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FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 11

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

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Dearest Crew Marine System/Fish Death 10/21/08 Dearest Crew, <Michael.> First and foremost, thank you in kind for providing THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE resource known to fish lovers all over the world! Would never have ventured into this amazing hobby without your guidance! <Neither would have I, the site is an amazing recourse!.> I reside in Hong Kong where the weather is constantly hot and humid... I have a 75 gallon saltwater tank with no sump. I use fine aragonite substrate (roughly 1 inch deep) and have roughly 50 pounds of live rock (bought over a period of a year). In addition, I have two external canister filters (both relatively large), one hang on back skimmer (pump), one metal halide lamp (150W), two wave makers (Tunze), one external chiller (I believe this was made for 100 gallon tanks) and one high speed fan to help with the heat. In addition, I have a 20 gallon tank which I use to mix my salt and rid my tap water of chlorine (I mix the water/salt with an internal water pump over the period of one week). <Sounds like a good setup.> I run my tests for salinity and PH levels regularly but am unable to test for other chemicals due to a lack of English language products in my neck of the woods. <Too bad.> In addition, I do a 15 gallon water change every week. <Okay.> I have been in the hobby for about ten years (fresh water fish/inverts, lots of turtles... Pig Nosed being my favorite!), but have only made the switch to saltwater approximately two years ago (When I first discovered your site!). <Welcome to the marine world.> I only purchase fish which fall under the hardy category and tend to do quite a bit of research before I venture out to purchase anything... but I still have a pretty bad success rate... =( Oh... I also always follow your rule in terms of the number and size of fish I keep. I currently have one percula, one damsel, one dragon wrasse, one Halichoeres chrysus, one Centropyge vroliki (all fish approximately 1 inch long, with the exception of the angel which is about two inches long) and last but not least a beautiful pair of harlequin shrimp (both about 1/2 inch long). <The Dragon wrasse will become large and aggressive in time.> Oh I also have about ten chocolate chip starfish, just in case someone gets hungry... =) <Ten!? These are predatory also!> One thing that I would like to add is that, most of the fish stores located in Hong Kong are not exactly the most impressive establishments... the fish seem to be mishandled and very little seems to be known about most (might be the language barrier). In addition to this, I honestly do wonder what the shipping is like... <Too bad, the same impressions here in the states with many fish stores.> Well to finally cut to the chase... my fish have a terrible mortality rate... do you think there might be something I am doing dreadfully wrong here? <Not from the info given, your system sounds fine. Do you quarantine your new additions?> Most of my fish tend to die pretty quickly (one to two months)... the longest any fish has lived would be about a year (Tang)... it kills me to have to come home to struggling or dead fish... =( any advice would be very much appreciated. <Really nothing obvious to offer, except for the testing. It really is unfortunate you cannot acquire a test kit for at least alkalinity. Short of this I would up the water changes that you do, either in frequency or volume. Without the ability to test this will be your best way to know you are keeping you water quality up.> Thank you in advance, Michael <Most welcome, good luck. Scott V.>

Re: Dearest Crew Re: Marine System/Fish Death 10/21/08 Dearest Scott V and Crew! <Hello again Michael.> Thank you so very much for your kind response! <Ahh, my pleasure!> Scott, your response has been very, very informative and has given me a several options I will try going forward! =) Thank you once again! First and foremost, I will have an alkalinity test kit sent from the good old US of A for future testing needs, in addition, I will start quarantining my livestock going forward (I actually dislike this process as the fish seem to suffer a bit from the small enclosures)! <I have yet to meet one that likes quarantine, but it is worthwhile.> Also, as per your email, perhaps I should rid myself of some of those starfish =) Ten does seem a little bit much... to be honest, the only reason I have so many is because of my Harlequins... I found out the hard way that Starfish stock tend to dwindle from time to time, making it virtually impossible to feed the shrimp =( <I must admit I missed the point of the stars in your first email. Sad. Usually one at a time will do, unless supply is a problem. You have learned what works for you!> I have also tried your amazing tip on freezing the starfish... but cutting them up is just way too much for me to handle... just can't bare to hurt these guys myself =( Last but not least, I will definitely increase both the frequency of my water changes and hopefully the volume as well! <Without appropriate testing this is the only way to know what your water is doing.> Scott, thank you once again for taking the time from your busy day to provide me with your expertise and insight! I sincerely do appreciate it! <My pleasure!> Thank you and have a great evening! Michael <You too, Scott V.>

