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FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 7

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

Related FAQs:  FAQs 1, FAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, FAQs 5FAQs 6, FAQs 8, FAQs 9, Troubleshooting 10, Troubleshooting 11, Troubleshooting 13, Troubleshooting 14, Troubleshooting 15, Troubleshooting 16,

Dendrochirus brachypterus

Frequent Death (What Has Changed?) - 08/27/05 Hey guys, you've always been instrumental in helping me out with my aquarium problems, and I hope you'll be willing to help out again. <<I'll give it a try...>> I had a 46g bowfront tank that had been running for about 1.5 years that I recently (4 months ago) converted into a 100g tank.  While I changed out the substrate (from live sand to crushed coral) I kept most of the water and all of the live rock. <<I hope this "crushed coral" is less than an inch deep with good flow in the tank, else the substrate becomes a prime trap for detritus.>> However, I have been having a constant problem that I cannot resolve.  Water quality has always been optimal (by optimal I mean no nitrates, nitrites, or ammonia, PH 8.6 and stable and salinity kept at about 1.023.  The problem I have been having is that fish keep dying on me no matter what I do. <<This suggests water quality is NOT optimal.>> Ever since I got this tank my fish have been dying. <<Mmm...was this a used tank?...possibly contaminated with something?>> It started with my Mandarin Dragonet that had been alive and healthy since the beginning (I still have no idea how he survived the first couple months). <<Likely "just" survived.  More likely was slowly starving to death.>>   Since then I have lost the following fish: (1) Firetail Goby (1) Tomato Clown (1) Yellow tail wrasse (Coris gaimard) (1) Flame Angel (1) Coral Beauty As you can imagine these fish weren't cheap, but more aggravating is the idea that something is killing them. <<yes>> I set up a bristle worm trap tonight, but from what I know they are not that likely a culprit. <<no>> Is there anything you can think of that may be causing this.  I hate losing my kids. <<I would double-check the source of the tank.  Check to see if any medications or cleaning agents were ever used in it.  Also, I would get new/different brand test kits and retest water parameters.  If all was well in the previous tank, then carefully scrutinize "anything" that is different about this one (e.g. - substrate, the tank itself, etc.) Regards, Clay <<Good luck, EricR>>

Sudden fish death... Houdini piscines 7/31/05 Bob and crew, I've been reviewing your website for some time and would first like to thank you all for the vast amount of helpful information provided... <Welcome> My problem is this: Periodically, once or twice a year, I seem to lose a fish...  And by 'lose' I mean that he (or she) has pulled a David Copperfield, disappeared, vanished, never to be found again... <Sometimes fishes do just seem to "disappear"... die, dissolve, are eaten quickly>    The fish NEVER seem to show signs of illness (spots, fungus, erratic behavior, suicide note, nothing)...  I feed them every evening and watch their feeding closely (as I assume eating behavior is one of the best ways to diagnose the beginning of a problem)...  Not once have I seen a fish not eat before their disappearance...   My wife and I work during the day and the lights are off in the morning when I'm leaving for work so I cannot see if something develops rapidly and takes hold before the next evening's feeding...  Also, each time a fish disappears I make sure to test  the water (nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, and ph) and each time everything looks normal (on the good side)...  I always check the floor around the tank, hood area, skimmer box, sump, and never find them...  I don't have a cat but I do have a dog but she's picky and doesn't like fish (I don't think)...  I don't have any children and no one else watches the tank (not like anyone could actually catch a fish once it's in my tank anyway)...  The strange thing is when one disappears I replace it with the same species and within the next 12 months it disappears also...    Here's a rundown of my tank (established for a little over 5 years now, with 5 gallon water changes every 2 weeks): 75 gal 10 gal sump, Rio return pump Berlin turbo skimmer in sump 2 powerheads in tank with covered intakes 2 - 150 watt 6500K metal halide 2 - 48" HO actinic 2 - 1 watt moonlights (blue) ground probe ~ 100 lbs of LR ~ 2" sand bed (I assume it's alive by now but wasn't purchased that way) Livestock (standard): green carpet anemone (roughly 8" in diameter) <Mmm, this could be the culprit...> 2 false percula clowns (roughly 2" and 1" respectively) 1 yellow tang (roughly 5") 1 Gramma loreto (roughly 3" length and girth - he's obese) ~ 15 snails (turbo, astral, bumble bee) but I'm constantly replenishing the Turbos I had a lot of crabs (blue and red leg) but now only seem to have 1 super large blue one...  If I could pull his body out of the turbo snail shell he's walking around in I would estimate him to be the size of a half dollar piece... <These can/will dispose of a fish body post haste> small amount of green polyps, feather dusters, and Caulerpa... Livestock (disappearing): six line wrasse (usually small - between 1 1/2 and 2 inches) bicolor blenny (usually the same size as the wrasse) scooter blenny (same size as above) Weird stuff that has cropped up in the last 2 years or so: yellow polyps (?) searching your website it seems to be Parazoanthus gracilis - I now seem to have 10-15 patches of the stuff (each patch contains ~25-50 polyps)... green fuzzy tipped thingies - pics on WWM say it's Neomeris annulata - ~50-75 of them in 2 large groups white fuzzy spongy thingies - pics on WWM say it's syconoid sponge - ~75-100 scattered under rocks on the side of powerheads, the skimmer box, etc... had 1 Aiptasia but killed him with Aiptasia stop (or stop Aiptasia, whichever) very thin round wormy looking things that I believe are spaghetti or hair worms on (in) the rock and the sand - a lot, that's about all I can tell ya In the past 3 years I've gone through 3 wrasses, 3 Bicolors and 2 scooters (have never had the bicolor and the scooter at the same time)...  The other fish have been with me since the inception of the tank...  I've seen what looks like 3 moltings of the hermit (at least I hope it's the hermit)...  I think two have been within a few weeks of a fish loss... So now for my question: What could possibly be happening to my fish?  My LFS has no ideas...  My gut tells me something is eating them, but I have absolutely no evidence...  Is it possibly for a hermit to kill a fish? <Yes> Or are they dying of something and he's just eating the carcass? <Most likely this... otherwise, the rate of loss would be much higher... if there were a purposeful predator> Or am I way off base?  Anything else that I've described seem odd or out of whack?  Anything I should remove?  Any ideas would be greatly appreciated...  Yikes, I just went from 1 question to 6, sorry... Many thanks, Michael <I would not change out much... if you're happy with most all... perhaps try other fish species... that will recognize the anemone, hermits as potential consumers. Bob Fenner>

Mysterious losses of A's and B's 7/22/05 Friends at WWM, <Yay someone is my friend! ;)> I have yet another puzzler.  I have a friend who has a 65g tank.  He's got some 50 odd-lbs of liverock, a 3" Hippo Tang, 2.5" Flame Hawk, 2 Green Chromis, a 3" Maroon Yellowstripe Clown, assorted hermits and snails, a Black Brittle Star, a Cleaner Shrimp, and a couple polyp colonies. <The hippo tang has already outgrown that 65.  Find a new home for this guy>  His system is about 3 months old.  He has an Eheim Canister, a couple Maxi 1200s, an Ebo, 260 watts of PC lighting.  It's a pretty simple but well maintained system, and my friend is the kind of person who always uses gloves when he sticks his hand in his tank and tests his water just for fun not just when things are going wrong.  Aside from a slightly elevated heat problem (~84 in the day, ~82 at night) his water tests perfect.  No ammonia, nitrites or nitrates, pH is 8.2ish, SG 1.025.  On acclimation he does a 10-15 freshwater dip - pH and temperature elevated, and aerated.  He does not QT at the moment. <Always QT!> The problem is this:  In the past 8 weeks or so since he felt he was ready to add fish he has lost the following (in the following order) a 4" Auriga BF, a 5" Copperbanded BF (expected loss IMO), 2.5" Auriga BF, a Flame Angel, another Flame Angel, a Brazilian Flameback Angel (one that had been in my tanks for 6 months+), and most recently a Keyhole angel (another expected loss IMO).  The poor guy's favorite fish are all angels and butterflies, and every angel and butterfly that he has put in his tank has died in a very brief period of time.  Both Aurigas and Flame Angels lasted for over a week...long enough to get eating and established then promptly go belly up for no apparent reason.  The Copperband lasted for about a week, never ate and then died.  The Flameback...which I offered up as an indestructible fish for my discouraged friend died within 36 hours, as did the Keyhole.   Every single one of the fish, prior to it's demise, has been in perfect condition...fat, good color, no blotches or spots.  Almost all of them were in my tanks for at least 2 weeks before I let him take them home so it wasn't like they were fresh, fresh out of the ocean.  My theory was poor collection all the way until he lost the Flameback and now I don't know what to think.  It seems extremely peculiar to me that every butterfly and angel he puts in his tank no matter how healthy it seems makes it's stay among the living very brief.  All other fish and inverts (aside from 3 pincushion urchins) have survived beautifully.  What I'm really fishing for is ANY life threatening variables that I could be missing. I appreciate your input...and to draw from as many minds as possible could you forward this to some of the other crew? <After reading through this email, I'm still leaning towards poor/cyanide collection, and bad luck with the flameback.  However, you didn't list the rest of the water parameters.  Does the tank have high nitrates, or some nitrites?   These are things that could kill a new addition, but the current inhabitants could survive.  Has he noticed any of the current inhabitants bullying any of the new fish?  BTW, a 65 really isn't large enough for the adult size of a copperband...tell your friend to stick with pygmy angels>    Thanks a ton! <You're welcome> Scott Johnson Critter Cabana <M. Maddox> Help, everything is dying! Little clues to go on... 7/14/05 I want to say thanks for the site, I have found it very useful over the past year as I have started setting up my saltwater and reef tank.  But I have a dilemma:  I have a 40 gallon reef tank.  I have a sump and a protein skimmer, about 50# of LR, and a 3" sand bed and it has been set up about 8-9 months.  After I had it set up for 3 months, I had a ammonia spike that killed almost everything, <"Had" an ammonia spike... from?> but since then everything has done well until now.   Until a few days ago, I had: about 10 snails, 8 red-tip hermit crabs, 5 blue-tip hermit crabs, a scarlet-skunk cleaner shrimp, an emerald crab, a blenny, clownfish, 4 assorted damsels, a fairy wrasse, a Porites coral, a candy-cane coral, and a giant clam.  Everything was doing well in my tank, but I was afraid the detritus might be getting out of hand, because I had an Ophiomastix annulosa brittle star and a tiger-tail sea cucumber (sorry for all the lay names) that died in my first ammonia spike.  So I went to the store and bought 2 more brittle stars that appeared to be the exact same as the first one I had.  I believe they are also Ophiomastix annulosa stars, but at night, in the moon-lights I have, at least one of them appears to hunt.  I had them about 3-4 days, and when I went to bed everything in my tank was fine.  The next day, I got home from work and the fish, emerald crab, and cleaner shrimp were all dead.  The only living fish was my ocellaris clown.  The clam, corals, snails, hermit crabs, and brittle stars were all fine.  All the info I have found say that brittle stars (except the green brittle star) are fish-friendly.  I was wondering if you've ever heard of this happening before? <Heard of? Fish dying? Yes... Other predatory brittlestar species? Yes>   The next night my clown fish died, and I am now completely fishless, and every few days I find a hermit crab that is dead. On the dead animals, I can find no lesions or lacerations, and my corals, clams, and snails are fine. However, since the attacks, in my overflow box and my sump a white foam (like in my protein skimmer) has appeared. <Likely resultant... not a/the cause>   I have checked my alkalinity, my ph, my nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, phosphates, and salinity, and everything checks out fine. <Now...>   Please help me, this has been a very discouraging, very expensive last few days, and I'm wondering if I should dig through the LR and try to get these brittle stars out of the tank or if the white foam is an indicator of something wrong in my tank?  If you know how to help me, let me know. Thank you! <... there is insufficient information presented here... your gear, history of the set-up... It's obvious your system was overcrowded... perhaps underfiltered... I would start... from the beginning, reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm re set-up... and look for a local "guru", perhaps at a fish store or club, who can/will come over and check out your system... Bob Fenner>

