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FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 6

Related Articles: Tank Troubleshooting Pt 1, Part 2, The Three Sets of Factors That Determine Livestock Health/Disease, A Livestock Treatment System,FAQs 9,

Related Tank Troubleshooting FAQs:  FAQs 1, FAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, FAQs 5 FAQs 7, FAQs 8, FAQs 9,

Healthy fishes are "bright-eyed", alert to their environment, your presence.

Cursed Hex (8/19/04) Hi, <Hello. Steve Allen here tonight> It has been a while, since I have contacted you.  But I have been letting nature take its course. I have had some problems since I have had my 35 gallon hexagon tank for the past 1 1/2 years. <Perhaps the fundamental problem is that hexagons are a poor shape for tanks, especially saltwater. Neat-looking, yes, but they have too little surface area for volume and thus are difficult to oxygenate, which is vital to a marine tank. Also, as you note below, it is difficult to equip them properly.> I had a rough start. About a year ago, I added 20 lbs of live rock, got a QT tank. I do water changes every two weeks. <weekly might be better in your situation.> Things got a little better, but I have not been able to sustain healthy fish for more than 6 months. I have had problems and I do not know why they are curing.  I do have well water, and have switch to distilled, temporarily.  <Do you add electrolytes and buffer to this before adding your salt. If not, it will be very difficult to maintain pH and alkalinity. Remember that distilled water is nothing more than H2O molecules; everything else is removed.> I am working on getting a water purifying system. <Good, although I no lots of people who maintain healthy systems with tapwater treated with chlorine/chloramine remover. If your water does not have a lot of TDS (total dissolved solids), phosphates or nitrates, this is a viable option. Also make sure there's not a lot of heavy metals.> You should be able to get a comprehensive quality report from your water district.> I also do not have a skimmer (hard to find one to fit on my hexagon tank). <Big problem.> I  have a bio-wheel, and only have an 1 1/4 " opening left over on top. <You don't need a bio-wheel if you have live rock and don't try too keep too many high-metabolism fishes.> Do you have any suggestions? <Read on.> I have had two starfish that have survived throughout the entire time. <What type?> I also have had two fish get pop-eye (only in one eye), one died and one, an ocellaris clown, who has survived, is eating, but has trouble finding food, and skims from the top. <May be blind in one eye or even both.> I also had another fish die of I don't know what.  He also seemed to have a vision problem, and had trouble finding food. <Certain heavy metals, such as copper, can cause blindness in some fish.> What I do have left is two stars, one ocellaris clown, one bicolor Dottyback, and a feather duster, whose feathers seem to be diminishing (why is that happening?) <Likely slowly starving to death. Do you target feed it? Try Cyclop-eeze (frozen) or live planktonic (refrigerated) foods. Many marine stores sell these.>  One last question.  Do you suggest that one feed stardust and feather duster separate food. <Stardust? Do you mean starfish? Some eat chunks, and some eat detritus. I need to know if we're talking brittlestars, Linckias or other species.> Or is what they skim off the bottom enough? <Most brittlestars can live on excess fish food and other detritus.> Any help would be appreciated. <I'd suggest you get reliable test kits to test ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and dissolved oxygen. Being a hex, your tank may have too little of the latter. With no skimmer, there may be too much of the first three. I am not a big fan of canister filters because of the cleaning work, but your tank might be a candidate because you could keep it down in the stand and the hoses would only take up a couple of inches of rim, which might leave room for the AquaC Remora (not the bigger Pro version) skimmer that may solve your problem. Skimmers take out a lot of bad stuff and add oxygen. If you go to their website at www.proteinskimmer.com, you can get the exact measurements for this skimmer. If you get a canister filter, you will need to clean it often to avoid large buildups of nitrate. Keep in mind that a hex should be stocked more lightly than a rectangle of similar volume. Get the system stabilized and its current inhabitants thriving before attempting to add anything. Be patient, this may take the rest of the year. And don't use any silly, obsolete "fish inches-per-gallon" formulas. They're bunk. Hope this gets you started.>

Alkalinity, pH and calcium I am quite perplexed.  I live in the Middle East and everything is hard to come by - test kits, good salt, good water... I have a 60 gal salt water aquarium which has been up and running for about 2 years. <Wonderful>  I have been able to purchase some cheap test kits in the past which measured ammonia, copper, Nitrate and Nitrites.  On my last visit to the states in July, I purchased some Sea chem tests. Now, to my dismay, I find that everything is out of whack in the aquarium, and I am  not sure which way to go, or how to go about it. There is a 6" sand bed (what kind of sand, I don't know as we purchased it in Bahrain LFS and there was not any kind of label).  Small grain is about all I can really tell you.  About 50 lbs live rock, 1 carpet anemone, 2 perculas, 1 Midas blenny, 2 very small bubble anemones, 1 Blue tang, and a handful of "local" small snails. The LFS doesn't carry crabs, so I'll have to find some other kind of sand sifter. (Any suggestions? <I have a fondness for fighting conchs.>  I have to take what I can get as variety is not much of an option here.)<Understandable>  Here are the problems:  Calcium is 560+!  I have tested it three times and it comes within the same general range.  Nitrates are 20 (I know, but the old test kits said they were nil).  Ammonia is 0, Nitrites 0.  pH tests at 7.6 consistently. I don't have any kind of test for alkalinity.  Water temp 26.7c and Salinity 30 ppt. For the past week,  I have used Kent Marine pH additive, adding 10 ml each night (as per bottle instructions).  I have also changed out 5 gal of water each night in order to decrease/deplete the Nitrates.  I am using R/O D/I water which is something I also just started this week.  <Honestly I would stop using all additives and do a series of water changes, to try to get the tank back in balance.> Please tell me what to do. <Water changes work best. One a week for a couple of weeks until the tank comes back into better balance. That calcium is way way high.>  I don't seem to be able to figure it out for myself.  Very frustrating.  I want the best for my wet friends, and I feel so bad that they have been living in such a terrible environment.  Thanks

Mysterious Deaths Hi - <Hi Julie, MacL here with you today> Thank you for the site; I have spent many an hour reading. <I'm glad you are getting a lot out of it.>  We are now having a problem and I can't find any info anywhere. We have an established - about 14 months -  75 gallon salt water tank. We have everything you can hang on the back of a tank - filters, skimmer, ultraviolet clarifier, live rock, live sand. We also have about 25 snails, 20 crabs, 4 emerald crabs, a sea hare, a cleaner shrimp and a few very small anemone which came with the live rock. About 3 weeks ago I fed the fish - 2 tangs,  1 scooter blenny, 5 blue/green Chromis, a clown - then scraped the glass. I also removed and fresh-water rinsed two big pieces of rock which were covered with hair algae. I noticed we were having an algae bloom - green/brown hair algae and some brown diatoms (sp?). We have had both before, weren't worried about it and were preparing to do the usual scraping of the glass and partial water changes and look at the feeding and light amounts.  About 2 hours later - after the feeding and the scraping and the rinsing - I looked at the tank and all the fish were on the bottom, gasping for air. <Let me ask you, you freshwater dipped, Fresh from the Tap? Does your tap water have chlorination or Chloramines? Did you use something to remove these before you put the rock back into the tank?> All of the fish died; we tried doing a partial water change as I was afraid I had introduced something to the tank. But, to no avail. Ironically, the bigger fish died first. Both tangs were 4-5 inches long and they were the first to go. <Your description sounds like poisoning of some kind, right off the top of my head. Did you by any chance have lotion on your hands? or perhaps a cleaning product or perfume of some kind?  Lots of things are poisons and its so hard to know that you don't have any on you.  That's why many people are going to gloves when they work in their tanks.> After talking to our very reputable LFS, we thought that maybe the brine shrimp I had fed was spoiled. <That would cause some poisoning.> The bigger fish always ate more, so that made some sense. Also, all water parameters were perfect; we tested the water and took a sample to the LFS. None of the other critters were affected; all of the invertebrates survived. <Usually a definite sign of poisoning.> We cleaned the tank, scraped the glass, made sure all filters, etc. were working properly and everything checked out. After about 9-10 days we put 2 6-line wrasse in the tank and they did fine; 3-4 days after that we added a coral beauty, a butterfly fish and a nasco (sp?).  <Naso? I think> The new additions were doing well, the algae bloom was still occurring, but had slowed somewhat, and we were working on it. Today we scraped the glass in order to vacuum the bottom, pulled some of the hair algae of the rocks and do a partial water change. After the water change the fish begin to act as if they were suffocating - the Naso and the butterfly were at the top gulping for air. <Which leads me to believe its something to do with the water or with the algae. If it was poison it could be trapped in the algae, I have heard of that happening. But I keep coming back to the water and the water change. Is the water purified? You mentioned that the levels checked out fine but you don't give us details, are they ALL at 0 including nitrates?> We moved them to the QT, thinking that the filtration in the DT may not be doing as well as we thought. The coral beauty began swimming erratically; all eventually died. In both cases the chain of events is identical. All the invertebrates are doing really well. We, and our very reputable LFS, are at a loss. Do you have any ideas, suggestions, or thoughts? <Okay several things that I have touched on. Poisoning of some kind, in which case most of the water needs to be removed. Two, when you do your water changes do you have a sand bed and is the sand bed disturbed? Three, when you do your water change, your water is purified in some way? Four, do you have any lotions etc on your body when you do these changes? Some types of algaes can produce toxicity, so it could be that as well.>  Thank you for your time, it is most appreciated, Julie <Don't worry Julie we will get it figured out together. MacL>

Rapid Fish Deaths...What's The Cause? Hi, we are new to this, so bear with us... <Glad to...Scott F. hear today> We have a 12 gallon tank, two Lawnmower Blennies, a few snails and crabs.  Up until a week ago, we also had a Jewel Damselfish and two Yellow Jawfish.  The two blennies were first, and the others were added a little later.  One day, the Jewel disappeared! <Weird> We never found him. <Well, it shows you the efficiency of the crabs as scavengers> Then within a week, the jawfish started behaving strangely and finally bit the dust. The Jawfish were so wonderful!  We (and our children) loved watching them!  Like little groundhogs poking up out of the bottom! <Great analogy!> Anyway, they both started hanging out at the top of the tank. We checked out all of our levels and the temperature - all was great! <No nitrite, ammonia? How was the aeration? Hanging near the surface seems like their could have been some potential water problem...Perhaps even lack of oxygen? Maybe some sort of toxin- any paint fumes, household cleaners, etc. around lately?> None of them had signs of the common illnesses, either.  Now, one of the Blennies seems to be losing some of his color.  What's going on????  Please help us!!! Traci <Well, Traci, in my experience, successions of fish losses usually are caused by either environmental factors, poor selection of specimens, or diseases. I'd double check those environmental parameters, just to make sure what's really going on there. Do also consider the fact that you might have purchased fish from a source that doesn't carry the highest-quality animals...Just a thought. Do also review your selection and acclimation techniques. Do revisit the "basics" again...If you are thorough in your review, you'll no doubt be able to isolate the cause. Feel free to bounce your ideas by us. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>   - Unexplained Deaths Explained - Hi how are you, I just had a couple of questions, I just wanted to say your site is great and I have learned a lot over the last few months. Here is my set-up, tank is 6 months old. 55-gallon reef tank, using R/O water 85 pounds live rock Prism skimmer (I know, not that good) 2 powerheads Eheim canister filter 110 watt compact,+ 40 watt actinic lighting ammonia-  zero nitrate- zero phosphate- zero calcium - 450 alk- 11.6  dKH sg- 1.023 Ph- 8.0 - 8.1 tank inhabitants yellow polyps green star polyps 2 -feather dusters 1-octocoral 7-emerald crabs 3-anenome crabs 13-blue leg hermits 1-blood shrimp 1-cleaner shrimp 1-mushroom coral 1-rock anemone 1-candy cane anemone which split into 2 animals 1-tree sponge 1-candy cane coral, 4 heads splitting into 8 1-sixline wrasse 1-bicolor blenny I do two,  5 percent water changes weekly  wed + sun using R/O water. aerated and aged for a few days. the only supplements I use are  Kent 2 part A+B for calcium + Alk strontium once a week, after six months running I have lost 1 cleaner shrimp which was 3 1/2 months old, also lost 1 emerald crab, now I know this could be a natural thing and hard to explain but I just want to make sure I am not doing something wrong. any ideas? <Not really... this just happens some times for a variety of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with husbandry but some that do. While I admire your diligence with the frequent water changes, you could in fact be changing too often, and causing a change in water chemistry every time you do it. If I were you I'd go with 5% a week - that would be doing better than most.> also my 3 feather dusters which I have also had for 3 months died, they spit out their crowns and one his whole body, I know they have been known to grow new crowns but its been over a month, and I don't think they are growing new ones, any Idea what would cause this sort of behaviour, could it be possible harassment form the crabs. <Could be that, could also be a reaction to shifting water chemistry.> all in all I think I am doing pretty good, just get a little worried that maybe I am doing something wrong. everything else in the tank appears to be healthy fish are active all corals are open. <Would make sure you are testing for calcium, alkalinity, and strontium before just adding per the directions on the bottle. Could be you either need to step up or decrease the additives based on the test results.> My other question is what exactly is carbonate hardness? <The amount of buffer as carbonate in the water.> is it the same as alkalinity, do I need to test for this. <Yes and yes - if you are adding calcium, you should be testing for both alkalinity and calcium.> I thought I read on your site that testing alk using DKH was all you needed. <KH, dKH, and ppm are all scales on which alkalinity is measured. Is like quoting the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius.> also my last question is how do you know when a PolyFilter (bio-marine) is spent can it be rinsed and reused <Should change color - to at the very least brown, but depending on other chemicals it absorbs, it might turn other colors. As far as I know there is no way to recharge this and am pretty sure the filter pads are meant to be disposable.> thanks very much for your help Val Canada <Cheers, J -- > Is Low pH my problem? hello, I have been doing maintenance on aquariums for a job for about 10 years, my problem is a client has a 25 gallon hex salt water aquarium. I took it over about 8 months ago, and have had animals die more often than not. I have replaced the Fluval filter, coral sand, water, its conditions run almost perfect. ph 7.8, nitrite 20, nitrate 0, ammonia. 0. and so on . << A pH of 7.8 seems very low to me.  I would do a massive water change. >> I have reduced the tank to damsels only (5) and now they die within 16 hours. any suggestions ? << Yes, first your description of the tank leaves out all the information regarding natural filtration.  How much live rock, live sand, corals, lighting, etc?  Adding those items can make a huge difference. >> le Roy hicks advanced aquascaping <<  Blundell  >>

