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FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 2

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

Related Tank Troubleshooting FAQs: FAQs 1, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, FAQs 5, FAQs 6 FAQs 7, FAQs 8, FAQs 9,

Chaetodon reticulatus Cuvier 1831, the Reticulated Butterflyfish.

Itchy fish I had a problem with ich a couple of months ago but seems to be all cleared up. All of my fish look fine and are eating great but I sometimes see them scratching themselves against the coral. Should I be worried?  <fish scratch for many reasons... water quality (high nitrates and other irritants), loose skin/scales, and perhaps because they have an itch <wink>. Occasional can be ignored (weekly)... but daily or repetitive scratching/glancing indicates a problem> I am waiting for my fish to break out in a white rash. QT all new fish and be prepared to use the hospital tank if necessary. Maintain good water quality especially at such times (any problems with fluctuating temperatures?). Best regards, Anthony> Shaun Nelson

Fish behavior, Fairly New Tank I've recently started maintaining a saltwater tank after years of freshwater tanks. I now have a 75 gallon tank with a wet-dry filter and protein skimmer. The tank has been set up for about 2 months with 40 lbs of aragonite substrate, and about 30 lbs of live rock. I currently have 8 damsels, a yellow tang, mandarin goby <Seems like a lot of fish for only two months and the Mandarin is notoriously difficult.> along with peppermint shrimp, a small horseshoe crab, some turbo snails and hermit crabs. I recently lost a Coral Beauty (most recent addition) and the yellow tang and damsels have started to rub themselves against the rock. The yellow tang also seems to have one eye becoming cloudy. <Could be many things, most likely parasitic in nature. Please look through the articles and FAQ's on marine fish diseases to try and pinpoint the cause. You did not mention a quarantine tank. If you do not have one, I am sure you will soon discover how invaluable they are.> The protein skimmer is new (added in response to a nitrate problem) and I've been doing 10% water changes every two days to remove a hair algae problem. I've tested the water with the following results: PH: 8.0 nitrites: 0 Ammonia: 0 Sg: 1.023 nitrates: 20 KH: 3.0 dKH(?) <Hopefully, milliequivalents/liter> I realize the PH and KH are low, but I don't see what would be causing the problem. <Test your new water to make sure your source water and salt mix are in the proper range.> Currently, I'm most concerned with making sure my fish survive my inexperience until I can get the problem resolved, I love the tank and stare at it for hours after work to relax. Any help you can give me is greatly appreciated. <Read, read, read. Much to learn about this great hobby. -Steven Pro>

Marine Tank Troubleshooting Hello Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I think this marine issue will drive me crazy after all. I have two tanks with identical water (or so I think anyway). No ammonia, no nitrates, nitrites, pH=8.5-8.6 in both of them, water changes approx. 5% weekly with fresh marine water from the sea, <if the seawater is not sterilized and/or drawn from several miles off shore then it is a very risky proposition in the long run (disease, poisons, runoff). Some people get away with it for years, most are burned within months... some sooner> both containing live rock from the Mediterranean, 1W/liter illumination (50% marine white, 50% actinic blue), same food, skimmer, UV, chiller and carbon filtration in both of them. Temperature is fixed to 18oC in both tanks. While fish thrive in one of them (blennies) they die within hours in the other one. Exactly the same species. In contrast, some sea shells, tomato anemones and sea urchins seem to live in both of them without problems.  <hmmm... were the seashells sterilized (boiled or bleached)? Often culprits for bringing in pathogens> The only difference is that one of the tanks (the one with the problem) gets more light. so there is a lot of algae growth (green algae - not the slime one).  <no worries here> What else should I check ? The fact that the new fish seem to die within hours after their addition means that there is something extremely toxic in there - but I thought the invertebrates would be the first to go in this case. <not necessarily. Are you quarantining your fish first? If so... this would help to include or exclude the one display in your suspicions (specifically if they live for 4 weeks with natural seawater in QT but die within hours in the display after that> Thanks a lot for your answer... <do consider using Poly Filters (Poly Bio Marine) with hope of them absorbing a toxin. Also... what exactly are the symptoms/behavior of the fish before death? Do review the disease symptoms in the WWM archives to see if you can narrow the condition down to something pathological> George J. Reclos Ph.D. Pharmacist - Immunologist Holargos (Athens) - Greece <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Tank problems Hi Bob! <Steven Pro this evening.> We have 120 gallon coral reef aquarium. We had this tank for over 6 months and everything was going great. 10 days ago we bought yellow tang and puffer fish from Petco, plus some frozen food. Puffer survived only for a couple of hours and after that got eaten by carpet anemone. We also had coal tang, damsel, beta fish, clown that lives inside anemone and angel fish (yellow peel). On Sunday afternoon (4/7/02) we noticed that coal tank is dead (he was behaving strange for about 3 days, changing colors and being stressed out about something), yellow peel was laying in the bottom of the tank and damsel was covered with some white spots. Both of them died at the end of the day. We have checked pH and Ammonia and results were fine. Our first suspicion was food poisoning. <Quite unlikely.> We have read your article about ick and now thinking more toward it. Yellow tang and beta fish were not looking too good yesterday. Now yellow tang is dead and beta is still there. Can you please advise on what we can do to prevent the fish from dieing. We are going to start "hospital" tank, but not too sure if we should move clown and anemone there (they have been living together for almost 10 years), too afraid to stress them out even more. <Please move all the fish to your quarantine/hospital tank and treat as needed, but do not move the anemone. Look up Cryptocaryon and Amyloodinium in the WWM archives as these are the two most often encountered marine fish diseases. In the future, quarantining all new fish for one month is your best bet at not repeating these type of problems.> We are looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you in advance. Josh and Mila Crain. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Tank problems II Steve Pro, thank you very much for you response! <You are welcome.> We moved our fish last night to QT and gave them freshwater dip in Methylene blue. Beta fish looks much better today. There are a few questions that we hope you can help us to answer. 1. How long can we keep a 4 inch maroon clown and a 6 inch male marine Beta in a 10 gallon tank that we did not have a chance to cycle yet? We had to set it up last night in an emergency. We used some water from our MT and added 25% fresh water to drop the salt level. <I am going to suggest that you do daily water changes on your quarantine tank instead of dipping them. This will effect a cure for Cryptocaryon too if done daily for two weeks. In this case, it will also help control ammonia and nitrite levels. Feed very sparingly and watch the ammonia and nitrite levels.> 2. How often do we have to dip the fish before they can go back into the MT? <See above notes.> 3. We have about 12 hermit crabs and 6 snails. After reading your articles we realize that we need many more. How many would do for right now? <Varies with lighting intensity. I have seen tanks that need as few as 1 per ten gallons and some that use 1 per gallon.> How many cleaner shrimps do we need and what kind for a 120 gallon tank with a 20 sump? <Not really "needed", but a pair would be nice.> 4. Should we give the live rock a freshwater dip and remove all of the substrate from the bottom and replace it with new? <No, leaving the tank empty of fish for one month will do. Two weeks of treatment and two weeks of observation.> 5.What is the best goby to use? <Neon Cleaner gobies (captive raised) are nice, but any Goby is potential food for your Betta.> We appreciate your help. Josh and Mila Crain <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tank Problems III Steven, thanks again. You have been great help. <Why thank you!> One more thing, should we add methyl blue to the tank, like it says in the instructions or should we just change water daily? <I would just do the water changes.> Also at what level we should keep salt and temperature in QT. We have raised temp to 82 and dropped salt. Should we keep it that way or change it back to normal? <I would aim for 80 and 1.018.> Thanks, Mila <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Die off problems V Hello, I have removed the fluidized bed filter. The smell from the hose which was the bypass around the filter to adjust the flow was terrible. Like rotten something? Could what was causing this smell also be what killed my fish? <Definitely not good> The flow through the tank is now great. I did a 20% water change about 6 days ago and the substrate and tank seem to have never been cleaner. Even when I clean the glass with the magnetic glass cleaner, no gunk or dead crap flies up from the substrate. As you know I have a 72 gallon tank running a mechanical and chemical Rainbow Lifeguard modules with a Quiet one pump. The largest Zoo med rotating wavemaker with the pre filter and the Remora Pro protein skimmer with a Mag 3 pump. Do you think I have enough water flow through the tank or can I add something else to create more flow? <A Rainbow external pump, now unrestricted, should be plenty.> My tank came with 110 watts of PC lighting and I have added a 30 watt actinic fluorescent fixture. I am hoping this will add to the growth on my live rock. Any suggestions to lighting upgrades for the addition of soft corals later? <Something pushing 300 watts. Another 110 watt PC fixture would be nice.> After your suggestions things seem to be going right again so I am hesitant to play around with things too much. My recent water tests were all great although my water hardness is above what they should be slightly, my LFS tells me that our local water is quite hard. Thanks again for your input and help. -Jameel <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

