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FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 12

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 4, Troubleshooting 5, Troubleshooting 6, Troubleshooting 7, Troubleshooting 8, Troubleshooting 9, Troubleshooting 10, Troubleshooting 11, Troubleshooting 13, Troubleshooting 14, Troubleshooting 15, Troubleshooting 16,

Complete Crash 4/2/10
I have a 180 gallon salt water aquarium that I have kept and maintained for over 4 years now. I have (well, had) a wide variety of corals and approximately 18 fish.
<Mmm, depending on size, you may very well be overstocked.>
About one week ago my Foxface Rabbitfish died, I thought at first that it may have been from old age as he was an old fish given to me by a friend many years ago. I removed him from the tank and checked the water. My water
quality was perfect.
<What's perfect, have you checked ammonia?>
Since then however, I have lost nearly all of my corals and all but 4 of my fish...I don't think the few survivors that are left will live out the weekend. They are dying at a rate of two or three a day. The hardier species are dying the same as the sensitive ones. I have tested the water over and over again, and my water is fine. I have tried an emergency water change, I have tried everything I can think of. I have tried antibiotics mixed in the food, I have even tried adding system bacteria. Everything I try is helpless. I have not added anything new to the tank in months and have not changed the food or the salt that I use to mix. I have kept everything the same since I started this tank and now out of nowhere I am having a complete crash. I am at a complete loss here.
My friend who owns a fish store here by me is at a loss, as are the people at every other store that I call. I am trying to find anyone who has any idea what could be happening in my tank?!?
<My guess would be a toxin in the system and could have came from household cleaners such as Windex, etc, or you may have had an ammonia spike in the system. Is it possible copper may have gotten into the system? My first
move would be to heavily filter the tank with a Poly Filter to remove any contaminants in the system. Do read here and related articles/FAQ's for more help. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm
James (Salty Dog)>

Single species kill mystery 3/10/10
Hey Crew!
Yesterday at 'lights on" I found that my 3 Royal Grammas had all died some time in the early morning hours.
None had color fade, all were locked in sleeping positions, and only 1 had damage or any kind on him (and that was because he bedded down next to some hermits). The previous day and night they were their normal selves, eating, swimming, and just a little bickering. All were different ages and showed absolutely no signs of distress or illness, I have no idea what could have done them in. They had eaten the exact same things as all the other fish (fed 1 cube frozen Mysis, 1 cube frozen Spirulina brine, and 1cube butterfly/angel prepare) and none of the other fish have died.
Tank info:
150 gal, been running 2 years+, 6"avg DSB
Ph= 7.8
<A bit low>
Nitrate= 5ppm
phos= .1ppm
SG= 1.20
<Too low...>
Other inhabitants=
Atlantic Blue Tang (subadult)
Yellow Tang
4 Atlantic pygmy angels
2 flame angels
saddle blenny
3 chalk bass
Other info:
prior to the sudden RG deaths, I had sudden noticed a decline in Zoanthids, which started 3 months ago.
<May be an important fact>
Water tested out the same as current (using 3 different kits), though one test put it with a nitrate level of over 200ppm, it turned out to be a false reading upon a second go.
I also had a pair of Yellow Head Jawfish both go blind at the same time, no idea why (diet perhaps?).
<Possibly related>
They continued to live for over 5 months, being target fed. The last one died this morning, seemingly healthy and unmarked (though it had been acting depressed). Over the last 2 weeks, this Jawfish had ventured from his hole, and kept digging craters in the corners of the tanks to sleep in, but would still return to his other burrows on occasion to keep them clean.
Is it possible that the Jawfish digging might have released some trapped gasses into the water that might have killed off the Royal Grammas?
<Mmm, not likely, no... else, the other fishes would have been mal-affected>
Any help would be appreciated.
<Is a "bad" mystery; that is, one I can't for sure point out real possible explanations for. I suspect that some sort of "cascade event" occurred here with your mention of Zoanthid behavior... with the Grammas most affected. I would take care to "spiff up" your water quality, add some new live rock, perhaps some new coral sand... to re-center your system chemically and biologically. In addition, I'd give your skimmer a thorough cleaning, and change out/add new GACarbon, and possibly PolyFilter in your water flow path. Please read here:
and the linked files in this .ppt pres. above, and here:
Bob Fenner>
re: Single species kill mystery 3/10/10
Thank you for the reply Bob.
Some additional happenings and info:
Found the largest Atlantic Pygmy Angel dead this morning. No marks, bright colors.
<Again... I suspect some sort of biological poisoning... likely associated w/ the Zoas... Read and act... soon>
The Atlantic Blue Tang seems to not be sleeping. She's covered in what looks like Ich, but it clears up by mid day. I noticed last night that she was avoiding her hidey-hole and hanging out near the rocks, but in the stream of the Vortech...
<... related/due to stress>
The tank was originally a Caribbean biotope for almost a year and a half (all fish, gorgonians, Zoas, palys, and Ricordeas bought from Florida collectors), but I broke it when I took down my Nano and added the Yellow tang, Flame Angels, Galaxea, and some mushrooms (boy was that last one a bad idea...).
I forgot to mention that when this all seemed to start I had a Caribbean collected Dendro that was nice and bright, and it seemed to get injured and die off.
<All part of the whole... "cascade...">
Now, however, there are tons of babies beginning to take over the old skeleton. Pretty cool!
Anyway, the week before the RG deaths I had cleaned out my skimmer (Coralife250, I'll be getting an MSX soon though) and changed out all media (poly, carbon, and Phos-x) and can't help but wonder if all of that at once may have contributed somehow.
<May well be>
As these deaths are all rather sudden, could it be that a chemical may have been introduced into the water somehow?
<Is... but not exo... endogenous>
Is there a place I can send a water sample to be tested for extraneous chemicals/poisons?
<Not as far as I'm aware... one can do their own bioassays... but unless you act prudently, there won't be much to test. BobF>
Thanks again,

Re: Single species kill mystery 3/10/10
Ahhhhh.... did a thorough scan of the aquarium, and found that there are 2 spots where the rock had shifted somewhat recently, causing 2 different Zoanthid colonies to be damaged. Perhaps that is our "root cause".
<I see...>
My girlfriend also just told me that she did a water change the day before the Royal Grammas died, and that she "harassed" some of the mushrooms that were encroaching on Purple Sea Rods,
as she could see damage at their base. basically, she said she tried to vacuum them up, sometimes getting their flesh all the way into the siphon, but they stayed rooted to the rock. She did observe "some powdery and snotty looking stuff coming off of them and into the tube". Perhaps this is tipped the scales?
<Very, to too likely>
(I'll be having a talk with on proper conduct with sea life... lol)
<Does little actual good to "wag fingers", but does make me feel better.
Cheers! BobF>

15/02/10 Identification and Treatment 2/15/10
<Hi Matt>
Recently, I purchased a Copperband Butterfly to help with my Aiptasia problem in my tank. As I live in a rural area, I stopped by the LFS in the closest big town to pick up some supplies. While there, I saw that they had a couple healthy Copperband Butterflies in stock. As I decided to pick up one last minute, I did not have a quarantine tank already set up at home.
Unfortunately, I took the advice of the LFS and did not quarantine, as the store manager told me that their tanks were coppered
<All the time? I would not be buying fish from here'¦ this can permanently damage fishes>
and a quarantine set up last minute would do more harm than good even with cycled water.
<A common stance/ statement unfortunately. 'Our shop does not have parasites'>
I did place the fish in a dip with ParaGuard for an hour before introducing into display.
<Won't be effective against Crypt and other pathogens>
In the last week, a small white spot similar to a zit has appeared on the Copperband Butterfly on his mouth. Additionally, there is a white patch between his eyes.
<Hmmm, could be an injury.. or worse>
He appears to be healthy and has been eating well. The white zit on his mouth is smaller today than it was yesterday.
<A good sign>
Upon closer inspection, my black and white clown also has some abnormalities. There is a slight discoloration on his dorsal fin and one side of his body.
<I see this>
He is also eating well and appears to be healthy. I have attached pictures of both fish.
I checked all the levels in my tank and everything appears to be within the normal range.
<Please Matt, 'normal' really does mean nothing to me>
Was planning on doing a water change today.
Reading through the FAQ's, I am still unsure what the issue is with these fish.
<Me too>
As have not been able to identify the issue, I was planning on waiting until I got a confirmed diagnosis from you guys before I treated. If treatment is recommended, please let me know what medications are recommended and, if they are safe for the display or need a hospital tank.
<I would set up a QT tank if you can now and watch closely'¦ this looks a bit like Brooklynella: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brooksympf.htm. If it is, then your fish will show other symptoms and will quickly succumb. Monitor closely, as this could be another protozoan or a set of co-incidental circumstances and none of the above>
Please keep in mind that really the only store in my area is Petco (I do have Maracyn-Oxy on hand).
<No, read re: Quinine and purchase some on the web just in case: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quinmedfaqs.htm. >
The crew at WetWebMedia has helped me keep my fish healthy for many years. I have always appreciated all the great advice that has been given to me.
<That's good news, lets hope it stays that way!>
<No problem at all>

Re: 15/02/10 Identification and Treatment... SW, trb... 2/16/10
<Hi Matt>
Thanks for the info. I will get the fish in the QT today.
<I would not, just be prepared, get it all ready>
What should I do with my two tangs? They do not appear to have any issues.
<As above, monitor, do not treat unnecessarily>
The white "zit" on the Copperband is smaller again today, which makes me think it was some sort of trauma.
<Yes, maybe>
However, there is still that small white patch between his eyes, which is concerning. The discoloration on the Clownfish remains the same and has not gotten worse.
If it was Brooklynella, wouldn't the fish have other more severe symptoms at this point? It has been close to a week since I noticed the discoloration.
<Yes, I think you could be ok, watch closely>
Regardless, I will order the Quinine today and be ready should the fish exhibit more symptoms.
<Yes, I should>
Should I do PH adjusted freshwater dips prior to placing in the QT?
<I always do>
At what point do I want to begin treatment? What do I do if they don't exhibit additional symptoms?
<Leave them in the main system and let them get over whatever it is on their own. Just watch them closely and be ready to act>
<No problem>

