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FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 13

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

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Help Needed!!, SW fish losses... toxicity, post Cl use   6/25/12
Hello Guys
First I must congratulate you for the great job you do.
<Ah, welcome>
I have read a lot of articles about Acclimation , Dips/Baths , Formalin , diseases and more.
Here is my problem and I would really appreciate it if you could let me know your opinion and your suggestion.
But before that I would like to give you some info about the background.
I am "new" to this job , I am 23 years old and now run my own business with my father and a friend. It is called "Fish & Pet Planet". As you can understand we give more attention to the "Fish" , aquarium section.
I say that I am "new" and not new , because I was working with my father many years ago , from my 7 years till 12 , then spend a lot of years with R/C hobby and now  am back. But my father is at this job with stores of his own since 1975. He has great experience and is one of the best (if not the best) in Greece. I have seen him receiving 15 boxes of marine fishes and lose not even one ( back at '98) , I have seen him bringing back to life a lot of dead fishes, mostly big-expensive ones (xanthometopon , sexstriatus , diacanthus, paru , blue ring and more) some of them the last days.
What I mean is that he has a very very good "know-how" about this job and livestock and I really trust him.
<Ah good>
The last 2 months (after we closed down the previous store because of wrong communication between partners and reopened the new one) we are facing some problems. We cannot keep marine fishes more than a week. And here I explain.
We receive the fishes and acclimating them , the first day the fishes are stressed , after the second day , everything is just perfect , the fishes eats normally , flakes and frozen foods , they move normally , no wrong parameters in the water etc. The same happens for the first 3-4 days.
After that you can look at the fishes and everything is perfect and some hours later (2-3) some fishes are already dead. The same continues until we lose all of them.

We do have 9 aquariums. 1 is only for live rock. 2 of them are 250 Litres , and the rest of them (6) are 400 Litres.
<Are these tied together via plumbing, or separate?>
I test the water every day and everything is ok , as for NH3-NH4 and nitrite and nitrate.
<I take it they're individual from the above>
Firstly we thought that was our supplier , so we do tried 2 more , the same thing happens.
After that we thought that the aquariums weren't ready yet , we gave them some time but the same thing happens.
We made some therapies , for bacteria , diseases , parasites ,  but still the same.
After that I suggested to change the way of acclimation (even though my father used his way for over 35 years) , we did try what I red from your site , and the same happens.
At the end I though that was Brooklynellosis , but no marks of this disease.
<Not likely then>
We keep losing marine (only marine , we do not have any problem with freshwater fishes) fishes , the one after the other.
I do not know what else to try. I do trust my father a lot , but the last days seems that doesn't know what is happening and how to face it.
The reason why I told you that we have this problem after opening the new store is because we did clean the aragonite , corals and the biological stuff with chlorine.
<Mmm, from "household bleach" (sodium hypochlorite)? This should dissipate w/in days, but... I would take care from the current experience to drain, wash the substrate, and rinse, re-fill all these bleached tanks w/ freshwater. It may be that enough chemical reactions w/ the chlorine have left residual chemicals that are toxic. Something like this... or... sabotage is the most reasonable explanation for your fish losses>
 We keep our aquariums only with Sera Siporax , not skimmers or carb . ( My father does that the last 25 years without problems.)
Does anything comes to your mind?? Do you have something to suggest.
<Toxicity... from the chlorine or someone poisoning your system/s...>

What I am going to do is clean once more one of the aquariums (400L) and start it over , how would you suggest to set it up?
<Just make sure you gravel vacuum, or better still, systematically remove and wash the substrate in batches... rinse all w/ freshwater, run with freshwater for a day, w/ an overdoes of dechlorinator/dechloraminator...
test for free/residual chlorine. A swimming pool/spa kit will be fine here>
Best regards
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Help Needed!! Cl, SW, myst. losses       6/25/12

Mr. Bob Fenner
<Hello again>
Thank you very much for taking your time to answer at my email.
<A pleasure, honour to aid your efforts>
I am really glad that I talk to you as I have read most of your articles.
Yes I did actually use sodium hypochlorite. We did soak the aragonite and the Siporax at this , then rinse it with freshwater and installed them in the aquariums , left them make the first cycle and then after some days and after the tests  we added the fishes.
<Mmm... usually this is no problem... as mentioned, the by products dissipate or become insoluble materials of no toxicity>
Yes the aquariums are separated/individual.
<I see; thank you>
If the problem was toxicity  (from sodium hypochlorite), wouldn't we lose the fishes from the first day???
<Yes... IF it were the chlorine itself or something "very" toxic... There are many less toxic materials that might be at issue here. Though you stated that your father and the shoppe don't use Carbon... I would in this case; in the hope of removing whatever the issue is here>
Also we did the same procedure at the freshwater aquariums (110 aquariums)and not even one problem.
<Yes... the chemicals to start w/ (not just salts, minerals) in the marine, are much more diverse, likely to have this problem, than the fresh... And freshwater organisms, due to the much more change-able nature of their environments, are much more resistant to chemical poisoning by and large>
We thought about sabotage so we install surveillance kit at the floor with the aquariums and that is not the problem.
<Thank goodness. I've been party to "mad poisoners" in a few retail settings... liquid ammonia in small balloon... solder "balls"... >
I will do as you instruct , but as it is the same that I did (without using
sodium hypochlorite) , I am not sure that this is the solution.
<Again... the draining, washing of substrate et al., refill w/ fresh, re-treatment w/ chlorine eliminating chemicals...>
What else could probably poisoning my system??
<Something else... not likely due to the freshwater not being affected...
like a chemical contaminant from products in the store, a cat litter box...>
Thank you for once more
Best regards
Kostas Zacharopoulos
<Best to discount all and re-clean, even re-bleach... This is what I would do. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help Needed!!      6/25/12

Hello for once more.
Thank you once again for your prompt reply.
<Ongoing welcomes>
I will do as you instruct and I will let you know as soon as I have news.
<I thank you. BobF>
Best regards
Kostas Zacharopoulos
Re: Help Needed!! SW fish importer whlse. losses     6/29/12
Hello Mr. Bob
<Mr. Z.>
I have one more question to you , in case you can suggest or help you with the previous situation I have told you.
Before my last import , as I had told you I almost lost all the fishes , except a Cleaner Wrasse , a Lubbocki and a Tibicen. As soon as the new fishes came , I put into the same aquarium (divided in 3) 2 Moorish Idol, a leucosternon , and 4 squamipinnis , after less than 24 hours , tibicen , lubbocki and the doctor are dead. 24 hours later the Moorish idol died just in a few seconds. I looked at him and feed him , he didn't eat , he was breathing normally , no scratches or anything weird and 5 minutes later was dead. No NH3 or NH4 , no NO2 or NO3. I read some articles and they say about Dissolved Oxygen , would this might be the case??
<Could very well be related. The Zanclus would be expected to die first (Acanthuroids are notorious for needing high DO), but it is VERY common that freshly collected, held, shipped fishes have impugned (decreased) capacity for "carrying oxygen" (they easily hemolyze, lose red blood cell count) in stressful, metabolite high, low pH situations... So, losses occur most often right around the time of arrival. The acclimation process is extremely important here... matching receiving pH, flushing away ammonia especially. Please read here (the second article) re:
Best regards
<And you, BobF>
<Bob Fenner>
Re: Help Needed!!    6/29/12

The acclimation process I use is EXACTLY the one you suggest. (I have read it some days before I sent you the first email and I did it.)
What about the "old" fishes in the tank?? Why they died immediately after the new fish came in?? Any suggestions??
<Only guesses... could be some sort of (quite toxic) contaminant... there are few "this virulent" pathogens; but might be a very strong/bad strain of Amyloodinium... that might not show symptoms... Do you have a microscope handy for next time? B>
Best regards
Re: Help Needed!!    6/29/12

No but I will try to get one and let you know. Thank you very very much for your time !!
<Welcome. As your English is excellent, I encourage you to secure a copy (first or second edition) of Ed Noga's "Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment" as a guide and reference>
I really appreciate it!!
Best regards
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: Help Needed!!    6/29/12

Ok , I will make a search and I hope I will find it online.
Thank you very much for your help.
<A pleasure and honour to aid you. B>
Best regards
Re: Help Needed!! Mysterious SW fish losses, whlse.... now low DO     7/2/12

Hello Mr. Bob, I wish you a good month.
<Thank you Kostas>
So I once Again losing fishes to my tanks (didn't start over the tank that we were talking about so no news about that.)
What I tried. First of all I added some carbon material to my Siporax-bio balls filtration in order to reduce or even remove the toxic parameters in the tanks. After that I tested the O2 levels. Unfortunately we were as low as 0.5 mg/l .
<?! Way too low... you want 7-8 mg/l, ppm at all times, places>

 SO I added air pumps to all the tanks and skimmer to 2 of them. Unfortunately I can not raise it more than 4.0 mg/l , what else should I try??
<Ozone, UV generated perhaps, air-mixing tower/s (Dropping water over plastic substrate, w/ air blown up in the opposite direction)... lowering specific gravity and temperature and adding peroxide in extreme circumstances>

Is anything that could keep the O2 levels low??
<Excessive organics... quickly metabolizing aerobic microbes>
Salinity is at 1021,
<Ahh, I would not lower this much more>
I know that this can affect the O2 levels and also temperature is about 28 C so this can be a fact also ,
 but I can not change the temp. I will reduce salinity to 1.019 but I do not believe that we make a great difference.
Anything else to check??
<The addition of more aeration>
 The only thing is different from our old set up that everything was working perfect to now is that we used to use tropic marine salt and now we are using Seachem aqua vitro. Would this be a matter??
<No; not in my experience; Both these are fine products; consistent>
 Do you know any problems about aqua vitro??
 Any suggestions or thoughts??
<As above>
Thank you in advance
Best regards
<And you. RMF>
Re: Help Needed!!    7/2/12

Hello Mr. Bob
Thank you for your reply.
<Welcome Kostas>
As you can understand only the addition of Ozone can be realized as the cost for UV for 9 x 400 L tanks will be very high. How would you suggest to use ozone?? Should I stop air pumps and add ozone??
<I'd run both... Read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/redoxinst.htm
and the linked files above>
 Should I add ozone and keep air pumps also?? Should the ozone be added with an airstone directly to the tank as the air pump , or should I add the ozone with the air pump at the place where the filtration is been made?? (do you need a picture to understand how our filtration works??)
<All these applications can work... depending on the set-up make up, often it's better/best to introduce O3 in an area of high water mixing (like a fractionator) in the absence of livestock>
How mg/L???
<All covered where I've sent you... Best to use a dosing meter in commercial ap.s>
our machine can go up to 100 mg/L!!
<This isn't much>
 Should I add "Sera O2 plus"??
<Worthwhile in emergencies; not continuous use>
Thank you in advance for once again.
Best regards
Kostas Zacharopoulos
Re: Help Needed!!    7/2/12

The link was about the FAQ's , do you want me to read this or any other article??
<... the FAQs my friend. B>
Please let me know.
I will try what you suggest and let you know for one more.
Best regards
Re: Help Needed!! Comm. losses and now sources  – 07/27/12

Hello Mr. Bob
<Hey Kostas>
I am sending you to THANK YOU for your time and your priceless help.
After 2 weeks and 3 heavy import of marine fishes , I haven't lose not even a Chromis.
<Ah good>
Everything is perfect and great. I am really really satisfied.
So I did take a time to thank you.
But I need your help again :) as always.
Is any supplier of marine fishes that you could suggest me so I can import fishes directly from there and not via third parties as I do now??
<Quite a few... are you able to access OFI's supplier listing? Are you looking for livestock from a particular area? Shipped to where?, via?>
Expecting your reply.
Best regards
<Bob Fenner>
 Re: Help Needed!! – 07/27/12

Hello Mr. Bob
I do not even know what OFI is , my father should know but he is not here right now , will come back in a few days.
<Ornamental Fish International: http://www.ornamental-fish-int.org/
search under "members">
I am looking mostly for livestock from Hawaii and USA , as I believe that Singapore fishes will be expensive to be bought from USA. (if you believe the opposite then please suggest) and I am explaining. Loriculus , Ciliaris , Isabelita , Zebrasoma Flavescens , Arcuatus , Paru , Passer , Gramma Loreto , Hawaiiensis , Ctenochaetus and more.
I would like to be shipped to Greece Athens (Eleftherios Venizelos Airport), via airplane of course.
<Can you take full containers? How many boxes per shipment can you handle?>
If you suggest anything different please let me know.
Best regards

Hopelessly stumped, fish aggr.       6/25/12
I have a 180 gallon reef tank that I setup back in November and I am having a difficult time resolving some issues.
 Essentially I am not able to keep fish alive, however all of my corals are doing fine.  Here is a detailed list of the system, 180gal tank with approximately 180lbs of live rock.
The filter system consists of a 150gal Reef Octopus in a sump with 20lbs of live rock and 20 mangroves.
<Ideally the skimmer rating should be larger than the tank size.>
  The temperature 75 degrees F, the salinity<Specific gravity> is 1.021 - 1.022.
<Slowly raise specific gravity to 1.025 and temperature to 78.>
  The fish that have lived are a Ocellaris, a miscellaneous Damsel, a Dottyback, a Tomato Clown, and a Lawnmower Blenny.
<Three of those fish are aggressive and territorial. Mixing two species of  Clowns is asking for trouble.>
  There is a fair amount of hermit crabs, a couple Chitons, and numerous turbo and Astrea snails.  As I mentioned before all of my corals are doing great.
There is a Frogspawn, a Torch, a Bubble Rose Tip Anemone, Xenia, and a Kenya Tree.  I have a test kit and I have taken multiple water samples to the local fish store and all the pertinent levels are within normal/ideal ranges.
<Numbers have more meaning than "normal/ideal".>
 I'm stumped and can't figure out why new fish die.

