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FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 3

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

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Fish Wipeout - Why? Bob & Team, <cheers!> Have been avid readers of your daily FAQ's for the past 18 months, excellent and invaluable. Now, however I have a terrible problem to which I have not found an adequate answer elsewhere, hope you can help. <will try our best!> To cut a long story short(er), today I got a call from my girlfriend (I work away from home a few days a week) and all my fish are dead. Corals OK, clam OK, cleaner shrimps OK. I am devastated. This is not the first time I have had such a disaster, I had just restocked after the same thing happened whilst away on holiday. I need to understand what has happened otherwise I am not sure how to continue in the hobby. <understood and agreed> Firstly, tank details (this time); Tank: 15 months old. Juwel Vision 260 Bowfront (72gallon), two powerheads for circulation and a AquaC Remora Pro HOT skimmer. DSB (3") and 25 Kg live rock. Skimmer is turned off for 8 hours at night as tank is in bedroom. <yowsa! problem number one. Oxygen levels drop at night naturally... the skimmer supports oxygen saturation... so shutting it off at night amplifies the stress. This may not be the primary catalyst, but it is a dreadful habit> Parameters (measured at weekend): Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate all zero. Alk 9 DKH, Calc 450 ppm. Temperature 82-83 degrees (clip on fan for cooling) <indeed slightly warm water... and warm water holds even less O2> Fish: Clarkii clown pair, yellow tang, regal tang, flame angel, pair of okinawae gobies Coral & Inverts: pair of cleaner shrimp, numerous snails, two leathers, two mushroom rocks, open brain, bubble coral, frog spawn coral, green star polyps, sunflower coral, Derasa clam all fine) On Saturday I did a 10% water change. Fish were all fine except regal had a few whitespot (as it has had on and off for the three weeks or so that I have had it). Flame Angel was newest fish, added Saturday, saw it feed in shop, was shy but active and seemed very lively. I do not have a quarantine tank, I know, stupid,  <yikes... yes, dangerous my friend. Indeed... adding fish without Qt is a game of Russian roulette. Nobody escapes the game... some just play a little longer than others> but girlfriend already resents the two tanks I have in a small central London flat, and I can not do daily water changes due to my working away.  <do consider the deposit game that Bob mentions in his CMA book. Pay for the fish in advance and have a good local shop hold it for 2 weeks. some help> By the way, my other tank is fine and no problems (a FO, coffee table tank (4 foot by three foot, only 1 foot tall) bio filter, no skimmer, contains Picasso trigger, sharp nose puffer and pair of ocellaris). <ahhh... interesting point. This would rule out aerosol contamination in the house. Many "poisons" from fumous human activity (burning a Teflon pan, spraying room deodorizer, paint stripping etc) are quite toxic to fishes but not invertebrates. But little worry here since this other tank fares well> Feeding is two cubes of frozen daily (Mysis, emerald entree or marine mix) plus Nori. Only other variable I can think of is the power, there was a short power trip just before my girlfriend found the dead fish. Not sure if something could have shorted temporarily and killed the fish. I have ground fault interrupt but no grounding probe. <hmmm... unlikely unless the shrimp and crabs dropped too> Last time ( early August) same thing happened, with different fish. Only change since then has been removal of a canister filter (Fluval 404) as a theory for the first wipeout was that filter die-off after a power-cut could have put nasty stuff in the tank. Dead Fish: Mature pair of tomato clowns, Koran angel, yellow tang, coral beauty, niger trigger, small snowflake moray eel. The cowries I had also died. Possible theories, include low oxygen (seems unlikely if fish can live in a bag for 24hours), <not out of the realm as per above. And keep in mind that the bag of fish does not contain live rock, sand and other media that contain aerobic biological faculties competing directly with fishes for O2 in the water. A big deal> filter die-off (since removed), chemical contamination (no cleaning near tank), sudden ammonia build-up (couldn't check last time as it was more than a week after the die-off when I got home and all parameters were fine, this time I have asked the girlfriend to take a few samples). What do you think?  <its still not clear... the O2 is an issue, but I strongly suspect that something else is at play here. Were it not for the cowries dieing too I'd look hard at the angel bringing in a virulent pathogen. At any rate, water changes! Poly filters too. "Dilution is the Solution to Pollution"> I feel so bad and could not face killing any more creatures, not to mention the financial drain. Thanks for your help, Tony <do see if the lady can share any observations about the fishes before they died or right after: color changes, swimming behaviour, mouths agape, scratching/glancing of fishes, etc. Best regards, Anthony>

Any advice? Please help... (Marine operation, troubleshooting...) <<Hi Ron, Sorry to hear of your difficulty, let's get this resolved.>> Hi Bob, great site you have with a lot of great information! Here is my predicament and believe me-I have learned my lesson and will use a quarantine tank from now on. Last Saturday I had a yellow-eyed (Kole) tang pass away. I thought he may have had "hole in the head" and was told to give him more vitamins, in any case it did not work. What I figure now is that he must of had a secondary infection. That Saturday I bought a blue jaw trigger and a blenny and added them to the tank. This tank is newly established, 8 weeks now. On the Monday my flame angel had passed away. We talked to our pet retailer and they suggested Rally Ruby Reef after they had seen the flame angel's body-figured it was a parasite.  <<Snake oil I'm afraid. May have then contributed to your further difficulties. Next time catch them and treat in QT, never in main, no matter what they say at the LFS.>> Treated the tank for 3 days but our blue jaw trigger and maroon clown were getting worse, the blue jaw had a white velvety look to him and his body was discoloring and the maroon just looked thin with dark eyes. By Thursday evening I had very sadly lost my beautiful trigger. Today (Friday) we were told to try Aquatronics Greenex after using carbon in the filter overnight to remove any Rally med left. Well today my maroon passed away.  <<This sounds like Velvet, fast moving, affects gills first thus slowly asphyxiating fish. Remove FISH ONLY to QT with copper as per the disease FAQ's on WWM. The stars are having problems because of the Rally, Greenex, and the accompanying water conditions. I would do several large water changes over several days and hope for the best with your stars unless you can move them to another tank besides the QT. Copper will kill all of your inverts including stars, so be careful with it and wash hands between tanks and after handling copper treatments.>> I am devastated, I still have the blenny and 3 gorgeous serpent stars. My yellow serpent seems to be loosing the tips of her arms only, maybe 1 mm, my green serpent looks as though he is shrinking and although still eating, has seemed to curl himself into a ball by the rock-very odd-my serpents are always on the go and not shy. My question is, is it possible that whatever killed all of my fish is killing my serpent stars? <<Not unless it's crashing biocapacity from using Rally and Greenex or affecting your water quality which it surely is.>> By the way-water quality is great. My red serpent is doing fantastic-she's very large. My second question is, should I remove my red serpent star and put her in my other aquarium or is it possible that I could infect that tank too by moving her there? Any advice would be so greatly appreciated. Devastated Chris,  <<If you have two tanks AND a QT, you could move the stars to a clean unaffected tank, QT the fish and treat them, and leave the main tank fallow (no fish) for a least one month, preferably longer. You will need to stay on top of the QT water quality, testing every other day and test carefully for copper with the correct test kit for the type of copper. (See WWM links below) Watch the Blenny carefully and use the recommended dose according to the WWM disease FAQ's as Blennies can be quite sensitive to copper. Maybe give him a FW dip (matched pH and temp and aerated) for 5 minutes or so before moving him into a CLEAN uninfected tank. If you need tanks or containers try a Rubbermaid container. Try this link and follow those at the top of the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/disFAQsMar.htm Also- http://www.wetwebmedia.com/velvetfaqs.htm This should get you back on track. I wouldn't stock anything until your system is stabilized. My best wishes, Craig>>