Sudden fish loss 8/18/08 Hi guys. <Jason> I'm in kind of a panic here. I should first explain my setup. I have a 125 with a sump. Several corals, LPS and SPS. Probably 15 in total. Two Derasa clams and one Crocea. All of my corals are just fine, looking great in fact including the clams. But my Xenia is dying/dead <Pulsing corals do such "crashes"... often w/o much cause> as well as more importantly 8 of my 9 Domino Damsels <Mmm... too many of these Dascyllus sp. for this volume> with the ninth probably forthcoming. These Dominos as of yesterday were all just fine doing their normal things they do. Today, dead. My Yellow Tang, (about 4") is looking very inactive. It just kind of hovers around not swimming from end to end like usual. Just moving about very slowly, yet upright for now. He is a nice deep yellow specimen that otherwise has been very healthy that I could tell. But I do notice one small about the size of a popcorn seed sized white triangular spot on one side at the lower part of the belly. It's not ick, I know what that is. Might even be nothing. He also is still eating, but just a little, not nearly like he did yesterday. I also have two Clownfish that are just fine. Two Gobies that are just fine as well as a small Sixline Wrasse and six shrimp that again are just fine. <So... the fish species that require higher DO are only malaffected...> My water temperature is currently 78F. All of my other parameters are all where they normally are. I did introduce a Convict "Blenny" <Pholodichthys... a social species... see WWM re...> yesterday too which was about four inches and I haven't seen it since I dumped it in. <...> Would it be ll my Damsels so fast? <Mmm, not likely, no...> I can't figure the correlation between my Xenia which consisted of three small separate branches all dying and my Dominos at the same time. Meanwhile everything else is thriving. <I can take a guess> I'm scared to death because my $1.99 Dominos are supposed to be nearly indestructible, yet while my six shrimp (cleaner/fire) live, they die. Huh? All at once too. I'm really, really stumped and yet very thankful I haven t stocked my tank with any expensive fish. If I can't figure out how to keep Damsels...... Please help with any ideas or criticisms. Assume water parameters are fine If possible. Thanks crew, Jason <Likely a cascade event... the Xeniids being poisoned by some of the other Cnidarians... at what prompting? Resulting in too low dissolved oxygen... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above... re causes, cures. Bob Fenner>

Fish only high intensity lighting... Dis. troubleshooting     9/20/08 Hello Crew, I own a local service company and have been in the business nearly 20 years and I am stumped on this one and could use some help. I have a client with an approximately 800 gallon fish only aquarium successfully running for nearly 3 years. It has a fabricated reef insert, PCX 100 tee'd through two nuclears, 80 watt HO UV, chiller, and a hammerhead pump through an ultima biological filter. RODI Auto top off, RODI used for all water changes, PH, ALK Temp as well as other parameters normal. The aquarium is 60" tall and the surface does not completely agitate as well as I like, The PCX returns at the top and moves the surface at one end and there is a 12" airstone also at the same end in the in the reef to help with Oxygen. The aquarium is about 7' long room with about 3.5' of calm surface. It has always kept 7 to 10 medium to large fish well. Here is where things went off track. My client added about 5 new fish and about 70 blue damsels from a local store that has a good rep, I was not worried about disease introduction. I told him the ultima filter should be able to handle the load fine and many of the damsels would probably not make it due to predation but some will (as was the case). Well over the next four weeks we started losing fish Old ones and New ones. No real signs of disease, just stress. My suspicion is that he introduced something into the aquarium, He told me he poured water and all into the tank. ( he won't do that again ) The tank got a 25% water change, copper, food soaked in antibiotics, another 40% water change, fish were still distressed and dying one at a time or removed. <I get you so far> Here is the other big change and finally my question after giving you as much info as I could think of. Lighting consisted of T-5 lamps, while at the LFS he was sold 2 HQI Pendants and mounted them on the tank. With the lack of Ideal surface movement and the addition of the heavy bioload are these lights contributing to some sort of CO2 build up? <Mmm, possibly a contributing factor> I am digging into my somewhat limited chemistry knowledge, but I seem to remember that this could be possible. Any ideas? <Likely a combo... low DO, high CO2, a loss of RedOx with all the additions, likely some microbial addition/trouble from the casual introductions; I doubt the lighting change had much to do...