod, from 11 to 11 or so> And I have a Stealth heater. For water changes, I do 12 gallons every Friday morning. <Good> I use a python to drain the water, and then I mix tap water with Oceanic Salt Mix and Prime water conditioner about 15 minutes before I put it into the tank, or once the salt is dissolved. <Search wetwebmedia.com re saltwater mixing and aging. Many components of synthetic salt remain caustic- and therefore toxic- for a significant period after they appear to be dissolved. It is much better to mix the water 1-2 days in advance.> For livestock I have 3 Green Chromises, a Chalk Bass, a Lawnmower Blenny, a Sixline Wrasse, a Serpent Starfish, assorted hermit and snails, a Sally lightfoot, and 3 Emerald crabs. All of these I have had for about 6 weeks. I also have a African Pygmy Angel I added last week. For corals, I have 4 rocks with Mushrooms, a Toadstool Leather coral, a Xenia, and a Pineapple Polyp. I also have some Feather dusters, how many, I'm not sure, they're starting to pop up in different places, which is very cool. I also have some unidentified corals starting to grow on the live rock. For food I use mostly San Francisco brand frozen Emerald Entree, and frozen Spirulina Brine Shrimp. <Many of these fish are omnivores or obligate carnivores. Mysis, squid, krill would all be better substitutes for the brine shrimp, which have little nutritive value.> I like this brand because it seems to have less gelatin. I put about 3/4 of a cube in a Dixie cup with just enough water to cover it, and add Garlic Extreme in the morning, and pour all the contents into the tank. At night I do the same thing without the Garlic Extreme. <This is a LOT of food> The food seems to break up by itself once it's it the tank, as opposed to the Formula 2 I've tried which seems to stay chunky and get caught in the pre-filter of the Remora, or in the powerheads. <Formula 2 is designed to be gelatinous, cut to size...> This is what my water looks like, Ammonia is at 0, nitrates 0, nitrites 0 <I don't trust these readings- not with as much as you are feeding and the trouble you're having. Even in the best kept of systems there will be nitrate. Are your test kits fresh, and from a reputable source (Salifert, SeaChem make fine tests)? I would consider purchasing new and carefully retesting nitrogenous wastes> ph 8.4, SG 1.25, calcium 380 ppm, 11 dKH, and the temperature is at 76. Now the alkalinity varies through the week, it will get down to as low as 7dkh, then I will add Kent Marine Superbuffer and it brings it up to about 13dkh. <Too quick a change. Regular, smaller additions to keep alkalinity constant will improve the health of your tank inhabitants> Everything else stays consistent, I just started measuring calcium, it was 420ppm at the last water change and now it's 380ppm. Now for the problem, aside for what's in the tank, I can't keep anything alive in this tank. I really really really want a Kole Tang. I have tried 3 Kole Tangs, one dies and I buy another one, I'm not trying to keep more than one in a tank. <Too small a tank, and a lot of aggressive tankmates. I'm afraid your dream of a Kole tang will need to remain such until you have another, larger system.> I can't seem to get them to eat, I've tried frozen Emerald Entree, frozen brine shrimp, romaine lettuce and Spirulina flakes. The last one I bought was dead this morning, it was the largest one I bought and it was full colored. The fish store had it more about two weeks before I bought it. I bought it this past Friday, on Saturday it lost most of it's color, last night it was full of ich, and this morning it was dead. <Read WetWebMedia re ich, velvet, Brooklynella...you may have a serial killer> The other fish I keep trying and losing are Clown fish. The most recent ones I bought were Tomato clowns, these were the second pair of Tomato Clowns I've tried. But I have lost many other Clowns before these guys. I also purchased these fish Friday, they seemed to be doing fine, then this morning when I woke up, they were both dead also. <Again, you have a heavily stocked tank, and are adding things fast. Slow down, plan carefully, and know your aquarium's limits.> Also, aside from the dead fish, it keep getting micro bubbles from my Remora Pro. <Does happen, yes> I taped a sponge to where the water enters the tank from the Remora, and this seems to have helped slightly. I contacted the folks at Aqua C and they said if I'm using a water conditioner like Prime, it can also cause the micro bubbles, which seems very likely. My question is, would you suggest not using a water conditioner at all? <not if you have chlorinated water> I also have a 75 gallon African cichlid tank that has been established for about two years now, I don't use the water conditioner with that anymore, it seems to me that there is enough of a biological filter in the two Emperor 400 filters I have on that tank, and in the lace rock and substrate, to handle any impurities that might be in the tap water. I'm not sure bio-filtration has anything to do with chlorine, <Chlorine is a biocide, toxic to all life> but my fish are very bright and healthy and they get a water change once a week also. I would just really like to get rid of as many micro bubbles as possible. So please, if you can possibly shine some light on what I'm doing wrong, I would greatly appreciate it. If you can be as critical as possible, it would be much more helpful for me. <Gives those water parameters another test, and we'll see if there is a serious problem there- as I suspect> Thanks again. Marc <Benjamin>

Re: Fast Stocking; Repeated Mortality - 6/19/08 Thanks so much for the help. <Welcome> I was wondering, if I run the filter all the time, would you suggest filters with charcoal, or just the filter pad. <Just the filter pad. Carbon is something that is generally used more for removal of accidental toxins (broken bulbs, spilled chemicals, etc> than a continuous product> Also, if I was to add a pair of clownfish, and I still wanted to add one more colorful fish, what would you suggest. <Nothing. Your tank is pretty full> Now that I'm not going to be adding the Kole Tang. Thanks again, <No problem> Marc <Benjamin>

Re: Fast Stocking; Repeated Mortality - 6/19/08 Thanks for the help. <No trouble!> I didn't run the Emperor all the time because I was under the impression that the filter pads hold on the materials those create nitrates, so I would put it on for an hour a week, just to get rid of some debris. I would rather run it all the time, but do you think if I clean out the pads at each water change, would I be pretty safe from creating unwanted nitrates? <Nitrates will be produced no matter what; they are the product of nitrogenous waste from fish. Ammonia excreted from the gills and fecal material is oxidized to less toxic nitrite, which is further oxidized to nitrate. Without the production of nitrate, life in an aquarium would be impossible. All this to say, nitrate is simply to be removed via water changes- you can't avoid making it.> Now, would it be a big benefit for me to use charcoal filters in my filter, as opposed to just fiber pad? <No> I was told the Remora Pro would be all the filtration I need. <Not necessarily...significant bacteriological cycling is necessary for as many fish as you have, as well as something to remove particulate matter from the aquarium.> Now the only reason why I didn't make up my water a couple of days ahead of time, was because I thought you had to have an extra heater and powerhead. <Would be best> I have two 6 gallon buckets, I can make up the water on Tuesday and then do the water change of Friday. Is it ok to mix it, even though there wont be a powerhead mixing it up? <Would be an improvement over just mixing and dumping in. If you could drop an airstone, it would be even better> Also, is there a better water conditioner you would suggest to use instead of Prime? <Prime is good, IME.> I found out my fish were dying because of ich. When my first Kole Tang got the ich, I was told all tanks have ick, it's just a matter of the fishes immune system dropping for it to catch it. <Well, this is true...augmented by other factors> I was told it was very common for Tangs to catch ich, but as long as they were eating, they would pull through. <Not true- a parasite with incomplete symbiosis- like ich- will eventually kill the host once it is established unless it is treated> Since the last time I sent an email, I have been in a store to have my water tested again, to see if there was something wrong with my test, and they came up with the same results. 0 nitrates. <I assume they used dip strips, as per LFS standard? These just don't work. Never, ever have an LFS do your water tests for you> So when I told him about the Kole Tang catching ich, he advised me to not buy any fish for about 4 weeks, so the parasite doesn't have a host. <As long as there are fish in the tank, it will have a host> And if I don't have any more mortalities, then I can add another fish. And on that subject, I have decided to no longer try getting a Kole Tang, I was told this is one of the few Tangs, if not the only one, that can go in a 75 gallon tank, but I still don't think they have enough room to swim around. <Very true, good observation> I was hoping you may give me a suggestion on another fish, of decent size that I might be able to put in my tank. I want to put a flame angel, but I don't know how that would fare with my pygmy angel. <I think with the clowns you planned, you will have a well-filled tank> Also, I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on stacking the rocks up against the back wall of the tank, I want to get rock to put up the side walls also. If their weight is stacked on the base, this is fine. If the rock is literally leaning against the back wall you're risking a panel failure> I just find this to be the best way to display the corals, and keep from having an avalanche. <A time tested method. Dependable, if not aesthetically thrilling> I was just wondering if this was bad for circulation. Again, I have two stage 4 Hydors, one in each back corner pointing towards each other off the front pane of glass, and one Stage 3, on the side, all the way at the bottom, all the way towards the back, blowing behind the rocks. Just wanted to know if you could think of any down sides to this setup. <Sounds good> Thanks again, Marc <No problem. Benjamin> Re: Fast Stocking; Repeated Mortality - 6/20/08 One last time. <Okay!> After taking your advice, I went on WetWebMedia and looked up Brooklynella, and that is definitely what has been killing my clowns. I tried to describe this to the LFS, and they said it was ich, or possibly velvet. I looked up velvet, and I've had ich in my freshwater tank, and this didn't look like either. It looked like my fish were "dusty". I read the website, and it seems like the only way to get rid of it would be to strip down the whole tank bleach it, and start over. I really really really don't want to do this. None of the fish I have seem to be affected by this. If I were to wait a couple of months before adding fish, should I be ok? <I'm afraid not. Brooklynella only affects clownfish and certain tangs. It will remain in your system indefinitely, even in a fallow tank. Once a tank is infected, it just won't be a safe home for clownfish.> The only fish I want to add are a pair of clowns, and after reading, I will be purchasing tank raised clowns. Will waiting it out work? And if so, how long should I wait before adding the other clown. Again, all the other fish I have, I've had for about six weeks with out any problems. <Your one option would be to wait, try again, and if the fish were to succumb to the disease again send it to a specialist or vet who could perform microscopy and identify the pathogen for you. This would at least tell you for sure if it is in fact Brooklynella.> And if I must add medication, is there any that would be safe for my fish and corals? <Nope. Medication should always be given in a quarantine, no exceptions> All softies by the way. Thanks again for helping me find my "serial killer". <No problem. Best of luck!> Marc <Benjamin>