Dying fish Hello -<Hi Jen, how are you?> I've written before but it's been awhile.  I have a twelve gallon salt tank (Nano Cube) that's been running for a good six months.  At the moment I only have live rock and a few snails and crabs in it.  The reason is because every time I put fish in it they die within a few days. <Two thoughts spring immediately to mind. Something polluting the tank, perfumes, lotions, hair sprays, anything airborne or something simple like Windex. Secondly, electric current? Is it possibly something has a short in it?> I've tested my water (PH, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite) and they test out fine. <Jen can you give me a little more details beyond fine, exact levels? Also what's your salinity? What temperature are you keeping the tank>> The most disappointing part is that the only fish I've tried are damsels which are supposed to be very tolerant of water conditions. <They generally are very hardy.> I try to do regular water changes (once a week) and keep up with everything but they keep dying. I've been told maybe it's something in my live rock that could be causing them to die. <Do you have any pounding sounds? Do your fish appear to have any injuries?> Anyway, it's very frustrating and I'm desperate to figure out the problem. <I'm sure> I have a friend who has the exact same setup and he has no problems.  He already has a clown fish and anemone and everything.<That's a small tank to host an anemone.> <Do your fish die immediately? ARE you dechlorinating? right type of dechloraminator or dechlorinator> So it's not the tank itself or anything. <Was there ever anything else in the tank?> Any help you could provide would be GREAT!!  Thanks, Jen

Cause of Death Unknown (Dying Fish Follow-Up) Thanks for your quick reply, I'm doing fine, How are you? <Doing fine.  Scott F. here with the follow-up.> I'll try to answer your questions.  Ok...First, how would those things like hairspray or perfumes get in the tank?  I try not to have anything on my hands in the tank, even soap.  And the electric current problem - wouldn't the snails and crabs be dead if there was that problem? That's what makes me think my water can't be TOO bad if they're still alive and doing well.  As far as my levels go, I'm just going by the little result cards in my test kit.  The pH is around 8.2, Ammonia is between 0 ppm and 0.25, Nitrites are 0, and Nitrates are a little higher than normal at like 20 ppm.  I just tested yesterday and that's what I got.  The nitrates seem to have gone up a little, but according to my book that's not like "killer" range or anything. <I beg to differ.  Any detectable ammonia is a bad thing.  It's a sign that something is amiss with your biological filtration.  It may not kill the fish immediately, but stress from prolonged ammonia can weaken and kill fish in time.  Do look for the root cause of this ammonia reading.  Assign this to yourself as a top priority.  Ammonia should be undetectable on any hobbyist-grade test kit.> As far as the temperature, ranges from 76-80 degrees.  Because it's been warmer out, it's been closer to 80 degrees.  I know that's a little warm, but when I had the fish it wasn't even that high.   <That's fine.  Unless you have very low levels of oxygen, a temperature of 80 degrees is not a problem.> Injuries - I'm not sure since the one fish was half eaten by the time I discovered it the next day ( I believe by the other damsel), one totally disappeared (as in I found NOTHING), and the other looked like it have been skinned on one side, very discolored.  I took the whole tank apart to see if I could find some hidden creature, but nothing.  I haven't noticed any pounding sounds.  The fish don't die immediately, but the longest they live is like a few weeks.  I use only RO water and nothing else was ever in the tank - I started it brand new and am just starting to put fish in it.  So hopefully this info. helps. <The fact that you found your fish in mangled condition, just goes to show you how efficient those unseen scavengers are in a marine tank.  This is probably the work of copepods, hermit crabs, or other little, hidden creatures that go to work eating decaying flesh.> So you think it's too small for an anemone?  My friend's seems to be doing really well - the clown fish really loves that anemone! <I don't recall if it was me who gave you the initial answer, but tank size is but one factor involved in keeping an anemone.  Water chemistry and lighting are the others.  As long as you have detectable ammonia in your water, don't even think about putting an anemone in there.> On a totally different note - I have a fresh water tank and just noticed one of my angels has laid eggs - I'm going to be a mommy :) <That's cool!> But I have NO CLUE what to do about this - never had babies before.  I'm assuming I have to separate them from the rest of the tank but don't know how long it takes for them to hatch, etc.  If you know anything about this that would be very helpful.  If you don't feel like answering, though, I understand.   <Well, Jen it's not that I don't feel like answering this question, it's just that to answer a question on rearing baby angelfish could easily take an entire web page.  I recommend that you search either WWM FAQ's or look at other internet sources like American Cichlid Association, etc. web sites.  Lots of good information about rearing angelfish.> Thanks for everything Jen <Glad to be of help, Jen.  Keep looking into that ammonia issue.  Regards, Scott F.>

Mysterious Fish Loss Hello Experts, <No "expert"- just Scott F., fellow fish nerd!> Long time reader, first time writer.   <Do you want to give a "shout out" to anyone out there in cyberspace..? LOL> This hobby is so similar to golf.  If you could ever master it, the fun might be lost. <Good analogy, though! At least it's not on TV every single day, and on every airplane in-flight entertainment program...Don't even get me started about golf! Otherwise, I'm going to alienate even more WWM readers! LOL> My tank is a 58 gallon wide with various crabs, shrimp, and six reef safe fish.  After quizzing my local LFS, I didn't get much direction to my problem. My parameters are:  Year-old tank, only DI water, 4" fine DSB, 60lbs live rock, A=0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate=10, PH=8.4, Calc=450, SG=.023, temp=79, 500gph circulation, Rena II power filter with small amount of carbon, Backpack skimmer, and HOB refugium.   After introducing a "tiger tail cucumber" I couldn't find him (ever again) after the second day (he was 3", medium brown, with white "spikes") and healthy-or it seemed.  Two weeks later my long nose butterfly declined in 24 hours and died looking very rough and starved.  It seemed his ribs were showing, white rough skin, loss of color, and very labored breathing.  Last night I lost my blue hippo tang to the same looking ailment.  Both were fairly recent additions, two months total (quar and intro) and seemed fat a healthy.   <Glad that you quarantine. Keep up this good practice!> I immediately did a 20% water change and will do a larger one tonight.   <Never a bad thing if you suspect some sort of environmental problem> My LFS pointed to two possible factors.  1.  Temperature too high and wouldn't support oxygen levels for fish (I've started to drop my temp to 74-75 and agitating surface even more than before), <I don't think that 79F is a problem at all. Yes, water at 79F can hold less oxygen than water at 75F, but in a well-maintained system, this just is not a problem> or 2.  The tiger tail cucumber is gone (very possible-can't find) and it emitted a toxin. <Of the two theories, I'd tend to favor this one. Although I am not personally aware of what toxin the cucumber is capable of emitting, I'd work on this theory, as the water parameters that you describe are otherwise fine, and your husbandry techniques appear excellent> One other thing a different LFS mentioned, no electrolytes in the DI water can contribute to HLLD, etc. <Well, no trace elements, vitamins, or minerals in the water would be problematic, but these are all provided when you use a good-quality salt mix. I don't see this as a real problem, myself. I suppose that there could be lower levels of dissolved oxygen in fresh RO water, but you are not filling the entire tank with fresh, untreated/unaerated RO water at once, so, once again, I don't see this as a big factor, if at all.> The other inhabitants seem to be fairing well, (two Clarkiis, two pajama cardinals, and inverts) eating a hanging out as normal.  After researching, I didn't think that particular cucumber had much toxin, if any at all.  Parameter have never changed on the tank during this period. Any guidance, or opinions, are appreciated. Thanks for the service you provide.  Almost all of my marine education has come from you site and couldn't live without it. Jeff B <Well, Jeff, with environmental and toxic poisoning issues ruled out, I'd turn to disease as a potential possibility. The symptoms that you describe which affected the Butterfly and Tang are not entirely dissimilar to those caused by some of the more virulent parasitic conditions, such as Brooklynella or Amyloodinium, although I could not be sure why the Cardinalfish and Clownfish are, as of yet, unaffected. Although you quarantine your fish, there is always the possibility-however remote- that the cucumber, or even some substrate from the store that came with (or was digested and emitted by) the cucumber could have carried one of these pesky diseases. Be sure to quarantine inverts, too. In the course of your investigation, think a bout any event which could have lead to the introduction of these illnesses into your system. Any materials, equipment, or animals which could have been inadvertently released without quarantine? It may be that we never actually find out what caused these mysterious deaths, but the critical thinking process that you will use during your investigation will serve you well in the future when thinking about how to defend your tank from future potential problems. Frustrating, but somehow fun. I think that's kind of like golf is to a lot of people, huh? Good luck, and don't be discouraged here! Regards, Scott F.>

Trouble With Tangs... HI: Thanks for your quick response. <Hi there! Scott F. following up today!> I have a 55 gallon tank with standard filter & protein skimmer. It does have a thermometer. All plants are plastic along with "fake" coral. When I do take the plants & coral out to the clean them, I only use hot water, no chemicals. <Good...> I've been trying to keep the plain yellow Tangs alive. So far, I am 0 for 4. Each lasts about 7-10 days. One lasted about 2 weeks. That's the longest. Used the tetra kit & got a 0.3mg on NO2 & 0.25 mg on the NH3. <Well- both of these parameters should be undetectable on a hobbyist-grade test kit. Do re-check...This could be a big part of the problem right there. Tangs are extremely sensitive to poor water quality> Salt level seems ok. I have the tank in my upstairs living room & there is a lot of evaporation, so I am adding water almost every day (about 1 liter, tap water, adding drops). Is this enough new water? <Well, as long as you are using reliable, purified water for evaporation replenishment, this should be fine. Of course, regular water changes are equally important, if not more so> The tank temp is about 75 degrees. The Tang is dead now, but the only fish I have left are: 1) blue damsel (the one with the black dot on top) 2) velvet blue damsel 3) bigger fish, almost looks like a triangle with yellow & black. <A Trigger Fish perhaps, or a juvenile French or Koran Angel? Do find out what this fish is!> 4) also have a blue fin damsel that I put in an isolation area because it was stressing out the others. <Yep.. your tank is a bit heavy in the damsel department!> 5) Hermit crab (getting bigger) I originally thought that the blue fin damsel was my problem. Stressing out the other fish until they died (angelfish, clown, Firefish, ll dead). <A very distinct possibility. Many damsels can be extremely antagonistic towards other fishes, especially once established. They will often harass new introductions into "their" tank!> Today a green Chromis died. I started adding Maracyn on Friday because someone in the fish store said it might be some type of disease. Now my water is slightly green. Is that normal? <Sounds like you really got some bad advice there. Without specific disease symptoms, how could they conclude that any medication is appropriate? Maracyn is good stuff, but only if you are treating a disease that it is designed to combat. Also, my advice is to never treat in the display tank, as it is difficult to control the proper therapeutic dosage, and is potentially devastating to beneficial organisms in your system, including nitrifying bacteria, in many cases (hence the nitrite and ammonia readings, perhaps?).> Sorry for all the questions. My family really likes the tank, but they get upset when a fish die. Thanks Again for your help. Ray <I certainly can empathize with your family, Ray! Sounds like you truly care for your animals, but need a bit more guidance. Well, you've come to the right place! On the WWM site, we have tons of great information on a variety of fishkeeping topics that will be of great assistance to you. It might also be a great idea to invest in a couple of basic marine aquarium books to help you on your path to greater success. I'd highly recommend Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist", and Michael Paletta's excellent "The New Marine Aquarium", both of which will provide you with a solid backbone of great information. Armed with a little knowledge from your research, and a few bumps and bruises from your experiences here, you'll be on tour way to success in no time! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