> also to note there is not much algae build up in the system, the fabricated reef is pretty clean. <And it's old... not likely "it" either> No rise in temp either, with the chiller. Yesterday I replumbed the biologic side so the surface at the calm end is now moving quite well and I changed about 75% of the water. I hope I have it licked but would like some education on the effects of high intensity lighting on a fish only set up. <Again... don't think the HQIs are at fault> -- Thank You Mark Collier <I would look to increasing the surface turbulence (an upward directed pair of Tunze Turbelles or equivalent... lower the specific gravity a few thousandths for a month or two... and hope. Bob Fenner, been t/here>

A New Parasite?   8/18/08 Hi Crew <Adam> I am writing you on my birthday in a horrendous mood. <?> I am so stressed out with my tank. It seems no matter what I do things just keep getting worse and worse. I've hit the brink of insanity and am trying to calm down before just giving up and tearing my aquarium down. I am literally considering doing this because I have had nothing but stress with my tank in the last month. If you read my previous emails some of the problems have been eliminated. I have removed the aggressive puffer, I have outfitted my tank with a protein skimmer and put powerheads in the tank to eliminate the dissolved oxygen problems. The eel that jumped out of the tank is acting normally now and eating well. Although he has a slight white patch on the tip of his tail. <Ah, good> Any ways here is my set up again 100 gallon FOWLR tank 2 Emperor 400 Filters Prizm Protein Skimmer 75 lbs of live rock 100lbs of sand Inhabitants: 2ft zebra moray eel 10in snowflake eel 1 1/4in dwarf lionfish 1 1/4in fu man Chu lionfish 3/4in sphex lionfish 1in flame angel 3 1/2in giant Hawkfish <Mmmm, the Lions may cause trouble with the Eels... sticking/envenomizing them in this small volume that is and will become even more too small...> Water Conditions: Ammonia = 0 Nitrite = 0 Nitrate = 25ppm (I realize this is slightly high but don't believe it to be the cause of my current problems) PH = 8.1 Temp = 78-81F relatively constant I honestly don't know what is wrong with my tank now. I went out of town for the weekend and come back to find my flame angel and sphex lionfish missing parts of their fins. My Hawkfish is depressed and not feeling well. Could the snowflake be biting them? <More likely the Hawk> The snowflake eel has definitely become more aggressive as you mentioned and I plan on returning him to LFS tomorrow. <Good move> Here is my problem. I highly suspect some sort of parasitic invasion. My Hawkfish has not eaten in almost five days when he used to be my most aggressive eater. He seems to be having slightly labored breathing but since I have improved the dissolved oxygen problems it has to be something else. He has been scratching the sand like crazy for about two weeks and in the last week my flame angel began scratching against the rocks. I'm most worried about my Hawkfish since he hasn't eaten in so long. All other fish are eating normally. I cant really see anything on the hawkfish's skin that pinpoints what is going on but his stomach is beginning to chafe due to the scratching. He isn't breathing heavily exactly, but every now and then he puffs out his gills like they are uncomfortable. Perhaps that is what he is trying to scratch. He seems so depressed and lethargic, he isn't nearly as active as he used to be. <Mmmm> I am considering doing some FW\Methyl Blue dips but still have yet to find the exact protocol for doing such a thing on you site. <It's there, easily found with the search tool, but I would NOT do this> Can you please help I'm so tired of this, this was supposed to be a fun hobby that has become a nightmare that costs thousands of dollars. All I want is to get my tank stable so it can again be enjoyable. Is there anyway of pinpointing exactly what type of parasite it might be? <Yes... I spent eight hours yesterday "splitting up" our marine fish parasite FAQs... I assure you, sufficient info. is on WWM re. I don't suspect a parasitic here, but environmental issues of some sort... likely water quality, but all entailing