<Species killed? If the deaths are smaller peaceful fish, I would suspect the Damsel, Dottyback, or Tomato.>
 They typically die within a few hours to maybe lasting through the night. 
Please help, any insight would be greatly appreciated.
<Possible acclimation shock, being killed by the existing aggressive fish, unknown predator, existing ailment, Anemone sting-- the list is long...>

Re: Fowlr health, myst. SW losses     6/10/12
Bob, I have had Moorish idols for years. I have been really lucky. For some reason All the fish I get seem really healthy then there colors fades and they die. I just lost a starry blenny, and Naso tang,  to the same thing.
<Mmm, as you have speculated... "something" is either missing that's essential and/or "something" chronically toxic is being released, generated in situ>
 I do weekly water changes, I vacuumed my sand, I check all my levels, clean out on my skimmer every few days. I can not figure out what is killing these fish. This has been a problem for about two months now. I added a nitrate, and carbon reactor. All levels are zero and where they need to be. I am soooo lost and frustrated.  Its like my water is poisoned.
I even had that checked.  Please help, Jim
<... wish I could help... W/o knowing the cause, there is not likely a cure/solution coming... the usual complexing of the environment (making it larger, more biota filled, having a large DSB) optimizing water quality (via Ozone, RDP refugium...)... are about all I can/would suggest. BobF>
FW: Fowlr health

Bob, I also wanted to let you know that few months ago I added rock and sand. The sand was new out of bag, and the rock came out of a sump. At the same time I had 400 watt medal halides that I sold. I switch to vho super actinic. When I did all this my tank started crashing and has not recovered. There brown hair algae on the rocks and the back of glass. Today I found my powder blue, and brown tang dead. Jim
<No fun. B>
FW: Fowlr health    6/10/12

Bob, Sorry about the forwards. I pulled all my fish out for 30days.
<So I've read. I'm the person who parses all on WWM>
I thought that would take care of Ick that I had before. I decided I am going treat the whole system with copper. There is some kind of parasite in there and I think this my last option. I wanted to know if I need to turn off my nitrate reactor when treating with copper?
<No sense just blindly treating a system... esp. w/ something as toxic as Cu. B>
Re: Fowlr health – 06/14/12

Bob, Since treating my system. My Moorish idol got all his color back, and is back to his normal aggressive self. Everybody seems to be doing better.
I discovered one of my major problems going on with the tank. I don't have a chiller and my tank runs about 80 during the day and drops to about 74 at night.
<Too much variance>
See the problem. I am hoping that is what's been stressing everybody out, but I don't know. I got my heater set at 80 now so the temperature stays constant. So far everybody has been fine and ick spot free. I moved my Naso, dwarf lion and snowflake eel to my quarantine tank. That was a battle alone. i was doing 50% water changes because the tank had not finish cycling. High nitrites and ammonia. Ammonia, nitrate, nitrite is zero now, but there still stressed and not eating. S.g. 1.022 and needs to check pH.
<Ok. B>
Re: Fowlr health     7/9/12

Bob, I looked up Trematodes. The story Parasite Help... and I mean HELP!
Trematode plus    infested lg. SW sys. 7/10/07. It sounds a lot like I got going on with my tank.
<... needs to be confirmed via microscopic...>
The emperors eye has not got any worse or better. I freshwater dipped the niger. Unfortunally when I caught him I got a bunch of sand in the net. So I could not see what came off him. I was thinking of PraziPro my tank, but there is still .50 ppm of copper in there. If I put the PraziPro in there will it poison them with the copper?
<Will not. These can be mixed>
 I keep my water quality perfect, so I don't know if it could be a bacteria infection. Jim
<Mmm, BobF>
 Re: Fowlr health     7/9/12

Bob, My emperor angel has got pop eye. He got a big bubble over his eye. My tank is crashing again.
<May be time to "bleach, do over">
 I tried to do everything right. I don't know what to do now.
<Call in some local qualified help to look over your system, water, MO>
 I look up this link and there is not a article there.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pop-eye.htm  I think I am not smart enough for this hobby. Lost in Idaho. Jim
Re: Fowlr health      7/9/12

I also wanted to add these pictures of my powder brown tang. He has had these marks on his fins for a few weeks now. He also has a scratch right past his fin. I am hoping this well help answer some questions.  Sorry for so many emails Bob. Jim
<... my opinion has not changed since I began reading of your system's issues... There is something toxic present here... pathogenic; I don't think so... but could have been introduced along the way... in addn. to the toxicity. Have you tried PolyFilter in the filter flow path? Was there a color to the pad/s? B>

Re: Fowlr health MIRACLES IN IDAHO 7/10/12
Bob, It was a good day. Yesterday after I freshwater dipped my niger. I thought it was the last time that I was going to see him alive. I came home from work and he was swimming around!
 One eye was clear and the other had one little speck on it. So I freshwater dipped the Emperor. He looked as bad as the niger did yesterday.
There had to be over 200 rice looking things exploding out of his gills.
 So it was flukes! I treated my tank with PraziPro today. I turned off skimmer, charcoal reactor, and nitrate reactor. I am going to drop my feedings to once a day. Only going to feed spectrum pellets. I was going to do a water change Saturday and turn my skimmer and everything back on. Is five days enough? Do you think this is the way to go? Should I freshwater dip everyone? Do you think I am out of the woods?
<Can't say anything re>
Bob, I truly love this web site I have learned so much, but have so much to learn. I just want to keep my fish alive for 15 to 20 years. We have them all named, and there is damn near funeral in my house when one dies. Kids are crying, I am crying, and the Wife could care less. lol
<... and so it goes. B>
Re: Fowlr health MIRACLES IN IDAHO, flukes?     7/14/12

Bob, I am proud to say that my tank has 100% recovered. Since adding PraziPro, my Powder Brown lost the spots on his fins. My Emperor, and Niger eyes have cleared up. There is no more scratching against the rocks and sand. I wish I would of done this before my tank crashed, but I will use this as a learning experience and move on. Thanks again,  Jim
<Ah, congratulations. B>

Re: Help! Marine fishes with rapid breathing.    5/24/12
Hello, Bob! It is always nice to hear from you!
The Pomacanthus imperator recovered and is interested in food today, but I lost the Acanthurus leucosternon overnight.
<Ah, yes... Tangs need much more DO than Pomacanthids>
It was expected because the A. leucosternon's breathing never got any better. It is sad, but I'm glad that my actions were not completely irrational causing the death of my fishy friends. The question now, is what to do next? I still have the P. imperator with the funny patches and spots. My gut feeling is telling me to leave him in the 75 gallon tank and slowly raise the salinity without adding any more medications and observe.
<I do agree>
If I see spots or anything after
the water returns to 1.023 then I can treat with Cupramine -
<I want to tell you re a friend, Lance Ichinotsubo, who owns/runs a large aquarium service co... He claims to keep his customers systems at 1.010 spg, and keep a titer of free copper present at all times...>
 I've never done that but it may be a last resort as he did so poorly with the Chloroquine. Another thought is to leave him in hyposalinity, watch for 6 weeks, if no more symptoms then raise salinity, if spots, then Chloroquine again but divided doses taking several days to reach the treatment dose.
There are risks with every choice, so, which would cause the least harm?
<The latter likely... Do you still have the Tang body? I'd make some  samples up and look under a 'scope>
Another question is what to do with my display tank? I've got 300 lbs of dead sand, and 200 lbs of dead rock. I've read of using chlorine, vinegar, plan old boiling tap water,
<The bleach... not the last for sure>
a combination of any of the three. I've also read that people just threw everything away! I honestly even wonder if in reality there were any viable parasite in the system per say, because the additional fishes I added never had symptoms. That was why I was starting to believe that my A. leucosternon should have been named "Typhoid Mary"!
Okay, back to the question...WWBD? (short for "What would Bob do?") [?]
I felt like crying and go take a nap, but then remembered that I have many many other fishy friends that need my attention too...so, go melt some food
and watch them eat! That always cheered me up!
Looking forward to hearing your wisdom!
<I'd do what Lance does at this point. BobF>
Re: Help! Marine fishes with rapid breathing.    5/24/12

Thanks, Bob,
I recently read your friend, Mr. Ichinotsubo's book, co-written with Bob Goemans, titled The Marine Fish Health and Feeding Handbook.
 I found that book to be a good "companion" to your book. Like your book, the Conscientious Marine Aquarist, they both educate the reader to make the right decisions, to be responsible for the creatures that we choose to bring home. That reading was one of the reasons why I decided to attempted the Chloroquine diphosphate treatment whilst in hyposalinity.
<I see>
Over the years of having watch my fishes with this parasitic infection, I was going forth with the idea of leaving it as a fish only tank and running it at the lowered salinity. What was interesting in this case was that the spots came back when the salinity was around 1.010.
<Yes... again, I'd definitely be sampling, looking at w/ a 'scope. Am not (so) sure that this IS a Protozoan parasite>
I did not have the courage you may say, to do the constant free copper treatment, and this is something that I've learned - sometimes you MUST have courage in this hobby to effect a change.
<Regards life itself Jamie. No?>
On the question about the best way to sterilize the main display tank, you are opting for the Chlorine. I've got bleach around! How would you do this?
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm
and the linked file and beyond re aquariums... if you don't want to use the search tool more directly>
Would you just leave all the sand in the tank, remove the rocks in buckets and soak 1 cup of bleach per 5 gallon container.
<In your circumstances, I'd leave all in place>
 Maybe a gallon or two of bleach for the display, fill the tank with water from the tap, and run it through the whole system as though I'm keeping a Chlorine Tank?
<For an hour or so>
 For how long would you let it sit or run? Few hours or days? I'm guessing that the easiest part of this is when it's done being "nuked" I just run the tank several times with tap water, then pour that chemical that gets rid of Chlorine, like Stress Coat, right?
<Mmm, no. Read... if you have questions still; write back. BobF>

Sudden Onset of Livestock Loss    5/20/12
I have been a diligent reader of your site for about the last 5 years and have a tremendous amount of respect for the knowledge represented here.  I have had tropical aquariums from the time I was able to do my own water changes (I just turned forty last week but that's between us).
<Oh yeah; ok; am twenty more>
 I started keeping my own marine aquariums about ten years ago but have always helped friends with their husbandry or tank-sat while they were on vacation or such.  I couldn't, in good conscience, just care blindly for someone else's aquarium or pets without understanding what was going on in the ecosystem, warning signs, indicators of stress etc...  I have kept a variety of FOWLR and mixed reef tanks over the years with very good results, don't misunderstand, I have had ups and downs like anyone else but I have always been able to observe, research and determine what issues were occurring or conversely what I was doing for desirable results.  That brings me to my current dilemma.  Due to the current state of the economy I downsized my 55gal mixed reef to a Fluval Edge II (12gal cube design with ~6"x8" opening for access).  The reasoning was, I may now have to travel out of town to work for extended periods of time.  I was also forced to travel for work several years ago and discovered that the water changes and maintenance activities were a bit much for my wife to handle by herself on a tank of that size. 
After her calling me in tears because my tank had crashed while I was out of town, I vowed not to ever put her in that position again.  So about 7-1/2 months ago I used a ~1/2 cup of sand from my refugium, the ~2 gallons of water it contained and ~4lbs of the live rock and transferred it to the new tank along with cured synthetic saltwater and new black freshwater sand for substrate.
<Have not found this material to be of much use in marine ap.s>
 Approximately once a week over the course of 6 weeks I added 1-3lbs of so called "live" rock from my local LFS.  During this time I watched for the tank to cycle, and each time I added new live rock the ammonia would go up for 1-2 days followed by the nitrates raising just as expected.  After ~12lbs of live rock were added the tank had cycled and I had no more ammonia spikes.  I then added ~6lbs of additional live rock to bring the total to 18-20lbs.  I realized with the reduced water volume that any additions or changes would be magnified and absolutely had to be small.  During these times I knew I must monitor water parameters closely in order to understand the effects each addition had.  After the tank was stabile for ~2 months I started adding my livestock from my existing tank.  First were my two Amphiprion ocellaris that I purchased as juveniles from my local LFS ~7 years ago and have survived two major hurricanes, including Katrina, with me in southeast Louisiana.  After that I slowly added my other livestock I wanted to keep along with a couple "lost causes" from the local LFS that people had returned and were suffering due to poor husbandry.  Livestock included:
2-Mated Amphiprion ocellaris (Maroon
<Mmm, no; not Premnas>>
Gold Banded Clownfish)-RIP
1-Cryptocentrus (Yellow Watchman Goby)-RIP
<Twelve gallons is too small...>
1-Trachyphyllia geoffroyi ~3inches
1-Capnella (Kenya Tree) frag
~40 polyps on multiple frags of different Zoanthids
<Trouble here likely>