Tank loss, SW, troubleshooting 1/26/10
Hi guys,
I have a well established (4+year) tank that I came home to last night and had severe losses. All fish were dead, 2 3 stripe damsels, tomato clown, false percula, powder blue tang, engineer goby and a flame goby. Also lost an arrow crab, cleaner shrimp, large sea cucumber, and about 5 sand sifters. Things that survived - horseshoe crab, Condy anemone, 3 urchins, red gorgonian, shaving brush, and about a 15 hermit crabs and snails. Everything that is left is barely moving - but definitely still alive.
About 2 weeks ago the Condy, tang, and flame goby were added. They were all eating well and showed absolutely no signs of any sickness. The part I can't figure out is that on Sunday night everything in the tank was completely fine, eating and swimming around - then on Monday afternoon it was like a bomb went off. All fish lying on the ground dead and stiff as a board. All water parameters were perfect, no ammonia, nitrites/nitrates were 0, ph 8.2-8.3, salinity 1.022, temp 76.
<The Spg is low... Perhaps one scenario here is the stress/death of the Condylactis... cascading in effect as poisoning to the rest>
The only thing I can think of is that the anemone released poison but I don't know why it would have done so.
<... the low density of water is one source>
Nothing in the tank seemed to pay any attention to it at all in the previous 2 weeks and there's no other anemone in there to compete with.
Any suggestions would be great.
<One can only speculate... Perhaps a read through here:
and the linked files above, and here:
the areas on Troubleshooting, Environmental Disease, Toxic Water Conditions... will grant you insight into the myriad of possibilities here.
Could well be that "something" from outside brought on this die-off... Household, glass cleaners, for instance. Bob Fenner>
Re: Tank loss 1/26/10
Should have mentioned it in my original response - the Condy is doing ok.
Hell he even ate something yesterday (little piece of krill).
<Oh! Well... very likely counts this out as a source of the trouble here>
Yea the only thing I could think of was something accidentally getting sprayed in there. I have seem some companies that you can send your water to for testing, they look for about 14 different things. Worth it?
<Not really... most all such toxic events are transient in nature. Whatever caused such a rapid onset (vs. slower, days...) is likely gone. BobF>
Brendan Bellefeuille
Re: Tank loss 1/26/10
Got it. Appreciate the help man.
As far as getting it back up and going again any suggestions?
<What is archived that you've been referred to>
I am going to see if the remaining animals survive - and if so might introduce a damsel as a test fish.
Judging by the transient nature of the suspected toxin its probably fine to keep the sand, live rock etc right?
<Likely so. B>
Brendan Bellefeuille

Foam for faux rock in saltwater tank Aquascaping, Fish Health, Aiptasia 1/25/2009
Wet Web Crew,
<Hi Michele>
Thanks as always for the invaluable help and advice!
<My Pleasure.>
This is a follow up question regarding a Naso tang question from two weeks ago. Long story short...we had a Naso tang for about 3 1/2 years that had an acute onset of lethargy and weight loss and subsequently died about 5 days later. No external marks or abnormalities were seen. The system is a 250 gallon SPS/LPS show tank with 650 gallons total volume. All test values were given in the previous e-mails and all considered to be within normal range per correspondence with the crew.
Now, a Yellow tang and a Rabbitfish are starting to exhibit some mild abnormalities.
The Rabbitfish has some slight "tattering" to the caudal fin and some mild scaly irritation on both sides of the body. The Yellow tang has a slight red haze on the lateral fins. Both fish are still feeding and active. The only other fish in the tank, a pair of Ocellaris clownfish, seem ok so far (touch wood!).
<Something definitely amiss. With the LPS and SPS in the tank, I would suggest running carbon in the filtration system.>
So my question...We have other systems that are running smoothly and even this tank was pretty unremarkable until the Naso had the sudden signs, so we have been trying to figure out what might be different about this tank that could be causing a problem. The only differences we can think of are three things....first, the 250 gallon has faux rock on the back wall created by a product called "Savio Black Waterfall Foam" made for pond use. It claims that "the foam is closed cell, and will not age, harden, or shrink. Additionally, it is safe for water gardens with fish and other aquatic life." It can be found here: http://www.123ponds.com/bf400.html
We are worried if perhaps something could have started to leech out of the foam and is now causing a problem. It was done about 2 1/2 years ago. Are any of you familiar with this product and have an opinion on safety?
<I am familiar with its use in freshwater systems, but not in saltwater systems. I am very leery of adding anything to a saltwater system unless it is proven chemically inert (like glass) or beneficial (carbonate based)
Short answer is, it's possible.>
Secondly, about one week prior to the Naso's demise, we started our generator in the garage which is connected to our "fish room" with the fuge, frag tank, sump, etc. in case we had a power outage with an upcoming ice storm. A big cloud of black smoke came flying out of the generator. I wonder if this could have contaminated the water.
<Another distinct possibility - hydrocarbons and or carbon monoxide from the exhaust could be contaminating the water.>
The supporting tanks were not directly next to the smoke and were actually in a separate room off of the garage, so it could not have been much, but now we're paranoid.
<If no part of the system was in close proximity (in the same room) it is doubtful that is the cause.>
How ironic if that was the problem...start the generator to be ready to take care of the fish in case of a power outage and inadvertently kill the fish with said generator. =(
Thirdly, we have been fighting an Aiptasia problem in this tank. We had used Aiptasia X for several months, but it had not been used in the weeks preceding the Naso's change. Also, no marks were seen on her to indicate stings, but I thought I'd mention it in case anyone had thoughts.
<I've heard more than a few anecdotal reports of Aiptasia-X making fish sick. I prefer to kill them using a Kalkwasser slurry and a syringe and inject the little buggers directly.>
I left out the details of the system since it had been ok-ed by previous e-mails, but if whoever gets this would like it included, let me know.
Much appreciation if anyone has any thoughts!
<I would do a large water change and definitely run carbon and a Polyfilter in your system to try and soak up any chemicals that may be in the system and then observe. If the conditions seem to worsen, I would remote the fish and get them into a separate hospital tank Have a read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm as well as the linked files on the top of that page.>

Fish are Gilling... 12/23/09
Hi guys!
In my 90gal tank I have 2 Koralia 4 water flow pumps and plenty of currently, I tested the water there is no ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and the Ph is 8.0-8.2. my fish seem to always be gilling or breathing heavily, even though they show no other signs of stress, (i.e. bacterial growths, ich, etc) What could be causing this?
<A myriad of "things"... what have you done recently? Anything tried to alleviate it? Have you read on WWM re troubleshooting disease?>
I do have low salt levels to prevent ich outbreaks and my salt is at 2.018.
<Uh, no... maybe 1.018... I would raise this... Read here:
and the linked files above>
Could this be the issue. every time I go to my LFS they tell me its Ph but my Ph seems fine, id why else they'd be gilling. please help!
<With what?>
One more question I seem to have white spots or dots that I'm assuming are barnacles that came out of the live rock. are these useful to the tank? or are they better to scrub off ?
<Likely are encrusting/tubiculous Sedentariate Polychaetes... not harmful... See WWM re>
Any helpful tips to aid in my fish keeping?
<You're not joking? Please learn to search, read on WWM ahead of writing us. I strongly suggest your reading at least one good marine aquarium book... Perhaps the new, 3d. edition of Martin Moe's... In the meanwhile, besides reading, water changes, the use of chemical filtrants... see WWM...
Bob Fenner>
Thanks Kody

Re: Fish are Gilling, using WWM 12/24/09
I have added the second Koralia 4 for water movement (was told to put the 2 at opposite sides of tank pointed at e/o for random current movement), added airstones to break the water surface, continuously check pH to make
sure that isn't burning their gills, idk what else it could be.
<... read where you were referred>
They don't seem to be sick or hurting in anyway they swim all over, and they all eat well. and sorry for the vague question, though I found the respond sort of rude, I was just simply asking for a little random tip, I look at your site all the time, and I've read a lot of articles on it, I was just simply trying to get a real persons opinion as opposed to reading an article.
<... ? The articles are written by real people... for real people's help.
As folks don't provide all useful info. in all cases, by having you review others experiences, results, I/we hope to have you become better educated, aware. Read. BobF>

55 gal. reef w/ mysterious Cnidarian et al. types of life issues 11/14/09
Dear Crew,
I absolutely cringe that I have to ask a question but I have been on WWM for several hours and the wife is giving me the wrap it up signal...
<Heeeee! Maybe she'd appreciate a referee's jersey and a whistle for Xmas?!>
Little about my system: 55 gallon mixed reef that is overstocked, (4" maroon clown, 4" scopas tang, 3" blackcap Basslet, 2" purple Firefish, 2" Sixline wrasse, 1" pajama cardinal, and a 1" yellow tail damsel). Also a coral banded shrimp. Before I continue I want to state the scopas tang is only held in my system because my friend is moving. It goes home in a few days. Either that or I am giving it away. I am utilizing a 1" sugar fine sand, and I don't even know how much LR but suffice it to say the display is about half full and rock rubble is in the sump bio ball compartment, the sump flow through and the canister filter. Canister is an Eheim, not sure which model but it is rated for 296 GPH. Skimmer is an Aqua C Urchin Pro with a mag 5 pump inside a Megaflow 1 sump (10 gallons?). Lighting is provided by 2 - 175 10,000 Kelvin MH bulbs and 2 - 96 watt actinic supplements. For flow I am using the canister filter, a quiet one return pump from the sump, a Koralia 1 and a Koralia 4. Parameters are excellent.
Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate unmeasurable by means of Aquarium Pharm and Salifert test kits. Calcium is steadily maintained via a Kalk drip at 400 PPM.
<What of Magnesium?>
PH is at 8.2 and KH is 8. Water changes are done every week with 5 gallons of mixed saltwater from my LFS. Top offs are done with buffered RODI water.
OK is that a little info?
<Summat; and sounds/reads as a very nice system; showing evidence of keen, clear understanding on your part>
This system has been setup, as stated above, for several months. Started this tank in January using substrate, rocks, water and filter media from a well matured system. Everything seemed great but out of nowhere I started losing coral. I did have a Cyano breakout but syphoning it out and redirecting the powerheads seemed to fix that. Also had an aiptasia problem that I have been rectifying with Aiptasia X, Blue Line, and Joe's Juice. All seem effective but sure is no cure. Guess I am going to have to drop a couple hundred bucks for Berghia.
<Mmm, I wouldn't. Keep using the Aiptasia X...>
A pumping xenia melted away after it started to attach and grow. My colt coral, which once was about 8" has shriveled to a 1" tight mass. Polyps are melting away like crazy and are not opening as much. Also in the tank are a toadstool leather, a Fiji ruffled ridge leather, a small frogspawn frag, a trumpet frag, some other pink looking leather (I have no idea what it is). A brain Favites which is large and doing splendidly. Also a button coral. Purple ribbon gorgonian and a red tree sponge. All these are doing fabulous.
<Interesting... to the winners, the spoils; or at least in this case, the whole 55 gal. sys.>
There are also some very small Birdsnest frags that are doing fine. Sorry to list so much but I do not want to leave an essential piece of the puzzle out. I have tried everything that I felt was not too drastic. Changed carbon brands, readjusted the skimmer, reaquascaped and adjusted the powerheads, moved the coral everywhere I could. Thinking I am having some kind of warfare here.
<Yes, or more likely-important, a contest for available nutrients... The winners are better at scrounging what little nitrate and likely phosphate (among other chemical species) than the "losers" here>
Perhaps one of the healthy corals is attacking the colt and the slime from the colt is affecting the polyps.
<Could be>
I am thinking that I will remove the colt from the system but I am not sure that is the best thing to do for it or my system as a whole. It concerns me when my system is healthy enough to support sponges but cannot grow polyps. I am lost. Not sure if it will help but I started a thread on my aquarium on the local reef clubs site.
http://www.cvreefers.org/showthread.php?t=13906 Perhaps it contains something I forgot. Other than the gorgonian having been moved, by mouth of the clownfish, it pretty much looks exactly like that.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it.
John A. Davis
<Mmm, how to put this best? Well, all might be solved if/when you have a larger system... Or if you used ozone, had a decent RedOx value (which assuredly you don't)... and all that it implies. You could spend a good deal of time, effort (when your wife is out doing other things than being home!) reading on the Net re the needs of the disparate life you're trying to keep here... You could do as you suggest and remove the more likely culprits one at a time... You could try augmenting your water mineral and food wise... Check the ratio of Mg:Ca, do what you can to boost to some measurable concentration at least HPO4 and NO3... add a larger refugium with a DSB, RDP lighting, macro-algae of use... and Ozone generator with some way of measuring ORP.... But if you're "fine" with how things are progressing, I'd let all go as it is.
What do you want to do? Bob Fenner>