Re: Rapid gilling, listless fish - dying? 7/28/05 Greetings, WWM crew!  Sorry - I have to apologize.  I call the PVC piping in the QT "rocks" because it's faster to type...but it could be a bit confusing!  My apologies.  Also - I use Instant Ocean salt mix which is mixed up a week in advance and held, aerated, circulated, and heated in a large 50 gallon Rubbermaid container in my basement.  Thanks! <I am including this additional information in a single reply along with your original question.> I'm at my wits' end and about to conclude that I purchased a poor specimen, though I watched at the store as he ate, swam about happily, displayed all the proper behavior, and looks good.  My Royal Gramma was purchased 3 weeks ago and installed into my 10 gallon quarantine tank (Thank goodness for QT!).  I do daily R/O water changes and testing.  Parameters: 10 gallon QT R/O Water Salinity: 1.022 pH: 8.2 Ammonia:  0 Nitrite:  0 Nitrate:  10ppm Temperature:  steady at 80 degrees F. Sponge filter retrieved from sump of 90 gallon main tank, 3 PVC T-connectors for hiding in/behind.  Food = Marine Cuisine, frozen brine shrimp, flake, frozen mysis shrimp. The chemical tests were done with two different test kits and the results were the same. He's been doing great for the three weeks I've had him up until yesterday - large appetite, swimming around.  When I woke up, I couldn't locate him and finally found him on his side behind a rock.  He startled and quickly swam to another rock where he promptly lay back onto his side and stayed there watching me.  He has rapid gilling and is no longer eating at all.  Other than that, he has NO OTHER symptoms.  Initially, I thought internal parasite, but he had not been losing any weight.  His color is still extremely bright.  I did a WWM search on cyanide poisoning, but it sounds to me like he would have succumbed to that long ago.  The only other thing I can think of would be dissolved oxygen being too low, but with the daily water changes, that doesn't make much sense either.  Help?  I'd hate to treat him for something I don't know exists. <Actually, water changes will do little for oxygen levels.  Even if the new water is well aerated, biological activity can quickly deplete it.  I would add circulation/aeration to the quarantine tank if there is a question.  If the fish is behaving normally other than what you described, I would move it to the display after another week if it survives.  I would also try hard to think about what may have changed since a few days before this behavior started (new food, water source, carpet cleaners came, etc.).  I would also suggest maintaining the variety of foods offered, but offer very small amounts.  Best Regards, AdamC.>

Infected tank? 7/10/05 Hello WWM Crew, <How goes it, M. Maddox here tonight, recovering from an obnoxious cold...> Love the website. I have a problem, though. I have a 180 gallon tank that was stocked with a 13in Volitans lionfish, 6in Maroon Clown, 6in metallic fox face, and a 7in Pink tailed trigger. <A little overcrowded...> They all died with in three days about 3 months ago. At the time of the death there was nothing wrong with the water except that about a two days before the deaths I noticed a little rise in ammonia. <Okay, a "little" rise in ammonia constitutes something being very wrong> Then they all came down with Ich. They where living there for about 6 months before this happened. But now, three months later, the ammonia will not go down. I have done many water changes and it has not gone down. It has actually gotten worse. I don't understand where this is coming from. I am afraid to add any more fish because of the ammonia. The only thing I can think of is the sand. I know that a lack of sand can cause inadequate bacteria. there spots were the level is about 5 inches and spots about less than and inch. I try to level it out but the current seems to bring it back to scatter piles. I don't think there is anything wrong with my filtration. I have a CPR overflow box leading to a Pro Clear Aquatics wet dry filter. I have about 60 pounds of live rock. Right now there are two chocolate chip starfish. I am not new to the hobby I have six fish tanks including a 55 gallon reef tank and they are all doing well. I just don't understand where the ammonia came from and why it won't go away. I would really like to get this tank stabilized and get fish in it again but I don't want to risk putting in any fish with this high of an ammonia level. Please help me out. <Are you sure the water you use to make your saltwater is free of ammonia?  If all you have in there is a few stars, and the tank has been fishless for 3 months, it's very weird for you to have ammonia.  How much ammonia?  Have you tested it with a different brand of test kit to be sure?  Do you have a protein skimmer?  It's very unlikely your DSB is the culprit, especially given sufficient water movement, which you probably have if it's blowing your sand around...>  Thank You Very Much for your time and answers. <Get back to me, and we'll try to solve this> Louis <M.Maddox>

Re: PLEASE HELP! Fish dying/ fish LIVING Hi Bob, Thanks for the reassurance on the Wrasses, I want a peaceful tank. About the length of copper treatment, I was actually told by one of your crew to use the Coppersafe for 30 days. <Opinion, experiences vary> I did 50% water changes everyday to keep the water quality good. The fish never seemed stressed and continued to eat well through the 30 days, so I will pray that there will be no after affects of this treatment. I know one thing for sure, I don't ever want to do this again! getting up at the crack of dawn [before the kids] every morning to do water changes, I was/am going through 200 gallons of salt per week between the 3 tanks I have up and running! I have learned a great lesson on the importance of quarantine and a lesson on selecting the right fish. <Bingo> I will not be attempting another large Angelfish. My main is a 125 but they belong in nothing smaller than a 200 gallon. It sickens me to read about people trying to house large Tangs and Angels in small 30 or 55 gallon tanks. And I think LFS should be more responsible and find fish that are size appropriate for their clients aquariums! Since losing a Maculosus Angel, a Flame Angel, a Royal Gramma, and my False Percula Clownfish [my first fish, her death was truly the eye opener] to ich and the Quick Cure treatment, I have a different outlook on things. I have felt so terrible about the deaths of these fish at my hands and am determined to be more responsible. <Good> Since moving the Radiant Wrasse out of qt to the main tank, I have bought a Twinspot Hogfish and 2 false Percula Clownfish now in separate qt tanks [ I still have an extra 10 gallon and 30 gallon so I have plenty of room for all fish and these small fish can live in there current 30 gallon setups until I get the other fish, currently in a 55 gal, well and settled back in the main tank. ] The only other fish I plan on getting is a Dwarf Angel. I love the Flames but have lost 2 to the persistent ich [and my stupidity] also I have talked to many dealers who say the Flames they have been receiving lately are not as hardy <This is so> as in the past so I will probably try a Argi or another more hardy angel and that is it! So my main tank will eventually house 1 Radiant Wrasse 1 Painted/ Salon Fairy Wrasse 2 F. Percula Clownfish 1 Candy Hogfish 1 Raccoon Butterfly [my favorite] and a Dwarf Angel They should fit nicely in my 125 gallon with 2 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp and 1 Fire Shrimp. And then maybe I can one day say how relaxing my aquarium is! You do not need to respond to this as I know you are busy and don't want to take up any more of your time. I want you to know I think what you are doing here is AWESOME!!! And so grateful for your help. thanks again, Kim <Welcome, and thank you for sharing your input, insights. Bob Fenner> 

Nasty Nuisance Algae and Mysterious Fish Fatalities! Scott, <Hey there!> It's been awhile, how are you doing? Still drinking a lot of your tea? <Doing great! As a matter of fact- we just mixed up a batch of Thai tea yesterday...I'm amped and rearin' to go! LOL> Well I have been having problems with both of my salt water tanks. I have done everything I can think of and have had some help from a guy that I get my fish and all from. <Always nice to have local help!> The 125 gallon: Back during Christmas, I bought a Foxface, Bi-color Angel, Turbo snails a Lawnmower (Blenny) and put them in this tank. All of the snails but two out of eight were dead the next morning. The Foxface was dead the next day. The Bi-Color made for about a month. The Lawn Mower lasted awhile, but even through he had more algae than the law would allow he died too. What's up with that??? <Hmm...One or two random losses can be attributed to bad acclimation, poor selection, or maybe a sick fish. However, a "wipeout" like this generally could be the result of some sort of toxic tank condition, or really poor quality livestock (either collected/shipped improperly or mishandled by the dealer)...> It also has been having a real big hair algae problem. We did a real big water change and I now have a RO water system that I am using. I had him check my water after we did all the above a few weeks later and it looked great. <Did you check phosphates...? Nitrate?> Well the hair algae is growing on my back glass again and it's getting pretty bad. I don't want it to get as bad as before so I wanted ask you if you had any ideas. <As you're probably aware from reading WWM, nuisance algae problems are almost always caused by excess nutrients somewhere in the system. Are you doing regular, small water changes, or did you do a few large ones? Prior to acquiring your RO unit, were you using tap water? Tap water can have a lot of nutrients present that can lead to nuisance algae blooms. Are you doing aggressive protein skimming and getting some yucky skimmate on a regular basis? Re-visit the history on this tank, the source water, and consider possible events that could lead to some form of toxin being introduced (just getting back to the mysterious fish deaths). The answers are there.> <P>My 75 gallon: Back during Christmas I bought a Coral Beauty and it didn't last but a couple of weeks. As you can see I spent a lot of money during Christmas on fish and well I have nothing to show for it. <Yikes...> Around $300 gone, but what upset me the most was that my fish died - it really bothers me when something I am in care of dies. <I can understand that!> Well, this tank out of no where started growing Caulerpa. (Well it was taking over my tank, the guy at the fish shop said it was real good for keeping you nitrate down.) <It is useful if you harvest it regularly, and pay careful attention to its needs...> I gave him a lot of it and a couple weeks later had him come and take some more because it was taking over my tank again. <A familiar story...> Along with that, this tank has red algae growing on my glass. Also there is some kind of green algae that looks like real real small green balls, or you may want to call it really small green bubbles stuck together making mounds. What kind is this and what can I do to get rid of this algae? <Well, it sounds like you're looking at cyanoBACTERIA and some other form of nuisance algae. Again, the roots of almost all nuisance algae blooms are excesses of nutrients in the system. Look into your husbandry habits again, and consider your feeding techniques and bioload in the tank. Do look into our sections on the WWM on tank maintenance and nutrient control and export processes for more information than I can provide here in this brief response...> Please help? Keep the tea coming, we need the help!!!! Teri <Well, Teri...This one is gonna require a little detective work and some tweaking on your part. I think that you really need to re-visit your husbandry techniques and some of the sources that you obtained your livestock from...The answers are there! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Sudden Loss of Fishes - S/W Dear Mr. Fenner, This will be my first time writing you since over a year ago when you helped me survive my clown trigger fish along with some other fish problems that you helped me cure. Unfortunately after about a year and half without problems I just have been nailed with some major fish loss in my 125 gallon. Everything seemed normal up until my monthly water change which was just 3 days ago. Since then I have lost an emperor angel, powder blue tang, 2 damsels, and almost my clown trigger, who by the way is in a quarantine tank and so far still alive. I have checked the water quality and everything is great. The only thing I can think of is that I must of dropped the salinity too quickly, it was at 1.26 and I lowered it to 1.22. <Mmm, this, by itself would not bring about such dire consequences... perhaps related though... Did you change salt brands? You don't pre-mix, store your water? Did you measure changes in water quality after?> Anyway I noticed the day after the water change that all of the fish were breathing rapidly, then the next day I noticed it was getting worse, and started making plans to get a qt set up, then on the third day I found my fish were dead except for my clown trigger, tomato clown, and a damsel.  In case of parasites I fresh water dipped my clown trigger and have placed him in the qt, hopefully he'll make it. Something else I have done to my 125 is that I added sea shells that I have gotten from the beach in Mexico, but those shells have been out of the ocean for 3 weeks before I put them in my tank so I thought the would not be any parasites on the shells but maybe I'm wrong. <Not parasites, but maybe decomposing animals inside...> Other than the water change or the sea shells I cannot figure out what went wrong with my tank, and was hoping you would have some insight. Also what should I do or how would I know if my 125 is ready to take on fish again? I must say out of all the other times I have written you, this one is my biggest challenge. Thanks for everything, Rene Brunetti <A good idea to "run a bioassay" test fish there... Whatever the root cause is/was likely transient... I would read on WWM re pre-mixing your water. Bob Fenner> 