Re: Any advice? Please help... <<Hi Ron and Chris>> Hello again, thank-you so much for getting back to us so quickly! I have one other question, how do I move the stars to my other tank? I'm assuming the tank that they are in now still have the parasites in the water??!! I just want to make certain that my unaffected tank does not become affected by moving the stars in it. Thank-you so much for all of your help. The green and yellow stars have seemed to get worse over night. Chris & Ron <<You are very welcome!! Yes, it will. Does the other tank have fish? If so maybe you should go the extreme water change route on the main (infected tank) to alleviate their problems while it runs fallow of fish. If you can improve the water and conditions they are in now it will help immeasurably. Perhaps a couple large H2O changes over a few days if you don't have a clean spot for them w/o fish. Or a Rubbermaid container with rock and substrate from the main. You are correct in maintaining strict isolation and cleanliness between tanks containing fish. I sure hope this helps you out! Craig>>

Re: Any advice? Please help... Thanks again for your help. <<No problem my friend>> My infected tank has sand and live rock, will the parasites continue living on these?  <<YES, but the stars don't host ick or velvet, so no issue for them if you get the water changed enough to relieve them from the Rally and Greenex induced dregs>> And what about the buckets that I have used to already do a water change on the infected tank and the net I used to pull out the dead fish-do these need to be sterilized?  <<ABSOLUTELY!!! and perhaps a good dip between uses as well. Scrub out and wash thoroughly.>> My other aquarium does have fish in it-how do I maintain the stars in a rubber-maid container exactly and for how long will this have to be done? I'm a little confused as I do not have a QT and always thought the biological filter was in place (3-6 weeks) before you could even add starfish??!! Thanks, Chris. <<Yes, do remove some sand and rock from the main (especially sand) for the stars in the Rubbermaid if you choose this route over leaving them in the main and doing some large water changes. The sand and rock would be the biocapacity in the Rubbermaid. Please go to: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm And do hit all the links at the top of the page. Craig>>

Re: Any advice? Please help... (Quarantine... and) Sincerely grateful for all of your help. I think I will treat the blenny in a QT that I will have to purchase and leave the stars in the main tank and do the necessary water changes. What percentage of water should I change, how often and for how long? How long will it take before my infected tank that will just carry my stars, sand and LR be able to safely hold fish again? After putting the blenny in the QT should I continue the other 2 recommended Greenex treatments or just use the copper on him. He doesn't seem to be as affected as the others that passed away. Much appreciated, Chris <<Hmmm, maybe FW dip the blenny and see if he's affected at all before treating him in copper. Copper can be hard on blennies. (See the links from the previous post for treating parasites.) I wouldn't use Greenex myself. If he's flashing or scratching, then give him the minimum dose of copper for two weeks. Then regular SW with no copper for two more to be sure he's clean. I would leave the main fallow for a month to two months.  For the main, I would do something like a 25%-50% change up front and run carbon like crazy to see if they don't react better. You want to change as much as you reasonably can to improve conditions for the stars, they need chemical free water. Good luck, Craig>> 

Where do I start? (marine troubles... operation... need of local guru) I have a 46 gallon, bow front tank. I have a 300 Aquaclear filter, Lee's counter-current in tank protein skimmer, 36"twin bulb hood with marine glow actinic blue and sun lite (I run it about 10hrs a day)...I also have about 17lbs of live rock...My tank has been setup for about 2 months, I am very new to salt water. I use "Cycle" every week. I started with two damsels for the first 3 weeks, after my Nitrate level increased to about 10ppm and my nitrites and ammonia were at 0ppm, I added a strawberry Basslet one week, then I added a camel back shrimp and two hermit crabs the next week and then the next week I added a Kole Tang and a Per. Clown.......every thing was good for about two weeks, I tested regularly and ammonia and nitrates were a zero and the nitrates stayed between 5ppm and 10ppm based on water changes.<Everything sounds pretty good up to this point.> I was doing a 5gal water change weekly, but once things started going bad I did a 45% water change about a week ago. Here's what is wrong. About two week ago my Strawberry Basslet started swimming slowly and spending most of the time upside down and riding the current, <<They do this....>> but the Basslet would eat and had no visible skin problems and wasn't breathing faster than normal. A couple days later White spots appeared on my Tang and clown fish as well as the Basslet (the Basslet was still riding the current around the tank) I though the spots could be from the nitrates, so this is when I did the 45% water change. Well about a week later I put the Basslet out of it's misery (he was in rough shape, never got better) and the clown fish and Tang still have the white dots on their fins. The damsels are fine. All the fish eat, my tank tests still red 0ppm Nitrites and ammonia and Nitrates are between 5 - 10 ppm. <ammonia should be 0> Another problem I have in my Kole Tang has no color. He has been a light peach color, he won't eat anything green (I tried zucchini, dried green algae and dried blue algae) The tang eats flake food, brine shrimp and other frozen foods regularly.<keep offering a variety of food, but do not overfeed, leftover food will contribute poor water conditions.> I feed them once a day. I think the color loss in the tang is from stress....<probably>what am I doing wrong? Is there any other chemical in my tank that might be bothering my fish?...none of the fish breathe heavy and all of them eat regularly.....Please help...I'm going crazy!!! Could my red seas test kit be faulty?. I also check the PH, alkalinity and Salinity regularly too. One thing is that my tank's temp ranges between 75-80 daily<Bingo>, is this bad...never below 75 and never above 80........ <A temperature swing from 80 to 75 is a pretty big swing anything over 2 degrees is going to really stress your fish, which will in turn weaken their immune system which will allow the ich (white spots) to take over.> thank you in advance and I look for to hearing from you....I love the site Bonus question, I was looking to upgrade my skimmer from the Lee's to maybe a hang on Prizm skimmer. Would this be wise, everything I read states that my Lee's skimmer is a good a Prizm. Would it be worth the money to invest in the Prizm...or should I stay with the Lee's until I can afford a more expensive one? I am looking for an increase in performance as well as something that doesn't tank up space in my tank. <I would wait on the Prizm, I have an Aqua C Remora that I am happy with. Check out our skimmer FAQs for more information on different skimmers and other peoples experiences. http://wetwebmedia.com/skimbestof.htm  Now, about the fish problem. It sounds like your fish have ich. The link below will give you more information on this disease and how to treat it. http://wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm -info on dips Your fish are going through a stressful period right now, once everything stabilizes and they are back in good health, then I would worry about their color, but right now color change can be expected. Please get back to us if you have further questions, and if so also include your ph, salinity and any other tests that you have done. Best of Luck, Gage>