!!! (tank troubleshooting) Hi, how are you today? <Steven Pro is doing very well!> It seems that I have a little problem and don't know what it is.. I have a 55 gal only fish tank with a powder blue tang, flame angel and a couple of clown fish.. in the last two months I've lost a starfish, a feather duster a 2 snails.. and I absolutely don't know why? everything looks good :  (ammonia: no trace) (nitrite: no trace) (nitrate: around 10ppm) (kH: 12dkh) (phosphate: 0.05) (salinity: 1.024) (Ph: 8.2)... <All sound reasonable.> Question 1: Since that I only have dead corals and I'm trying do not having any algae in my tank (I love it very clean) can this be the cause for the death of the snails and starfish (no algae)? <Yes, quite possibly, starvation.> Is there anything else beside what I'm already checking that I need to look at, because I want to have some feather duster and starfish again.  <Feather Dusters need to be target fed and in your case so will the starfish. Do look through the WWM site for their respective foods.> Question 2: Is it a good idea to add some live rock in my sump ( for the moment I don't have LR at all) to help stabilizing the water parameter and help the filtration? <Yes> and will that make coralline algae? <If other parameters are acceptable; lighting, calcium, alkalinity, lack of nutrients fueling competing algae, etc.> and if yes, will they come up and go all over my tank, or only the sump?  <All over if other conditions are good.> Question 3: I was wondering if it was hard to keep a urchin? and a anemone in a tank with dead corals, no live rock it is possible or would not be possible ? <I cannot recommend either for you.> Anyways enough question for today hehe! thx for the help Charles~ <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Cloudy Tank Hi- I have a 26 gallon..... over the last few days my tank has become increasingly cloudy.... everything in it I have brought home from the beach myself... my sea fan died and I thought that was what was causing the cloudiness, but yesterday, I removed it, did a 25 percent water change, and it is even cloudier today. What else can I do? I've had everything for 6 weeks now, and no problems up until sea fan died. Thanks!! <Do make use of the tremendous resources on WWM. Look particularly for articles on setup and cycling. Test kits/devices for specific gravity, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate would all be of use. -Steven Pro>

Re: terrible tank Anthony thanks for your response. I'll try the Polyfilter. Should I just put it into the water flow in my sump?  <no...definitely works best with water forced through the pad> My skimmer is generating copious amounts of gunk. One other interesting item I neglected to mention is that my clams seem to be doing great in the tank along with the fish.  <yes... a good source of nutrients <wink>. Juvenile clams are fed ammonium chloride in mariculture systems> I'm beginning to think the problem may be in the substrate as its my only tank with fine aragonite sand. When I vacuum the sand now I seem to suck up a lot of filth. <the sand is not the problem, my friend... the path or current or lack thereof that allowed the detritus to settle instead of being kept in suspension is the problem. I speak from experience <Wink>> this was not true six months ago when the tank was flourishing. Unfortunately I will not see you at the MMC this Saturday as I have to leave town tomorrow. I know the audience will appreciate you talk on coral culture. Again your help is greatly appreciated. <thank you kindly, perhaps I'll run into you elsewhere. I'll be spiking next in Baltimore (April 14th I believe... a Sunday night). Anthony>

Die Off Problems Hello Bob, I read your site daily and find it the best on the net. I am having problems with my tank and have not been able to get any answers and am thus getting frustrated. I set up a 72 gallon tank in November with crushed coral substrate and a Rainbow Lifeguard filtration system with mechanical, chemical and heater modules and a fluidized bed filter. <I am not a big fan of this brand of sand filter. I do not know if this is your problem, but did want to mention it. All the ones I have seen inevitably clog when there is a power failure or when turned of for maintenance.> I added 5 damsels to the tank to begin the cycling process and after 6 weeks I added the following fish in the following order. A yellow tang and a scissor tail goby, about two weeks later a coral beauty, a Salarias blenny, a sebae clown and a Pseudochromis, three weeks later a cleaner shrimp. After about 4 weeks in the tank the yellow tang died. Approx. three weeks later all of the fish started to die slowly and I am only left with two damsels and the goby and cleaner shrimp. I realize that I probably added too much livestock too quickly <Bingo!> but now I cannot seem to add any fish without them dying in three to four days. I have tried to add a maroon clown and another damsel but they continue to die quickly. The original shrimp, damsels, and goby are still alive but the goby has gray patches on its skin. My water quality is all well within appropriate levels and my LFS has also tested my water and says everything is fine. <Pet peeve of mine. I do not know what you or your LFS define as appropriate nor what exactly you could test for. For future reference, please include all test and there actual numerical results.> I am hesitant to add new fish until I can identify the problem. I have about twenty pounds of live rock which is growing good plant life and hair algae. I recently added a Remora pro skimmer with the Mag 3 pump and bubble remover. I am sorry that this post is so long but I wanted to give you as much info as possible. <No need to be sorry. More info is better than not enough.> Any ideas what the problem could be? <Water quality, disease, cyanide collected livestock, all wild guesses at this point.> I am becoming discouraged but will persist as I and my infant son truly love our tank and I am fascinated by the hobby. Please help! Thanks, Jameel <If you respond with additional info, perhaps one of us can be of assistance. -Steven Pro>