1-Faviia (Closed Brain) frag
1-Caulastrea (Trumpet Coral) frag
1-Sunburst Anthias colony
I apologize in advance if the scientific names are a bit askew.
 <No worries>
My wife bought an ApexJr controller for my birthday the week before last and I have been working to get the wireless part and programming where I need it.  I am also installing a web-cam so I can help keep an eye on things if I must go out of town as described above.  Now that you have a little background, on to the issues.  Two days ago both of my Amphiprion ocellaris were found dead when I returned home from work.  I checked all my parameters and saw nothing out of the ordinary (Parameters Below).  Then, this morning I woke up to discover a multitude of dead or dying bristleworms along with my Cryptocentrus (Yellow Watchman Goby) also dead. 
I also noticed a few Zoanthid polyps that appeared to be stressed as evidenced by the polyps appearing like they were trying to turn themselves inside out.
Here is my setup:
 -12 Gallon Fluval Edge with Fluval 206 canister filter.  Primary mechanical filtration in canister is the stock pad which fills one 1/2 of the canister volume.  The other side of the canister is a three stage design with egg-crate foam in the first, ceramic bio-rings in the second and one bag of Chemi-pure Elite with GFO in the final stage.  I added the Chemi-pure ~2 weeks ago to help combat green film algae and also installed a single Phos-X pad to help reduce the Phosphate which then read .25ppm on my new API test kit.  3 gallon water changes are performed every 1-2 weeks.
-Salinity: 1.025ppm made with purchased RO water (0ppm
Phosphates/Nitrates/Silicates) and RedSea Coral Pro salt.
 -Temperature: 79.6-80.4 over any given 24 hour period.
 -Ph: 8.0-8.2
 Ammonia: Typically 0ppm.  After the loss of the clowfish-.25ppm and this morning .5ppm  I attribute this more to the die-off as opposed to actually causing the issues.
 Phosphate: 0ppm-I fear this may be contributing to my issues, specifically if the reduction was to rapid and possibly shocked the system.
 Nitrates: 2-3ppm
 Nitrites: 0ppm
 Calcium: 480-500ppm-It has climbed as high as 520ppm without dosing anything or adding supplements.  I also use only fresh RO water, without any supplements, to top off with.
 dKH: 10.5-11.0
 Magnesium: 1200
<Low proportionately w/ the too high [Ca]>
The above readings are also what they typically are with no drastic swings that I am aware of.  I usually test at least once a week for everything and more often if something out of the ordinary is suspected or if the habitants show any signs that they are not happy campers.
 I fed the fish and brains daily with a variety of flakes, fresh, frozen and freeze dried foods (Mysis, Cyclop-eeze, freeze dried brine shrimp fresh Gulf of Mexico shrimp, oysters, krill etc..) soaked in 1-2 drops of VitaChem.  I feed the coral an average of three times a week primarily with Cyclop-eeze and Marine Snow soaked in 1-2drops of VitaChem.  I did notice when I removed the dead Goby this morning that his gills were bloated looking, making me question if this was caused by a lack of gas transfer/low oxygen levels.  I installed an airstone while I was mixing new water to perform a 25% water change.  It appears the airstone has helped as most of the bristle worms have since went back into hiding.  In addition the few Zoanthid polyps that appeared stressed look like the majority of them are recovering.  I have yet to perform the water change but will be doing so as soon as the water is ready.  I am puzzled as to what would have caused
this to happen.  As I alluded to above, the only thing that I can think that caused this was a gradual depletion of oxygen levels compounded by the fairly sudden reduction of phosphates.  I would appreciate if you could share your thoughts on this.
 Thank You and Sincerely,
<Mmm, thank you for the sufficient data. My best guess Steve is some sort of catastrophic allelopathogenic effect here... prompted by? The move?
Proximity of other Cnidarians w/ the Zoanthids likely. Please read here:
and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
Bob Fenner>
Sudden Onset of Livestock Loss    5/20/12

I just realized I somehow neglected to let you know I also have two "wave-maker" pumps rated at 390gph each.
<? In a twelve gallon volume?! IF turned up, directed directly at Cnidarians... could be the source of irritation. BobF>

need advice.... SW dis. troubleshooting      5/17/12
Hi -  I am in need of some advice, I have a 180 gallon salt water tank for the past 4 years with no problem. On May 13  I bought a goat fish and died the following day, since then I have lost two clown fish.
<Mmm, perhaps "just stress" for the former, coincidence w/ the latter>
  I was told to
treat the aquarium with medic polyp lab.
<? Why?>
 According to ask a question on the internet they said it would not do anything. The clown fish showed sign of Brooklynella can my other fish get Brooklynella.
<Some other fish families, yes. See WWM (sigh) re>
 What can I do to make sure
I will not lose my other fish that I am so attached to.
<? Depends on what the cause of issues is here. Can't discern from what is offered. See the search tool (on every page) on WWM? Bob Fenner> 
Re Goatfish, hlth.... troubleshooting period f'      5/17/12

Hi Bob - Thank you for the response -  It seem the more I read the article the more I am confused.  I went to buy fish food where I bought the goatfish and he reassured me that the fish was not sick. So we decided to stop the polyp medic
<? Can you tell me what this is... ingredients?>
 and did a 10% water change.  My  Son did a water test  phosphate and the ammonia is good, but the nitrites where high,
<Nitrites? Need to be zero... Nitrates/NO3? What measure?>
 he replaced the carbon
back in the sub.  How soon can I replace the clown fish back. 
<... can't tell... when water quality is improved... maybe a week or two>
Could the clown fish have gotten stress because of the goatfish and got sick.
<Mmm, yes. BobF>
Thank You    5/18/12

You don't know how I appreciate you feed back.  I found out that the Polyplab medic is for Ich.
  The water testing Is done with color chart , according to him the nitrites are almost down to normal.
Should he change the carbon-  he feels it's too soon to make a another water change.   In time what do you think of a puffer dogfish. 
Thank again Mrs. Jackson.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Parasite, lympho, ick, etc    5/13/12
Just wanted to give you an update.  The blackline blenny still continues to flash a few times a day.
<Ah; very natural behavior... even do this in the wild>
 I did notice some white spots on it but they are usually gone a few hours later so i am thinking this is just sand.  I have 5 Trimma gobies and a dart fish in my quarantine tank waiting to be put in the display.  At this point do you think it is safe to add them?
<Mmm... most any time from now>
Does flashing on the rock necessarily mean ick?
<It definitely does NOT; even spots can be spurious>
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Fish breathing rapidly    5/5/12
Hi guys,
A while back Mr. Fenner helped me out with a problem I was having with the fish in my reef tank acting very stressed ( scratching and darting). We came to the conclusion that it was either chemical warfare between my coral or noxious blue-green algae or a combination of both. After fighting the problem for a while, I decided to give up all my coral and start a new fish only tank. So, about 6 months ago, I bought a 20 gallon tank and fill it with 25 lbs. of Real Reef live rock from Fishheads inc.. I used Instant Ocean's Bio-Spira for bacterial support and have been running the system bare bottom. I placed the only fish that I kept,2 false Perc. Clownfish and a Royal Gramma, in the system and everything seemed to be going very well.
The was no scratching or anything. There were never signs of phosphate, ammonia or nitrite and nitrates were steady at around 3-4ppm. PH was around 8.0-8.2 and Alk. was at 11DKH. There was a fair amount of brown algae, diatom like growth but the turbo snails would easily handle it. There was zero blue-green algae and that has remained unchanged to this day. The problem I'm writing to you about started about 3 months ago. I started to notice that from time to time my fish, either one or all 3 of them, would start breathing rapidly.
<Mmm, was this generally about the same time frame in the day?>
 These episodes may last anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours. They seem healthy otherwise. I've owned all of these fish for over a year, and in the case of my female Clownfish, 3.5 years.  There are no signs of parasitic or bacterial infections, they all look very healthy. Even when they are having these episodes, they look fine. There fins are not clamped and they're not laying around or swimming at the surface, however, they are not very active and won't eat when it's happening. When it's over, their appetites return to normal.  After dealing with the chemical warfare/blue-green algae issue for so long, my first instinct is to add fresh carbon but, when the episode stops I really don't know if it was because the carbon pulled some kind of chemical out of the water or it was because the episode just subsided. More and more I'm thinking the carbon has nothing to do with it. These episodes seem to happen every 2-3 days now.  2 months after I set up this 20 gallon tank, and everything was going great, I decided to start planning and purchasing equipment for a slightly larger system so I could easily add more equipment , like a sump for a larger protein skimmer, UV sterilizer and maybe a refugium, so I could add a couple more small fish.
<Good. I would continue w/ these plans... whatever the root cause is here; and I suspect simple lack of dissolved oxygen; having a larger system, more air-mixing in the sump... will help>
 On this past Sunday, I took down the 20 gallon and started up the new 30 gallon with a 10 gallon sump( all I could fit under my stand). I used only 6 gallons of the old water, added that first along with the fish and same Real Reef rock , so to ease the stress on them. I then added a total of 23 gallons more, slowly over several hours. I was hoping that adding this infusion of new water might act as a massive water change and stop, or at least slow down, the frequency of the episodes. Well, it lasted for about 3 days and they are back. The PH is at 8.2 and all other parameters are at zero. I can't check the oxygen level, but I can't believe it would be low with a Vortech mp10, Aquaclear50(running Chemi-pure), skimmer, overflow and return pump and separate UV sterilizer running all at the same time.
<Mmm, I do agree>
I buy my RO water at my LFS and run it through a zerowater de-ionization filter so it will read 0 TDS. I don't know if it's something in the water I'm buying or some sort of gill attacking parasite or something else. I AM STUMPED! Any ideas you might offer would be appreciated.  Thanks, Art.
<We both think there may be "something" biological at play here... an algae, other organism growing in/on the rock perhaps that is producing a toxic metabolite... I would use carbon on a punctuated basis, and set the lights to be off during most of the day, to see if these bring about any change. Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish breathing rapidly    5/6/12

Thank you for your quick reply, Mr. Fenner,
To answer your first question, yes it usually happens a couple hours after the lights turn on and it does affect all the fish at pretty much the same time.
<Mmm, more fuel to the fire re the guess of something "biological" and photosynthetic>
I think you may be on to something regarding the lights and the algae. Back about 2 months into my previous 20 gallon set-up, I started noticing the same problems with the fish that I was having in my reef tank.
They started scratching and darting. So I did a big water change and decided to keep the lights off for 3 days. During this time of darkness, the fish were doing very well, no scratching or anything, and this lasted for at least a few weeks after I turned the lights back on again. I turned the lights off because I was experiencing some kind of weird bacterial blooms. Everyday when the lights turned on, the water would be fairly cloudy and it would get a little cloudier before starting to go away and then it would pretty much be gone completely by the end of the day. It's funny because it was acting just like the blue-green algae, except for the fact that all the brown algae that was growing over everything, was being eaten by my snails. This was not the case with the blue-green algae, that nothing would touch. I did not find this out, however, until I added the snails and something interesting happened. When the snails ate all the brown diatom-like algae, the bacterial blooms went away. I know this had something to do with it's disappearance because I first added 10 Cerith snails and after they ate all the algae, the blooms stopped. I started to think they may not have enough to eat because it seemed all the algae was gone, so I gave them away. Weeks later, the brown algae came back and so did the blooms. So I then purchased 2 Turbo snails and the same thing happened again, they ate all the algae and the blooms stopped. I did notice that when the algae was growing everywhere and the blooms were happening, the fish were fine. It was only after the snails ate all the algae and the blooms disappeared, that's when the fish would start having issues. In the last month of my 20 gallon set-up, I installed a brighter, reef capable T-5 light fixture that I had laying around. I was hoping to eventually get back into keeping coral, especially in my new 30 gallon system. The new set-up is also running a reef capable T-5 fixture and it's in this most recent month that I started to notice the problem with my fish, breathing rapidly and scratching a little, getting worst. I still have the snails and there is no massive amount of algae visible, but I know that its growing because of the snail poop here and there. So I will keep the lights off for a few days and see how the fish react. I will report back to you next week with my findings. Thank you very much, Art
<Thank you for your further sharing Art... Again, I would try different means of discounting the algaes' growth... a reverse daylight photoperiod in your new sump w/ some fast growing algae, a DSB... BobF>

Killed all of the fish in tank I don't even own    4/15/12
Hello WWM!
<Drew... and I have a friend in the HHH that shares your last name>
Love the site, but have a real potentially lethal mystery.
I have a 90 gallon reef tank that has never had any sorts of chemicals/medications in it.
Figured I'd add info on filtration: Using a small HOB filter to run carbon. ETSS Reef Devil Deluxe skimmer and 30 gallon sump with refugium section.
I had some sort of disease that caused my fish to gill, develop very small amounts of white spots (smaller and fewer than with Ich) and caused a Kole eye tang, mandarin goby and fairy wrasse to die within 24 hours.
<... reads like Amyloodinium... Velvet>
 The rest of my fish are in a hospital tank. I am treating with copper because the white spots made me think this is a protozoan infection, and hyposalinity alone might not be sufficient for treatment.
I suspect marine velvet or similar. They seem to be doing quite well.
I have switched to using RO/DI water, but had previously been using treated tap water. No detectable copper or other chemicals, but after looking up the local water I began to wonder if I had added something potentially dangerous to the tank through this practice. This was about a month ago that I switched to RO/DI, and have gone through half a dozen 10% water changes since then.
It has been four weeks that my main reef tank has been fallow. I had someone from DFWMAS come by and purchase a clone of a Sherman RBTA and some Kenya trees on rocks. He drip acclimated his new purchases over two hours, and at 10 PM added the new purchases in to his tank. He also (accidentally or just absent mindedly I'm not sure) added the water in to his tank. Within two hours EVERY fish in his tank was dead but nothing else showed signs of distress. His description of the events:
I put the Anemone and Kenya's - after about an hour I went out. Came back about 10pm, lights are off from 8pm. About 12pm was watching TV and heard 1 of the fish beating up on top the water. When I checked closer - 2 of the damsels were upside down dead - the 1 clowns were laying on the sand and the other was on it's side breathing hard... I ran and made some new saltwater water - but that took about 30mins because the ro unit takes time and I had to get the temperature and salt lvl right so it wouldn't be a additional shock on them.
Tried to save at least 1 damsel and the other clown - but after like a additional 30 min.s they were gone.
Tested everything I could in my tank. Then I went to the LFS and had them test, and they got the same results:
PH: 8.1
Nitrates: <10PPM
Nitrites: 0
Ammonia: <.25 PPM
Phosphate: <.25 PPM
Salinity: 1.024-1.025
What could possibly cause a reaction so sudden from only about two quarts of water added to thirty gallons?
<Not the water... but a mal-interaction twixt the Cnidarians in this system very likely. Allelopathy>
 It sounds like his fish suffocated, but how could two quarts of water even possibly cause a reaction like that but not cause any distress to invertebrates?
<They're much more "used to it">
Definitely lost here. Maybe something in the rocks? They were second hand and inherited from a previous owner but if they were poisonous they should have caused issues in my tank.
Thanks for your help,
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictkendof.htm
and the linked files cited on our responses. Bob Fenner>