Tank Problems (Marine) WWM crew, <Hey, Mike G here> I have been searching your archives and haven't found quite what I need, so I really appreciate any help. You guys are truly amazing.  <I'll help you as best I can.> I have a 10 gallon tank with a striped damsel, peppermint shrimp, 4 hermit crabs, 1 snail, 1 mushroom, and 3 colonies of polyps. <Sounds good so far> Stats: Nitrate 20 ppm Nitrite 0 ppm Alkalinity 300 ppm pH 7.8 <Nitrate is a little high, pH is a little low.> I add a daily Iodine supplement and an additive to try to raise the pH, but nothing more. <I doubt an iodine supplement would assist very much in raising the pH. Try purchasing a commercial buffer.> The problem I have is with the mushrooms and polyps.  They are all partially or completely closed and have been for the past two weeks. I have tried large water changes along with my weekly 10% water changes and there are appears to be no progress. The mushroom is shedding a layer of skin and alternates days when it is open. The light I have is only 5 months old and is clean. <Hmm...this does not sound too good. What light do you have? Bulb type has a lot to do with PAR output.> I am really at a loss to what could be wrong. Two of the polyps and the mushroom were added 3 months ago and have been doing wonderfully until now, and the other colony has been 5 months in my tank. I have had a boost in phosphates probably since I have had an increase in algae, but the water changes should have helped with that right? <Yes, but phosphate is difficult to eliminate.> Are the corals hungry even though they are photosynthetic? <Absolutely> How do I feed them? <Try using a commercial product such as Cyclop-Eeze (I'm sure I butchered the spelling on that one)> I have been having troubles with bristle worms, can they cause this problem? <No. Bristleworms are, for the most part, benign. Their population adjusts in accordance to the amount of food available. Your algae problem, high nitrates, and bristleworm "problem" are all indicators that you are feeding the tank a bit too much.> The other members of my tank are starting to look a little distressed as well, so I would really appreciate any help. <Well, I would lower your nitrates if I were you and raise your pH. Low pH and high nitrates alone could easily cause the problems you are witnessing. Good luck, Mike G.>

- Dropping Like Flies - Why hello again, Ronny here with another problem of the day. It's been a while since I e-mailed you guys, but I have a problem that just won't go away. Every time I am adding fish to my system they seem to die rather quickly and saltwater fish are just way too expensive to be replacing like this. Breakdown of my setup - 55 Gallon tank with a 20L sump, Berlin Classic Protein Skimmer, bag of activated carbon changed weekly, and a foam PolyFilter pad for mechanical filtration. At one point in time I had a whole four fish.  Two Damsels, a Yellow Tang, and a Four eyed Butterfly. Within 2 weeks, one of the damsels died. 2 months later, four eyed butterfly died. Another 2 months after that, the yellow tang dies. Then I bought a Choco Star Fish. 2 weeks later, that died. Then I bought a fish that really caught my eye at the fish store, something called a Sweet Lips or something (yes, I know I should have done some researching before purchasing it, but it was an impulse buy). Seemed healthy and everything was okay, then it too died in a week. Sad part is that I watched it die, it was pointed upwards with its mouth open and it was still breathing. I wanted to quarantine it but as soon as I stuck a net down in there, it went berserk and just completely died.  The one original damsel is still in there, but the poor guys gotta be lonely. I want to spend some more money on building up with live rock and some macroalgae in the sump, but it's kind of depressing spending so much money on this setup and then having only one tiny fish that decides to hide behind the overflow box anyways.  Nitrates, nitrite, ammonia are all testing at 0. Salinity at 1.022. My tap water comes out at about 8.0 already, then I use a buffer to bring it 8.3. I do water changes biweekly, and even cycle the tap water in a separate tank for a couple days before putting it into the system. Am I just getting bad luck here with fish?  <I think it's a combination of things... you've made some questionable choices - for instance the Sweet Lips; but your local fish store is probably also to blame to some extent. Likewise, the whole notion of impulse buying should never be applied to your marine tank - learn to say no to these compulsions. If a fish catches your eye and you don't know much about it, don't buy it... go home and do some research. Ask the folks at the store what they think, but make sure you do your own research to supplement their advise; the LFS has to sell fish to stay in business. If the fish is a good match for your system, then return to the store and spend some time watching the fish. Don't rush the purchase. If the store sells it to someone else, they can get you another one, so don't be in a hurry to buy a particular fish.  Knowing how to pick the best/healthiest fish is more art than science, and takes time to get good at it. Some things are obvious, but others are not. At the very least, the fish you are looking at should be alert to your presence and hopefully come up to see you - some fish are quite shy so this might not happen immediately, but spend some time making your choice. Ask the staff if the fish have eaten and could you please see them eat. If the fish have already eaten, ask what time they typically feed then and come back at that time.  Sadly and quite often, even stores who have questionable systems have fish that look good but are already on the path to doom for one reason or another. I would suggest that you first try a different fish store. Then, purchase and start using a quarantine system - articles about that here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm > The system has been running for about 8-9 months now. Now just two days ago my Rio 2500 that was operating the protein skimmer quit out on me, so either I have to spend time on the phone to get warranty issues straightened out, or spend another $50 on a new pump.  <Think whoever sold you the skimmer with that pump should be able to deal with those warranty issues for you - a word of advise on Rio pumps, keep them clean. Once a month or so you should disassemble them and clean all the parts... this will help your pump last a little longer.>  Is there anything I am overlooking here?  <No, I don't think so... not overlooked. In rare cases some folks who smoke introduce nicotine to their tanks by not washing their hands before they put them in the tank, but this may or may not be your case. There are other environmental contaminants that can cause sudden fish loses - glass cleaners used to clean the tank, for instance, but these situations are rare. Examine your own behaviors and you will know if this is an issue or not. But please do take your time with future purchases and make sure you quarantine them before you add them to your system. Cheers, J -- > 

Disappearing Fish Act Hi, I have two marine tanks and lately a few fish have disappeared from each tank. I have lost a bicolour blenny, a maxima clam, and a cleaner shrimp, which all lived in the bigger tank. The shrimp was devoured by the Dottybacks, Clownfishes, sixline wrasse. The blenny just disappeared. In my smaller tank, I have lost an orchid Dottyback, and lawnmower blenny. The most obvious threat is the flame Hawkfish. However, this Hawkfish does not eat hermit crabs and leaves the Banggai cardinals alone. I am thinking of moving the Hawkfish with the vicious Dottybacks, is it a good idea? ( I am worried that the flame Hawkfish might eat the mandarin dragonet though..) <The Dottybacks are usually vicious to their own kind. Generally they don't bother other fish. The Flame Hawkfish are generally peaceful with other fish. They would however go after small shrimp. I would feel comfortable putting the hawk in with the mandarin. I'm thinking you have something else in the tank that you don't know about that's doing some damage, possibly a mantis shrimp. James (Salty Dog)> <Marina also suggests a brittle star, just as surreptitious as a mantis, if not more so!>

Damsel/Puffer losing color 3/11/05 I have two Domino Damsels that have been doing just fine for almost two months now. This morning (7:00am) I turned on my light and everything in my tank was as normal, however, tonight when I came home from work, my two Dominos have lost their black colour and have turned an almost transparent silver colour. I recently got some new live rock and a puffer fish which I haven't been able to properly identify yet.  <yikes! Please (!) do not buy anything that you cannot ID. You must know the adult size, dietary needs, etc! Some puffers get nearly a meter long!!> Even the puffer looks like he has lost some of his colour. Could something have come in on my live rock that has caused the problem? <not likely... more likely water quality. Do a full set of tests, then do a water change afterwards to play it safe> I also have a Royal Dottyback, a Mandarin Goby and a Peppermint Shrimp. These fish are still doing fine. Thanks, Craig Brumby <perhaps no matter... but proceed as above to be safe(r). Anthony>

Gill Irritation: water quality or Disease? 3/2/05 I've tried posting this at WetWebFotos board but no one has answered. Here's the thing: I've had a double saddle butterfly for 2 months and he recently began exhibiting a strange new behavior.  After evening feeding time, he occasionally (not all the time) starts swimming oddly on his side and kind of charging abruptly on and off at the live rock and glass. <this is called "glancing" or "scratching" and is a sign of gill irritation caused by parasites, disease or water quality> Like he's confused or addled. He also develops an instant fright/night coloring, and breathes rapidly. It only happens after feeding (an hour before lights go out). <sounds more like parasites that handicap its higher respiratory (excitement from food, etc) periods> I've been trying to pinpoint the cause but can't determine it. It seems to happen when I feed foods he's not fond of (for variety purposes) and hence maybe he's angry he hasn't gotten enough to eat(?). That sounds nuts I know. He's a pretty aggressive eater when it comes to foods he likes. <parasites are mostly likely... and being expressed not surprisingly after some weeks after import (very stressful). Hence the critical need to understand and apply proper quarantine to all new fishes (4 weeks minimum) to prevent these things from contaminating your tank as well as having a better shot at curing them (in bare bottomed QT)> Just recently he's been breathing rapidly and presenting himself numerous times to the neon goby for cleanings. Should I freshwater dip him or wait until other classic ich signs emerge? <do dip promptly... and do so once daily for 8 consecutive days for the best chance at breaking the larval cycle> I have just added a coral beauty and yellow watchman goby after a 4 week qt (the cb had ich in qt and I treated with hyposalinity) <if this BF was in QT for a 4 full weeks... I wonder if it wasn't the addition of some snails, algae or live food (without QT) to the tank that infected this fish?> tank 100 gallons 8.2 pH ammonia, trite and trate 0 salinity 1.024 Thanks kindly, Angela <best of luck! Anthony>

Mysterious clown fish death, common clown tank raised Hello Bob, I have a few questions regarding the death of 2 tank raised common clowns in 3 days. I just purchased 2 of these clown at the LFS 2 days ago. And I hand picked them myself. All looked fine no visible signs of disease or any problem. I had them float for 20 min.s in the tank then proceeded to drip them for over a half hour one drip per second. I believe that my acclimating practices are in check. After that they were then placed in the tank. Everything seemed fine they both swam around the tank together. This was in the afternoon day one, By noon day 2 I noticed one of them swimming erratically, swimming vertical ,  laying on the bottom . And it also had a white excretion coming from it not normal feces, around a few areas it also had red colouration on the cheeks, base of the tail and where the pectoral fins meet the body like blood at the surface possible hemorrhage?. After trying to figure out what to do it was to late I basically watched it take its last breath. <Good descriptions> So I put it in a bag in the fridge till the trip to the LFS. All the meanwhile the other fish looked and seemed in excellent health. Until the third day, It started to show the exact same symptoms and ultimately met it's demise this 3rd day. All the tank parameters are in good check everything is how it should be. <Mmm, hard to tell from here...> The tank is also established etc. The LFS told me that they don't die for them and that they are hard to kill. <Likely so... most tank-bred Clownfishes nowadays are very tough... Very likely there is something amiss with your aquarium> I have been in this hobby for 10 years and have never lost a fish of any kind let alone in 3 days. I am totally dumbfounded by this and am wondering if you might have any idea what was it that killed them? I am also waiting to see if they are going to make me burn for it as well. Seeing as that they only lasted 3 days he should help me out somewhat I would think... Thanks for any helpful information ... Dave <Dave... is there any other life in this system? What about describing the set-up... its history? Again, very likely your system is the root cause here... could be something simple such as a coating/film on the surface of the water... from aerosols, cooking oils in the house... could be a undisclosed toxicity... I might try a PolyFilter pad... for color... More info. please. Bob Fenner> 