Fin Problem Bob, <Craig> I've had a saltwater aquarium for about a year. During the early time, I had water quality problems (since resolved) which affected my yellow tang. His fins have eroded; are uneven, and have holes in the upper fin (I don't know if this is fin rot or HLLE). He appears healthy otherwise. I don't have a hospital tank set up. Are there any vitamins I can try; do I need to quarantine him? Will it gradually heal on it's own? <Hmmm, could be water r elated, could be physical damage re: holes. If this were water quality you would expect to see improvement over a week or two or... If lateral line it could be dietary. Tangs like a lot of vegetative matter in their diet, Caulerpa, Nori, etc.  Keep an eye out, it could physical damage from crabs, shrimp, maybe fish tank mates. Otherwise, if you have resolved your water problems he should show improvement. Fins on fish are fast healing in the proper conditions.> For more info try: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangfeedingfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Tangdisease.htm Hope this helps, Craig

Mysterious disappearance of snails and other algae eaters Note* if the accomplished aquarist reading this is the same that answers ffexpress questions, you can disregard this as I have sent the same question there. I wanted a few opinions so I sent it to both. The tank that I keep in my dad's oral surgery office is a great success, relaxing patients and staff alike. However, lately it seems that hair algae is the main feature of the tank. I have read for many hours on WWM and ffexpress, which, by the way, provide priceless literature, but have yet to find a solution. Here is what I wrote to ffexpress: I have been fighting a hair algae problem for quite some time (a year) in my 45g reef tank. The only fish are a coral beauty angle and two damsels, sharing the tank with a cleaner shrimp and some soft corals. Nitrates are about 4 and dropping, phosphates 0, pH 8.1, calcium 450. The nitrates have steadily dropped since I upgraded to a remora pro protein skimmer. Lights are a 65w SmartLight and a 20w actinic. Temp runs from 79 to 82 depending on the time of day. <<A quick aside here... do try to keep that more consistent, even if it means bumping up the heater to keep the temperature from swinging back and forth - a steady 82 is better than a three degree swing.>> I have tried adding snails, hermit crabs, emerald crabs, a sea urchin, and a lawnmower blenny to eat the algae, but all of them died within about a month. I would assume that at night, low oxygen levels around the large quantities of hair algae suffocate them - all of the other fish and corals are thriving and besides these bottom feeders, a fish or coral has never died in my tank. <<If the problem were truly low oxygen content in the water, you wouldn't have such selective deaths.>> I read once that SmartLight (half and half actinic and daylight) bulbs sacrifice quality of light output and often promote algae. Have you heard anything of this nature? <<No, but I would say that algae is a very successful life form and needs no special lighting one way or another to thrive. I think you might want to look into phosphate levels in this system - nutrients that would help promote the growth of algae.>> Would the high temperatures (max 84) be killing the snails or is it just lack of oxygen at night? (And yes, high temperature means even lower oxygen levels) <<That is true, but no, I don't think that is what is killing the snails.>> I have set up traps to see if there is a predator that could be eating my bottom feeders, but I found nothing. <<Doesn't mean you don't have one... but again, even if you had the dreaded mantis shrimp in your system, it wouldn't be at all selective about what it ate. Food is food.>> I scrubbed all the live rock when I added the Remora but the algae has all grown back. <<Oh... so you do have a skimmer - this would eliminate the potential for low oxygen as they return a good deal of oxygen to the system.>> Would changing my lighting and/or adding a thermoelectric chiller help? <<I don't think so, but you could reduce the amount of time the lights are on - I assume they're on eight hours?>> Any other suggestions? <<Continued manual removal.>> I have already minimized feeding, used PolyFilters, and tried a 24 hour lit algae refugium. Nothing seems to help. Thanks for your suggestions, any insight would be greatly appreciated. <<Well algae problems are not at all uncommon, and typically due to husbandry issues. I'm not sure the temperature has anything to do with it. If you did at one time overfeed, then it will take some time to gain the upper hand. You may have to clean the rock frequently to get ahead of the algae, but you might also want to consider increasing the circulation in the tank to make it more difficult for the algae to settle down in the first place.>> Thanks again. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Reef trouble - help! Hello all, and thanks up front for all the advice. And my apologies for the long winded story to follow: <no worries> I am having a bit of trouble in my 10 month old 90 gal reef tank. Two weeks ago, my Anthelia polyps and Ring polyps - both large thriving colonies - got "upset". Meaning many of the Ring polyps started closing partway mid-day for no apparent reason, and 6 days ago closed and will not reopen.  <I'm not sure what "ring" polyps are... any scientific name possible?> The Anthelias, who are usually about 4 inches tall and lovely pink, have become a sad huddled mass of 1/2" to 1" tall, shriveled, and light purple/blue. <did you recently change carbon, clean the light bulbs of dust/debris, change lights, add ozone or anything else to suddenly increase water clarity or light penetration? Light shock is possible. Especially with fresh carbon after a time without or new/clean bulbs and canopies> In addition to this, I seem to be having some sort of algae bloom - maybe the diatoms that I saw in the first three months, maybe the red slime from the 5th month, maybe both. There is a good buildup of red slime in my refugium that I have siphoned out (as much as possible) twice now, and a (harder?) light brown film developing in the tank on everything. <Hmmm... has the skimmer been failing? No daily skimmate? The algae is certainly from an increase in dissolved organics/nutrients> In addition to all of that, the fish have just weathered an unusual sickness - I initially thought it was ich, but then it looked like Lymphocystis (sp?) - lumpy almost wart like - then it looked like... I really have no idea. It killed my yellow goby and my green clown goby, my three (large) engineer gobies got it but recovered, and my bicolor blenny got something (sparkles, no real lumps, and he got *skinny*!) and has somewhat recovered - still a bit thin. I did everything reef safe that was recommended (from you guys and from my LFS) - reduced specific gravity a bit, increased temp a bit, lengthened photoperiod a tad, started soaking their food in garlic, adding Vitamin C, you name it. Everyone recovered rather quickly (except for the casualties), and I thought I was out of the weather. Until now - my larger percula clown (out of two) is looking rather shabby - he is vaguely see through, blotchy coloring - slightly lumpy looking, but not the wart like look of the others - really looks as if he won't make it a few more days.  <hmmm... pathogenic infections are not shared between fish and inverts. This is a physical parameter like water quality. Check to your temps between day and night. Avoid 2+F swings in temp> He lays on his side some, and hangs out in the hardest currents he can find (has a bit of trouble holding his ground). He has a slight dusting of something sparkly - it makes me think of that "velvet" thing I have read so many times about. The possible catalyst for this mess was the addition of 9 green Chromis that had been quarantined at my LFS for almost three weeks (and I do trust them) -  <No way!!! Major disagreement here :) That was not a QT. Even if the fish were isolate in that store... the hands of the employees, feeding spoons, nets, etc that go in and out of all of the other tanks all day long do not make this an even remotely reliable QT. > I don't know if they could have carried a disease or parasite, <easily... if an employee had simply scraped algae in your fishes tank after having his hand in a tank withy new fishes and hour before your picked your Chromis up... all bets are off> or if the stress of these hyper little buggers could have left the tank vulnerable... ? Tank conditions: 80.6 degrees continuous for the last 6 months (+/- .2) recently changed to 81.6-82.0 (I guess the summer caught up with my air conditioner).  <still... excellent/narrow> Calcium has been a steady 400/450mg/L (water change a month ago dropped it to 300/350 inexplicably - I thought I had the dosing right for my water change timing - never happened before - it has taken me 3 weeks to get it back to 400, where it is now). Carbonate hardness of 130mg/L to 160, never below 120. Nitrates are zero (trustworthy Tetra test), phosphates zero are as well - according to my Hagen test kit (which I do not trust at all). What phosphate test has given you all good results that I might try? <the titration's for all that I have seen are somewhat to very tricky> Other parameters... specific gravity is 1.024-1.025 steady, I add iodine regularly (5 drops of Lugol's solution, once a week) and have just this week switched to the Seachem Reef Iodide (add two capfuls every other day) in an effort to make my two iodine loving polyps happier.  <Actually... Anthelia unlike Xenia does not seem to respond favorably to iodine spikes even though it is a Xeniid> Iodine tests reveal it around .06-.08mg/L shortly after dosing (is this enough?). <hard to say... perhaps too much if brown algae flares much more> Lighting is power compact, two each (actinic and full spectrum) @65W. 40 gal sump (55 gal tank 2/3 full) below the tank, with a refugium built into it (maybe 10 gal?). I only pump ~400gal/hr (I just can't afford a pump upgrade right now!).  <yes... modest flow> The tank was started with no live rock - two big bags of live sand and a wet/dry filter (lava rocks) have gotten us going (looks like live rock now!) - everything has been healthy with a lot of unusual things popping up out of the blue - sponges, little plant like things, small wormy critters, I have even seen a baby crab and a baby snail. The polyps have all been reproducing like crazy - the Anthelia colony has gone from *two* to maybe 30 or more (uncountable!), I have some Green (Button?) polyps that have spread to four places other than the original colony, and Yellow polyps that have increased in size and spread over 50% more area. I have one coral (trying to start slow and not kill any of those beautiful creatures!) - a branching Blastomussa that is my pride and joy.  <Blastomussa merleti> It is doing 100% better than it was when I bought it (and it wasn't bad then!) and looks like it might be growing another branch (that could be wishful thinking though). Until a few weeks ago, everything was great!!! So the major problems (in summary): Very unhappy Ring and Anthelia polyps, very sick looking clown, algae bloom. What would you suggest? Any and all advice is appreciated - I am getting desperate! Thanks again for everything! Wendy <best regards, Anthony>