New Tank Nightmare... I just recently started running a saltwater tank and have had BAD results.  Even when all the levels and salinity are right on the fish die. <Hmm...not good at all> The latest problem is with a 4 inch Red Grouper, an Angel Fish.  They were with a Flying Gurnard and a Lunar Wrasse (all about the same size) and some invertebrates.  First, the Angel Fish just disappeared over night.  Then the Grouper started to turn white, sometimes with white stripes, like from stress.  Then overnight he, too, died.  The Gurnard has been staying at the top and at the very side of the tank as though trying to get out.  We have had nothing but trouble with the tank since we set it up.  We set it up for my disabled son since he could not do anything physical we thought it would be a good hobby for him. <It is a wonderful hobby...> He is thoroughly disgusted now.  So are we.  We never imagined it would be so hard.  His attendant has had salt water tanks for 15 years and hasn't had this much trouble--until we got out tank and then she is having the same kind  of problems.  H E L P !  Paul <Well, Paul- I have to tell you that there is virtually no way for me to determine what is going on here. I don't know your water parameters, don't have the slightest idea what the tank size is, etc. Fishes displaying stress coloration and dying quickly are generally indicative of environmental problems, such as toxic events, etc. Perhaps the fish were very sick when you purchased them, and the stress caused by the move put them over the edge...I'm literally taking guesses here. Please get back to us with more information on your setup (including how long it's been up), environmental parameters, etc., and maybe we can get to the bottom of this problem. I'm sorry that you're going through this. usually, with good information and a bit of research, these types of problems can be solved. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Sudden Invert Deaths 5/22/04 Hi there guys, <howdy> hope Am not bothering you, but i have a few problems. First and foremost is my reef tank. This tank has been set up for many years-i.e. eight years- and up until very recently, has been doing quite well. you see, many of the animals (all inverts) that i have had for many years have suddenly died or are in the process thereof. The first victims were my giant clams. Several months ago, both a derasa and crocea died within a week of each other. The derasa i had for six years, and the crocea for two-and they suddenly died on me. Shortly after, a yellow Porites that had been with me for a while died. Then my entire, previously thriving, weed like population of xenia died-little by little. The other corals seem fine.  <Hmmm...still, the Xeniid, Clam and Poritid are all such very different animals... there must be some gross physical parameter out of whack, or a toxin in the tank to be so broad sweeping> Also, worst of all, is the plight of my sebae anemone. This is the oldest invertebrate that I own-as old as the tank. It has shriveled and partially bleached recently as well. At first, I suspected the lights being old-more than 18 mos.  <Yikes! Fluorescents are only good for 6-10 months... the shock of changing to new lamps can be severe too> They were changed promptly, but were not the answer. After exhaustive testing, etc., everything tested fine-all nitrogens undetectable (NO3 probably closer to <5ppm.),pH 8.3, calcium 400ppm, alkalinity 3.5 meq/L, sg 1.026, phosphate 0 temp 78-80. lastly, I finally suspected possible heavy metal contamination. <interesting> About 9 mo.s ago, the light bulbs shattered in the tank. I then bought "new" ones that were knowingly old, but unbeknownst to me (but as i said earlier, they have been changed-all death and bleaching occurred prior to this.) Also, I feed many of the local fresh seafoods, as that is primarily what is available. I am not sure if you are familiar with Mobile, Alabama, but we have ludicrous amounts of toxins concentrated in certain areas. But all the food was fit for human consumption, but may have cumulatively become toxic.  <possible, yes... but unlikely> I do not know if the seafood was tainted, though. I have already placed a toxic metal sponge in the tank and am awaiting any results. Any experienced feedback would be great. I appreciate any info. Thanks in advance. Andrew  <the short answer is to do large frequent water changes (say... 2-3 50% changes in the next 10-14 days). Adding a PolyFilter would be helpful too. Beyond dilution, it is rather difficult to say what it might be... but I suspect a household contaminant is more likely (aluminum from deodorant/dipped armpit, ammonia stripping paint in the house, anything chemically fumous really, like aerosol air fresheners). Anthony> 

More problems from a problematic tank - 4/26/04  Well hello everyone, hello Paulo! <Hey>  I haven't written lately because I felt I was wearing out my welcome! <Naw> Seriously, my tank has been in such ruin, I felt, enough is enough, I better go "solo" for a while instead of bothering you poor bombarded crew!! <True we are bombarded but you are good customer....you continue to learn and try>  So, with that said, this is the latest. My candy cane coral are bleaching out as well as my brown button polyps. <Weird> Also, my beloved palm sized mushrooms haven't expanded in 5 days! <Rhodactis?> I feel there is absolutely no (visible) reason for this. I have been doing religious water changes, the Alk is at a nice 8 spot and the ph at 8.5. The salinity is at 26 and stable and the water flow is moving like crazy! <Excellent> The Cyano is all but subsiding. This is good news, no? <Are you kidding. This just proves that you can win the battle against nuisance algae with diligence and proper aquarium care....not to mention that it validates the advice give> Could it possibly be "Bryopsis algae?" <What the picture you sent me?> Bob Fenner very nicely identified this for me, and so I did further research, and I'm not too happy at what I learned! Do you think it is emitting enough toxins ( Bryostatin) to effect my tank, (75g.)? <could be..... your water would need to be tested> Well, I ripped out a beautiful piece about 5 inches long. I hated to do it, but, if this is the culprit, so be it. <Well, couldn't hurt but I doubt this is the culprit> However, it's everywhere in my tank. I planned to go to the web tonight and order some snails and such to munch on this stuff, but now, it seems that nothing likes to eat it? <Really? There are some slugs that eat Bryopsis> Only some species of Tang? I don't recall the type.  So anyways, tonight, right before dark, I drove down to the beach with my handy five gallon bucket, waded barefoot in the frigid water and collected a bucket full! <Hmmmm> Ten minutes later, I was home setting up "the real thing" for my candy cane coral only. The readings were wonderful, 7.5dKH, 8.0 ph, 1.023 salinity. And yes, these are different from my tank, and the difference may bother my already dieing coral, but what have I got to lose? <The coral for one. near shore waters are often polluted by a great many sources. Without strain, you could introduce no desirable parasites and bacteria. Also, the shock to the animal in difference to chemical changes could put this coral and any other animal over the edge.>  So, again, I am hoping for some advice, and I do thank you in advance. <Don't have much to say about your issues with this tank. I feel you are doing everything right here. Maybe you could resend another email without my name appearing anywhere so that can get a second opinion. I am out of ideas, unfortunately>  Pam  P.S. This is for Paul, I finally called someone to come to the house and take a look at the tank. <Excellent idea. It will be good to get that visual second opinion> It was difficult finding him, but none the less he'll be here, next Thursday, UGH! <Send me an update. Not attached to the email for which you are submitting for a second opinion. If you put my name anywhere on an email it will get put into my inbox and I will almost never be able to move it on to someone else> I hope my tank can hold out that long! <Me too! ~Paul>  Here's his website >> www.seascapesaquariums.com

Dying Damsels Bob, <John> I have had a catastrophe in my 55 gal saltwater aquarium. But to make a very long story short, I have now lost 2 Blue Damsels in the last two days.  The third one looks ill as well. I have contacted my LFS and they have no idea. Tank parameters are: Temp: 76 degrees pH: 8.3 Alkalinity: 30 parts PPT Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 10 PPM Filtration is Emperor 400 and a Maxi-Jet 900 power head. I just got through a treatment of Kanacyn for what was believed to be "star rot" (I lost two sets of two brittle stars-04/08 & 04/16) I have also lost a 1-male Percula Clown, 2-Heniochus Butterflies, 1-Yellow Tank, 1-Rainbow Wrasse. All from what appear to be breathing disorders. (Red around mouth and gills)  I have called the biology department at the Oklahoma Aquarium, but they are unsure without examination, but they are unwilling to do and exam for fear of introducing some infection at the aquarium. (I understand and accept that.)  I have included two pictures of the Blue Damsel, maybe you can see something to help.  John McKnight PS: I just received you book today, but haven't gotten into it yet. I am looking forward to some very informative reading. <Well, nothing "jumps out" from the data presented... do you have a protein skimmer on this system? Has it any live rock in it? How long has it been up and going... and what other livestock are there? I suspect the damsels may have been "challenged" before your purchasing them... from the pix it appears the one is "breaking down"... this is very unlikely a "primary" infectious disease, but much more likely resultant from an environmental upset... perhaps having to do with the seastar losses. Do you use chemical filtrants? I might place some activated carbon (in a bag) in your water flow path. Bob Fenner>

Tank Wipeout--Where Did He Go Wrong?  I am looking for any help I can get! I am a beginner saltwater tank owner, and all the fish have died, but the invertebrates are still alive; I'll give all the information I can and maybe you can help me (please!): 75 gal. saltwater tank; Emperor 400 filter with BioWheels; crushed shell and live sand substrate, used ACT bacteria;<Am not familiar with this brand, but the only commercial products shown to work are Bio-Spira Marine and maybe Fritz-Zyme #9.> no skimmer (maybe this is one of the problems?); <Get one.> cycled with 7 damsels and one hermit crab for a month; Added 4" Humu Picasso Trigger, 3" Maroon Clown, blood red shrimp (subsequently eaten by Trigger) <Totally expected.> ,and a starfish; Have been regularly testing water since we began (all have been within normal ranges) <zero ammonia? zero nitrite?>. Trigger and One damsel began rubbing for about 3 days; Added 25 pounds of live rock (from aquarium store, already cured), but had to travel 1 hr. before putting in tank. 3 fish died overnight (maroon clown -with no previous signs of distress- and 3 damsels); symptoms (all very quickly):  -fins became ragged  -loss of appetite  -hiding  -rapid breathing  -inflamed gills  -loss of color  -then, died  Actions taken:  -Tested water (all normal-pH, nitrate, and nitrites, but ammonia was 0.1) Changed carbon filter, transferred inverts to another tank, treated with Coppersafe (said it was safe for biological filters and "good" bacteria) <Nonsense. How does copper distinguish between good and bad bacteria? Just like any antibiotic, it kills indiscriminately>: Will this affect the live rock?, <Yup, may well have destroyed it by contaminating it.> also did 40% water change  and gravel vacuum, later put inverts back in (all still alive) <I hope they stay that way--any copper may kill them.>  Had already ordered 3 tank bred percula clowns from the internet, so we acclimated them to the tank. Within 24 hours, all dead, but one fish (a damsel) and the inverts. Whenever the fish died, we tried to remove them as quickly as possible, but one was lost, and we found it under a rock after it had been dead 24 hrs.  How could this have been avoided? <Study, and patience.> with a protein skimmer? Do you think this was a parasite/bacteria, due to poor water quality? Could the live rock have too much dead bacteria in it and poisoned the water? Would the CopperSafe treatment have killed the live rock (it hasn't changed appearance)? <Maybe worse than "killed." If it continues to leach copper, you may have to get rid of it.> Could phosphates be a problem? <Unlikely> What should we do now? How long should we wait before trying fish <At least 8 weeks.>, or would we need more drastic changes? Thank you so much for any help you can give, it is very much appreciated! Stephen <I read & responded to your identical forum post as well. ( http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=31&thread=18667&tstart=0&trange=30 ) All of the points made by others there are valid. Read every word in the two books I suggested there before spending another dollar. You will be glad you did. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Issues with tank - 3/16/04 Hello Paul, back again with some more bad news. My Lion fish died. <Man, I am so sorry> I stopped dosing, little food, <increase food amounts so fish aren't starving. Be sure to feed to each fishes needs. I am sure you are doing this.> water changes weekly, <Excellent> water movement as good as 4 powerheads, 0ne skimmer, one powerfilter and airstone can give. <Move the airstone to the sump or remove it completely. This is unrelated, however> Blue/Green algae, STILL, out of control! <Takes time, Pam.> Diatoms, STILL, creeping and taking over my glass. <Have you tested your make up water for phosphates? Carbon and filters cleaned out if any? Sounds like something else is contributing to your algae problem. Direct sunlight? Old carbon or filter cartridges, sponges, something like that. What about phosphates or something in your water used to mix saltwater with or even freshwater top off water?> This afternoon:   a..   dKH =8.3 down from 8.9 yesterday <Fine>   b..   ph is 7.5, down from 8.2 yesterday <A PH drop that large in 24 hours is very extreme.>   c..   Salinity is 1.021 <A bit low as well. Stabilize this.> Believe me, I'm dumbfounded and quite upset. <I am with you. I am running out of ideas to tell you> First my Flame Angel, then the Yellow polyp colony now my Lion Fish. What's next? <I don't what to say to this. I would find a maintenance company or a aquarist from a local club and start trying some in place troubleshooting> I cannot keep the system stable! Why????? What is making the ALK fluctuate??? AND the ph!!? <I don't know, Pam outside of the things/links I have stated to you in past correspondences. I wish I could be there to help you out but am limited in the internet ether> (Deep breath) Please, my tank needs help. I don't want it to get wiped out. <Seek help. You can try writing to wetwebmedia and do not put my name on it or ask help from Bob directly. You will likely get the same answers as you have had from me. Try the various reef boards. You will get many opinions from many sources fairly quickly. Try a local reef club and or a store you trust. Sorry for the lack of assistance. I don't know what else to do. ~Paul> Pam

Mystery deaths 3/26/04 Hi guys,  Have a small favor to ask in regards to my problem.  I sent pics of the setup and wondered if u had received them???? In regards to the favor, no offense is meant to anyone but could u possibly have Bob or Anthony review this problem????  I have talked with Bob personally in the past and really trust him completely.  I have NEVER had this problem before and the only thing that seems to be alive is brown hair Algae.  As I said, no offense is meant to anyone there by this request and hope nobody takes it that way.  I know your all volunteers and u do a fantastic job.  Thanx much.  Bob <cheers, Bob - alas, I regret that I cannot offer any new insight on your problem. Little information provided. But do stay the course with water changes... truly so: dilution is the solution to pollution! Anthony>