the mis- and over-stocking of your system. I would likely return both Muraenids here> And can you please explain how to do a FW dip both with and without the methyl blue? Or any other suggestions for improving my situation? <See below> Do you even think it is a parasite problem? <I do not> From all the things I've read on your site I suspect parasites. Please please help Thanks, Adam <Again... I would NOT dip/bath these fishes... where would you move them to if you did so? Back into your presumably infested system? Is there a "marine" or "reef club" in your area? I'd be calling, asking for a "guru" friend there to come on by, take a look at your set-up, test the water, for stray electricity, RedOx, what have you... There is likely something that you just don't know enough re that is non apparent here. Bob Fenner>

Re: A New Parasite? - Please Help my Hawkfish... same over/mis crowded mess, diff. day    8/20/08 Hi Bob and/or Crew <Adam> Thank you for your previous reply, it gave me a lot of things to consider. I realize this email will be a bit long but I'm going to try and be as detailed as I can because I really have no idea what to do next, and I also have several questions. As you suggested I looked online for a Marine Hobbyist group for a guru expert that could come over and look at my tank and set-up. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful in finding anyone to come over but I did find a group that meets in a city about an hour away, but haven't heard back from anyone I contacted. I feel horrible having to take up your time but as far as Marine Guru's you're the best shot I have currently. So thank you so much in advance for taking the time to read my email and help out. Since you last emailed me I have spent lots of time on WWM reading but still have found no definite answers or solutions, I realize these probably don't exist but I do really value the advice you give me. Since we last emailed I have done several things to rule out other possibilities: 1) I returned my snowflake eel LFS. My 100 gallon tank is now down to six fish. All aggression and stress from the aggression seems to have been removed, at least for the time being. So my six remaining fish are as follows; -2ft zebra moray eel <One last time: Return this animal... Needs more room, not a good choice with Lions> -1 1/4in dwarf lionfish -2in fu man Chu lionfish -1in sphex lionfish -1in flame angel -3 1/2in giant Hawkfish Do you think that my tank is still overstocked? <... I know it is> Basically the way I feel is that if I have to remove more fish down to the bare minimum, I would NOT be willing <...> to part with my zebra eel, sphex lionfish, or my giant Hawkfish. If I cant keep these I don't really see much point in keeping a tank. They are by far my favorite and very hardy fish that seem to get along well. <Then get either another tank... of 150 plus gallons for the Gymnomuraena... and leave the other fishes in the present one> I hate to remove anymore fish but if I have to I will. I realize I am an idiot that made the beginners mistake of massively overstocking my tank way too quickly as I have already returned five fish. I feel like with their current size the tank is not overstocked right now but I know some will have to go as they grow. Your thoughts? <Are posted> 2) I performed a 35gallon water change. Water readings are now ammonia=0, nitrite=0,nitrate=15ppm, and ph=8.1. 3)I installed an electric grounding probe to eliminate the possibility of stray electric currents stressing them out. <Not the root problem here... The mis and over-stocking is> OK so I have basically eliminated the possibility that it is a dissolved oxygen problem, I have plenty of surface agitation to facilitate proper gas exchange with a skimmer, two emperor 400 filters, and a power head. My protein skimmer has only been running for ten days so the water quality should be improved and improving with that running. By all outward signs it seems my water quality is good and environment is suitable. The only other environmental issue you brought up as a possibility is ReDox. To be honest I'm not exactly sure what that is, I'm sure it is on WWM and I just haven't had time to read it. I have spent hours upon hours reading this site but being that I have a job I don't haven't had enough time to read in entirety such a massive information resource, in enough time to solve this problem. I got the feeling that you suspected an unknown environmental problem, maybe I read your response wrong, but if so any other ideas as to what it might be? <I do suspect this "unknown"... Metabolite poisoning of some sort... the easiest, most sure solution is stock reduction> When I performed my water change yesterday the Hawkfish seemed to cheer up and started swimming around more like he usually does when behaving healthy. He even ate a small bite of food which was a first in five days. Last night he was