Help with troubleshooting die-off 11/14/09
Hi guys,
I need some help in trying to troubleshoot an ongoing die-off event. I've read through your FAQs and articles but am still at a loss on isolating the problem(s) and saving our remaining livestock.
We've been keeping marine aquariums for about 5 years and over that period only lost 2 fish (due to old age we think) until this event. For the past 3 years we've had a 180 gallon reef tank with about 100 lbs live rock and 200 lbs deep sand bed. Fish: 1 dragon-wrasse, 1 maroon clown, 1 yellow tang, 1 coral beauty angel, 2 Banggai cardinals. We also had 1 small frogspawn coral fragment and about 10 BTAs (clones from 2 originals). No new livestock have been added to this tank in over 2 years.
<Good info.>
About a month ago we experienced several systems failures in quick succession which stressed the tank. The chiller failed (temps were unstable/high for several days until we repaired it). Additionally we had a pH spike while restoring our Kalkreactor which had been down for awhile.
Around the same time our RO system clogged so we replaced the sediment & carbon filters and RO membrane. These events seemed to precipitate the following. First, we experienced an algae bloom (lots of green, probably hair algae). It started covering the liverock and coral. Then, we noticed what appeared to be ich symptoms with our clownfish (swimming at the surface, covered with a coating of white mucous, etc). We immediately removed her from the main tank, put her in QT and started a 2 wk hyposalinity treatment (1.010 specific gravity) to which she seemed to respond favorably. We opted for hyposalinity rather than formalin over fears of toxicity.
<A reasonable concern>
Parameter checks in the
main tank at this point included pH, nitrate, phosphate, ammonia, nitrite, dKH, calcium, and magnesium. All parameters were normal except nitrate which was around 30ppm (has always been that high or higher in this tank).
And we had a slight imbalance in ca/mg.
Then about 10 days ago, we found the yellow tang dead on the bottom of the tank. There was no sign of ich symptoms. We executed a series of 30% water changes and got 3 other QT tanks running (against the chance we'd need to extract the other fish). Three days later we found the coral beauty dead in the same spot in the tank. Again, no visible symptoms either before or after death. At this point we moved the remaining fish from the main tank to the QT tanks and started gradually decreasing salinity in the QTs until over several days we reached the current 1.010 specific gravity in the QTs (3 days ago). Meanwhile I continued large water changes on the main tank and ran additional tests including for copper (wondering about metal poisoning), dissolved O2, and silicates. I was concerned the RO system incident and rework had led to contamination in our source water (the main tank has an auto-top off from the RO system). Silicates were normal.
Dissolved O2 was inconclusive (bad test kit). There was a detectable amount of copper (about 0.1 ppm)
<High! Am surprised your Cnidarians weren't showing signs...>
so we installed a Polyfilter in the sump.
<Did this show any blue, bluish green colour?>
Also added 2 lbs of carbon filter. After a few days the copper was undetectable. I checked the RO water in the QT tanks and could not find signs of copper. I completely replaced the old RO system with a new RO+DI system last week in an effort to isolate this. Am doing daily water changes (25-80%) on the QT tanks to manage ammonia. Did a 50% H2O change on the main tank a few days ago. Despite all this the inverts in the main tank look bad (BTAs and frogspawn are always shriveled).
<Not good>
I fear we're about to lose another fish (one of the Banggai cardinals).
She's laying on the QT bottom and/or swimming head down. Looks like swim bladder trouble. Don't see any visible signs of ich, etc. Other fish seem to be okay but main tank (now inverts only) still looks bad.
It feels like we're missing something basic but can't seem to find the problem. Plan right now is to let the main tank remain fallow for 30 days (complete Nov 30) before returning the fish from QT. Am worried we didn't move aggressively enough (if this indeed is ick) but also concerned about continuing to make changes vs. letting things stabilize.
Should we try more aggressive treatments in the QTs (formalin)? Are there other tests we should be running?
<I would not try medicating, nor hyposalinity really. I fully suspect the issue here is some sort of endogenous/biological poisoning in your main display. Not parasitic or infectious disease at all>
I fear if we don't figure out the root cause we could lose everything. Any ideas welcome. Thanks,
<There's either some sort of microbial "wipe out syndrome" or stress-effect result on your Euphylliids and anemones that has changed your water/system to unsupportive. You can "re-center" the system by continuing to use chemical filtrants, spiffing up your skimmer, adding some new/er live rock... But I would take a look at an important measure of system viability here: RedOx, and possibly add an ozonizer to your standard list of gear. Do take the longer read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm
the second tray down, under the orange banner: Toxic Situations
And we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: help with troubleshooting die-off 11/15/09
Bob, thanks much for the responses. Am running out of tricks and greatly appreciate your help. We've been fans for years. You guys are a critical resource. I will read the recommended link on toxicity. In the meantime, updates....
I. QT tanks & fish
The surviving fish are in 3 QT tanks as follows. Tank-A: maroon clownfish (3wks), Tank-B: dragon wrasse (2wks), Tank-C: two Banggai cardinals (2 wks). The clownfish (who showed first symptoms of distress -- white mucous covering and surface swimming) was subjected to hyposalinity and no meds for 2 weeks (down to 1.010 sp-gr) - is now back to normal salinity. She looks great (good color, energy, appetite). Because of her symptoms and treatment response we (probably incorrectly) suspected parasite infection from suppressed immune system so (a week late) got the surviving fish out of the main tank and into hyposalinity QT. In tank B the dragon wrasse shows no external signs of disease but is spending more time laying around than usual - would like to think he's just bored being in a small tank with no rocks to throw (he's rather smart) but am wary. He shows no signs of breathing distress (normal rate for him), remains gregarious and his usual voracious wrasse appetite. Tank-C inhabitants (cardinals) are suffering.
The male is carrying a brood (actually hatched one last night) and looks good all things considered. The female is hovering at death's doorstep.
Over a period of a few days she developed what appears to be a severe bacterial infection (fins wasting, discolorations and wasting on body, and white feces streamer). Her swim bladder seems damaged (went from swimming head down to laying on the bottom). She's still breathing and will swim away if approached but has stopped eating. Some of her discolorations look like gold velvet so in response to these symptoms (and the clown's) I diagnosed Amyloodinium and started treating Tank-B and -C with CopperSafe and antibiotics (erythromycin/Maracyn in QT water). Both tank-B and -C are currently at about 1.012 sp-gr and I was planning to maintain that with the meds for 2 weeks unless you recommend backing off on all or some of this.
<I really don't think the hypo is going to help; and the copper exposure may well cause more harm than good.>
If the sick cardinal continues to suffer I will consider euthanasia and in any event will do a post-mortem (microscope view of skin sample) to look for parasites. Will discontinue the copper and/or slowly return them to normal salinity levels if you think it's more risk than benefit at this point. Getting an accurate reading on copper (both with total and free copper kits) is difficult so I'm currently at the mercy of the CopperSafe dosing instructions.
My daily QT protocol is to measure ammonia, feed all fish, watch their response, perform 25-80% water changes, and add meds (again nothing for tank-A at this point). Am also aerating vigorously. My plan has been to keep the fish in QT (after the above treatment completes) until a full month has elapsed (allow time for any parasites to complete life-cycle in the main tank) and/or the main tank health has stabilized based on response of inverts.
<Again... would like to have you confirm (microscopic examination of body slime) parasitic presence>
Biggest concern at this point is not losing more fish. We've had the dragon wrasse about 7 years and know they live longer. I'm prepared to sacrifice the remaining main tank inverts to save him (change to FOWLR) but am frankly anxious to get him back there as soon as its safe (really tricky/risky maintaining a big fish in a 20 gallon QT tank for an extended period). So any major reconfig on the main tank that delays returning the fish is a concern.
II. Main reef tank
I just ordered yesterday a 2nd (200 gal capacity) skimmer to augment our existing skimmer as well as an ORP probe for our Neptune controller. Was planning to dig into Redox next as you suggest. I'll look into the ozonizer option.
<A good piece of gear for larger, more valuable (emotionally, economically) collections>
As for tank status, after 2 weeks the poly-filter (in sump) shows no signs of blue-green (copper) color and test kits (API and Instant Ocean) show no measurable copper so I'm wondering if the source water (old RO system, since replaced with new RO-DI rig) might have been the culprit.
<Mmm, possibly... I'd be checking the checker/test kit as well>
The surviving inverts appear to be in limbo (not getting worse but not getting better either). BTAs are "cautiously open". I remain concerned at persistently low pH (hovering around 7.9) despite the frequent water changes and infusion of new aragonite sand last month.
<Buffer the new/make-up water. Use SeaChem's fine line>
I've had the Kalkwasser drip off for about a month now.
<Mmmm, see WWM. Am not a big fan of in general>
Will try to manually bump up the pH slowly using buffer up while I'm trying to sort out the chemistry but again, it feels like something basic is out of whack. Algae remains a problem but nitrates are slowly dropping (down to 20ppm today). Am periodically checking ammonia and nitrites to ensure the system isn't cycling. I am concerned about an as-yet mysterious water quality problem affecting things at a microbial level.
<Yes... mysterious>
Thanks again,
<Thank you for this report, sharing. BobF>