What's the Problem? Overcrowding Perhaps? (2/21/05) I recently bought some fish from a LFS that just got them in and did a no-no and put them in with my other fish. I got a Koran Angel fish approx 4 inches in size, 1 regal angel fish approx 5 inches in size, 2 black perc clowns approx 2 inches in size, 1 Banggai cardinal approx 1.5 inches in size. The pet store told me they have been QT'ed <Perhaps> and are healthy I put them in my tank and they looked great for about 4-5 days then all of the sudden I woke up to find them all dead along with a bunch of my other fish. Lying on the bottom, the Koran angel looked like it had some kinda slime on him but when he was swimming the night before he looked fine no spots nothing. <Could just be early decomposition. This starts within minutes of death.> The other fish I have had for a while are still alive in my tank seemed to be breathing very, very hard <I'd initially suspect ammonia or nitrate poisoning from decomposing dead fish overloading your biofilter or low oxygen from overcrowding.> so I went to set up a QT tank but by the time I got the temp and pH ok they where dead. This happened in less then 24 hours what can cause this? <Any number of things, poisonings, virulent infections, lack of oxygen.> All my levels are fine, what could I have done to stop this? <What does "fine" and "all my levels" mean?> What should I do with my tank? I lost all my fish and I still do not know why. The fish in the tank where: 1 sailfin tang, 3 blue tangs, 1 Naso tang, 3 perc clowns, 1 pajama cardinal, 2 lavender tangs, 2 Kole tangs, 1 imperator angel, 2 pebbled butterflies, 2 raccoon butterflies, 1 4 spot butterfly, 2 powder blue tang <Plus the new additions! Good Lord, man! Is this a 1,000 gallon tank? Are you pulling my leg? Unless your tank is at least 500 gallons, I would attribute this mas die-out to some consequence of ridiculous overstocking. The more I read your stocking list, the more I suspect you are joking about this as I cannot imagine who would own a tank big enough for all of these fish or who would try to put all of these fish into a tank of less than a few hundred gallons. If you are not kidding, please reply with tank size and exact numbers of specific parameters so we may be able to give more useful information. You will also need to study some basics of marine responsible aquarium-keeping, as the load you mention really probably needs at least 1,000 gallons long-term. Steve Allen.>

Mystery Clown Death + Dearth of Information >Hi Guys, Your web-site has been a continuous source of information right from the time I started my aquarium 1 year ago. >>Hi, glad it's helped. >Here's something that I just don't understand. I came home yesterday to my clownfish who was dead. He's been eating well (I fed him in the morning before I left for work), showed no signs of stress and was a happy guy. None of my other fish have been aggressive towards him. I tested the water last night, and everything was normal. Any idea why this could have happened? >>You've provided me/us with painfully little information here. What is "normal"? >Really worried for my other fish. I have a 55g aquarium with 2 damsels, 1 sergeant major... >>That *is* a damsel. >1 clown fish (I had 2 before this one died) and 1 cleaner shrimp. Thanks so much! Seema >>Seema, you haven't given me/us anything to start with beyond the death itself, and brief stocking information. Not only do I have no idea as to what the general husbandry has been, but I also have no idea what you tested for, with what kit, or what the exact readings were. I've found that animals almost *always* give signs when there's a problem brewing, one has to know/understand what to look for. Recent changes in procedure, feed, housemates (yours, not his), new paint, carpet, cleaning the oven - all sorts of things can cause one fish, but not another, to kick the bucket (you don't want to know what a single carelessly dropped cigarette butt can do, and in very short order). Then again, he could have had a tiny little aneurysm, which ought not affect the other fishes. I'm sorry I couldn't be more helpful here, please understand it's quite difficult doing this via email in the first place, so we do need as many descriptors as possible to hazard any guesses. Marina

New Hobbyist, Fish dying, Questions!! Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005 We have a 55 gallon aquarium with about 8 good sized pieces of live rock, with crushed coral on the bottom.  Our tank consists of the following: 1) Yellow Tang 2) Coral Beauty Angel 3) Strawberry Gramma 4) Blue Yellow Tail Damsels (1 adult and one small) 5) Green Chromis (we are getting rid of these) 6) Nemo Clownfish (2 that are still small) 7) Six-Line Wrasse 8) Firefish (the white kind) 9) 2 Emerald Crabs 10) 2 Chocolate chip Starfish 11) Hermit crabs and a few species of small snails Everyone seems to get along fine, everyone gets plenty... <I don't like the word "plenty" when it comes to food. Uneaten food turns into organic waste which is no good.>  ... of food. My first questions is this. We have purchased two gobies in the past, one a few days ago, a diamond and a dragon. The diamond lasted about 3 days and the dragon did not even last 24 hours in the tank.   <First of all your tank is close to being overstocked if not overstocked. It also sounds like your not giving the biological filter time to adjust to a new fish load before you buy another one.>  We properly acclimated him and quarantined him, and he was fine when we put him in, the next morning found him in the bottom of the tank. Why??  <Tanya, I would like a little more info as to how long the tank has been set up, type of filtration your using along with accessories i.e. protein skimmer...>  The next day we brought home another six-line since the store owner thought they would be fine since we had a good sized tank, and they were the first day, now he is no where to be found. Is he hiding?? Or did something eat him?? We also have a young tube anemone... <I don't know what kind of tube anemone you have, but some are highly venomous. This could have zapped the six liner.> ...attached to the top of one rock. Would this have bothered him? Or the starfish??  <Some starfish are predatory, again you don't say what kind of starfish> My last question is about a compatibility thing. I am in love with the green and psychedelic mandarins. I have a friend who keeps one in her 30 gallon tank with a few other fish, and hers is doing fine.  <With the problems your [sic] encountering, stay away from any mandarins. They are difficult to keep without having (75 pounds minimum in your tank) a healthy live rock population. Rarely will they accept any prepared foods.>  She has a dotty-back, a large and dwarf angel, a wrasse and a goby. She has had hers almost a year without problems.  <If she has no live rock, she can count her blessings.> Going by what we have in our tank and the size, would one survive? <No!>  Our tang, angel, and Gramma are all pretty mellow, I am concerned if he will fight with the six-line or the crabs??  <Mandarins are not aggressive> Thanks for all your help. I have been consulting your website for some time, but was unsuccessful in finding the answers I needed.  <Tanya, a good place to start would be to purchase Mr. Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" handbook. This will certainly get you on the right track. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again, Tanya 

Mysterious Fish Losses 1/29/05 Hello. I am having trouble with my tank and I thought I would see if you guys would suspect some kind of fish parasite/disease in my tank. I have a 58 gal. crushed coral sub. 50lb live rock, AquaC skimmer, plus 2 AquaClear 4000 Power heads. It has been up for 1 year. I have lots of inverts who are healthy and thriving for months: hermit crabs -7, Turbo snails-12, Astrea snails -4, camel shrimp (sorry I have these)-2, and choc chip seastar.  pH8.2, Ammonia - 0, Nitrites - 0, Nitrates - less than 5, SG 1.023. Bi-weekly water changes of 8-10 gallons. <All sound fine so far.> PROBLEM: I seem to never be able to keep fish. I have gone long periods of time with no fish at all because I can't take losing them. They go very quickly from happy, colorful, eating well, to all of a sudden losing color, looking ragged, and breathing hard, then gone:(... within a matter of hours) lasting anywhere from 1 week to 2 months. I can't figure it out... do I have a silent killer in there? I have one tank bred false perc in there now and I really don't want to lose him. <When a fish lasts less than a week or so, it is easy to suspect that the fish was mortally stressed in shipping and handling.  When they last more than two weeks before perishing (especially if eating), it is much more likely to be disease or stress in the home aquarium.  All that said, there is at least some possibility that you are getting severely mishandled fishes.> I don't expect you to know exactly what is going on here by my description, but I thought maybe you could shed some light on where to start looking for answers. Thank you so much. I love this place!  Cora <There are many possibilities.  Have you been sure to rule out any disturbances in the tank or your home?  Things like: the fish always seem to die x days after a water change or x days after my sister brings her kids for a visit.  Please also review the disease section of WWM and see if the appearance/behaviour of your fish match any that you find.  My best suggestion is to seek out and join a local marine aquarium society.  You will get lot's of great help and advice, and maybe even a couple of folks to personally come and try to help you troubleshoot.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Mysterious Fish Losses Part II 1/31/05 Thank you for your suggestions. I do believe that some of my losses were due to unhealthy specimens. I live in the middle of nowhere.... its not the end of the world, but you can see it from here.  <Hmmm... you may not have a good fish store, but at least the view is nice!> I will not buy livestock from the (1) LFS anymore because of extreme difference of opinion. There really isn't much that is 'local' here. The fish I most recently got, I ordered from Foster and Smith, they looked great upon arrival. I did ask the same question on a board online of reef keepers and someone suggested turning a power head spout to the surface. I am hoping it is just that simple. After having done that the one lonely clown I have left (end of week two in the tank) seems to be doing well and swimming around the tank rather than being primarily on the surface. I never knew to have a test for how much oxygen is in the tank. I will be getting one to see if that is the issue. Thanks again. <Gas exchange did cross my mind, but it would most likely have killed faster. A quick test for adequate gas exchange is to test the pH of the tank, and then test the pH of some well aerated tank water. If the pH is higher (more than .1 or .2 higher) in the aerated sample, it shows that CO2 is high in the tank (and O2 is probably low). This test is best performed just before the lights come on in the morning. Good luck! AdamC.>

New Situation in Marine Setup Hello there, Viken here.  Thank you very much for your fast answers and support for this hobby I have a 1000 liters marine FO system. With all the necessary equipment that you recommend. Lately something happened that encounters me for the first time. The fins of my fish started to rot with cloudy waves on them, and after couple of days in the stomach area a wound started to open by getting red first than it stated to grow and opened as if something from inside is trying to get out. <Yikes! I hope you immediately checked your water quality... either moved your livestock or changed out a good proportion of their water> Of course the fish stopped eating and they lost their swimming balance and started to die. (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH all OK) I removed them to the QT without any knowledge of what kind of medicine should I use. <Likely none... something like this... to appear so suddenly, is NOT a biological disease, but environmental in cause> Now my tank is empty shall I leave it like this for a while? <... empty?> And for how long. I’m afraid that there is a disease in there which needs hosts so maybe its better to leave it empty??? <A good idea... and when you think to re-stock, try a few inexpensive "test fish"... likely some damsels... Also I suggest the installation of PolyFilter... in your filter flow path... this media changes color on the basis of certain metal contamination> And what shall I use in the hospital tank as medicine. My fish are 1- long nose butterfly.3- Heniochus b., 1-banana wrasse, 2-doctors, 1-Majestic angel, and 1- yellow tang. <I would add nothing in the way of "medicines", but do your best to maintain optimized, stable water quality, boost the animals' resistance with vitamin soaked foods.> Can you tell me what may be the reason for this happening? Thank you for your time.  Regards to all, Viken <Cannot tell the root cause here, but I suspect either outright poisoning (metal from a clamp, pump... aerosol from a cleaner...) or asphyxiation (from a scum settling on your tank water surface...). Bob Fenner>

Huge tank problem... actually small tank, little real trouble, just ignorance I have looked over and over again through the website to try and fix problems in  my tank but I cant seem to find it. so here's how it is. I've had a 29 gallon tank for about 11 months and through the first 8 or 9 months the tank was fine and I didn't have any major problems with it. one of my tangs got itch and died and made my other fish die <What?> but that was about it. recently tho I have had a huge problem with algae. I think some of it is hair algae, its stringy and green. and then there is brownish/green algae that grows on the liverock and on my substrate in my tank. I scrub it off the rocks but within three days it comes back again. I thought it was a problem with my lights that I got, so I went out and bought new ones since my other ones were starting to get old, but it hasn't helped the problem with the algae one bit. I believe they are a 20000k Coralife and a 10000k Coralife.  also I believe I have a parasite in  my tank because any fish I get dies within 5-10 hours. <What? No... something is awry with your water quality my friend> so my local fish store told me to keep fish out of it for about 6 weeks. in my tank now I just have a cleaner shrimp, an emerald crab, 12 blue legged hermit crabs and two turbo snails. something that concerns me is I  have these little white bugs that are in my tank. they look almost like little shrimp, but I don't know what they are. my local fish person said that they're not harmful and mean that my tank is doing well.. but they seem to be attacking the turbo snails that I just got. they crawl in and out of the snail shells and the snails seem to be bothered by them. I'm starting to think that I need to start all over because I don't know what to do with  my tank anymore. any help would be greatly appreciated and sorry for the long email. <No worries re the length... though you should proof what you send out... learn how to write contractions, the capitalization of proper nouns, starts of sentences... Basically, you're a person with too much money and too little patience and knowledge... Please read over the basics of marine set-up and maintenance on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Bob Fenner>