Die Off Problems II Hello again, <Good day to you.> My water test results are as follows, temp. 78 degrees, salinity 1.021, nitrates < 5mg/l, nitrites < 0.1 mg/l, pH 8.3, phosphates 0 and ammonia 0. <All good except for nitrite. Would like it to be zero also.> I have had problems with the sand filter and had it shut off for a period of about a month due to loss of the sand. I recently purchased another bottle of sand, re-filled and cleaned it but cannot get it to operate at the maximum operating line even though all of the water flow is diverted through it. <I have experienced similar problems, too. Unfortunately, I have no advise for correction.> My damsels all died yesterday and the goby's gray patches seem to be healing at this point. All I have left in the tank is a cleaner shrimp and the goby. I can see copepods growing in the algae patches on the side of the glass <A positive sign.> and have recently added the air tube to the Zoo med aerator that I have in the tank to create water movement. Should I attempt a large water change, it has been about 5 weeks since the last change of 50%. <Smaller, more frequent changes would be better, 10% per week.> Any ideas you can suggest would be appreciated. Please let me know if there are other tests I can do or other info I can provide. <No, you covered the bases. Your fluidized bed filter is your main method of biological filtration, but it seems to be giving you problems. Did your fish begin to have around when the Lifeguard unit did? I would leave the fish load as is for 6 weeks. I would also like to see you add some more liverock, another 30 pounds. Lastly, when you do add fish again, add no more than 4" per month.> Thanks again, Jameel Aziz <Good luck, Steven Pro>

Die Off Problems III Good morning, I appreciate the advice and all of the solid info. One last set of questions. I would like to add the following fish in the following order. A pair of tank raised Percula clowns, a Salarias blenny, a flame angel and a yellow tang. Any advice if this order is ok and how long I should wait between additions? <One month between each fish addition and I would nix the Yellow Tang. They can have a tendency to become real terrors and could harass the Flame Angel relentlessly. Pick one or the other.> I will wait until May before I add anything to the tank except some live rock in the interim. Which leads me to my other question, what is your opinion of Vavau show rock vs. Fiji premium live rock. Both are from Walt Smith Inc with the Vavua rock being about $2 more per pound. <If it costs more, it must be better. No really, a difference in collection sites, shapes, organisms found on, etc. Both a good, more of a personal choice.> Thanks for the feedback. Jameel Aziz <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Hobbyist Needs Help II (Steven's Response) Steve, Thank you so much for your help<G> I had already decided to change out the power heads and have ordered one 600 gph head. The other head I am thinking about replacing with a variable speed head, 200 to 800 gph as I have a concern about the refill rate on the Dutch Filter box and if it can't quite handle the full 1200gph I will be able to regulate. <If the filter box cannot handle the flow you can still circulate water inside the tank. That will be beneficial for aeration, nitrification on liverock, keeping detritus in suspension until it can be captured by the skimmer, etc.> I am also joining the group in Dallas and have printed out the brochure for the Sept. conference. <Say hi if you see us around. They normally have name tags at these events.> Quick question on lighting, currently have 3 36" no 30 watt tubes, please stop laughing that is how the tank came. I'm thinking about purchasing a 4 way ballast for VHO tubes which I believe will give me 380 watts total for a 120 gal tank. Would you consider this adequate for sea anemones? <Not really. Take a look at this piece http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubbletipanemones.htm> By the way the shark egg was interesting, it did hatch after three weeks and the shark did OK for about two months when it passed on. Never did see it eat and that always concerned me but it was active and interesting. Dennis Sypowicz <Talk to you later. -Steven Pro>

Hobbyist Needs Help II (Anthony's Response) Steve <Anthony Calfo with the follow up> Thank you so much for your help<G> I had already decided to change out the power heads and have ordered one 600 gph head. The other head I am thinking about replacing with a variable speed head, 200 to 800 gph as I have a concern about the refill rate on the Dutch Filter box and if it can't quite handle the full 1200gph I will be able to regulate. <very well> I am also joining the group in Dallas and have printed out the brochure for the Sept. conference. <excellent. it is sure to be a great show> Quick question on lighting, currently have 3 36" no 30 watt tubes, please stop laughing that is how the tank came.  <hehe...quite alright and very fine for non-symbiotic marine creatures> I'm thinking about purchasing a 4 way ballast for VHO tubes which I believe will give me 380 watts total for a 120 gal tank. Would you consider this adequate for sea anemones? <just perfect for tanks up to 20" deep and still fine if you can keep the anemones higher in a deeper tank (deep sand, rocks, etc)> By the way the shark egg was interesting, it did hatch after three weeks and the shark did OK for about two months when it passed on. Never did see it eat and that always concerned me but it was active and interesting. <most will only eat at night or with lights off...never by day at first. A common mistake to feed them by day> Dennis Sypowicz Anna Texas <best regards, Anthony>

Help! Bob; <<JasonC here, filling in for Bob while is away diving.>> A little background; 90 Gallon All Saltwater Aquarium, recently "upgraded" about 4 months ago by adding a new Super Reef Devil Skimmer, 200mg ozonizer with ORP controller (I have the ORP set at about 390mv), Amiracle Trickle Filter/Sump driven by an Iwaki 30. I inject the ozone through the skimmer and don't believe there is any residual ozone. I don't run the output through carbon... perhaps I should. Your thoughts <<I think you should, there's always a "danger" with excess ozone and it's not safe to assume that there is none coming out with the skimmer effluent.>> I added about 7 fish about 4 months ago to a tank that only had about 3 fish in it. Interestingly, the fish that has been in the tank the longest is a yellow tang that I had in the tank for seven years. When first introduced, the fish lost most of its finnage, the edges of the fins were never frayed, but look like they were "smoothed" off (no ragged edges). The Yellow tanks complexion is not the real deep yellow one is use to seeing in Yellow Tangs. The first fish I added with my "upgraded" setup was a flame angel that immediately developing a cloudy and protruding eye. Subsequently, I added a pygmy angel, lemon peel angel, 2 Percula clowns, a longnose hawk and last week, a small wrasse. I added the wrasse because I puts some snails in the aquarium several months ago to control algae growth and they have apparently given birth because I know have a hundred or so of these little buggers! Here are the problems: 1) Kole Tang acts a bit strange, seems to bounce up and down while he swims without his usual smooth swimming motion. Also, I see little patches of what appear to be very pale patches close to his face and head, almost like he's lost scales. <<it would be unusual for a new addition to have this problem, unless you didn't look very well at the LFS, but... if those are really more like pock-marks or holes, then this may likely be the onset of HLLE [Head & Lateral Line Erosion]>> His color has also faded quite a bit. <<they do this under duress>> Good news is he still eats like a horse. <<I always take that as good news too, but is not a guarantee of course.>> I've tried adding more Spirulina to his diet but that doesn't seem to help. <<try mixing it up with some different food items, even a diet of 100% Spirulina will become unhealthy at a certain point.>> He is also exhibited the beginning of fin deterioration described above with my "elderly" yellow tang. <<then perhaps this condition is not part of old age but something else.>> 2) Flame Angel still has clouding eyes), the other one got cloudy but does not protrude. Also, it has what appears to be white cottony/splotchy patches on his face. <<the eye cloudiness can take multiple weeks to go away, and on an Angel it is often a sign of some other problem - water quality, failing health. If this is simply pop-eye, then he probably received a bump in the night and will need some quiet time to recover.>> He doesn't eat very much any more and hangs at the surface of the tank. He's been that way for about three weeks. <<not too good - seems it may feel like it doesn't have anywhere else to be safe.>> Doesn't appear to be wasting away. <<it will if it doesn't eat, and in a situation where it is already feeling mal-adjusted, it really needs some nutrition. Perhaps it is eating from your live rock.>> Just looks very unhappy at the top of the tank. <<do try to help this guy out - read up on the Centropyge page, there are a couple of feeding and acclimation tips: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/centropy.htm >> Other than that, the other tank members are doing fine and eating ravenously. I feed them Formula I and Formula II, Spirulina and Frozen Brine Shrimp daily. I though perhaps some kind of fungus but I'm not sure. Any thoughts? Lew Kirschner <<You didn't say specifically, but it sounds to me like you added all these fish in close succession, or even all at the same time. It's always best to add one at a time and then wait a month or so before you add the next fish. I also didn't catch any mention of a quarantine system which is essential for not only holding new arrivals for a couple of weeks for observation before they go into the main tank. Quarantine can also be useful for a situation like your Flame angel who could use a retreat, and quiet space. Many of these fish were just in the ocean, and made a crazy trip from the tropics to your tank. They need time to adjust. Many things... if you haven't already you should avail yourself to the materials on WetWebMedia.com, and read the FAQs - there are many common themes. Cheers, J -- >>