Scratching of unknown etiology  6/9/08 Morning, <Indeed> I have a quick question that involves my 75 gallon FOWLR. My tank parameters this morning are as follows: Temp 80.4, Salinity 1.023, PH 8.1, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Phosphate 0, Nitrate 25 and KH/ 6.7/2.4. <Nitrate is high> The livestock in the tank include a yellow tang, asfur angel, two ocellaris clowns, a blue flasher wrasse. a mystery wrasse, and some 15 or so Nassarius snails. My issue is the mystery wrasse and yellow tang occasionally scratch themselves on the live rock. <Will happen.> Another odd behavior of the mystery wrasse is that it's no longer hanging out in the rockwork as usual, but swimming up and down the rear facing glass. I don't observe any Ich spots on the fish and is wondering what other disease or issues can possibly cause this occasional scratching. I am doing to do a water change as we speak and changed the Chemi-pure in the event it may be something in the water. <This could be in response to water quality- searching for cleaner turf. I'd recommend upping your water change schedule to bring the nitrate down. This may help with the odd behavior, and will also control/prevent marine ich in the tang.> Thanks in advance for all your help,~ Brian <No problem. Benjamin>

Re: Fish Scratching, erratic swimming - 6/9/08  6/11/08 Benjamin, <Brian> I have done additional water changes during the course of last few days. 5 gallons on Monday, 10 gallons on Tuesday, and another 5 today (Wednesday). My nitrates have dropped to around 10. <Good to hear.> The only interesting issue it that now more fish seem scratch/flash as well as present as jittery. They swim normally, then shake (bodies and fins) for a second then move on to what they were doing. I still don't see any signs of any infection, parasitic or otherwise. I will continue to do a larger water change of hopefully 25 gallons tomorrow. Any insight on the seemingly worsening situation? <It may be nothing more than shaking off particulate matter- perhaps you have a powerhead blowing some sand? May be parasitic in nature, but I tend to shy away from proactive treatment, as the medications to do so are very hard on the fish, and may actually bring about a pathogenic response instead of prevent one. I would do another water change or two, then schedule them to keep the nitrates down and see if this clears up with time- all the while keeping a weather eye for visible signs of parasites.> ~ Brian <Hope things clear up. Benjamin>

Re: Fish Scratching, erratic swimming - 06/14/08 Ben, <Brian> If the issue is indeed a parasite, what are your opinions on copper and FOWLR tanks. I do have snails in the tank which I would take out. If I never intended to invertebrates in the future, would you recommend using copper in main display tank. The tank has a 3 inch sand bed and about 60 pounds of live rock. <While I by no means know everything, I really wouldn't recommend it. Aside from a "never say never" mentality, you would lose a lot of the benefits of that sand bed and live rock, permanently. Some people do claim quinine sulfate to be 'reef safe' however my recommendation would be quarantine with hyposalinity and/or quinine sulfate, and letting the main tank lay fallow for 6 weeks. Benjamin>

Re: Fish Scratching, erratic swimming - 06/15/08 Ben, <Hello again!> I only ask because I do not have the facilities to quarantine my livestock completely. <Ahhh, yes.> I only have a 30 gallon tank, which won't hold all the fish completely. I can probably execute daily % gallon water changes in it to control the levels, but fear aggression in such a tight space. <Things could get dicey, yes> Any other thoughts? <I would recommend working toward having spaces that could be temporarily set up in the event of outbreaks.> I am purchasing a UV sterilizer, maybe to help in water quality? <Won't improve water quality, per se, but it may help reduce free-swimming parasites. Probably can't hurt. Hope all goes well. Benjamin> <<... a useful quarantine/treatment system costs less than a UV... RMF>>

Sick Tank 06/06/2008 Hi Guys, <<And gals i hope...Andrew with you today>> I have a tremendous problem that quite frankly I am not sure anyone can help me with but I know if anyone can its you folks. I have a 54 gallon corner tank. Its been set up for about 16 months. I have about 80 pounds of live rock and a deep bed of fine gravel aragonite about 3-4 inches deep. I have a HOT Remora C protein skimmer with a Mag 3 pump and 3 Maxijet 1200 powerheads on a wave maker. I have an Outer orbit 150 HQI/ T5 light, which I have on a 12 hour cycle suspended about 4 inches over a glass canopy. <<Light is too close to the surface, suggest move it up to 8 inches away from the water surface, and 8 hours of white marine light is more than enough>> My water chemistry seems to be good with calcium being my biggest problem where it seems to always be reading right on the border of the low side. I do bi weekly 10% water changes. I currently have two false percula clowns, a lawnmower blenny, a small pencil urchin, and a very large brittle star. I also have a few turbo snails and hermit crabs. <<Ok>> I am having multifaceted problems which may not be related. First I am having a terrible algae problem. It started with hair algae which seemed to be controlled by a blue tang I have lost, and has gone on to a slime like algae and bubble algae. <<Sounds like you are suffering from Cyano, or a mixture of plague algae, a possible cause for this is too much light as plague algae feeds well off lighting>> I also had some incredibly invasive macroalgea that began taking over the tank which I have subsequently removed. I have noticed recently I also am having some brown and what may be red filamentous algae taking over. <<Again, sounds like plague algae>> I suspect this is due to 2 things and would like your opinion on this. First my 12 hour light cycle is too much for my tank although it was not a problem before and second my T5s may no longer be putting out the right wavelengths. <<Both cases could be the contributing factor. Move the light pendant to 8 inches above the water, cut down the lighting to 8 hours, and possibly change the T5 bulbs. What is the water source also? is it RO water? >> The company told me the bulbs could go 2 years before needing to be replaced for this reason but I am beginning to doubt that. <<A bulb can go bad, its technology, it can fail>> My next problem involves fish and invertebrates especially corals. A month after setting up the aquarium I added my first fish, a Royal Gramma, who did very well. I also added a bunch of hermit crabs and snails as well as a brittle star and a pencil urchin. <<Ok>> I began having algae problems in the ensuing month so I added a lawnmower blenny and a blue tang (to my surprise the blue tang actually did more to control the algae than the lawnmower blenny did). <<Yes, very good eater of algae>> Everyone was doing great at this point. A month later I added two false Perculas and all my fish developed ich within 2 days. <<From the tang no doubt. Did you quarantine it? >> I only treated the tank with garlic and increased the temp to 84 as I wanted this to be a reef tank. All the fish survived. Another month later I added a flame angel which died within 4 days. <<Did you quarantine and treat the fish for Ich and allow the display tank to go fallow?? >> I went through an extensive acclimation over a 2 hour period. About 4 months after I had set up the tank I purchased my first coral. It was a green tip torch coral, and I positioned it near the top of the tank in an area with good flow. It seemed to thrive there. About 2 months after that I added some really nice pom pom xenia which also seemed to thrive and began to spread. That's when the problems started. About a month later I added a Ricordea..it died within a few days. I added another Ricordea and some Zoanthids about a month later and the Ricordea died and the Zoanthids never did well. Within the next month the Zoanthids died and the torch coral seemed to bleach and die and the xenia quickly followed. <<Quite possible this there was some allelopathy between coral here>> After that I didn't add anything to my tank for several months. Unfortunately it became necessary for me to move and I had to move my tank. The move went pretty well and all the fish and inverts I had survived initially. About two weeks after the move I lost my blue tang and two weeks after that I lost my royal Gramma, I figured this may have been related to the move. <<Quite possible. The tang will be under stress as it stands, as it was in a tank far too small, should be in at least 125gal tank, in my opinion>> Since then I have tried adding a flame angel which died within a day and was able to get a second which also died in two days. All the water quality was good and I acclimated them appropriately. Again I waited a couple of months and added a six line wrasse which died after 3 days. Everyone else in the tank was doing well except I was losing snails and some of the hermits and I lost a pencil urchin. I waited a few months again and did two 20% water changes instead of 10% changes. Then I added (last week) a beautiful blue mushroom rock which had a pom pom xenia on it, a small pencil urchin, and another small six line wrasse. Within 3 hours the xenia and mushrooms had begun to die and were dead by the next morning. The pencil urchin looks to be doing well and the wrasse seems to be doing OK. I have subsequently added activated carbon in case there is something toxic in there but I don't think that is the case. <<I would certainly be running carbon. As you don't mention your exact water param.s results, i can only surmise. It does not sound like your water param.s are correct, i would take water samples and get it checked for a full range, which is pH, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, calcium, Alk, mag. Were all the stock brought from the same place? do all the stock at the shop look healthy at the shop? >> What is going on? Am I just not going to be able to have a reef tank? And any ideas why I am having such a hard time keeping fish now, especially the flame angels? I am getting really frustrated because I feel like I am doing everything the way I am supposed to and I'm still flushing a lot of money. I appreciate any help you can provide. <<Well, first thing is first, continue to run carbon, get the water checked by another person / test kit. Don't add anymore until this has been done. Need to get the basic tank, as it stands, back to a normal and stable environment>> Thanks, Rob <<Hope this helps, thanks for the questions. A Nixon>>

