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FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 9

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

Related FAQs:  Mysteries 1, Mysteries 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, FAQs 5 FAQs 6, FAQs 7, FAQs 8, Troubleshooting 10, Troubleshooting 11, Troubleshooting 12, Troubleshooting 13, Troubleshooting 14, Troubleshooting 15, Troubleshooting 16,

Agaricia fragilis, Bonaire.

Crashing Tank - Inverts Especially - Please Help Me -- 06/04/07 To the Amazing Crew at WWM, <Hi there> First I want to thank you for all the help your team has provided - this is actually the first time I have ever had to send you a question. My tank is CRASHING! And it's mostly inverts. Usually I find everything I need right on the site, but anyway here is the problem. Here are my inventory, parameters, and problems. HARDWARE I have a 75 gallon saltwater reef tank with a venturi skimmer. 4-powerheads moving around 1000 gph. 2 larger hang-on filters are currently being used instead of an 18 gallon refugium that I have trying to set up forever with no success. <Mmm, define "success"... and describe this unit...> 1 heater 1 - 65w/4 satellite high compact fluorescent with 2x actinic and 2x 10k bulbs PARAMETERS -78 degrees and salinity of 1.0255 -Alkalinity around 200-240 -PH 8.2 -Nitrite- .5 ppm <Mmm... should be zero... always> -Nitrate- 20 ppm <Borderline high...> This Tank has been established for 4 years indirectly. About 4 months ago my girlfriend and I moved in together and combined my 55 gallon reef with her 37 gallon reef to make this 75g tank. <Ahh, togetherness> - I also have about 90-110 lbs of liverock, mostly Fiji. I use DT's phyto, and Kent for mostly everything else (calcium, Iodine, buffer, food adds, etc. .) <Mmmmm... how administered?> I feed a combination of (formula 2, Cyclop-eeze, Mysis shrimp, formula 1, and algae for the tang) I usually feed every other day or so. LIVESTOCK Here is where my problems are and it is mostly Inverts. Fish - 3 inch maroon clown, 2 inch black percula clown, a 6-line wrasse (small) and ---------- Yellow Tang Died Today Inverts - There are tons of hermits that are still living, 2 - turbo snails that DIED, 4 starfish (brittle, tiger striped, red serpent, and a black serpent) ALL DIED YESTERDAY except black serpent. <Yikes...> - Cowry snail DIED, 4 black/white snails DIED, 4 bumblebee snails DIED, 6 Nassarius snails DIED, and I had a brood of snails raising for 2 yrs or so and all the babies are DEAD -2 Black long-spined sea urchins, one DIED yesterday, one DIEING and shedding its spines. -several Feather Dusters also. Coral - I have many corals, mostly the same kind, but here goes. - 1 large colt coral -- 1 bubble-tip Anenome (MISSING OR DEAD) -Many Ricardio (spelled wrong, bumpy mushrooms) DIEING, <... troubled mix...> -7 toadstools, many mushrooms, I am not sure what kind but mostly the flat purple, striped green, and red/bumpy ones all are shriveled up and look ready to die. I don't understand what is happening but it is bad, everything is dieing except the clowns and 6-line. All the corals are shrunk up and withering away, the crabs seem to be fine amongst all the dead parts to eat that I couldn't get out (part of starfish arm). I pulled one urchin out yesterday because its spines were just falling out. If you have any advice or have any idea what I should do please let me know a.s.a.p. Should I take my living things over to a friends tank? Or will that end up killing their tank? I just don't know what to do. Thank you for your time -Paul from Wisconsin- <Something very amiss here... could be a chemical mish-mash issue... See WWM re the aspects of what you list... the Troubleshooting FAQs for each... OR could be a cascade event with the Anemone dying, poisoning the other Cnidarians... they in turn poisoning the rest of your livestock... See WWM re Anemone Compatibility... I WOULD change a good deal of your system water ASAP with whatever volume of pre-mixed/stored water you have on hand... I WOULD avail yourself of chemical filtrant use (See WWM...). I WOULD move as much of this life to other systems if you can... I WOULD read re the Selection, Compatibility of all new livestock ahead of acquisition... Bob Fenner>  

Re: Nitrate and Phosphate spike ... SW troubleshooting... "other poisoned" event   5/25/07 First, thanks for the advice and the time spent to assist me with my water issue. I've taken your advice and stripped down my refugium and cleaned out all the Caulerpa.  I have been, over the past ~12 weeks focusing on getting my water quality back to ideal levels without the assistance of additional products (Rowaphos, Denitrate). The current water parameters (after 1 week with no Rowa/denitrate) are: Temp - 82deg (night and day) Salinity - 1.025 Ammonia - 0 Nitrate - < 5 (the color isn't 0, but not quite 5 either..) Nitrite - 0 Phosphate - 0 on my kit, tested at the LFS and was almost 0 (didn't get the exact number) PH - 8.3 (Day) - 8.25 (Night) Calcium - 400 Magnesium - 1300 Alkalinity - 4meq/l (Borate Alk. 1.5meq/l) - Seachem Test               - 10-11dKH - Aquarium Pharm. Test - aside from a few small lingering spots all of the BGA is gone. From the time of my last email to date, this is what I have done: - Weekly water change - 15g/week (~10%)    - The water is all RO/DI (replaced all my filters, membrane and DI beads to be sure), outbound TDS is 0    - stabilized at 82deg, 1.025 salinity, ~10dKH, 8.3PH    - buffered with Seachem Reef Builder/Buffer - Carbon - replaced every 14d - Polyfilter - replaced when they go 'brown'     - the PolyFilter has never changed any color other then brow, appears to just be debris - Removed the Phosphate reactor media (using it for carbon now) - Remove the de-Nitrate bags At this point, something is still not right with my water. - With the water at what appeared (from the tests) to be good levels I attempted to add 2 Cleaner Shrimp and a piece of Xenia.  I dripped all of them for over 45mins to try and make it an easy transition.  Within 24hrs of being added to the tank the Xenia was well on the way to being dissolved, and the cleaners were snacks for the brittle stars. <Likely the "too clean" water, chemical filtrant use along with the stress of being moved, new... is at play here> - For livestock I have 2 clowns, Yellow tang, Mandarin, Blenny, and a Copperband.  The fish all appear to be healthy and happy.  The sand sifter and brittle stars (3) are fine, and the snails seem to be good.  Any shrimp added seem to die almost immediately, and I have lost 2 Blood, 2 Cleaner and a Coral Banded since my spike.  I thought it could be copper, however the PolyFilter didn't change to a color that would indicate copper. <And your other invertebrates would show...>   I have a BTA, that isn't extending out fully, and appears to have bleached (spotty and semi-transparent).  It does still extend out daily about 1-1.5in, and I have been feeding it silversides which it happily takes and devours. <Good... the absence of phosphate is likely problematic...> - For corals, I have a Colt which is doing well, however my toadstool, buttons, yellow polyps are all declining almost to extinction.  All of the green star polyps and mushrooms are totally gone.  I have a Clam (Tridacna gigas) that's about 8in in size, and appears to be doing well (this is based on looking the same (color wise) as when I got it, and the mantle is fully extended). - Until the last 2 weeks any Chaeto I added would dissolve into mush within a few days.  In the last 2 weeks the pieces I have added are not really growing, however they haven't dissolved either. <Lack of essential nutrient...> At this point I'm stumped as to where to look next.  Something appears to be off, however I'm not sure what to test or check for.  Any suggestions on what my next step should be? <Cutting back on the use of the chemical filtrants...> PS: My clowns have taken to the clam, and spend all day 'loving' it as my wife says.  They protect it from anything (including me cleaning the glass), and I've seen them get aggressive with snails that happen to wander by.  I'm not sure if it bothers the clam, but it's interesting to watch, especially at night when they sleep inside the clam.  I attached some images (shrunk down) that show day and night behaviors.  Any idea if this is going to have a negative effect on the clam? <If it has not yet, not likely> Thanks again for the help, and sorry for the length of the email. Derek
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

day night

Only just got started - Fish dying and large bristleworms. Tandem Deaths in New Marine Aquarium    5/7/07 Hello <Hello Luke.> there using your site a lot very helpful, <Awesome.> just a quick question <Okay.> I have lost 3 fish in the past month, 2 Green Chromis and a Banded Butterfly  fish thing with no apparent illness affecting them other than one of the Chromis seemed pale in colour. <If by banded butterflyfish, you mean Chaetodon striatus'¦In all honesty I'm not surprised it perished. Most do not ship well, nor acclimate to captive diets/life in general. In fact I believe this is one of the animals listed on Bob's poor butterflyfish list. As for the Chromis while they are hardy once established they do suffer from poor shipping at times, ha\ving quite sensitive skin.> I am also worried about large bristle worms on our live rock (only some of the rock not all) 2 in particular seem to be at least 4-5 inches long (reddish/pinkish in colour) because I have read they can kill fish and  corals/anemones. <Mmm'¦there are some predatory worms but most species that come in on live rock are simply scavengers/detritivores. It's unlikely they could catch a healthy fish.> Have tried to catch the buggers but they just aren't playing ball. <See WWM and our forums WWF for tips on catching them if you must'¦> System has been running for 4 months <So relatively new.> 55 UK gal (4ft x 2ft x 2ft) 30 pounds live rock Temp 26 C S.g  1.023     Ammonia 0     Nitrate 0.1 Nitrite 0.3    <If this is accurate should be zero'¦is toxic to fish an invertebrates.> KH 125 Calcium 400 Phosphate 0.25   Ph 8.3 Irons all 0 Using RO water and 300watt Halide + 40watt actinic Fish in the tank is now 1 Chromis, 2 Clown Fish and hosting Green BTA (Know I probably shouldn't have bought this at this early stage, <Agreed.> but couldn't resist   <Careful impulse buys are what lead to heart-break aquarium stories.> started to lose colour under normal tubes hence light change after lots of tlc  has started to regain colour-wife says I should marry the fish tank !!), 1 Regal  Tang (Will be upgrading as fish grows), <Yes'¦> 1 blue/orange damsel <These can get aggressive.> , 2 snails, 2  Red Hermit crabs, 2 Cleaner Shrimp, 1 Leather, 1 Pussy Coral, <Ahem'¦not familiar with that common name here in the states, that's one of our more taboo words.> 1 Star coral  thing, and a baby BTA, all corals are opening and feeling very happy at the moment.   If you have any concerns about my tank I would greatly appreciate any  advice you could give me as I am new to marines although I have  had freshwater fish for sometime this has been a bit of an eye opener. <As far as the fish that perished, how long did you have them before they died? Were they quarantined? What were they eating? Any signs of aggression between tankmates? Other than the concerns I listed initially I'm not seeing any red-flags, except for a potentially overstocked aquarium at one point or at least in the future.> Always in your debt for the endless amounts of help your site  provides. <Welcome.> Loads of luck in the future, <Luke'¦.use the force'¦sorry I had to say that at least once.> Luke <Adam J.>