Old Fish curse? Hexamita guess    3/19/12
Hi Folks,
LFS owner here with a question that might have been asked millions of times, but is unsearchable on Google.  We've noticed over the years that when we have a fish in the store for say a month..maybe longer, that it dies soon after being sold.  Our water conditions and our customers are fine.  Acclimation is drip for 1.5 hours, lights out, soft music, wine and patience.
<Very soothing>
  These animals are driven to their homes not shipped. 
Said animals and customers have good weight on them.  My first assumption was a difference in water quality. 
<Mmm, mine too, in addition to...>
That good old " I got used to bad water and good water is killing me".  So we tested our parameters and our customers..nothing. pH, Salinity, Nitrites, Nitrates, Ammonia, Temp.  We've even had some expire in the bag before reaching their new homes.  There's nothing more disheartening for both us and our customers than purchasing a great looking, well fed, tank acclimated fish and then watch it expire.  Nope, no hand soap, toxic bags or killer catching techniques < SLAM!>  So I'm open to thoughts.  We do guarantee our fish, but the bottom line is we need to solve this mystery.
<I suspect a pathogen involvement; specifically Hexamita/Octomita necatrix... Were you about during the "Angelfish Plague" years back? This turned out to be the causative organism... Time to "treat the whole store"... w/... my choice, Metronidazole... In foods, the water. Should we chat a bit re the poss. of having a lab look for this Protozoan? Bob Fenner>
Re: Old Fish curse?  "normal losses?" 3/19/12

Hi Bob,
Thanks for the quick reply. Just a quickie about my background.  I was a director of a small zoo for a few years.  Have a degree in Lab. animal Science.   We do not have a central store system.  why risk the whole store crashing?
<Mmm, my speculation stands... as does the suggested method for "curing">
These fish come from different systems within our store.  All employees are trained in sterile technique aka don't use that net from that system when it just came from another system.
<Very (too) easy to have errors...>
When the fish  arrive they are treated with Metronidazole and Focus ( Nitrofurazone) in the food. 
 Food has vitamins and  Garlic Guard. TLF algae strips are dished out daily to the herbivores.
This has plagues everything from Watchman Gobies to cleaner shrimp.  The Invert. and Vert. casualties would seem to rule out a common pathogen.  
<I do agree>
I can understand how Hexamita might seem to be the cause, but the separate systems and the variance of the species affected makes me question it. Maybe these should just go under acceptable losses?
<Still, well, am not satisfied, and I suspect you're not either, with "anomalous loss/es" as an explanation>
 We aren't talking large numbers, but our losses are so low to begin with, that any loss makes a large blip.  Then there's the customer satisfaction part.  Sorry if I sound whiney.  I've been doing this for three years now, really enjoy it, but want to do right by the critters and the customers.  Oh, our only supplier at this point is Quality marine.
<Ahh, further... I know the operation... very well indeed. Was up visiting w/ the owner (Chris Buerner) just a couple weeks back... knew the originator (Phil Shane... his partner, Mike Ibaraki), the business from its origination>
 Outstanding company in my eyes.
<Our opinions are confluent>
 I've discussed it with them as well.  they said to chalk it up to normal losses.
Thanks so much for your help!
<Thank you for your further input... I might still necropsy the occasional specimen... body/skin mucus and gill clippings, the gut... Cheers, BobF>

Killer marine disease.    3/4/12
Hi, I have looked at numerous sites and kept marine fish for many years.
Sadly a disease has taken hold of my tank, I wonder if you could help me.
The main symptoms are a very thin grey covering over the body and eyes, which cloud over and swell. Fish do not breath faster and after about a week
<A week... not likely biological in origin>
become weak and extend their ventral fins
<... do look on the Net... I think you mean/t pectoral, not ventral fins>
and within 24 hours die. I thought this was a bacterial infection so used Maracyn Plus but it did not help. Regards, Adam Aarons.
<... the root cause here is very likely environmental... the fins point to perhaps a lack of dissolved oxygen... Need more data... to give you an idea of what we're looking for, some background input, start reading here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Killer marine disease.     3/6/12
Hi Salty and Bob, I think the problem might be Brooklynella but is the disease unique to clownfish,
<It is not. See WWM re this Protozoan>

 if so it can't be as all my fish have died in that tank? Regards, Adam
<And you, BobF>

Everything keeps dying and we don't know why 3/1/12
<Hello Laurie>
First of all thank you for your time and all of the amazing information you provide.
<You're welcome.>
I’m hoping that you may be able to solve a mystery in our tank and I’ll apologize now for the length of this plea for help.  
<No need, the more information, the better the answer.>
We originally purchased two tanks but never set up the second tank in our previous home. The one we did set up was
running for almost two years and did great.
A year and a half ago we moved and set up the second unused tank at the new house a couple of weeks before we moved in.
We used tank water from our LFS along with live rock that was transported in the tank water over a 2.5hr drive. We checked levels in the new tank packed up the fish and put them in their new identical home. Since we moved we have had nothing but problems.  Here are the tank details…
34 gallon Current Solana with a 14000K MH and a 453nm actinic, approx 40lb rock.  We use Matrix along with SeaGel and the protein skimmer that came with the tank (160gph skimmer pump and 400gph recirculating pump). There is also a powerhead, but I’m not certain of the circulation rate.  We also of course use filtration pads that are cleaned or replaced regularly. 5gal water changes anywhere from weekly to every 3 weeks over the last year.  We also tried ½ gal per day for two weeks.  None of this made a difference.     
One Black Ocellaris, one Yellow Tail Damsel, two Nassarius snails, two tiny Blue Leg Crabs, a large Toadstool Leather, green Star Polyps, a small Zoanthid rock (that took three months to open) and a couple of Xenia. Oh and a very unhappy Ricordea.
<In smaller systems, Zoanthids can cause problems with other Cnidarian life by chemically outcompeting them, a term known as allelopathy.> 
 This is what has survived.        
Recent (yesterday) levels, Ammonia, Nitrite,
Nitrate, Phosphate all at 0 and pH at 8.3.
Mag and Alkalinity are low with Mag at 1200 and Total Alkalinity at 2.5.  We’ve been using Ions and 8.4 to increase,
though it seems to be slow going. SG is at .024.  Temp stays around 76.
So here’s the problem…In the last year we’ve lost 2 Tail Spot Blennies, one Twin Spot, three Black Ocellaris, 4 Firefish, an Emerald Crab, two Peppermint Shrimp, as of tonight a Fire shrimp and more snails than I can count. Aside from the Ricordea the corals are all very very happy.
<Ricordea prefer low water current and the Zoanthids are likely contributing to the Ricordea's health.>
We check our water frequently (as well as having the LFS check it) and no major problems have been found aside from the
Mag and Alkalinity, which I realize do cause significant issues, but according to a few different opinions would not be the cause of all of our deaths.  We had a MAJOR hair algae problem that finally went away and we’ve also recently had a red slime issue. 
<Mmm, do your test results match that of your LFS, have you compared?>
We watched one Firefish dart across the tank franticly and then die right in front of us. Others we’ve found on the sand being taken care of by the clean-up crew.  A couple of fish have completely disappeared.  The snails are always a problem. As soon as I put them in the tank (we’ve tried a few different acclimation methods) they go from happy active snails to unhappy closed up snails who refuse to crawl on the rock and constantly fall off the glass. Some close up and die within 24hrs.
So I tried putting current tank water in a hospital tank with one rock in it and added new snails, 2 Margaritas and 2 Astrea.  They were happy in this little tank for two days.  I put them in the big tank and the Margaritas immediately closed up.  Put them back in the small tank (again, same water as the big tank), happy, back in the big tank a few hours later and they rolled to the side stuck part of their foot out and won’t move.  This happens with every group of snails we get and they all eventually die within a couple of weeks.  So far the Nassarius are the only snails who have survived.
<Mmm, I am suspecting stray voltages from a defective pump/heater and/or toxins present in the water.>
Our discoveries…(1)The hair algae insanity was caused by bacteria depletion.  We loaded the tank with good
bacteria and it disappeared over a few weeks.
<How did you determine the bacteria disappeared?>
(2) We think that the heater may have been causing some electrical issues, then again maybe not, but we replaced
it anyway. Same with the powerhead and now we’re considering pump replacements.
<Best to take a voltmeter and put the positive probe in the water and the negative to a known ground and measure if any voltages are present.  Is the receptacle you are using GFI equipped?>
 (3) We found a Gorilla Crab who may have eaten two of the fish who completely disappeared.  Still this doesn’t explain the continued problem with snails and the loss of the rest of the fish and now another shrimp!  We won’t buy anything anymore because it’s a death sentence and heartbreaking, but we miss having a normal tank.  I’m very close to giving the coral and fish to our LFS and getting rid of the tank because I just can’t take watching these creatures die and not be able to figure out what’s going on.  Nobody seems to be able to figure it out.  We are beside ourselves with disappointment and frustration.  We’ve done everything from micromanage to minimal maintenance and it’s always the same result…death.  Any ideas??
<As above and where is your source water coming from?>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Laurie

Toby and Humu....who is more aggressive to new additions? Mysterious SW Losses 1/12/12
I have a situation in my tank that has me dumbfounded and searching the WWM site has not helped. I currently have a 90 gallon reef tank with 30 gallon sump and stand-alone 40 gallon refugium that is doing great. Two months ago I started a 180 gallon FOWLR tank with 55 gallon sump filled with 60+ pounds of live rock.
I have over 100 pounds of large, 'lace' rock
<Mmm, Tufa? Can be problematical in terms of HPO4 leaching if so>

creating many caves and hiding spaces in the display. I also have 60 pounds of live sand substrate. I am running a RIO 17HF
<Do keep your eye (and nose for that matter for burning) re this brand pump>

return pump and Hydor 1400 powerheads in the display tank. I use aggressive protein skimming and added a Bulk Reef Supply GFO and Carbon reactor. I also moved my Aqua U/V, 25 Watt sterilizer from my reef to the FOWLR tank as a precaution, since it will house more expensive fish. The UV runs 24 hours a day with a 550GPH flow rate.
I feed Formula One frozen, Mysis, Marine Cuisine and also Nori sheets.
Three days per week I soak the food in Selcon or Kent Marine Zoe.
My water parameters are : Temp 79, Nitrites O, Nitrates 5,Ammonia 0, Phosphates .10
<Surprised at this w/ the GFO...>
and salinity is 1.024
I perform a 20 Gallon water change with salinity and temp matched water every 10 days.
My fish stocking order list is:
One Humu Trigger 2.5 inches long
One Blue Spot Toby 2.75 inches long
One Double Banded Butterfly (Deceased)
One Magnificent Foxface (5 inches)
One Yellow Tang (4 inches)
One Flame Angel (3.5 inches- Deceased)
The Humu and Toby were bought and QT'd together and were the first additions. All fish are observed for several hours during the day since the tank is in our living room. I never have observed any aggression at any time, including feeding.
A month ago I added a mature double banded butterfly fish that a friend had had for a year in his tank. I did a brief QT for a week and drip acclimated it at Noon. It seemed fine all day and we shut the lights out at 1100 PM.
When I awoke the next morning the butterfly fish was barely breathing and had red irritation on his sides. He was dead in two hours.