Help... Fish keep dying 05/15/08 Mysterious Fish Deaths: A Common Problem? Please help... I can not keep more than 5 fish alive in my 125 gallon Reef Ready Marine tank. I have a 125 gallon reef ready (2 overflows, with a 29 gallon tank for sump, with a bio-rocker in it) tank. My specs are as follows: 125 gallon Reef Ready with two overflows that are plumbed into my sump, one goes directly into the sump, and the other goes into the top of the Bio Rocker. I have a 1000 watt titanium heater with the digital control unit, a Kent Marine Nautilus Skimmer ( which I empty about twice a week), a Mag Drive MD9.5 for a return pump, and a MD7 for my skimmer. I have a light kit about 4 inches above my tank. 3 250 watt MH Double ended bulbs, and 4 actinic blue 96 watt compacts, and moonlights, and built in fans, all on a timer. I have 140#'s live sand , and 120#'s live rock (all with good color and little, some big, baby feather dusters all over them, I even have some growing out of the sand), and a population of copepods. I have a good amount of snails, crabs, and a couple of sand sifting stars to keep my tank very clean. I have good water movement, using the mag 9.5, and 2 koralia model 2 powerheads on opposite sides, one on top and other towards the bottom. I have the top open with a plastic grid (from home depot, for a 2x4 light fixture). My water is always good. My nitrate gets up around 10 ppm before I do my water changes ( about 25-30 gallons every 3-4 weeks. <A tip: If you change smaller amounts more frequently (like 5%-10% a week), you may be able to keep the nitrate level from even reaching 10ppm. As the expression goes, "Dilution is the solution to pollution"> My alk. is low, PH between 8.0 (Lights off) and 8.2 (lights on). Oxygen level is between 6 and 7. Specific gravity at 1.023-24. I add about 5 gallons of top off every 3-4 days (a little at a time, not all at once). Temp is around 74-75 degrees. My last additions to the tank was 3 Firefish, and 2 Cleaner Wrasse. All small sizes. Bought from my LFS. All in great health at the store, ate well, and very active, I was there for over an hour observing them. I acclimated them to the tank for about an hour, after the 15 minute temp adjustment. <This is a mistake, IMO. ALL new fishes should be released into a quarantine aquarium for at least 3-4 weeks of observation PRIOR to being released into the display aquarium. This practice is truly your first line of defense against disease being introduced into the display. The quarantine period also gives your new fishes an opportunity to recover and "harden up" after their journey from reef to store. Any diseases that the fish may be carrying should become apparent during the quarantine period. It's an inexpensive, simple process that can yield huge dividends down the line. Do read up about quarantine right here on the WWM site!> After netting them out of the bag they all seemed to hang in a group, usually right in front of the one powerhead, and I fed them a few hours later, and they were all jumping at the foods I offered them. 2 days later I noticed that one wrasse was staying in the hole that he had picked, with a spider web looking thing over his mouth (I read that was normal sometimes) and he just stayed in there and never came out. Then the next day I was missing a Firefish, and the other wrasse wasn't coming out either. Just sitting in the hole breathing heavy. Then the next day another Firefish was missing. Now I just have one Firefish left, who seems to be doing well and still eating and being active. <This is indicative of a problem with the fishes. It sounds as if your environmental parameters are stable enough, but there could be something else going on, too- such as poisoning, etc.> The time before that was 2 small Hippo Tangs that I had for about 2 months, then I added a Raccoon BF, and all was well for over a month and then the BF started hiding, not eating then breathing heavy. Then about a week after the BF died the 2 Tangs did the same thing over a weeks time. <The plot thickens! This could be signs of a disease that the resident fishes have some sort of resistance to; or perhaps a toxin of some sort. Something seems amiss. Multiple fishes dying in a similar fashion is definitely indicative of a single problem. This might make it a bit easier to find a cause and a solution. I'd start by looking for some sort of incident that may have caused this to happen. Did you spill some sort of household cleaner in the aquarium? Were their signs of some sort of illness or other problems among the resident fishes? Is one fish bullying the others? Consider all possibilities.> Before that was a Naso Tang. Lived for about a month then did the same story.  Through all this I've had my cleaners in there and one 2.5" Tomato Clown. Who seemed to not be bothering anyone. But I was wandering if he was being a bully when the lights went out, however that theory is possibly no good since I took him out and put him in my smaller tank before the Firefish/cleaner wrasse.  My past theories were temp fluxuation, (Solved by blowing fans over the top of tank and sump. May fluctuate 1 degree throughout the day) certain fish starving, (Added a population of live copepods from the store) Poor water movement/low dissolved oxygen, (replace existing powerheads with better ones, removed the tops off of the tank, and tested water before and after and it was still around 6-7) I was using Windex to clean the glass and stopped doing that (The lids were on when I was doing that). <All good hunches, and proper fixes in the event of the water movement and water quality theories...Keep exploring all possibilities. I would not rule out the possibility of the household cleaner causing some issues. It happens more often than you might think.> Now my last question is something that I have been doing since the beginning. I get my water from the water machine at the Grocery store. I tested it with my TDS meter and it came in between 4-20. I know that all depends on what it is picking up. I've never used our tap water, cause I wouldn't even let our dog drink that, I've always gone to the store and filled up my 5 gallon water containers. Is that water good enough??? Is there something that I should be testing for in the water?? <There are literally hundreds of possibilities. Water suitable for human consumption is generally-notice I said generally- acceptable for fishes. However, there could be minute traces of toxins that can be a problem for fishes and other marine life. When you're not in charge of maintaining the filters in the water machine, you have no idea if the membranes in the machine are saturated and need replacement. You might want to look into an RO/DI unit, which will assure you of high quality water, and the luxury of knowing when to replace the membranes for continued effectiveness.> That is my final idea, Please help me. I love this hobby and my tank looks beautiful, but I always get the question of "Why do you have such a big tank with only one fish in it"??? when people come over.... If you need more info please respond to me and I'll get back to you right away. Thank you, you guys/gals are a wonderful source for this hobby. Aaron <Thanks for the kind words, Aaron. I would continue to evaluate all of your theories. You should employ and regularly replace chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and/or PolyFilter, which excel at removing toxins and other undesirable substances for your water. With more investigation, a few tweaks and some patience, I have no doubt that you'll be able to maintain a stable population of fishes for many years to come. The truth is out there...go find it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Why do I keep losing fish! Reading  5/1/08 Hi everyone, I have a 75 gallon FOWLR tank about eight weeks old. There's 80 pounds of live rock, four power heads, an emperor, and a remora pro protein skimmer that I've had for about two weeks. The emperor 400 i just run with a generic filter pad, no charcoal and no bio wheels. And I've been dumping out the whole emperor once a week when i do the water change. <Mmmm> I had a SeaClone before that. <You presently have no skimmer then?> I have tested my water and brought and samples to several fish stores. <You should get, use your own kits... water quality samples change with time...> Nitrates 0, nitrites 0, ph 8.4, ammonia 0, temperature 76, specific gravity 1.23, <Mmm, no> and the fish store said my alkalinity is where it needs to be. I have 45 Nassarius snails, 10 turbo snails, 10 blue leg hermit crabs, 20 red leg hermit crabs, 2 peppermint shrimp, a serpent starfish, an emerald crab and a blue neon stripe hermit crab. Starting about 5 weeks ago i started adding fish. <... too soon. This tank had only been up some three weeks prior?> At first it was two maroon clowns, and 6 line wrasse, both died with the week. then i tried a coral beauty, Dottyback, and another six line wrasse, all lasted about a week. Then i added a royal Gramma, a lawnmower blenny and a Sebae clown, same results, except the lawnmower blenny, he jumped out of the tank. Added just a diamond goby, he jumped out two nights ago. Yesterday, I went out and purchased a Kole tang and a Dottyback, they seem to be doing fine.. My question is, what am i doing wrong? <Can't discern from the data presented... but likely this system is "just too new"... not well-established> Is it possible to have too many powerheads? <Not practically, no> I have 2 of the Hydor stage 4's, one Hydor stage 3, and a maxi-jet 1200 that i took of the SeaClone. the fish don't swim around too much, they all did alot <... no such word> of hiding. <This is telling... there is something amiss here... with your water quality...> I've been feeding them twice a day. My local fish store gave me a variety pack of frozen foods, with about 20 cubes of 4 different kinds of frozen foods. Each cube is about the size of a thumb nail. I've been cutting the cubes in half, and dropping extreme garlic on them while they thaw out. The fish seem to be eating.. I also put a piece of seaweed under a piece of live rock, and replace it whenever it gets eaten, about once every three days. I've been doing a 20% water change every week. I mix my own tap water with prime water conditioner, a dh buffer, and the salt. I mix in in a bucket and add it once the salt is dissolved, which is in about ten minutes. <... you should read: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm scroll down to the blue tray... on water...> I have a 48 inch Corallife compact light with two 50/50 65 watt bulbs, and i run it about 12 hours a day. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks, Marc <Read... Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm and the linked files above... I'd be adding a good skimmer... Bob Fenner>