Time for the big guns to help with a messed up tank - 3/17/04 Okay Paul, I hear all that you say. I do indeed think something else is happening in my tank. <I'll say> I think I will look for a local maintenance company to troubleshoot. <I think this is best at this point> This has cost dearly in animal loss, not to mention money, I think it's time to call someone to my door. <I agree.> As far as the water I age to put in the tank,........ I don't know if it has phosphates. <Take it to a pet store that can test for phosphates or even a water store> I have no phosphate tester. <well??? Take it to someone first before buying one> Also, I don't use top off water, I do so many water changes it really has no time to evaporate. <Are you sure? Likely always some sort of evaporation. Oh yeah, before I forget.......bring the salinity up to 1.025> I also have no sump, but I'll take the airstone out. <I think a good idea> Yes, the pH drop was dramatic, no clue to this Paul. <Many reasons, all which have been stated or linked to> I do have sun hitting the tank in the morning for about one hour. Do you think this is so bad? <Well, let me put in some anecdotal experience, when I close my blinds and the afternoon sun no longer can reach my tank I don't have diatom issues. When the sun is allowed to touch the tank.....I have diatom issues> I can close the blinds. <I would do it> I thought the corals would like it. <They would, but it is to a point of diminishing returns if you catch my meaning?> I wonder what a maintenance company will charge me, oh boy,.......... here we go. <Deal with them. Get a free quote. Outline the problem areas. Have them give you some ideas and then cost to fix them> Um abraca pra voce, e muito obrigado Paul, my wet web friend, it's nice to have you. <Nice of you to be part of it all> Will keep you posted. <Please do ~Paul> Pam Rapid Fish Death In the time it took me to send the attached email, my clown has perished. <Yikes! Sorry to hear that...> I am concerned about what may be going on in the tank.  Last night at 2300 hrs, everything was fine and this morning at 0800, everyone (except the shrimp) is on death's door. As I mentioned, water quality seems great.  The only thing that changed was the addition of the cleaner shrimp last night.  I introduced very little LFS water into my tank when I added him (after floating etc).  Could something nasty have been in the water?  I've never had a problem with this LFS.  The shrimp seems fine....... <Hard to say. Sudden fish deaths like this can generally be attributed to just a few things, namely, environmental lapses, toxic events, or extremely virulent diseases, such as Amyloodinium ("Velvet"). You indicate that your water parameters appear to be in line, so the conclusion may be easier to reach. I didn't get your first email, but it sounds like your clown (assuming that he was not a new acquisition) may have acquired a disease. The typical signs of a virulent disease, such as Amyloodinium are rapid breathing, listlessness, a fine "dusting" of spots on the body, excessive mucus, etc. Do some research about this deadly parasitic disease on the WWM site, and take action as necessary. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Growing Pains (Dealing With Problems In A New Tank) Hi Scott <Hi there!> I now have lost my coral beauty as well, had my water tested and you were right- it isn't a water quality problem. <Thought so> I think the last two fish maybe had the disease which caused this sudden outbreak. I will do a water change today and hold of buying any new fish for a while. The spots that I mentioned on my glass are apparently due to calcium deposits and are nothing to worry about. Should I just leave them, since they look cool, or should I brush them off? <No harm in leaving them if you like the look> Will my brown algae eventually go away in time as the tank matures, if I wipe the glass today it seems to be back in a few days, same story for the last few months. <Brown algae, and all nuisance algae, for that matter, can best be eliminated by addressing the source of the problem, which is generally some nutrient accumulation of some sort. With time and careful attention to nutrient export processes, this can be greatly reduced or eliminated. These blooms are common in newer systems...All part of the process of establishing the tank> Thanks. Regards, Ziad Limbada <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

Tank Problems 2/8/04 Bob here again;  Appreciate the reply Adam.  The tank was running great for over a year and everything was growing well.  The Sarcophyton had more than doubled in size, the Xenia's had split two or three times etc.   The nitrates were >10 when the dino outbreak occurred.  Will add another 10-15 lbs of sand as you suggest. (Maybe time to change out some of the rock too?). <IMO, rock doesn't have a life expectancy.  Unless it is exposed to some kind of toxin or is exposed to very high nutrients that can adsorb into the rock, it should be fine indefinitely.> Was using Reef Crystal but that didn't seem to dissolve well so switched to Coralife, which I've used in the past and seems to dissolve much better. Will bring down the sal as you suggested..   <I am not much of a fan of Coralife products in general, and their salt in particular.  IO, Reef Crystals, Kent, Tropic Marin and OmegaSea are all excellent choices.  Some undissolved material is common in salts that mix up to high calcium concentrations.> Spoke to the LFS here in Sacramento (Capitol Aquarium)  and he said the live rock probably went bad to the core and went septic, leaching toxic substances into the water. <This is nonsense.> Tried some Poly Filter in the water flow of the fuge and after 4 days it's still white.  He seemed to be trying to sell me Fiji rock at $8.00 a lb. (Nuts). <It is a good sign that the poly filter stayed white.  They generally turn colors quickly when exposed to organics or metals.  That rock price is quite high, particularly considering you are on the west coast.> All water is RO/DI and left standing at least two days with a power head and airstone stone. <Before or after mixing with salt?  It is very important that newly mixed salt water be allowed to "age" at least a day or two before use.> Am also using Chemi-Pure to help treat the water.  The timeline I gave you is the way that it happened.  Tested the water last night and the results were Temp=77, Sal 1.028, PH =8.3 amm<.5 nitrate and nitrite=0 Org =very low pollution using Salifert tests and Phos .03.  There is also some brown algae which started to grow on some of the rock and on two rocks there is what looks to be a green grass growing.  Not like hair algae more like grass.  Water circulation comes from 2 Rio 400 mounted on the top sides and facing each other, the return from the fuge pointing to the left rear and the return from the skimmer channeled into a bubble trap.  A small amount of tea colored skimmate is being produced.  Sorry to be so long winded but do appreciate the reply.  You guys have always come through in the past and you're very much appreciated.  Thanks.  Bob <Ammonia should never be detectible.  Do check and maintain proper calcium and alkalinity to help coralline algaes out compete nuisance varieties.  All else sounds like it is in order.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Mystery Fish Loss & Flow Unbalance (3/7/04) <Sorry for the delay. One of the crew is out, so I'm helping to clear his inbox.>   I have two questions I hope you can help with about the same system: The system is a 72 gallon bow front with a crushed coral substrate and 75 pounds of Live Rock CPR Skimmer Emperor 400 Filter 150 gallon rated three chamber Wet/dry with overflow box Custom Sealife Lighting 300 Watt heater Two 165 GPH Power heads for circulation <Nice set-up.> Test kit says nothing wrong except approximately 100ppm of Nitrates <That high of a level could be the source of your problem> 1 Lunar Wrasse (large) 1 Yellow Tang (Medium 1 Clarkii Clown 1 Coral Beauty Angel 1 Regal Blue Tang (small) 1 Blue Striped Butterfly (Large) 1 Brittle Star <Too many big fish for your small tank. For instance, the Lunar Wrasse and the Regal Tang need at least 120G as they grow.> In the last two weeks all but the Wrasse and Yellow Tang have died off. <Sad> I have no idea what is wrong and need your help.  Any ideas? <Hard to say. The nitrates could have weakened them for enough something else to get them. Perhaps they were stressed by not having enough space. Both are active swimmers. The Wrasse especially needs a lot more space than it has in a 72G with 75# of LR. Even the tank is pushing it at that size.> The second problem is restoring the balance between the tank and the wet/dry. <The nitrate factory.> For months it had a perfect balance, then I messed up and tried adding water into the sump and the tank became fuller.  Since then I have not been able to restore the balance between the main tank and the sump.  The tank slowly gains water at a rate of about a half gallon per day. <Scary. Imbalance is always a flood waiting to happen.>  How do I recreate the balance so that the main tank no longer gains water? <Need more details of your plumbing. What sort of pump returns the water to the tank? It sounds like the pump is working faster than the overflow box. Is it a siphon overflow? Perhaps there is air built up in the tube and slowing the flow. Or maybe something else is clogging it.> Any help would be tremendous.  Thanks in advance <Hope this helps. One of the plumbing-minded crewmembers may be able to help if you give more detail. You may also want to talk to the dealer who sold you the system. You can also get lots of suggestions by starting a thread in the equipment forum at the WetWebFotos chat site.>

Fish Death Follow-Up (3/8/04)   Thanks. <You're welcome.> The only surviving fish are the Wrasse and the Yellow Tang along with the Brittle Star.  The ones that died are the regal, the Coral Beauty, the Clarkii, and the butterfly. <Oh, sorry. It was late and I some how got the casualty list reversed in my mind. Four dead fish--I know that hurts.>   To summarize your advice as I understand it:   The lunar wrasse and the yellow tang are all that the tank can support.  Do not add more fish to these. <Or get a bigger tank. The Wrasse would be happier. You might be able to add a couple of smaller fish. Another Coral Beauty ought to be OK. Skip the Regal and the Butterfly. Also, take a look at the Long-Nosed Hawkfish or other smaller wrasse-compatibles you could have a couple of.>   With the live rock, Emperor 400, and CPR skimmer, I don't really need the Sump (look out E-bay). <Probably not, though a sump/refugium would be nice. Do you have a deep sand bed? If you remove the wet-dry, do not remove the BioWheel and do not add any fish for several weeks. Study the issue more before you decide. Consider seeking a variety of opinions on the WetWebFotos chat forum.>   The fact that the die off occurred shortly after the feeding of the (possibly) spoiled food is a coincidence.  Two events occurring one after the other do not have to be part of a cause and effect relationship.<A common human logical error is to assume that sequential occurrence means causation.>  If that is what you are saying, it is a relief to me. <I suppose the old food could introduce a pathogen into the tank or throw the system out of balance (if there was a lot of it), but I strongly doubt "Food-poisoning" in the human sense.>   Thanks a lot. Roman Levit <Hope this helps, Steve Allen>

Mystery Fish Death Follow-Up (3/7/04)   Thanks for the advice. <You're welcome, Steve Allen again> The Wrasse has been in that tank for several years <old age perhaps> (I bought the tank used and he came with it) with the same live rock and filter setup (minus the wet/dry).  The yellow tang has been there for about six months.  Everything was fine for about three weeks after I added the final fish (Blue Striped Butterfly), the only thing I can think of is that I left the frozen food I feed them out (in a closed container with tank water for melting) an extra day.  Could the food have spoiled. <Yes> And the fish died of food poisoning? <I doubt that. Many fish in the sea eat all kinds of dead/decaying matter with no ill-effect.>  So with the Wrasse and Tang surviving can the tank support a new Clarkii and Coral beauty (smaller) or am I full? <You are full, and your Regal will eventually feel cramped. A I previously stated, this fish need at least 120G. Also, the current Clarkii and Coral Beauty are very unlikely to accept these additions to this small tank.> Prior to the butterfly joining the mix they had all been together for over three months and seemed fine. <That's not really very long.>   The plumbing is a siphon overflow box, with a 1" single hose from the tank to the sump and a 3/4" return. <A flood waiting to happen.> The return pump is a 500 GPH pump that was recommended by the dealer. Do I even need the wet/dry? <No, not if you have a deep sand bed and live rock. This would be adequate biofiltration. With these, if your skimmer produces well, the wet/dry is mostly a nitrate factory.>  Will the emperor 400 do the job and help avoid the nitrate problem? <The main value of the Emperor is mechanical & chemical (carbon) filtration. It's Biowheel is a contributor to the nitrate, though not nearly as much as the wet/dry.>  Is there a different filter setup you can recommend? <I do like sumps, but as refugiums and as a place to keep the heaters and skimmer. However, I would never use one that depends on a siphon. Search WWM for more on siphons and overflow boxes. A drilled overflow is much better. Read the plumbing FAQs or start a thread on WetWebFotos to get additional input.> Thanks again, Roman Levit   Great book by the way.  It was a huge help for me at the beginning and is still a useful reference. <I'll pass your tanks on to Bob. I agree with you. I read every word in it before I bought anything.>

Skittish Fish Thank you very much Scott, If it's ok with you I will indeed call on you for help & assistance as I evolve this FO into a reef tank. I can think of no better source for an unbiased opinion. <Thanks for the kind words. We're glad to be here for you! Feel free to call on any of us at WWM as the need arises!> Unfortunately, I lost my regal Tang which was 5 1/2 yrs old but I think it may have been shock rather than whitespot that killed him, as he more or less dropped dead (two hours after being carefully netted) when put in the QT tank although there was only 5 or 6 spots on him at the time....... <Sorry to hear that...> Anyway, I digress. Thanks for the info on the white creepy-crawlies on the front glass. There are literally thousands of them now, although minute. I am using the "Kalk Slurry" method of calcium dosing and this method seems to be working a treat, as my calcium levels are very slowly creeping up. I have some calcareous algae growing and although I still have some hair algae on the live rock I believe this is too diminishing. So thank you for that one. <Actually- thanks to Anthony for the technique!> So, to my question of the night to you. The four fish I have left in the (180g +30g sump) tank are :- 5" Queen Angel, Fireball Angel, Yellow Tang, Lime green Wrasse, oh and Herman the German! (Blue legged hermit) Even though the batfish is out of the tank (in QT now for 2 weeks) The fish seem to be very "skittish" For want of a better term. (were the same with Batfish in there) If anybody comes in the room, or even if one is in the room and moves ones arm too quickly even approaches the tank to feed the fish, they dart suddenly into the back of the tank and are reluctant to come out whilst any-one is in the room. This has been  like this since day one (approx 6yrs). Could it possibly be one fish causing the others to "dart" , i.e.. making the first move and scaring the others or could there be some other reason? <Could be> This has bothered me for years now and I really am looking for an answer. I would normally think ammonia or poisoning of some sort but this has been a 6 year thing even with a total tank and system change two years ago.  I sincerely hope you can shed some light on this one for me? This is driving me nuts.....You may know what I mean......" oh do come and have a look at my nice fish"     He says to a visitor      "What fish? asks the visitor, quite obviously thinking I'm not the sharpest blade in the block!! <Hah! Sometimes, you just get a fish or two that are nervous, and simply freak everyone else out when they panic! It's tough to be certain, as there are many possible causes of skittishness in fish. In my experience, the problems seem to be environmentally triggered. A lot of times, depressed pH can be a problem, as can lack of circulation, aeration, or even high temperature...Many possibilities-lots to investigate. Do a complete "work up" of your tank water, testing all basic parameters, and see if your answer lies there. Hopefully, that will be a start. The answer is out there- you just have to find it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F> I thank you all so much for the help you have given me so far. I do hope you can shed some light on this usual question. Cheers. Simon