Toxic Water Conditions - Can't Figure out what is wrong to fix. 10/5/09
Hi WetWebMedia Crew,
<Hey Thai! JustinN here, out of retirement to help you out! :)>
I have had a bit of an issue of late over the water quality of my tank and cannot seem to work out what is wrong, hence have done nothing except water changes to keep water quality high.
<Sounds reasonable, lets see what we can do!>
My stats are as follow: Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 10 Ph 8.1 and Salinity is 1.022.
<Looks good so far.>
It is a 375 gallon and understocked in my opinion. Tank consists of 1 yellow tang, 9 yellow tank fusiliers at about 3-4 inches, 3 green chromis and a niger trigger at about 2 inches.
<I would agree with this assertion, sparsely populated given the great volume of water available.>
The issue is that I've notice the fusilier tails have gone black in some places and darker than it's usual bright yellow. 1 fusilier has cloudy eye, 1 has pop eye as well and they seem to be burning as I notice small red
patches on a few of them.
<Sounds like a higher potential case of aggression here, considering your previous readings, assuming their accuracy..>
The Yellow tang is fine, flicks around a bit and has been doing it for the last week. No visible signs of disease and his body is absolutely perfect apart from some minor damage due to the flicking.
<Relatively typical of the species -- though is often a precursor to further parasitic issues.>
The trigger and chromis are normal. I have added carbon in the past week to try to remove any toxic metals and am using Seachem. I also have Seachem's Cupri ion metal removal and am planning to add that to the sump as well.
<Have you previously treated with a metal solution/chemical 'cure-all' that would merit this? These products are not something I would consider a detriment to add occasionally, but unless you have introduced the metals, this is an unwarranted worry.>
I'm feeding the fish new life spectrum pellets and Nori.
<A fine meal for most the species -- though I do recommend something more meaty for your trigger. He'll love you for it!>
I use tap water and Red Sea Salt mix for water changes. I also have a 67 gallon tank ready to go and can use my Eheim 2217 which I have been running in on the new tank for bacteria.
<If there becomes a directly diagnosable issue here, I'd recommend using this set up as your quarantine/medical administration tank. No sense in disturbing your large display if its not needed.>
The media was thoroughly cleaned before I hooked it up. Please advise or direct me to the right links as I been reading all day but can't find anything similar to what I am experience. Feel free to ask if I'm missing
any details. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in anticipation
<My only remaining thoughts at this point still point to in-tank aggression. Yellow tangs have an occasional penchant for being bully-ish, and triggers most typically are aggressive. I'd keep an eye on the day-to-day activities of your livestock, perhaps a pattern of aggression may emerge.. -JustinN>
Thai Pham

Reef problems 9/17/09
Good Evening,
I am hoping you can shed some light on the situation I am going through.
Let's just say it's been a tough go on the reef. First my Wrasse took a floor dive and then my Blenny got stung by a bristleworm and eventually gave way to what I believe was an infection that became serious. Well anyways my tank has been running for 5 years. In the last 3 months or so my leather corals have been shrinking in size and not fully extending their polyps.
At first I just thought this was shedding but they still have not shed and continue to shrink on a daily basis. There is no die off and am not sure what is going on.
<Something, someone bothering>
I also had a very large Pocillopora colony which bleached from the bottom only leaving the tips alive. About 5 months ago I switched my lights from Ushio 10k bulbs to the AirWaterIce 12k bulbs. I do not know if this is the cause but I know the PAR can be less with the higher temperature halides.
Do you think this is possible?
<Is possible>
The bulbs were running for a few months before this started so I am kind of reluctant to pin it on this and spend the money on new bulbs. I have tired increasing the flow in my tank by adding another Koralia 1 thinking it was a flow problem. Still no improvement. I now have 4 in my tank in each corner along with my mag 12 on the return (90 Gallon). Allelopathy can also be an issue, I suppose,
but I do bi-weekly water changes, skim heavy, and use carbon.
My parameters all check out as well, PH- 8.3, DKH - 9, Cal- 375, SG - 35ppt.
I know the calcium is a little low but my tank seems to saturate calcium at a high rate. I am sure this is related to my magnesium levels as I use instant ocean salt,
<Has proven an inconsistent product in recent years... I'd test each mix/bag>
but wouldn't think this is the problem. Do you have any ideas what I can look for?
<All sorts>
Should I try moving things around? Change the bulbs? Add a couple triggers and groupers and call it quits?
<None of these. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/cniddisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>
Thanks, Eric

I Can't Keep a Fish Alive SW Systems Fish health and Likely Toxic Water
Possible Ich\Crypt\Inappropriate stocking Reading, lots of reading.9/2/2009

Dear WWM
<Hi Jenaraye>
6 months ago I decided to buy my 6 yr old daughter her first fish and that's when I became "hooked".
<welcome to the hobby.>
I ended up with my first fish tank and my first saltwater experience.
A 55 gallon tank, a BakPak2R+ skimmer, Emperor 400, 2 power heads, Live Rock 80lbs & my test kits show my Nitrates 0, nitrites 0,(or)0.25 ammonia, 0,
<Big problem right there. Nitrites need to be zero and remain zero.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm >
High PH 8.0
<pH is a bit low. 8.2 - 8.4 is preferred.>
Phosphate 0.0 (or) 0.25 Salt Gravity 1.022. I feed mysis Shrimp, blood worms, awexotics flakes (a food made locally here in town where I live) it has kelp-Spirulina-color with garlic...made from fresh kelp direct from Alaska high in added Spirulina high in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids garlic added for parasite control industry leading color enhancer, zero nitrates and extremely low ash and phosphorous.
<Other than the nitrite and pH, that sounds fine.>
I'm afraid however, I've just about given up already. Fish die in my care and some within a day or two.
<Not good..>
I haven't been able to keep one fish going for longer than 2 or 3 weeks.
<Something is seriously amiss.>
I'm afraid to go back to my fish stores for fear that they won't sell me another fish I'm so embarrassed.
They're probably keeping track of how many I've bought so as to make sure I'm not over stocking my tank.
<Not likely.>
I don't have the courage to tell them that the ones before have all died. I have to drive out of my area just to find other new fish. I feel so bad.
Right before a fish would die I'd notice white spots looking like sand that showed up after it was being harassed by another fish.
<Ahh, Marine Ich Have a read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm and here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichart2mar.htm >
After it stressed from all of the chasing the white spots would show. I was told that these
spots were signs of stress and fish die from stress and exhaustion.
<Not even close. You have been given incorrect information.>
A local shop sold me live rock that had just come in from Fiji. I think they might have been in too much of a hurry to sell it however because it wasn't cured all of the way before they sold it. I didn't realize that.
<uh oh.>
My fish started to die and I just thought it was bad luck or bad choice of combination on my ignorant part (again) so I kept reading up on things until the wee hours of the night researching information and selecting what I thought were the right fish but they all died too. Finally another fish store owner, after hearing my sad pathetic story about my tank said that it was the live rock wiping out my tank and killing off my fish.
<If the live rock was still cycling, yes it was - it was giving off ammonia and nitrite.>
A store sold me two maroon clowns and bagged them together and when I got them home one of the clown fish had fins that were chewed up and shredded!
<Not at all surprising. Maroon Clowns are very aggressive.>
They must have fought the whole 5 minuets it took me to get
<Likely so.>
They didn't last in my tank either. I put a cardinal in my tank and one survived and the other died the second it hit the water.
<You need to read about Quarantine and Dipping procedures. It keeps diseases like ich out of your tank Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm and here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm >
I don't understand that.
Seems I either buy fish that don't mesh with each other and they fight to the death or fish that just don't make it.
<You need to stop adding fish.>
I would like more than just 4 fish in this tank. Perhaps freshwater fish that are small would be a better choice to give me a tank filled with beautiful fish to watch rather than 4 or 5 fish. I haven't met any beautiful freshwater fish though.
<There are several, but that is for another letter. :) >
I had a coral beauty and I bought a Bicolor Pygmy Angel and they both died with in 24 hours. The coral beauty lived 2 days but when I put the angel in the next day they were both lying dead next to each other.
<A very bad idea to put two dwarf angels together in the same tank. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/ >
Now I've been reading about quarantine tanks and Dips and although I don't know why these fish died I do think that I would have been able to prevent some possibilities by understanding the importance of both of these.
The store I bought my present fish from checked a few fish books behind the counter while I stood there and told me I'd be "just fine" with my 55 gallon tank when they sold me the following: 1-Panther Grouper, 1- Lunar Wrasse, 1-Porcupine Puffer and 3 Blue Green Chromis.
<Nyet, Nein, Non, No, no, a thousand times no.>
Well I can now tell you that I won't be "just fine" and neither will these fish.
I'm going to have to donate these fish to another store or a zoo!. The Wrasse probably won't live longer than 3 months in captivity and the Panther will out grow my tank faster than my 6 year old daughter outgrows her shoes. The Chromis fish look okay and the Puffer, well his face is about as pathetic looking as mine.
Cute but a sad and sorry face. :-)
<The puffer will not do well in a 55 either. will get too big and obnoxious.>
It's odd, at first I was embarrassed to go back to the stores because so many of the fish had died in my care.
I didn't want to show my face I felt so sad and ashamed.
But now, I'm not so sure that the stores are all that "concerned" about the "fish" after all?
<Some do, many do not.>
I had a goby but I couldn't find it. I lost it, can you believe that. I am so bad I actually lost a fish in my own
tank! In a rock somewhere I think. I took out the live rock to move it around and the goby was gone. It finally showed up dead lying in the sand. I'm pathetic I tell you.
<You are learning - the hard and expensive way, but yo are learning.>
I've been up to 3:00 am night after night reading your website and trying to learn everything. Saltwater fish might be to delicate and expensive for a rookie like me.
<No, you just need to learn.>
Maybe I'll do better with freshwater fish. Maybe it doesn't matter what kind of fish I pick.
My question for you at this point is, I'm wondering if perhaps it's not about the kind of fish but more about something else that makes this a successful experience.
Is that possibly true?
<Rule #1 NOTHING good ever happens quickly in a saltwater tank.>
All this work on my tank and testing equipment and filters and such makes me want to ask, is having a successful aquarium a constant ongoing delicate balance between water conditions, food types, species and knowledge or is having a successful aquarium a delicate balance no matter what, simply because we're trying to keep this species in captivity?
<It is a delicate balance always. When properly set up, it isn't difficult. Do have a read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm >
For me, I haven't gotten off to a very successful start.
<But we can always learn and correct our mistakes.>
Best Regards,
<My pleasure, do write back if you have other questions.>