Dead Fish Tell No Tales! (Mysterious Fish Deaths)  4/16/08 Hello Crew, <Hey there! Scott F. in tonight!> I've been in the Reef Hobby for about a year and a half with good success so far. I've just recently added another tank to my hobby, but with limited success. My new 125G that I just started running back in the beginning of January has seen numerous deaths in a short amount of time. Currently I have a Small Blue Tang, Medium Maroon Clownfish, 4 Chromis, 2 Cardinal Fish, and a Scooter Blenny. I've had my Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, Purple Firefish, Neon Goby, and Sixline Wrasse die in the past 45 days. The Firefish and Sixline wrasse were pretty much torn apart when I found them. <Good observation, but it's hard to say whether the condition you found them in was the cause of death or a result of their death. Often times, various scavengers (ranging from crabs to starfish, to amphipods, and even fishes) will opportunistically feed off of the remains of dead fishes. If you find the deceased at all in a reef tank, the remains are often in such condition. My thinking is that if the deaths were caused by an animal such as a crab or Mantis Shrimp, you would find little, if anything of the victims. I'd lean towards other possibilities, such as environmental factors (water chemistry, possible poisoning, etc.), or perhaps poor quality specimens to begin with. Think about it: Did the fishes all come from the same source (ie; LFS or e-tailer)? Perhaps they were poorly handled along the change of custody before you received them. Maybe they were ill or otherwise improperly collected. Ask your dealer if he/she has heard about anomalous fish deaths of late. Is there a bully in your aquarium? Continuous stress can lead to illness, which can spell doom for an otherwise weakened fish. Again, consider the possibility of some sort of toxin as well. Consider anything that could cause otherwise seemingly unusual deaths.> I currently have a 3inch DSB, and 60lbs of live rock. 8 small blue leg hermit crabs, 1 large Halloween hermit crab, 46G sump with refugium and Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite are at 0. PH was a little low at 8.0 and salinity was 1.025. What are the possibilities that these causes of death are PH related, Halloween hermit crab related, or something more elusive like a mantis shrimp? Please help before I lose anymore friends. Thanks again. Frank <Well, Frank- I would seriously think about the possibility of low quality stock. How long were your fishes in the aquarium before they died? Did you utilize a quarantine/acclimation protocol? Were the fishes eating? Did they display any signs of stress or illness? Unfortunately, it's almost impossible for me to ascertain what caused these losses from where I sit, but I hope that I've given you some ideas to consider. Leave no stone unturned in your quest for the answer! The truth is out there, as they say! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Dead Fish Tell No Tales (cont'd.) (Mysterious Fish Deaths)   4/24/08 Thanks for your info Scott. <You're quite welcome! Sorry for the delay in responding to your reply! Been out for a bit!> I probably should have been more detailed in the first email, but emotion probably clouded my full train of thought. These fishes that have died were ones that I've had between 3-6 months from either one of my smaller tanks or one that was acclimated and initially quarantined. <Good to hear!> All the ones that have died have been in my new 125G anywhere between a couple of days to a couple of months. My Sixline died within 3 days of adding him to this tank. Saw him the first day, and found only his head 3 days later. Neon goby died a month in the 125G where his body was fully intact. My purple Firefish that passed a couple of days ago......he's been in this tank for over 2 months. A few days before his death, he was never seen except for a couple of minutes during feeding time in the day and night. Previously, he was always out in the open. I found him with half his body missing and within a couple of hours of that, a mucus film secreting from his body before i removed him (which im guessing means he had just met his doom when i found him). Yesterday morning is when I found my cleaner shrimp just laying lifeless fully intact on the substrate. I've had him for about 6 months and he's been in this tank since the beginning over 4 months ago. His death was a bit disheartening since he was not shy and enjoyed being hand fed. I'm fairly aware that if a mantis shrimp is suspect, then usually the bodies are never found intact. Could my Halloween hermit have done this. <It is entirely possible that the Hermit could be involved somehow. However, I'm still thinking that the fishes are being killed by some other factor, and that the bodies are being torn up after deaths. I do believe that the crab is a potential issue here, so I would not rule it out as a possible accessory to their deaths.> I'm trying to hopefully resolve this before my prize Pink skunk clownfish, maroon clownfish, and blue tang become causalities. I am also just on the brink of adding my medium sized powder brown (japonicus) tang from 4 weeks of quarantine, to my 125G over the weekend. I do not see any other apparent issues with the tank setup. To reiterate.....Temp hovering between 79-80f, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, spg 1.025, and ph is 8.1 now. Protein Skimmer, 46G refugium. My water source is RO/DI that is aged for a week in a circulated/heated/oxygenated 32G HD plastic garbage can. With my tank being still rather new, there is some brown (diatom) algae existent on the back of the tank. Also some minor detritus on the substrate. I've recently added about 12oz of Chaeto in my refugium. In the end.....the Mantis theory is the only one that makes any sense........but who knows better than you guys, so any help or ideas would be most appreciated.........and some Heinekens on me. Frank <Well, Frank, this is most puzzling. If the other factors (environmental, chemical, etc.) are not problematic, and if disease is not an issue, your Mantis Shrimp theory may very well be a good one. Are you hearing the telltale "clicking" sounds often apparent at night? These are good clues made by these animals, or are you catching any glimpses of activity within the rockwork? DO observe the aquarium very carefully, and read up on the capture of these animals right here on the WWM site! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Porcupine Puffer... sys. trouble  -- 4/12/08 Hi WWM Crew, <Robbie> I've been reading the site for the better part of the day and decided to write you in case I missed something. I've had a porcupine puffer (Puffy) for about 5 years. He was moved into a 240 gal tank about 6 months ago. All fish tank includes 3 triggers (Bursa, Picasso, Niger), <Mmmm> Foxface, 8 damsels, flame hawk. Last weekend Puffy started hiding in the cave and stopped coming out for food around Monday or Tuesday this week. Last Sunday I lost a mono. This past Monday I lost the other 2 monos. I had the water checked by a Santa Monica Aquarium shop and my "fish guy". Both found the tank elements to be perfect - except salt was a bit low. <What brand? How low?> Odd that the Monos - a brackwater fish died from low salt though. <Not likely> The salt was brought back to normal but Puffy did not improve. Today he came out of his cave and was found floating at the top of one side of the tank. I've tried feeding him peas (frozen, boiled, then skin removed) but he won't take them. <Not surprising> He had air in him earlier but my fish guy gently held and rubbed the belly and we did see air come out, about 4 hours ago. About 1 hour ago a ton of white stuff came shooting out of his mouth. Where he was swimming erratically earlier he is now "bobbing" in the upper 1/4 of the tank and barely breathing. He occasionally puffs in some water and eventually lets it out it appears. But he just "bobs" or sinks a bit and then floats back up. There is no sign of ick or other external disease. <Not pathogenic at least...> However, within the last few hours the edges of his fins have become a milky white. <Very bad... stress signs> On another note, my Foxface is having issues -- although I am more concerned about Puffy. The Foxface is swimming/bobbing in the same area of the tank. He usually is down at the bottom picking for poop. Now his mouth is just moving rapidly as he floats around in the 1/4 top section of the tank. Puffy to me is the equivalent of a dog to someone else. Its killing me to see him in pain and unable to do anything. Any idea what is going on? Thanks Robbie <Some form of overt chronic poisoning is my best guess... The usual S.O.P of massive water change/s, spiffing up your skimmer/ing, the use of chemical filtrant/s, possibly a look into the use of ozone... Something/s amiss here... could be electrical, dissolved gas, an endogenous microbial (crash) syndrome... But changing out water/dilution, better aeration/filtration will definitely help. The puffer though... is likely not going to make it. Bob Fenner> As an update to this. Hour and a half later Puff is now at the bottom of the tank and looks fatter in the back than normal. He is not using any of his fins, his mouth is just open, he is darker in color, and he is breathing slowly. <We'll see... BobF>

Re: Porcupine Puffer.  - 04/14/08 Hey Bob, Thanks for the response. He didn't make it :,( Robbie <I do hope you are executing against a plan to save the rest of your livestock. BobF>

Re: Porcupine Puffer.  - 04/14/08 Working on it. The problem is finding the problem. The puffer is the only one that showed signs of stress. The monos just "dropped dead". I literally watched one start acting odd and die in an hour. All are eating, all look and appear healthy. I'm no pro like you, but have had fish for about 10 years. Never experienced anything like this. I'm used to seeing the disease on the fish or see the chemical imbalance when I test. I am stumped. <Me too... thus the very general input our first correspondence... I would at least "complex" your system by adding a DSB, macroalgal culture, perhaps an ozonizer... B> Re: Porcupine Puffer.  - 04/14/08 Bob, <Rob> One thing we (me and fish maintenance guy) noticed fairly recently is this film on top of the water. <Bad... need to "wick" off, and provide for removal... from... food/s?> I have a center column with flow valves on either side. Only the left side has this "film" on top of the water. Its not dust but its this light brown color. No idea where its coming from or what is causing it. Maybe this has something to do with my fish dying? Robbie <Very likely so... can prevent oxygen from getting into solution... would explain much here in terms of who is dying first. Bob Fenner>

Windex?? -04/11/08 Hi there. You guys, and girls are the best info source there is period. Just a quick question. I have a 125 gallon reef ready saltwater tank. 140 # live sand, 100 # live rock. Bio rocker filter in sump, Kent Marine Nautilus Skimmer, 15 watt angstrom uv. I've had it going for almost 2 years, and I feel pretty knowledgeable in the hobby, but am constantly learning of mistakes that I have been making. My water quality is always within the parameters. Nitrate usually gets up to around 10 ppm before my monthly 15-20 % water changes, that I mix myself using store RO water from the water machine, and instant oceans reef crystals. PH is constant 8.2 in evening time, temp is steady 75, and specific gravity is around 1.023. I have a 3- 250 watt metal halide, and 4 96 watt CF lighting fixture. And glass covers on the top. My problem is that I am not able to keep more than 5 fish in the tank before they start dying off one at a time. The only fish that I've had for over a year now is a medium size Tomato Clownfish. He's superfish... But I've had 2 small blue tangs last for 3 months, than just die with no signs of Ich, Raccoon Butterfly, Naso tang, Gobies, (tank is populated with copepods), cleaner shrimp, feather dusters..... none of which seemed to have any sicknesses. Just all the sudden stopped being active and hiding, and not eating, then heavy breathing, then dead within 2 days... <Do you have any circulation in the tank? You might have low dissolved oxygen. This is just my "educated" guess, but it sounds like your fish are suffocating. Clown fish usually stay up at the top of the tank (near the surface of the water). So if oxygen (gas exchange) is the problem here, that *might* explain why the clown has survived.> I take very good care of my tank only to be frustrated by mysterious sudden deaths. My new though after doing some reading and more research is: Could I be poisoning my system by using Windex to clean the outside glass of the tank. I spray carefully on the bottom half of the tank and clean with a paper towel. I know that if it got directly into the tank that it would not be good, but then I read that even using Windex in the house could get into the system and cause trouble, and if so how do I go about ridding the system of any toxins... <I doubt it's the Windex. The toxic chemical in Windex is ammonia. I would think you could test for that.> Is that true, and even with the glass covers that I have sealing the top of my tank. <Sealed? Yikes. This might be your problem.> That's another question, every fish store that I go into they never have glass tops covering their tanks, it's always open. Does that make a difference. <Oh yes... it's important for gas exchange (so the animals don't suffocate.> I know it will cause heat to get trapped inside, but I've got that issue under control. I am running out of ideas. I know I'm not overstocking it, and I only add 1 or 2 fish at a time and monitor the parameters during that week. Please if you could help me in any way... I really love this hobby but am very frustrated at this point.. <Try taking the lids/covers off your tanks! More water circulation would also help in more ways than one. Add a good power head or two.> You guys are a great service to hobbyist all over. thank you <De nada and good luck, Sara M.>

Re: Windex?? - 4-11-08 I have 3 Hagen 802 powerheads running (right, middle, and left on top), and a mag 7 pump for my overflow returns. I have lots of water movement on the top. But like I said, the tops have the glass covers. I was always under the impression that I would have major evaporation problems, <Yes, you will, as do all marine aquarists.> (I'm currently adding 5 gallons of RO a week) <Haha. For a tank this size, it's not unusual to lose up to 5g/day!> and bad salt creep issues on my light and tank. <There are things you can do to help prevent this. In fact, Coralife makes an anti-salt creep spray that (much to my surprise) actually seems to work (in my experience with it). It's called Salt Creep Eliminator.> Should I add a small air pump, with an air stone. <This would be a sure fire way to add to your salt creep problems without helping with gas exchange all that much.> I've never seen a saltwater tank with one. <Please consider taking the lids off your tanks. There's a good reason you never see marine tanks with them (except maybe on nano tanks). Yes, you will have a lot of evaporation. But that's just one of the things we all have to deal with.> Thanks for the ideas. Let me know if you think the tops are part of my problem, <Yes, I do... especially if they completely seal off the tops of the tanks.> and if I would have problems with my concerns. Thank you Aaron <De nada, Sara M.>

Re: Windex?? -04/11/08 I just tested my water with a red sea oxygen test kit, and came up with 7 ppm oxygen. This was from the top of the tank with the lights being on for a few hours. What is the normal oxygen level supposed to be, and does it matter if I get the water sample from the top of the tank or middle/bottom, or with the lights on or off. <5-6ppm is optimal for fish health, but these test kits don't tell you much (if anything) about your real dissolved oxygen levels. Even just the act of taking the test potentially changes the oxygen content of the sample. Yes, both depth and light would matter too.> Thank you for the help Aaron <Best, Sara M.>