Re: My Aquarium Hi Bob I trust you had a great trip last week ? <Yes, fine> I just want to say thanks for all the support over the past couple of weeks and give you an update of my progress: <Okay> Apart from the other things you suggested I have also managed to replace my substrate while you were away, which was quite a job, but worth it I think. My first attempt at the Caulerpa racemosa was unsuccessful, I only had a small piece of this and it died within days. I managed to get some more Caulerpa, but this time it appears to be Peltata. I have a much bigger quantity this time around, so I will see how it goes. I still have problems with the Blue/Green Algae, but I will forget about this for now, at least until I can get the Caulerpa to grow. <This is wise. Patience> My cleaner shrimp was very shy for a day or two, but now it is cleaning my fish all the time and it certainly seems to have made a great improvement to my whole setup. The two angels (Flavipectoralis) have improved so much it is unbelievable, even the one who had Popeye disease and all sorts of other injuries are almost 100% healed now, his eye is almost back to normal, his fins seem to be growing back and most other marks have disappeared. The Powder Brown Tang is the only fish that never seems to be 100% healthy, just when I think it is completely clean some white spots appear again - but the Lysmata seems to be able to control this and I will hold thumbs that the tide will be turned over the next couple of weeks. Other than this I definitely see an overall improvement and a lot less scratching and flicking. <Very encouraging> With regards to the Carpet Anemone, to make a long story short - I traded it for another anemone, which I believe is some kind of Condylactis (It looks a lot like the Heteractis Crispa , but I don't think it is one). 4 Days later one of the Tomato clowns moved into it (which is kind of uncommon if I'm not mistaken). he doesn't allow the female Tomato to come close to the Anemone, but at least there is no fighting going on. The anemone is not so white anymore and the tentacles have turned a bit browner, which I believe is not a bad thing when it comes to the Heteractis Crispa,  <Not a bad thing... actually a return to health... and this is likely H. crispa, not a Condy> but I'm not sure about the Condylactis. The only difference I can see between my anemone and the Heteractis Crispa is the one I have has a bright neon orange "base", instead of white. <Oh! Likely another species... please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm for descriptions of commonly used aquarium species> The lobster, the 2 hermits and the Trigger has been sold and there are no more fighting or "incidents" in the tank now. <Yes, the largest protagonists are gone> I have some very nice small pictures of my Lysmata cleaning the fish, the Angels, the Tang and the Tomato Clown with the Anemone at this url: , if you are interested. By the way, because of the zoom I used my coral sand grains seem to be a lot bigger in the picture than what they really are. <I see> One thing I did not notice before is that the one corner of my aquarium catches a bit of sunlight early in the morning - can you maybe tell me a bit more about the effects of direct sunlight on a fish tank ? Can something like this cause a major algae problem over the whole tank ? <Very much so... better to shield the system from this incident insolation> Thanks again and have a nice day. <You as well. Bob Fenner> Chris