New Tank Additions and Mystery Die Off  4/26/07 Hi, <Hello.> my name is Curtis Richards and I am familiar with your forum, <The public Chat forum or WWM itself?> seems to have helped a lot of fellow hobbyists. <We try'¦> I have a 55gallon bowfront saltwater tanks for a little less than a year now. Up until about 2-3 weeks ago all that was in the tank were two false perculas, a yellowtailed damsel, and a purple firefish. They were all fine eating well and everything was fine. By the way, I use a Bak pak filtration/skimmer unit with makijet1200 powerhead, airstones, heater, Odyssea lighting, the whole shebang. Parameters have been excellent ever since I've owned them. <Good.> There is also a Tongan Snail, <Nassarius sp?> 2x Turbo Snails, and 10+/- hermit crabs in there. All fish I have ever put in my tank have been drip acclimated for 2+ hours. <Quarantine?> Around mid March I made a purchase of a small flame angel, and a dwarf fuzzy lionfish to make my tank complete. <That dwarf lion will get rather large for a dwarf, your clowns, damsel as well as your firefish at risk my friend.> As well with the order I purchased a brown/green brittle starfish (purchased at saltwaterfish.com). <What species, if it's genus Ophiarachna they are very predatory.> The first 2 weeks went great, everybody seemed to get along with the exception to the damsel who would flicker a little every time the angel got to close. <Normal behavior for a damsel, aggressive little buggers, they are.> Both the lionfish and angel were eating great. Frozen Ocean nutrition dwarf angel formula for the angel, and believe it or not the lionfish practically came to me weaned on frozen stuff. <As they should when purchasing them from a reputable LFS.> With in 3 days he was eating frozen krill soaked in Selcon. <Good.> Like I said before I do 3 parameter checks weekly all ammonia and nitrites are at zero, alkalinity is stable, and pH is 8.4. About a week and a half ago, I noticed my angelfish was hiding a lot more than when I had first purchased her. And she had abruptly stopped eating. I tried everything from OC Pellets, to OC seaweed select to krill to Mysis to brine, and got nothing. <You did mention this animal was subject to some aggression from the damsel, correct?> Three days had passed without her eating and I was watching her under the rockwork where she ususually <usually> is and my Tongan snail was literally eating away at her right fin, while she was still breathing, and I notice a great deal of her tail fin was gone too. <If the animal is to the point where she cannot resist a snail attempting to prey on him/her, she is in dire stress'¦.needs to be moved to a quarantine tank immediately.> So I took her out and quarantined her <Good.> and sure enough she just sunk to the bottom, the next day she was dead. <Sorry to hear that.> And that's just the beginning to my problem. <Uh-oh.> I figured maybe I just got a bum fish, sometimes it happens. <There is still a reason'¦..and in this case the animal was acting, eating normally for about a weeks time, correct?> But just last night I got home from class and my lionfish was extremely pale and breathing really heavy. I checked the parameters of the water and they were the exact same as they had always been. I watched him for a bit and he was very rapid with his motions, almost twitching while swimming. And like the angel fish he just refused to eat. Normally he is at the surface spitting out water to get me to feed him and he'd jump out of the water when his food gets even close to the waters surface. I have a lunar light rigged to the tank and all night he was a mad man swimming back and forth back and forth about as quickly as he could. Which was shocking because in my somewhat new knowledge of lionfish they are docile swimmer, and he had never showed any aggression towards any of the other tank mates. Sure enough the next morning he was dead in the same whole in the rocks that the angel had stayed, I looked closer and I couldn't believe it, my brittle starfish was eating the now dead lionfish. Is that a normal thing to do? <Completely.> It had two tentacles rapped around it and it was goin<g> at the thing. I grabbed a set of long tweezers and fished him out to dispose of him, and in the back corner of my tank my blue tailed damsel is on the ground pale and looks to have been chewed on as well. Its like a fish horror film. I have no idea what to think. I did a parameter check today as well and everything keeps coming back the same amonnia-0, nitrites-0, ph8.4, alkalinity 1.8, salinity 1.023. <Well there is definitely something environmental going on here. Can you have a friend or LFS confirm the test readings? How old is your test kit?> Are my invertebrates completely turning on my fish. <Again, this is VERY normal for this species of brittle star.> So far the two clowns and the firefish seem fine I watched them very closely for about 2 hours and they seem fine, no signs of white or black specks so Am counting out ick. <Cryptocaryon does not typically kill this fast, no.> I have no idea what to think. Or could there be something in my tank I don't know is there. What are the sign/symptoms for bristleworms <Doubtful bristleworms played a role.> and other hazardous inhabitants? <See WWM re: disease, see if you can I.D. a specific ailment.> Also, my brittle star is fairly large sized, he's got about a 5-6inch wingspan. Could he be the cause, it seems all my fish that settle on the substrate seem to be the one who are dying, the clowns swim and bob at the top all night, and firefish actually does hide in a small hole in the rocks. <What you described sounds environmental, like a water quality issue or some type of disease, though I can't say what from the information you have provided. Having said that I have no reserve saying that the seastar may be taking advantage of the situation and prettying on the weak fish.> Just seeing if there is maybe something ive <I've.> over looked, or if you have any advice. <I would get your test results verified by someone else or another test kit.  I would also read through WWM re: disease and perform a large water change.> Anything at this point would be great, because I am at a loss for ideas or reasons right now. Please help me, Thanks you so much. <Welcome and Good Luck. Also in the future research all animals prior to adding them and quarantine before addition to display.>> Curtis Richards <Adam J.>

Re: Completely Baffled  4/26/07 Crew, <Michael> Sorry for the missing information. <Ok, most was provided> I use the drip method of acclimation.  About 3 -5 drips per second until water doubles and then I discard half and drip until doubled again.  I forgot to say that at first I float for about 30 minutes to adjust temperature. <Nothing wrong here'¦search goes on> The leather is now about 1/8 the size when introduced.  It seems like flesh is falling off frequently. <Does it look like the 'skin' -- transparent film -- or the actually flesh -- flaked solid> When I started the tank, upon some very poor information from the LFS, I introduced the 3 clowns and flame angel with BioSpira and about 15 lbs of LR.  After doing some testing, I noticed the Nitrite and Nitrate levels were high because the tank was cycling even with the BioSpira.  I did 10% water changes every other day until I got my water quality up.  Since then, I have not had any problems with water quality.  Even though the tank did cycle, all 4 fish survived. <Unfortunately you were a victim of poor-information and you will have learned, however it always pays to get more than one opinion on set-up to avoid blatant mis-information> When the Flame angel went to QT, he started to look better after about 5 days.  Based upon the fact that we saw him nipping at the   corals, we thought, he was the one that killed the Xenia, Zoanthids and Turbo snail.  So, we were going to keep him in QT until we could find a better home for him because we thought he was just a big bully and was going to eat anything in our tank.  That is where the 10lbs of LR come in.  Knowing the flame eats constantly off the rock and he was back to health, we placed 10 lbs of the rock in the QT tank for I'm to eat off.  We figured it was OK since we were not using any chemicals. <Ahhh ok, right mentality, however it can be the rock harbouring the parasites etc and this can be transferred to the quarantine in larger quantities than would be present on the fish -- effectively a back of population of infection> The reason why we moved him was that the last batch of corals, the leather and mushroom were on the decline. We only have one QT tank and didn't want the flame angel in with the corals.  So, since the flame angel was back to health, we moved the corals to the  QT tank and flame back to the display.  At this point, the display tank had fish only with LR and the QT tank had 1 Zoanthus, 1 leather and 1 mushroom.  That is when after 12 hours the Flame's health declined.  Thinking that something is drastically wrong in our display tank, we moved all inhabitant to the same QT with a divider to keep the Flame away from the corals. <In what way did it deteriorate? Symptoms? May be caused by stress under the cramped conditions -- this tank (20gallons) is too small for the Flame> Now, in the QT tanks even the clowns are swimming more stress free.  What we thought was normal behaviour, now doesn't seem that way anymore.  They used to dart at each other and push each other around.  Now that they seem like they are all good friends. <Could be good -- improved conditions -- or bad -- becoming lethargic> To answer the specific questions now.  Before we added the hermit crab and first batch of snails, we just had the 3 clowns, flame angel and LR.  The crab was drip acclimated as per above. <Ok> We feed, some Cyclop-eeze flakes every other feeding.  The other feedings, we feed Rod's frozen food with garlic and Selcon.  For the corals, we feed some Phytofeast trying to spot feed them with a dropper. We feed every other day. For water changes, I do 5% twice a week. <Good regime and good selection/variety of food> I am going to a different LFS this afternoon with a water sample to see if my test kit is off. <Worthy idea> The only thing that has happened in the tank is that about 2 months ago, our floating thermometer broke in the tank.  The only thing that broke was the glass and the metal weight beads were in the substrate.  I picked all that out and from the research I have done on the website, that shouldn't have affected anything. I am willing to dump LR and the substrate.  If I have to start with new water and re-cycle the tank, I will.  If need be, I will try to set up separate QT tanks but I don't have enough biological filtration.  And, if my current QT is possibly infected, do I start with straight premixed water?  If I do, will that need to be cycled? <I would remove the Flame angel to the LFS as it likely that under the conditions it will continue to be susceptible to conditions. I would then continue monitoring all your animals in the quarantine whilst re-testing all display parameters. Do substantial water changes with aged water on both tanks and continue to monitor. If all remains well in the quarantine, re-introduce slowly after all of the display tank's water has been effectively replaced through changes, if any symptoms are exhibited on re-introduction I predict a resident parasite then it may be worth starting to replace things or emailing back> I am trying hard to get this correct.  We are in the stages of planning a 150 - 200 gallon tank and we want to know that we have the skills to be successful. <You will have the skills through unfortunate incidents like this, continue persevering and if you think of anything of note, email back, also if there is anything else you would like clearing up> I hope this is enough, If you need more, I will provide it. I hope you can help. <So do I, keep in contact and we'll continue working at it> Michael Svehla <Good luck, Olly> Re: Can it be velvet?  4/8/07 Dear WWM, <Stella> I'm sure you're very busy, and the holiday season is probably also causing delays.  I just wanted to give you an update since my email from 8 days ago (attached below). My goby's stomach has basically shriveled.  He had stopped scratching when I first wrote to you, but since then he has been very lethargic and has lost I's say at least 1/3 to maybe 1/2 his body weight. <Yikes. Bad>   Still no signs of any white spots, which makes me think it isn't velvet after all.  Up till 2 weeks ago, he was actively fat and ate everything I put in the tank.  Yesterday for the first time since Tue, I saw him eat some Nori and a bit of the frozen Formula 2 I had put in which made me very happy.  The tang and the Gramma are fine and show no signs of anything.  Any thoughts on what the issue might be? <Mmm... none that aren't posted> Also, is there any possibility of whatever he has passing on to an invertebrate? <Not likely>   My fish are fine (so far) but the Lysmata cleaner shrimp has became fairly lethargic and seems to have lost his appetite! Best, Stella <Something is awry with the environment here... the list of possibilities is vast... the usual S.O.P. for response not... Water changes, availing yourself of chemical filtrants... See WWM re Troubleshooting, Toxic, Environmental Disease of Marines: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm> P.S.  I know I should have the goby in a QT tank, but NYC apartments just don't have that kind of space unless you make a million $ a year. <Perhaps a small tank for this purpose in the bathroom? Close to drainage, new water... Bob Fenner>