Re: Windex?? -04/13/08 I retook the test with the lights being out for 12 hours and from the lower half of the tank and had the same results. Am I thinking right by thinking that with me only having one clownfish, one cleaner shrimp, and several small snails and crabs, that the O2 level is ok now but when I get 3, 4, or 5 more fishes in there that it may become a problem then since more O2 is being used by the additional fish. <Or, the additional fish are producing more CO2. Also, again, I don't think those test kits are very telling of actual O2 levels.> If that was an issue could I use my say an air pump in my sump and add more oxygen that way, along with the power heads in my tank. <::shrug:: I don't think that will help enough, but you can try it.> Also could I take off one of the three lids, or would I need to remove all three to achieve the optimal gas exchange. <Well, removing one would be better than not removing any. Or, you could take a portion off each lid.> I am just concerned with the extra evaporation, and Jumpers.... <I understand. But these are things everyone deals with. You can use eggcrate to prevent jumpers. The evaporation is harder to control. But if you have your own RO/DI unit, then you should have plenty of top off water on hand.> Thank you Aaron <De nada, Sara M.>

Near death... 03/26/2008 So I have had my tank set up and running with no problems for 3 months now. I've battled the ammonia levels in the beginning but everything has been doing fine. I have a 55 gallon tank with a Cascade 1000 filter, Remora Aqua C and about 15 lbs of live rock. I have 2 yellow belly damsels, 2 clarkii clowns, 1 lawnmower blenny and a yellow/lemon wrasse. Oh and also a hermit crab and a turbo snail. Last night after I got home I fed them and then about an hour later looked in the tank and the clowns were laying on the bottom hardly moving and the LMB looked ill and not moving about like his normal self, was able to remove all fish with no chasing around the tank. I lost one damsel fish =( but I moved them to a smaller tank with store bought prepared saltwater, that I keep in case of emergencies. <<Shame to hear>> I also had to raise the temp in the smaller tank so I added a little water from the main tank and a few cups of hot tap water. <<Please don't add hot tap water to a tank, this can be very dangerous to the fish. Tank should be raised slowly, under normal conditions>> They didn't really move much last night after doing that I was pretty sure they'd all be dead this morning but they seem to be just fine now. Except they don't like being in the 15 gallon tank with no hiding spots. <<Sounds fair>> I ran all my test (Calcium, Alk, PH, Nitrate, Nitrite, ammonia) on the main tank this morning and everything seems to be in tact the only thing that was a little high was the Nitrite .2 mg/l. What could cause such a disaster? I did forget to move my snail but he is still in the main tank alive and fine. I also noticed that the little copepod guys were moving slower then normal and there are a few that died off but I do still see them in the tank moving around. Any ideas, suggestions? <<Before moving back, i suggest getting a second opinion on your water tests. Something does not sound correct with the fish's responses in the main display tank...yet they have come around fine in the quarantine. Any additives been used on the display tank? any foreign objects been accidentally dropped in there?>> Should I attempt to move them back I really don't want any harm to come to them. <<As i mentioned above, i would get a second opinion on the water tests, maybe a LFS>> Help me please. Thanks, Nicki <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

SW-Tank Disaster, See the positive'¦learn from it 3-23-2008 Hi guys, <<Hello from Adam J on the graveyard shift.>> Please help we are devastated. <<I'm awake and ready.>> We went away for two days to visit the folks and came back and our 200 litre saltwater aquarium had been drained of 2/3'rds of it's water! <<How'd that happen?>> The protein skimmer had malfunctioned and drained the water. <<In what manner?>> Half of the coral had been exposed for what we can only assume was a total of 36-48 hours and the lights would have been on for a total of about 10 hours. <<Depending on the species it may not be a complete loss. I would fragment/remove the dead/decomposing tissue to avoid further contamination.>> We had a bit of an algae build up around the sides but nothing that was major. <<Likely from the stagnant water exposed to the lighting.>> To top it off we ran out of water to fill it back up or perform a water change and cant get any delivered for two days (public holiday). <<That is not good'¦is not possible to mix your own. You may want to learn how in event of an emergency'¦or another that is'¦And while I do not know anything about your source water, I prefer to mix my own for consistency issues alone.>> We have enough to fill the tank and run the external canister filter, undergravel filters <<Is the canister filter and undergravel filter your normal/primary means of filtration? If so I would consider a different approach, bother can do more harm than good'¦many marine aquarists dub them 'nitrate factories.' Read WWM for more on this and alternatives.>> but our chiller pump burned out so we have no chiller. <<Bags of floating ice/water bottles'¦fans blowing across the surface might be able to off set any negative issues regarding the temperature for a day or two until you can set it back up.>> Our main concern is that the water will be concentrated with decaying matter and we don't know what to expect. <<If you have any question about the state of your cnidarians I would remove them immediately to save the others.>> Obviously we will perform 50% water change as soon as possible <<Followed by other large changes and some fresh carbon I hope.>> and remove any coral that we are sure are dead, but only after we are sure :( <<I wouldn't wait to long to pull the proverbial trigger when removing the coral. I know this is emotional but you may need to sacrifice some of the questionable pieces to save the others.>> We were hoping you could let us know whether we should remove anything ASAP <<Judging from the state of your tank and your current ability to repair it, I would not wait until obvious decay sets in to remove the cnidarians, you will put your other livestock at risk.>> or add anything in the meantime or near future. <<Lots of large water change, carbon and a PolyFilter (change it out don't leave it in.>> Because we can't take delivery of sea water is it ok to mix bagged salt water (the stuff you make yourself) with the water we already have in the tank? <<Yes please do mix some and begin changing.>> Further will the algae and any other decayed matter cause exceptional harm to the tank. <If not augmented with water changes, then yes.>> Also our larger maroon clown of the pair has developed some white, fleshy spots on her nose and dorsal fin but the other fish seem fine. <<They are reacting negatively to the poor water condition. It needs to be corrected ASAP, water changes, and aeration.>> The saddest part is we were about to take delivery of an entire, new 500 litre system this week and prepare it to transfer our coral and fish within the month but it looks as if we may have lost half our coral. <<I'm sorry to hear that but this may serve some greater purpose. It will help you to identify problems in this system (which there are) and avoid them with your new system.>> Any info would be greatly appreciated or even direction to any relevant material. <<Review WWM re: plumbing and filtration of SW aquaria.>> Our tank is our life and we are absolutely distraught. Cheers guys, can't wait for your response. <<Good luck, Adam J.>>

Can't keep fish alive - help!   3/17/08 Hello WWM Crew! I have been reading your awesome site since before I got my first saltwater tank about a year ago, and I have found every question I've had already had an answer posted, until now. I recently purchased a used 75 gallon wave-front aquarium. The previous owner had used a deep sand bed successfully for a reef in this tank, so I followed his set-up exactly as he described. This includes the use of a deep sand bed (DSB) and plenum. I have approximately 5 1/2 inches of aragonite over the plenum. Then I have a CPR Bak-Pak 2 with bio bale. I have a heater and am keeping the tank at about 78-80 degrees. I also have a Zoomed PS-40 powerhead. I have two hoods for lighting. One hood contains two 40 watt Marine Glo actinic 48 inch bulbs. The other hood contains two 25 watt 10,000 K bulbs. All bulbs are new. Then I added about 50 lbs of live rock, which is all I can afford at the moment. I constructed a PVC frame for the rock. <And for filtration? ...any sump or skimmer?> I allowed the tank to cycle for about 3 weeks, doing frequent testing of water chemicals. It seemed the tank had cycled. My first animal in the tank was a piece of Porites with a colony of Christmas Tree Worms from my old (smaller) tank. They seemed to acclimate fine. The rock that I added came heavily encrusted with sponges and coralline algae and I did not seem to experience much of a die-off. The rock and its inhabitants seemed healthy after loosing some sponge, which has since started growing back. I observed hitchhiker bristle worms, little amphipods, spaghetti worms. Life appeared to be taking off. Then I added my arrow crab. After just a few days, I got to watch it molt, which was pretty cool. All was well. Then I noticed what I have identified through the help of your posts and pictures as an aiptasia. Reading that one seldom has "an" aiptasia, and being that it was on a particularly beautiful rock that I didn't want to scrub down, I instead opted to get two peppermint shrimp. They appear to be doing quite well, though the aiptasia remains uneaten. <Yes, unfortunately not all peppermint shrimp eat aiptasia. There's no way to know if any one or two shrimp will eat them, so it's a gamble.> My next move was to add my False Percula, also from my old tank. It was doing fine. Then I made an impulse buy at my LFS and bought a carpet anemone without having researched the creature until I returned home. <bad idea> I have identified the carpet anemone as a "Sun Anemone", Stichodactyla helianthus. The False Percula took to it instantly and seems to be quite in love with this anemone. All still seemed well, though I keep coming back to this anemone as a possible source for the following problems. After the arrow crab, peppermint shrimps, Christmas tree worms, false percula, and anemone, I bought my first exciting fish, a Coral Beauty Angel. It seemed well for 36 hours, then I found it doing the side-stroke. It quickly died. No apparent outward sign of disease or injury. I was depressed, so I backed down to something smaller (and cheaper), and got 3 green chromis fish. That same day, I also bought a frag of toadstool coral. Within 24 hours, one chromis fish was dead. Again, the chromis did not have any outward signs of injury/illness. I took some long-handled pincers and placed the dead chromis in the carpet anemone. The anemone proceeded to eat the fish, which I thought was at least keeping it's death from going to waste. It was quite incredible to watch. Then about 15 minutes after the anemone had eaten the fish, I found the fish had been regurgitated in its entirety. <not unusual> I removed the fish for a proper "burial at sea". The next day, my other two chromis fish were missing, never to be seen. <likely dead> I should also mention that the same day as my first chromis died, I noticed the filaments on the toadstool coral were retracted. For two days, I did not see the coral opening. I decided to take the toadstool coral out and place it in my old tank. It now is "open" and seems fine. Water Chemistry since I have tried adding fish: I have been continually checking my water chemistry during all of this. In particular, I have checked the following: PH, Calcium, Alkalinity, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, and Specific Gravity. Specific Gravity has been a little low at 1.021 to 1.022. PH 8.4. Ammonia has crept up at one point to .025 ppm, <This should never happen. After the initial cycle, you should never have ammonia in your tank. You didn't let your tank completely cycle. It often takes more than 3 weeks (especially without any external filtration or skimming). Maybe this will help: http://www.asira.org/cycling> which I followed with a water change and it returned to the "zero" range. Nitrate and Nitrite have tested consistently in the "zero" range. Calcium was low at about 380 ppm, with alkalinity correspondingly on the lower side. <This is not why your fish died.> Since the fish have died, I have added two treatments of SeaChem's Reef Complete Calcium supplement at the dose prescribed for "beginners", which is what I consider myself. I followed the Seachem directions and on alternate days added two treatments of Reef Carbonate for the alkalinity. I am going to test both again tomorrow. So ultimately, my question is: Do you have any suggestions as to why I have lost my Coral Beauty Angel and three Green Chromis fish when the arrow crab, peppermint shrimp, false Perc, Christmas tree worms, and (the bad buy) carpet anemone seem to be doing fine? <They're doing fine for now.> Is there something else I should be checking for in my water? I keep wanting to blame the carpet anemone. And do you think any of this is related to the apparent stress to the toadstool coral? I forgot to mention I also have some star polyps and orange Zoanthids, which I placed completely away from the toadstool coral and away from the carpet anemone and the star polyps and Zoanthids appear to be OK. My local guru tells me "sometimes fish die" and tries to steer me back to buy some more corals, since I don't seem to be killing those off. Any thoughts/suggestions/help would be immensely appreciated. <Patience. You're trying to do too much too fast. You also need something for filtration other than your live rock and sand (which isn't even truly established yet). Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm And if you haven't already, please read Mr. Fenner's The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Best, Sara M.>