Sand Hopper ? (like Dennis?) Hello WWM crew I recently lost all my fish in my 180 gallon tank due to some disease. <hmmm... regular readers of or daily FAQs are probably tired of reading this, but... it surprises me how many aquarists are not told about or do not simply heed advice on having and using a quarantine tank to screen all new fishes... without exception... before they make it into a display. When done, wipeouts are VERY rare. Not picking on you at all my friend... but in a lifetime as an aquarist, I have seen literally dozens of marine fish that were over 10 and 20 years old in various successful aquarists tanks. 26 year old blue Regal tang, 18 year old Marine Comets, 12 year old Sweetlips (!), saw pictures of 32 year old clownfish (!!! and documented). In all cases, strict QT protocol is applied. one of the keys to success with marine aquariums. For the benefit of others reading this post, a 10 gallon aquarium, glass canopy (no light), heater, thermometer and sponge filter are well under $100... perhaps under $50 with sales or used equipment. This amount was lost many times over in a 180 tank of livestock... not to mention their lives. I trust my friend that you weren't advised to put each fish singly through a 4 week QT before entering the main display. Live rock, live sand, love food, plants, etc all the same risk of disease... all need QT> I let the tank sit for about a month with no fish to insure that the disease would go away and now after a month there are thousands of Sand Hopper's everywhere. http://www.imagequest3d.com/pages/current/pictureoftheweek/sandhopper/sandhopper.htm <indeed.. natural plankton that have flourished without fish predators. They are a great blessing! People set up fishless refugiums to keep their tanks supplied with them> Are these Sand Hopper's dangerous to fish or will the fish eat them? Any information you can provide me with would be helpful. <if they have flourished in your system for the last month and you haven't been feeding the empty tank, it is a sign of serious nutrient accumulation. Perhaps the wipeout was related to overfeeding or high DOC levels> Thanks. <keep reading and learning my friend. Do spend time in the Wet Web Media archives to help prevent the wipeout from happening again. Anthony>

Disease Question Hello, I'm having trouble identifying something plaguing my fish. My panther grouper has gotten cloudy eyes and his skin is discolored around the top of the head and back. His eyes aren't really swollen, so I'm not sure if it's pop-eye. He's not eating well now and doesn't look good. Kind of just swimming in place. I already had a 3 striped damsel succumb to this. Do you know what it could be and how I should treat it? <From the limited information, it sounds like secondary bacterial infections, probably brought on by some sort of husbandry issue. A battery of water quality tests (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and alkalinity) should help you determine the cause. Water changes are also always in order.> Thanks for any info. Tim <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Tank Problems Greetings Bob, I come to you today with a problem. I have a 60 gallon tank that I've had running for about 4 years now. When I first setup the tank I stocked it with a variety of fish. Over the last 4 years most of the fish have slowly perished, most likely due to not eating or general neglect of the tank however I had 3 Engineer Gobies and a Spotted Mandarin in the tank for the entire 4 years. One day several months ago the Mandarin stopped eating and eventually perished. At that point, I decided to restock my tank. I went out and bought an Atlantic Tang who survived 2 weeks in quarantine only to show up dead 3 days after being put in the big tank. My first thought was that the tang had been poisoned when captured, and while eating it wasn't actually getting any nourishment from the food. <That would not be my first guess. Better to keep in quarantine closer to one full month. Two weeks is my absolute minimum and only for exceptionally healthy fish with no problems adjusting at all.> Anyhow, I bought a few more fish, Arabian Pseudochromis, 2 yellow stripe maroon clowns, a purple tang, a 6 line wrasse, 3 Banggai cardinals, a rusty angle, and a lawnmower blenny. <I am guessing/hoping not all at once.> I lost 1 Banggai in quarantine but the rest all looked well and were eating. Into main tank they went. About 2 weeks ago the rusty angel stopped showing up for dinner, I could see it swimming around afterwards but it would disappear when I approached the tank. 2 days later it was dead, my starfish made any postmortem I'm qualified for useless. About a week ago I lost Banggai number 2 and just this afternoon the lawnmower turned up dead. Last night I noticed some odd scrapping that the lawnmower was doing, but otherwise it looked healthy and was eating well and had no visible signs of parasites. This evening upon close examination of the remaining fish I've noticed some *blemishes* forming on some of the fish. The 6 line wrasse has a patch on his side that looks different in the light when he turns, not really white but just not as reflective as the rest. <Could be Amyloodinium or possibly Brooklynella.> The purple tang has a spot of the same sort right where the dorsal fin begins, and the largest of the maroon clowns has a puffy white clump on its lip. My pH is at 8.5, my Nitrites are .1ppm, Ammonia is around .1, and my Phosphates are not measurable. Could this just be some sort of infection that's slowly killing my fish and just now showing itself? <Possible, but I am also concerned with how and why your old fish died. I would be curious to know what your tank alkalinity, nitrates, and water change schedule/protocol is. Something seems to be out of whack. Most outbreaks can be traced back to an environmental problem. -Steven Pro>