Ich??   3/18/07 Hi, <Hello, Brandon here tonight.> Found your website and was hoping to get some help.  Sorry, I pressed the wrong button in the last email and sent it before I finished writing so I'll have to recap again... <Itchy trigger finger eh?  Don't worry, I have done this more than once'¦> We are new to aquariums, fish, etc but we recently bought a marine aquarium with live rock, anemones, etc.  The store said that the tank has been stabilized and so we were convinced that it would not be a horrendously difficult task.  Long story short, we lost a lot of fish. <I wonder what they mean by stabilized'¦  Any time that you move a group of fish and their environment, you are taking on a HUGE project.> We started out with about 11, 3 shrimps, and 1 starfish.  We returned one shrimp as it kept going after the clown.  From this original batch, we have the starfish and the clown.  We lost all others. <I am left wondering what the size of this tank is'¦> When we told the store that the fish had died, she said that probably chemicals were released when we transported the tank and to wait about a week before returning to replace the fish.   <This sounds bogus to me.  I hope that they gave you a refund on the lost fish.  I have seen these pre-setup tanks in stores before for something like $200-$400 before.  I am guessing that the tank is a small one, something like 30 gallons or under.  I never bought one of these because I felt like it was too much of a risk to move it.> We waited a week and went back for 6 fish so that we had about 9.  We lost most of these fish over the next 2 days and only have 1 from the second batch. <Again I am wondering what the size of the tank is, but this is too many fish at one time.> One of the fish that died the second round had white spots and when we mentioned this, the store gave us some bacterial medication.   <Stress, and Cryptocaryon, anti-bacterial medication would be useless here.> The fish wasn't acting "weird" otherwise.  Also when we had the second round of deaths, we were told to test the water.  We tested with the NO2 kit - water was the lightest yellow on the chart, <The color of the NO2 chart means nothing to me.  It would be more helpful if you could send a number.  For illustration, my NO2 test kit rates in colors starting at light blue ranging to a very interesting shade of purple.> and we tested the water for both salinity and temperature.  Both were within the normal range. <Again, define 'normal' numbers are of more use here, as well as a list of the inhabitants, size of the tank, lighting scheme, and filtration scheme.  You need to be testing for Ammonia (NH3), Nitrite (NO2), and Nitrate (NO3) at a minimum.  Preferably with liquid test kits, the kind that you add drops with.> Even the store is at a loss. <Hard to imagine how, they have been such a wealth of information and good advice up to this point.> The clown had been ok but now has white spots.  It's now been a week since we went for more fish, <The best thing for you to do at this point is hold off on adding any more fish.  You most likely have Ich more scientifically known as Cryptocaryon irritans.  Any fish that you add will be infected at this point, and could possibly die.> and 5 days since we lost the majority of them.   Even the two shrimps were lost this last round. <This is likely due to the anti-bacterial medication, which is not the right kind of medication to begin with.  What did you say the name of this pet store is?  I want to make sure that I never go there.> Are the white spots Ich?   <Most likely they are trophonts.  This is but one phase in the Cryptocaryon life cycle.> We have been doing the medication and have not added anymore fish.  We only have two. <This medication, as before mentioned isn't doing anything.  Were I you, I would do some reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichart2mar.htm.> My clown is looking very spotty (tiny white spots) but not much else.  The other fish hides in the rocks most of the time so not sure how it is doing. Any help is appreciated. <I wish that I could be of more help beyond this, but without more information I am unable to.  Feel free to write again with the information that I outlined above, and I will try to be of further assistance.> Thanks <You are most welcome, Brandon.> Sandra

Re: Bubble Deaths Part II 3/5/07 Thank you, Chris for the information. <Welcome.>  I don't know why I thought a water change would get rid of the ick, or not be transmitted to the 55 gal once the Cardinal fish was put in there! <Easy to make bad decisions when under stress.>  The stress of losing yet another pet was mind boggling! <Amazing how attached we get to fish.> I have decided to let the 55 gal go fallow for 8 weeks. <Good.> The 10 gal now has the heater from the 55 in it, raising the temperature to 90. <Make sure you have good circulation, the O2 level will drop drastically at this temp.>  It will remain so for 4 weeks.  My question is, during this period, do I continue with the monthly water/filter change in the 55? <I would.>  I have decided to leave the light off, also, as there is enough algae in it. <Even more reason to keep up with the changes, as the algae dies it will release nutrients back into the system and water changes will help remove these.>  I have sand substrate, which gets covered with green spots and requires weekly vacuuming to remove it. <Not uncommon, check for phosphates to see if this is the source of the problem.> Well, I knew the job was tough when I took it! <Gets easier with experience I assure you.>  Your link on the "dip" was extremely helpful and now that I know how to do it, I feel more confident that my future pet(s) will have a better chance of surviving. <Great.> ... Thanks again!! Brenda Truitt <Good luck in the future.> <Chris>

Unexplained Deaths, SW...   2/22/07 I have a 50 gallon tank, 8 months old, 40 lbs live rock, 3 shrimps, sand sifting star, snails, Condy anemone, three percula clownfish, blue tang, <Needs more room> red saddleback clownfish, watchman goby, three damsels, royal Gramma Basslet, flame scallop. <Mmm, hard to keep>   Diet consists of plankton, flake food, seaweed and live & frozen shrimp.   Everything running smoothly, all of a sudden day after day fish start dying.  Water test at home and local salt aquarium store all good, ever so slight elevation of nitrate, <Could be post-related to the deaths> water change, fish keep dying, note no invertebrates are affected. <A good clue> Additional water test, Hmmmm no ph registers at all.  The store employee and are bumfoosled.  We even double check her water at the store just to make sure the ph test chemical was working.  But nope my water had no ph. <...? All liquids have "a" pH> Which I thought would of killed every invertebrate in the tank, shows what I know.  Added supper buffer for the ph and all tested out fine. There were no visible signs of parasites, etc.  No velvet, no ick, no luck.  Watch them continuously for any strange signs of behavior etc and there was none.  Finally, lost all fish.  Still have every invertebrate though and the shrimp seems just happy molting.  Please provide any advice that you can give me to test before adding any new fish.  I was really heart broken when they started to die, I did attempt a last ditch effort to move the remaining few fish to my hospital tank but not sure if that was just more stress for them and they didn't last a day. Amazing the emotional connection you can have with your fishes.   Laura K. <Ah yes... well, you apparently have some sort of toxicity that does not effect invertebrates... These are only of a few "types", the most common being something biological... likely either an organism/group growing in/on your live rock or in the substrate... The easiest way to "get around" such situations is to do large water changes, "spiff" up (clean, tune) your skimming, and use chemical filtrants (Activated Carbon, Polyfilter)... and have time go by (about a month)... This should do it here (to allow whatever the toxic source is to "cycle" out... if not, more drastic measures may be called for... the introduction of purposeful predators, competitors (macro-algae), addition of a live sump/refugium... Bob Fenner>

Please Help... Bizarre common names (to RMF), some querulous set-up, feeding...  - 02/21/07 Hi Crew <Jason> I have had a fifty gallon salt water tank system going for about 10 months. In this tank I have two Blue Damsel's, one African Clown, <? I wonder what species this is> one standard orange Clown, two three striped black and white angels, <?> one Coral Beauty, one Arrow Crab, one Hermit Crab and two snails. I haven't use any live rocks or coral yet. I was just getting prepared to start adding some live rock when I notice my African clown acting slightly upset, particularly not actively eating. My Coral Beauty is also distressed. It is not eating at all and it is swimming very irregularly but mainly hiding inside some castles <Castles?> and staying along the sand floor. It has some very slight white marks behind each eye and its color seems to be a little off. When it comes to testing my water I have been doing once a week and here are my average results: Nitrite is 0 ppm, High Range PH is 8.0, Ammonia is 0.25 ppm <Hopefully spurious> and Nitrate is 5.0 - 10 ppm. I have been add the recommended amounts of Stress Zyme once a week after tests. Anytime I top up the water level in my aquarium I use the recommend amount of Stress Coat. When feeding I use an O.S.I Marine Aquarium Flake Food once in the morning and once when I return from work. <... need more than this nutritionally> I been preparing for a water change due to the red, purple and green algae build up on the glass. It has been about three months since my last large water change. I'm really worried for my fish and I'm not really experience with owning a saltwater system. Unfortunately my local pet store isn't very helpful unless you need help picking out a fish. I haven't really trusted their help since they told me it was okay to introduce a dwarf lion fish in my tank. What do you think I should do? <Mmm, get me/us more/better information... re the species involved... see fishbase.org re? Reference works? Then a detailing of the gear you have/use... Likely the origin of troubles here are environmental and nutritional> Do you need to know anything else to help you analyze this situation? <Oh yes... see above> Thanks a lot for the help. Jason <Bob Fenner>

Re: Please Help... Bizarre common names (to RMF), some querulous set-up, feeding... trbleshtg f', SW   2/22/07 Hi Bob This is the best names I could come up with: 1 x Coral Beauty - Centropyge bispinosus (Sick & not eating) 1 x Yellow/Brown Clownfish - Amphiprion sebae (not eating) 1 x Orange Clownfish - Amphiprion ocellaris 2 x 3-Striped Damsels - Dascyllus aruanus <Ahh, damsels, not angels> 2 x Blue Damsels - Chrysiptera taupou I'm using a Fluval 304 three stage canister. One stage is active carbon, one stage is half active carbon and BioMax (little white cylinders) and the last stage is all BioMax. I forgot to mention that I feed them a brine shrimp cube once a week. <Good, but these animals still need more variety, protein> The castles I mentioned before are just large tank ornaments. <I see> What did you mean by "hopefully spurious"? <That this small amount of ammonia being read is actually artifactual... not really there> Please advise if this helps. Thanks a lot Jason <Mmm, nothing "jumps out" from the information you have provided. I encourage your reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm The first tray... on disease, others experiences... Bob Fenner>

Strange wipeout, reef... toxicity... cuke     2/20/07 I am a reef keeper for over 10  years with several large reefs. I recently set up a 34 gallon small reef. Reef had 4 medium seahorses, 1 percula clownfish, 2 cleaner shrimp, and a medium sized sea apple. Live rock, live sand, and protein skimmer. Everything fine for 2 months or so. Last night everything looked fine. Looked this morning the fish were all dead. The other reefs were fine. The 2 cleaner shrimp were still fine and the sea apple <...!> looked fine with no evidence of a discharge from the sea apple. Last night I  had fed the fish in all my tanks frozen Mysis and also put 2 small capfuls of  DT's       phytoplankton in the water of the 34 gallon reef.      1- Since the sea apple looks fine and no evidence of a discharge or discoloration in the water. I am skeptical he had anything to do with the wipe out? <I am NOT> Can a sea apple blowup or discharge poison and look fine a few hours later and the water look normal? <Oh yes... think about this... Would an organism have some sort of defensive mechanism that would damage itself? Not likely>      2- Could the Mysis have been bad and killed the seahorses and clownfish and not affected the fish in the other tank who were fed the same Mysis? <Mmm, not likely at all>      3- Could it have been the DT's phytoplankton had gone bad? <Nah> I have no idea what happened. <Is only a guess... but am very sure the Holothuroid could have been the root cause here... Have seen this species take out an entire store... on centralized filtration. Other general probabilities include a "bug" (insect) flying in, poisoning the system, an errant use of a household cleaner/aerosol, a cascade-event with some sort of microbial/algal die-off... Bob Fenner>