still scratching but not as regularly. When I returned home today he was scratching just as much as before the water change and refused to eat. I took a really long look at his skin. It does show some slight discoloration but it is so hard to tell being that he has strange colors that change with some regularity. But over all he is what I would describe as 'paler' than he appeared when healthy. His skin looks rough from constantly scratching the sand. I don't know if this is a parasite or his normal markings but he has red dots that slightly stick out like pimples, but he has red spots, and they don't look much different than when I first acquired him, so might be nothing. His belly is definitely much more pink than it used to be, also probably from scratching. He is the only fish not eating. The only other fish showing any physical or behavioral symptoms is the flame angel. His colors have also slightly dulled, and his back and pectoral fins show some deterioration. He scratches against the live rock constantly but still is active and eats normally. There are a several observations I have made that I hope may help you with some clues as to what is going on. 1) I think the Hawkfish pooped yesterday and it was totally white and in one solid string, almost resembling a worm but not alive. I didn't actually see him excrete but it came floating from behind him when he was sitting at the back of the tank. 2) While observing him closely for almost an hour today he went on a crazy scratching episode and when he laid down something came off him. It was extremely small but resembled in my mind either an isopod or copepod. It looked like a clear extremely tiny rolly polly. It was so small I lost sight of it quickly. I know I had some copepods living on my live rock before I put fish in the tank but haven't seen them since introducing my fish. It might have just flown from off the liverock when he perched. 3)The Hawkfish only scratches the areas near his gills pectoral fins and belly. 4)The only two seemingly sick fish seem to rub against each other a lot. 5)The Hawkfish seems to like to stay where there is a lot of water flow over his body. 6)The Hawkfish seems to have these strange convulsions every now and again like something is biting him but no fish around him. (Come to think of it some of the fish I returned were displaying these same symptoms) 7)I had a Singapore angel. I returned him for what I thought was aggression because he was pecking at my Hawkfish, in hindsight I think he might have been trying to clean the Hawkfish of parasites, but no way to know for sure but that behavior did not appear overly aggressive more of a cleaning behavior. All of this leads me to believe that the Hawkfish and flame angel have either an internal or external parasite (more likely) and that they are trying to scratch them off their skin. I don't know what else I can do to improve the water quality except do more water changes. I don't believe it to be ich or any of the other major disease I read about on WWM. There are no white spots on any of the affected fish. The only fish in my tank that has any white is my zebra eel on the very tip of the tail. He has had this since he jumped out of my tank, it maybe dead skin or a slight infection being that he spent over an hour out of water. But he seems healthy and normal other than that slight whiteness on his tail tip. I feel like these are natural parasites that increased in number, strangely only on two of my fish, and these parasites started to make these fish sick over time due to poor water quality and stress from aggression due to my overstocking my tank. I realize that I am a beginner but that is my best guess. Although I don't know how pinpoint exactly what that parasite that might be. Any advice you have on this would be much appreciated. I talked to the guys at the local fish store and they thought that it was also a parasite. They advised several types of medicine to treat my tank with, do a preventative treatment for each with this either QuickCure or formalin, but if I have learned anything from WWM, it is don't get crazy and go randomly medicating your tank. I know they are only trying to help but also realize that its a business. I especially don't want to randomly medicate my tank when no other fish are sick now, the affected fish don't seem well, but aren't on death's doorstep either, at least not yet. I have no quarantine or hospital tank. If I had to dip them they would have to go back into my only tank. Unfortunately I don't have the money or space to get another tank set up. So if this gets really bad I would have to treat my main tank. But I don't want to do anything till I know what I'm dealing with. So in my meager beginners opinion I think I should: 1) Keep doing water changes as needed to maintain optimum water conditions. 