Re: I Can't Keep a Fish Alive QT, Ich Attack use. 9\5\2009
Thank you for your response and information, links and time.
<My pleasure.>
I read the information you offered and more. In the meantime the Chromis died and at first it looked like they might have been crushed by rock but I thought it was too odd and coincidental to happen to both.
Then the 3rd one showed signs of injury or fungus on his back. Suddenly my nitrites went from 0 to .25 and I noticed the puffer had the white spots looking like sand all over the eyes and fins.
<It seems as if your tank is going through a series of mini cycles.>
I took a photo of both the puffer and the panther. (attached) You can't see anything on the panther because he's so white himself, but he takes a nice photo nonetheless) As for the wrasse well, he's hard to photograph but he does like to lie beside the Panther for some odd reason so I might get my chance.
I bought the "Ich Attack"
<Not the best choice for medicine. I would go so far as to say it is useless . Copper or Quinine are the only methods that really work.>
and took out the filters that you normally use when you run the Emperor 400. (These have carbon in them I assume tucked in behind the blue filter material so I'm assuming the filter must be run without these and with water only) and I left the skimmer on and put the Ich Attack in the tank.
But then I realized that I had read that this would not do any good because of my live rock. Not only would my live rock render it useless but my live rock might no longer be any good either after doing this. I went back to my reading and went out to the store and purchased a 10 gallon tank as it was late at night. I set up the tank and placed the Wrasse the Panther and the Puffer in the tank after I had checked the water levels and salt levels and made sure all was at the 0 level and salt was at 1.022 and High PH 8.4.
<Very good recovery on the mistake.>
The Puffer didn't make it however as of today.
<Sorry to hear this.>
The Wrasse and Panther are still in the QT. Meanwhile in my 55 gallon I took the opportunity to vacuumed the sand (another thing I'm not quite sure the best way to do).
<Not so different from doing it in a FW tank.>
When you say leave the tank "fallow" do you mean leave everything turned off for days and let the water sit until it is time to return the fish back to the tank and this will help kill the ich in the tank as well?
<Leave the filtration system running, but with no fish for 4 weeks.>
When should I change the water in the main tank to flush out the Ich Attack that I put into the main tank that got all over my live rock?
<Since you used Ich Attack, I would not worry too much. It will filter out - just do your normal water changes.>
I'm on my way now back to read up on how long to leave them in the QT and levels for acclimating them back into the main tank.
<Very good.>
Currently in the QT tank the levels are Nitrates 0, Nitrites 0, Ammonia 0 High PH 8.5 and Salinity 1.019 and the temp is 81 degrees F.
<All good.>
If these two fish don't make it I might not keep this tank as a saltwater tank but turn it into a freshwater tank and start again from the beginning.
<It is easy to get frustrated. Just go a bit slower.>
I'm having success with my 10 gallon and 29 gallon freshwater tanks here at home for some reason and haven't replaced any fish and I tend to them weekly. I must have stocked them right. Either way, I enjoy taking care of the tanks and their water and find it therapeutic to test and change the water once a week and sometimes more just for the fun of it, I admit :-)
<Enjoy the hobby .>
Thanks again.

Re: Attn: Bob Fenner...... Reef trouble... hlth. diag. 9/1/2009
Hey! As always thanks so much for getting back to me. I just found out that the snails I purchased are indeed wild caught.
So yes Im suspecting that's were this had to have started. Cause everything was fine before this. With the exception of a 5 inch Monti cap that I added a few weeks ago. Nothing else was added until the snails. Before these snails everything was fine.
Last night I did a 3 to 4 min freshwater dip on both clowns. They seem to be doing a lot better. I took a flashlight and shined it in the dipping bucket and I could see what look to be white spots floating on the bottom..flukes?
But also there was small dark specks to..which if im not wrong is black ich. Is this correct?
<Not likely, no>
But Im mainly worried about my Orchid Dottyback. He wont come out of his cave...and I shined a light in there to see if he was still alive, which he is, but he's not looking too good. He would have to pick a cave that's in the largest rock in my tank. I think I will try to get him out today and give him a freshwater dip with methyblue. I have the hospital tank up and running. I have Seachem Paraguard, is this a good medication for the hospital tank?
I also thought about moving the clowns in there, until they start eating again.
I will do a large water change today. Should I take all of those wild caught snails out?
<I would>
Please let me know..and thanks!!!
<Welcome. BobF>

Re: Attn: Bob Fenner... ****Update***... Reef trouble... hlth. diag. 9/2/09
Just thought I would update. I finally got the Orchid Dottyback out of his cave and I gave him a 5 min freshwater dip with methyblue. I then put him in the hospital tank...where he fell to the bottom, breathed very heavy for about a min and then died. I had the parameters on the hospital tank almost an exact match to the main tank. Im just not sure if he was just too far gone or if he went into shock or both?
<... both>
Both my clowns were still looking lethargic , so I then decided to move them both to the hospital tank.
The male is right
side up and seems like he's doing ok, the female is laying on her side a lot and seems to have trouble staying right side up. She will swim for a second and then lay on the bottom. What would cause her not be able to stay right side up?
<... don't know. Stress likely>
I dosed with Paraguard and then again today. It has been 4 days since they last ate. I will soak a tiny bit of food in garlic and see if they will take any tonight. Is this normal for them to lose interest in food?
<Please read on WWM re Amphiprionines>
and will they start eating again at some point, hopefully if they start to get better.. Also is the methyblue
better just for dips, or can I use it for the hospital tank too? or is it better to just stick with Paraguard for the hospital tank?
<I'd stick with the SeaChem product solo>
My bristle tooth tang, Banggai cardinal, yellow tail damsel seem unaffected.
I did a water change last night and then again today.
I will continue doing water changes for the next couple of days. I took all the wild caught snails out of the tank. So If the snails did bring pathogens into the tank what would be my next course of action?
<Wait and hope>
Before this mess, I actually was getting ready to move everything into a bigger tank in about 3 or 4 weeks. I wanted to use the 50 gals of water from this tank too when I do the change over.
Would it be ok, or should i totally discard this water and start all over when I change tanks?
Thanks Bob!!!!!!
<I'd start all over. B>

Possible Oxygen Issues? (Maybe'¦but I don't think so) -- 08/04/09
Hey guys, Jen again,
<<Howdy Jen again>>
Bob commented on a complete and total loss I had with a reef tank about 4 weeks ago.
It's been about 7 weeks since the crash and since then I've did a major overhaul in the tank.
<<Ah yes'¦and a prime opportunity to makes changes/upgrades>>
I can only assume that I lost most of the beneficial bacteria, so I changed most of the water over the first 3 weeks, stirred sand, replaced media, added a custom carbon canister (about 10lbs of carbon)
<<You haven't stated the size of this system but I imagine this is much more than what is needed here'¦and maybe even enough to be 'too aggressive' for the system. Not to mention the expense of changing out this much carbon on a two-three week basis'¦really, any longer than that and this becomes a huge detritus sink. I am a fan/user myself of carbon on a continual basis as a useful adjunct to your filtration system, but in smaller quantities (1/2lb -- 1lb), and changed-out frequently (every 2-3 weeks)>>
to try and combat maybe some kind of toxin,
<<Was this identified as the cause of the loss? Or maybe just an assumption of an accumulation re>>
and then added more live rock. In the weeks and weeks after all the work I've watched the tank cycle and now I'm back down to acceptable levels - no ammonia, no nitrite, almost undetectable nitrate levels.
<<Mmm, this tank is still cycling then'¦all should be 'zero'>>
pH was a problem initially, I assume of the addition of so much carbon,
but now has been buffered and has been stabilized for the past 3 weeks.
<<Likely because the carbon is now 'exhausted'>>
So onto the question. I purchased a damsel to help cycle the tank
<<There's no real practical reason for such 'live' cycling of a system. Much better, and just as useful, to simply add a bit of flake/pelleted food to the tank every couple of days until the Nitrogen cycle is completed>>
(yes will return the little guy later on - he's not a keeper)
<<If it survives'¦>>
and acclimated him using the drip method. I lost him in less than 3 hours.
Extremely heavy frantic respiration. I tried again a few weeks later to the same result.
My question is - could I possibly have extremely low DO levels because of the crash and then subsequent die off?
<<Not for this reason alone'¦not with the time that's passed, the water changes, good water movement (a skimmer?)'¦ I suspect your test kits may not be accurate (time to 'test the testers') and you still have toxic levels of Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate>>
Could this have pushed my system extremely anaerobic and that the cause of the loss so quickly after acclimation?
<<Again, with all that has passed I think this is unlikely. Even had this been the case right after the tank crash'¦once 'cleaned up' as you have done, and with the return of water motion, the system would very quickly return to its 'aerobic' state>>
Also could the carbon be taking out dissolved oxygen as well?
<<I've been pondering that myself, but only because of the 'amount' of carbon you are utilizing. There does seem to be some thought that carbon can be used to remove dissolved oxygen'¦as in a special filter utilizing activated carbon fiber to remove DO to reduce corrosion in steam generators'¦but this looks to require special adjuncts to the process (other added reducers/chemicals/application processes), and is not simply the addition of a measure of activated carbon. I in no way want to discourage the use of activated carbon as a chemical filtrant for the home aquarium, but like anything else, I suppose it can be overdone. With that in mind, I would reduce the amount of carbon in the canister filter to a pound or less...and add a couple cut-up Poly-Filters in place of the bulk of the carbon for increased/improved chemical filtration'¦or even replace the carbon with the Poly-Filter, altogether>>
Everything with the tank tests well and I cannot figure out why else I would have this loss.
<<Do be sure the test kits are good/fresh>>
We've even went so far as to test random occurrences like electrical current to make sure there is no other problems here. I do not want to put any more fish at risk here and really cannot figure out another issue...so could this be a possibility?
<<Maybe'¦ Reduce the amount of carbon and see. But please, don't add any more fish until you've determined the efficacy of your test kits, and ALL Nitrogenous compound readings are at 'zero'>>
If so, I've already added an airstone in the sump and I have plenty of water movement and disturbance at the top.....
<<Then I do think it 'is not' a reduced DO issue, though I still think you don't need that much/should reduce the amount of carbon utilized. Look to other causes for poisoning of the system here, as mentioned>>
Thanks for the insight!
<<Happy to assist'¦ EricR>>

sudden death of certain fish in tank... SW dis. reading 7/21/2009
hello, i have a possible problem.
<I see them... Grammatical... Beginnings of sentences are capitalized, as is the personal pronoun "I"....>
setup is 100 gal, fish and rock only. live sand, with canister filter.
<... insufficient>
ph is 1.023-1.024, no ammonia, nitrates or nitrites. Ph has been around 8.0-8.2 since initial cycle.
tank has only been up for 4months. stocking consists of Foxface rabbit, yellow tang, blue regal tang, single long-fin Bannerfish, two clown fish, three assorted damsels, crabs and cleaner shrimp.
Here's the problem, noticed two days ago on Bannerfish small white fungus on very end of fin,
<Pic please>
LFS said just to pluck them off, just a fungus growth. did that and fish seemed okay, all fish ate today and
were normal selfs,except the Bannerfish. he was hanging around the bottom, breathing labored, and just not swimming like normal. came back six hours later, and Bannerfish, yellow tang, and Rabbitfish all dead in corner of tank.
<... A common trait amongst these? Oxygen need... high DO>
All the other fish seem okay, acting normal, swimming, and being their normal selfs.
<... selves>
Moved blue tang to Q-tank just in case, and taking water sample to LFS for further testing. retest on
water at home showed ph=8.2, no nitrates or nitrites, no ammonia present.SG is at 1.023. I was unsure if the dying Bannerfish could have killed them all, or if the problem lies elsewhere??? thanks for your answer, and love the wet web.....Jason
<Use it then: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm
Bob Fenner>