- Problems in New Tank - Hi there my name is Kelly and I just decided to make my 55 gallon tank a salt water. I waited about three weeks and put in 10lbs of live rock with a synthetic coral tower (it comes out of the water) and I just purchased 2 Percula clowns, 2 Maroon Clowns, 2 neon blue Damsels, and 2 Domino Damsels. I tested the water prior to putting them in and everything was great but the pH was a little bit off. It read at 7.8 when it needed to be around 8.2. I ran to the store and picked up Proper 8.2 Ph. So when I put them in the tank they were having a blast getting out of the tiny tank they were in at Petco. Anyway, that night all the fish except the Percula's and one Maroon were laying on their side and breathing really hard. One of the blue Damsels was doing flips and being thrown around by the current. I thought I was going to lose all four Damsels and one Maroon.  So I took my water to Petco and they tested it as well. They said everything was just fine with the water.  So I am stumped. I thought I did something wrong being an amateur, and was wondering if the difference in pH was the result of this behavior. <A possibility... there are several. Do think you added too many fish at once, and this would be another complication. You didn't mention anything about your acclimation of these fish so that is also suspect... although in general, I don't recommend Petco ever as a good source of marine livestock. Also... could use some more information about your tank - filtration, circulation, aeration... these all matter and would help me to diagnose.> This was all in a 24 hour period. This morning after I was really worried so I got up early and they seemed to be coming around but still swaying back and forth, and swimming in circles. Can This pH adjustment permanently have wounded them or messed up their systems. <Yes... if too drastic a change between the system they came from and the system they went into.> Can you give me any information on this behavior or was I just stupid for putting them in the tank with the pH that low. <Don't think it was stupid - an honest mistake... do tell more about your system and acclimation and we'll try to get to the bottom of this.> Sincerely, Concerned in Colorado. Kelly <Cheers, J -- >

- Tank Problems, Follow-up - J. <Hi.> Thanks much for your reply. <My pleasure.> The nitrates were between 10-20 and the temp was 78 which probably fueled the diatoms. <Probably not... diatoms are usually fueled by other things - nutrients, lighting...> The life in the rock died out when the fish and other critters died so I'm guessing it did go septic on me an was leaching toxins in the water. <Possible.> Stuck some poly-filter in the water flow of the refugium (empty) and it's still white so it's not taking anything out of the water. <A good indicator.> I acclimate my fish first to the temp by floating the bag in the water and then changing out a portion of the water in the bag about every 15 minutes but I don't think that was the problem as all of a sudden the whole system crashed without anything being introduced.  All the fish died after I put new sand and re-cured the rock.  Guess I'll just have to start out completely new rock and all. <Old rock should still be useful - will be seeded by the new rock.> I have a friend who has some Caribbean rock that I can get for around three a lb so it isn't too bad a loss except for all the livestock that died (and my wife's acceptance of my hobby and the money I spend).  Ain't life a B.? <Sometimes.> Oh well, again, thanks for the reply and I know that you guys are a great bunch of people who volunteer your time for our benefit and it's greatly appreciated.  Take care my friend. <And you as well. Cheers, J -- >

Tank Problems 4/2/04 Need some help pretty bad. <That's what we're here for! Sorry for the slow reply.> Running a 34 Gal reef w/ 40lbs of live roc, 40 lbs of live sand, BakPak 2 protein skimmer and Aqua Fuge refugium (18")  Lighting consists of 4x 55w 10,000k pc lamps.  Tank was running fine until I had a brown slime algae problem.  Probably diatom. <Hmmm...  Brown slime?  Sounds more likely to be dinoflagellates.  Dinos look like stringy brown snot with trapped bubbles.  Diatoms usually look dusty or carpet-like and no bubbles.> Nitrates were too high.  Did partial water changes but no help.  Used Chemi Clean according to instructions and it pretty much cleared up the problem but didn't do the water change afterward until too late.  Lost two pulsing xenias, a large elephant ear, green mushrooms, green stars, a clown and a blue Damsel in a matter of days.  <Yikes!  Drastic treatments like this often lead to huge disturbances in water quality.  With the amount of rock you have, I am surprised that your nitrates were too high.  If your sand is less than 3-4" deep, you may want to slowly increase it to at least 4" to improve the nitrate processing ability.> Tried doing a 100% water change and within an hour two new fish additions died.  Breathing was very rapid.  Since then I recured the rocks for three weeks, cleaned them off, put new sand in and used a brand new batch of water.  RO/DI.  Waited about another two weeks and all tests showed zero using Salifert tests.  Tried another two damsels with the same results as before.    Waited another few weeks and on 02/24/04 tested the water with the following results;    Temp=80    Sal 1.028 using a refractometer    PH 8.3    ammo/Nitrite/Nitrate/Dissolved Solids and silicate =0 and Phosphate =.03. <How long did your tank run problem free before all this started?  What brand of salt are you using?  1.028 salinity is a bit high.  Slowly lower it to 1.024-1.025.  When you performed large water changes, did you mix the salt water and aerate/circulate it at least over night before adding to the tank?> Tried two more damsels today and results were the same as before.  Rapid breathing and death in an hour.  Any ideas on what to do?  Hate to go with the expense of all new rock and sand but can't figure it out.  The protein skimmer and refugium were cleaned during the time that the tank was down using a 1-7 ratio of Clorox and water, rinsed out well and allowed to air out for about a week before they were used again.  Also cleaned all the pumps etc in freshwater only.  HELPPPPPPPP> <These sorts of problems are often difficult to track down in this sort of exchange.  If there is a marine aquarium society near you or a very reliable local fish store, you may start there.  Otherwise,  provide us with a detailed timeline of what happened, including the name brands of any products used, actions taken, etc.> Thanks again for your help.<Best Regards, Adam>

- Tank Problems - (Jas' turn) Need some help pretty bad.  Running a 34 Gal reef w/ 40lbs of live roc, 40 lbs of live sand, BakPak 2 protein skimmer and Aqua Fuge refugium (18")  Lighting consists of 4x 55w 10,000k pc lamps.  Tank was running fine until I had a brown slime algae problem.  Probably diatom. <Probably.> Nitrates were too high. <What does this mean? What is high?> Did partial water changes but no help.  Used Chemi Clean according to instructions and it pretty much cleared up the problem but didn't do the water change afterward until too late.  Lost two pulsing xenias, a large elephant ear, green mushrooms, green stars, a clown and a blue Damsel in a matter of days.  Tried doing a 100% water change and within an hour two new fish additions died.  Breathing was very rapid.  Since then I recured the rocks for three weeks, cleaned them off, put new sand in and used a brand new batch of water.  RO/DI.  Waited about another two weeks and all tests showed zero using Salifert tests.  Tried another two damsels with the same results as before. Waited another few weeks and on 02/24/04 tested the water with the following results; Temp=80 Sal 1.028 using a refractometer PH 8.3 ammo/Nitrite/Nitrate/Dissolved Solids and silicate =0 and Phosphate =.03. Tried two more damsels today and results were the same as before.  Rapid breathing and death in an hour.  Any ideas on what to do? <Not really... not enough information here... how you are acclimating the fish for instance. Doubt the Chemi-clean is the problem here - the number of water changes you have executed should have solved that problem - could run some activated carbon to be sure, but still, so suspect either something wrong with the new live stock - which happens - or something wrong with the way your are acclimating the new fish.> Hate to go with the expense of all new rock and sand but can't figure it out.  The protein skimmer and refugium were cleaned during the time that the tank was down using a 1-7 ratio of Clorox and water, rinsed out well and allowed to air out for about a week before they were used again.  Also cleaned all the pumps etc in freshwater only.  HELPPPPPPPP. Thanks again for your help. <Cheers, J -- >

Mystery Deaths (2/17/04)   Good day all,  <Good evening.>   I am writing for some advice on two unexplained fish deaths last night, Flame Angel, 3 months, and a fire goby, 2 months. <Sorry to hear of your loss.> Here is the background... 55 gal 4" sugar-sized sand bed ~10 gal Rubbermaid sump with skimmer 4X96 PC's AquaFuge refugium with 5" of sugar-sized sand <nice product> ~70lbs LR Salinity: 1.023 Temp: 79 PH: 8.4 ammonia: 0 Nitrite: <.2 mg/l  <even small amounts of nitrate can be harmful> Nitrate: <10 mg/l DKH: 14 GH: ??? ( Test would not register anything. Problem??) <These tests can be hard to use, especially if you're not using high-quality ones.> Additives:  Seachem reef calcium twice a week, Kent Marine Strontium and Molybdenum, Kent Marine Iron, and "Kalk" once a month. <Read the articles/FAQs on WWM regarding additive use.> Inhabitants: Colt Coral 2 Leathers Star Polyps Button Polyps Hammer Coral Brain Coral 2 Feather dusters Brittle Star 2 Clowns Yellow tail Damsel Neon Goby   I do a 10 gal water change every two weeks with RO water. The fish looked fine the night prior. <Had you changed the water just before they died.> The others look fine now.  I also lost a cleaner shrimp a few weeks back. Same scenario.  I am a little worried about the GH test.  Should I be? <What brand?> Its one of the tests that you add the drops.  Each drop equals one mg/l. I stopped at 50 drops with no change!!  Is the dKH too high? <8-12 would be better.> Any help or advice is appreciated.     On another subject, I was looking at the refugium last night and noticed 4-5 small brittle stars.  Do they need any specific feeding or can I add a pinch of flake food to the 'fuge every so often?  <No need to add anything, the tank will feed them.> Thanks again. Ron <Hope this helps a bit. It can be very difficult to figure out why seemingly health fish suddenly die. Keep an eye on the survivors and don't replace the dead ones until you feel comfortable that things are stable and conducive to good fish health.>

Marine livestock losses... Hi guys! I feel really bad about my marine set-up. I have been having the worst of luck ever since the start. My fishes seem to die suddenly and mysteriously. I feel really down about what's happening and very, very guilty. <Hi Ken!  Adam Here.  Let's see if we can get to the bottom of this and alleviate some of your guilt!> My clownfish just died two days ago. The day before that, he was eating very very well and had no sign of aggression, sickness, lethargy etc. he was perfectly healthy visually and in his behavior. <hmmm...  Very odd.> I also had a whiteface surgeon that seemed perfect a month ago. Was very mobile, ate a lot of Nori, worms and pellets. He was like that until I found him lying stiff the next morning on the aquarium bed. <These are very difficult and demanding fish.  This loss is much less surprising than the clowns.> Here are my specs: 140g tank - 2 x 30g sump. 200 lbs of LR 1" crushed coral bed 2 x 30" 25w Actinic 1 x 40" 25w NO Tetra PH, Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate test kits as well as thermometers and salinity testers. Livestock 1 - 3" Elephant Ear 1 - 2" Clarkii Clown 1 - 1" Yellow Damsel 1 - 3" Bi-Color Angel 2 - 1" Green Chromis 2 - 2" Spotted Cardinals 1 - 2" Desjardini Sailfin Water exits via 3 - 1" siphons from a surface skimmer to an overflow box. Two 1" pvc pipes bring the water down to two 30g sumps connected in series. Sump1 has additional liverock and I plan to add a 4" sand bed once I find a place which sells Aragonite sand. Sump2 holds the return pump, some pieces of Fiber for physical filtration and a QT Otto 2000 for my skimmer. I have a Sedra 20000 return pump which pushes water to a 5' head which probably is around 1,000-1,500 gph. I have a 4 foot DIY venturi and wood stone combination skimmer that collects about a cup of dry to slurry skimmate every week. <Living in the Philippines, I would think you would have a ready supply of coral sand!  If you can legally collect some fine grained sand, just rinse it free of silt and it would work fine.> I water change 20-40% every two weeks. Our water is of a deep well source and I have been using Marine Mix Salt for 5 months and just recently moved to local salt that is produced here in our town which I supplement with Tropic Marin BioCalcium with Trace Elements. Been doing this for a month now. The way they produce the salt is by sun drying sea water, collecting them in pans and rinsing them through physical filtration. This salt is sold as table salt and has no additives whatsoever. <Yikes!!  Such salt is NOT appropriate for aquarium use.  The process used to produce this salt removes most of the elements that were present in the original sea water except the sodium chloride.  Supplementing with trace elements and BioCalcium cannot adequately restore those elements.  Please do change back to a suitable aquarium salt and do several large water changes. After changing back, I recommend using the BioCalcium as directed and no other trace elements.  Best Regards.  Adam> I feed my livestock 2-3 times a day and the coral every two days. For the fishes, I alternate between sera marine pellets, chopped shrimp, Nori and blood worms. I feed  the coral a blendered mixture of fish, shrimp, Nori and clams. My lighting schedule is: Actinics on @ 9am, NO on @ 10am. NO off @ 8pm, Actinics off @ 9pm. My water hovers around 28-30deg C depending on the day. They vary from day to day because of the unpredictability of weather here, though there are no sudden jumps. I am really baffled what's going wrong. Here are my hunches: 1. Could they have been cyanided? I am aware of how inhumane our suppliers catch fish here. That's why I buy from reputable stores such as Bioresearch. Though they cost double the price, it helps the movement and hopefully contributes in some way to the destructive practice. 2. The deep well water might contain some heavy metals that might be poisoning the system. Is there anyway to find out? 3. Predator. I have emailed before regarding an unknown invertebrate that looks like the picture I sent attached. No one can seem to identify what it is. That is not a string in the picture. It "IS" part of the creature which I estimate to be a 12" long. It's like a stretching thing with two fingers at the tip as I've outlined in the second attachment. I have noticed two more of these things on two other parts of my LR. They are smaller (4" long though they vary since they stretch.) I hope can help me out on these. My dad wants to move back to Freshwater but I'm not giving up on my learning yet. Again, many thanks in advance. Ken Millan Philippines