New Fish Keep Dying & Firefish Spawning? Hello,<Hello Mark> First, thanks for the help before with my tank acclimation.  It has been 7 months and up and going.  I have two questions. I have a 29 gallon tank.  HOT 250 Magnum, Prizm HOT Skimmer, a cheap but effective Power filter, and an Orbit 2x65watt Power Compact with Lunar Lights. The bulbs are 10,000k and an ACT 03.  Also have 3 powerheads creating currents. 45lbs of LR and 18lbs of LS. Inverts, I have 3 nice sized Feather Dusters, baby Feather Dusters popping up all over the place, 2 small Sand Sifter Stars, 2 small Serpent Stars, 2 Sally Lightfoots, 1 Coral Banded Shrimp, 1 Cleaner Shrimp, 6-8 small blue, red Hermit Crabs, 1 medium green leg Hermit Crab, and a bunch of Snails. Corals, 3 small groupings of Polyps, 1 rock covered with Blue-Striped Mushrooms, and a honestly don't know. Still trying to find out..  I use DT's Phyto for food-amazing. Fish, and here are the problems. I have a Clarkii clown and a Coral Beauty.  Both doing great. First Problem---I bought 2 Firefish and they seemed to be doing well.  The Clown bullied them the first two days then left them alone.  I used to see them swimming out in the open all the time and hide at night.  Then after a week and a half, they disappeared.  I only see one fish come out when I feed the fish.  It comes right out and eats then after awhile of swimming it goes back under this big piece of LR.  There is a cave under it.  I don't know what happen to the other one.  I can't see under the rock too well, and I only see one. Are they spawning and only one comes out to eat at a time or is one dead and the other is too afraid to go out in public alone? Second Problem---Before the 2 Firefish and after, every time I buy a new fish they die.  I lost 2 Royal Grammas, 1 before the Firefish and 1 after.  They were healthy looking, and I bought them from the same place I always buy.  Then I bought a Scooter Blenny a week ago and it seemed to be happy.  It was swimming and looked to be feeding it was picking at the LR and the LS). Then I found it dead. All my readings are good. Test are done twice a week.  20% water change every week and a half.  HELP!!  Any info would be great. Thanks.<Mark, your problem is that your 29 is seriously overloaded with livestock.  I believe your new fish die because of an ammonia spike that the biological filter cannot recover from.  You can't import more waste than you can export.  James (Salty Dog)>

What happened to my tank? Dear Guys <Now now, we have a couple of gals here too, and they're probably a lot more knowledgeable than me> I have had a 25 gal tank set up for over a year, fully stable and no fatalities. <Excellent>  Clear water, healthy water (ph 8.2, ammonia 0, nitrate and nitrite 0, salinity 1.024). <All good> I have 2 blue damsels, a maroon clown, strawberry Gramma, choc. chip star, a brittle star (I think it was a "serpent" star). <Sounds like my first marine aquarium> About a month ago, I bought a yellow eye tang to control some  hair algae that began to grow out of control, all of a sudden. <Ack!  Much to small an aquarium for ANY tang!> All was well, but all of a sudden the tang lost some color, began to lay on his side on the bottom of my tank, and then died. I checked my water, Ph of 7.8 (added buffer), ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 120ppm. <Whoa did you have something die and not realize it?  Those are some death-inducing nitrate levels> Salinity 1.020. <I'd bring it up to ~1.022 because of the inverts you have> I did a water change and nitrate improved to 40ppm, ph around 8.0. (Adding buffer again tonight) Salinity is 1.024. <All good.  Keep performing water changes until those nitrates drop down to below 10ppm.  By the way, how are you testing your  nitrates?  Nitrate ion or nitrate-nitrogen?>  Now my Choc chip star has curled upwards and it appears to be losing chunks of his underside, and my brittle star has lost all of his legs and is now motionless. I fear he has died. <Most likely they are both goners, sorry to say.  Make sure you remove them before they start decomposing>  Do you have any idea what could have caused my tank water to become so unhealthy? What could have killed the tang? What is happening to my stars? I know this is a very complex question, but any insight would help. I have been looking all over the net, reading books, and asking pet stores, but no one can say anything more than the tang was sick at purchase and the stars just couldn't survive. The most important answer I can find is how to avoid a catastrophic mistake like this in the future. What happened? <Sounds like something (a snail, crab, etc) died and decomposed - in a smaller aquarium like that, dead organisms can seriously impact the quality of the water.  Do you have good water circulation?  Do you perform regular partial water changes?  Make it a habit to perform weekly partial water changes, and run a bit of carbon changed weekly as well.  Keep on top of things, don't add any more tangs, and your tank should be back to normal in a few weeks> Thank you very much, <No problem, let me know how things turn out> Terry O'Neill <M. Maddox> Chicago, Il Re: What happened to my tank? Hello there! <Hi!> I'm sorry I should have been a little more clear on things, I suppose that helps! <Yes sir, it does>  Yes I have a SeaClone protein skimmer in the sump and it gets about a cup or so every two weeks. <Hmm...it needs tweaking.  If you're able to get it to pull out 2+ cups a week of dark skimmate your algae problem may disappear on it's own>  I do add water about twice a week for evaporation into the sump, but I only do the 25% water out monthly or as water visibility requires. <More water frequent partial water changes could also help greatly...25% weekly and you will notice an overall change for the better in everything>  I use a 5-in-1 test strips for water quality and they are all perfect (nitrates and nitrites, pH ). <Perfect being?>  I use carbon in the emperor 400 but just use the canister for physical filtration. <If that mechanical media isn't cleaned\replaced almost daily then it can become a source of nitrate production...if you don't have the time to do this I suggest removing the mechanical media and just using it for water circulation>  I picked the crushed coral because I was informed that it would help maintain the pH as a buffer and that sand was a nightmare with corals when disturbed. <Crushed coral is calcium carbonate, and does not dissolve at the pH that marine\reef aquariums are kept.  Aragonite sand\gravel does, and I suggest using this in the future>  I'm beginning to think swapping the substrate is the best overall option, but what a pain, any advice on the most non-evasive way to go about it, and what kind of substrate specifically to replace it with? I thank you for all your advice... <Yes, it would be a pain.  Try tweaking the skimmer, using small amounts of carbon and small amounts of phosphate remover (1\2 cup) and change them weekly along with weekly 25% water changes.  You may see the algae recede on it's own due to lack of nutrients> Best regards, Kenn <M. Maddox>

New tank problems follow up 1/5/05 We have live rock and all of our levels are great. <Please list the following values:  Salinity, pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Alkalinity.> We seem to only be able to keep our fish for about a week and they die. <This could be a water quality issue, or it could be sickly fish.> We have been doing regular water changes. <How often and how much?  Are you using Tap water or filtered water?  What brand of salt?  Are you allowing the mixed salt water to sit over night with a powerhead or air stone before using?> I'll have to look for the books at the book store.  It just very upsetting to keep losing these beautiful creatures and not knowing why.  <It is frustrating, but don't get discouraged.  Please don't add any more fish until we get to the bottom of your problems.  Patience is the biggest key to success!  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Fish dying with red blotches near head? Let me first say how much I enjoy your website and Mr. Fenner's books. Now for the question. My pearly Jawfish, AKA Mr. Jaws, died a sudden death today. I observed red blotches on the decedents back near his head, consistent with that of a bruise. Prior to death he was gasping and listless in his hole and then bailed out. Prior to death, I placed the decedent in a separate container so as to aerate the water to no avail. I tested the water prior to writing you: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, Ph 8.4, Alkalinity 3.0pl, and calcium 380. Today I dosed with Kalkwasser and some of the slurry got in the mix, slight cloudy reaction. Could I have burned the poor guy? << Possible.  I think jawfish are kind of finicky and sometimes die. >> I also added a maze brain coral about two weeks ago, could the mucus have caused sudden death? << No, I'd seriously doubt that. >> I also lost a green Chromis earlier in the week with the same red blotch and gasping. << That is very important information.  Now I'll rule out the finicky part and side towards infection or low oxygen problems. >> Which of course would rule out the Kalkwasser as the cause of death. << Yep. >> Can creepy crawly things bite fish in the night and cause bruise like injuries? As in fire worms? << Some things, probably not fire worms.  Hard to guess on this one. >> I was personally effected by this loss, I have had this fish for about a year and enjoyed watching  him on a daily basis. << That is also very important info.  I would think poor tank conditions and stress could be a problem, but if you've had him a year I'll think maybe he was "attacked" by something. >> Thank you for your website and interest in ethical treatment of fish. <<  Blundell  >>

Clown Trigger My CT is on its side on the bottom, breathing slowly.  LFS Cleaned the tank 2 days ago.  They use their own rev. os. water.  The rest of my fish seem to be fine.  Any suggestions? <*sigh*  Water parameters, including temperature, pH, salinity, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, tank size, tankmates, filtration?> DNW <M. Maddox>

Second follow up, anomalous losses, snail I tested my water at home and then at work (LFS) and everything was good. <That's great.> I don't know if the snail is dead. when I pick him up it moves a little bit but he wont move in the tank. So I want to remove the coral if the snail dies. I would check my ammonia everyday 3 time along with ph and nitrites and nitrates. the only other decorations in my tank are Fiji liverock and a live sand substrate. Everything is looking good now and I noticed my tiny fluorescent green tube worm just came out. Do you think this whole mess could have been affected by Coral Vital because I didn't have corals. <I'm not positive what makes up Coral Vital but its possible it sent your tank out of ionic balance.  Possibly into a situation known as white snow where there's too much calcium in the tank and THAT could have been your cloudiness.> I was using the recommended dosage to grow coralline. <It really depends on what the levels of the calcium were at the time.  Have you ever checked the calcium? I would definitely not put something into the tank unless you have a way to test it.>Let me know what you think. <It could be snow Joe, or it could be a million different things. I don't mean by any means to make light of it. I would suggest not using ANYTHING unless you know it's going to help your tank. And use only what you can test for. The coralline will come on its own. I promise if you just do regular water changes.> thanks Joe

Quick Fish Deaths! Hi Guys, <Scott F. your Guy tonight> After years of having FO tanks we decided to go reef. The tank is 3 months old and initially had my Yellow Tang, Naso Tang and False Percula in it. It's an 80 gal bowfront with hang over the back wet dry. No problems until last Wednesday. After having my LFS (and myself) test the water, I purchased a small Hippo Tang, a Cardinal fish, 2 small Golden head Sleeper Gobies, a small Sand Starfish, and 8 small snails. <Well- kind of a lot of livestock to add all at once, IMO. Go slowly...> I drip acclimated everything and all appeared fine. When I woke up the two Gobies were dead with their mouths wide open. I took them back to my LFS on Friday and again they and I tested the water and all was fine. The LFS had no answer and said here, take a Blue Linckia Star and 10 more snails as credit along with 5 lbs of live rock. Acclimated the snails and star fish again and all seemed fine. When I woke up on Saturday, the Yellow Tang I've had for over a year developed a cauliflower like growth surrounded by small red spots on his one side (attached is a picture) towards his tail. On Sunday morning the Blue Star appeared dead with his organs hanging out and the Yellow Tang was darting around and would not eat. Today, Monday morning the Yellow Tang is dead as well as the Blue Star and I also noticed some white spots on the Yellow Tang. This whole thing is very discouraging and my LFS isn't really coming up with any answers. I would like to prevent a total wipe out if that is possible at this time. What do you thing happened and what should I do? I was going to do a 25 % water change and add Kick Ich? Need help in Bayville, NJ <Well, there are a number of possibilities here. The first, and most obvious to me is that there is something terribly amiss with your water chemistry. Ammonia and nitrite come to mind immediately. Are you sure that the LFS tested correctly for these compounds? The other possibility is some sort of toxin, such as a heavy metal, household cleaner, etc.. Whatever it is, it's killing the fishes and inverts quickly and indiscriminately. I'd definitely keep going with regular water changes, and utilize protein skimming, activated carbon, and Poly Filter in your system, with the intention of removing or diluting whatever noxious compounds are in your system. Re test the water yourself, or find a competent local hobbyist or aquarium service person to run them. Do not dump any medication into your system until you figure out what you are up against here. In fact, I would never "treat" in the display tank...Always remove fishes to a separate facility for disease treatment. I've given you a few possible leads- now go check 'em out and see what could be going on here...I'll bet that with a bit of patience, persistence, and time, you'll be able to isolate the cause and correct the problem! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Bruce