Help - Something has Gone Terribly Wrong!! Hello Bob, <<JasonC here, Bob is away diving.>> It is with regret that I write this letter but am in great need of your expert advice again. <<no need for regret.>> My tank has been up and running healthily for 8 months without any major concern. This evening I returned home to find all of the fish gasping for air and one anemone upside down. <<oh no...>> I removed the anemone and did a 40% water change including changing the carbon. The fish unfortunately continued to die including my cleaner shrimp. I checked the water and ammonia is less than .25 but the nitrates have sky rocketed! <<I am sorry to hear this, but I'm sure with a little detective work we could figure out what has happened. Extremely high Nitrates block the fish's ability to absorb oxygen through their gills, so they basically suffocate, which I'm sure you didn't want to hear, but at least you now know the mechanical cause and perhaps what we'll do next. As an aside, is .25 as low as your ammonia test goes? Any ammonia in an 8mo old tank would be worth looking into a possible source. New live rock add? Something?>> I did notice we have several, what appears to look like bugs, on the rocks resembling tiny centipedes which I don't recall seeing before. I have read in your book about parasites and it states that a cause is the fish gasping. <<those are most likely copepods which are beneficial and part of a running system. The parasites that cause fish to breath heavily you and I can't see.>> We do have corals that are still living and would like to save them. <<Do a large water change and try to get those nitrates down. Do you have a protein skimmer?>> Mr. Fenner, unfortunately we do not have a holding tank, (I know you mentioned that several times in your book) can you please tell us our next steps? Can anything, (live rock, corals) be salvaged? Thanks, as always, for your time and advice. <<Next steps... well, you will want to assemble a quarantine system for your replacement fish. Your tank itself is not lost by any stretch - with some due diligence, you can get back on top and hopefully keep it that way from here out. I'd probably do a 50% water change. Don't rush, though, if you don't have the water made... then make it and wait a day or two before you actually add the new water to your tank or try to get some from a LFS if you think you can't wait. I have a since that you don't have a skimmer - am I right?>> Respectfully, Tamara Jorgensen <<Cheers, J -- >>

Following up on Help for Hurting Tank Hello, Thanks for the response so quick. <<you are quite welcome.>> Few answers to your questions. Yes we have added live rock within the last 2 months. <<ahh, this may have gone through a "cure" cycle and caused that ammonia you saw.>> Yes we do have a protein skimmer. We have had the skimmer for 8 months but over all we never have a lot of build up from it. <<what type of skimmer? Most skimmers would have been overflowing on the floor with the type of event you described.>> Thanks for your help Timothy Jorgensen <<Cheers, J -- >>

The Glass is Half-Full... Well, the drama continues...today all my fish are dead. It's amazing in few days, wiped out! <<oh man, that is a drag... I'm very sorry to hear that.>> Don't know what could have caused this. Temps remained the same 80, no ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate, PH is fine 8.2, salinity fine 1.22. Fish (clown and wrasse) were breathing rapidly last night before the lights went out, but didn't have any other visible signs. <<I would tell you to mail me the fish, but I don't have my microscope yet.>> They didn't swim much either, but they did eat!. <<hmm, my favorite "good sign" was not so good...>> I cannot figure it out! <<gotta rewind and rethink the series of events. There is a clue somewhere.>> Well, I have an empty tank now, shall I leave it fishless for a month (will I lose all the bacteria without fish)? <<You could probably try a hermit crab or a snail something to keep the tank cycled. Might also serve as a canary in the coal mine to see if perhaps there is something else going on in the tank.>> Or empty it out and start over? <<this is your call, if it were me, I'd just let it sit for a bit, if not to let me mull the next move - determine what happened - I'm the type to stew on these things until I can determine what happened and make a fix.>> Still want to continue with keeping a tank... <<ahh, good. I'd be sad to see you leave this wonderful hobby who's rewards don't need to be elusive. I'm sure this has been a trying experience, but perhaps with the accumulated experience you now have, you will do it all differently next go around. Perhaps a quarantine system... definitely take your time. Cheers - sorry for your loss. J -- >> Thanks -Jack

Filter blockage deaths Hi Bob, I went on my honeymoon for 2 weeks. <Congratulations> during our absence the filter tube fell causing it to kink and block. The person we had looking after the fish came in and found the fish dead (Picasso trigger, 2 clowns, 4 stripe, emperor angel and blue tang). It had been 6 days since they had last seen the fish. We had an auto feeder set and all was OK up to then. (We had introduced the feeder slowly making sure the fish were OK to eat dried food and that the feeder worked OK over an extended period of time). <Oh> I returned 3 days after the fish had been found and by then the filter tube had been unlinked. All the chemical measurements were normal. What would cause the fish to die? Could they have died by lack of oxygen? A number of small crabs (2cm) and worms that were living in the live rock were also dead. The anemone also died, however one large coral has remained alive. <Many changes could, might have occurred as a consequence of the "kinking"... low dissolved oxygen for sure... and with con/subsequent changes in loss of aerobic nitrifying bacteria... and, and, and...> This is the first time we have lost any fish since we started about 6 months ago and we are very upset. How would the fish have died and would they have suffered. <Not likely to have suffered. Aquatic life is "hard-wired" differently than tetrapods (e.g. birds, mammals).> Regards, Michael. PS. Thanks for your website. There is much contradictory advice on SW aquariums, but we usually take your advice. <Thank you my friend. Don't be discouraged with these accidental losses. Make provision that it cannot recur and go on. Bob Fenner>

(marine tank troubles, w/o the particulars) dear sir, I have a 110 fish and reef setup and I have many corals and 5 fish tangs, yellow , yellow eye. coral beauty , clown tang, clown fish. my Elegance have both died and my pearl bubble coral has died. I have a outbreak of ich which I have been treating with kick ich and started Maracyn 2 today. all my water parameters are fine. I installed a U.V and I just don't know what is happening to my tank. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have a skimmer and metal halide lights. thanks, mark s. <"All my water parameters are fine" means nothing. What did you test for and what were the actual numbers? Also, you say what happened but not in what particular order, which very would be helpful. Please respond with additional information. -Steven Pro>