Frenetic Fishkeeping - 7/16/09
I have a 180 Gallon established fish tank. I found my yellow tang dead and the other fish not eating and breathing heavily. They were all fine when I went to bed and in the morning they were not. I checked all levels in the
tank and even went to my LFS to have them check the water, and all levels are spot on.
<I find it hard to believe an LFS could do better testing than an individual... and what does "spot on" mean?>
We did a 25% water change at the suggestion of the LFS. I am at a loss as are they as to what is going on. I am so upset of losing my fish had him for three years, also I have my other fish for over 4 years never a problem with them. Any suggestions as to what else I can do or what may be the problem.
<Take a deep breath, and check your pH, nitrite, and ammonia. This sounds like a chemical problem. Could something have been spilled in the aquarium? Use any new chemical products by the tank?>
I see no signs of illness on them they look clean on their gills, I am very stressed out watching them breathe like that. Should I leave the tank light off for them does this calm them down?
<No. Maintain normalcy.>
And one last question, is it possible for the other fish to stress out over the one that died since they were tank mates, I know that sounds crazy, but they were all hanging around the tang, they did not even move when I was taking her out of the tank?
<No, these creatures do not form these sort of anthropomorphous relationships>
Thanks for your Help!
<Deb, I'd redo those water tests, and keep an eye on the rate of respiration of the fish. It sounds like some sort of poisoning, for now I would recommend adding some carbon in case there is a foreign chemical at work here, and continuing water changes until the fish clear up.>

Re: Devastating Tank Loss: Additional Crew follow-up: From MikeV 07/14/09
Can someone look at the two pictures of the Torch Coral I haven't seen anything like that before.
<Am looking at right now Mike. My comments below. BobF>
I am writing back to give an update because we have had a small miracle.
Our TR clown has pulled through. His recovery from being on his side and gasping the entire day after the equipment disaster, to swimming around this morning has been a wonderful surprise. I haven't yet seen a fish come back from this. When he was on his side we thought him gone and were going to scoop him out but he swam away and kept at it, something about him gave me hope even though I really know better. He was very healthy and fat before the rescue operation, I suppose this aided in his ultimate survival.
I did a huge water change 40%; the ammonia & ph are 0, nitrates cut down by half at 0 and nitrites 0. As of this morning, all corals (2 torch, a frogspawn and mushroom are open and looking good so far). Also I grabbed a bit of water last time I was in the LFS and tested it when I got home, I was amazed at the PH levels being off my charts; is this normal? Everything else tested at 0's.
<Mmm, normal? Yes... marine systems that are "large, stable" enough, can/do recenter themselves... bio-, chem-, and physically>
As an answer to your question the extra "emergency" fish were in our tank for close to three weeks, not even regular water changes kept the levels down. One other thing that you mentioned regarding how it would have been better to take the fish back to store, but we really don't have a store that will take them back. When I took out the chromis, I had no idea where to take them and stopped at a Petco where they surprised me by taking them as a donation. But years ago I had some fish that needed a home when my tank cracked and the local stores there wouldn't take them. I finally found one even though they still gave me a very hard time. Had I known they would not come through and get their animals back I would have set something else up.
Live and learn, at my animals expense!
So I thank you for your time and again wanted to celebrate the survival of a very tough TR clown. Now I have the levels back to safe levels, got the spg up to 1.024 (the spg is hard to keep up in this system, funny as years ago we had 100 gal+ tanks and we had to add fresh water to keep this down) and eventually get a new cleaner shrimp or a pair and get back to enjoying our tank again.
I also attached some photos of my torch coral as there is a large "something" on the side.
<The green, uniform area?>
It is hard like the base, but it separates from the base ever so slightly. I tried to show the side so this can be viewed, but wasn't very successful. I included the pics anyway. I would appreciate your comments/info. I tried to search but the general terms I used didn't locate anything similar and I didn't have any more descriptive terms.
Thank you
<I think this is likely an algal colony/growth... from opportunistic chances, ongoing changes, trauma in your system... I would not "treat it" in any way... Will likely cycle out in time on its own. Bob Fenner>

Re: Devastating Tank Loss: Overstocked tank crash. Nothing really to refer. 7/13/2009
<Hi Melissa, sorry for the delay in writing back, I've been in Montreal for the last week or so.>
I am writing back to give an update because we have had a small miracle.
Our TR clown has pulled through. His recovery from being on his side and gasping the entire day after the equipment disaster, to swimming around this morning has been a wonderful surprise.
<Excellent News.>
I haven't yet seen a fish come back from this. When he was on his side we thought him gone and were going to scoop him out but he swam away and kept at it, something about him gave me hope even though I really know better. He was very healthy and fat before the rescue operation, I suppose this aided in his ultimate survival.
I did a huge water change 40%; the ammonia & ph are 0, nitrates cut down by half at 0 and nitrites 0. As of this morning, all corals (2 torch, a frogspawn and mushroom are open and looking good so far). Also I grabbed a bit of water last time I was in the LFS and tested it when I got home, I was amazed at the PH levels being off my charts; is this normal? Everything else tested at 0's.
<Depends on how they make up their water.>
As an answer to your question the extra "emergency" fish were in our tank for close to three weeks, not even regular water changes kept the levels down. One other thing that you mentioned regarding how it would have been better to take the fish back to store, but we really don't have a store that will take them back. When I took out the chromis, I had no idea where to take them and stopped at a Petco where they surprised me by taking them as a donation. But years ago I had some fish that needed a home when my tank cracked and the local stores there wouldn't take them.
<I can understand their position as well, as they do not want to potentially introduce disease to their tanks.>
I finally found one even though they still gave me a very hard time. Had I known they would not come through and get their animals back I would have set something else up. Live and learn, at my animals expense!
So I thank you for your time and again wanted to celebrate the survival of a very tough TR clown. Now I have the levels back to safe levels, got the spg up to 1.024 (the spg is hard to keep up in this system, funny as years ago we had 100 gal+ tanks and we had to add fresh water to keep this down) and eventually get a new cleaner shrimp or a pair and get back to enjoying our tank again.
<Very good.>
I also attached some photos of my torch coral as there is a large "something" on the side. It is hard like the base, but it separates from the base ever so slightly. I tried to show the side so this can be viewed, but wasn't very successful. I included the pics anyway. I would appreciate your comments/info. I tried to search but the general terms I used didn't locate anything similar and I didn't have any more descriptive terms.
<Hmm... will refer to others more knowledgeable on corals.>
Thank you

Chronic problem of fish not eating... from only one store 4/21/09
I'll make this as brief as possible.
<Please... take your time>
I have had my 90g reef tank set up for about 5 months. I was careful to do it right... fully cycled with no fish, lots of live rock, adequate skimming etc. The first fish into my tank were a pair of Ocellaris Clownfish, followed the next month by a Banggai Cardinal. They were fed the exact same diet they were fed at the LFS.
<Which is?>
I also took care to acclimate them properly, as I have with every fish.
Water testing is done twice a week and I have never had any water issues since the completion of the cycle.
Over the first few weeks, the Clowns gradually tapered off and stopped eating.
<Were these wild caught (as opposed to tank bred)? Not atypical losses if so>
I didn't notice it early because they appeared to be eating; only when their health deteriorated did I closely examine what was going on. They would approach food, mouth it, and then drop it. As time went on they
largely ignored food. Soon after the Banggai went in, I lost both Clowns.
After making sure my tank was not to blame, I obtained another pair from a different source, observing their eating habits closely while in quarantine, and they are happy and healthy to this day.
The exact same course of events occurred with the Banggai. I started to doubt myself, and tested everything even more. No water issues. The Banggai was replaced, from the same store that the second pair of Clowns came from. He's fat, active and happy.
The only thing I could think of was that I didn't witness those fish eating at the store. I gave the store one more chance and bought a Pajama Cardinal.
<A very social species>
It ate heartily... until it got home. It died while still in quarantine; it would not eat. None of these fish showed any signs of ich or any other disease... the only visual clue was emaciation near the end. I tried every food available, and eventually they wouldn't even take live brine shrimp.
<Please read re Sphaeramia, Artemia on WWM>
I later learned that several other members of our local reef club have had the exact same thing play out with fish from this store. Had I not spoken to them, I would still be looking for where I had failed. For what
it's worth, the store is SW only, and is clean and generally well-regarded, and the owner is helpful and knowledgeable.
I tell this story not to seek ammunition with which to cause trouble, but rather to learn.
Can you offer any guess as to what the problem could be?
<Not sufficient data presented to make much of a guess here>
On a happier note I'm glad to report that all my livestock (from LFS #2) is doing beautifully. My system is home to several happy, healthy fish, is maturing well and bringing lots of enjoyment to our family.
Thanks for any insight.
<See my questions above... and info. re water quality tests... I would not condemn the source here just yet. Bob Fenner>

Re: Chronic problem of fish not eating... from only one store 4/22/09
Thanks, Bob.
The fish, according to the LFS, were fed on a rotation of Ocean Nutrition products: Formula One flakes, small pellets and frozen. I already had their flakes and pellets, and I bought the frozen with the fish for the
purpose of duplicating their diet.
<Did you actually see these fishes eating these foods there?>
The owner stated that the fish were tank bred, but of course I can't prove or disprove this.
<Mmm, maybe ask to see the invoice...>
I specifically asked because of the near-endangered state of Banggai in the wild. If they had been wild caught I would not have purchased anything.
Water testing (with API kits) has consistently shown zero ammonia, zero nitrites and between "almost zero" and 5ppm
<NO3 I take it>
depending on time since the last water -change. Ph is stable at 8.1-8.2.
I have not measured for calcium, mag, etc because I only keep soft corals and they are growing well.
<These might be involved in your fish losses>
These test kits are in the near future for me, however.
When I stated that the PJ turned down brine shrimp, I misspoke. I meant to say Mysis shrimp, which I added to the diet in an attempt to find something that would be accepted.
<I see, and agree>
I did search for the articles you mentioned, and read what I found... I'm not sure if you are directing me to a specific piece of info, but from what I could tell the environment was acceptable. The bit about PJs needing
groups I didn't know, but would it be possible to have been a factor even during the quarantine period?
<Mmm, no... in fact, can be problematical, due to crowding>
Should the "school" always be purchased, quarantined, and stocked at the same time? If I've missed the information you were trying to direct me to, my apologies.
<If parallel systems/quarantine were practical, this would be ideal... otherwise, serial...>
If I can supply you with more information, please let me know.
At this point, I think my system is doing quite well, but I will always feel like I have missed something obvious unless I can figure out what happened early on.
Thanks again,
<Well... it could be that there is/was a quality difference in the animals you initially purchased from the one dealer... My intent was/is simply to point out that this isn't necessarily so, given the data presented. At any
length, I do concur with your decision to "vote with your feet" (and wallet) and patronize shops that agree with your values. Thank you for this follow-up, sharing. Bob Fenner>