Multitude of problems new additions and sudden deaths Hi Guys, <Hello, MikeB here.> I sent this yesterday but don't know if you received it.<Well, I got it now and let's see what we can do.> Since then I've noticed I also have tiny little white things crawling on the glass of the tank. I would appreciate any advice I can get.<They are probably something called copepods or amphipods.  They are harmless and your fish should enjoy dining on them.> After years of having FO tanks we decided to go reef. The tank is 3 months old and initially had my Yellow Tang, Naso Tang and False Percula in it. It's an 80 gal bowfront with hang over the back wet dry. No problems until last Wednesday. After having my LFS (and myself) test the water, I purchased a small Hippo Tang, a Cardinal fish, 2 small Goldenhead Sleeper Gobies, a small Sand Starfish, and 8 small snails. <That is a lot of fish to add at once.  That requires a huge bioload adjustment by your filter.> I drip acclimated everything and all appeared fine. When I woke up the two Gobies were dead with their mouths wide open. I took them back to my LFS on Friday and again they and I tested the water and all was fine. The LFS had no answer and said here, take a Blue Linckia Star and 10 more snails as credit along with 5 lbs of live rock. Acclimated the snails and star fish again and all seemed fine. When I woke up on Saturday, the Yellow Tang I've had for over a year developed a cauliflower like growth surrounded by small red spots on his one side (attached is a picture)<Sorry, I don't see it here.> towards his tail. On Sunday morning the Blue Star appeared dead with his organs hanging out and the Yellow Tang was darting around and would not eat. Today, Monday morning the Yellow Tang is dead as well as the Blue Star and I also noticed some white spots on the Yellow Tang. This whole thing is very discouraging and my LFS isn't really coming up with any answers. I would like to prevent a total wipe out if that is possible at this time. What do you thing happened and what should I do? I was going to do a 25 % water change and add Kick Ich? Bruce <Well Bruce, it seems as though you have some major problems in the tank.  It is mentioned that the water was tested.  what was the pH?  The darting in the tank can be a sign of low pH or that they are trying to remove external parasites from their scales.  The eviscerated organs on the starfish is a sign of poor water quality.  I would take the sick fish out of the tank and treat them for ich.  Also, keep an eye on them and make sure they don't come down with lymphocystis (the "white cauliflower" growth).  If they do then you have to treat for a fungal infection.  That can be tricky to treat two things at once.  I don't recommend it.  In the future, strongly consider how many fish you put in the tank at one time.  Generally 25% of the current bioload is acceptable.  Anything more will stress the fish and cause problems.  Good luck. MikeB>
Re: Multitude of problems new additions and sudden deaths
Thanks for the reply Mike.<Sure, no problem.> I did a 25% water change yesterday but did not add the Kick Ich. The readings in the tank have been constant both before and after the water change and are as follows: SG 1.0221 Temp 79 Nitrate 30 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Alkalinity 2.5 <DKH, meq???> Phosphate 0 When I called the LFS today and made them aware of the little white creatures on the glass they said UH OH, you've got parasites and need to bring the SG down to 1.017 by gradually diluted with plain RO water. I was hoping to bring the SG to acceptable levels to start introducing coral and anemones. <First, lets get the fish healthy.  What your yellow tang looks like is that it was hemorrhaging.  This could be from an infection that was untreated.  Second, the fish looks like it had a pinched stomach.  That means it wasn't eating enough or that it had internal parasites.  Note, the picture did not show that clearly and I am speculating but, for future use look and see if the fish's stomach is pinched or not.  What do the little white creatures look like on the glass.  They could be something other than parasites and lowering the SG to 1.017 won't kill them anyway.  The SG has to be around 1.013 for a couple of weeks before anything begins to die off.> I've attached a picture of the Yellow Tang this time although he and the star fish have met their demise. Bruce <Wait to add anything until all is healthy for 2 weeks and there are no deaths in the tank. MikeB> Fish keep dying Hello. I have read a lot of your pages and they are very informative. I am thankful on this Thanksgiving Day that you all are there! My question(s) is this. If all of my parameters are good {Temp 78, pH 8.2, Amm 0, Nitrate >5, Nitrite 0, Salinity 1.023, Phosphates are a little high like 0.6} I have no algae problems at all My tanks seems beautiful....why on earth am I losing fish? << We all lose fish, they all die. >> It is a 58 gal with about 45 lbs LR and Deep Crushed Coral Substrate. It has been up and running since March of this year and I still have the 1 blue Damsel we used to cycle. I have also added many inverts: 2 Camel shrimp, 5 Astrea snails, 1 Choc chip seastar, 6 Blue leg hermits, 2 HUGE turbo snails. I have lost several fish over the months only adding them when I believed everything to be stable. I added a Heniochus and a Coral Beauty exactly one week ago. When I did this I completely rearranged the LR to throw off the damsel. << Which also does disturb the rest of the tank. >> When we came home tonight, the Coral Beauty AND the Hemi are on their last gill. They aren't moving much. << Could be lack of oxygen, or disease. >> I tested everything and it is all stable. I am not sure if the constant presence of the phosphates (even though I use Culligan bottled water) is a problem for all fish except Blue Damsels or if he just picked on them till their death even though I never actually witnessed it myself. << I'll doubt phosphate or the damsel could have been a problem. >> Am I missing something? I know I am a beginner but I have tried to educate myself. Still feel like a failure though. Thanks so much for your help, << Well my best advise is to see some other tanks in your area.  I'm not sure what kind of live rock and lighting you have, but maybe your tank just isn't natural enough to support the fish yet. I'd give it some time and just focus on developing a great ecosystem. >> Cora <<  Blundell  >>

Sudden Wipeout! Hello <Hi there! Scott F. here today> I just had the most horrible thing happen and I can't figure what could have caused it.....I have a tank with a Radiata Lionfish and a Blue Damsel. Well, I always keep a close eye on my tanks...ph 8.2 specific gravity 1.023, ammonia 0, nitrites 0 nitrate .5ppm...temperature 79-82, and I have two powerheads, a filter and air bubblers....Ok, now the bad part....I introduced a banded cat shark to the tank and within hours all are dead! <Yikes! Not one of my favorite captive animals, particularly when mixed with other fishes...A very large tank is in order for virtually all shark species kept in captivity.> But the inverts are all alive. After I put the shark in, I did a slight water change (about 10%) with well water (as I do in all my tanks) and I added a little more sand to cover up any course ground (I had some Florida granulated coral in the substrate) now...from the looks of it seems that they suffocated (mouths wide open), but how? This is my dilemma....how can they suffocate in clean salt water  with air bubblers? <Well, it may not have been suffocation. It could have been some form of toxin at work- perhaps introduced with the new substrate, or even the source water or salt mix. Ammonia, arsenic, copper...hundreds of possibilities. Sudden complete wipeouts are almost always caused by some form of environmental collapse or a poisoning of some sort.> The only one who was showing a problem was the shark (breathing heavy) but I thought he was just stressed.....what do you think? Thanks. Danielle <Sharks are very sensitive to metals and dissolved organics in their water. Environmental stability is extremely important. While I cannot completely rule out oxygen deprivation, it seems somewhat unlikely. I'd look for a cause in some sort of toxin introduced to the tank. Retrace your steps over the last few days to see if you can get a clue or two...The truth is out there. I'm sorry to hear of your loss. Hopefully, you'll get to the bottom of things and rebound quickly! Best of luck...Chin up! Regards, Scott.>

Problem keeping fish I have a 55 gal. salt water tank.  Water tests come up perfect. <Do you mind me asking, what's your definition of perfect? More details generally help.> I currently have 5 snails, 2 cleaner shrimp, 3 candy striped shrimp, 3 anemones, <What kind and size of anemones? They put out a huge amount of ammonia for a 55 gallon tank.> 2 clams, 1 scallop, and live rock.  Every time I introduce a fish, I've tried angels, clowns, mandarins, easy to maintain hardy species, they die within 3 days or so. <Can you give me some details on how they die? Do you just find them dead? Do they get ich? Do they have any marks on them? Anything like that? Is there a possibility that something in the tank is killing them? Just off the top of my head, my thoughts on this would be that perhaps you have some kind of parasite in the tank and every time you add a fish the parasites immediately attach the fish. Unless the tank is allowed to go completely fallow the parasites will never go away. Don't worry we will figure out what it is and get it all figured out for you. MacL> I have spent many dollars on these fish, and they always die.  Why?

Mysterious Chronic Fish Death Hello, My fianc?and I have had a 55 gallon setup now for about 8 months.  We've got about 60+ pounds of live rock and 2-3" of coral substrate on the bottom.  We do a weekly water change of 5 gallons and a monthly 10 gallon change.  The pH in the tank is just above 8.0 thanks to a buffer we use weekly.  We also add trace elements and iodine weekly.  There is a power head in one corner and a Penguin wheel filter in the other.  We replace our charcoal filters every month in the Penguin.  We leave them out for a day once a week after the iodine and trace elements are added to the charcoal doesn't remove the good stuff.  There are also poly-filters in the Penguin which we replace monthly.  Ammonia is zero and nitrates hover in the 5 range down to zero.   For nearly the duration of the tank's life we've had a pair of false perculas.  They are doing well.  We also have a pajama cardinal and two cleaner shrimp which have been in the tank for about 6 months.  Until today, we also had a very happy Klein's butterfly which we'd had for nearly as long as the clowns. I'll go back to where the bad luck started.  We had a small Sally Lightfoot crab that died after about 2 months.  So we replaced him with another which died in a couple of weeks.  "OK, we'll give up on those."  Then we added two Firefish.  They fought like crazy so we took the torn-up one back and presumably the pet store was able to save his life, who knows.  Shortly after removing his foe, the feisty one just sort started to fade.  I wanted to take him back as well to get him in the copper-treated water at the store, but he died when I was trying to remove him from the tank.   Frustrated again, we waited for awhile.  Then we tried a Kole Tang.  Within a couple of days he sort of faded and we found him almost dead under one of our live rocks.  He died the next day.  We waited some time again.   This time we decided not to try our luck with fish anymore and brought home a chocolate chip star.  He got progressively less lively and died about a month after bringing him home.  Keep in mind that through all of this our "core" group of fish and two shrimps are getting along swimmingly.  They were all eating well, growing and looking great.   Then we decided to try a Coral Beauty angel.  We heard they were hearty and pretty.  He disappeared after being in the tank for about two days until we found him jammed in a cavern, dead.  We brought him back to the store because we had a guarantee on him and the pet store owner decided we had a hitchhiker crab.   So we attempted to trap the evil crab for several nights to no avail.  We've had the tank for several months now without adding any live rock, wouldn't we have seen one?  Wouldn't he have eaten his prey instead of leaving it alone?   Then the pet store thought to check the accuracy of our salinity meter.  Sure enough, our salinity was up around 1.024.  Kinda high, but not ridiculous.  So they had us slowly work on lowering that and now we're at about 1.021-1.022. Then we decided to add a couple of damsels to see how things were going after adjusting the salinity.  One of the damsels died within a day.  Then the Klein's butterfly stopped eating.  We thought he'd come around and even tried several varieties of food.  He had no visible parasites, etc. on him... just sort of swam around not interested in food.  Then this morning he and the second damsel were dead.  The two clowns, the cardinal and the shrimp are fine. We're new to the hobby and we're trying not to get discouraged.  All of our new fish were dying and that was one very frustrating and sad thing - but now our favorite "show" fish is gone!  He was our big colorful specimen that swam around and was great to watch! This is getting very sad... and personal!!!  What is going on in our poor little fish community??? Please please help.   Lindsay >>>Hey Lindsay, Sorry to hear of your troubles, it's not usually this hard. Here is what I want you to do. First STOP adding iodine, or additives of any type, including trace elements. Without evidence of any kind of parasite (or crab) my suspicion is that something you're adding to your water is toxic to the fish, or building up to toxic levels. You don't need this stuff anyway, you're just lining the pockets of the store. Next, do a large water change, in the 50% range, wait a week, then do another change of say 25% or so. Let the tank sit for a few days, then purchase a single hardy fish. QUARANTINE the fish first for a few weeks to rule out any other problems, including parasites such as C. irritans. If you just dump it in the display, any number of problems can result, not the least of which is that you'll still be in the dark as to what is going in with your tank, if anything. I have a feeling things will turn around if you do this. If the fish survives, you know the problem is licked. Cheers Jim<<<