Flame Angel FISH issue... poor English, no reading...  2/25/08 I have a question regarding a new fish I have purchased at my local pet store. it was fine looking in the store... I have had it for a week and everything was looking fine. He did first of all get picked on by my Yellow Tang. but that has stopped after the first day. Also was picked on by my Naso Tang. I also have a Coral Beauty who just swims fast around him. after a day of that the fish leave him alone. but now the Flame angel from time to time chases my coral beauty. nothing to aggravation though. I have a 125 gallon tank and there is plenty of live rock to hide in. <... the beginnings of sentences are capitalized...> anyways that is just some background. my issue it that I have noticed that the flame angel fish is showing white mucus on its body. so I put in some scale defender. <...> I am already adding an amino acid additive after each water change I do. I perform a 20-30gallon water change weekly. (the reason is because my nitrates were high <How high is high?> and was told to do more than the 15gallons I was doing before.) anyways the levels are perfect 0 nitrates, 0 nitrites, 0 ammonia, the ph was around 8.2 I have a ph balancer that keeps it at 8.3...also the temp is a bit high at 80-82.. I have just noticed that and have put it back down. and turned off the lights so the temp can equal out to a better degree around 78.. no other fish have seen signs of this condition.....I have had one arrow crab just kick the bucket last night. don't know if it is related or not. it maybe because of the temp in the tank or just the age of the arrow crab. <... the so-called med.s> I am leaning more towards the later. also the salinity is consistently around 1.020 to 1.022.. <Too low...> any help would be appreciate. I don't want this to effect the livelihood of the rest of the inhabitants in my tank. everyone is very healthy.. 1- yellow tang 1- coral beauty 1- flame angel 2- peppermint cleaner shrimps 4- yellow tailed damsels (mating) 2- clown fish (mating) 1- purple tip anemone............. flame angel hangs near him alot <No such word> may be do to the fact that I have a power head close by the anemone. <...> and the flame is just looking for the current flow.. 2- regular blue damsels 1- Naso tang cleaner crabs (about 30) live rock with sponge growing on it.. 2 feather dusters. side note: I put in a variety of seaweed daily.. whenever the seaweed is gone I make sure there is some there.. I use purple, green and brown seaweed chips. also put in the weeds that the tangs like to eat in the wild..(i can remember the name of the weeds. but it is about 6 dollars for a handful which is gone in about 3 weeks or so). also I feed the tank stage 2(garlic) flakes and stage 2 pellets. they love it. I hand feed the anemone a piece of shrimp and the cleaner shrimps a piece of shrimp every 3rd day. once a week I put in myks shrimp. I see the flame angel eat the flakes and pellets but never meaty foods. as long as he is eating something I am ok with that. it may just not be his thing to eat meet yet. he looks to me to be about close to fully grown as well. thanks for any quick advice you can give me so I can fix this before it creates a huge mess for others in the tank.. I just put in some medicine for this problem. I am using (Probiotic marine formula) I was told it is good to use because it will not harm other in the tank.. Brian <... You, we need to "go back" a bunch of steps... For one, for you to learn the value of quarantine... for two, how to use the search tool, indices on WWM... Your spg. is too low for one... You may have a parasite at play... but can't tell discernibly from the data presented... The pic you sent along... this product won't work... there are no such things as reef-safe and effective protozoacides... All of this is posted/archived on WWM... Go there, read... and write back with specific issues if you still have them. Bob Fenner>

Question about fish fatalities 02/19/2008 Thank you for the informative resource. It's been a big help to us as we launched our first aquarium (a 75-gallon saltwater tank with live rock, a protein skimmer, and a canister filter which we clean weekly) <<Thank you...Andrew here today>> Unfortunately, we seem to have a really brown thumb. :-( The majority of the times we have tried to introduce new fish to the tank, they have died. This is despite the fact that our water quality seems to be perfect (both in home testing and when they test it at the LFS.) Also, the fish that die do not appear to be ill. There are none of the outward signs of disease that I have seen pictures of online, and also the fish who were already in the tank do not die after a newcomer does, so they're not infecting each other. I believe the specific chronology over the course of the past 9 months has gone something like this (once the initial cycling was done): *add two scissortail dartfish and one small fairy wrasse *one dartfish dies (this was the non-mysterious death-- our tank wasn't covered tightly enough and it jumped) *add three more scissortail dartfish *one of the new dartfish dies *add small mimic tang *mimic tang dies *add Rainford goby *Rainford goby dies *add sand goby *add two neon gobies *both neon gobies die *add two Banggai Cardinalfish *one Cardinalfish dies *add two more Banggai Cardinalfish *one of them dies <<WOW...Eeeesh...that's a lot of fatalities>> Is this even vaguely within the realm of normal for new aquarium keepers, or are we really horrid at this? <<Something is certainly amiss here. Do you acclimate fish to your tank? If you do, what is your detailed method>> The fish don't show any signs of stress or aggression that I'm able to discern-- the fairy wrasse, dartfish and sand goby do not harass newcomers, and all the new fish have eaten upon arriving (we feed them Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp.) Our LFS seems surprised at our bad luck. They always refund our money, but I can see the other fish from the same batch we bought our Cardinalfish from still swimming around alive at the store, so clearly they weren't just a bad batch of fish--it was being transferred into our tank that did them in. It's starting to become very depressing. Are we making poor fish choices? Is fish mortality in early tanks always rather high and we're just having a run of bad luck? Are we doing something wrong that our LFS just hasn't been able to put a finger on yet? <<My first thoughts are a couple of things. A potential problem with your acclimatizing techniques (or maybe lack of) or a predator in the tank. Are the dead fish showing any signs or marks that could point towards a predator? What are your exact water parameters for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, Temp and salinity/sg???>> Thanks for any light you can shed. Laura <<Thanks for the questions. A Nixon>>

help with fish death... SW mystery losses      2/17/08 Hello Crew, <Michael> It has been a couple years since I last asked a question and have recently moved and setup a new system. I need your help. I thought I was doing it right this time. I setup a 75 gallon tank with a deep sand bed (5") and 100lbs of live rock. I am running 260 watts of PC lighting and am using it as a FOWLR tank. I am using a euro reef skimmer as my main filtration in the sump. I waited 3 months to add fish to this setup. Here is what happened. I added one 3" long puffer fish <Mmm, what species?> who began eating right away. I have been monitoring water quality daily and absolutely all levels are zeroed out including phosphate. The fish acted normal being social and feeding. One month later he developed some signs of ich... but mind you just a bit on the fins. His behavior and feeding remained unchanged so I decided to monitor water conditions and make sure everything was stable and hope for the best. One day I simply found him dead with white patches on his body. I then allowed the tank to run with no light on at all for 3 months and added a purple goby. <The fish shown? This is a Malacanthid... a sand tilefish. Not a goby> The exact same thing happened with a few white spots showing up, still good feeding behavior and then his death and seeing large white patches on his body. Something that may help diagnostics is that there has been one other living organism in the tank which is a very small 5" round California stingray <This is a cold water animal... not suitable for a tropical tank> who pretty much hangs out and never bothers a sole. <Good pun> He continues to eat well and has been completely unaffected by these happenings. My concern is that I don't want to have to break my tank completely down, get rid of all the sand, put the live rock in a bucket for 6 months to run fallow and start all over again coppering all fish before they enter the tank but I fear this is the only answer. Please help as I am concerned any fish I put in this tank is going to die now. I have attached a postmortem hoping it will aid in treatment of any other fish that may ever develop this should it happen again. BTW, in the photo the stomach looks concave but that is because he was resting on a rock when he died not due to lack of nutrition. Thank you again for being there as a terrific resource. this is ok to post publicly. Mike West Palm Beach, Florida <Can't do much but hint at possible etiologies here... there may be "something" inorganically "wrong" with the water, or a possible pathogen (protozoan or infectious) at play... or even some legacy of exudate from the puffer... that is not affecting the ray. But the Ca. ray does need to go elsewhere... I might consider "nuking" the system (bleaching, or formaldehyde poisoning), draining, re-filling, re-cycling... to discount all, before trying restocking. Bob Fenner>