High fish mortality Hi Bob, <<Hello, it's JasonC this time...>> I wrote to you several months ago regarding my 10g reef, which was overstocked with a friend's damsels. The damsels have been re-homed and the tank now has 1 A. Ocellaris and a blue damsel (maybe an inch)... plus clams and crabs and polyps (red, with a blue center), all of which "spontaneously" appeared. My mystery anemone is also fine, and recently divided- I now have 2 of them. <<lovely.>> The problem is the 55g. Fish won't stay alive- period. <<oh?>> Longest lived was about a month, most go in about a week, week and a half. Water is currently 1.019, as I was trying to kill of some parasites my latest yellow tang brought in- I dipped him and the other tank resident, and they appeared fine, spots went away and they were feeding, then about a week later they were dead. Ammonia, nitrate, nitrite all read 0, pH is right on the nose, temp is fine...I have a little (poss) red slime algae- it's red and has O2 bubbles in it and comes off in sheets. I cleared out the rock and scrubbed it off, now have just a few spots that came back. Sand substrate seems to accumulate a brown tinge quickly, but it looks like a diatom bloom. I don't have enough snails/crabs for the volume, but am reluctant to add more in case of death. <<You might consider an additional powerhead to help deal with the Cyano and diatoms, although I doubt either of these is the source of your fish mortality.>> Here's the weird part- the critters in the tank (peppermint shrimp, hermits, snails) all seem to be doing well- the shrimp are HUGE! Recently we got a bunch of limpets that appeared out of nowhere, and we recently noticed a pair of what look like oysters- one is fairly small, but the other is a good 2-3" (don't know HOW I missed it). Polyps are starting to grow and the coralline is really taking off! I had originally intended either a reef tank or a fish only tank with the LR...now I'm wondering if I should rethink that. <<very interesting.>> My question is really one of "Why do the fish die when all other life is thriving?" I realize there are a multitude of factors here, but I'm wondering if there's something obvious I'm missing. <<One thing you did not reveal is whether or not you are quarantine these fish before introduction to your main system. This would be the best way to avoid introduction of parasites to the display [which don't affect the inverts] and also an observation period. There is the odd chance that you and your LFS have had a bad run on fish, but that's a little hard to prove. Best to quarantine and do pH-adjusted freshwater dips before introduction to the main display. Any fish that doesn't make it though this period would have never made it in your display and would give you pause to consider a new source.>> Gerry <<Cheers, J -- >>

90 g, my question is??? I sold my 90 gallon with a big canister filter to my uncle and we set it up at his place so we put damsel fish in it and 2 day later they are all dead ? why I clean the filter and gravel be we installed at his place? <<Many, many possibilities. How many damsels did you put in? Perhaps things needed to settle in the tank. Depending on how you cleaned the canister filter, you may have wiped out the beneficial bacteria that work on the nitrogen cycle... meaning the new setup would need to cycle again like it was brand new. The best I can do is guess... need a little more information. Did you test the water? How is the water quality?>> help Miguel <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: My 2 dead fish and please help Hello: Thank you for the quick reply and I will do as you instructed. Thank you for the help and the answers and I will check that site you gave me out. Have a outstanding day. <Thank you my friend. Good luck, life to you. Bob Fenner> Sincerely: ~John

Re: Fish Not Surviving Thanks J, <<You are welcome.>> Again, MILLIONS of Thanks for all the help here. As for our wholesaler, we don't really care for them it seems that half of their stuff dies with in a week. Out of all the salt water I've gotten from them 1 out of 4 has survived. I have/had an Ocellaris Clown (the only fish I have alive now), a Coral Beauty Angel (MASSIVE infestation of Flukes, her eye was clouded over and swollen, after a fresh water dip showed signs of improvement, used 2 drops of Methylene blue too 2 quarts fresh water there must have been over 50 flukes on that poor thing in the 3 dips I did on her over the two weeks that she was alive, she finally succumbed to some sort of a swim bladder disease). Two Fire gobies (one dead on arrival, the second dead with in 4 hours). See my luck is not the best here with these things, but I'm determined to make it work....even if it kills me and YOU having to read all my letters. :o) Hey misery loves company. <<Well... if you are determined, perhaps forget about that killer price you are getting and try one of the online retailers, especially if this wholesaler has such a dismal record.>> As for the Doses, I saw that all of the things in wet web were using a Gallon , I only used 2 quarts, I should have only used 4 drops of the Dechlor but used 8, and the Paraguard (Aldehyde 10% and Malachite Green) was correct I did that to 2 quarts, and the E.R Tab well...I should have only used 10 mg, but I used 200mg...oops...... but I'm pretty sure that didn't kill it. <<Erk... that's a 20-times overdose, and that was a pretty small fish. That might have actually done it.>> As for any other fish, yes those were the only fish shipped this time, along with about 8 turbo snails. The Turbos are fine to my knowledge. We have had problems with this wholesaler that's why I did the dipping I didn't want my fire fish to succumb to any problems like we have been having. We had an entire shipment of Blue Ram Cichlids just die, for no apparent reason as well as Blue Flame Tetras, they're fine, and what not, then BAM....half of them dead. This is a common occurrence with this company. <<I see.>> As for Skimmers.....Hmm...I hate to say it, I didn't like the Aqua C because I though it was ugly, but if you say its good, I'll just put it in the sump and wont' look at it. <<fair enough...>> But would really love to know if the Nautilus came out better after settling in for a while. And if you say its not good, I'll listen and won't buy it. :o) And you are so right, I don't like having to change a lot of water all the time to keep my nitrates low, they were at 40 now at 20 and this is a little tank. only 20 gallons. <<2g every two weeks should be fine for water changes on a tank like that.>> I want to get a good skimmer and while price is a concern I would pay a higher price for a better skimmer if it means my fish and system will be healthier. <<Well... aren't the Kent Skimmer and the AquaC Urchin about the same price?>> Ohh One more Question...Purigen by Seachem......what do you know about it. <<I know 'of' it, but I've never used it.>> I've used them in Freshwater aquariums and am just amazed at what it does for removing organic components like Humic Acid. Do you know all of the substances that this resin will remove and do you recommend it for a salt system. I've heard both sides on this one. I would like to know your opinion <<I'm not sure Purigen is compatible with saltwater, and if you're asking me if I would use something like this to remove DOC, no, I wouldn't. Just do regular maintenance.>> Again, thank you so much, your like my genie in the bottle just rub your belly and my questions are answered.....I LOVE the site, and wish I could bring you guys a Cake or something.....however I don't think it would ship too well.. Thank you so very much. <<You are quite welcome.>> Sincerely, John Bernhard p.s.-sorry for the long letter again, I'm sure your getting tired of me by now. <<no worries. Cheers, J -- >>