Skin Blemishes--Contagious? (9/3/04) Drew Crew, <Steve Allen tonight.> I appreciate all of your great interactions with us hopeless novices, <There's always hope when one seeks to learn.> as you truly have great patience. A couple of weeks ago I noticed a small "blemish" on the body of my flame angel. It wasn't an ich like mark but looked more like a puncture/battle wound (perhaps with the Purple tang). <Have you been seeing antagonism or aggression.> I watched it and it cleared in a day. Today I noticed a black mark on the side of my Foxface that was not well defined but about 5 cm long. A couple hours later when I returned home the black mark was gone but a similar blemish remained as on the flame angel. The wound looks like a spider bite type of lesion. The black mark was not there earlier in the morning when I fed the fish, or at least I didn't notice it after watching it for quite awhile. In both cases (flame and Foxface) the fish are eating and swimming fine. <Always a good sign.> The Foxface is fully colored and the only stress it showed was a bit of body mucus while the black mark was "attached".  At this point do I watch the fish for further stress and/or marks? <Have you checked all your water parameters? Does the skin look normal when the mark is gone? Is it raised or level? Bloody or inflamed?> It is in a 100 g tank with >100 lbs of LR and it would be much more stressful to try and catch it. Not to mention the stress I would put on the rest of the tank inhabitants. Also, it is my understanding (from reading WWM) that it is better not to fresh water dip Foxface. <FW dips are for parasites, and I am not convinced this is what you are dealing with?> The tank parameters are all great, no amm., no nitrite, no nitrate, pH8.3, CA-370. <Does seem fine.> The only stress is a new light, as I am getting ready to add coral to my tank. <Foxfaces can be bothered by this for a while and do develop blotchy colors when stressed--it's one why they hide.> It is stressing as I have not added any fish to the tank for 2 months and have no plans to do so. I have a fully cycled quarantine tank set up, so I could move it if needed. I have attached a picture, but not a good one. Basically, you can see the size of the "blemish" but that is it. For perspective, it is ~4 in. fish. <Does look like a discoloration, superficial wound or smudge of some sort. Does not look 5 cm (2.5") long, though. More like a centimeter or less?> As I said, it was gone 2 hours later and only a mark that looked similar to the previous one on the flame angel. I can only hope that the neon goby cleaned it up? <Or it was just a temporary color change.> Perhaps I am overreacting, but want to keep on top of it prior to getting out of hand. <Always wise to be alert & prepared, but not to panic or act precipitously.> Thanks for your help in advance. Best regards, Nick Lukacs <I'd recommend minimizing stress, keeping water conditions optimized & stable, and watching for a while. If it comes back, spread on that fish or to other fish, or seems to be causing symptoms, then moving to the hospital tank and treating would be wise. I would include an antibiotic in that case. Hope this helps. Good luck and keep us posted.>

What's Eating His Fish? (11/1/04) Hi: <Hello. Steve Allen tonight.> I have a big problem in my 75 gal. tank. I have over 25 corals (all thriving - doing very, very well), 2 cleaner shrimp (out all of the time), 1 blood red shrimp, a sea cucumber, and many hermits and snails of various types. When tank started up and completed the cycle, I added a pair of Percula clowns, a Catalina goby, and a mandarin goby. All were doing very well. One day I added some new tank mates (among them an Emerald Mithrax crab). Everything was doing well for a few weeks and then, one day I noticed one of the clowns was missing. From that day on, the fish were disappearing (one every few days) and there was no trace of a corpse. For about six weeks, I held off on any new fish purchases, tested the water quality more often (which was spot on), and the corals and shrimp continued to thrive. Last week I tried again (thinking maybe parasites were my problem all along) and introduced a new mandarin goby to the tank. Saw the fish every day for 4 days...then...gone. I have tried a trap...my hermits loved it, but, no Emerald. I cannot find the Emerald (which, by the way, I have not seen since the first week I introduced it to the tank). Any suggestions? I really would love to put fish into this system. Thanks, Dave <I rather doubt that the Emerald killed all of these fish, but they are certainly capable of eating small fish. It still seems improbable that it would take out so many over so short a time. Do you think it's big enough to take a Percula? I'd search around after dark with a flashlight to see if you can track it down. Be patient with the trap--it may take a long time. Perhaps something else is in there, such as a Mantis shrimp, that can also be trapped. Sounds like you covered the other possible culprits. If you can't trap something, you may want to go fish-free for a few months before trying again.>

Stocking and Feeding a New  Marine Tank <Sorry for the tardiness of this reply. Leslie has had computer problems> sorry to bother you again but I am having some serious problems. A few days ago we noticed that my puffer looked like it had ich. We bought a water treatment and started it. Today my puffer laid on the bottom of the tank breathing really fast and hard, even though the trigger was fine (only two fish). When I got off work the puffer was dead and the trigger has taken on the very fast heavy breathing. <Umm, could be the biological disease itself, just the medication (most are outright toxic), or a combination of the two> I was wondering what could have killed my puffer and what to do about the trigger. The trigger had no signs of ich or illness. He just started the heavy breathing when the puffer died. Also the trigger has some black spots on both sides that just came out when the puffer began to get sick. I have heard that these are warning signs but I don't know what they are warning about. tested the water today and it was fine. Thanks again <Time to send you to our root web: www.WetWebMedia.com for sorting out the particulars of your situation, giving insight to background. The "treatment" contained... copper? Formalin? Please read thought the puffer disease FAQs archived there, the marine parasitic disease... Bob Fenner>

All my Marine fish are dead!!! Hi my name is Kevin I have a 30 gallon salt water tank. Some how all my fish died overnight! The fish I use to have were a valentini puffer, maroon clown, and 2 firefish. I don't know how they died!!! Around 9 o'clock I fed my fish there dinner (brine shrimp) they were eating fine as usual. But before I went to sleep I put quick cure in my tank because my puffer had a little ich. I followed the direction of the quick cure perfectly. But when I woke up the next mourning my fish were dead!!! I don't think it was the quick cure because I used it a few times before. So my question is, do you know what killed my fish? So please tell me so I can avoid this happing in the future. >>>Hey Kevin, Sorry to hear about your fish. I can't give you a definitive answer unfortunately Kevin. However, I can tell you it WASN'T the parasite. If you put a substance in your tank at night, and the next morning everything is dead, it stands to reason that it was probably the substance added to the tank that killed them. Are you SURE you didn't overdose it? When I was younger I wiped out a tank of catfish at the store I worked at by accidentally overdosing Quick-Cure. It could also be a bad batch of the stuff. Who knows. Sorry again for your losses. Regards Jim<<<

Fish are just disappearing Hi Bob! << Blundell >> I hope all is well there at WWM- you guys are excellent and a valuable source of info.  I would be lost without you! I have sifted through all your information about possible predators and can't determine what mine might be (if I have one at all).  Hopefully you can help with this mystery. Here are the specs of my 11/2 year old tank (as of now): 46 gallon 2 clowns 1 Basslet 1 pygmy angel 2 cleaner shrimp several hermit crabs & snails live rock Tons of copepods and tiny .25" to .50" unidentified creatures (think they are amphipods- they look like tiny shrimp) all levels in range, no copper present The mystery began a few months ago when one day I woke up and realized my BTA and clown were missing- no remains what so ever!  Eight hours earlier they were happily snuggled together.  I assumed they had died during the evening and my cleaner shrimp devoured everything.  I had no clue why they had died, but assumed they may have been ill without my noticing.  I guess I was in denial about having a possible predator.  All levels checked out fine. I replaced the clown, but remained anemoneless.  About a month ago I realized my 2 turbo snails were missing, all that remains are the 2 shells...once again thinking perhaps they were ill.  All levels checked out fine and I added 2 new Turbos and kept an eye on them.  They died within days.  Then my jawfish that I had had for a year was missing!  No bodies remained!  At this point I checked levels again, and all was fine.  I even took my water to the LFS to have them check (in case I was doing something wrong) and they verified that levels (including calcium) were fine and no copper was present.  They are the ones that broke the news to me that I may a predator that came in with my live rock.   At first I thought I may have a mantis shrimp, but have not seen any signs and have not heard any "clicking".  However, I don't think I would hear the clicking over my skimmer and filter noise.  Also, the snail shells don't appear to be cracked.  (if that is what the shrimp do) While staying up all night acting like 007 on a mission to catch a glimpse of the predator, I spotted a big ol' Bristleworm...at least 6 inches.  << Not the predator.  Bristle worms would rarely take down a live fish.  In fact I don't think they ever do.  More of a clean up item... and a beneficial one to have. >> I knew I had quite a few worms, but never thought they would get so large.  After researching on your site, I now realize they can get massive!!  << About 18 inches is the longest I find in my tank. >> I have set up a trap and have caught several 3-4" guys and plan on sneering the big monster soon.  My question is first of all...could these big worms take out my fish, anemone and snails? << No way.  They can clean up the left overs, but are not hunters. >> Do I go on a search and destroy mission? ( I don't want to kill all the Bristleworms if they aren't the culprit)  Or could there be something else going on that I need to investigate? << Something else.  Possible just not a well established aquarium, or poor fish to begin with. >> Could any of my little "unidentified creatures" be predators and do this type of damage?  Also, I read about fish that will eat the Bristleworms, but don't think any are compatible with my tank, nor do I have the space.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated- I'm pretty freaked out and don't want to lose any more fish. << Yes, just give it time.  Also try getting something like small damsels or green Chromis.  They are much hardier and fish and if they survive you can rule out the predator theory. >> Thank you so much! Leslie Blue <<  Blundell  >>