Reef Tank Loss Mystery 2-11-08 We are new to the salt tank but have been adopted by a local specialist, so she talks and says, she has taught us to be patient and slowly introduce each fish based on compatibility etc. We have gotten really good at the water stability. Consistent Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0-10 range PH bounces a little between 7.9 and 8-3.; 55 gallon, light 8-10 hours <You may want to add some buffer if you want to keep your Ph at a more constant level. 8.1 -- 8.3 is the level you want. Check out this valuable information on PH here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm; > Here is what we have introduced over the months leading to our recent surprise losses: Cleanup Crew Snail's and crabs 2 Yellowfin Blue Damsels 2 Percula Clowns 1 Longnose Hawkfish 1 Zebra dart Goby 1 White Sand Star 1 Banded Coral Shrimp 1 Black Brittle Star (and brittle he is) All above have been slowly introduced, and everything was great through December and January 10 days ago we added a Bicolor, dead in 24 hours. Our supplier keeps the fish for 3-5 days and makes sure they are eating and healthy before we take possession. <That is good. Do you witness these fish eat before you take them as well?> We rechecked water, only issue was PH 7.8, spent the next week to ten days buffering PH until 8.3 consistent. <Keep an eye on that Ph and you may need to add more buffer to keep it level.> Introduced Chocolate Surgeon and a Dwarf Lion. Within 48 hours, Longnose Hawk, Surgeon and Banded Coral all dead. My question: Is the Lion guilty? <No I don't think so.> We were assured the lion would only kill if fish were small enough to eat or bite. <This is true.> The lion is about 3 inches in body, Banded Coral was large and Longnose was about 4.5 inches. I am at a loss. Both the Banded and the Longnose have been in the tank for at least 5-6 weeks and doing just fine. <When was the last time you tested the water in your tank? How often do you do water changes? The most aggressive of these fish other than the lion would be the damsel fish. Let may be a strange question but have you found the carcasses of these fish or are they just disappearing? This may be a silent predator. --Yunachin>

Re: Recent Reef tank loss.  Reef Tank Mystery   2/13/08 <Yunachin here- Please bear with me as I am having PC troubles.> Thanks for the quick reply. In response to your questions and comments. We are now diligently checking PH for 8.3. I have not placed the due importance on that measurement. Our supplier insists on us seeing the fish eat frozen before we take possession. <That is good to hear. Some places do not do that.> We do 10% water changes every 10-14 days. It sounds like we need to move this to every 7 days.<Or up the percentage of water you are taking out bi-weekly.>I visited with our supplier today and came away with more questions but positive support nonetheless. She is suggesting our exterior cleaning product might be the culprit. My son has taken on the chore of making sure the glass is clean on the outside. He uses Windex and it of course sprays in a way some elements could get in the tank, not directly though.<This is not good.> He has also used Vinegar on a rag to wipe away stains on the black plastic lids. Last but not least, twice in the days before the fish succumbed he used a pair of "pliers" to insert and squish the frozen foods. Don't laugh, I am serious. And to add insult to injury, he soaked the pliers in Simple Green after each feeding. Smoking Gun? <Yes, this would transfer poisons into the tank definitely. You can purchase feeding tongs from your LFS, and to clean them, rinse them in hot water.> We are now going to perform 1 water change today and another this weekend, then take a sample for lab testing. Once we are sure we are stable we will proceed with caution. Suggestions on exterior cleaning products would be great. <Some isopropyl alcohol on a bit of paper towel has worked for me, just use very little at a time.>  What are your thoughts about our resources observations? <I think the chemicals can definitely be the factor here.> Thanks for all your help. Hard lesson learned if we in fact have identified the problem. My son is 9 years old and actually came forward with the revelation about the cleaning products. Smart kid. <It's good he is so honest. We all make mistakes in this hobby it is just our responsibility to correct them. Have a fantastic day. --Yunachin>

Tank problem, all fish died. Mysterious Fish Deaths 2-11-08 Hi, <Yunachin here!> I was wondering if you could possibly help me. <Possibly.> We have a 72 gallon saltwater tank that has been running for over 6 months now and we had a Kole Tang and two Clownfish in it. The Kole Tang has had a spot on its side for some time that we attributed to getting nipped by a blue damsel that we had when we got him (we since got rid of the blue damsel). The spot did get worse, but he still was active and we were told it may have been a vitamin deficiency and not from being nipped. <Describe this spot to me if you will.> Two days ago, my husband purchased a copper band butterfly and a blood shrimp. After he added them he did a water change as he normally does every 4-6 weeks. <Water changes should be done every two weeks at least.> All the levels at that point were fine. Today, the fish were okay at 3 p.m. and then by 6 p.m., the tank became so cloudy <What color?> that I could barely see anything in it and the Kole tang and the butterfly had died, and within an hour later the two clownfish had died as well. Right now, the only thing alive is the blood shrimp, and I doubt he'll last much longer. I just checked the levels, and everything seems to be within normal limits: the ph is 7.4, <too low, you need it at 8.1-8.3> the ammonia is 0.25, the nitrate is 10, and the nitrate is 0, <Which one is the NitrIte?> and the specific gravity is 1.026 <If you don't have coral 1.021-1.023 would be ideal.> and 35 ppt. Oh, we also have about 50 lbs. of live rock. Help!!! I don't know what caused this to happen. Any advice will be appreciated. <Does your husband heat the water before he changes it? Does he use tap or R/O water? Did he add any chemicals to the water? Does he use a python to siphon the substrate? Let me know. --Yunachin> Charlene Donovan

Re: Mysterious Fish Deaths  2-12-08 Hi Yunachin, <Good Afternoon.> Thanks for your quick response. <Thank you.> The spot on the Kole Tang (I have a picture, but it is too big to send according the guidelines) was a whitish spot, which did get larger over time. It was on his side towards the back, not near his head. We looked up diseases, and unfortunately none seemed to look like what he had wrong with him. Recently, it was the size of a nickel and it was a patch that didn't seem to bother him. Also, his fins, just recently looked frayed. <It sounded like a bacterial infection. Mostly caused by improper water changes and stress.> When the tank became cloudy, it looked like milk. <Again too much fish waste and other 'bad' materials.' This am, however, the tank is back to "normal" color, and the last of the fish, the blood shrimp is now gone as well. We do not have any coral in the tank, just the live rock. My husband does not heat the water before he puts it in. <Not good at all. Not adding the same temperature water to the tank will put stress on the fish and can cause them to go into shock. Most likely I am assuming the water was at your room temperature, 72 degrees I am guessing, but your average reef tank temperature is anywhere from 79-82 degrees usually. Even something as little as a 10 degrees can make a big difference.> He does use a stress coat and a water conditioner. He uses tap water and adds the salt. <In the future, heat the water after the salt is added and wait until it is at a consistent temperature before adding it to the tank.> He does not use a python to siphon the substrate. <Go to your LFS and get one. You will be glad you did. When you do not siphon out your substrate, fish waste, leftover food, and other bad materials settle into it. Over time these things can develop into anaerobic (toxic) pockets that build up and when released can kill your entire tank inhabitants, which is what I think caused all of these deaths. I recommend reading more about water changes here on the site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm;> We do have a protein skimmer, if that matters. Oh sorry, the nitrate is 10 and the nitrite was 0. I don't know if those levels became skewed after the fish died, because those were the levels after the fish died last night. <The ammonia and nitrate levels show that there was some waste present in your system. I recommend getting a python, giving that substrate a good cleaning, do a couple of heavy duty water changes (30% daily for at least a week) Then get on a bi-monthly water change schedule, and don't worry, once on a schedule this whole process of water changing and siphoning will take about 20 minutes of your time and leave you with a beautiful tank and very happy fish.> Thanks again for your help! <You are welcome. Hang in there! --Yunachin> Charlene

Problems, fish, anemone... livestock losses subsequent to upgrade/move   12/28/07 Hello Crew, I've been involved in the hobby for over a year now and it all started with a 55 gallon salt tank with a stand and a Fluval 305. I kept a fairly healthy tank considering I wasn' running R/O water, a sump and sufficient filtration. I dreamed of upgrading for the last six months and finally threw down on a 125 with a 2400 gph Quiet One pump, Pacific Coast 3000 protein skimmer, 35 gallon sump, 1100 Seio. After acclimation and level readings, I transferred all my livestock from the 55 over to the 125. I drip acclimated for about 3 hours, and within days ended up losing the following; 1 Sixline wrasse 3 Chromis 1 Firefish goby 1 false percula clown 2 bubble tip anemones <Yikes! Something very amiss here> So I checked my levels again, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrate, 0 nitrite, 8 degrees KH, 0 Phosphate, 1.023 salinity, calcium 430, Alk 8.2-8.4, ph is perfect also. I proceeded to add a cleanup crew. I lost about 50 hermits with a day, and about 2 turbo snails a week since then. Nassarius snails are still going strong though. Since then I tried to replace my Sixline wrasse 4x's and it had died within a day or two. I've tried Chromis 5x's and they've all died. I tried pajama cardinals 4x's and they all lasted about a day. The only fish that has survived all this is my Scribbled Rabbitfish. <A good clue...> I do weekly water changes of 10% and measure all my levels weekly. My old tank had some hair algae growing on a few rocks, so I got a sea hare to clean in up. It is back with a vengeance after about 2 weeks and now there are tiny bubbles stuck on the rocks and back glass everywhere. I am afraid to add anything else to my tank in fear of it dying and am about ready to quit the hobby entirely out of frustration and feeling like an executioner. <Patience here> Do you have any ideas of what I can try before I sell everything? <Yes> My acclimation techniques have been everything from 1- 3 hour drip acclimation to a simple float for 20 min.s to float and add every 15 minutes. Yet everything dies, but for some reason my Rabbitfish and Nassarius refuse to die and look really healthy. My Kenya tree went from looking like beautiful and large to a limp shrunken French fry. Also put a bubble tip anemone in about a week ago and it just looks bloated and ready to cash it in. ready to turn my tank into a coffin Alan <Some overt poisoning has occurred that left some of the stock unscathed... Which leads me to speculate the source was not inorganic (e.g. a metal from somewhere), nor a transient organic... that would have taken all out. It is likely that either the Siganid itself OR some negative interaction twixt the Cnidarians is/was at work here... There are ways to "test" for this... But as to a "cure"... I would add a unit or two of PolyFilter, about a pound of GAC (like Tempura, two units) in your filter flow path... and wait for about two weeks before trying a new small test organism, perhaps a damsel. See WWM re Rabbitfish, and Cnidarian Compatibility... and don't lose faith... I would have been advised that you set-up the new tank, and exercise a longish systematic approach to moving your livestock... to avoid this sort of possible/potential result/consequence... But, you are where you are now... Please begin reading here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcomp5.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: More ideas on tank devastation   12/31/07 You had mentioned the idea of a possible toxin in my tank being a type of metal poisoning. Would adding make up water via aluminum mixing bowl be a bad idea? <Possibly... more for the soap/cleaner possible contamination than the small short-term metal addition> This never occurred to me because it is new and clean but maybe I should switch to a plastic type? thanks~ Alan <I would... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm the sixth tray down on water... Bob Fenner>