Re: Tank Upgrade issues... Tough Transitions... SW tank troubleshooting    2/2/07 <Hello again Brottie, Mich here.> THANKS! <Welcome!> Yes it gave me things to look for. <Good.> And yes the regal tang being MIA is not a happy thing at all he/she was tiny less than an inch in size. <Hopefully just hiding.> And it was the first time I ever saw a tang of that species "hang out" with the percula, buddies so to speak it was hilarious to see.   <Cool!> As for the water parameters I tested again today. I initially said 0ish for the ammonia because it is showing 0 on the nice little color chart. So results for today tested at the same time as yesterday - <Very good.> Ammonia - 0 Nitrites - 0 Nitrates - 0 Alk - 3.92 Calcium - 500 (down slightly) Salinity - 1.024 Temp 78.7 this morning and 80.5 right now (5:23pm - est) ** this is within the same parameters of the previous 35G tank that they were housed in.   <Good.> Haven't needed a heater yet and am strongly considering a chiller for the summer time. <I guess!  If it's winter where you are and are getting a way without a heater, I'm jealous because I'm freezing!> I definitely did place the corals lower in anticipation of the change in lighting, and have since receiving the email response moved them all to the sand bed. I have also cut back how much I keep the metal halide lights on, only 1 hour today. Previous days since was about 3 to 4. <Gradual increase in light makes for the easiest transition.> Not sure if that is a good thing or not. But the shortest amount of time that they are on and the moon coral retracts even more, at this point I see mostly the stony spine of the thing.  The lighting I previously had on the 35g was a make shift sort of deal - hanging from the ceiling was a single 175w 6500k metal halide pendant and a 2x32 watt compact flr. Both hung 1 foot above the tank. The current light is on legs 3 inches above the tank, BUT the tank is 8 inches deeper than the other one.  The current lighting fixture is the outer orbit 36", 2 x 150 watt HQI (one is 6500K bulb the other is a 10,000K) with 4 x 39watt T5 bulbs.  The T5's are  on longer than the HQI, approx 7-8 hours. The led's I have come on 2 hours  prior to the T5's and then at night. Last night I kept all lights off.  **any other suggestions in this area?   <Mmm, not that I can think of.> The mentioning of checking the water flow was something I hadn't thought of.  I most certainly increased the water movement by way of power heads when I upgraded, therefore after reading the response I promptly turned two of them off. <Just temporarily.> I will monitor that. <Good, hopefully will see improvement.> I know nothing is predictable with this hobby but dag nab it, just when I thought I had planned for everything. <Hehehe! Hahaha!  Planned for everything... that's a good one... hehe!> The 35g tank was up and running for 7 years and it got to the point that I knew exactly what needed changing by just looking at it. <Oh-boy!  This will be a big change for you!> So after what I thought I had perfected it's time to start over. <Yes, a fresh start.> Patience is indeed what will most likely prevail. <Usually is.> Thanks again for your sharing of knowledge and advice! VERY MUCH APPRECIATED! <You are most welcome, hope something helps.  -Mich> Brottie Barlow

New Tank Troubles 1/29/07 Greetings WWM Crew, <Hi> I would like to start off by commending this website.  This is a fantastic resource which I only wish I could have found sooner. <Thanks> Please allow me to start off with some background.  I have kept freshwater fish in the past and had success.  A couple years have passed since then and I have decided to start a small (yes I know this is frowned upon) marine aquarium.  I am using a 20g tank that used to house two black moor goldfish.  They were filthy creatures and I could not seem to keep the tank cool enough. <Not your favorites then.>  TheY eventually perished (they lived for about 6 months).  The tank had sat dry for 4 weeks while I did some reading and prepared to enter the marine world.  I began hanging around my LFS, which was recommended highly by a coworker, for literally hours at a time watching their tanks and asking questions. <Good> When I felt I was ready I washed out my tank that had been sitting dry with hot water and set it up with live sand and saltwater.  This setup sat for one week with the filter, power head, and heater running.  I then went back to my LFS and starting purchasing live rock. I added a couple pieces at a time and eventually three weeks later I had about 22 pounds.  All of the live rock was added and the tank sat again with heater, power head, and filter running for about 4 months. <Good.>  During this time I did bi-weekly water changes 4-5 gallons at a time. <Good.>  Time had passed and my tank had cycled.  I decided it was time to get a fish.  I took a sample of my water to the LFS and all parameters where textbook. <Learn to test yourself, better and quicker.>  I picked out a royal grammar and 5 blue legged hermit crabs.  After acclimating the fish to my tank I let him free and he ran and hid in the life rock. <Normal, these guys are pretty shy.>  Three days went by and the royal Gramma (rg) was spending more time out of his cave.  One night when observing him he 'flashed' against some of my live rock.  I did not observe any spots or heavy breathing so I decided to see how things progressed.  Two days later he was dead.  I took him to my LFS along with my water and had them run some tests.  All the parameters still looked fine and they were at a loss as to what could have happened.  The felt bad so they gave me another rg.  I acclimated him and two days later he was dead.  Back to the LFS I went with fish and water in hand.  I did not have much time to observe the second rg so I don't know if there were any visible signs of disease.  The LFS owner again could not find anything wrong so he gave me a damsel to try.  I reluctantly took it as I did not want to kill any fish. <Ok> Two days went by and I noticed he was hanging out at the top of the tank and breathing heavy.  Within an hour he could no longer stay oriented in the current.  I rushed him to the LFS for them to try and treat in a QT tank (No word yet on how the fish is doing).  During the whole process I began researching what could be killing my fish.  Velvet was a disease I came across that matched some of the symptoms of my fish.  It seems to be a quick nasty killer and I fear it may have come with the first royal Gramma. The tank is now sitting fishless while I try to figure out what to do.  The hermit crabs and mushroom that came as a hitchhiker seem to be doing fine.  At this point I feel awful about killing so many fish.  I was planning on letting the tank sit fishless for 6 weeks while I do more reading and regroup. <Good idea.> Hopefully this will also kill any parasites if velvet was indeed the issue.  This seems to be quite a long email but I figured the more info I could give you the better. <Absolutely.> Any input would be welcome. Not willing to give up yet, Chris <Its possible it could be velvet but at this point no way to know for sure.  Acclimation could also be a problem, or just poor livestock.  Do you know how long these fish were at the LFS?  Also exact water parameters are necessary to help diagnose, pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate for a start.  QTing before addition to the tank would also be helpful, see if they do better outside the main tank in a more controlled environment.> <Chris> Re: Oh my! What have I done. New Tank Troubles Part II 1/30/07 Hello again WWM Crew, <Hi> Thank you so much for the quick response, what an amazing turn around.  In regards to your questions: I am not sure how long the first royal gramma had been at the store (rookie mistake for not asking), but it was swimming and appeared healthy.  I did however ask about the last two fish which had been at the store for "several weeks", and had been eating well. <Ok, probably the livestock was ok to start with then.> Unfortunately I cannot remember all of the water parameter readings <<Write these down... in a permanent log. RMF>> but I do know that s.g was constant at 1.022, pH was 8.3, temp. is a steady 78.  All I can remember about nitrate, nitrite and ammonia is that two of them where 0 and the other was in the range of what the LFS considered acceptable. <Most likely ok.>  I am in the market for a test kit so I can do it myself however I have not found the one I want yet. <Good>  Is there a brand that WWM recommends and what parameters should be checked? <Salifert's are considered the best I think, also the most expensive.  Most name brands would work.> This is quite a frustrating experience because everything seems like it should be ok (at least considering water parameters) but obviously with dying fish something is not right.  My one very supportive girlfriend is starting to question my abilities :(. <That hurts.>  I have also read something about increases the temperature of the tank when it is sitting fallow (no fish).  Can my blue legged hermits and mushroom handle this, or should I just leave it at 78?  <Could go a little higher, 81-82, but I would not go much higher.> Respectfully, Chris <I would make sure to run carbon and Poly-Filters to remove any possible toxins in the water, may help in diagnosing the problem.> <Chris> Re: Tank Problems....onto equipment issues   1/30/07 Sorry, Kelvin rating is 10,000. <This is fine...> Regarding the filtrations, I probably should be on a sump? If so what would you recommend. <You could replumb and go the sump route, however if you want to keep "hang-on" equipment a larger protein skimmer would definitely be necessary...something along the lines of a Remora Pro...also look into the popular line of hang on refugiums.> Virginia <Adam J.> New Fish Keep Dying 12/26/06 Hi Bob, <Hi, Chris with you today.> I seem to be in a pickle with my 8 month old marine fish only tank.. <ok> I have in there a porcupine puffer and some Chromis that have been in there from the start and are all doing fine... My problem is that a few weeks back I brought a yellow tang and he died the following day. I took him back to the shop along with a water sample and was told all is fine and he gave me a refund.  <Test the water yourself, fine is not exact enough.  Get actual numbers.> So a few days later I bought another yellow tang, the next morning the same again!!! I couldn't really get another refund so instead sought advice from another store. He told me there maybe some contaminants in the water and sold me some poly filter to use.  <Seems like anything that would kill that fast would effect the other fish.> I ran this for a couple of weeks and the other day decided to buy an algae blenny as there is plenty of it in the tank. I got back home today to find him dead also!! All the other fish are happy and they have in no way tormented the new fish. Now the only thing that all these fish have in common is they are algae eaters. Could my algae be poisoning them?? <Very doubtful.><<Actually... this is not all that unlikely. RMF>> I am lost otherwise and don't dare risk any more fishes lives until I get to the bottom of it.. If anyone has any ideas that would be great. Thank you Sean <Three things come to mind.  You need to start QTing your fish, this will allow you to better observe them to see what is going on.  Two, find a new supplier, chances are these fish are all coming from the same distributor which may be an issue.  And three, look over you acclimation techniques, maybe something is amiss there.> <Chris> Missing fish/es   12/15/06 I have a 150- gallon FOWLR tank that has been doing well for 3 months.  This week I have started having missing fish.  First last week was a bi-color blenny, then Tuesday a small lawnmower blenny and today a 3-inch Lyretail Anthias. One of my cleaner shrimp went missing last week.  I thought the bi-color blenny jumped out of the tank.  But since it is built-in, he would be difficult to locate.  I don't have a cover for the tank.  The tank has two yellowtail damsels, a yellow damsel, four green Chromis, one coral beauty angel, one royal Gramma and a ocellaris clownfish, two cleaner shrimp, one banded coral shrimp <This is the most likely candidate of those listed. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cbscomp.htm> and about 20 hermit crabs.  This week I noticed several holes in the sand, one in the rear corner (2" deep & 3" across) and another along the side of the tank. <Along with the "usual suspects"... Stomatopods/Mantis, and Alpheid/Pistol Shrimps> Sand is recently piled up under the rocks, which could be the work of the yellow damsel.  I took out my power head and cleaned it yesterday. Today there is sand on top like someone poured a little sand on it. It is three inches from the bottom so it didn't suck it in.  My water quality has been good and today is NH4- 0, NO2- 0 and NO3- 10 ppm, salinity 1.024 and pH 8.3. I set the tank with purchased liverock on September 1st.  Could I have a predator from the liverock? <Yes> If so what should I do? <Read on WWM re Mantis, Pistols... their detection/(in)compatibility and removal/trapping http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mantiscompfaqs.htm  and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pistolshrimps.htm> My shrimp have been in the tank for more than a month.  I didn't think too much about the first two missing fish. But today makes 3 missing fish and one shrimp in one week. Also disturbed the sand bothers me.  Just before writing this I found the lawnmower blenny in the overflow.  So now I have to figure out how to rescue him.  Any ideas?   <Turn the pump serviced by this device off, fish the fish out or pour this container back into the tank. Bob Fenner> Disappearing Fish  12/14/06 Good morning! <Hello> In the last 5 months I have had 5 fish die in my tank. <Have you figured out what has caused these deaths?> I have not been able to find any of them, except one.  Each time a fish died, I removed the rocks (80lbs), and I still could not find them.  I am concerned about decay in the tank. <Depends of their size.>  I was going to recycle the tank by replacing some of the sand.  <Not sure I understand why you want to do this.>  I am also going the run an UV sterilizer.  What are your suggestions? <Dead fish can very quickly "cleaned up" by crabs, worms and other scavengers.  A small fish can easy be completely consumed over night.  Have you looked around the tank for jumper?  Have any other pets that may eat a fish found on the floor?  Could another tankmate be consuming the fish?> <Chris> Danielle