All parameters on the tank were checked and found to be fine. I didn't know what caused the death, but I read butterfly fish can be stressed when moved.
<For sure>
Last week I had a large adult flame angel moved from my 2 week QT tank into the display tank. It was fine for about 3 days and eating with the group.
Yesterday morning I couldn't find the angel and after shuffling some rocks I found it hiding under a rock and barely breathing. It died within an hour. I then discovered that my yellow tang had some Ich on it. I have never seen a yellow tang with Ich and I DID QT the tang for 2 weeks and treat with PraziPro, like usual.
Still transitioning from a predator tank mode of thinking, I realize the Toby and Humu may not fit my long term goals of wanting a Majestic angelfish,
<Not easily kept...>
Harlequin Tusk, Purple Tang, etc
I really, really like the Humu and from what I have read I may have luck keeping him since I got him small and my tank additions plan to be bigger than he. I just would like to know WHAT is killing my new additions, the Humu or the Toby?
<Don't think either... Perhaps the system being so new is more than usual-stressful...>
It always happens during the night and during the day they are all peaceful. I look for signs of a fish being bossy or a fish 'shying away' but see nothing. I looked for bite marks on the angel and saw none.
I moved the Humu yesterday to my Reef's 40 Gallon fuge, but after reading your site today I tend to believe the Toby may be my culprit.
<Again, doubtful. You'd see signs... bite marks>
Any suggestions on if one or both of these fish need to be traded away?
<I would not move or change anything at this point. Do you plan to grow macroalgae in the 180's sump? Place a DSB there? I would; for all the many benefits, including ameliorating many sources of chemical irritation, mal-influence>
My local 'fish' guru makes a good living performing tank set up and maintenance daily for his customers and he said he has stocked many Blue Spot Toby fish in customer's tanks without incident.
<I as well>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Toby and Humu....who is more aggressive to new additions? Rio/Taam Pumps input 1/12/12

Thank you for your detailed reply. I DO have a football sized ball of Chaeto in the 55 gal sump under a 6700k compact fluorescent.
<Ah, good>

bloated fish 12/24/11
Attached are pictures of my female Christmas wrasse that I've had for over a year, and it appears that she is very bloated.
<Mmm, yes>
She is very active, alert, and feeds greedily. I was wondering if this is something I should be concerned about and if there is anything I can do. I was able to observe that sunlight shines through her body except where the bloated area is where it appears dark.
<These situations are typically due to one of a few possibilities... over-eating, gut impaction, gamete retention (egg-binding), and more rarely intestinal parasitic involvement. T'were it mine, I'd just cut back on favorite foods... see if the condition self-improves. If it worsens, do see WWM re the use of Epsom Salt next. Cheers and happy holidays, Bob Fenner>

Puzzling angelfish disease -- 08/13/11
Hey Guys
I have a flame angel that's been in QT for a few months and cannot figure out what she has I treat all incoming fish with Prazipro and Cupramine proactively, and she was given 3 rounds of Prazi. After the symptoms did not go away I thought it may be bacterial and treated with Maracyn 1 and 2, with no improvement.
Finally I am now about halfway thru a quinine sulfate/crypto pro treatment, and again the "spots" are only getting worse. I am at a total loss for what to treat with next..
thanks for your help
<I see abdominal swelling and some discrete white raised blobs on the side of this specimen... Could be a few "things"... Considering the exposure it's had to copper, Quinine and vermifuges, I don't think this is likely a
protozoan or worm complaint... Could just be "stress"... Do you have access to a microscope, the background to do a bit of look-seeing? Bob Fenner, done giving his pitches at the fish hlth. conf. here in Maine>

Mystery deaths even after fish were moved to QT... something toxic... 4/9/11
Hi guys, let me start with a short description of my tank. Its a 150g SPS reef that has been with me for over a year. Everything was doing great till just a few days ago. I use biopellets, a XP3000 skimmer(rated 350g), and I run AC all in my 80g sump.
Here's the problem: 2-3 weeks ago I asked my friend who was going to Singapore to purchase a Mitratus Butterflyfish for me. When it got home, everything was okay and it was eating by the next day so I had no reason to suspect anything wrong. I went away for 5 days and left the tank under the care of my brother as I have done many times in the past and when I got home everything was still okay except the Mitratus was discolored, its eyes were cloudy, it wasn't swimming out in the open anymore and its scales were falling off.
<The last... big trouble>
I thought immediately that its probably flukes because of the cloudy eyes so I treated right away with Praziquantel and did a FW dip but that didn't seem to help. It died after 2 days and I thought maybe I was just too late to save it.
I did a FW dip to confirm if it was flukes but looks like it wasn't. The cloudiness in the eye never left and nothing was coming off its skin but scales. Yes, I did double check if it was scales and they were.
<Could be "just" collection/handling damage, but...>
The next day, my other Mitratus and Declivis Butterflyfishes were acting all weird. They were still eating a lot but they were discolored. I added more Selcon to their food and hoped that when I get home from work, they would still be okay. When I arrived that night, the Declivis was on its side and the Mitratus was looking even paler. I caught them both and immediately set up a 40g hospital tank and placed them both there. I was already so confused as to what it could be. My friend got a fish from that same batch and his fowlr was getting wiped the same time as mine and he suspected that it was Brooklynella.
<... did you confirm w/ a skin scraping, 'scope?>
I immediately added Furan-2 and formalin <!> to the QT in the hope to save them but by the next day, the Meclivis was a goner and the Mitratus wasn't looking good anymore. That afternoon, it died as well. I tried comparing their pics to those of fish affected by brook but im not 100% convinced it is but it's the most likely candidate I think. Velvet also comes to mind.
<... too many guesses, treatments>
After that, I removed all my fishes, and restarted the QT tank. I added Cupramine only this time and im going to be leaving my display tank fallow for 2 months and I swear from this day forth, everything will be going through QT for at least a month.
Two days ago in the QT, one of my Randal Anthias and my royal gramma (both have been with me for more than a year and were super healthy) died showing similar symptoms like the discoloration of the skin and redness in certain areas of their body.
Today, it was my mystery wrasse that fell victim. He was also perfectly healthy prior to this and he was even eating a lot yesterday. Now I am so confused as to what this is and even the people who are much more experienced than me have no clue!
I have made some possible conclusions as to what this disease might be though:
1. Cloudy eyes and falling scales were an isolated incident on the first Mitratus. The other fishes showed none of those symptoms.
2. I did notice very fine powdery specks(too small to be Ich) on my HYT a few days ago. Now that it is in QT, that seems to have went away.
<Again... a microscopic examination... reference work...>
SO: I think its likely that it was Brooklynella or velvet and the parasites weakened the fish to such a state which allowed the bacteria in the tank to cause a secondary infection.
<Mmm, no; not likely. If Brook, all would have died in short order. The descriptions and incidence of who perished first, second... lead me to believe this is/was more of a "cascade event"... with the involvement of your corals mostly>
This would explain most if not all the symptoms.
The cloudy eyes in the first Mitratus and the internal bleeding in the 2nd Mitratus, declivis, and royal gramma.
Please help! I know I should have put the Mitratus on QT but the LFS already had him in QT for over a week
<... ONLY trust yourself here. TOO easy for others to make mistakes, mix livestock, gear...>
and they assured me he was good to go. Now I am
at wits end of what to do and I would really appreciate some help.
<During this time, did any of your corals "shrink" back, with other/s showing great vigour? Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mystery deaths even after fish were moved to QT 4/9/11
Nope, none of my corals shrunk back at all and all of them are still doing great till now actually.
<Mmm, well, am almost sure that "something" toxic (rather than pathogenic) is at base/fault here>
I always keep my corals a good distance away from each other and I mostly keep SPS and Zoas.
<The last are very toxic... What would trigger their activity here? Some chemical addition, media change? Being picked on by?>
The Zoas have their own rocks and islands while the SPS have their own territories and a lot of them aren't more than 3inches long(got them at around 1 inch). Unfortunately, I don't really have any easy access to a microscope but if need be, I will try to find someone can help me with that. How do I go about preparing which parts I need to put under the scope?
<Best to refer you here. To Ed Noga, Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment (2d ed. if you can)>
Could it be bacterial?
<Not primarily, as you'd stated>
If its not brook, I would think that its velvet but it was only that one time in the yellow tang I was able to see any powdery white substance at all so even with brook ruled out,
>.. assuredly, not... Again, the description and order of loss<
I still have no clue what it could be. The only constant symptoms are the red spots near the fins or somewhere in their body, rapid respiration,
<... yes. the "expression" of the Gramma loreto... indicative... the left pectoral fin forward...>
and then eventual death. Some show discoloration like the pictures I sent you of my Royal Gramma and the other butterflies while others like the Mystery Wrasse don't seem to be discolored at all. My female Hawaiian flame wrasse is on its side now and it seems like by tomorrow morning it will be a goner.
On a side note: I am so thankful for your reply!
<Wish I could "do the Vulcan mind meld" with you... or had more to offer up-front. BobF>
Re: Mystery deaths even after fish were moved to QT 4/10/11
Yeah but the strange thing is that the deaths are continuing even though they are all in QT already being treated.
<Mmm, could be from residual stress/poisoning>
The last thing I can remember that I did that could have stressed the corals was when I had to catch all the fish and move them into QT a couple of days ago. Since then the display tank has been fallow of any fishes and the corals are all still doing pretty great.
<I see>
This morning, the female Hawaiian Flame Wrasse just died of the exact same symptoms as the royal gramma minus the discoloration. I'll try to send pics later. Im also doing a 40% water change on the QT to lower the nutrients there.
<Pix won't do much good>
Im not really sure what I should be doing now. I just plan to finish the 2 weeks of copper
<Am a bigger fan by far of quinine compounds over cupric ion... See WWM re>
and then perhaps remove all the copper from that system and keep the fishes in hypo. Would that be good enough? What would you do in this situation?
<... as the above. B>
Re: Mystery deaths even after fish were moved to QT 4/10/11

Hi Bob!
I just finished changing the water in my QT tank with salt mix + RO water to reduce the nutrients. I also re-added the dose for Cupramine for the part of the water that I removed. While I was checking my fishes, I noticed that my male Hawaiian Flame wrasse was trying to shake something off. He wasn't scratching
himself on anything. He was just trying to shake something off. Im not sure if me telling you that helps in any way but im just really worried about my surviving fishes. There aren't very many of them left and the disease, whatever it is, is really just picking them off one by one.
<Shaking is likely a reaction to copper exposure/poisoning>
Could it still be velvet affecting them even after bring in Cupramine treatment for 4 days? I also have furan-2 in there so I was hoping that the deaths would stop but it seems like im not that fortunate.
<... not Velvet. Your fishes would all have died at about the same time>
Also if I am able to find any quinine based meds here in the Philippines, I will definitely remove the copper and switch to that right away.
<Ahh, I see. Didn't realize you were/are in the P.I.>
Thanks for all the advice. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out!
<Am happy to try and assist you. BobF>
Re: Mystery deaths even after fish were moved to QT 4/11/11
H bobi!
I was wondering that since its neither brook or velvet, should I completely stop the copper treatment? Im thinking that continuing it would be moot since I only used the copper thinking it was velvet. I was thinking of switching to something else like amoxicillin perhaps. Or could I use both the amoxicillin and the Cupramine at the same time?
<... I would use neither... have you been reading where you've been referred? B>
Would that help more than what I am doing now?
Re: Mystery deaths even after fish were moved to QT 4/12/11

Hi bob,
Sorry about the misspelling last time, must have slipped my mind.
Yes I was reading up on the quinine based meds but unfortunately, it doesn't seem like its very easily available here in our country in any of the pharmacies or LFS. We do have the antimalarial called Malarin though. I did a search on Google and not much about it comes out. The contents of Malarin however are Quinine diCHl.
<Mmm, I think you mean/t: di HCl...: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinine>
I will however be going to another pharmacy later and ill search again for Chloroquine phosphate in the hopes that they actually carry it. I would order it online again but so many times it has happened that I would order it and put it on rush delivery and by the time it gets here, the fish I wanted to treat is already dead.
We also have quinine sulfate available in tabs for human consumption so I think I might try that if the Chloroquine phosphate cant be found.
<Yes. Do>
I was thinking of crushing it into a fine powder and then following the recommendation on some of the emails on WWM of .25 tsp/10g once every 3 days and a 25% water change between each treatment.
<Good. B>
Most importantly, I was also wondering, since the main tank is fallow now, in 2-3 months when I reintroduce fish, would the bacteria that killed the original fishes still be there or would they at least have been wiped out already?
Thanks so much for your patience and all your advice! More power to you guys!
Re: Mystery deaths even after fish were moved to QT 4/13/11

Hi WWM crew!
Just wanted to share an update. Im using this quinine sulfate tab to treat my QT and so far so good. Fish are starting to look better already.
<Ah good>
You can get it here(in the Philippines) for p13 each tablet which is around 320mg if im not mistaken. I moved all the fishes to a separate bucket and I cleaned the entire tank before adding water and the quinine. As for the dosing instructions, im just following what's on WWM regarding the quinine sulfate
powder from National Fish Pharm. It should be the same thing right except that mine is in a tablet form whilst theirs is in powder?
Is quinine sulfate safe to use with ammonia removers like Seachem Prime?
<I think so, yes>
Also I was wondering, if I keep my DT fallow for 2-3 months, would that ensure that the bacteria or whatever it was that attacked my fishes are gone already?
<... likely so; or at least rendered so non-virulent as to not be of consequence. BobF>
Re: Mystery deaths even after fish were moved to QT 4/13/11
Sorry the previous link I attached to the locally available quinine sulfate doesn't work without a log in, here's another one.
Thanks and more power to you guys!
<Can use it this AM Ryan. Mabuhay. B>

Swimbladder prob.? 4/1/11
How are you today?
<Fine, a bit bushed>
I have just acquired an Ornate Angel (Genicanthus bellus) but she seems to have a buoyancy problem. She is constantly pointing upwards, bobbing up and down and then lying on her side a lot.
Breathing is fast but not rapid. LFS had the fish for 3 weeks with no problems but today when I went to collect her she took a "bad turn"
<How long have you had this fish?... What other livestock is present?>
Since I had travelled quite a distance, specifically to get this fish, the LFS owner just gave her to me to see if she would recover. She is now in an isolation tank by herself and I could see that she seems to be healthy in all respects other than buoyancy.
Question is, if this is a swimbladder deflation problem can the fish re-inflate the swimbladder, is there anything I can do to assist her?
<Mmm, not much directly... Good care, low lighting... patience>
Also, LFS says she was fine these past 3 weeks only today exhibiting any problems so could this be some sort of infection?
<? Got me... most such issues are traumas due to improper collection, needling... Some are "gas" issues in the gut due to improper foods, gut blockages... some are resultant from tumourous growths, gasification/decomposition...>
Is so is there any way to treat without antibiotics (I am in the UK where antibiotics are strictly controlled)
Hoping for some good news.
<Wish I had some. Bob Fenner>
Re: Swimbladder prob.? 4/2/11
Hi Bob,
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.
I just picked up the fish yesterday and she was immediately quarantined in a tank of her own. This is a bare tank with just a plastic, seawater safe, cave for hiding.
Ordinarily I wouldn't have taken her but since I made the long journey just to get this fish, they are rarer than Hens Teeth here, the LFS gave her to me FOC to see if she'd recover. Looking into the tank this morning I see that she has survived the night, bobbing up and down in her cave. Guess that's something eh?
<Not atypical>
So all lot of TLC and time, got it. Will let you know how it goes.
<Real good>
Thanks again,
<Welcome. BobF>