Mysterious deaths... SW   11/16/07 Crew, <Bryan> I have held out long enough; I have searched and searched for the cause of a majority of my fish dying. I have searched your web site inside and out and talk to several people, but no one seems to have a answer. I even tried the forum, but, and not to discredit anyone, but the responses were more or less elementary. So here is the scope. The tank is a 150gal with sump and skimmer. Between the return pump and powerheads I have a flow rate around 2,500gph. Corals, inverts, and mollusks etc.. consist of; (layman terms) Hammers, Trumpets, Long and Short Tent Plates, Bubble, Torch, Star Polyps, Mushrooms, Button Polyps, Pipe Organs, Colt, T. Crocea, snails, hermits, cleaner shrimp. Fish still alive; 2 Perculas, 1 blue/green Chromis, 1 Bicolor Blenny, 1 Orange Spot Prawn Goby, and 1 Stripped Sleeper Goby (replaced white sleeper goby). Dead fish include; 1 Sailfin Tang, 1 Blue Tang, 4 blue/green Chromis, 1 blue Mandarinfish, 1 White Sleeper Goby, and 1 Six Lined Wrasse. Now, everything in the tank except the fish are fine. All corals are fully open, extended, and growing. The calm and other inverts are also doing well. <Good clues here... the animals that perished need higher DO, more pristine cond.s than the ones that are extant> It all happened literally overnight; lights went out and the fish were fine, and the next morning within the first four hours fish were showing up dead. Obviously, I check the parameters and they were fine (ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate-trace, SG-1.025, pH-8.2, Cal-410, temp-78). I ruled out the mantis shrimp, because no new rock has been put in the tank since setup, and through a carbonated wash, rise and curing of the rock before the setup of the tank all mantis and pistol shrimp were removed (1 of each and very neat by the way, both captured and displayed for awhile until sold). All fish are QT'd prior to introduction. I have never had any outbreak of any sort in the tank. I did check for Anaerobiosis and notice nothing unusual (no back sand or bad smell) Oxygen level is maintained by a air stone and skimmer in the sump. Biweekly water changes from RO and reef crystals mixed weeks in advance. The only thought I have is a bacteria, but why would it effect only certain fish? <There is a differential in environmental tolerance as mentioned above> There are three fish that have never shown any signs of something wrong; the two Perculas and the Orange spot prawn goby. All other fish show signs of rapid breathing just hours before death, <Bingo> and even during that time fish still swim around and eat. I ruled out the food source, since I threw away all food out of fear of contamination. Now I am back at maybe a bacteria, one clue I am basis this off of is the fact that after the deaths I started developing a Cyano algae in the tank, and also a clear-white film on the surface of the water in the sump. I manually removed it and used a little erythromycin to rid the tank of that problem, <Not a good solution long-term> and it has worked. <You'll see...> I let the tank run for a few weeks without any other intervention and everything seemed to be fine, so I bought and QT'd a three Chromis and one stripped sleeper goby to use as a test. After introduction two Chromis have died, but the others seemed okay. Then, today (2 weeks) after the introduction of the Chromis and goby, the Stripped sleeper goby and the bicolor blenny are showing signs of rapid breathing (still eating), but again all other fish are fine. I have a feeling that tomorrow they too will be dead, and I will still be wondering what is wrong with the tank. I have thought about a total breakdown of the tank for a cleaning and to replace the sand, but I am reluctant to do so because the corals are doing so well. I have pondered that maybe it could be a chemical toxin (warfare) from the corals, <Yes... this is HIGHLY likely> but the corals don't seem to be engaged in any battles, and all LPS corals are separated by at least six inches (including sweeper tents). I have heard of Green Start Polyps causing problems in tanks, but I can't find a tie between GSP and fish. <Can be> As a precaution to toxic warfare I have been running chemical filtration as well. <Good, what sort? Do you have access to an ozonizer? What is your RedOx? Have you heard/read of using Vodka... Ethanol for boosting bacterial assimilation?> Do any of you at the WWM have an idea of what I am dealing with, any suggestions? Thanks Bryan <I do... have you seen my new spiel/outline for reducing Cnid. neg. interactions? Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above? Please respond to my questions here and let's get this systems problem/s resolved... better still, solved. Bob Fenner>

Re: Chaetodontoplus meredithi Queensland Yellow-Tail Angelfish... Unrelated? Related? Fish Deaths   9/2/07 Thanks for your fast reply Mich! <Welcome!> It does look like a black velvet. Hard to tell. Other pics also look like it. I will try to send more so you can see better. I have a new and bigger problem now. Since this email my passer angel has died and my blue indigo??? <I'm sorry for you loss.> No apparent reason? I'm thinking a virus? No signs of parasites. <Was the Black Velvet angel placed in this tank with out QT? If so I would be concerned about a potential pathogen.> All levels are great 0 on everything except nitrates are 10 PPM. <Not high enough to be concerning, but lower is better.> The 2 fish went fast. I also have a red coris wrasse in there and that's all that's left. <I'm sorry for your troubles. Hopefully the Black Velvet is in QT.> It's a 135-gallon tank. The problem I have is if all my levels are good how do I know I can put another fish in? <I would not be in a hurry.> I know with parasites you say leave empty for a month. <Yes, can be efficacious.> I would like to take the wrasse out and put in QT but in the past I have had a wrasse kill himself trying to bury at night. <You could add sand to the QT tank.> Is it possible I have electric current running through the tank and my fish were electrocuted? <I guess anything is possible.> How can I check for current running through it? You can use a "multi-meter" tester that measure down to the "milli" which you can find at you local hardware store.> I don't feel anything when I put my hand in? <Mmm, not the best way to test... What if you could!!!! You could have been seriously hurt or worse!!!!> If I leave the wrasse in and he lives for a month should I try another fish. <Always a risk.> Thanks for your help Mich! <You're welcome, not always helpful, but not for a lack of trying.>

Rapid fish loss, SW, no data of use   8/4/07 Hello, <Hi there> I have had almost all of my fish die within the last few days. I posted in the 911 forum (see rob5), but have not received the help I need. I treated for ich <With?> and tried a fresh water dip, but it appears that my problem is not really ich. <Perhaps a result of the medication/treatment> I have had the tank for over a year with no problems. I do regular water changes and it always tests fine. This came on fast and I have already lost almost all of my fish (clowns, powder blue tang, pigmy angle, blue chromis). I only have my blue hippo tang left. I cannot diagnose the sickness. Please help. I have included a picture. Thanks, Rob <Umm, need much more info. Rob if we're to try helping you... The Tang shows evidence of neuromast destruction (HLLE)... Perhaps the root cause of the trouble here is/was environmental... with your poisoning/killing the stock with the action above. Please read through here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm To gain insight, grant you an overall idea of the types of data we're looking for. Bob Fenner>

Fish and corals dying mysteriously  7/27/07 I have a 180 gallon tank with a 45 gallon sump. The tank has been running without any problems for 3 years. I have a reef concept protein skimmer, a dolphin pump running approx 6000 gph and two 400 watt metal halides. There is a about 200lbs live rock with a 3 inch sugar fine sand bed. For my water changes I use hard water (unfortunately) filtering with a RO unit to 80ppm <Of... TDS?> and use Seachem Reef Salt. I currently have a large regal tang, a med brown tang, a orange tail Gobi, a dragonette, a very large chocolate chip star, a brittle star, a coral banded shrimp and a raccoon butterfly taking care of a very minor Aiptasia problem. For corals, I have pulsing xenia, several tree corals or the same orientation, several mushrooms polyps, a folded leather coral, a large candy cane coral, a hammer head coral and a bubble coral. The salinity is kept at about 1.025, the PH at 8.1 dropping to 7.9 at night. calcium is 400ppm, nitrates are about 10mg/l, temp in the heat wave is about 83 degrees F for about the past 3 weeks, normally sitting about 80. So for the problem: A couple nights ago I noticed that the water had a yellowish/greenish tinge to it so I added some Fluval carbon to the sump with cleared up the water the following morning and I took note that corals were extremely plump and looking very healthy. Then to my surprise the following morning they were shrunk up as if in distress. I was not sure what the problem was so I observed for a day and the following morning there was no improvement and both the butterfly and brown tang were dead! <Yikes> I checked the ammonia it was at .1mg/l <Chicken or the egg?> so I did a 25 gallon water change which brought the ammonia down to about .025mg/l. I observed then for another day and didn't feed that evening, I added more carbon and put a 55watt T5 to the sump with kept the PH more stable at 7.9 through the night. The following morning the remaining fish and inverts seem to be struggling some what, but are still alive, but all the corals are still shrunk and both the bubble and hammer head are dying rapidly. I have now done another 20 gallon water change and removed the carbon for fear of bad carbon, as this is the only new thing that was added before the problem began. I am stumped on what the cause could be and have done all that I can think of doing. Please provide your advice ASAP before I lose anymore livestock. Look forward to hearing from you, thanks in advance. Chester <Don't know either, but reading what you've presented here, could this have been triggered by the carbon use? Nothing jumps out as a "for sure" or even likely "cause"... and I would continue as you've done... And going forward very likely either add to or switch out some percentage of the live rock and substrate... See WWM re this practice for rationale, methods. Bob Fenner>

Re: Where oh where did my first fish go? 6/4/07 Thanks Chris. <Welcome.> I did check for ammonia 24 hours and 48 hours after I put him in the tank, and it has remained at 0. Would a 1" fish that died, show an ammonia spike in a 53gallon tank (with about a 7g sump). <Hard to say, depends on so many factors.> I did look in the sump for him, even though I couldn't see how he could get into it, because I have an Elos tank, and the slots in the overflow are TINY. It's a dry overflow, so he'd have to end up in the sump and I don't see him in there. I have a feeling he's in the rock work, but dead or alive, I don't know. This is my first saltwater tank, and I would have NEVER imagined you could worry about a little tiny fish! :) Bye Pam <Try turning out the lights, maybe cover the front of the tank so he can't see what is going on around the tank. Double-check the floor, the distance they can jump is quite surprising. And other pets that may have seen a dried fish as a nice snack? Hopefully he will still show up soon. I remember mine always loved frozen bloodworms, might want to try those and see if you can draw him out.> <Chris>

Re: Where oh where did my first fish go? 6/5/07 Hi Chris. <Hello> I checked all around the tank on the floor again, and he's not there. No pets to go after the body. <Ok> I checked the ammonia again tonight for the 3rd night in a row, and it's still 0. Good idea on the bloodworms. I'll give that a shot. I'll let you know if he shows up. Thanks! Pam

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