- Strange Happenings - I have a 150 gal tank. The same 11 fish have been living happily for years together. Within the last three weeks the following events took place: A hermit crab was introduced to the tank. The person who services my tank spilled salt on two starfish and burned off parts of their legs. The crab then ate the starfish because they were injured. A small pump that I had in the tank for water circulation stopped working. The water started turning green. My serviceman replaced about 1/4 of the water. All chemicals testing out normal. All of a sudden - virtually overnight - the fish stopped eating, started hiding all day long and are very listless. This has now gone on for several days. I have cut down on what I was feeding them. When I do feed them they eat little to nothing. The fish involved are: Naso Tang, Maculosus (sp?) Angel, 3 Hepatus Tangs, Yellow Tang, Flame Hawkfish, Maroon Clown, Dottyback, Green Bird Wrasse, and a Niger Trigger. I feed them frozen formula two, brine shrimp plus, Mysis shrimp and prime reef. I alternately add Zoe and Selcon and use B-Ionic daily. I am totally clueless as to what is happening and what, if anything I can do to save these beautiful fish. Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated. <Do think that the change in water quality was the catalyst here. Given the amount of time these fish have been in the same tank, whatever did occur regarding the green water and associated change in water quality came as a bit of a surprise for the fish. I'd try a couple more large [25% or so] water changes and the fish's behaviour will likely return to normal.> Sincerely, Stephen Wayne, IL <Cheers, J -- >

Mystery Malady? Hi, <Hi there. Scott F. with you today!> I am a big fan of your site, and use it to answer most of my questions.  I have a 90g tank that has been up since early Oct. One week ago, we added 4 Banggai Cardinals to our tank, which already included a black sailfin blenny, a yellow tang, a royal Gramma, a flame angel, a false perc and a host of small hermits and few corals.  I did not QT the cardinals first, unfortunately. <Uh-Oh...learning experience, huh?> One immediately looked darker, and was breathing heavily.  He never ate and died two days later.  We never saw his body, and therefore could not fish him out. Two days ago, my Gramma stopped eating, hid all day and just died yesterday. His mouth looked discolored (darker) and he looked a little bloated, but other than that looked OK. Today, the other three remaining cardinals have stopped eating.  The cardinals look darker, but other than that, no outward signs of illness.   All of the other fish look OK at this point, but I'm very worried there is something seriously wrong in there. <You have every reason to be concerned. There could be a number of possible diseases in there. I'd err on the side of caution, and remove all of the remaining fish for observation> I am getting hospital tank equipment today, and plan on removing the cardinals for treatment.  Any suggestions on what to do in the hospital tank, AND the main tank if necessary? <Well, before attempting treatment, you will need to determine exactly what you're dealing with here. From the symptoms you describe, it could be anything from a parasitic illness to some type of internal bacterial infection. My advice is to get everyone out into the hospital tank. Ultimately, if disease manifests itself, you'll be able to see what develops. Do not treat in the display tank!> I don't have any idea what could be wrong. Thank you so much!  Jodi <Well, Jodi, I'd only be guessing here, so you really need to continue to observe the fish, and review the disease FAQs on WWM to see if you find an illness described in which the symptoms match the ones that you are observing. Take appropriate actions as required, or feel free to call on us if you need further input! Regards, Scott F>

Fish Disease And Problems (1/30/04) Dear Crew: <Greetings. Steve Allen tonight.>   I currently have a lot of problem which I cannot solve. I have a reef tank, 125 gallon and it has a vlamingii tang, couple of Chromis/damsels and a pair of bicolor Anthias, and also a adult blue-face angel. I quarantine my fish and dip them with FW before they are in display. <Good.>   Anyway, I recently see my Blueface angel having some white stuff only on his fins, (the fins near the gills have white dots and white stuff on edge, bigger and more apparent than ick, and other fins have white stuff sticking on the edge of the fins), but all other fishes are not affected, other than that the angel did not have any visible spots on body or other parts of the fish... so I suspect it is not velvet/whitespot... can u please tell me what it is and a cure that can treat? <Hard to say without a good picture, but is sounds suspicious for fungal infection or perhaps lymphocystis. You might want to search on these to see some pix. Another good source of diagnostic and some treatment suggestions is the "Manual of Fish Health" by Dr. Chris Andrews.>   Also, since I changed to a new skimmer (from AquaMedic T1000 to Precision Marine CV426) I seen some red slime algae start growing on some of my rocks and sandbed, it used to be just brown diatom... would this mean a decline in water quality? <Probably> because my tank is established for 1 year and diatom was always a problem after I change my sandbed to a different oolithic sand.. Would this mean the skimmer not doing its job?? <Possibly. How long have you been running it? Is it putting out a good quantity of disgusting gunk. Precision Marine has a good reputation.> Would increase in organics brought these sickness in the angel? <Decreased water quality certainly contributes to all manner of ailments.> Also my vlamingii tang has cloudy eye for a day after the new skimmer is installed, then improved after.. is that caused by increase organics?? <Possible. Hard to say. If it's better, then no worries now.> Is there a way to correct this?? <tune your skimmer.> my NO3 is 25% using Salifert and all other parameters are in normal zones. <Are you saying that you have an ammonia and nitrate of zero? This is the only "normal zone"--zero, zilch, nada.> Please help ASAP as I am very worried about my angel. <Do check out the resources mentioned. Test for phosphate and remove if no zero. Get the nitrate down a bit more. These are fertilizer for the algae.> Lastly, I am thinking of upgrading my existing PC lights (4X65W + 1 NO 40W) to 2 250W HQI setup, how would this affect my tank? a lot more algae?? <Will aggravate any algae problem present. The lights you need depend on what you want to keep. Ample articles on WWM to explain. Hope this helps.> Eric Re: fish disease and problems Eric: I have forwarded your inquiry to Bob for a second opinion. Yes, lymphocystis is contagious, but I doubt that's what this is at this point. I am more suspicious of a bacterial or fungal infection that will need to be treated in a QT. As for phosphate remover, this is usually a resin of some sort that is kept in a bag until it's absorptive capacity is depleted and then it is removed. Are you adding some sort of chemical? Steve Allen Dear Steve, I am still unable to get a snapshot of the white stuff on the blueface's fins, but do they start small and gradually get bigger? I notice this morning the Blueface is breathing very rapidly, (150 per minutes) and tonight he is opening his gills to let the cleaner shrimp to clean it. he did not come out to the open very much today, he is still eating though. Is the lymphocystis affecting the gills?? how can I help? ... I put a extra bag of carbon in the sump to improve water quality (lower organics?)... can I do anything to help him? maybe lower the temperature to increase oxygen content or add a air pump? <Both these last two are a good idea> today I have also notice my vlamingi tang having one single white stuff on the tailfin.. is lymphocystis contagious? <Can be... more appropriately, the causes of Lymph are common... that is to say, poor water quality, a lack of nutrition, general stress is a common causative mechanism> lastly, can I ever put too much phosphate remover into water? <Possibly. Some types of chemical filtrants are not benign chemically... best to use other means (disallowing initial introduction through source water, foods, substrates...) and biological removal through photosynthates like macro-algae for limiting phosphate> please reply ASAP because I have a juv emperor and a regal in QT and I need to know for sure what to do before I release in display... I do not want to lose all 3 angels... <... You're placing all three angels in one tank? I do hope it is a very large system... at least a thousand liters. Bob Fenner> thanks Eric

Fish Disease And Problems (1/30/04) Dear Crew: <Greetings. Steve Allen tonight.> I currently have a lot of problem which I cannot solve. I have a reef tank, 125 gallon and it has a vlamingii tang, couple of Chromis/damsels and a pair of bicolor Anthias, and also a adult blue-face angel. I quarantine my fish and dip them with FW before they are in display. <Good.> Anyway, I recently see my Blueface angel having some white stuff only on his fins, (the fins near the gills have white dots and white stuff on edge, bigger and more apparent than ick, and other fins have white stuff sticking on the edge of the fins), but all other fishes are not affected, other than that the angel did not have any visible spots on body or other parts of the fish... so I suspect it is not velvet/whitespot... can u please tell me what it is and a cure that can treat? <Hard to say without a good picture, but is sounds suspicious for fungal infection or perhaps lymphocystis. You might want to search on these to see some pix. Another good source of diagnostic and some treatment suggestions is the "Manual of Fish Health" by Dr. Chris Andrews.> Also, since I changed to a new skimmer (from AquaMedic T1000 to Precision Marine CV426) I seen some red slime algae start growing on some of my rocks and sandbed, it used to be just brown diatom... would this mean a decline in water quality? <Probably> because my tank is established for 1 year and diatom was always a problem after I change my sandbed to a different oolitic sand.. Would this mean the skimmer not doing its job?? <Possibly. How long have you been running it? Is it putting out a good quantity of disgusting gunk. Precision Marine has a good reputation.> Would increase in organics brought these sickness in the angel? <Decreased water quality certainly contributes to all manner of ailments.> Also my vlamingii tang has cloudy eye for a day after the new skimmer is installed, then improved after.. is that caused by increase organics?? <Possible. Hard to say. If it's better, then no worries now.> Is there a way to correct this?? <tune your skimmer.> my NO3 is 25% using Salifert and all other parameters are in normal zones. <Are you saying that you have an ammonia and nitrate of zero? This is the only "normal zone"--zero, zilch, nada.> Please help ASAP as I am very worried about my angel. <Do check out the resources mentioned. Test for phosphate and remove if no zero. Get the nitrate down a bit more. These are fertilizer for the algae.> Lastly, I am thinking of upgrading my existing PC lights (4X65W + 1 NO 40W) to 2 250W HQI setup, how would this affect my tank? a lot more algae?? <Will aggravate any algae problem present. The lights you need depend on what you want to keep. Ample articles on WWM to explain. Hope this helps.> Eric

Smell my Finger?  No.. Smell my Tank! >Hi, I'm got a big problem, and I'm hoping you can help. I've asked everyone else in my city, and gotten so many different answers. >>I'll give it my best, Susan. >After years of running a 30 gallon long marine aquarium with an undergravel filter, power head, Fluval canister, protein skimmer, I decided to buy a 36 gallon corner aquarium for a certain spot in my living room. >>Ok. >I transferred all my existing items into the new tank, including the existing crushed coral substrate and some of the water from the old tank, as well as about 20 gallons of freshly mixed Instant Ocean. The ammonia/nitrite spiked a bit the first day then dropped. >>Ok, this indicates that there was loss of nitrifying bacteria. >The nitrate then spiked really high. >>Alright, this would indicate the end result of this spike.  Unless you have a good amount of live rock or other means of denitrification, this is to be expected.  Your foam fractionation helps by pulling organics that would otherwise decompose, but right now you're trying to find a balance. >Within two days of the change, however, the aquarium has become really, really cloudy and smells like eggs. >>Ok, Susan, there are two "egg smells", and one of them is rotten eggs.  If THIS is the smell you smell, you released anaerobic pockets with the move is my guess.  At this point, LARGE (as in complete, 100%, total, ENTIRE) water change(s) are necessary.  I would be surprised if anything that requires oxygen for its life processes has survived this. >I've never seen anything like this.  Four days after setting up the aquarium, all of the nitrite, ammonia, nitrate levels are within safe ranges, but the cloudiness and smell remains. >>The cloudiness (could we call it milkiness?) is free-floating bacteria.  They've clearly got plenty of nutrients to use (thus the "safe range" readings), or they wouldn't be there.  We really like to know a few things, though, specific to water tests; those are test kit brand, tests performed, and specific readings.  If the kit is a year old or more, then I would suspect veracity of readings.  If it is a cheap kit, then again, I suspect veracity.  If it has been stored in humid, or non-temperature controlled environs, again, suspect veracity.  If you smell rotten eggs, I would suspect you have anaerobic conditions.  You don't mention maintenance regimen, nor whether or not you've changed/cleaned the media in the canister.  Begin a regimen, but do not change out everything at once.  Do a complete water change, then wait a week.  Then clean part of the canister, wait.   >Also I had only two damsel fish, two star fish and a hermit crab in the tank, and everything has since died except the hermit crab. >>Ah, a shame.. I didn't think much would survive. >I've asked every fish store in town, and gotten a variety of different answers. One guy told me to just leave it alone and it would eventually clear itself, but that's driving me crazy. >>That smell cannot be ignored as a sign.  What he's thinking of is "new tank syndrome", not at ALL uncommon in situations as yours, but it never demonstrates the stink.  Without the smell, I would agree with him. >I can't stand to look at it, and it breaks my heart to kill fish. >>Indeed. >What can I do? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Susan >>As above.  Now, specific instructions regarding substrate, at this point, do NOT vacuum it when you do the w/c.  I would remove the crab to a bucket or some such with fresh water (matched for temperature, pH - pH is VERY important - and salinity).  Then get to work on the tank.  I'll suggest SeaChem tests, they're here in the U.S. and most tests have good availability.  Make sure the skimmer is working properly (I would think you'd know whether or not it is since you've had it all this time).  Then, once you get the situation squared away, begin a fishless cycle.  This is done with a small bit of raw shrimp or similar seafood, placed in a bit of old pantyhose and left to decompose.  Test as usual, watching for the progression of spikes and drops, and once you're at zero ammonia and nitrite, you're cycled and ready for fish.  Marina Ending it all - 1/24/04   Hi guys, Right now  I am very very annoyed!!! <Sorry to hear. What's up?>  You see I have a 75 gallon tank with only a tang, a clown, a cardinal fish, and a wrasse. <Okiday>  Sounds ok but not if you've gone through 9 fish. <Whoa! OK. Back the truck up here, how old is this tank and when was your last death??>  All which died from freak accidents. <Does happen from time to time>  e.g.. sucked up in power heads, <That is why power heads are such a pain> tank temp gone up. <Hmmm.... Any idea why this happened or at least what actually was the cause? I use an AquaLogic dual controller - one with the heater connected to one side and the other side connected to a fan (or better yet a chiller)> So anyways I cant take this anymore and am thinking of selling the tank. <Hold on here.... have you at least learned from your mistakes? I totally understand getting frustrated, annoyed, angry, saddened, and depressed over the loss of our pets and the various charges in our care, but this is a hobby based on experience. It takes time to learn what works and what doesn't. I too, have experienced moments of doubt and regret over this hobby for many reasons. (actually quite frequently) Deaths, ethical issues, expenses, time, and of course the stress of it all drives me to self doubt and thoughts of selling it off and letting it become someone else's problem. When I really sit down and think about the joy of the science, the beauty of the animals, and all the people I have met and had the pleasure to discuss the hobby with, I actually come around to the conclusion that this is a wonderful experience and it makes me a better person for doing it. I have been thoroughly educated on the plight of the ocean and its inhabitants, I have become a diver and seen many wonderful cultures in far off places and some of the most magnificent reefs on earth, met a few of my best friends through this hobby, and more times than I can count exhibited extreme excitement for what wonder my tank may next hold within, and all of this makes all the loss, frustration, and stress worth while. It is a marriage of sorts. You just need to find some middle ground and talk yourself through what you like and dislike about your situation.> Do you think I should do this or just live with stress of things dying....<I think you need to look at what the issues are and do your best to prevent them. There is more education, not only on this site, but at your local reef clubs, forums, websites, and books. Get involved. Learn from experiences (your own and others) and educate yourself for the what the future might hold. Create a plan (what it is you want your tank to look like, what it will cost, and how much time it will take to maintain) then execute with some diligence and patience mixed in. Scott, I would re-evaluate, find the issues and try to prevent them. Think beyond the fish and the environment the best you can. The decision is yours my friend, just do your best and with time comes knowledge. Keep your head up in all you do. ~Paul> Scott.