Fish Not Surviving Hey Jason/Rob, Sadness.....I just don't seem to be able to do this. <<Oh?>> Can you tell me if I'm doing something wrong in my acclimation or if it is probably something else. I had two Fire fish die today :o( I just got them in from our wholesaler, I believe it is the Wholesaler but just to be sure its not me here's my stuff. And are they supposed to look like they have slime sloughing off at the ends of their tails when they are shipped or was that something they had. :o( <<Trauma during shipping is not unusual - a little beat up, but you can typically tell by looking at the fish whether or not it has given up at this point. How was the packing of the order... perhaps they were a little cramped. And for that matter, how is the reputation of this wholesaler? Your employer should know and give you the 'real deal'.>> These are the steps I follow.  1. Fish into a container with bag water 2. Mechanical Aeration 3. Made up a solution of 2 quarts water from tank along with 8 drops of Stress Coat, 1.5ml of Paraguard, 8 drops of Methylene Blue 2.303% by Kordon, and a E.M. Tab (By Aquarium Pharm. 200mg). <<Are these doses correct for two quarts of water? They sound high... but I could be wrong. I always use metric measurements and do the math to make sure my doses aren't too large.>> 4. I titrated this into the container holding the bag water and the fish (a fire goby). This went for about 30 min.s I would say to maybe even 45 min.s.  5. I then let the fish stay in this water for 45 min.s, and thing seemed to be fine. 6. Put the fish into the tank and he was a little "off beat" found a cave and stayed there for a couple of hours. 7. He later came out and was picking at the bottom so I though great, nothing wrong, well I look up later (another hour or so) and he's jerking and having a hard time swimming. Do you think he could have gotten stung by my Atlantic Condy. <<Not out of the realm of possibility.>> Anemone, or is it something that I did in the acclimation. <<Acclimation steps all sounded fine to me... an accidental bump into the anemone could have done it.>> Here are the parameters of my tank that I have the ability to test for. Temp:78 F Ammonia:0 Nitrites:0 NItrates:20 ppm (I just added a Refugium, just with Caulerpa) pH: 8.2 Any help you can give me would be wonderful, I'm about to cry I keep on losing fish I'm pretty sure its just our wholesaler, but I want to make sure that its not me. <<Were these the only Firefish that shipped? How are the others doing?>> I would give you hardness but I don't have the available test kit. :o( <<That wouldn't really matter to a fish.>> And you guys have a wonderful site, I have learned so much about fish from it you guys are INVALUABLE. Thank you SO much, without you guys I would have been out of the hobby already, with out a doubt. <<WOW! Am really glad to hear that.>> Ohh yes I just have a wet/dry filter, its a 20 L with a 10 Gallon Sump and a 5 gallon refugium, don't have a protein skimmer, am waiting to get one when I get my 75 gallon in about 20 days. Also here's another question for you guys. Kent Marine Nautilus TE, Red Sea Berlin Turbo Classic, or Euro Reef CS-2. Which one would you recommend, I'm really curious about the Nautilus but have not been able to find ANYTHING about it, and how it matches up to the Euro Reef and the Berlin Turbo Classic. Your Opinions on these would be most thankful I know you wish the Berlin had a real needle valve whatever that is, and you seem to like the Euro but there is nothing about the Nautilus so just wondering which one you would put in your Sump. <<Well, the skimmer I would recommend wasn't on your list - I'm a pretty unabashed AquaC fan. I think pound for pound these skimmers out-perform anything in the price range. That said, the Euro Reef skimmers have a tremendous reputation for quality of build as well as quality of foam fractionation, you wouldn't go wrong with one of these. I've seen the Kent skimmer in action and it's probably best said that I wasn't impressed. I should go back to revisit and see if it broke in; the AquaC requires about a week. The Berlin Turbo is an adequate skimmer, but you can do better. In my opinion, this is one area of filtration that one should not skimp on.>> Thanks. Sincerely, John Bernhard <<Cheers, J -- >>

Sick fish. Dear Robert, Hi ,my name is Stacie. <<Not Robert, but JasonC, hello to you.>> I got your address from a website. I have some serious problems with my fish, and I can't seem to solve it. It started 10 days ago when we returned from an 8 days vacation. Upon our return, my cow fish was very sick. His eyes were sunken in, and his stomach was as well. In fact, his stomach was so sunken in the sides were touching. Four or five days ago, my marine Betta died. He had stopped eating and 3 days later was dead. His eyes were sunken in as well, but his skin appeared to have come off around his eyes and gills. Yesterday, my spotted file fish died. Now his eyes were not sunken in, but his stomach was. Today, my powder blue tang won't eat. I noticed that last night she was breathing really fast. That is continuing today as well. I might add While we were gone, a chevron butterfly died in the tank. By the time we got home, It had no head, so I don't know what it looked like prior to death. Whatever it is that is stalking my fish seems to do it rapidly. And with little or no really obvious symptoms. No scratching, or spots or anything really visible. I didn't even notice any of the others having rapid breathing. My salinity is at .019, My temp is at 80, My nitrites are 0 My ammonia is 0 My nitrates are 20 My PH is 8.2 I was treating for Ich and the copper is at .3. All the Ich is gone, but I have 4 days left to make it 2 weeks. I am really at a loss. (no pun intended) My fish are dropping like flies and I can't figure out why. I am just sick. And very sad. Thank you in advance Sincerely, Stacie <<Well Stacie, that certainly is a hand full, and honestly I think I need to know a little more to give you a good answer. On the quick read, the one thing that stands out first in my mind is that you made no mention of who kept your fish in your eight day absence. I would start looking to what happened during that time - perhaps overfeeding which is very common among fish-sitters, or it really sounds to me like none of the fish had eaten at all while you were gone... there are very few diseases that would cause wasting in otherwise healthy fish, but starvation would. Also, you made no mention of the size of this tank. Likewise, the salinity of 1.019... is that something you did to treat ich, or the way you always run your system? There are many potential answers, best thing for you is perhaps some more reading, introspection about potential cause/effect relationships, and household events while you were on vacation. Check out the following URL and beyond - some good reading to be had: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/vacfaqsmar.htm Cheers, J -- >>