Disappearing Fish  Part II 12/14/06 The fish were small. I had (3) fire fish, (1) 6 line wrasse, (1) strawberry Pseudochromis. <All jumpers.> The wrasse and pseudo were the first (2) to die, then the fire fish.  I caused the deaths by not preparing well enough before I went out of town on business. <Lesson learned.> The salinity shot way up.  I tried to bring it back down slowly, obviously not slow enough.  It seemed like a trickle down effect after that. The fish died within weeks of each other. My husband just asked if I checked the sand.  I did not, so I will do that tonight.  <And behind the tank.>  In the event that I do not find any fish, would a water change be sufficient? <Yes> Can I forget the idea of recycling the tank? <As long as ammonia and nitrite are 0 there is no need.> <Chris> Disease or not. Come on down!  - 11/11/06    First of all, my tank set up. I built my tank from so I could customize it the way I saw fit. From reading your website I gathered that many tanks you buy on the market that are "Reef Ready", are far from. <This is so...> For example, undersized plumbing. So, in lieu of that I built my own. It's a standard acrylic 240. (8x2x2).  There's 2 overflow boxes. One in each back corner. Within each overflow box there's 3  "1 1/2 Durso standpipes that drop down into a single 4 inch pipe that runs the length of the tank. So basically I have 6 drains from the 3 overflow boxes dropping into one 4inch pipe. The 4 inch pipe is T'd in the middle with a 4 inch 90 connected to it. This allows water to drop straight into my 60 gallon sump. In the first chamber of my sump I am running a Aqua C EV400 that receives all of the raw water. From there the water flows through about 50 lbs of live rock to my return. <Mmm, no baffle, wall to back up the water in the first compartment to steadily "feed" your skimmer?> My return pump is a Ampmaster 4700 that feeds  a manifold around the top of the tank. The manifold has 14 T's spread out evenly around the top perimeter of the tank. Each T has loc-line tied into it for fully adjustable flow. Needless to say there are no dead spots in the tank. I have 150 lbs of live rock loosely aquascaped fro complete circulation within the rock structure. Substrate consists of a 1/2 inch of sugar fine aragonite for aesthetics. Current live stock. 1.  2 Cleaner Shrimp "Lysmata amboinensis"                            2.  1 Threadfin Butterfly "Chaetodon Auriga"                            3.  2 Common Clownfish "Amphiprion Ocelaris"                            4.  1 Yellow Tang  "Zebrasoma flavescens"                            5.  1 Blue Tang "Paracanthurus hepatus"                            6.  1 Royal Gramma "Gramma loreto"                            7.  1 Emperor Angel  "Pomacanthus imperator" The livestock was stocked in the order listed. <Looks good> Tank parameters are Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate <5ppm, Ph 8.3, Alk. 9.8 dKH, Calcium 360, Temp. 80 degrees, Spg 1.023, <I'd raise to 1.025> Phosphates 0.  I do 10% water changes weekly using R.O and Oceanic Sea salt mix. The R.O is aerated for at least 12 hours before salt is added. Now that you know my basic set up I'll get the problem. I have been been reading almost daily on this website for the past 5 years. <Wow... EricR says "Sign 'em up!"> I appreciate the time and effort that everybody has put into this website. No doubt, ya'll have helped thousands of people in this hobby. <Mmm, daily> Actually, millions is probably more realistic. There's such a wealth of knowledge to be learned through other peoples experiences and it seems I learn something new everyday. Anyway, to my problem with my fishes. The Butterfly was the first fish I added after a month in quarantine. He/She showed no signs of disease whatsoever. I then added the pair of clownfish after 4 weeks of quarantine. No problems with disease there either. The next fish was the Yellow Tang. No problems with this guy either. Next was the Blue Tang aka. "ich magnet".. He also showed no signs of disease through the quarantine process. The next to fishes were the Royal Gramma and the Emperor angelfish. They were quarantined separately for a month with no signs of disease. These are all the fish I will be adding, because I feel I am at my stocking limit despite these fishes being juveniles. After 3 months I noticed 2 salt like spots on the Blue Tang coupled with rapid breathing and scratching. 3 Breathes per second, <Oh oh> maybe even a little faster. I then noticed the Butterfly and Yellow tang had the same breathing rate. The Clownfish, Emperor, and Royal Gramma had "normal breathing patterns". The only fish that showed visible signs besides the breathing was the Blue Tang. I don't think dissolved oxygen would be and issue with the amount of circulation I have. Anyway, I drained the tank, netted out all the fishes and placed them back into quarantine.  Since it seemed evident that ich was what I was dealing with I treated all fish with CopperSafe for 14 days . With a test kit of course. During this time I also raised the temp and lowered the Spg. <All reads good thus far> All fish but the Butterfly took the medication well. He developed red streaks and blotches on his body.  I figured it was either a reaction to the copper or a secondary infection. So, I performed a 100% water change and started treating with a broad-spectrum antibiotic for the time indicated on the directions. This didn't help the condition of the butterfly. At this time the other fish looked healthy as ever so I decided to add them back to the display tank. At this point the display had gone fallow over a month. Did I mention I also did fresh water dips on all fishes while they were in quarantine. <Not till now> Anyway, I kept the Butterfly in quarantine for a couple more days and he seemed to get worse so I put him back in the display tank. My gut told me not to, but I figured if it was bacterial then the more stable water parameters display tank might be better for him. As soon as I added him the cleaner shrimp immediately started cleaning him for at least a good hour. <Oh good> Within 2 days the red streaks and blotches had completely gone away. So it seemed everything was back to normal besides the breathing rate of the Butterfly, Blue tang, and Yellow tang. Could it be gill flukes? <Mmm, doubtful... turns out such trematodes are generally more species, genus... even family-specific, not a community disease> I figured the CopperSafe and fresh water dip would have taken care of that. Should I have used formalin dips instead? <Mmm, carefully, as an addition to the pH-adjusted freshwater dips... with aeration... perhaps> I know formalin is more effective against flukes then copper, but I didn't know if that's what I was dealing with. <Better to avail oneself of organophosphates... other vermifuge agents> All the fish have always eaten like pigs and still do. The Butterfly does visit the cleaner shrimps to get his gills serviced from time to time. Is this an indication of parasites. <Not necessarily...> The main thing that concerns me is the rapid breathing. <Me too> I think 3 to 4 breaths per second is too many. The fish are very active and swim like crazy, but the same species of fish in the LFS don't breath like this. What do you think I should do? <Raise the spg, punt...> Drain the tank again and pull them all out. Treat with formalin dips while they're back in quarantine? <Mmm, well... will be hard/er on them this pass/time around... If it were me/mine, I'd add another species of cleaner organism... see WWM re> Angels are kinda sensitive to formalin aren't they. <All proteins are...> I don't think it's their diet. I've done plenty of research on each fishes dietary requirements. All foods are soaked in Selcon before feeding. Anyway I'm sorry for the lengthy E-mail, I'm just a little frustrated and don't know what steps to take. Maybe I'm over reacting, but I'd love to get yall's opinion on this matter.      Thank You, Jeff Trumble <I actually suspect that "something" else is going on here... Some sort of toxic involvement... I would add a unit or two of PolyFilter in your filter flow path here... to see/detect (by color) whether there is this something that can be seen through this detection tool. Bob Fenner>

Food poisoning?   11/6/06 Hello Crew, I've got a 40 gal reef setup consisting of perhaps the standard equipment which in detail are a couple powerheads w/ a combined capacity of about 800 gph, a CPR BakPak (reef) skimmer, DSB 4 - 5", ~ 60# live rock w/ lots of nooks/crannies/overhangs/tunnels, and lighting consisting of a pair of 40w power compacts (1white/1actinic combo on each).  Livestock consists of a pair of True Percs who seem inseparable, (1) Pygmy Cherub Angel, (1) Royal Gramma, (1) small Scooter Blenny, (1) rather large Lawnmower Blenny, (1) Sally Light-foot crab, and a nominal cleaning crew comprised of  Blueleg hermits, Nassarius snails, turbo snails and a recent addition of a half dozen sand crabs (sand fleas) <Neat!> which although not much info seems available about, from what I could find, they would not be harmful to the beneficial properties of my DSB. <Do you, have you observed them feeding... with their principal antennae?> I have a white Sebae anemone <Bleached...> which the clowns tend to nestle into throughout most of the day and night but they also seem to confuse my flowerpot (Goniopora?) <The most common English name applied to this genus of Poritids...> coral colony as another potential symbiotic buddy and give it some unwanted love from time to time.  Other corals include a leather finger coral, some red mushrooms that are thriving, a small green umbrella mushroom polyp and a small patch of green Ricordea.  The tank is about a year old by now, and the livestock has been in there ranging from 8 - 10 months.  I have a small bit of hair algae that lingers in certain spots; I plan to proceed w/ the CPR AquaFuge PS HOB fuge-skimmer when budget allows it and so that should help to address some future algae by way of nutrient export but then I expect to have to find a new home for the lawnmower blenny when that happens. <Sounds good> I maintain temp at ~82, which some people agree with while my LFS considers it on the high side.  Water parameters seem to be stable and maintained w/in the purity specs you folks recommend except that my nitrates occasionally run around 10 ppm, which I knock down w/ periodic water changes (every couple/three weeks w/ saltwater from the LFS). The question I have is that I had added (3) Blue Reef Chromis to fill the livestock loading out after reading about them and learning that they are perhaps the only damsel that aren't overtly antagonistic and that they serve well as dither fish to coax the other shy fish out and about. <There are a bunch of other Pomacentrids that fit this general category as well> The Chromis had been QT'd for 2 wks and then added to the main-tank and everyone was getting along fine, except that the Chromis did appear to working on their group pecking order from time to time but not bothering anyone else.  Then one morning about a week later, I found all 3 Chromis had kicked the bucket overnight. <!?> Not sure what happened but everyone else in the tank appeared to be fine. I had some remnants of some quite old frozen Mysis that I pulled out and used a couple days prior to the passing of the Chromis; could it have been spoiled and they were food-poisoned? <... would have mal-affected the other fishes, non-fish livestock>   I know my tank contains a mix of Atlantic/Indian/Pacific species and so do you think anything in the mix was problematic enough to take out the Chromis but nothing else? <Mmm, no... not likely this. Perhaps the fact that the Chromis require higher oxygen tension/concentration...> On a related note, I have a Florida Condi anemone that was in my main tank once.  The clowns did a careful taste test of it kind of like dipping your toe in the pool before jumping in and they immediately found that it wasn't kosher. <Some do, some don't>   I've relocated the Condi to another tank but I might bring it back into the main tank since the clowns probably would be indifferent to it now that they have the Sebae. Thanks for any insight! -J <Mmm... I would NOT introduce an anemone in such a small system with other Classes of cnidarians established... allelopathological problems induced... Bob Fenner> Perplexing and Frustrating Problem ... SW troubleshooting f'   11/5/06 Hello to the Aquatic Gurus, <Steve> I've set up a 165 gallon saltwater system for one of my customers about two months ago. 3-4 inches of sugar-fine aragonite, well-cured live rock, dedicated refugium, Euro-Reef skimmer, Sequence pump. I stocked the tank with a few zoos, green star, mushrooms, colt coral and some snails and crabs. After a week or so I put in a few fish.   Everything looked spectacular for a number of weeks; the corals were plump and flowing well. The fish were eating. I had a pair of Lamarck Angelfish, <Mmm, I would not introduce Genicanthus species into such a new system> a wrasse, and a small sailfin tang. They all seemed happy, although they all seemed to hide much of the time (this is in a dental office that is not yet open so there are no people around 90% of the time). <I see> After about two weeks, the eyes of the angelfish began to cloud over.   In two days, they were dead. The wrasse died and the tang is not looking good. I removed the fish as they died and there was only a minimal spike in ammonia. Now all the corals are looking really anemic. One mushroom appears to have crashed, the green star has closed up. The Colt coral and Ricordea still look fine. Can you give some idea of what's going on? <Mmm... might be the Zoanthids triggering some sort of biochemical side-war poisoning here... but could be another source of toxicity> I'm thinking it's a bacterial infection, but I don't understand how the corals can be affected. Can the bacteria affect them? Is it possible that an explosion of bacteria infecting the fish are just polluting the water   enough to hurt the corals? <Maybe this last...> I performed a 25% water change yesterday. Any advice on treatments?   Any advice would be very helpful. Thanks as always!!! Steve <Mmm, having been in the Service side of the trade for a couple of decades... I would "fall back and punt" here... remove the ailing "corals", place a bunch of damsels for the time being... see how they do for a few weeks. Bob Fenner> -- Steve Bicker, Designer & Owner Nemo Marine Systems, LLC: "Engineered for the Ocean... Designed for   People"