Sudden Troubles (1/23/04)    I have had my 45 gal SW tank up and running very well for 3 years. I have 3 bubble tip anemones (started as one and reproduced) <cool!>, several mushrooms and button polyps, a feather duster, a maxima clam and a newly introduced Fiji Leather. I also have 2 clowns, a tang, a Pseudochromis and 50 lbs of live rock.    One week ago I replaced my old Eheim filter with a new Fluval. I kept some of the media as to not disturb the tanks biology. A few days after the switch I noticed my all my inverts suffer, however the leather never totally acclimated. What is weird is that the suffering/closing seems to begin the same time every day, around 3 hours post-lighting. <Odd> The clam and my fish are the only inhabitants that seem to be unaffected by this disturbance.    I tested my levels and found that my Ph was a little low so I got it up to 8.2. I also noticed my Nitrate was around 40+, so I am in the process of semi-daily 10% water changes. My SG is around .023.  Can you think of what may be causing this disturbance. Could it be the leather coral sending a distress signal? Why do you think it occurs the same time every day, and why all of a sudden? Could it be the new filter? <I'm suspicious that the change led to an increase in nitrate that is affecting the coral. In the absence of other imbalances, I'd get this down and see if that helps. If not, get back to us for some other ideas.> Any advice or insight would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you, Chris <Hope this helps, Steve Allen>

- Tank Disaster - I did send another message, but I haven't heard back, in several days. I'll send this one!  My tank is 75 gallons, fish only. I had no problems from the water testing. It was tested after the water was changed. We had it tested at a pet store, not the one we usually go to, but this was the closest and fastest. They said there were no signs of nitrates, nitrites, or ammonia. The only thing that showed up was low ph. My husband said the man said it was 6 something. I called my pet store, that we couldn't get to before they closed, and told them what was happening. They said there was no way the ph was 6 something. <Hmm... actually, a pH of 6.0 is within the realm of possibility and one of those things that warrants a double-check. It is a fatally low pH for saltwater organisms and needs to be addressed if found to be true - double checked.> We do water changes every month, we have crushed coral, and she said that she really did doubt it was that low. <No sufficient reasons there for me to doubt it was that low.> The guy at the other pet store told my husband to buy some drops and put them in the tank. It would raise the PH. The girl at our pet store said not to put anything into the tank. We went with her advice, since they've always given us the good advice. She suggested we get a carbon filter pad and a poly filter. We got the carbon filter, but nowhere near us had the PolyFilter. The fish store we go to is over an hour away, and there was no way we could get there before they closed. Puffy died that night. But, we changed the water again, because our fish store said it might help in combination with running the carbon filter. Puffy was swimming until we did this. The second water change, he was on the bottom. He  laid there for some time, then died. The water became incredibly cloudy for 2-3 days after they all died. It was weird. <Hmm... well, if there was a significant amount of change - say if the pH was 6.0 and you changed it as a result of the water additions to 7.0 - that would be enough to kill your puffer. Saltwater fish aren't especially good at dealing with quick, drastic changes - if you think about it for a minute, your/our fish tanks are tiny beyond tiny when you compare them to the oceans of the world, which cover two-thirds of the planet - things don't change there quickly or often and even when they do, the fish can swim away... not so in our tanks. Quick changes in pH, salinity, temperature and the like can have drastic results.> My husband had checked the salt level right after we did the first water change. I had added the correct amount of salt when I mixed the buckets, but when we did the water change, our reading said it was at .014. I knew that was way too low, we tried to mix more and balance it out. It got up to .016. Then the next day, we got it up to .017. I know this is stressful, and I'm not quite sure how it got that low. We used Crystal Sea salt, and we always do. We've never had a problem with salt levels before. It's my fault though, I had been checking it, but it was always in the .022 area, and we never had to adjust it before. I know this probably was a dangerous situation, but I can't imagine it killing them like it did. They were doing weird things very early in the water change. Obviously, I will be much more careful. The dechlorinator I use is Aqua Plus. <If I'm not mistaken, the Crystal Sea salts have a built in dechlorinator.> It is not Amquel. I did speak with the town water people where we live. They said they use Chlorine, but if we use a dechlorinator there shouldn't be problems. Strange though, this may be coincidence. <When you are making your own saltwater, you need to let the stuff sit for about 24 hours before using in the tank.> A friend of mine has a 55 gallon fresh water tank. I told her what happened to me, and she said she did a water change that day, and her water was cloudy. Then, a couple days later she said one of her fish died. She lives in the same town I do, with the same water. We are going to our fish store this weekend. They will test our water, but I'm sure whatever was in there is gone now. Our salt levels are fine, and we are planning to start over with damsels. I am not very happy about this. I'm thinking of getting water at the fish store. I really think this whole thing was some sort of poisoning. <Possible, but unlikely... again, if you let your water sit for a day or more before you use it, you should be all set - please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm > When the puffer died, his eyes were completely clouded over, and his fins were ripped. <Sounds like issues with the water quality - perhaps the low pH.> They had red on them. He had no signs of this before the water change. I actually talked with our vet about this, and even though she doesn't do fish, she thought it was something poisonous in the water. <A pH of 6.0 could be considered poisonous.> We did save the bodies. Gross, I know. But, we are taking them to the fish store, to see if they see anything strange. <Likely won't be able to tell anything definitive without a necropsy and examination under a microscope - well beyond the means of most fish stores.> If you have any idea what happened, let me know. <I'm still very curious about the low pH.> I know it is hard to say, since you aren't here, but if you have any possibilities! We want to avoid this in the future. <Buy your own, good quality test kits - don't rely on other people or their stores being open to make your own determinations about water quality.> Since I am getting ready to basically start over, any recommendations? <Don't cycle with fish - use live rock.> Thanks, Trish <Cheers, J -- >

- Hard Time Keeping Fish - Hi yet again crew... Wrote you before about the Rabbitfish, and the wrasse, with the wrasse dying....  Anyway, the Rabbitfish died today.  It was fine this morning when I left.  I got home and it was lying on its side (always a bad sign).  Took water measurements, and all was norm (ph 8.2, SG 1.0215, ammonia 0.25, nitrite 0, nitrate 10).  It died while I was taking readings... The rabbit seemed to be staring at it's reflection in the back glass, because it was looking towards the back, with its spikes up for the last 2 days before it died.  I have the normal light blue backing on the QT, and have never seen the same behavior from the other (many) rabbits I've had in the same QT. I'm convinced there's something wrong with my QT setup.  I've lost literally dozens of fish.  They either die on arrival (within 24 hours), or within 2 weeks. <Are these all from the same source? If you use the same store for your livestock, could be something about their source - perhaps they trans-ship.> Always very suddenly. And they look very healthy and vibrant on arrival. I've tried cycling the QT beforehand with shrimp tails, and not cycling the QT.  End result is always the same. Dead suddenly within 24 hours, or sudden death (i.e. fine 8 hours before) within 2 weeks. <Again, would look to the actual source of the fish first, then to something you are doing... for example, do you smoke cigarettes? Do you always wash your hands before you put them in the tank? Very common to drag other contaminants into the tank via your hands - nicotine is a genuine fish-killer, many other household cleaners will do the same. Would look to localized issues that may create toxic tank conditions.> Oh, QT setup is 15 gals, 2 little air driven Hagen sponge filters (I've put them in the sump of the display for 3 weeks, or new filters, doesn't seem to matter), Skilter.  Anything I should look for? It's getting frustrating, 1 year, no fish... -- rob  I'm at wit's end trying to figure out what the problem is. <You might want to try with some cheaper, tougher fish - perhaps some damsels to work out some theories about what you might do differently to get these fish to stick around. Cheers, J -- >

DESPERATE (sudden fish losses and cloudy water) I wanted to provide an update to this message I sent last night. Puffy died.  I am not getting this. Well, I knew he'd probably die,  but the tank looks like a smoke bomb went off in it. We usually have extremely clear water. Nothing is showing up on the water tests done at the fish store. At least puffy was swimming. When we did the water change hit was at the bottom, and didn't get back up. I don't want to do this again! I need restart advice. Our tank has been up since last March. Thanks Trish Brian <Trish, sorry to hear about your further loss.  Please do answer all of the questions that I asked in our previous exchange and we will try and figure this out.  Without a lot more information, I have nothing to base any advice on.  Adam>

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS (Fish losses) 1/19/03 <Hi Trish.  Adam here.  It will take some additional information to get this figured out.  Did you have your water tested before or after the water change?> Water was tested after the change. And three of them were already dead. I took it to pet store, for double check on readings. Everything came out in the normal ranges. Nothing high. <Having and passing on *actual values* is very important!> The only odd test, which I do not own myself, and had to rely on the single pet store reading was PH. My husband took the water, and they told him the PH was in the 6 range. He didn't have any idea of what to ask about, this is only what they told him. I was able to contact my pet store - the only reason we didn't go there to begin with is they are at least 1 hour from our house, and we wouldn't have made it by the time they closed. She said based on recently doing a water change, and crushed coral in the tank, there was NO WAY our PH could be in the six range, and this guy was nuts or my husband didn't hear him correctly. <I agree that it is suspect that your pH was so low, but it is possible and would be lethal.  I also strongly suggest owning and using a pH test kit.> He tried to get him to buy some drops to put in the tank and said it would take care of the problem. We didn't do that. I was on the other phone with our fish store who said not to do that. She said get some carbon and PolyFilter and run those instead and do a water change. <Generally a water change is good advice, but since it seems to have started your problems, I am not sure that is what I would have suggested.  The pH should have been corrected immediately, most easily with a marine aquarium buffer (not usually sold as "drops").> But, the Salinity after the 1st change was VERY low. It was at about .014 and, and then we raised it to between .016-.017. Even with that horrible low rating, it shouldn't have killed the fish that fast. We mixed the saltwater correctly, and it was mixed. We used regular water from the tap. We always do. <If you mixed the water correctly, how did this low salinity occur?  What kind of hydrometer do you use?  Although such a drop in salinity wouldn't be lethal, it would be stressful.> We used Aqua Plus, made by Nutrafin. it's not Amquel. It says removes Chlorines and Chloramines.. <Not familiar with this product, but doubt it had anything to do with the problem.  To rule it out, please do check the pH of a water sample before and after adding this product.> <What were the all of the actual results (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, Alkalinity, Salinity)?  Please list the brand of salt mix you use and any additives that you use.> We used Crystal Sea salt. <This salt is notorious for mixing up cloudy, and some aquarists have had bad experiences with it.  I would strongly suggest measuring the pH of this after mixing to verify that it is appropriate.> <Do you use R/O water or tap water, and how do you treat it?  What is Aqua Plus?  Do you mean Amquel Plus?  Was the water you used for the changes cloudy, or did the tank turn cloudy?> The water didn't get cloudy until after the three were dead, and then it is even cloudier tonight after the last one died. <Not sure what is going on here.  Any odor?  Is the cloudy water green, white, muddy looking?> <When you had a similar event in the past were the fish's symptoms the same?> The fish symptoms were similar, but they lasted over a series of days instead of dropping dead this fast. The one thing that was most similar is the cloudiness in the water. Even when those fish were sick, I took the water to my fish store and they tested it and everything was fine. That time the salinity was in the .022 range. <It is possible, but unlikely that the skimmer is part of the problem.> For your extra knowledge, I did call the local water people in our town.  They said they have no knowledge of any extra chemicals that may be present and there are no signs of any higher levels of any heavy metals. But, odd that this happened. A friend of mine lives in the same town, on the same water source. She has freshwater fish, in a 55. I'd told her my story two days ago, and she had done a water change that day. Her tank was clouded too. Nobody dead though, yet. <No knowledge of any extra chemicals?  Extra to what?  All public water contains a wide variety of chemicals.  Some are beneficial, some do nothing and some are harmful.  The levels of heavy metals that are considered safe for human drinking water can be dangerous to marine life.  Your friends cloudy water at the same time as yours is suspicious, though.> I cant think that it is anything except a poison. There is no way most conditions are going to cause fish to die that fast. I can see where it may affect them over time, but not that fast. I noticed a change in my damsel within hours, if not minutes. He never acted weird. He survived the first wipe out.  The puffer was the worst, his eyes were clouded over, and he had red streaks on his fins. I felt really bad for him. <I disagree.  Something went wrong with your water change.  The combination of a sudden salinity change and the low pH certainly could have been lethal, and quickly so.  The problem may not have been so severe last time and that is why it didn't kill as fast.> I did keep all their bodies in the freezer to take to the fish store. Maybe they can think of something. They are really good, and have never given us bad advice. You guys seem to be the experts, and I wanted an opinion from you! Thanks! Trish <Your local fish store will most likely not be able to tell you anything from the frozen corpses.  Please do let us know if we can be of any more help.  Adam>