The Fish Rapture, a new chapter to the "Left Behind" series perhaps....: 3/30/2009
<Hi Joe.>
A while ago, I finally got a promotion, so my virtually-empty tank could finally have some work done on it again, only I received a severe problem that plagued me the last time I was able to stock the tank: disappearing fish.
A few fish deaths, I've understood; some I've even chalked up to hobbyist error. However, there was a case of two Chromis that quite literally vanished in the fall. No bodies were ever found in the tank or the room, and I just accepted it. This weekend, I've been struck again: a tiger sleeper goby (Valenciennea wardii) and a Chromis (C. viridis), who just entered the main system on Friday.
<How much live rock is in your system? Have you heard any strange snapping or popping noises coming from the tank?>
The Goby slid into the tank and was hopping about when I had gone to bed on Friday. I have not seen him since. The Chromis was fine all weekend, munching happily on the food I gave him and a few copepods he found.
<No Quarantine, so we cannot eliminate sick\diseased fish as a possible cause.>
Today, I accidentally hit a rock with my hand, and the resulting configuration had me worried about the stability of some of the aquascaping, so I dismantled the rock work. During the time, I never found the Goby.
<Hmm.... could be hiding in the rock.>
I literally pulled out every single piece of live rock: no sign of him. Understand that the top of the tank is covered except where the water pours back in from a hang-on skimmer and a powerfilter. It is physically possible to jump through these narrow spaces, so I looked around. I pulled aside every single piece of furniture in the room, checked under a radiator, and even brought in a cat, who normally isn't allowed in the room, to "smell out" the corpse. No such luck.
<The fish law of Antimatter. a 1 inch guppy can vanish in a 1 gallon bowl and not leave a trace. What else is in the tank? Any crabs\shrimp etc?>
While I was looking for him, the Chromis, who had been swimming peacefully in a rock-free tank, vanished. Again, I restarted my search frantically, and again I was met with frustration. There's no way the Chromis could have jumped through a tiny opening, flopped away, and now be undetectable, but there you have it.
<How about in the filtration system and\or in\under the tank stand?>
The tank was shared with the following: 5 Astrea snails, 1 Nassarius snail, 1 Tridacna crocea, a pair of 1/2 inch hermits (Clibanarius sp maybe?) and 1 Ophiolepsis superba. This is, of course, in addition a small army of various amphipods, copepods, and Asterinas. I don't see any of these as real trouble makers.
<Not troublemakers, but they can eat a dead fish very quickly.>
After moving furniture and dumping the live rock back in the tank rather unceremoniously (too frustrated to try to arrange it at the moment), I'm at my wit's end. If they aren't in the tank and they aren't in the room, and if the door is always closed to keep out the cat, then where can these animals possibly be?
<As frustrating as this can be (I've "lost" a few Jawfish this way.) We need to look at all possible causes:
1. There is an unwanted hitchhiker in the tank killing your fish (Mantis Shrimp, Green Brittle Star, etc.
2. The fish are dying and are consumed by the rest of the critters in the tank - with crabs, a brittle star, and all of the other life, a small fish body can vanish in a few short hours.
3. The fish are jumping, and landing where you cannot see them - Like inside the stand or under the stand. If there is space under your stand, these usually collect dust - the wet fish gets coated in the dust and vanishes.
4. Fish escaping through the central filtration system (Overflow, etc.) I've been the victim of Chromis being sucked into powerhead intakes in the amount of time it took to remove the filter foam and put the plastic screen on it. (less than 5 seconds.)>
<I'm sorry I don't have a better answer for you, but it has to be one of the above four.>

Maxi clam and Regal tang death, troubleshooting, too new sys. 3/23/09
Good evening WWM,
I just purchased a Maxi clam two days ago and it was doing great. I woke up this morning and found one of my blue legged hermits eating the clam and it was almost an empty shell.
I check to see if I had any pyramid snails and I didn't find any. I am not sure what killed it. I would think even if a hermit decided to make it a meal the clam would of just closed up.
<Mmmm, maybe not enough>
I am not sure if it died and the CUC was doing its job and when I woke up, they were on the clam to take the blame. I was distraught as this is my second death in the same day. I purchased a Regal tang and it was doing great for the 2 days that I had it as well, until I found it pumping its gills very hard and it was laying on the sandbed on its side.
<?! No quarantine? Trouble...>
Of course my CUC was right on task picking at it. The only thing that I saw on the Regal was a small clear spot on its tail, which I thought may have been caused by the other tangs in the tank at the LFS.
<Likely so>
My water parameters are fine. Salinity is 1.024, NH3 is 0, Nitrites is 0, Nitrates is slightly elevated at 17ppm. Tank is about 2 months old.
<Mmm, very new... I would hold off for another month before adding more>
I have a blue sided fairy wrasse, 2 green chromis, 2 fire gobies and a black finned goby. When the tang died, ich did display on the abdominal part of the fish. Im assuming since Regals are known for ich, the ich didn't display until the host died forcing it the superior part of the dermis.
<... likely your system is infested... The Crypt to show if/when there is sufficient stress...>
After Googling all this morning, I did find that many people also had the same fate I had, but there seemed to be no decisive answers. I know WWM isn't an all knowing,
<I'll say!>
but I was hoping maybe you can share some hypotheses on what may have taking place. This is definitely are learning experience and it truly hurts me that this happened. Is this something I should go back to the LFS and get my money back or is this my fault or an act of God.
<More an act of Howard>
Thank you for your time!
<Read on my fellow pet-fish enthusiast... You don't mention the size/volume of this system, but I would take the investigate, then buy approach here to further livestocking adventures. Bob Fenner>

Inverts dying 3-15-09
Hi crew,
<Evening, Mike here tonight>
Got an emergency...it appears all my inverts are in crisis. I did a 10 gal water change yesterday (55 gal tank 30 gal refugium 2 years old). I used RO water w/ Instant Ocean (the usual). I noticed last night a limpet crawling out of the tank..checked pH 8.2, SG 1.025 after awhile he submerged some . This morning a conch was dead, hermit crab crawled out of shell, Ceriths and limpet crawling out of tank, starfish eating conch...fish are ok. checked all water param.s...Ammonia 0, Nitrate and Nitrite 0, Ca 360 (I'll increase), dKH 10.
<Nothing amiss among these>
What am I missing? I'd do another water change but since this started after the water change yesterday I'm not so sure.
<Possibly use a different water source...how much use have your RO membranes seen?>
I have been fighting Bryopsis for a few months now and Cyano (almost gone). Help!
<Hmm...this sounds like a heavy metal poisoning. Add carbon and a poly-filter if you have it, and see if that makes a difference. Another water change with known contaminant-free water would also be a good idea, especially with the die-off you're experiencing. I'm going to CC Bob/the crew on this email to see if they have anything to add>
<M. Maddox><<RMF would premix the IO... leave set, circulating for days ahead of use... perhaps test for alkalinity, biomineral content ahead of applying>>

Re: Inverts dying 3/16/2009
I mixed it last Tues aerated it and did the water change on Fri. I checked it for Ca (360) and dKH (8). Wouldn't the filter membranes have filtered out any heavy metals?
<Yes, the Polyfilter should have. B>

Marine velvet... No, and too little data period 3/2/09
Hi there crew, really hope you can help with the problem I'm having, it started off about three weeks ago now, first i lost one of my stocky anthias, his tail had been pecked at slightly and then over the next few days unfortunately the fish deteriorated and died, my other anthias then died a few days later with no signs of any damage discolouration or disease,
<Often these shy, retiring, schooling fishes will/do follow each other thus>
i wondered if they had been fighting as they occasionally did and that it was the result of this.
<Oh! You only had two? Almost all species need to be kept in larger numbers>
Around a week after this my orange shoulder tang (juvenile) began to get a grayness to it's body and the beautiful yellow soon became very drab, again another fish lost and me very distraught of losing three fish in such a short space of time, i had been doing regular water changes and kept a tight eye on all my parameters everything kept coming up fine.
<... Everything...>
Everything was fine and no problems fro a while then i noticed my female cinnamon clown (paired) started to get marine velvet, it started as a small white circle about 1cm, the next day i come down and
<Mmm, not the etiology... Don't "start"... all fishes "get" at same time... from "somewhere"...>
couldn't believe the state of the clown it was covered completely with it peeling off in places, i went to the LFS with water samples and everything came back fine with slightly high phosphate i was told not to worry about, but changed phosphate remover anyway.
<... see WWM re HPO4>
I was told to fresh dip the clown,
<... what for?>
i wasn't to happy about it but the state it was in it looked like a last resort, i done two dips and the clown picked up and looked great,
<... but replaced the animal in the infested system?>
i came down this morning to find the clown sucked on to the side of my Tunze and again another loss. I have never been so distraught and have never encountered problems like this in the seven years i have been keeping marine, my emperor angel is know showing signs of colour loss and my female Bluethroat trigger is showing very light signs of whitespot. i had put Oodinex treatment in the tank
<... No! Not in the display tank...>
for three treatments while all this was going on and also fitted a spray bar and continued adding aragamight. Please help as i really am feeling a failure and am wondering what else to do. ?
<Simple. Read>
My corals and other fish look great including my large yellow tang and even my cleaner wrasse
<Another source of stress>
which would usually be first to perish if conditions weren't great. I'm close to knocking it all on the head because of this, i feel like an amateur who hasn't got a clue.
i have a 100gallon tank
gravity 1.026
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate 30 max
KH 9
ph 8.1
p04 0.1
ca 460
<Too high... and what of Mg?>
Thanks and regards
<... need more real data. There is something "toxic" going on in your system... but can't discern from the info. presented. Please read through here to get an idea of what we're looking for:
http://wetwebmedia.com/environm.htm (the linked files at top)... I would run a Polyfilter, GAC... at the very least. Bob Fenner>