Re: Mysterious loss of SW Fish... solved!   10/27/06 Hi Bob!  A while back you gave me some suggestions regarding my loss of saltwater fish.  I was doing everything exactly by your book.  It seemed a mystery to both of us.  The answer finally was the variation of my city's water system.  Ok for humans, but very poor for our fish.  The minute I installed a RO/DI system things changed.  I can now handle even the most sensitive fish.  In retrospect, I wished I had started working from the outside in, meaning start with water quality first.  Believe me, I could have bought several RO systems with the cost of lost fish.  My confidence level now has brought me to my first reef tank.  Thanks for your past help.             <Ahh! Thank you for this update... and congratulations on solving this mystery. Bob Fenner> Bob Boyd

All tests show healthy tank - Fish continue to perish  10/26/06 I have used your web site on several locations and have been successful in answering my own questions through the FAQ section, it is extremely  helpful.   <Ah, good> I did not expect to have to reach out to you directly but I can  seem to keep my fish alive.  My fish die on what seems to be a steady  pace, about once a week. <Frightening>   The tank is 4 months old and is tested  weekly.  All levels are within their ideal range, including  temperature. <Mmm... all parameters for which you have tests> I have located a couple of hitchhikers that I can not seem to ID and I am concerned that they may be attributing to the loss of life. The first includes tiny white tentacles sticking out of the live  rocks, the length of a finger nail but as thick as pin.  They seemed to be  grouped together throughout the tank, typically in sets of threes.  They  look like tiny white bristle worms but do not move like one.   <These may indeed be trouble... perhaps Hydroids...> In addition, I do have a large gray bristle worm that lives in one of the rocks.  I previously took the same rock out of the tank and was successful  in removing what I thought was the entire bristle worm.  I either did not  get it all or there was another one. <This would be an outright predator...> I would say that it was about six  inches.  I believe these are safe any would only possibly have a negative  impact of corals but it size is frightening.   I also  found a mantis shrimp in the tank a couple of weeks ago, it  was actually in the wet-dry.  I was able to remove it from the tank. Just last week I purchased a green brain coral and notice that there was a tiny thread attached to it.  This tiny thread had other tiny threads  attached to it and it was able to retract in to what looked like a tiny white  spec. <Perhaps another hydrozoan species... or...?> Does it sound or seemed as though I may have vicious predators in the tank or that I may be overlooking something else?  Your assistance is great appreciated.  Scott G. <Back to "go" as the saying... goes. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Bursa Gone - 10/22/2006 Well I regret to say that all inhabitants of the tank have passed except for one strong Sand Star, but now I am at phase two.  Before when I said all levels are fine I did mean no nitrates, no nitrites, no ammonia, p.h 8.3, and no coral.  All levels still remain same now.  Well about 4 days after I lost my last friend which was the bursa (and two 50% water changes) I decided to try out a Clown Fish.  Since he was the only one I just introduced him. He started eating the same day and was fine.  The following morning i woke up and he was on the bottom  of the tank with one eye clouded up and he was acting kinda erratic.  Then he died about 2 hours later.  So I took a sample of my water to my LFS and they assured that everything was fine.  Again  did another 50% and waited about 5 days and then i decided to just try out two Domino damsels.  The first night and the next day they were fine.  Eating right away.  Then the next morning i woke up with no signs of a problem they were both dead on the bottom.  So now we are here at one LFS they say i might have to just get new LR and sand and start over others say there not sure.  I do apologize for this long letter but I need help and I had to let you know what is going on.  Thank you again   <NOOOOO, no apologies needed. Okay so here's my thinking and experience on this. If I have this happen in a tank then there has to be one of three things happening. Either you have some type of parasite that is attacking the fish something is going on with the tank itself, or you have something bacterial going on. If they have tested and everything is reading okay why would they tell you that you need new live rock? Other than that they want to see you buy some new.  One thing strikes me, and that is that they all seem to be having problems at night. Wonder if that's some type of ph drop that is drastically occurring at night or possibly a lowering of the oxygen levels a night.  You might consider taking the ph levels after the tank lights have been off for a couple of hours. Also, and this one is going to hurt. If it was me, I would leave the tank fallow for at least four weeks. By fallow I mean don't add anything else for a least that time and let any possible parasites in the tank die for lack of a food source.  This should also fix whatever bacterial is going on as well if it is that.  Good luck, MacL>

Velvet wipeout?  9/29/06 Hello, crew.  Sad tale to tell. <Okay, though I'd rather a happy one> We just noticed that in one of our tanks, a 46g reef, we were missing the vast majority (at least three) of our fish (cherub angel, midas blenny, red-barred Sandperch).  They are just flat-out gone -- no corpses are obvious, or even non-obvious (haven't taken the tank apart, but looked in all nooks/crannies with a flashlight).  Of the two remaining, the royal Gramma is showing signs of disease (a rough appearance overall, heavy breathing, very small white specs, and what appears to be a wound on one side); the yellow tang seems completely unaffected. Given the extremely fast onset, and the symptoms exhibited by the royal Gramma, I am thinking Velvet. <Mmm, maybe... or Crypt... or...> Aargh.  My wife and I are really bummed.  After reading the FAQs, some specific questions: - From what I've read, the only "real hope" for the long-term is a two-month fallow period, perhaps with a UV unit, too, right?  So the tang has to be removed, even if it's asymptomatic? <Mmm, yes, one approach> - I have a fully-cycled 20 gal that has no fish in it (waiting for a peacock mantis to become available).  Is this sufficient to hold the tang (he's about three inches) for two months? <Yes, should be>   The tank has invertebrates, so treating with copper/hyposalinity isn't an option.  Would dips be enough?  If he's asymptomatic, does he need it? <For you to read> - Should we take apart the 46 to get the carcasses out (wherever they are)?  We're starting to see nitrogenous buildup and pH drop.  Or, would you just recommend large, frequent water changes to maintain quality?  We've got lots of SPS/soft corals in there. - Finally, in terms of future prevention -- freshwater dip with methylene blue? Thanks, Dan <Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reefparasittksfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Much more for you to know than you've asked re here. BobF>

Acclimation   9/16/06 Hi, I am distraught with failure!  I can't keep fish alive, and can't bare to kill another one. My tank conditions are as follows: (25gal- a lot of live rock) Salinity .26 Ph 8.3 Temp 78-82 Phosphates read at 0 on Salifert (PhosBan kept tight in up-flow  portion of the sump) Nitrates read 0 Alkalinity 10   Calcium 420 Magnesium 1320 No additives, just bi-weekly 20% water changes Drip Kalk at night (currently 1 tea spoon per gallon, not much demand for calcium in the tank) about a gallon a night is dripped. Tons of current (2 Rio 600, a small maxi-jet, and Seio 620) Lights 3 VHO lamps 2 50/50 and 1 blue act. (would like to build a reef, as soon as budget permits) Okay, so I currently have tons <Tank too small for tons of invertebrates. try removing 1000 lbs of them.:):)> of invertebrates that have been alive for a year in the tank. 1 star fish 10 snails 5 hermits 1 sexy shrimp 1 emerald crab And a crocea clam They all appear healthy and happy. <Nothing like a smiling clam.> Now for the fish : ( I have NO fish they all die within 3-4 days,  I have had about 15 fish die over the last year. The first two lived the longest, a cardinal and a dragonet (about 6 months) but ever since then I have purchased fish from several different resources and the fish in most cases seem fine for the first few days i.e. Dig burrows, eat 2-3 times a day, but then from one day to the next just die. I have acclimated them all different ways, always letting the bag float for 15min or so for the temp, and then either slowly let more and more water in over time, to even drip acclimating them for an hour. What am I doing wrong!? I want fish, but my wife is extremely fed up with me killing them. Is it normal for them to appear fine after a day or two, and be eating, and then all of a sudden around the 4th day just dying? <Not normal at all.  Are you selecting easy to keep fish and smaller fish such as percula clowns, etc?  In a tank your size, no more than one fish should be added at one time, and would not keep any more than three small fish in this system.> Please help. <I'm thinking your acclimation process may be the culprit.  Do read here and follow the advice, see if you have better results.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm James (Salty Dog)>

And then there were none... substantial obeisance, hydrometer accuracy, troubleshooting SW illness...  - 09/14/06 Hi, You guys were a tremendous help to me last time, I went to Amazon and ordered anything with the name Fenner on it. (great books) A little background on the tank. I have a 50 gallon saltwater tank, 2 years old. pH normal, Nitrates normal, Nitrites normal, SG 1.022, temp.77-79, Nh3 negative. 30 Lbs live rock, and a 1.5 inch bed of live sand (infested with what I think are bristle worms, little orange things that are grey at the end). The lights run 10 hours a day, and I have a very healthy growth of bubble algae and the like. ( the tang loved it ) In the last three weeks I have lost,,,,  A yellow tang, 2 clowns, 5 assorted damsels, a mandarin (sob!) <Yikes>   and a citron goby. I have introduced an anemone, and a feather about two weeks ago, but they seem fine. <... likely the Anemone is involved, related to your fish losses here> My crabs and snails are all fine, but I tried to put in cleaner shrimp to help stem the massacre, and they died about 20 minutes after being put into the tank. (do i need to recalibrate my hydrometer?) <Doubtful... but I would "check" it against a known-to-be more accurate device... and raise your spg to 1.025> The fish were coated with a grayish mucus especially noticeable on the eyes, I have cultured the water <Neat!> and found Gram negative bacteria such as, Proteus, and Pseudomonas. <Very common "similar" microbial involvement in all marine waters> The fungal culture will take a bit longer to grow. I rarely do water changes, but the tank evaporates about 2-3 gallons a week that I refill with RO water. I have a canister filter that the LFS guy says not to touch "if your water is so clear, and the parameters are so good, don't even clean it, you will kill the bacteria that  live there", so I added another smaller canister filter. <Mmm... am not a big fan of this technology for the vast majority of marine systems. See WWM re> I don't know what to do, this has happened at the end of last summer as well, and I simply left the tank empty for 6 weeks to crash any parasites that were there, and then added fish and they were fine, but this time I don't think it was parasites. HELP PLEASE!! many thanks, josh <Well... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/anemcompfaqs.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm and the linked files above.... And consider adding a protein skimmer if you don't have one, better filtration period, trading in the Anemone... Bob Fenner>