Fish dying in quarantine... 2/5/11
Dear WWM crew,
As always, I sincerely appreciate the advice and services you offer here! Before writing, I try my best to search the archives for my particular problem however, I have not been successful with what I am
encountering. I have a 75 gallon tank that has been setup for one year and in that time, I have lost one False Percula Clown. Approximately four months ago, I transitioned the inhabitants (all of them) to a 90 gallon reef tank that had been cycling without any fish for a few months; everyone in that system is doing great! When I relocated the livestock from the 75 gallon system, I left the tank and filtration running; after being empty for a few weeks, I purchased 2 Damsels (Yellow tail & a Talbot) and a Six-Line Wrasse. A few weeks after that, I purchased a Dog-face Puffer and a Blue-Chin Trigger (I know in time they will need a larger system). Here is where the problems began. After suffering severe burns from a faulty
heater, my Trigger passed away after only being in the tank for two days; the heater was replaced and the new one is located in the sump. A week later, I purchased a new Blue-Chin Trigger and he refused to eat (I tried mussels, clams, squid, shrimp, krill, Entice, Garlic, and even black worms). The Trigger had no signs of parasites or infection and after much contemplation and refusal to eat for nearly a week, I relocated him to my 90 gallon reef system (he was acclimated via a drip for 20 minutes); 48 hours
later, he died. Within three days of his death, the fish in the 75 gallon system (2 damsels, 1 wrasse, and the puffer) began breathing heavy and all of them stopped eating. I did a 20 gallon water change and after that was done the water parameters were:
Salinity 1.023, Temp 78, Nitrates apprx 5ppm (were at 12 before change), PH 8.3, Nitrites 0, Ammonia 0, Phosphates 0, Calcium 480ppm, Oxygen 8ppm (test-kit says it should be 8-15ppm for my water temp).
<Mmm, no more than 9 ppm at saturation likely>
The tank has a 3-4 inch substrate (Fiji-sand), 80-90 pounds live rock, and 216 watt HO T5 fixture.
Within 72 hours of the water change, the Talbot was dead, the Yellow tail Damsel was laying on the bottom of the tank, the Puffer was convulsing(?) (he kept swimming and then would stop and twitch his entire body for 10-15 seconds then swim around again gasping for air), and I noticed the wrasse was entirely covered in white spots (99% certain it's Ich). That evening, I relocated the puffer to a quarantine setup (30 gallons) at my LFS after performing a 7 minute fresh water dip (PH and temp were the same as the display tank) and last night, I moved the wrasse into a 10 gallon quarantine at my house (no substrate, but gave him decorations and pipes to hide in).
This morning, the white spots on the wrasse are almost gone, but he is laying on the bottom of the tank breathing heavy and I don't think he will make it through the day. Yesterday, I convinced the puffer (who is still at the LFS) to eat a piece of krill after going nearly a week without food; his condition seems to be slowly improving. :-) I intend to leave the 75 gallon tank without fish for 30 days and bump the temperature up to around 85 and drop the salt to 1.018; would you recommend this to treat the system
before re-introducing fish or is it unnecessary?
<I would do a preventative dip/bath as detailed on WWM:
Also, do you think a 10 gallon quarantine system is sufficient for 30 days for a Dog Face Puffer
(about 3-4 inches); I fear not.
<Should "get" 90 some percent of problems in this interval>
I am nervous too because it seems anything that goes into quarantine dies there (my clown did many months ago and the wrasse is likely to today). I almost wonder if they are better off in the display tank and perhaps just lower the salinity over the next week and bump the temperature up to 82 over that time? I will be devastated if I lose my Puffer! I apologize for writing such a long e-mail; I just want to be as
thorough as possible. I highly value your advice, as always!
I sincerely thank you,
~ Nick
<Summat is/was wrong here... not likely pathogenic... but water quality...
Either the new water, or the synthetic. If you have some of the latter left, I'd be doing an experiment w/ a few damsels. Bob Fenner>

Sudden death after water change, RMF -- 02/05/11
Hello crew, I did my usual water change and skimmer clean up and changed the sponge in the sump baffle. I noticed later last night that the sump was cloudy and it was due to the ASM G3 putting out micro-bubbles. I have not seen this before. I figured it was just on start up and would go away as the system has been running for years. This morning I found my flame angel and a shrimp were dead, and my mated clown fish are resting at the bottom of the tank which is very atypical. Can micro-bubbles in the sump do all this?
<Can, yes; but doubtful, compared w/ other possibilities here>
The main tank looks fine (no micro bubbles). All other water parameters are normal and the tank is stable. Never had this happen over the past 7 years. I know its not much information but there is really nothing new. I used the same batch of salt water for water change on another tank with no problems. The leather coral and xenia all look normal and have not reacted. Any thoughts or just a mystery? Thanks
<Mmm, yes. Municipal water is not a "consistent product" nowayears... Hence my strong suggestion to pre-mix and store such change out water... for days, a week. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and the linked files at top, and here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I2/Water_Makeup/makeup_water.htm and the linked files at bottom. Bob Fenner>
Sudden Death After Water Change (Embolism?), EricR -- 02/05/11

Hello crew,
I did my usual water change and skimmer clean up and changed the sponge in the sump baffle. I noticed later last night that the sump was cloudy and it was due to the ASM G3 putting out micro-bubbles.
<<Mmm, a clue perhaps>>
I have not seen this before. I figured it was just on start up and would go away as the system has been running for years.
<<Ok'¦and not an unreasonable assumption>>
This morning I found my flame angel and a shrimp were dead, and my mated clown fish are resting at the bottom of the tank which is very atypical. Can micro-bubbles in the sump do all this?
<<A possibility, yes'¦due to gas oversaturation and possible embolism>>
The main tank looks fine (no micro bubbles).
<<At least 'not now''¦though not even a necessity as the oversaturated gasses/water could have been simply introduced from the sump>>
All other water parameters are normal and the tank is stable. Never had this happen over the past 7 years.
<<Could be a case of all environmental parameters/elements being 'just right'>>
I know it's not much information but there is really nothing new. I used the same batch of salt water for water change on another tank with no problems. The leather coral and xenia all look normal and have not reacted. Any thoughts or just a mystery?
<<Short of old age/coincidence, or the introduction of a poison or pathogen'¦micro-bubble disease/embolism would be my guess. Do search our site re and see what you think>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Re: Sudden death after water change 2/6/11

Bob and Eric, Thank you for your fast response. Whatever it was took about 12 hours to wipe out snails, fish and shrimp.
<These losses are not due to embolism... or air bubbles>
As I re-play what I did last night, I don't think its the water change as the tank is a 125g reef, I use an RO/DI system to make the water and the TDS tested during make up was 4, also I changed only 14g. I also used the same batch of water to change a 150g using 15 gallons and that tank is fine. The first clue was the skimmer producing significant micro bubbles to the point of clouding the sump before the baffle. I have the same skimmer in the 150g, but no micro-bubbles were formed. The main tank did not appear affected. There are 2 other items that I changed that day 1) the fish food but its from a highly reputable source and 2) this one item troubles me, in that I replaced the sponge in the sump with a new one, but did not rinse prior to inserting.
Other than that the filter sox and carbon bag had been cleaned in bleach, rinsed and dried for 2 days before use. Overall, my feeling is that some sort of toxin was introduced, but don't know where as its hard to believe that the inverts would go down that quickly. It is surprising that the corals look fine.
<They may be the root cause>
Very sad situation. I plan to do significant water changes and pay attention to the skimmer as I think whatever may have been introduced to the system may alter the surface tension of the water and as a result create micro-bubbles that are just a side effect. Thanks and if you have other opinions I would appreciate reading them. Regards.
<And you, BobF>
Re: Sudden Death After Water Change (now maybe a poisoning event) -- 02/08/11

Bob and Eric, thanks again for your insight.
<<Hello Susan, and welcome. My apologies for my tardiness in getting back to you'¦65 hour work-weeks of late. I see Bob provided a response on an earlier query (hopefully I'm not doubling up on him again here)>>
Here is an update and a question.
All snails, shrimp, a flame angel and a fairy wrasse were gone in about 12 hours from the last water change. I removed the pair of mated clown fish (which were on their sides gulping air) and placed them in a QT I had running. The only fish to make it through was a pajama cardinal. The clown fish have improved and are now swimming on their own in the QT. I did an experiment and stopped all pumps to isolate the sump and checked to see if the skimmer was still producing micro-bubbles in the sump and it was. I then removed all water from the sump and replaced with freshly prepared water. The skimmer then showed no signs of micro-bubbles in the sump.
<<A clue'¦>>
I then finished a 30% water change and turned the system on and the skimmer started producing micro-bubbles, which shows the problem is in the water and the micro-bubbles are just a symptom.
<<So it does appear>>
Last weekend I had some help changing the water in the tank and my helper directed the stream of water re-filling the tank directly on a 10" tall umbrella leather (Sarcophyton)
<<Mmm'¦another clue>>
and I noticed today that when I would wave the water stream toward this coral a lot of mucous would come off. So my question is did I have the perfect storm in my tank and this coral could have potentially produce sufficient toxin that poisoned the other inhabitants.
<<Though rare in my experience for this type of coral to wipe out fishes and motile inverts, it still is a very noxious organism and being 'washed' as you describe did likely free large amounts of toxic substance to the water column. In addition, the stress of this 'washing' likely induced the coral to produce even more noxious material as both a defense mechanism and to replenish its surface protection. So yes'¦it is possible this event is what led to the demise of your livestock>>
Also does it make sense that the clown fish are recovering after 24 hours in a QT tank since the toxin is not present?
<<Very much so>>
I am very interested in your thoughts.
<<I would conduct several more 30% water changes over the next few days, and add some chemical filtration as well (carbon and/or Poly-Filter), before introducing/reintroducing any livestock>>
Thanks again.
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Does White Stringy Poop always mean a sick fish? Nope 1/26/11
Hi Crew...
Tank info: 125g w/ sump, skimmer, above tank fuge with Chaeto and miracle
mud, live rock, live sand, and powerheads.
Parameters: Ammonia: 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates (brace yourself) 80. I've been doing water changes to lower the nitrates. I'm trying to get the Chaeto in the fuge to grow so the nitrates go down, but it's not working yet.
<There are other methodologies: Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm
and the linked files above>
Inhabitants (in order of how long they've been in the tank): 1 Banggai, 2 blue green chromis, 1 diamond watchman goby, 1 ocellaris, 1 lawnmower blenny, 1 Foxface ( he's around 3-4"), 1 coral beauty (around 3"), and 1 Kole tang (around 2"). My last additions were the coral beauty and Kole tang, added together mid-Dec 2010.
The tank has been up for a year. Everyone eats a healthy mix of frozen Mysis, spirulina, sometimes some Cyclopeeze, and all the algae eaters get algae sheets daily, and of course they pick at the rocks all day for pods and algae.
<Sounds good>
I also have a small cluster of healthy looking mushrooms that hitchhiked on rocks but my tank is otherwise fowlr. I feed once a day, and I put algae sheets in once a day (maybe due to the fuge, I get very little algae growth in the display)
Here's why I'm emailing...I saw stringy white poop on the tang (just once -- earlier today) -- Now, does it ALWAYS mean it's a parasite if there's white poop?
<It does not>
I stress the word "always". I know the general consensus is that it is a parasite...but I've also heard of people saying it's not always a parasite and that It could just be something else...but I'd like more opinions from some experts (that would be YOU guys). I'm hesitant to snatch up the tang and qt him to treat because I haven't had much luck in treating fish outside of the display tank (I've treated 2 fish for a disease, one being a clownfish who also had white stringy poop). I have some Prazipro in hand. My tang eats, but doesn't seem to be losing weight. <?> He appears to be gaining weight.
<A good sign>
No heavy breathing. A week ago, I did notice a couple of holes in his fins, but they healed within a day, so I don't think it was fin rot. He probably fought w/ the goby. He, along with all my other fish folk, are very active outgoing swimmers. Could the high nitrates be stressing him?
I wasn't sure because I've read that fish have high tolerances for nitrates.
Thanks in advance for the words of wisdom!
<I would not have the stringy, white feces bother me. Bob Fenner>