Re: marine velvet. SW dis trblshtg. f' -- 03/02/09 Hi again Bob and firstly thanks for the quick reply really appreciated. I had a read of most of the threads on disease and some of the things have really opened my eyes. I have had a think of what I have recently done on the tank before all this started too, I gradually changed the lighting over to all new arcadias, 3 x 30w whites 1x 30w blue and 1 x 18w white (small light across end of bullnose tank). I also changed the filter media (Fluval rx5) new po4 remover, <... again... see WWM re> carbon to remove treatment (and yes I did add treatment to display tank) :( and as much as i don't like to admit i no longer have quarantine due to lack of space, currently looking at putting one into the garage though. I also gradually changed the media over in the filter to live rock rubble, but left in the old sponge filters. I do partial cleans on the filter media every 2-4 weeks. In the list of parameters what are you referring to as to high? <The Ca at 460 ppm> the Mg is reading 1200. My LFS said he has got a tank in the shop i could temporarily house the fish in till i get this sorted but if this is stress related is this good practice moving fish out then back again? <No, it is not> I feed the fish a variety of frozen food mysis, cockle, squid, krill, occasionally add cockle in shells or clams for triggers, also add Kent Zoë and Zoecon to food as supplement for triggers also clip on Nori for tangs and angel and always make sure any left is removed. I have 60kilo of rock with cabbage coral, zoos, xenia, clove and some varied colours mushrooms. <... could well be that your fish losses are resultant from interaction of the above. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above. Last time... I would NOT run phosphate chemical filtrant in the presence of Cnidarians> I'm running 2 x 3200 marea and a Tunze 6100 on controller of 30% - 80% at about 15 sec pulse also 4ft spray bar running of inlet from fx5. Tank stock is pair of bluethroats, emperor angel, <Needs to be in more than a hundred gallon system> yellow tang cinnamon clown, Falco hawk and small tobacco Basslet, plenty of snails and a large long spine urchin. Anymore info i can give or need to check please say and I'll get back. <You just need to read, comprehend what the possibilities are here, observe your livestock...> The lighting is currently timed at coming on around 7:30am until 5:30pm then moonlight LEDs are running constant through until lights on again. I'm running a red sea skimmer and have done for last 4 months due to Deltec mc500 going on the blink. Thanks again Simon <BobF>

Mysterious salt water fish death - 02/08/09
Hi and thank you for receiving my e-mail.
I have a 60 gallon salt water tank. The water test results are always perfect.
<Need data>
There are four fish that have been in the tank for over a year and are fine
<What species?>
but every time I add a new fish it dies in about two weeks. Any new fish added to the tank is fine in the beginning and never shows any outward signs of a problem until suddenly they die. No obvious symptoms, unusual spots or damage of any kind.
<Most likely one of two possibilities here... Some sort of chemical/physical water quality drift that your other fishes have become accustomed to, or them killing the new arrivals...>
Could you please shed some light as to what might be happening and how to prevent it?
<More data please. Bob Fenner>

Marks appearing on fish 12/23/08
Hi WetWeb crew,
I've just noticed some pale blemishes on my ocellaris clowns and a lesion on my Centropyge eibli and was wondering if you have any idea's about their origin.
They don't look like any of the common diseases I'm familiar with but then I'm no expert.
<Mmm, your pix are so blurry that I can't make out what you're referring to here>
A couple of days ago I had a long overdue and fairly aggressive tank overhaul which resulted in a lot of fine sand/detritus being put into suspension, I spotted the angel lying on its side struggling to breathe
so I moved it into a quarantine tank and thankfully within a few minutes it was respiring normally and swimming around fine, I left it overnight then returned it to the tank in the morning.
Today I've noticed a pale, raised lesion on its �chin�, do you think this could just be damage from it exploring its new environment or something more sinister?
<Likely the former... an "owee">
The clowns have pale patches on their sides and lips which look distinctly different from that on the angel as they are flat and look more like a loss of pigment? All fish are feeding fine.
<This last is a good sign>
The tank is 280l with roughly 35kg of Live rock and has been running for 2 years. Inverts are, 2 scarlet hermits, 2 large Marshall island hermits a few Ceriths and a few aiptasia (not for long!). The 3 fish mentioned above are the only
vertebrates present at the moment and I've had them for over 3 years now.
Water parameters are as follows:
sal - 1.025,
temp - 24c,
NH4, NO2 and NO3 undetectable,
pH is low at 7.8 but I've just added some extra coral sand to buffer this.
<Mmm, you may want to add, switch out some live rock here as well... to bolster solubility of alkaline materials, add biomineral, restore biodiversity...>
Many thanks in advance,
p.s. Photo's attached, apologies for the poor quality!
<I think your fishes are likely fine... as you suggest... that they have suffered some traumas in the cleaning up. Bob Fenner>

HELP! I'm out of ideas: what is going on with my tank? SW... troubleshooting dis. 11/24/08
<Hi there Shelly>
I have a new 29-gallon fish only tank with artificial rock and live aragonite substrate.
It was Filled on 7/22/08 - added fish on 7/24/08 - Cycle completed on 10/12/08 (78 days total, start to finish).
My filtration consists of a Penguin 350 (350 gallons per hour), a powerhead that rotates (at the top of the tank), and an aeration strip across the back. (bubble bar).
All have been there since I set up the tank.
I currently have the following creatures:
Fish: 1 Percula Clownfish, 1 Pink Spotted Shrimp Goby, and 1 Banggai Cardinal. All are juveniles.
Inverts: 2 blue-legged dwarf hermits, 2 red dwarf hermits, 2 turbo snails, 1 chocolate chip starfish.
<This last... may be trouble, problematical...>
Tank readings as of this morning:
Temperature: 80, gravity: 1.023 ¼,
<Mmm... the Star needs more/natural concentrated water... 1.025...>
ammonia: zero, nitrites: zero, nitrates: 15, pH: 8.1, alkalinity: high.
MY QUESTION: (finally!)
My clown (who I added two days after I filled the tank and lived through the whole cycle) is gasping at the bottom of the tank and not eating. He had a friend, another clown, who died two days ago. (gasping, not eating, then died).
The Banggai is also breathing rapidly. The goby is fine (eating like a pig, collection shells, no gilling) as are the crabs and the starfish. I also had a Royal Gramma who died about 1 week ago. The dead fish showed no signs of ich or being killed, etc. - they just died. I do a 20% water change every 5-7 days. I don't rinse the bio-filters and I alternate switching out the two carbon filters weekly. (left 1 week, right the next). The test kits I use are API test-tube kits (the individual tests for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates). I use test strips to double-check my results. I also purchased a third nitrate test kit yesterday and got the same results as above: 15. I vacuum the gravel when I do the water changes and I know there is nothing dead in the tank anywhere, so I am out of
ideas as to why my fish are dying and my inverts are fine. I am SO FRUSTRATED!
WHY are my fish dying and why are all my inverts, including the chocolate chip, doing great????????????
Thanks very much for your help. I SO appreciate having you guys around to help.
<Mmm... the "stock" guesses given the data/circumstances you list so well are low dissolved oxygen (DO) and/or some sort of fish-specific toxicity... the fact that the lower DO requiring fish is fine (the Goby) and that none of the dead fishes showed other poison identifiable behavior, leads me to suspect low DO... you can/might do a few things re here... Lower your water temperature (to the low to mid- 70's F.... which will reduce metabolic rate and allow for greater gas saturation... Or move some of the life out, elsewhere, which will lower the load/demand for oxygen. Also, I would get in the habit of toweling or dipping off the surface water of this system during weekly water changes... to discount the poss. that some sort of film (oil, aerosol...) is coating your water surface, interfering with gas diffusion. Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/envdisgasf.htm
and peruse the files linked above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine System/Fish Death 11/18/08
Dearest Scott!
I hope you have been well!
<Hello Michael, I have been, thank you.>
With the economy crumbling around our ears, its seems as though many of us have hit on hard times!
<Many have.>
I hope you are fairing better than the rest of us
=) (If user are able to support your site, please do let me know! I would love to be a semi "contributing" user hee hee)
<There is an Amazon �begging bowl� at the bottom of the homepage if you wish.>
Sir, I wanted to ask you a follow up question and hope I am not being too much of a nuisance. =(
<No, good to hear from you again.>
I previously sent you the basic details about my tank but I am more than certain that you probably go through a ton of messages a day so I had better start off with a quick recap =)
<Thank you.>
My Tank Details:
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). 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 *(this is on order now! Will be
testing eagerly very shortly!).*
<Yes, I do remember this, the test kit issue!>
In addition, I do a 15 gallon water change
every week *(as per your advice I have increased this to about two 15 gallon changes per week)*
In addition, I would like to add more details so you can better understand my situation, I really do hope that I am not boring you with too many details!
<The more details the better, gives us here the picture of things.>
Sumps are not an option for me as I live in an apartment and I have literally no room for anything more than what I have now... (400 square foot
apartment will do that you anyone hee hee). Tank is a full set sold by a company called Ferplast, fixed lid that is not removable... hence my inability to be as flexible as I would like... =(
Anyways~ now on to my questions =)
I have been struggling with my setup for quite sometime... I have no problem keeping my fish alive and healthy in addition to some inverts (cleaner snails, abalone, cleaner hermits, harlequins, starfish) but I would like to optimize my system in the hopes of improving the overall quality for my beauts! In addition, I would like to purchase equipment suitable for a much larger tank as I will eventually upgrade my tank in the near future (perhaps
next March, sump included hopefully).
I have two canister filters which are not easily accessible... which in turn limits the frequency of their cleaning... would you recommend I get rid of
these altogether (Would add pumps or wavemakers to increase water flow lost from removal of two canisters)?
<I would get rid of them, little benefit for the trouble.>
I have not gotten rid of them as they are quite large and I was hoping that the increase in water volume would be beneficial... however, I fear that in the long run.. these will hinder my success more than they will help my cause.
<When you get your nitrate test kit you will know soon enough.>
Question 2)
I am currently using an air pump to increase the oxygen levels in my tank as I previously lost my beauties due to skimmer failure (currently using a Dymax skimmer but will upgrade this soon to either Euro Reef or AquaC as
your colleagues recommend!). Is this okay for my fish?
<It sounds like the extra aeration would be beneficial in this system. I would opt to add one of the powerheads you mentioned before, aimed towards to surface for agitation.>
Thank you once again for your kind advice Sir! I greatly look forward to hearing from you soon!
<My pleasure my friend.>
Once again, I apologize for all the questions... I search and I search but each scenario seems to differ from case to case!
<No problem, it does vary.>
Thank you for everything and have a wonderful evening!
<Welcome, and a good day to you too. Scott V.>

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