Mysterious Problems Bob, <Steven Pro in for awhile today.> I understand that you have had some problems with the email so I am going to try this again.  <Yes, but Zo did track it down and correct.> I am new to the marine aquarium game and things are not going well. I have a 55gal, with about 60lbs of live rock, a 1-3 in crushed coral live sand substrate, <Crushed coral and Livesand are two very different things. Probably not related to your problem, but we answer questions for the person asking as well as the large number who read the daily page.> 4x96 PC's, three power heads on a wave strip, one yellow and one hippo tang, one neon Dottyback, one clown, and two damsels. One sand star and several hermits and snails. I also have a 5 gal sump and an in sump skimmer. I have been running this system for about 8 months now and things are not going well. I make sure to check all the parameters and they appear to fall in line with most of what is quoted on your site. <Actual numbers for every test you can perform are required for any real diagnosis.> To date I have no luck with any corals. Mushrooms and leathers seem to do well for a few weeks then die! I add Kent Marine, Strontium, Iodine and Calcium to the tank on a regular basis with no apparent results. I do frequent water changes of 10 gal every two weeks, with bottled water. Am I missing something here?  <Perhaps the bottled water could be a factor, but just a guess. Not enough info for a more complete answer.> I have a couple of questions can the heat be my problem? The weather here stays around 80 year round. During the day the tank can get up to about 83-85. <You are pushing the limit, but not reaching anything critical. 85 F has been implicated in bleaching events and possibly as a trigger for certain bacteria to go from benign to malignant.> I have the lights on a timer to come on later in the afternoon to try and keep the temp down. A chiller is a little out of my price range at this point. If this is the problem, do you have any suggestions on how to beat the heat? <The use of fans to exhaust hot air away from the tank and lights works well.> Also, I have my lights about 6" above the tank. I added a DIY Plexiglas cover to the tank to stem water loss. I read somewhere that certain plexi may filter out the good light and prevent it from reaching the inhabitants. Is this true? <Yes, will reduce light transmission.> If so what type of cover should I use? <The egg crate light grid sold at many hardware stores for use in fluorescent light fixtures is nice. It will stop fish from jumping out, will focus and amplify your existing lighting when put on right side up, and will able heat to vent off of the water.> Any help that you can provide will be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks for all the help your site has given me over the past few months. ~Ron <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Mystery Eggs Hatch! Our 30 gallon salt water tank has 2 white tail damsels, 3 anemones, 1 puffer, 3 snails, and (had 2 clowns one jumped out the back!). Two days ago we noticed hundreds of very small white round specs in the plastic plants. These eggs are as small as the tiny air bubbles in the tank and the fake plants were obviously cleaned and cleared before the eggs were placed near the anemones. SO THE QUESTION IS WHO ARE THE PARENTS? I need a photo of Damsel eggs, Clown eggs, snail eggs, anemone eggs, and puffer eggs to determine who are the parents so I know when they will hatch, if they will hatch, how to feed them and what to feed them HELP!! Ok they hatched, there hundreds of them, so far.... They are almost microscopic! They are hard to see, but you can tell they move, swim, slide around on the glass, some are smaller than others. We can't tell if there is one black dot, or two that are eyes. They seem to have a fin to swim, but at other times they seem to crawl!!! We put in there small fry baby fish food, egg layer formula. I wonder if they are also eating the algae off the fake plants and air stone. They are so small it is hard to believe they are fish!!! If you have any help or answers, let me know. <Mmm, much to do on your part. Do look up, read over the "Breeder's Registry" (link on WWM's Marine Links pages if you can't find the URL) re all the above types of organisms you list above that these might be. Your system is small, way too overcrowded to "do" much culture in/with... in all likelihood whatever this small life is, it will be consumed, die of lack of nutrition, get filtered out... not cause you trouble. Do you have a simple microscope? Please use the search tool at the bottom of the WWM homepage and input "QX3" to read about my experiences with the simple, but fabulous Mattel-Intel product. Bob Fenner>

Total die off, unknown cause! I am having some terrible problems in my reef tank. Total die off! My 3 dominos, plant life, one blue damsel and a beautiful little purple and yellow fish (the name eludes me at the moment). <You might want to create, keep a log... with inception dates, names... testing results> My Ph. is very low, 7.3~~~~~ I have had a problem with it for some time. I can't seem to get it to rise. Buffering capacity is up there at 300. SG is 1.018. I also can't seem to get this within specs. Ahhhhh! Nitrates at 70ppm and Nitrites at 0. This is all the info I can give you. Are these numbers enough to cause total die off? <Yes...> I just lost one of the blue damsels today. This die off has been happening for about 3 weeks. Please help! What should I do, another water change? <Likely so... what do you surmise is the root cause of the low pH? Overall poor water quality?> I just did a large one 3 weeks ago, about 20 gallons out of the 55g tank. My skimmer still stinks, I need to upgrade I know, it's a Skilter 400, ugh. I have 5 powerheads, 75 lbs LR, and 3 1/2 " sand. Thanks for your expertise! Pam <Time to "go back to zero" with your system. Please calm yourself, set some time aside and read through http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm first the set-up, next the maintenance sections, articles and FAQs. Bob Fenner>

Re: total die off, unknown cause! Hello again Mr. Fenner. <Steven Pro with the follow-up.> I did a bit of homework last night (per your 'order'. Thank you for the links and info. It's funny, I thought I knew this stuff, enough to get the job done, but I have found out the hard way that rushing through the basic set up is a big mistake. <We are all always learning.> I am doing a water change now as I type. I bought a different type of salt mix this time, called "Crystal Sea Marine Mix". I was using Instant Ocean for the past year. I was told the difference between the two was that Crystal Sea contains buffers. <Both contain buffers and should mix up to the appropriate pH with most tapwater. I strongly prefer the Instant Ocean to most other brands.> As you know I have had a low Ph for ever, and can't seem to get it to rise. My tap water is neutral, 7.0. What is your say on buffers in salt mixes? <If you are having a problem getting the salt water at the proper pH prior to adding to the tank, I would purchase a separate buffering agent.> I am also beefing up my water movement by adding another power head and an air stone and looking into a new skimmer. <All should help.> I vow not to purchase a single animal till this water quality is resolved. <Good> Thanks so much for your help! Pam <You are welcome. Keep learning, my friend. -Steven Pro>

Re: total die off, unknown cause! Mr. Fenner, The water at my house is on the acid side, about 7.0. <Mmm, this is neutral... right in the middle of the pH scale... not acid, nor alkaline> What can I do about this? I use to add sodium bicarbonate to bring up the pH in my fresh water tanks. Is this okay for reefs? <Yes... please read...> You're right though. I need to read more and educate myself in this very different world of fish keeping. Thanks for the direction. Pam <Indeed my friend. At this stage, there is not enough commonality in our knowledge to coordinate exchanges... Please do read through WetWebMedia.com and soon. Bob Fenner>

Re: total die off, unknown cause! Me again Mr. Fenner. Just a quick note, (I know you're there!). I'm still wondering about the quality of water at my house. For years, I kept only fresh water tanks, and was able to grow most any plant under the sun. But since I moved to Cape Cod, I can't grow a thing in my daughters guppy tank. Not even Java Moss, now that's ridiculous. This stuff grows everywhere. I have spent much money on plants only to see them die with in weeks. All that grows in her tank is some pretty disgusting looking algae, that's grayish in color, hairy and coarse! Yuck! I wonder if this is typical Cape Cod fauna?? Do you know anything about Cape water? <Not really... but you can inform me, all of us, by requesting an analysis from your water supplier (I assure you they have such, and will render it on request). Do contact the folks who are on your water bill... and tell all what your alkalinity, any anomalies listed are. It may well be that all you need is a relatively simple, commercially available "water supplement" to restore "pet-fish ready" quality to your tap. Be chatting, Bob Fenner> See ya!

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