2) Possibly do freshwater dips without any medication, maybe just some hydrogen peroxide on these affected fish (I know you said no dips, but would just freshwater hurt them?) 3) Sit and wait and see what happens. A real concern is that if it is parasites are they spreading and infecting my tank, so if dips were successful and I had to put the fish back in my tank am I simply returning them to an infected tank, rendering the dips useless? >Worst than useless< I feel like if the water is as good as I can get it, and the scratching continues that I am forced to eventually treat the tank in some way but I will not do anything till I hear back from you. Again thank you so much for all you help and the great site. I'm sorry for bothering you with all this. I only wished I had found your site before setting my tank up =( Cheers, Adam <Nothing more to state. Bob Fenner>

I'm perplexed...Fin Rot or not? Not, pred.   8/5/08 Crew - I have a one spot rabbit fish, a flame angel and a Banggai cardinal all that appear to show some degree of fin rot especially the rabbit. <Mmmm> I have a 65g live <Too small for a Siganid> reef with a 35g fuge run Ecosystem method. I have a skimmer rated for a tank twice my size, the fuge is rated for a tank twice my size, I conduct 12g water changes religiously each and every week (that's almost 90% WC/month), and I run a phosphate reactor <... I'd get rid of this. May be a/the source of trouble here> and UV. I don't over feed, well ok almost don't overfeed, have no algae problems or any problems other then some of my fish have tattered fins. <... Mmm, something amiss here... no apparent bullying, night-time invertebrate predators coming out working these fishes woe? I'd be checking with a flashlight, baiting/trapping to remove them> All my water parameters are totally in line. The Rabbit lost most of his tail, almost overnight, when I first got into the hobby 2 years ago so as a newbie I always thought "that's how I bought him" and thinking he was probably mauled as a juvenile and had permanent fin damage. Then a few weeks ago, again almost like overnight, my flame had tattered fins and lost his tail as well. Now one of my Banggai lost her banner fin. <Again... this reads like a Mantis or possibly Alpheid issue> Now, on close inspection of the fish I see no other signs or symptoms that would present infection. No red marks on the anus, no redness on the fin tips, no whitish signs, and mouths are in perfect shape...simply no other symptom of infection or bacteria can be found with the naked eye. The fish behave perfectly normally, eat like pigs and in all other regards appear as healthy as fish can be. I'd think fin and tail rot if the fish exhibited other symptoms but they don't. My water quality is near perfect and my husbandry more then what is necessary to keep a healthy tank. I have no crabs, no sea stars, no purchase predator and the rest of my fish are all community types that rarely if ever show aggression towards each other. So what gives? Fin Rot or a predator possibly that I am not aware of? <The latter. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm the last tray. Bob Fenner> -- Gene

Re: I'm perplexed...Fin Rot or not?  8/5/08 Bob - First, thank you for the reply, very much appreciated. Tell me please, how could a Phosphate Reactor contribute to fin damage? <This tool... WWM is NOT a bb... see the site re, elsewhere on the Net re the use of such...> Is it because I do enough water changes combined with skimming and an oversize fuge that I am removing too many phosphates and other needed trace water products? <More this last> Please, let me know your thoughts here as I am now very intrigued. Thanks Bob!!!!! Gene <Sorry to state Gene... I just don't have the time... B>

Fish Coloration, and stress  - 7/24/08 Hey crew Good day to you all, I hope all is well. <Hello! The same to you!> I have a quick question that I looked and looked on the site for the answer but had no luck. I may be looking in the wrong place, but I thought I would ask anyway. <Okay> So I have a little green chromis that shares a 60gal with two big chromis. Well, the little guy has always had a blotchy or spotty looking coloration but his behavior seems normal. When I put the first chromis in the tank to help cycle the tank he also appeared like this as well, but shortly grew out of it. My question is what causes this coloration? He does get picked on by the other two a little, but nothing that keeps him from strutting around the tank and eating everything I put in. I read the articles about why and how fish change color and the various types (cited here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqSciSubWebIndex/coloration.htm). Well, the concern I really have is more related to my Kole Tang that has been in the tank for about three weeks now and doing great. <Needs more space...