Re: Tomato Clown Won't Eat Hello Anthony or Bob, <Anthony here with bells on> The saga continues .. <really... I pledged to stop watching the Star Wars series after that last awful "Episode I"> Thanks for your response to my earlier question. <di niente> However, it appears that the clown did indeed have Ich (or something resembling it). He began eating but also had a few spots about his head. I got motivated (and equally pissed) and caught him and returned him to the quarantine tank. Can the lack of appetite be another indicator of parasite infection like Ich? <could be...but that is an awfully generic symptom... he could think that your dog is ugly just the same and it's bumming him out to see his slobber filled face every day> Since returning to the QT, I have been feeding the Omega flake with Selcon mix. The other inhabitants of the QT (a Fire Goby and Royal Gramma) both have many ich-like spots around the gills and head. I have added a neon goby to the QT for parasite control (actually saw him streak across and peck a spot off of the clown), but the goby hasn't been working on the Gramma or fire goby. The Gramma hides below a rock - should I remove the rock to keep them from hiding and thereby make them more accessible to the neon goby? <no, sir...too much stress. The goby can find them but chooses not to for reasons unknown> Does the neon goby need to be 'starved' to clean? <nope... but you are asking an Atlantic fish to service two Pacific species...unnatural in some fashion> (I've noticed he loves the flake/Selcon. I have added Cupramine to the QT and have stabilized the medication according to WWM articles and advice.  <careful...the goby is sensitive to copper and derivatives...watch for overdose> Will this control/cure the fire goby and Gramma parasites?  <You'd do better to do a daily water change from the bare-bottom of the tank each day for 8 days to break the parasites life cycle of infection> From past experience, when the spots start multiplying the fish seem doomed.  <not necessarily> I hesitate to do a dip, because the last ich outbreak, I dipped and redipped and think this was actually more stress than they could handle. < a properly conducted dip is less stressful than copper poisoning in an extended bath, for example> From my previous ich catastrophe, a blue damsel and diamond goby made it through several weeks in the QT with copper and are now back in the main tank that had been fallow. The brief appearance of the clown in the main tank probably added some ich parasites. Ugh! I'm hoping that the damsel and diamond goby have become more resistant to ich if it presents itself; <agreed and likely> hopefully won't. Cleaner shrimp for the MT are on order with LFS. <OK> Is there anything else I'm can do in the QT while I wait for the copper to do its thing?  <above water changes on bare bottom> How soon should I see signs that the copper is working in the QT? <three days for most> I've used Melafix for secondary bacterial infections in my African cichlid tank and had good luck - okay to use in the QT if/when the parasites seem under control? <yes> Any guidance or comments would be helpful and appreciated. <I think Tony Dungy will do well as a coach wherever he goes. Tampa made a mistake letting him go.> Thanks for your assistance, Bill <quite welcome, my friend. Anthony>

Emergency tank going down hill fast - Please help Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a 15 gallon saltwater tank with about 20lbs of live rock and a live sand substrate.  <I hope the sand is well under one inch deep or it will cause long term difficulties (your tank is not large enough for the 3+" DSB alternative)> I have a filter to get rid of particles but not a true filter I use the rock for that. <agreed with a reasonably light bio-load> I do not have a protein skimmer instead I change the water once a week.  <If you are strict with the water changes, I can live with that as well although I would never recommend it to folks that keep cnidarians (anemones, corals, etc)> I have a several corals i.e. mushrooms, polyps, a bubble coral and a bulb anemone. <the bulb anemone is way out of place in a tank that small especially with other VERY aggressive cnidarians like the bubble coral and corallimorphs (mushrooms). They are some of the worst and the species mix is just an accident waiting to happen> For fish I have two clowns and a fire angel. I know it's a little crowded, <I'm actually OK with the fish, but the crowded and inappropriate corals are truly dangerous for all living creatures under these circumstances> but up till now things have been great.  <my apologies...but that can't be quite right... more likely they have struggled to tolerate the compromised water chemistry and allelopathy (chemical warfare between stinging animals) to date and have seemed unaffected... however, you can't see stress on corals/anemones as easily as you can on rapidly breathing fish, for example> I usually add the following supplements: Reef Iodide - Seachem Kalkwasser - Kent Coral Vital Reef Plus-Seachem Strontium Molybdenum-Kent <a nice mix> On Feb. 2nd I tested the tank just before my weekly water change of about 20% and my levels were: Salinity: 1.0235 Using aquarium systems FasTest Kits: pH: 7.9 (it's a little low but it has always been this way) <whoa!!! way low, my friend...under 8.0 becomes dangerous. Avg seawater is 8.45 and home aquaria should have a nighttime MINIMUM of 8.3 and daytime high of around 8.6 especially where invertebrates are concerned. If it has always been this way, then it has always been stressful. The overcrowding has contributed... but the source water may simply need to be buffered more than you already are before salting or using for evaporation top-off> nitrite: 0.3-0.4 (I was concerned about this because it is usually 0 but it was just a little darker than usual) <rough...perhaps the bio-load catching up with you> nitrate: 10-12 <not a big deal> Ammonia: 0.1 (a little above undetectable which is what it usually is) <really should always be zero...but in and of itself, no biggie> Tested with other kits: Iodine: 0.06 Calcium: 485 KH: 13 Phosphate: 0.2 Alkalinity: 4.5 <Alkalinity by what measure? dKH or meq/l? if dKH it is scary low> Because of the slightly elevated ammonia and nitrite I added a few drops of AmmoLock and a little bit of RightNow bacteria. <really not going to help the real problem of overstocking> On Feb 4th I tested the ammonia and nitrite again and the ammonia was dark green off the scale!!!  <again...way overstocked... I'd pull the anemone for starters and spare it's life with a move to another tank/store/system> The nitrite was 0 and fish in the tank looked fine and were behaving normally and everything else looked fine. <for now...you have hardy fish> This was quite alarming so I did an emergency water change of about 20%. <excellent...the right call> The next morning the fish still looked fine but all of the corals, except the yellow polyps looked really small. <no worries yet...they will likely recover with corrected husbandry> I was still worried so I searched the web for some answers and found that some people said that if you use a product like AmmoLock you can get false positives in your ammonia test kits. <only if you are using a liquid ammonia test kit...dry tabs should read accurately regardless> Because my fish still looked okay I was thinking that maybe this was what I was seeing, but because of the really small corals I was still worried. I tested the tank again: Nitrate: 15-20 Ammonia: 0 Nitrite 0.1-0.2 pH: 7.8 KH: 12 Calcium: 480 alkalinity: 3.5 Phosphate: .2 <you have a serious pH, alkalinity and overstocking problem that cannot be ignored> The ammonia appeared to be back down, but with the corals still small I tested the ammonia again later that day and it was back up to 0.6. The tank had also started to look cloudy. The fish still looked okay. I found a product called Amquel that was suppose to remove ammonia differently and after calling the company he said that I should add it because it would help to get rid of the possible false positive I was seeing and that it could not do any harm so I added the recommended 4 teaspoons. <No need to keep pouring in temporary additives/fixes my friend> I went to my local fish store because I was running out of ammonia test kit and the guy from Amquel said I should try their test kit because it would not produce the same false positive as the FasTest Kit.  <personally... I like the Aquarium Systems Fastest and SeaTest series for the most part> While there I told them how small my corals looked and about my whole problem they said that adding some more bacteria might be a good idea  <the people giving you this advice are either ignorant or crack addicts... or maybe they are just brilliant... they have got you buying everything under the sun like a cash cow> so I added a 1/teaspoon BioZyme and 2 teaspoons of Cycle (Hagen) to the tank when I got home after testing the ammonia again with the new kit and finding that it was still dark green (and the kit looks exactly the same as the FasTest kit)!  <no surprise> Not having another ideas I put the tank to sleep, I had extended the light cycle a bit as well. This morning I looked at the tank and it looked cloudy and the corals were tiny (except for the polyps) and looked like they were dying. <I suspect they will sooner rather than later without addressing the real problem> The fish however still look fine. I tested the tank again and: ammonia: greater than 0.8 nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 0-10 pH: lower than 7.8 I then used litmus paper and determined that it was not lower than 7.3. But not knowing what else to do I added a teaspoon of SeaChem buffer. I also changed my filter and added some carbon to it. <I would be terrified with a pH that low> At this point I am writing you this lengthily letter (sorry about that) because I have run out of ideas it appeared that most of my corals are dying the tank is still cloudy, but the fish still seem okay. Am I going to loose everything? Is there anything I should do? Please help. Heather <my dear, please forgive the critical tone at any point in this reply... partly sarcasm and partly disappointment at the amazing stream of bad advice you've been given. I commend you for caring enough to ask and for all of the hard work you have obviously put into this tank. Aquaria shouldn't be this difficult. You simply have an overstocked tank and need some unbiased advice from people not trying to sell you something! A local aquarium society would be a great place to start. Two great book that you REALLY need are, Bob Fenner's Conscientious Marine Aquarist and Mike Paletta, The New Marine Aquarium (in that order). Being an informed consumer is the best weapon you have to help yourself and the precious life of your charges. Definitely remove the anemone and eventually remove the bubble coral which will outgrow the tank and is a rather large portion of your invertebrate bio-load. Kind regards, Anthony>