Lost fish, trying to determine reason. 12/28/10
Good Morning Crew!
<Good morning Hans!>
I seem to have had a bit of a problem with my 90g tank the past couple of days. I think I have it figured out, but wanted to run it by you guys to see if there was anything I have missed.
<Okey Dokey>
I recently won a two year war with hair algae and Cyano, and this latest event has been a serious blow to my morale just when I was finally starting to get happy with everything.
<Mmm, two years? Debilitating on the mind for sure>
I came home from work yesterday and made my normal daily inspection of the tank, and found my Kole Tang was gasping very heavily. He totally ignored his normal food pellets as well, though my other fish all ate fine at the time (2 clowns and 1 firefish). I started running some tests to figure out what was going on, and found a few parameters out of whack.
pH had dropped from the normal 8.4 to 8.02
<This should be ok, although over what time period? If dropped immediately this might cause some heavy breathing/ loss of equilibrium, but if done over a period of a couple hours then it should be fine>
My skimmer was going bonkers and overflowing.
<A big clue>
Salinity had risen to 1.027, though I was about 2-3 gallons low in the sump.
<Mmm, this is due to your own inattention I'm afraid>
Other parameters seemed normal for the tank.
dKH was 8, which is about average for the tank.
Temp was stable at 78f, again normal for the tank.
I didn't test ammonia, it's been so long since I've had any detectable levels that I didn't even think of it at the time.
<This is the sort of instance where I would test for Ammonia. How about nitrate?>
I had made a couple recent changes to the tank that may or may not have contributed. I replaced my pair of Koralia 3s with Koralia 1050s just the day before, and was running them on a 1 minute alternating cycle.
<I would just run these all the time myself, pointed at each other from opposite sides of the tank>
A few days earlier I had added a Derasa clam, 6" toadstool and an Acro frag.
<This, these the most likely contributors mentioned>
About two weeks ago I swapped from a 4x55 PC light setup to a pair of Maxspect 160w LED units.
My thinking both then and now is oxygen deprivation and/or CO2.
<Not likely if you are running w/ a sump>
We had a house full of people the day before, and the gas stove was running all day for cooking/baking. That's a lot of CO2 in the air, and looking back now I probably should have shut the skimmer off.
<Mmm, this should reduce CO2 in the system not the other way around, and your photosynthetic life forms should by their own actions also utilise CO2 during the day>
Combine this with the new Koralias being aimed lower than the old ones, giving less surface turbulence.
<I assume you are running a sump? This will agitate/ oxygenate the water far more than the in-tank pumps. Did you test for RedOx and/ or O2? These will/ would have given you the answer here>
To try and restore my normal parameters I used some sodium bicarbonate to bring the KH up to 11, added some fresh RO/DI water to bring the salinity to just under 1.026, and put one of the Koralia 3s back in specifically for surface agitation.
Oh, and I also added some carbon to a second media reactor.
<This might have been the best move of all>
pH slowly came up overnight back to the normal 8.4.
Unfortunately, I lost the Kole Tang and the Firefish. Both clowns seemed normal the whole time, and still are eating and acting normally. I had the Tang for about 8 months, and the firefish for about a month. Neither had shown any other symptoms prior to this, and neither showed any signs of external trauma. Everything seems stable again now, but that doesn't mean my side of it is over until I fully understand what happened.
<Search re: Allelopathy.. can directly and indirectly affect all animals in the system.. by inducing chemicals in the water, killing off organisms that release more chemicals.. in a 'cascade' effect. Ctenochaetus are sensitive.>
I had been dosing algaefix marine
<More troubles.. a potentially toxic soup and a special blend
<what is this?>
due to the algae.
<Better to fix causes, perhaps why it has taken you so long to overcome the algae problems>
However I had stopped the algaefix about two weeks ago. The most recent special blend dose of 45ml was 6 days ago. I don't currently use any other additives on a regular basis, testing hasn't shown any need yet as I don't have a lot of corals. I'm being slow and cautious about adding livestock.
I do use Warner Marine EcoBak bio pellets in a reactor, for about 2-3 months now.
<Mmm, Vodka methods et. al are best left to experienced aquarists who are running v. low nutrient set ups, most usually the 'SPS' type. In your system you should easily be able to maintain low enough nitrates w/ out doing this. Your Ctenochaetus most definitely would not have been benefiting from this method, they like/ need detrital matter/ algae growth in the system to be strong/ able to withstand changes in a closed system>
I don't think any of these contributed, but I wanted to give you the whole picture of the tank.
<Thank you for this>
Is there anything else you think I may be missing? I'm going to do a few extra water changes this week as an extra precaution,
I normally do 12 gallons once a week. I'm going to miss those two fish and will replace them eventually, but not until I'm confident that the problem won't just re-occur, and that I have a solid plan or procedure to prevent it.
<Well done>
<The overflowing skimmer points to toxins in the water probably caused directly or indirectly by the recent introduction of Cnidarians, the toadstool - Sarcophyton? in particular. You also have been adding/ using various other additives/ media. Perhaps it might be time to simplify things a little in your system/ set up? I would keep running that carbon for a while now, with the water changes. Simon>

yo-yo nitrates, fish death 11/24/10
Hello Crew,
I recently saw a sudden downgrade in water quality that I think contributed to the death of a fish. My equipment is:
FOWLR 75 gallon 48" x 18" x 20"
65 pounds of rock piled in the center (got used from a guy who had it in an established aquarium for several years)planning on adding more(cured) in 10 # increments in the next few weeks
<Good... a necessary process... renewal replacement every year or so... of "some" percentage>
3" - 4" (depending on where you look) Aragamax sugar fine oolite sand bed 1 Koralia # 4 pointed across the top of the tank (constantly agitating the surface)
2 Koralia # 1s facing opposite each other in the lower portion of the tank
<Mmm, better by far to arrange to produce a vortex (vertical) or horizontal gyre w/ these. Do read here:
and as much of the linked files above as you can stand/benefit from>
remora pro w/ Mag 350 and pre-skimmer box Marineland HOT magnum
Coralife HO light 1 10,000K and 1 blue actinic
I cycled the tank with shrimp and then allowed it to run for two months with just live rock and sand. Nitrate and ammonia were undetectable and pH was 8.2. When the nitrates finally came down under
30 PPM on an API test kit I put in a pair of ocellaris clowns. After about a week I lost the black and white to what appeared to be bullying by the orange. It was over before I caught on and had a chance to separate them. A week after that I saw the nitrate spike back up 60ppm and a large diatom growth. I removed the hot magnum thinking it could be the culprit despite regular maintenance. I did see a drop in the nitrates again. To combat the algae and get some action in my sand bed I bought 12 Cerith snails and 5 Astraea for the windows and rock. I also upgraded my test kit to Seachem which showed good levels across the board. I have also been doing 10 gallon water changes a week with RO/ DI water. About a week after all this I came home and found the second fish pale and refusing food. It died that night. I ran tests and found that the free ammonia was still fine, but the total ammonia was around 0.1. The nitrates had jumped off the scale which stops at 50 ppm. Everything else was fine, no I don't know if the fish being sick was caused by the total ammonia or if it caused it. Is it possible the snails caused a spike?
<Could contribute>
I cannot figure out what is going on here. I cannot seem to beat these nitrates and diatoms. I don't know if I am just not being patient enough with the nitrates or if I need to do something else. Even so, nitrates shouldn't be killing the fish should they?
<Not by themselves, no>
I have been very diligent with my maintenance and water changes. I feed spectrum marine pellets and
Hikari Mysis shrimp(always strained and sometimes dosed with Selcon).
I would slowly drop food(sometimes one pellet at a time) until they stopped eating to avoid waste. I am frustrated , but refuse to give up. I have poured over every as many articles and FAQs as I can and
exhausted the search tool. Basically right now I am looking for any thoughts, suggestions, and recommendations. If you can see a reason for these nitrates please let me know because I am at a loss.
<Add some new live rock and let time go by... a month or so... and re-test your water>
I would much rather find the cause than to keep throwing "band aids" on it. I would love to have a sump and fuge in the future, but drilling isn't an option and I am afraid of siphon overflows. What about the CPR HOT Aquafuges? Are they worth the money?
I was under the impression that 3" + sand bed can be sufficient to avoid trouble if using the sugar fine.
<Usually so>
Sorry for the long email. Thanks in advance, you gentlemen and ladies have been more help than I can began to tell you.
<Do hang in there Dave. I don't think/believe your system is really "very" cycled thus far. Adding some new LR will almost assuredly do this. Bob Fenner>
Re: yo-yo nitrates, fish death 11/24/10
Hello Bob,
Thanks for the response. I am a little confused thought. Wouldn't the gyre create laminar flow which the article you recommended said to avoid?
<Not really... with the rock to block some, the rate and direction of flow will be disrupted somewhat>
I had used another Koralia # 4 (which I still have) to shoot across the other tank at the other one, but it created whirlpools that caught the sand and formed an underwater tornado. I always had sand in the water column.
I had also considered getting a pair of maxi-jet 1200s so I could use their venturi ability to create more oxygen.
Would you say that for now I should just save the money and put a Koralia #4 and #1 on each side at the top and alternate running them?
<Sounds good>
Thanks again and Happy Thanksgiving.
<And you and yours as well. BobF>

Fish Deaths - 8/17/10
Hello again crew,
<Hello Zach>
I have recently had three fish die in the last two days.
Well one is missing and I have moved all of the rock and can't find him so I am assuming he is dead. I think the culprit was Ick. I got a Powder Brown Tang from a friend and it was on deaths doorstep and brought him back his Ick cleared up he was eating a lot <No such word> and seemed to be doing fine.
<You put a fish that had crypt directly into your display without quarantine?>
Yesterday my wife called and told me the Tang died and today after church I found the golden head goby dead and the target mandarin is missing. My tank is a 55g with 55-75 lbs of live rock. I run carbon, phos-ban, and have a four inch sand bed to help with nitrate. My skimmer is an Aqua C remora which is only
been running for a few days and I have to say I think I liked my CSS better but only time will tell I guess. Other inhabitants of the tank are 1 False Percula Clown, 1 Firefish Goby, 1 Neptheid tree <you will struggle to keep this alive>, 1 Leather coral, a couple of mushrooms, various zoos and polyps, feather duster worm, 2 birdsnest corals, 1 hammer coral, and the MIA mandarin.
<I've stopped correcting/ capitalising these names here.. please read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wwmadminsubwebindex/question_page.htm>
My lighting is a 250w metal halide with 2 65w power compacts running actinics on timers with actinics on and off and hour before and after halide comes on. My params <No such word> are good but I know
you want them any way so here goes. Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, phos 0, Mag 1300, calcium 400, DKH 9.8, ph 8.3, SG 1.025. So my questions are this first will the mandarin if dead ruin a system my size since I cant find him.
<No, probably not>
Second all my inverts including crabs, snails, shrimp, and my sps corals are all happy so I don't think its my water right they should be affected before the fish.
<Possibly yes>
Third will this remora ever work because my CSS was pulling lots of skim and this spray thing doesn't seem to work as good as my needle wheel skimmer am very tempted to put the old skimmer back on the tank.
<If it was working fine, why did you replace it?>
In case you are wondering this is an older system with well established live rock. Last but not least if this was some sort of disease that killed my fish how long before I should even try to start slowly replacing them or will my tank never be hospitable to fish again.
<You make no mention of any symptoms that the fishes had/ did not have before they died, so I cannot guess what killed them. Make no mistake though, this happened shortly after introducing an infested fish without quarantine, so there is a lesson there. I would watch the others carefully, and get/ set up a quarantine system in case you need it shortly http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm
Thank you Zach
Re: Fish Deaths 8/18/10

Sorry for not capitalizing I will try to do better in the future.
<No worries Zach>
<<You make no mention of any symptoms that the fishes had/ did not have before they died, so I cannot guess what killed them.>>
Well like I said it was either Ick or velvet I have a hard time telling the difference. The Tang was on the
mend he was eating lots and I was feeding garlic and I thought my U.V. sterilizer was supposed to prevent this from spreading.
<No, it does no such thing. IMO these are of little use on display tanks>
He died suddenly with very little white spots on him. The Golden Headed Goby and Mandarin had
been in my system for over six months and they died without any signs or symptoms of white film or spots such as the Tang had.
<White film?>
My clownfish has now developed this white "film" for lack of a better word.
<This is what I meant by symptoms. There are few white spots, white film and sudden death of fishes after the introduction of an unquarantined fish. I don't think this is crypt, but do think another pathogen is at work here, perhaps brook http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brooklynellosisart.htm. Whatever it is, the treatment protocols are the same>
The only fish I have left unaffected is the Firefish Goby.
<He is also infested. All need to be moved>
I plan on setting up a hospital tank and using copper to treat the fish and leaving my display fishless for eight weeks.
<Ok! This is the course of action I would take here, via freshwater & formalin dips>
Yes I have learned my lesson with quarantine and its dangers of not using it and plan on setting up my 40g breeder for quarantine and a ten gallon for a hospital.
<Yay! But 10 gallons is woefully small. I would use the 40 for both>
My fish were never under great stress they were happy and playing. They never were breathing hard or lying down so I never got any kind of warning sign except for the "film" on the tang.
<And some white spots? There is a good treatment chart here that can be used not just for Clownfishes http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnfshdisart.htm>
As for why I bought the remora skimmer I have read on here and other forums countless times that
it is the best skimmer on the market. I had the money and thought it would be a good investment but its been five days and still collecting little skimmate.
<Mmm, my opinion is that if it ain't broke'¦>
James, Steven, and Bob have all praised this skimmer and they have not led me astray so far so I thought I would buy one since they give it such high praise. I was merely wondering how long the "break in period' was.
<A day or two, tops. You must not have it set up correctly in some way, but I am not familiar with the model>
You also mentioned I will have a hard time keeping my Tree coral alive how so. He has grown considerably in the eight months I have had him. Is it because you suspect a disease that killed my fish may also affect him.
<Mmm, I just re-read this, and perhaps I was hasty, as you did not mention the species. If it is a non-photosynthetic species http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/dendros/dendros.htm then they require much in the way of live food to survive for any length of time. 99.9% are doomed to die within a year, they are generally very poor choices.>
Any answers would be much appreciated as always thank you for your time, talents and expertise. Zach
<No problem Zach. Make sure you have plenty of pre-mixed saltwater at all times for that quarantine tank, as ammonia will kill your fishes just as assuredly as any parasite. Simon>

This close to giving up.... Mysterious invert death in SW Tank Suspect Allelopathy or Heavy Metal Poisoning. 8/7/10

<Hi Jeff.>
Despite a dedicated effort, I can't figure out what's wrong with my tank.