> Although, this morning, I turned the lights on earlier then usual, and his coloration looked blotchy and spotty like the chromis. I immediately put a pinch of pellet food in and he gobbled it up. I took a shower and got ready for work and went and checked on him (about 20 minutes overall). He was fine. Color back to normal and active as usual. I took two samples of my water today to check at my LFS on my lunch. I figure maybe I have a water quality issue, so I will have it checked and do a water change tonight (which I regularly do every other week). Now I have never noticed this before on him, although, he is a bit skittish still. He is the man of the tank. The other fish leave him alone and somewhat "run" the other way when he comes around except for the maroon, they seem to have become friends. I did introduce two new fish to the tank a few days ago. They were a Orchid Dottyback and a Lawnmower Blenny. <Quarantined?> I do know that the Orchids can be a touch ornery, but I have yet to see him since he was added. Could he be causing stress to the tang for a change of coloration? Well I hope this was enough information. Thanks for your time and constant attention to helping people like me. <I'd say this is most likely stress due to crowding or water quality issues- do see about a larger home for that tang, as well as quarantining new arrivals for 4-6 weeks. Water changes and the works as well, varied feeding...general stress most likely the culprit here.> Spencer <Benjamin>

Is my problem lights? or the loss of my deep sand bed? - 07/19/08 Hi, <Hello there> I've been dabbling in marine for the past six years. (It is my son's hobby.) When he went to Afghanistan I babysat his fish. He had a 90g, MH lighting, fluval canister, 2in sand bed, <Mmm, you may want to increase or decrease this depth... Please see WWM re> 60lbs LR. All seemed to go well and I was able to give his fish back in good condition. I found myself setting up a 65g with the extras we had lying around, all had gone fairly well. I used 3 dbl UVHO current fixtures, Eheim Ecco, 4-5 in sandbed, and a red prism skimmer ( I did not like that skimmer, but my son had purchased it early on and it was on hand.) <I see> When he went to Iraq his wife babysat the 120g and I inherited the 90 gal which has stood empty. He's returning safely from Iraq and is shutting down the 120g preparing for a cross country move. I've set up the 90g again to receive whatever we can save. (He's giving what he can back to the LFS) It's been running for the past 3m. MH 10k lighting, trickle filter, ETSS skimmer, 2-3in aragonite as he now has corals, I also added about 20# of base rock to seed for a sump I'm planning. I thought it would be a good opportunity to redo the 65g and change a few things as long as I had all that extra room, water etc... BIG MISTAKE!!!!!!!!!!!! I've slowly moved rock and then inhabitants to the 90g. But nothing has gone well. I must be paying my dues (by suffering thru the loss of color, die off, nuisance algae, etc...) others have lamented about. Trying to correct everything with more freq and bigger water changes and increasing flow. After cleaning the 65g I'm setting it back up, hoping my son can put off shutting down the 120g until things settle down. I know this has been a lot of changing around, but all had gone well up till now. I've reread thru the basics yet still consider myself a novice. I read a lot and then make a guess at which correction is being recommended. I don't always understand the why? but I've had luck trusting in your knowledge base and experience. <Mmmm> My main question is: Could my problem be the change from UVHO to MH10k or the loss of the deep sand bed? <The last could well be a factor> I was afraid to reuse the sand because of expected die off of bacteria from the move. It's sitting wet in a bucket waiting for me to figure how to clean it for reusing. <Rinse it thoroughly, perhaps consider air-drying it before re-use> On the 65gal hex I have lights on top and down two of the sides. The inches from fixture to LR was between 4-12 in. When my son first got the 65g at a yard sale, the local LFS said it could not be used for marine. <Mmm, for what reason/s?> (Doesn't that sound like a challenge!) On the 90g the 2 MH10k's are about 6in above the cover glass. The tank is 24in deep. I do not understand the lighting comparisons to decide what to change. I tried switching to the UVHO's for a month but saw no improvement. I put the MH's back up thinking they are able to penetrate to a deeper depth. <They are...> Is there something else I'm missing? Fish bioload was heavy for the 65g but I thought would be ok in the 90g. <Should be better...> 2 orange clown, White sand sifting goby, yellow clown goby, violet Dottyback , 7 blue/green chromis, Yellow Tang, ast. snails and crabs. <These should be fine here> I enjoy your site and read when ever I can. Thanks for your time and patience. Le <I would re-instate the DSB. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm The seventh tray down... on Marine Substrates. Bob Fenner>