Re: emergency tank going down hill fast - Please help, Struggling with Ammonia... I appreciate your advice however you never answered the question of how to lower the weirdly high ammonia.  <my apologies, Adam... but I thought I did (too critically, in fact). I was afraid I was seeming like I was beating a dead horse with my advice. Your ammonia problem is not sudden or weird. In the evolution of your aquarium with accumulated growth, detritus, dissolution of various organics and time... you have simply reached a critical threshold. There is no mystery... your tank is simply overstocked and it has caught up with you, my friend> Is your only suggestion that I should remove stuff from the tank? Unfortunately this is not very practical at this moment. <it's even less practical for the living/breathing creatures forced to live in that environment. There are no magic elixirs or additives for your situation. Just excessive water changes to dilute and compensate until the bio-load is relieved> Isn't it odd that I suddenly have really high levels of ammonia when it was zero for a whole year prior? <nope...its called accumulated organics and a critical threshold. A biological dynamic that can change suddenly at critical "mass" (namely the body of nitrate converting microfauna weighted against the load put upon it...the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back... your camel (aquarium) has been walking "fine" for a year and now cannot. I wish I could offer a more pleasing answer for you, but the reality of the matter is that you have a 15gallon tank with 20lbs of rock and sand(!!!) in it which leaves mere gallons of water (almost certainly less than 10 gallons) from displacement for an inventory that includes an adult anemone, bubble coral, mushroom corallimorphs, various button polyps, two clownfish and an angelfish. You need to be grateful that you got away with it for this long. Please forgive me... I do not mean to sound critical or judgmental...but there is a very serious reality here. And I would like to help you spare suffering or death for your animals. Kindly, Anthony> 

Help.. Big Problem Hi Bob, I still haven't talked to you yet but everyone else is great. A little info b/f I explain my situation. I have a 75 gal FO up for 2 years w/o any problems in my office. (although since I have found your site I realize I need to do some work. here's why) 1 have a wet/dry w/ BioBale, no LR, a Rio 2100 pumping from sump to tank w/ a pvc outlet on one side of the tank and 1 Rio 800 as circulation/CPR overflow. Aqua C hang on skimmer. Do use carbon in the sump monthly. Water changes done with water in a Rubbermaid tub w/ heater and pump.. let to stand, use SeaChem prime. When I wrote earlier the fish I had would create a large bioload so Anthony recommended leaving the biomedia in the wet/dry but switching to the bioballs and adding live rock. <Good ideas> Here is what I have done so far. In the process of turning an old 20 gal tank to refugium w/ DSB, LR, and algae. Adding Chemi-pure with poly bag on the drip plate. Just received today 4 maxi jet 1200PH..1 on the skimmer, 3 in the tank for circulation (not in the tank yet), also looking to add live rock in the main tank. Possibly upgrading the return pump to a mag-drive 9.5. Last but not least changing out the old substrate( 1'' Aruba Puka) w/ Carib sea special grade.  <I would> (again ..love your site, 2 weeks ago I really didn't know enough to do this to the tank, LFS know enough to be dangerous. thought I had a good system even though I have read a few books including your "CMA") NOW THE PROBLEM..... Tank inhabitants were...1 4" Naso Tang had 7 months, 1 4-5" Koran Angel had almost a year, 1 small blue damsel for 2 years and a 5" Double saddle Butterfly 3 wks. Everyone was doing fine looked great, color, swimming, eating great. Tank stats were good. have had problems with nitrates (wet/dry) but lately better with some larger water changes. Don't use RO but now going to Home Depot to look, do have diatom problems. anyway. About 3 weeks ago I had 2 zebra damsels still in tank the Koran's back fin looked a little picked on so I got rid of the damsels, he was doing great. But Thur. the butterfly was fine a little more finicky eating, by late day not eating but still looked good, went to office Fri and it was dead. Water tests fine. Koran acting a little different, not colored good, one eye somewhat cloudy. Naso and blue damsel fine. Did water 15% water change on Sunday still planning on overhauling tank like mentioned above not urgent though. Yesterday Koran looked a little worse although still active both eyes now cloudy, color off, this morning he is dead. Naso and damsel fine. get back after lunch and damsel is dead and Naso looks bad. Water tests... ALK 1.7 meq/l (low)<Yes> pH 8.4 Nitrites 0 (3 above with 1 year old red sea test kit) Nitrates 10 (NO3-N) Ammonia 0 (above with new fastest) SG 1.020 Temp 78 all tests are what has been consistently showing up so I don't think there's a fluctuation problem. I made up new water, conditioned in a bucket and put the Naso in with a pump. Problem is I have no idea what to do, or how to treat the tang. I want to add some stuff like LR and PH w/ substrate but afraid of something going on that might contaminate these things....HELP (sorry so long) Thanks tremendously Bryan <I would do some consecutive small (like 5%) water changes, raising the spg to about 1.025 (near seawater) and add some live rock, possibly a supplement to elevate alkalinity (baking soda will be fine here, a tablespoon mixed in water per day)... and supplement the animals foods with vitamins. Bob Fenner>