<You've come to the right place.>
For a few months now, I've been battling Cyano.

<Not at all uncommon.>
I've cut my feedings, done more frequent water changes, and tested everything I can think of. I've lost 2 fish, several crabs and snails over the same period. I've been conscientious in siphoning the Cyano during water changes.

<You may want to tray adding some Polyfilter and some granular ferric oxide\hydroxide so soak up any stray phosphates.>
After tweaking magnesium, alkalinity, and calcium over the last week, I figured I had everything perfect so I started to rebuild a clean-up crew. Tonight I added 6 Trochus snails and a turbo. I acclimated all new specimens for 30 minutes. Within 4 hours everything appears to be dead or dying.

<Something seriously amiss.>
I'm completely frustrated and at a loss to explain. Its as if something poisonous is in my tank that I can't detect.

<How about copper? Any pesticides used in the room lately? >
*Tests* Ammonia = 0 Nitrate = 0 Nitrite = 0 Phosphate = 0 Calcium = 420 Alkalinity = 8dKH pH = 8.2 Specific Gravity = 1.024 Magnesium = 1350 Temp = 78-80

<All looks good here. Do realize though that zero readings indicate there is none in the water, what is being produced is being consumed.>
I skim with a AquaC EV-180 and run my lights about 12 hours/day.

<May want to turn this down to 8 - 10 hours for a while and see if things improve. Also, how old are your bulbs - old bulbs can contribute to cyanobacteria. When I get outbreaks, I usually stir up the substrate and leave the lights off for a day or two>
I run two modified Tunze Nanostreams 6025 for flow in the tank.

<Any other filtration?>
*Stock* One Percula clown 2 Chromis 1 small yellow tang 2 zebra hermits 1 scarlet hermit 1 Nassarius snail 2 Monti caps (dying away) some Zoas (losing polyps) What is wrong?!?!?!?!?

<You may want to try running activated carbon in your filtration system to rule out any allelopathy caused by your corals (Some Zoas and Palys can be pretty toxic). Further, I would run some PolyFilter in your system as well and see what color it turns. based upon your description, it almost seems as though there is copper in your tank - copper will kill inverts quickly. Did you get any rocks or water from any other source, or use any medications that may have contained copper, any 'red slime' medications?>
Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated!

<Try carbon and Polyfilters for a few weeks and see if things improve..>
Thanks for letting me vent! Jeff


Livestock deaths, SW, trouble/shooting 4/6/10
Dear WWM crew:
In the past several weeks, some condition (not predation/aggression) has caused the death of half the fishes in my tank, one by one. I'm at my wits end and hope that maybe you might be able to help me.
<Will try>
Firstly, some particulars: 2+ yr old 125 gal (6ft long) FOWLR w/ approx 150lbs live rock, live sand substrate, Berlin protein skimmer, uv sterilizer, 30gal sump w/media balls,
<I'd remove these>
72' Coralife compact florescent fixture (2 10,000k, 2 true actinic bulbs) on a dual timer w/ approx. 8 hr total photoperiod.
<And extend this>
6 fishes (duration each has been in my tank in parentheses) are: flame angel, cinnamon clown, Foxface, purple tang, Longnose Hawkfish (all approximately 2 yrs +/-), powder brown tang (7 months). Water levels: salinity 1.022,
<And raise this>
nitrate 10, ph 8.3, ammonia/nitrite/phosphate all 0
<How is the HPO4 kept at zip?>
(as of last night, same params as they've been for the past years). 15 gallon RO water changes every 10-14 days.
For the longest time, they've all been healthy, fat and happy, eating a combination of flake, frozen Mysis, freeze dried plankton, and Nori on a 2-3x/day basis. Within the last 2 ½ weeks, the Foxface, powder brown tang, and flame angel have died. Clownfish has not eaten the last 2 days, is breathing heavy and its eyes are cloudy (I am concerned it is a matter of time before it dies).
The following is a chronology of recent events:
2/28/10: added 3 Mexican turbo snails.
<Perhaps something introduced with these>
3/1/10: Foxface breathing heavily (over next few days, saw it sleeping high in the water column by outflows (normally its in the rockwork), but its still eating ok.
3/4/10: changed both sets of bulbs in Coralife fixture. I noticed possible light 'dust' (ich?) on tangs, but no scratching and both still eating ok.
3/10/10-3/20/10: wall GFI (where power strip and battery backup are plugged into) has been tripping every day at approximately the same time of day, when the 10000k bulbs kick in (on timer for 12:00 pm). Subsequently removed the GFI, has not tripped central breaker switch since.
3/19/10: Foxface found dead.
3/25/10: both tangs have whitish sand-like substance on heads (purple tang) and body (powder brown).
3/28/10: added a small Monti cap frag (to see if fish would ignore it, hoping for possible conversion to reef down the road) after a 10 minute Salifert flatworm exit dip; powder brown tang looks worse, but not scratching, still eating hungrily.
4/4/10: powder brown tang found dead; edge of purple tang's fin starting to get white/clear, one eye seems cloudy.
4/5/10: flame angel found dead.
<Do you have access to a microscope of a few hundred power? I'd be looking at skin/mucus scrapes of your fishes>
On another note, I've been fighting a bit of a Cyano/red algae outbreak the past 2 months. I've been doing frequent water changes and try not feed too much, to keep nitrates down. Someone told me that flake food was bad and could be worsening the algae problem.
<Mmm... only cheap brands that have gone bad>
But back to the main issue'¦based on the above, do you have any comments/suggestions? An acquaintance who services saltwater tanks (FO, not reef) for a living, told me it might be flukes.
<No... not affecting such a wide disparity of species. Trematodes tend to be species to genera specific>
My concerns: (1) the snails -- likelihood they could they have brought in a parasite?
I acclimated them via common practice of floating bag, adding tank water to bag water slowly, and subsequent placement into tank (without getting bag water in tank).
<Should have quarantined for a few weeks>
(2) the light fixture/power surges -- possibility of electric current getting into tank that stressed out the fish and reduced their immune systems?
<No, highly unlikely>
(3) The coral frag -- risk of introducing a parasite? However, the conditions seemed to begin beforehand.
<Also doubtful>
Any thoughts on what it might be, and if so, what I should do? Thanks for any help you can provide.
Chris S.
<The skin scrape observations... barring this removal of the fishes to a treatment system and administration of Quinine... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/quinmedfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

Re: livestock deaths -4/6/10
Mr. Fenner,
Thanks for sharing your expertise. Unfortunately, I do not own a microscope for further analysis. I ordered a quinine based medication (Crypto-Pro) online and will prep a 10 gallon QT in advance of its arrival. I was able to catch the purple tang last night and give it a freshwater dip for approx 7-8 min.s. It seemed to help (slightly) as it was still active/eating today.
The melanopus was too hard to catch,
<Two nets...>
I stopped after a few minutes, so as to not stress it out more. If I'm able to catch them, I'll put them in the QT (although though the meds won't likely arrive for 2 more days). The Longnose hawk has not exhibited any illness whatsoever (yet).
<Cirrhitids are quite resistant to protozoan complaints>
Should I just leave it in the main tank, or also transfer it to QT? Will a 10 gallon be enough for all 3 fishes?
<Will be tight... but I would move, treat all>
Presuming the worst, that they all die, may I ask:
1. For the main tank, should I run it fallow for a month (or longer) in order to rid it of these parasites?
<Yes... is S.O.P. for such matters... that/this or "nuking" all (w/ a biocide like chlorine bleach, formalin...>
It still houses a good amount of live rock, a coral banded shrimp, assorted hermits and snails.
2. Lower the salinity? And if so, to what level? Raise temperature?
<I would leave all these as is, to preserve the other life>
3. Prior to this parasite outbreak, I was hoping to slowly add corals to the tank over time. My understanding is that these parasites do not feed on corals and other inverts.
<This is correct>
So would the current "state of affairs" preclude me from doing so, possibly even before having it run fallow for a length of time?
<Won't preclude this stocking>
Thank you again,
Chris S.
<Welcome. BobF>

Re: livestock deaths 4/8/10
Please forgive me for asking a few additional follow up questions:
<Not to worry. Am here to help you>
1. The tang, clownfish and Longnose hawk will be kept in 10G QT while the main tank is running fallow for at least 1 month. Will exposure to the quinine for this period of time harm any of these 3?
<No, it will not>
I read that tangs and clownfish were copper sensitive, but wasn't sure about quinine.
<All fish groups have shown good tolerance>
2. The Scott Fellman article on your site (re: Ich treatment) suggested freshwater dip with Methylene Blue prior to quarantining for ich. Do you feel this is necessary prior to placement into the quinine-dosed QT?
<Mmm, not necessary, but often useful. In other words, if the fish/hosts are in good physical condition, I would definitely pH-adjusted FW (w/ or w/o Methylene Blue) enroute to treatment tank/s>
3. I haven't received the Crypto-Pro (quinine sulfate) yet, but I presume it will contain directions on the frequency/duration of dosage? Are you familiar with this brand and the supplier, National Fish Pharmaceuticals?
<Yes and yes>
4. The Fellman article also cited the importance of testing the QT regularly for copper levels when dosing that medication, as periodic water changes will affect the levels. Does this also apply to quinine - is there a test kit available to monitor levels of quinine sulfate?
<There is presently no such test kit... but not needed when treating correctly... In "bare" tanks, one dosing>
5. A few weeks ago, I noticed a bloom in the copepod population (lots of them on glass, very tiny specks). I didn't give it much thought at the time...based on all I've previously read, I believed it to be a good thing. In reading your 'parasite' threads/articles now, I recall a mention of parasitic copepods, and now I'm questioning if the pod bloom and the fish deaths are related. The ones I see on the glass are white, not red or black, though.
<This is highly unlikely an issue>
Thank you again for assisting me in my efforts to become a more 'conscientious marine aquarist'...I think I've heard that phrase somewhere.
Chris S.
<Ah yes. BobF>

Re: livestock deaths -- 4/12/10
Mr. Fenner,
After reading the WWM article you referenced, I'm even more disheartened now than ever and can't think of what might have caused this. None of the toxicity sources described seem to fit.
<Yes, tis a mystery>
As mentioned in my original email, the ammonia/nitrate levels were low to none; stable 8.3 pH for 2+ years; 10% RO water changes religiously every week or two; tank was understocked, and no new fish (only the 3 snails) added in over 7 months; no overfeeding, quality food; no medicines ever in main tank; no other contaminants, household chemicals, cigarette butts (I don't smoke), etc. ever near the tank.
The powder brown tang and clownfish that died did have that white powder-like effect that led to my original belief that it was Ich or some other parasite.
<Again, only microscopic examination can discern>
The others (flame angel and Foxface) did not, but all 4 showed heavy breathing symptoms prior to expiring.
<Symptomatic of Amyloodiniumiasis, but many other "things" as well>
In any event, what do you recommend I do now with the purple tang that's in QT? Should I still keep it there on quinine?
<Yes and yes>
I hadn't moved the Longnose hawk (the one that has not exhibited any effects of illness at all) into QT yet...had planned to do it once I was certain the tang was stable in the next day or so.
Chris S.
<All fishes need to be treated, the main system left fallow for weeks... B>

Re: livestock deaths -- 04/22/10
Mr. Fenner,
<Just Bob please Chris>
To update you - the purple tang's been in QT for 13 days and has completed the quinine treatment. All observable signs of illness are completely gone, and it's active/eating well. It will remain in QT, unmedicated, until main tank has completed the 45 day fallow period. Unfortunately, I lost the longnose hawkfish, likely due to my error. I placed it in the QT 3 days into the quinine treatment (as a "precautionary" measure after observing the tang was surviving the meds).
I didn't consider that by the 3rd day, the quinine levels might be elevated too high for the hawk to handle. Lesson learned, unfortunately at the cost of the fish.
In the meantime, I'd like to ask an unrelated question regarding a comment you made in your original response to my initial e-mail. You'd recommended I remove the bio-balls from the wet-dry. I've done so, and have been perusing through your "sump" FAQs to see what to do in lieu of the bio-balls, if anything. My initial thought was to simply add live rock in that vacant chamber. But, I've got concerns with the configuration of the wet-dry. Some of the recommendations in your "sump" FAQ includes having the skimmer located ahead of the live rock and any chemical filtrant.
<This is the generally proscribed arrangement... but it is only nominally better than placing the skimmer elsewhere>
My wet-dry is a "Pro Clear" brand filter (stock photo attached),
<I see this>
which has the main tank's dual outflow water passing into a closed/covered portion of the filter where the bio-balls used to be (the "first" chamber), and then into an open chamber that houses the skimmer, before being sent via external pump back into the main tank. My concerns are:
1. The only place to put the live rock (the former bio-ball chamber) is ahead of the skimmer. I can't reverse the configuration because the skimmer cannot fit into the closed portion. Despite it being located in the wrong position (ahead of the skimmer), do you still suggest live rock in that empty chamber?
<I do>
2. Also, I'd previously kept a bag of carbon on the filter pad tray that sits atop the bio-balls. Since this is putting the chemical media before the skimmer, where would you recommend it be placed instead?
Chris S.
<Anywhere in your water circulation/flow path is fine really. BobF>

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