Re: and then there were none  9/15/06 I do have a protein skimmer,,, How to I go about changing the filtration? and must I get rid of the anemone? thanks again for your time, josh <Good, posted and likely so... Keep reading Josh and you'll do fine. BobF>

Sick Yellow Tang... system, lack of info. Dear WetWeb Crew, I have a yellow tang that has recently started looking pretty skinny, his ribs have started showing clearly and he looks thin and bony.  A few days ago I saw him stuck against the filter where it sucks in water. <A very bad indication>   I moved him but he did not seem quite healthy, so to stop him from getting stuck again <Intake screening?> I put him in a net that hangs over the side of the tank (it is rectangular with plastic supports).  The next day he was lying on his side and his back was in a downward arch from his nose to his tail.  I cut out a piece of plastic from a tank divider and used it to keep him upright.   <?> At first he just leaned against it but after a day of this his sat upright again himself.  I noticed him trying to swim so I let him out of the net, but the water just pushed him around, so I put him back in.  Now he just sits there with his nose pointed slightly up and every once in a while he moves his fins, although he doesn't exactly swim. <Too late...>   If I bump the net he'll wiggle his fins and move around a little.  He can sit upright himself now so I moved the plastic support.  Nothing appears wrong with him except that he's gotten skinnier in the past few weeks and there is also a small lump wear I think he's supposed to go the bathroom.  I don't know if this was here before or if it's normal, he might just have to go.  Because he looks fine (other than the skinniness) I think he's sick inside.  Maybe he's constipated or has parasites?  This is my first saltwater tank and I have lost many other fish, though none recently.  When my coral beauty died a while back I noticed she also laid on her side and had an arched spine. <... you have something amiss here. Could be a lack of nutrition, poor water quality... possibly a parasitic issue...> I don't know if this is at all relevant.  Anyway, my tang has not appeared to get any better or worse.   As of now he seems okay except that I don't think he's strong enough to swim in the tank yet (he's not even swimming around inside the net).  He doesn't seem to be getting much better (or worse) and I was wondering if there was any way that I could help him?   <Not possible to tell with the information presented> I don't know what is wrong with him, other than he is not swimming well and is weak, so I don't know how to help him.   He doesn't seem terribly sick and I really think he'll live if I could help him, but I don't know what to do.  Can you please help me to help my fish get better?  Thank you!  Oh and I've included pictures but I don't think they'll be much help because it doesn't really look like there's anything wrong with him.  Thanks again! ~Kim <Uh... where's the useful information... re your set-up, history, water testing, foods/feeding...? Bob Fenner>

Help! I can't find my hippo tang!   6/17/06 No, I'm not kidding. He seems to have disappeared. We've had our tank (55 gallon) with live rock (about 6 pieces with coral on top to create nice hiding places, but still plenty of room for the livestock to roam, coral, 1 anemone, <May have consumed your Tang...> and a clown fish. The Hippo tang has had a tough time acclimating, which I've read on your site is pretty common. We fought off one bout of Ich with Ich rid and Rally combination <These products are shams> (the ich had spread to his fins and I was afraid of fin rot). He recovered, was eating fine, and seemed really happy. We thought we beat it. <No... tis still there> We did our first water change since he was in the tank (about 10 days after he was introduced) - a 10 gallon change. The next day he had the ich back - full force. <... surprise> We started the treatment process again but this time he was turning a grayish color on top of having the "salt like" look from the ich. That said - he was still eating heartily and swimming around and laying in his leather coral (his personal favorite) like a happy fish, considering. Until this morning. I woke up early to check on him and I couldn't find him. I figured he was hiding. I came home early to check on him and I still couldn't find him. I spent an hour looking for him, in fact. I checked the filters, the protein skimmer, and slightly moved the rocks to maybe scare him into moving. Still nothing. My fiancé was going to move all the rocks and coral (which would disrupt the rest of the tank and I'd rather not do that if we don't have to - our anemone has been in place for over a year!) to find him because he said it would be dangerous to the tank if he were dead. My thought was that if he were dead, he'd surface (maybe not literally, but we'd at least see him). <Might have died, dissolved... quickly... happens... Or just be hiding... for days... also happens> So my question after much research on your site is do we just give him a couple of days since this seems to be typical behavior of hippo tangs that have been traumatized with ich or change in environment (was it the water change??) or do we need to take a more aggressive approach in finding him as he may be doing damage to the tank if he didn't make it? Thanks so much..  Missing her tang in Texas! <Mmm... I would wait, rather than tearing the tank decor apart... monitor ammonia (might spike if this animal is decomposing), look for a "regurgitation product" from your anemone. Read re Ich/Crypt (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichart2mar.htm and the linked files above) and re the scam products you used... Bob Fenner>

- Perplexing Reef Tank -    6/14/06 WWM Crew, I would like to thank you in advanced for spending the time on what is going to be a long email. I work at an aquarium store, with my focus and developing specialty (though I still find myself perplexed on an almost daily basis) being reef tanks. I have been keeping them for several years and working with them professionally for the last four, and I would like your insight on what has become the most perplexing tank I've dealt with to date. It is a 180 gallon (60"x24"x30") glass aquarium, with two internal overflows; the lighting is three 400watt metal halides (10,000k) with four 65watt compact fluorescent actinic supplements; the halides run for six hours a day and the compact fluorescents for eight. The filtration is a large Berlin style sump, running filter socks two days a week to "polish the water", a large custom skimmer, and a phosphate reactor (Kent). The temperature is controlled by a 1/4hp chiller, keeping the tank near 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Flow from the sump is handled by a non submersible pump, which, after accounting for head pressure, provides about 1,500 gallons per hour of flow to the display tank, through four returns with the flow alternating through the use of SCWD's; the tank also has a closed loop set up providing an additional 1,200 gallons per hour. The tank does not have a sand bed and contains approximately 275lbs of liverock. Calcium levels are controlled by Kalkwasser addition (through a medical grade dosing pump). Trace elements are managed through 40 gallon water changes, which are done every other week using Instant Ocean Reef Crystals and RODI water, and manual dosing when tests warrant the addition. Tests are performed weekly. This setup belongs to a client (who happens to be a practicing veterinarian, who is incredibly scientific in his approach to everything) who has become a very good friend. I had no part of setting up the initial system and only became involved after he expressed difficult keeping invertebrates, namely corals and anemones, alive -- at this point the tank was one year old. I made several changes to his system (which included cleaning his liverock and removing his sand bed, due to elevated nitrate and phosphate levels). I kept him from adding any livestock to the tank until all levels came into the acceptable ranges and stayed there for a month (this took four months to accomplish). During this process the only inhabitants were a hand full of fish, which were perfectly healthy, with no losses, and a good population of snails, Mithrax crabs and brittle stars, which suffered some loss (mainly snails) and a small colony of Xenia which faired well. I also had him run quite a bit of carbon, in case some impurity had found its way into the tank water. Two weeks ago we began reintroducing invertebrates, starting with two soft corals (a toadstool leather, a Sarcophyton sp I believe, and a finger leather, as close as a can tell a Paralemnalia sp) which had been acclimated to metal halides for two weeks in my shop and were thriving. As I was placing them in his tank I noticed a few dead brittle stars, removed them, and thought little of it. The next morning I received a call, and, much to my surprise, all his brittle stars, Mithrax crabs and snails had died and the finger leather was beginning to "melt." I rushed over, removed the dead snails etc and the finger leather, which was at this point a pile of mush. The toadstool leather was not extending but not melting either, the Xenia was not extending but not dying and all of the fish showed no signs of stress and when fed ate eagerly. I'm at a complete loss. This poor man has been more diligent than most who attempt a reef tank and has suffered incredible loss. I am providing the last rounds of test results that I have available below, the previous four weeks results were very similar to these. Any insight or information that you could provide as to why these seemingly random die offs of invertebrates are occurring would be GREATLY appreciated as I feel I am failing a man who has been incredibly patient and diligent; again I apologize for the long and rambling nature of this email. Thank You, Eric C. 6/12/06                           6/4/06 Temp: 76.6-77.4                   Temp: 76.4-77.4 Specific Gravity: 1.026           Specific Gravity: 1.026 Ph: 8.36-8.46                     Ph: 8.34-8.40 Calcium: 500                      Calcium: 475 Strontium: 24                     Not tested Phosphate: 0.0                    Phosphate: 0.0 Nitrite: 0.0                      Nitrite: 0.0 Nitrate: 2.0                      Nitrate: 1.5 Iodine: 0.06                      Iodine: 0.08 Total Alk: 4.0                    Total Alk: 3.5 Bor: 1.0                          Bor: 1.0 Carb: 3.0                         Carb: 3.0 Magnesium: 1750                   Magnesium: 1750 <Eric, your testing is so thorough, I'm surprised you missed the most obvious culprit: copper - I'd run a test for that. Sadly, it's quite common for veterinarian's tanks to be sabotaged, sometimes by small kids doing the coin-in-the-fountain thing, and more often from disgruntled customers/employees. I'd look high and low in that tank for pennies. Cheers, J -- > <<RMF would like to add that a pad of PolyFilter (color change) placed in the filter flow path may be telling here>> Looking for advice...again. Marine tank dis. troubleshooting   6/3/06 WWM Crew, <Bryan> I had a very troublesome week with my two tanks; two suicides and one unexplained death.  First suicide was an Orange Diamond Goby (V. puellaris), jumped out of the tank and ended up on the glass canopy, still not sure how because it is sealed. <Happens> Second suicide (different tank) was a White Sleeper Goby (V. sexguttata) who made his why through the maze into the skimmer overflow box and found the powerhead, and in the same tank, same night, <Bunk!> my Blue Tang (P. hepatus) died from unknown causes.  After all this devastation, I started researching everything.  Water parameters check out normal, nothing has been added to the tank for six months (last addition was the P. hepatus after two months QT), there was no warning signs at all of any abnormal tank conditions. <Might not be any... the two gobies do just "jump", the Paracanthurus might have been "doomed to die"...> As a matter of fact the tank was excellent the night before, as well as for the past year. I am still puzzled, but now I have another problem that I seek your advice.  My Purple Tang (Z. xanthurum) decided today that it wasn't hungry, swam in one place, and I noticed both eyes had a strange look to them.  They were not so to say "cloudy", but they looked as if they had a white star shape spot on both eyes.  Breathing seems slightly elevated, but not to a point to bring concern (< 90bpm).  I have never seen this sign before and haven't found anything on it.  Do you have any suggestions? <What spg. is this animal kept in? Especially when small they do better at Red Sea concentrations...>   As soon as I noticed it I did a larger than normal water change (25%) and changed out all carbon. Normally I do a biweekly 5% change and other maintenance.  Could this just be a little stress from the two previous fish losses, or maybe unknown bacteria in the tank that caused the Blue Tangs' death, and now working on the Purple Tang? <Mmm, possibly> There was never any aggression between the fish, except for Blue Tang introduction day, but that ended in a few hours when both tangs realized they had more than enough room to have to themselves.  Any advice you have would be more than welcomed.  I have work too long and hard to lose another fish, especially the Purple Tang, he was the first fish in the tank.  Also, all corals are showing no sign of anything wrong with the tank conditions (polyps, trumpets, hammers, pipes, Alveopora, plates, colt, mushrooms, and yes, even an E. quadricolor who hasn't moved in a year)  If fact everything is growing almost to a point of no control, and I'm not stopping them either.  One last thing, should I pull the Purple Tang or wait it out?  No other fishes show signs of distress. Thanks in advance Bryan <A new theory/potential exists that the negative interaction, allelopathy twixt these different classes of cnidarians is at play here... agitating the gobies to the point of their jumping... the tangs... better not to mix anemones with scleractinians... Bob Fenner>