Hydrogen Sulfide? Hi Bob, <Good sir, Anthony Calfo in Bob's stead> I have a question about a new problem that the introduction of a LS bed brought me. My tank has been running for over a decade and morphed over the years into a Berlin reef with two refugiums, one with light and one without. I keep a test log that records all my test results, the health of my livestock and any changes to the system I make. <excellent... I wish more aquarists did> Over the years this has helped my diagnosis and remedy application of problems considerably. Now the problem. Following your advice, I introduced a LS bed.  <excellent and agreed> of your advice in the past from the addition of the refugium, the Knop reactor to lighting specs have been on the mark. Following your direction, I added the LS directly to the tank. I wrote with a question a few prior to this asking about introduction procedure. I needed to know if I should remove the rock or add it around the existing rock wall footprint. I was also concerned about burying the small bit of life that had developed on the tank floor. The tank started with about a 1/4 inch of sand in a few areas that was teeming with life. You said to just add the sand to the tank in small amounts until I hit the desired 3-4 inches.  <agreed again> I did, over a three week period. Fine. I added two sand stars to stir it. I had two scarlet hermits in place prior. I also had a large snowflake moray that promptly hollowed a lair in the rear left of the tank to regain access to the preexisting one under the rock wall. I though my sand stirring was covered. <modest detritivore activity in my opinion with such a messy feeder as the eel (or at least producing copies waste). If the skimmer doesn't produce skimmate daily or the current allows detritus to accumulate on the bottomed...no amount of detritivores will spare you from nuisance organisms... see "Keeping the Sand Clean" on today's Q&A posts> Then my corals started to decline.  <unlikely unrelated to the sand in such a short time frame and still wouldn't affect corals much (fish yes)> My water parameters were in line. <what was pH and Alkalinity during the daytime specifically?> Then the decline accelerated. I spoke to my dealer and he suggested stirring. <arghhh...what an awful idea. Liberates nutrients in a mature sand bed and contributes to algae growth> I did, and quarter size bubbles emerged. <literally trapped atmospheric air or by-products of bacteria/algae in a more mature bed. Sulphur smells like rotten eggs overwhelmingly and you didn't mention that your eyelashes curled from the smell> Within 24 hours the corals showed improvement. <without a doubt, a pure coincidence> What else can I do to eliminate this. <if the suspicion is methane gas or hydrogen sulfide, it is unfounded. rarely occurs and rarely a problem. You have to have so much Sulphur from a neglected tank hat you can smell it from across the room... and you didn't mention that. Again, don't worry... the bubbles were harmless and unrelated> The Sand stars only stay in the front of the tank, so my problems continue in inaccessible areas of the tank.  <correct with water circulation and nutrient export processes (skimming daily)> I don't want to remove the sand and go back to the clean bottom, but I may have to. <that would be an extremely hasty and unwarranted move> With over $1,500.00 of life in the tank and years in the making, this gas problem must be solved. If I vacuum the bottom, how often, how deep.  <should not be critical in a system that is not overstocked/overfed and has adequate water circulation/skimming/carbon and water changes> I did do some light vacuuming since adding the sand as you suggested on your FAQ's but never noticed the problem developing and I also couldn't get to the rear of the rock wall. I must say, the moray does the best job of all.  <yes, I certainly can believe it!> the left rear is entirely free of gas, with worms and such surviving. Should I be that aggressive in my stirring? <not necessary to be aggressive> Are there any testing kits that will pick up the gas in the water? I have found none. What can I do to prevent the gas? My fish are only fed 3-4 times a week, that has never changed and I have had them for years. Help! Brett <best of luck to you, bud. Anthony>

Many Dead Fish <Hello Phil. You are "talking" with Steven Pro. Bob is out of town and he asked Anthony Calfo and myself to fill in for him.> Thanks for the pointer to the tank trouble shooting info. It did offer some helpful information and kicked me into compiling a tank log. <A great idea for those of us who are disciplined enough.> I'll give you the specifics about my setup and the timeline to disaster. This is followed by some specific questions. Please let me know if you think my stocking level got too high at any given point the timeline or if I took it too fast. If so, I'll slow it down in the future. Hardware:- 55 gallon tank (48" wide)- CPR Cyclone 192 sump- Rio 2100 return pump with an Ocean Current oscillator- CPR CS 90 overflow- 1 Rio 600 in tank for cross current and overflow siphon- Icecap 660 ballast- 2 URI Actinic White and 1 Super Actinic VHO bulbs (110W each) - Solar 750 dimmer set to a 12 hour photo period I've got 100 lbs of live rock and 60 lbs of live sand in the tank (sumps too small for any such additions down there and space is limited for a bigger sump). The rock was excellent. From it I've got a good coverage of coralline algae (I'd estimate a good 50% of the total surface area is covered with it) and several nice stands of macro algae (most of it is a brownish leafy looking variety that I've yet to identify) that is growing quite well. Since I built up the tank log, I've got a better schedule of what happened and when. The initial setup happened the second week of November. The initial setup consisted of 40 lbs of live sand and 60 lbs of live rock. I ended up with 3 turbo snails and 1 small unidentified crab (since removed). I let this settle for a week and a half and added two yellow tail damsels. <It would have been better to have let the rock cure for longer. Perhaps a week. Hopefully, you checked your ammonia & nitrite and both were zero.> The week of Thanksgiving, I added 40 lbs of additional rock and 20 lbs of live sand. <It is best not to add too much liverock once a tank has fish in it unless you are sure the rock has been cured well and will not incur additional die off.> The first week in December I added the Kole tang and a bicolor blenny. Shortly after the addition of the tang, it seemed to have developed small white dots on its skin. These disappeared the next morning and I didn't notice anything peculiar at that time. <This was too fast. Best to wait one month between additions of fish.> The third week of December I added a cleaner crew (snails, hermits, sally lightfoot, and brittle stars), a coral banded shrimp, two peppermints (to help with a small number of Aiptasia, which they have completely consumed) and a true percula clown and its host sebae anemone. <Most anemones are difficult to keep. I have heard of reports that 95% are dead in three months.> Up until this point, all of the livestock was quite healthy and active. Two days after I added the sebae, it puked out its stomach at which point I removed it from the tank. It died shortly thereafter. I checked all of the water parameters and all seemed fine. I executed a partial water change (which I had been performing weekly as you suggest) just to be safe. Towards the end of the week, the clown was showing signs of a possible problem. It had some small sores on the underside of its mouth. I talked with the owner of the LFS who indicated that it might be nutritional so I added frozen brine shrimp/Spirulina to the diet. Up until this point, the food was Omega One Marine Flakes and Formula Two frozen (which the tang typically inhaled). The new food while taken, didn't seem to improve the clown's condition. <Not likely nutritional as your diet up to this point was pretty good, it was too short of an amount of time for nutritional problems to be manifested, and the additional foods would not have helped.> Later this same week, I added a Goniopora lobata <another difficult animal> to the tank which the clown took to almost immediately. The sores did not improve, however. I started adding Selcon <a great product for improving nutritional quality of food> to the food (again thinking the problem nutritional) but to no avail. To the tank I also added 4 additional coral (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi, Acropora sp., Euphyllia glabrescens, Sarcophyton sp.) and a cleaner shrimp. The cleaner molted almost immediately and was munched by the coral banded shrimp that night. <not an unusual occurrence with these shrimp> :(I know she was the culprit as I've witnessed her grabbing a hermit crab that was not in a shell at the time. One of the damsels disappeared one morning after these additions. It reappeared the next day, but its back was deformed and had difficultly swimming. <Unusual. Sometimes caused by old age, nutritional problems, genetics, or most likely being crushed when moving rock around for your new corals.> The following weekend, we added a cleaner wrasse <another difficult fish and probably not a good idea to add fish when you are having problems; clownfish with sores & deformed damsel> and the Dottyback. That afternoon, I lost the clown. The Dottyback, tang, and blenny went four days later. I lost one of the damsels (the injured one) the next day (the day after I sent the first email). Following these losses, I tried to pay a great deal more attention to the remaining damsel and wrasse. The damsel was panting and spending a great deal of time in areas of high water movement. I'm pretty sure that it had Oodinium. I found the picture from Shawn Prescott's Diseases of Fish Part 8 and it looked almost exactly like it just before it died. <A good guess/diagnosis> The only animal left in the tank is the wrasse and it doesn't seem to be exhibiting any ill effects. <The wrasse will end up slowly wasting away. They eat parasites off of other fish. With no other fish to clean, it has no food source. Even when you add new fish, hopefully you will have quarantined them and they will be healthy. Again, no food for the wrasse. These are best left in the ocean.> I tried to remove it today from the main tank to my hospital tank so that I can better observe it and medicate if needed. I'll probably return it to the fish store once I feel assured of its health. Got any suggestions on methods for removing it aside from tearing down the setup? <Does it feed on any food? You could try to lure it to the top with food (possibly frozen bloodworms) and attempt to net it quickly.> Now to my questions. How long does it take from the time initial signs of Oodinium infection appear to death? <Can be a few days or less depending on how attentive you are and when you first notice the signs, to as long as a week and a half in my experience.> From what I've read, in marine fish, panting is the first symptom that will appear. Are there other types of infection that can create this symptom and if so, how likely are they? <gill flukes, but not nearly as common> Would it be better to treat animals that exhibit these symptoms early? <best to quarantine all new fish> My biggest question is how long should I let the tank go fallow before adding fish again? Is there a dormant stage for this agent or does the life cycle continue when fish are absent? What is the typical period for this life cycle? I've looked around on the web and in the few books that I have but haven't found much (yet). <It will die out without a host. One month should be plenty of time.>