Fish Additions Not Surviving   7/17/2008 Hello Crew: <Hey it's IanB, it's nice to be back> I recently experienced a tragedy in my 150 gallon reef. I lost most of my fish stock due to what I believe was a disease issue from the latest addition to the tank (powder blue surgeon). <sorry to hear> I say "I believe was a disease issue" because I am not 100% certain this was the case (although fairly positive). I thought it might have been a low PH problem, I hadn't checked my PH levels in a few weeks as all parameters in my tank were quite well (with the exception of a little high nitrate (about 20-30ppm)) and suddenly I lost about 6 fish in a 48 hour period, and lost a few more within the next few days.<ich maybe?> The initial loss was about 2 days after adding the powder blue (leading me to believe it was diseased). I tested all parameters and noticed that my PH was down around 8.0 - 8.1, however my KH was around 10. I have tried to get my PH back up to more appropriate levels by adding buffering products, but it continuously dropped back down. I have been told that having a lower PH is okay as long as KH is up, true?<doubt this would cause the fishes death> The only somewhat recent change I made is changing from InstantOcean salt mix to Red Sea Coral Pro (which I head may cause a drop in PH). Anyway, since the tragedy I have been restocking, (now including a quarantine period, unfortunate that it took a disaster for me to finally adhere to the constant advice of quarantine! quarantine! quarantine! ) but for some reason all new additions to the tank don't survive (I have even lost fish in quarantine). I have attempted to add a Regal Angel twice (1 Red Sea and 1 non Red Sea), a Kole Tang twice, a Tomini Tang, a Pearlscale Butterfly, a couple of Fire Fish as well as a couple of true Perculas.<I would most definitely stay away from Regal Angels, unless you have an abundant coral population and a 8-10 foot aquarium> All have perished within 3-4 days, except the Perculas and Fire fish (they lasted a few weeks/months). The new additions don't seem to be eating very hardily (except for the Perculas and Fire fish), maybe they were wasting away? Even if they are eating good in quarantine, they don't in the main tank (again, except for the Perculas and Fire fish). The survivors of the tragedy are doing great, this includes a Flame Angel (since removed), Copperbanded Butterfly, some Chromis, and Goby, this is why I feel it is NOT a water parameter issue. I thought the problem may be night attacks from the Flame Angel, so I removed him, but no luck. The only current recent additions that have been doing fine are 2 Bartlett's Anthias. This whole restock issue is just very surprising to me as my initial stocking went so well (up until the tragedy). The only things I can think of that may be causing this are: 1) The terrorizing Flame Angel (who is now gone, and I have still lost new additions). <stress is one of the leading causes of ornamental fish death) 2) low PH (8.0 - 8.1). <this could be the problem but I highly doubt it.> 3) higher temperature in the main tank. Summer temp for my tank here in California ranges between 80.5 - 82.5. I do not run a chiller and all other existing fish are fine. Maybe new additions can't acclimate to this higher temp. I do a slow drip for about 45 minutes. <would try to acclimate them for a longer period of time, or invest in a chiller and/or turn your ac down to cool the aquarium, (you can also try running the lights less throughout the day. unless corals are kept)> 4) Somewhat high nitrates (30ish ppm). I had a skimmer issue and nitrates got a bit high while fixing it. <30ppm nitrates is not bad. many times when I visit wholesalers nitrate levels are 200+ppm and the fish are still alive> 5) A combination of things like the Flame Angel, or acclimation, or just bad luck. <could be your source of fish, I would definitely quarantine all fish because in my experience all fish come with parasites of some fashion> Water Parameters: Salinity: 1.024 - 1.025 Temp: summer - 80.5 - 82.5 / non-summer - 77 - 79 Nitrite: 30ppm Ammonia: 0 Nitrate: 0 PH: 8.0 - 8.1 KH: 10 Phosphate: 0.03 or less with the exception of an occasional spike. Current Fish: 1 Copperbanded Butterfly 1 Diamond Goby 2 Bartlett's Anthias 5 Blue/Green Chromis Various cleaning crew <all are pretty hardy fish, except the b/f fish> Corals - seem to not be affected by any of this 1 Torch 1 Bubble 1 Xenia 1 Candy Various SPS frags Various mushrooms/Ricordea <these corals are all fairly tolerant/hardy species> Thanks for your time, any thoughts on this issue would be appreciated. <again I would continue to quarantine fish for 4-6 weeks before introducing them to your main aquarium, if you put fish directly in the main system your chances of disease are great, good luck, IanB> -Chris

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