Re: Looking for advice...again. Marine tank dis. troubleshooting       6/4/06 Bob, Thanks for getting back to me. As for the different mixes of cnidarians, I have plenty of room between them, the smallest distance would be around 8-10", and the E. quadricolor is located high up on a rock away from the corals. <Mmm, good for avoiding the sort of "reach and sting" sorts of negative interactions... however, except for dilution effect, not useful for chemical interactions... Which I more and more suspect mal-affected your fishes here> If he decided to move there is someone around the house that would see it happening and take action. I have had this set up for year and never any problems with fish jumping, and that wasn't one of the problems. <Oh... well... maybe not> In this tank, the Goby just slipped his way into the skimmer overflow box and the Blue Tang died.  The goby that jumped out was in another tank that has only polyps and mushrooms. Anyways, as to the illness of the Purple Tang I have added a few pictures that you can kind of see the eyes.  You asked about the spg, it is steady at 1.023 <I'd raise this to 1.025...> and has been since day one.  Through the practice that you preach (FWD, QT, etc. .) I have never had any harmful infestations in the tank.   <Yay!> Other than the Tang not eating and his eye appearance, it looks very healthy. It is now day three of not eating, and with as healthy as he previously was I probably have only a week or two before starvation kicks in.  Since he stopped eating, he gets a little shy when the lights come on, but will come out of the rocks after about one hour.  When out he swims around very slowly in a little cove, which allows for the easy pictures.  One note that I should add is the fact that the death of the Blue Tang might have been caused by the lack of eating its veggies. <Mmm, possible contributing factor as well...>   It would only eat brine, mysis, and kelp flake.  Only once did I get it to eat broccoli.  So that death may have nothing to do with this. What do you recommend I do, pull the fish and QT or leave it alone and step up water changes and carbon changing. Thanks again Bryan <I would try still offering the various foods its known to consume, utilize chemical filtration, add an appetite stimulant to the food, slightly elevate the temperature... Bob Fenner>

Moved Tank Blues...  5/31/06 Good morning fishy friends... <David> My 90 gallon saltwater tank has a 33 gallon sump system using live rock filtration with an Aqua-Remora C protein skimmer.  I am getting 3 cupfuls a week of skim.  I also had about 45lbs of liverock that I've had for years and I introduced about 50lbs of cured liverock.  The pieces of new liverock had been at my retailers location for at least two weeks and his liverock tank has plenty of water flow.  The retailer said he's had the rock in for almost a month.  In the past month I have delightfully experienced good water quality. temp 24oc salinity 1.0024 (or is it 1.024?) <This latter> pH 8.2 no signs of ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. My water flow in the tank is about 16 times an hour. I first introduced some hermit crabs, two mithrax, and my starfish from my old tank.  One sandsifting star, one banded serpent star, and one red brittle star.  I think I was a little too excited at getting some new critters for my tank.  I introduced a small dwarf flame angel, a royal Gramma, and two firefish to my tank at the same time thinking that all new fish in an empty tank... I'd be quarantining them in the tank keeping my other fish safe in their temporary housing. <...? Trouble> Only 4 smaller fish in a 90 gallon tank with 125 gallons of total water, I thought I'd be ok.  Likely my first mistake? <Possibly> Anyhow, after two weeks... everyone was doing fine.  All the fish appeared healthy and were feeding.  I was continuing water tests every second day and my water parameters were as per above.  I introduced my existing yellow watchman goby to my tank - he'd been in another tank of mine with my other critters.  Shortly after, my Royal Gramma had his tailfins picked at a bit, but he still came out and actively fed.  He was out and about swimming around with the rest of the fish.  No signs of aggression by anyone.  The next day, I found the Royal Gramma had appeared to have been eaten from his tail right up into his body. About two or three days after that, one of my firefish had gotten through the eggcrating on my overflow and was stuck against the drain in my overflow.  He died.  I am now using a more 'fine' cover to prevent this from happening again.  3 days after my firefish suicide... my other firefish was dead.  He had not been eaten, his body was fully intact.  I figured it had something to do with my water quality, so I did a test.  My water was still as per the parameters above. About a week later, I noticed the body of one of medium sized hermit crabs' body rolling around in the water flow.  I thought nothing of it as I have always found it challenging to keep hermits alive. <See WWM re... though in this case...> Just this morning, 4 days after I noticed my hermit crab had died... my Mithrax is laying at the front of the tank upside down dead.  He hasn't been eaten at all.  I'm still thinking this has something to do with water quality? Or perhaps coincidence?  My water is still same temperature and salinity with no traces of ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate with an 8.2pH. I still see my sand star all over the tank.  I haven't seen my red brittle star since I first put him in.  With all this porous liverock, I imagine he's hiding somewhere where he is obtaining food.  I haven't seen my banded star for about a week or so, but also realize this little guy will hide as I have gone through periods of not seeing him for a month at a time. I am heading out on holidays for 3 weeks (scuba diving in the French Polynesia on my honeymoon) and am a little concerned. <Don't want to have this worry...> My yellow watchman goby and my flame angel are the only two fish left and they both appear to be active and completely healthy. I can understand the death of my firefish from the overflow, but my crabs and the other firefish that died without a mark on them... any ideas? <First/best guesses are something in the tank... a Mantis/Stomatopod... and possibly something amiss re water quality>   Would you expect the flame angel was responsible for eating my royal Gramma? <Not likely> What else could possibly eat the royal Gramma? <Nothing that you list> In the meantime, I am holding off on introducing my coral banded shrimp and my two percula clowns who are safely housed in another tank. <I would> Help help help! <Hide your food... the two fish can/will feed on whatever the rock produces, leave the clowns where they are, enjoy your honeymoon and Polynesia. Bob Fenner>

Re: Moved Tank Blues... read...   6/1/06 Thanks for the response.  My retailer suggested that I do a 2 minute freshwater dip of my live rock... and that this would flush out any mantis shrimp?? <Mmm, maybe>   The retailer also mentioned that when they get new liverock in, the liverock sits for 24 hours in freshwater at a temperature of 30oc and that no living saltwater organism would survive this.   <Not much, many... but... what's the sense of having, using such "live" rock?> They then begin the curing process for a minimum two weeks before they allow customers to purchase their liverock.   Is this common?? <Mmm, no. All such stores have their own S.O.P. for "curing" or just presenting LR for resale. Some collectors/wholesalers largely do this work... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm> If they DID do this, would this also rid the liverock of the nasty critters that you had suggested as possibilities? <Largely, yes> It's confusing, because the firefish had no marks on his body and neither did the mithrax.  Yet, the royal Gramma was half eaten.  I would've thought that a mantis shrimp would have caused body damage to that other firefish if it was responsible. <Probably, yes...> Is there something else that I should be testing as far as water parameters that could be a problem? <Mmm, the "usual" tests for water quality may reveal something, along with the use of PolyFilter (which changes color in the presence of some metals...)> How would I be able to tell if a Mantis Shrimp is involved? <Please... read... WWM re. You'll likely see, hear such a culprit> The Royal Gramma was half eaten and left out in the open sandbed.  I woulda thought that if a mantis shrimp was involved, that the fish would've been dragged into a whole and saved for later (i.e.. never to be seen again). <Mmm, not necessarily> I dunno...  When I return from my trip, I would like to introduce a royal Dottyback (seems more likely to fair better than the royal Gramma... and no, I had no intention of keeping the Gramma and Dottyback together -- beat you too it, right? <Yes and yes> hehe) as well as my two clowns and the Coral Banded Shrimp.  At some point, I'd like to add a juvenile tang...  My clowns have a history of being territorial and tearing new comers apart. <These are likely too much a source of stress...>   Is there any order I should introduce these into the tank with the flame angel and yellow watchman? <Mmm, no specific order. Bob Fenner>  

Re: Moved Tank Blues...       6/4/06 Good evening, As per the emails below,  the Saga continues... <And hopefully your study, learning> Although I have only had my Flame Angel for just over a month now, I've recognized that it isn't acting quite right.  It seemed to be continually hovering over my larger yellow watchman goby and watching him real closely.   I had trouble locating the angel last night and again today.  Just when I was about to give up today, it swam out.  The fish seems to be swimming a little awkwardly horizontally, but it seems as though it has plenty of strength.  What I noticed is that one of the flame angels eyes appears to have glossed over... swelled a bit? <Maybe>   As well, there is a small yet visible mark right behind the fish's fin (same side as the eye problem) where it appears to have lost some scales either from rubbing up against something or from some impact?  This wound does not look serious.  I've attached two pictures. <Okay> Reading up on your FAQ's, I hear about 'pop eye'.  Upon further investigation I found another website (fish junkies) that suggested that if only one eye was swollen it was likely from an accident or aggressive tankmate.   If two eyes were swollen, it was likely from a disease or bacteria?  See the following link: http://www.fishjunkies.com/Diseases/popeye.php <This is so> So, with only my 3" yellow watchman goby and the three starfish...  what do you figure?  Between your FAQ section and this other website, it sounds like my flame angel got attacked on that side of it's body... which has caused a small flesh wound and 'pop eye'. <Mmm, not necessarily...>   As per the emails below, my firefish died mysteriously without body damage.  My Royal Gramma was eaten from the tail up into the body.  If this fish dies, this will be the third one within 3 weeks... <... could be the initial quality of these fishes... cumulative stress...> I have been camping out with a flashlight to try to see or hear anything like a mantis shrimp.  Again, I did a pretty good freshwater rinse of the new half of my liverock... having it fully submersed.  No sign of a mantis shrimp. Do you think my goby could have inflicted the damage on the angel? <Doubtful> I have watched the goby swim aggressively towards the angel a few times shaking his mouth trying to intimidate the angel away.  I dunno, I am stumped and worried as I am leaving the country for 3 weeks. The website I listed above mentioned that if my water was good, this eye damage would repair itself. <Also so>   I guess I am going to have to hope for the best and wait until I come home to see if the flame angel survives? Does any of this sound like a disease or bacteria??? <Can't tell...> Last question, going away for 3 weeks with 3 starfish, my goby, and the flame angel.... should I have someone feed sparingly every two days or so? <Yes, I would>   Will the fish be ok with no food for 3 weeks if someone doesn't feed them? <Not likely here... if this system were much larger, more stable, with much more live rock... Bob Fenner> Thanks

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