Mysterious fish death Hi, guys...I LOVE this hobby -- I really do.  But this year has been very discouraging for me, and so I have to go to the "go-to" guys again -- thanks for all your past help.  I am sure you don't have the time to read the entire story, so here's a summary (still, probably too long): I converted my 65-gallon reef-tank to a new 140-gallon tank in January, whereupon the problems began.  My prior service guy left to become a Mercedes mechanic, and the new service guy (supposedly experienced), recommended Exodin for a case of ick (which I think he helped to cause by bringing me a purple tang the prior week -- which are notoriously ick-sensitive).  The Exodin caused major coral damage.  Eventually I brought that under control with substantial water changes (though I lost several corals).  Then, due (I'm pretty sure) to the service guy's incorrectly installing new filters for my RO system -- tap water, used for top-off, was thus never filtered -- the tank contracted a horrible case of hair algae.   So, I got a new service guy to help me fix the problem.  He wasn't willing to help me do the tedious work required, so I got yet another service guy.  He is quite good.  He brought in a couple of tangs (Kole and chocolate), some blennies, snails and crabs to gobble up the hair algae.  We have also been using DLS filters, a sponge filter, regular phosphate sponges and activated carbon, along with Poly Filters.  The Euro Reef skimmer has been working overtime.  He's been doing 15% water changes weekly, and regular sand vacuuming.  And, of course, we've been doing lots and lots of toothbrushing of the live rock to attack the hair algae at its roots. << I wouldn't do this.  I'd use something like a hermit crab to do this. >> So, the good news is that the hair algae is now very much reduced and under control, and the corals, free from the strangulation of the algae, are bouncing back (at least, those that survived).  Even some of the Xenia has recovered, and is beginning to split again.  The clam continues to thrive.  But, the BAD news is that I am losing the fish.  All the lawnmower blennies died shortly after putting them into the tank.  Two weeks ago, I lost a Percula clown (which I've had for nearly two years), and within the past week a Midas goby, who has been healthy for about 8 months, died, << Mandarins in a way need lots of algae.  Actually they need the pods which live in the algae. >> followed quickly by the yellow-eyed tang and the chocolate tang, which I've had for about 6 weeks.  Only the large purple tang, a royal Gramma that I've had for two years and two small sapphire Chromises remain. << Not sounding good. >> Why can this be happening?  I have done research, but I think I have ruled out all the obvious causes I can think of.  The purple tang did NOT go after the fish that died (after the first day, anyway).  I have kept the water at 76-78 degrees constantly, due to a very effective chiller.  My EuroReef is very effective, and is cleaned regularly.  The chemistry appears good, with no significant levels of phosphate, ammonia, nitrates or nitrites.  Calcium has ranged from 390 to 420 (I'm getting it back up slowly), and the alkalinity level is between 11-12 dKH.  Salinity is 1.024, and pH is 8.1.  I use adequate PC lighting, which is on for 11 hours/day.  I add liquid magnesium and strontium weekly, as well as phytoplankton.  << I wouldn't add Magnesium nor Strontium at this point.  If it isn't tested and low, then I wouldn't worry about it. >> I have seen no parasites on the fish.  I have been feeding frozen Brine Shrimp Plus and Formula One, as well as Formula Two flake and regular meals of dry green seaweed.  I don't believe I have been over-feeding.  The only thing I can think of is that, about three weeks ago, I had some small air bubbles being released into the tank from air that had gotten into the chiller line.  I fixed this about a week ago, but there were substantial bubbles in the tank, off and on, for about two weeks.  The Percula died shortly after I fixed the problem.  Could that have been it??? << Tough to say, but I doubt it. >> I have read your articles, FAQs and responses to questions, i.e., "Toxic water situations," "Factors determining livestock health," "Tank troubleshooting," etc., but am still puzzled.  There is always some cause for fish mortality; we just need to find it.  Do you have ANY idea of what might have caused these disasters?  Not enough oxygen?  Too many hands in the water, too frequently?  Do you have any guesses?  Any suggestions going forward?  Again, thanks so much for your prior and present assistance. << Here is what I would do.  I wouldn't use a service company.  I'd take care of this on my own.  I would not add any fish for a good long while.  The best thing here is to keep the corals growing and keep the tank maturing.  Only add a couple small fish sometime down the road.  But for now, don't add fish to a stressful tank, that may have a parasite problem or some other water issue.  Just give it time.  Also, if you can send a few pics that may really help. >> Best, Ralph (Block) Westlake Village, CA << Blundell, puzzled in SLC >>

Rogue Stomatopod? My girlfriend has a 20g reef tank and she's been having a problem with disappearing fish.  She had a small ocellaris clownfish since she first started the tank about four or five months ago.  A couple of weeks ago he mysteriously vanished over night.  A month or so before she put in a firefish, which vanished within the first couple of days.  Three days ago she put in a pink skunk clown, and this morning he was gone.  None of these fish have shown any signs of stress or poor health.  She's got zebra leg hermit crabs, snails, a Ricordea, glove polyps, a couple of feather dusters, and an abundance of copepods that visibly multiply in the tank, and a clown goby who's been in there for about two weeks, and a more recently added electric eye scallop.  The goby is looking lonely, and Jenny's getting really discouraged, and thinking she should give up on fish all together.  Water conditions are primo, no amm, no nitrite, 20 ppm nitrate, 1.025 sg, pH 8.3...every invert she has every put in there has thrived.  We've never observed any predatory crustaceans, but I don't know what else it could be.  She's got 30lbs of live rock so there's plenty of hiding spaces.  As far as traps go are there any superior models or brands?  Is there anything else that would cause fish to disappear entirely? ***Hey Scott, Assuming these fish are not jumping out (something fire fish are notorious for) then it very well could be a mantis shrimp. Try examining the tank a hour after lights out with a flashlight - sometimes this turns up the culprit. One thing you could try is a hyper saline dip. Remove the rocks and soak them (do not soak any corals) in a bucket with salt water mixed to 1.036. This should cause any mantis that's hiding in the rock to exit almost immediately. Leave the rocks in this solution for no more than two minutes, as the hyper saline conditions could cause unwanted dye off on the rocks. The other option is a trap, and I believe there's one specifically designed for stomatopods. Do a search for "mantis trap" on the web and you should find it in short order if that's the case. If you do find a mantis, you might want to consider setting him up in his own small tank. They are very intelligent, and make fascinating pets. Good luck! Jim***  

Massive losses, Help! 9/5/04 Hi crew, I appreciate your service.  I wrote a few weeks ago about some sickly corals.  I since have done a  100% water change, after which all the corals showed a good response. Finger leather, frogspawn, flowerpot, Xenia, neon mump leather, green star polyps, and a green bubble tip anemone.  My fish were a yellow tang (died), a coral beauty (died), 3 yellowtail damsels, lawnmower blenny, 2 shrimp. <A 100% water change is quite a drastic intervention.  Why did you do this?  Even in a crisis, I would rarely recommend more than 50%.  New salt water should be mixed up and aerated/circulated overnight before use, and care should be taken to be sure that the salinity, temperature and pH are all the same between the tank water and new water.> My water chemistry has been consistently within the guidelines since I started the tank 5 months ago. I have 400 watts of PC's, 125 lbs of live rock, phosphate sponges, its a 90 gallon tank. <What guidelines?  Please list all of your typical water test results, including Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, Calcium, Alkalinity, Salinity and Temperature.> Starting 3 days ago, all my corals closed up, and I lost my coral  beauty. Since then, ALL of my corals have died, except for the green star.  I also lost my yellow tang.  My water still tests fine, and nothing has  changed in the tank for over a month. <As requested above, please list all test results.  What brand of salt do you use?  Often the loss of a few animals causes an ammonia spike that kills more animals and a snowball effect leads to massive losses.>   I hate losing all these animals, and only hope its not my wrongdoing.  My tank is bare enough now where I can completely re-do the system.  I just want any ideas you might have as to what happened so it will not happen again. Thank You, James Pruefer Providence, RI  <It is a bit hard to guess what happened other than the shock of your 100% water change.  When you report back with water test results, please list the results before and after the 100% water change.  Best Regards.  AdamC>

- Massive Losses, Help! Follow-up - My salinity is 1.0235, and did not change with my massive water change. My Ammonia, trite, and trate have been 0 since I cycled the tank in March. My alk hovers around 10-11, my ph is a constant 8.3, I rarely test for calcium, but is always around 400-500. The temperature is 79 degrees, but has gone as high as 85 on the hot days (has been cool here for awhile, but I did notice adverse effects of the heat) I have been using Red Sea salt, I was able to purchase the makings for 750 gallons on a super sale at Petco. I have previously had a decent red slime problem. I have since added phosphate sponges, and siphon the evil pest whenever I can. I only performed the 100% water change as a last resort (wasn't really 100%- since I made it take over an hour). The whole tank responded positively to this change, so I'm steering away from shock. I was leaning towards your answer of a coral death that spiked ammonia - It's hard to tell when they have died, but even now my ammonia is 0. Its my first shot at keeping any saltwater animals, and I expected some failures eventually. I now have the opportunity to alter the tank. I am planning on a real good skimmer (Turboflotor), I'm changing the lights to metal halides and actinics (2 x 250 MH, 2 x 96 actinics, plus a 96 watt 50/50 strip PC). I have the luxury of a good size closet behind my tank, and I'm planning on a 30-ish gallon tank for algae and such, plus a 30 gallon reservoir (trash can) for added water volume. Any ideas you have towards this project would be well heeded. <Well... considering your tank has already been up to 85 degrees without the aid of intense lighting, I would strongly consider the addition of a chiller to your new lighting setup. You'll find dealing with heat the largest problem you have after you add those lights. Otherwise, increased water volume, a proper refugium et al will all provide a good deal of benefit.> I am in love with keeping these awesome creatures now, and my "live and learn" problems plus your truly helpful website will make for a gorgeous, healthy tank. <Keep up the research.> James <Cheers, J -- > 

Marine tank with problems Okay....me, again.....<Hi Lisa, MacL here again with you.> seems my entire tank perished in quarantine within 48 hours at the pet store...so I am back to square one....<I'm so sorry for your loses, I know how hard emotionally and financially that is.> I just purchased a Red Sea Prizm Pro protein skimmer (great price at $60 bigalsonline.com), (46 gallon tank, AquaClear 300 filter with a power head on the other side running) and will let it do it's thing upon arrival before doing another water check. <Lisa on the offshoot that you did have some type of poisoning it wouldn't be a bad idea to do a rather large water change as well.  Up to say 50%>  A few questions...first of all, should I allow my power head to add air along with the skimmer? <I prefer not adding the bubbles, they can sometimes cause problems to the fish.> Or cap it off so it just creates surface movement? <Aim that powerhead right at the top, get that surface moving.>  And...right now, I have 3 blue claw and 1 red claw hermit crab in the tank.  Do I need to feed them anything in the next few weeks? <I'm sure they will find plenty to eat while the tank is settling down.> Or will they manage okay until I begin to add fish again?  You guys are the greatest ...and amongst all the rotten advice I get at the pet stores...I value your opinions.... <Its very nice of you to say Lisa, When you are ready to start again after your few weeks please get back in touch with us and let us know how the progression is going? Good luck, MacL>Regards, L

Marine tank with problem 22 Aug 2004 Okay....after loosing the cleaner shrimp, sailfin, and a goby very quickly and the kole dying with the rest of the fish, I immediately pulled them from the tank and bought them to the pet shop quarantine tank.  They began to appear better the minute they were yanked out.....turns out after submitting my water to a more experienced hobbyist, there was no oxygen in the tank and they were suffocating....plus my calcium in only 200, and the alkaline is too high...he recommended adding calcium slowly over the course of 3 days and adding a power head....... <Directing the power head at the top will help immensely as well.  Getting the exchange going.  Glad to know you've found your difficulty.  Let us know how it goes, MacL>

Troubles with a new 23 gal. Hello everyone! << Blundell this fine day. >> Please help us!  We have a new 23 gallon tank.  The water cycled beautifully and the local aquarium shop said we were ready for action.  At the same time, we purchase a few new pieces of live rock (lots of plants, sponge, anemone, shells and even a crab or two).  We also bought a flounder, long tentacle sea anemone, a clown fish and 3 star fish. << I would wait until the live rock has been there a while before adding any fish. >>  (2 are 4" and 1 and 1"- they are all sea starfish, brownish/red with lots of bumps and thousands of tiny feet moving them around).  From the minute we put the sea anemone in the tank, it dropped to the bottom and stayed there until it eventually toppled over and died in less then a week. << what kind of lights do you have, and did you feed the anemone?  I would wait a while before adding another. >>  We pulled it out as soon as we were sure it was dead.  Then the nitrites were very high and ammonia was slightly elevated, but not to lethal amounts.  A week after the anemone died, the clownfish also died.  On and off we saw white spots and her color was paler.  Then she would look ok until the morning we found her fighting for her life on the bottom of the tank.  A couple of days after that, the flounder was dead and we pulled him out too.  Now, our children have a fishy graveyard in the back, and we are left without fish in our tank.  The local aquarium place had advised us to NOT replace the water after the anemone died, but your web site is making us think we should have! << Well a water change is never bad. >> We are out almost $100 in fish and are not sure if we are set to loose everything!  We really want this to work, but are not sure if WE did something wrong, or the local aquarium is not telling us the proper things to do. << Time and patience.  I would let your live rock be there for weeks, then add some corals and go that route.  I wouldn't add fish for a while, and only a couple small fish to start with. >> Lastly, you should know that one of our lights is broken, which leaves us with only one 20 watt bulb. << Ah, well that doesn't sound like much.  I would avoid an anemone and stick with a FOWLR tank at this point. >>  The guy said it was fine to put the fish in the tank with that amount of light and ordered us a new one. << Well fish don't need lights, but the rest of the live rock and system does.  The light is very important for growing algae and phytoplankton to feed the rest of the tank. >> It's is still on order.  Could it have been the lighting? << For the anemone yes, but for the fish.. hmmm not directly. >> Thank you for any help you can give! << Best thing to do is to look at other small aquariums and see what others are doing.  Local aquarium clubs and friends can help here.  For instance, I have a 29 gal, with two 150 watt halides on it.  Still, I'd like more light. But just keep going, you'll do fine as you learn along the way. >> Keith and Lora <<  Blundell  >>

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