Some advice pls (Fish losses) 1/19/03 Dear Adam, seems like I have another problem arising in the tank. my fish are dying one by one everyday. there are some red slime over the live rock. could this be the source? I have just finished reading the faq on the site. my main question is whether the equipment on my system are adequate. I was told that the system should be as simple as it can be. <Simple is good, but some basics are mandatory.  I doubt that the red slime is killing your fish, but both problems could have the same cause.> pumps: I have got 6 power-head pumps each about 150 watts. in which three of them are in the back of the filter, and the other three inside of the tank. there are 4 plumbings on each side of the tank and the other two are pretty straight forward to help make current. the water is moving in a clock-wise direction and seems all corals are moving. should I make any changes here? <If I remember correctly, this is a 3000L tank.  If this is the case, it sounds like you will need much more water movement.  I am guessing that the power-heads are 150gph not watts.  Please calculate the total number of gallons or liters per hour of water flow.  This number should be at least five time the tank size, and some aquarist have as much as 10-20 times!> lighting: 5 metal-halides @300watts each. 8 marine-Glo, 2 power-Glo, and 2 Fluora from Osram. Since I have some direct lighting from the sun, the MH is turn on for 5 hours. <Lighting shouldn't be an issue for the fish.> filtration: simple overflow system, without skimmer and other high-tech stuff.  what would be the best for me to do now? <Probably increase the current and add a skimmer.  Red slime usually occurs in places of low water movement, high nutrients and low redox.  A skimmer and some more water movement will improve all of these.> Cheers,.. Hann <Best Regards.  Adam>

Follow up to fish losses 1/20/03 I never really thought about all those factors before. I noticed our fish store is no longer carrying that salt when we were there. They have something else now. We have decided to go with buying our water from the fish store instead of mixing ourselves. We also considered buying the grocery store water and mixing the salt. The water is supposed to be purified, but I need to make sure what is in it. Purified may have many meanings. Any suggestions? <The water from your Grocery store is probably R/O, but may have passed through copper lines.  You also don't know how well they maintain the system.  An R/O system would probably be a wise investment.> The only reason we'd not go with the fish store, is back to my saga of the place being an hour away. You were right, the pet store didn't see any abnormal signs of death. I didn't provide you with actual measurements on the nitrates, nitrites, because my husband didn't get them when he went to the store. The guy told him they were all normal. <Normal is very subjective.  I strongly recommend that you have test kits for at least Ammonia, Nitrate, pH and alkalinity.> We are starting over. The water is now fine with 3 damsels. A little bubbly because of the protein skimmer. Not sure I like all those teeny bubbles in the water. Maybe we aren't doing it right. Any words?  Thanks! Trish <How do you know the water is fine?  Do you have test kits now?  The bubbles from the skimmer are probably normal.  Sometimes they go away with time.  If you don't already own one or both of them, "The New Marine Aquarium" by Mike Paletta and "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Bob Fenner are great beginner books.  Best regards.  Adam>

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS (follow up to fish losses) 1/24/04 We did take the water to our fish store, and they tested it. Nothing is wrong. No ammonia, no nitrates. Salinity .23. Fish showing no signs of stress. <I strongly suggest investing in some test kits to have at home.  pH, alkalinity, ammonia and nitrate are the most important.> I keep one of those sticky things on the side of the tank that is called Ammonia Alert. It is supposed to change colors when there is a problem. I change it right before the water change. I will get the tests, but his are more accurate. <The ammonia alert is a great tool to detect a sudden problem, but aren't very sensitive.  Most hobby level test kits are very good, and unless your fish store has very expensive, professional type kits, they are no better.  Even if they were, the advantage of testing yourself (faster, more often), far outweighs a small quality advantage.> I do have the Conscientious Marine Aquarist.  I lost a bunch of fish, then I bought the book.  I had it for about 4 months. I hadn't lost any fish since I read it until this point. It's quite interesting, because with my readings, of various sources, I have noticed quite a variety of opinions on the whole Saltwater thing. Everyone seems to have an opinion. <There are many ways to "skin this cat".  Until you have more experience and better understanding, it is best to stick with one persons methodology.  When you  are more confident and experienced, you can develop your own way of doing things.> I may stick with the water from the fish store, I do know of one closer that I can at least get water from. <Probably not a bad idea until you get an R/O unit or can be sure of the safety of your tap water.> I read something about baking soda and PH, I don't want to just dump it in, but can you explain what I need to do? Of course, I'll get the test kit, but what is the baking soda thing? <Baking soda is Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO3).  It acts as a pH buffer.  Buffers are chemical substances that stabilize pH.  It so happens that Bicarbonate is the main buffer in sea water and stabilizes it's pH around 8.3.  When that buffer gets depleted, it loses it's ability to stabilize the pH.  That is why it is so important to measure alkalinity (the "buffering power" in the water).  Buffers made for salt water aquarium use are mostly NaCO3, but also contain some other substances.  My best advise is to use those products and follow the package directions.  Always dose conservatively and test the pH and alkalinity a few hours after any additions to allow time for them to equilibrate.  Best regards.  Adam> TBrian

- Fish Die Off - I have a question regarding my saltwater aquarium. I have been having some serious issues with it over the past few months. I have had 4 fish die on me in a 4 month period, about one a month. They were a coral beauty, Sailfin tang, purple tang and Naso tang. I didn't notice anything on the angel before he died, I found him in the arm of a serpent star in my tank. The 3 tangs all had the same signs: rapid breathing, stop eating and would hide most of the time. The water quality of my tank is fine. <How do you know this? Last time I checked, there are more than a handful of water quality problems that cannot be practically tested for. In my opinion, this is where you need to be the most curious, doubt your own methods, and really explore what might be wrong with the system. Even so, you don't mention anything about pH, nitrates... other things that could be off kilter. Help me help you... provide some more information.> I have had the tank for about 5 years. I recently noticed that my canister filter was unplugged, I do not know how long for though. <That would cause some water quality problems...> Also, my protein had a small crack in the venturi. I replaced it with a new pump yesterday. I also have two powerheads in the tank. I was wondering if you have any idea of what it might be? Is there a chance that there was not enough oxygen in the tank? <Without much more information about your system, it's really hard to say - is the protein skimmer the only thing that provides oxygen to the tank? Is there a sump? How often do you change water? Were any of these fish new additions? Have you recently made any significant changes - salt/supplements/etc.? My very first suspect in situations like this is always water quality. It is the most common denominator.> Joseph <Cheers, J -- >

- Large Die-Off - Fish dead all over the place. The only survivor is my porcupine puffer. We did a water change, the same way we always do, cleaned the tank, and nothing but bodies. This is the worst disaster in my tank so far. I have never seen anything like it. This is massive. We have had the same damsel since we cycled the tank last March. He has lived through a lot of stuff. We noticed some gulping and strange swimming last night. The tomato clown was swimming up and down, instead of horizontally. The Clown Trigger was breathing heavy. Now they're all dead!!!! They were fine yesterday morning!!!! We installed and got our protein skimmer working last night, and did the water change. <The clue is in there somewhere...> I don't think that would have anything to do with it, but it's a little coincidental. <It's a lot coincidental. I'd examine both the way and method you used to install the skimmer and then also what if anything might have been wrong with your water change water.> I always leave my water to sit for 2-3 days, I put dechlorinator in it just to make sure, and I stir it to make sure the salt is dissolved. We did notice our salt level was low, and we added an additional bucket of saltwater and emptied out some of the old. <How low is low? What level was it before you changed? After you changed?> It is still low, between .016, and .017, but I wouldn't think that would kill them. <Typically not instantly or within 24 hours.> I had slacked on checking salt levels, because I had been very good about it, and it was always perfect. Stupid. I didn't want to raise it even faster because I was afraid that would place more stress. Our puffer is totally not bothered, and doesn't even seem phased. WHAT HAS HAPPENED? <Hard to say... you need to be the detective here, I can only go on what you tell me... not much information about the parameters of the tank.> Not that you know for sure, but I certainly want to avoid this in the future. We also found an egg at the bottom? It has to be an egg because it is perfectly round and translucent. It's a whitish pearly color with pink in the center. <I'd pull this mystery item out... find out what it really is.> This is the weirdest thing. WHAT DO I DO NOW? <Stabilize the tank... bring the parameters back up to spec... investigate everything.> One living thing left. <Am sorry to hear of your losses.>  PBrian <Cheers, J -- >

- Fish Die Off, Follow-up - My water: Salinity 1.022 Nitrites 0 Nitrates 20 Ammonia 0 Ph 8.2 My tank is 75 gallons.  I have a Eheim canister filter, a protein skimmer and 2 power heads.  I change the water once a month, 15 gallons.  The only fish that was new that died was the Naso tang.  No significant changes. There was also a huge increase in the amount of algae growing in my tank furry green algae and a reddish-black color on the crushed coral floor. <Hmm... no clues there. Given the age of this tank, have you ever swapped out any of the substrate or live rock... not that this is a direct cause for the mysterious deaths, but would be useful to promote the continued health of the tank. I doubt your canister was off for all four months, but if this filter provides any biological filtration, then you will have issues when the unit is shut off. Perhaps there is an issue with your water change water? Did the deaths coincide with the water changes? Hard to say what caused these fish to drop out... I'm guessing that a few of these you had for several years? Sorry I can't put my finger on anything more definitive. Cheers, J -- > - Snail & Brittle Star Problems - Hey guys, I read through a few pages of notes on your sight, found a few answers but not fully satisfied with what I could find so I am pestering you for more if you have time. All of my turban snails are upside down... I have turned them over but later on are upside down again. <I'm guessing they are falling off the glass.> I noticed my brittle stars are acting very odd as well. 2 are dead or at least in a coma of sorts. <Not sure what that means.> One zoanthids covered rock has been closed up for about week or so, but other zoanthids are open and fine. Feather dusters fish and Porites are fine too. I tested water as per sight recommendations and seems my ph is freaky high( or maybe I am over reacting) it is in the 8.2 to 9.0 range!!! <That's a pretty broad range... can you get a more specific number? If the pH is actually as high as 9.0, then that is likely your problem.> (10 gal mini reef.. weekly water changes and carbon change as well. Ro water is used, mixed with instant ocean salt a few days before and circulated. I had buffered with baking soda for a few water changes and am suspecting that is the problem. If I do a 50% water change without the baking soda will this bring down the ph? <Depends on the pH of the water going in, but would caution you against making too drastic of a change in a tank of this size... try not to move the pH more than one tenth of a point in either direction in a 24 hour period.> I am heading back into the notes in your sight after this but wanted to ask this now in case I don't find all the info I need.  Thanks for the ear to bend and the reply.  Pete PS: SURF is UP on the Kona coast!!!! woohoo.. monsters are rolling in!!! <Is what I've heard - Bob Fenner is there now, moaning about not being able to go diving. Enjoy. Cheers, J -- >

Lost our Toby-- desperate to save eel and trigger! Difficult to Interpret Message - My Best Try (but this isn't telegraph, mate!) >Introduced Harlequin Tusk Fish to tank with 32 inch Hawaiian Dragon Eel, 3" Huma Huma Trigger, 2" Valentini Puffer, Brown Bar Goby, Yellowtail Blue Damsel, and Gold Stripe Maroon Clown. >>With or without quarantine?  What size tank?  Filtration?  Because it was pretty? >Trigger chased Tuskfish who then developed ich. Did 25% water change and treated tank with Greenex (Malachite Green and Quinine Hydrochloride) for 5 days. >>Holy sheet, not the Greenex again!!  Not to mention the fact that you treated the display!  Must search WetWebMedia site!  Greenex bad.  Medicating display, bad.  Must use quarantine.  25% water change do nothing. >During that time lost clown and tusk; 50% water change; started treating with Maracyn (just read that you believe this to be useless...) for 6 days. >>Not Maracyn, that's a good antibiotic, it's Melafix that is Melabroken.  Antibiotic does nothing to treat ich.  Also, adding meds to already treated tank.. you've created quite a noxious mix! >During that time lost goby, damsel, and now tonight the Toby. Two nights ago we did 3 minute freshwater dips for the eel, Toby, and trigger. The trigger has slightly cloudy eyes and is still scratching himself against the rocks. Eel (is not eating-- but this is not unusual, tends to eat several days on/off) looks ok and trigger is still eating but we are worried that we'll loose them too. >>I hate to say you may, indeed. >All water levels are fine (nitrate has been slightly high). >>That tells me nothing.  What was tested for?  What kit?  What readings? >Considered taking the two to the fish store and boarding them in a quarantine tank or moving the eel to our 100 gallon reef tank (!! seems like a bad idea if the eel IS infected). >>Very bad idea to move to already established tank.  Get into quarantine.. use Rubbermaid tubs to create your own q/t if possible. >Then we'd break down the tank and get a whole new (bigger) tank. Can we use copper on the trigger? >>Yes, try hyposalinity and RESEARCHING!  There is SO much on our site and otherwise on good treatments for this disease.  Fallow the tank for 6-8 weeks. >We've read that you can't on the eel. >>Tricky, ESPECIALLY if you don't know what you're doing.  Requires very diligent testing.  I suggest STRONGLY: invest in refractometer, learn about hyposalinity.  Formalin is another good means of treating for ich. >Priority is saving the eel -- we saved him from a going out of biz fish store and he is beautiful and full grown and very nice (never bothers any fish...)  What in the world should we do? Thanks in advance for the help! -- Theresa and Jason >>Follow my instructions, and honestly, unless you have a guarantee that the shop's q/t is CLEAN, I would set up my own.  Search our Crypt FAQs, ich, marine parasite, there is SO much info.  Marina

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