Big problems Hi, Bob, I am in the middle of a serious meltdown in the tank. You may remember I sent you an e-mail about switching out my eclipse lid for a CPR refugium. I made the switch and things have gone south ever since. I put two one pound pieces of live rock with some maidens' cup and grape Caulerpa in the refugium and am running the light 24/7. The problems started about four or five days after the switch. I noticed things weren't opening as mush as usual and ran some tests. The ammonia was about .6  <Yikes....> so I started looking for cause, found my starfish dead. I tried to remove it but it fell apart, luckily I had some water ready for a change so I vacuumed the area and think I got all of it out. Since that I can't get the tank to stabilize. It has been about three weeks and now the mushrooms are starting to detach and a few have died, and the feather duster lost it's crown. <Do you have another tank to move all to? Enough pre-made, stored water to do a massive water change? A good quantity of activated carbon?> I have been doing a 25% water change about every three days for the three weeks now and it hasn't helped. I started adding some ammo-lock as a last ditch effort with little results. Now there is a huge algae bloom of a red bubble algae. I thing one problem is lack of surface agitation. The eclipse poured water form the top and kept things really moving. Now I have two Rio 600's, one on the refugium and one on the remora skimmer. I also have a maxi jet for additional movement. I fear I am going to have to start new at the rate things are dying. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Lowe Lowe Winfield Runkle II <... Aye... such are the travails and time frames/rates of troubles in small volumes... If you can, do change most all the water at once, add activated carbon to your filter flow path (maybe a bag of Boyd's Chemipure in the sump...). The best would be to move all the livestock to another stable system... Bob Fenner>

Re: Big problems I have a pre-filter box on the protein skimmer and have been putting carbon in the return portion. That is really the only place I can put some. It doesn't hold very much but I have been changing it every other day. I will ask my LFS if I can store stuff there for a while otherwise I have some Rubbermaid storage bins. What about making a temp. storage tank in one of those? <Better than where they are now... Bob Fenner>

Re: Big problems Thanks, Lowe <You're welcome my friend. Hope all works out. Bob Fenner>

Many dead fish Hi Mr. Fenner - First off, I'd like to say that I've come to rely on your web site and book for answers to most of my questions about my tank. Excellent work. <Thank you my friend> I've got a 55 gal reef setup that's been running for almost 3 months. It's got about 100 lbs of live rock and 60 lbs of live sand. I stocked it early on with good cleaner crew of scarlet and blue legged hermits, two brittle stars, quite a few Astrea and Trochus (sp?) <Trochus> snails. The Trochus seem to love the tank as they are multiplying rapidly. I recently added (December) five assorted corals which are all doing quite well and two peppermint shrimp and one coral banded. <Okay> My problem is with the fish. Over the last five days I've lost four fish. While I think I know why one perished, I'm stumped by the other three. The diadem Dottyback, which I believe died due to handling related problems, was added to the tank last Saturday. On Sunday, it didn't come out much and wasn't eating well. I know that this specimen was only present at the LFS for a couple of days. He was quite lethargic yesterday and disappeared into a cave on Wednesday only coming out when I fed the tank. <Not atypical for this group (Pseudochromids)> The puzzlers are the other three deaths. This morning I lost a Kole Tang that had been in the tank for about a month. Early on it seemed to have developed ich, although whatever it was cleared up within a day of its discovery. Last night, the tang was quite active in the tank, although he did seem to dislike the approaches of the cleaner wrasse that I added on Saturday. This morning, it was hanging out near the bottom of the tank and seemed to be sloughing off its skin and was panting. He died within an hour of this discovery. I also lost a blenny this morning as well. It too seemed to be doing fine last night. It was eating well and was active in the tank so I was quite surprised to find it dead this morning. It didn't seem to have any externally observable signs when I examined it this morning, so I'm stumped on this one. The last fish loss was my true percula clown that I lost last Saturday. This fish has been having problems for about a week before this. On the underside of its mouth, it had small sores that resembled ulcers. And for the last week it had been panting and pretty much stuck to its Goniopora that it had adopted. I've checked the water chemistry: Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate<10ppm, pH=8.2, SG=1.022, temp=78. I talked with the owner of my LFS who thought the clown problem was probably bacterial, but I don't know how this applies to the other fish. <Not bacterial in origin... that is, not the a priori (immediate, though perhaps ultimate) cause of death> Following this tome, I'm wondering if you had any suggestions on how I might prevent something like this in the future? I've already taken your suggestion for setting up a quarantine tank and will start using it before the introduction of any new fish. Is there anything I can or should do for the main tank though? <Much to ask here... re your set-up, feeding, any treatments, additives you place... Some clues might be had from knowing the history, time-frame of what was added, when it died, what is still alive... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm then the "Three Sets..." article linked above this, and their associated FAQs files... and we'll chat further. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help... - Phil Keslin

Novice at work! Hello Robert, I just read about feather dusters in the FAQ section of http://wetwebmedia.com/ But I am still uncertain what's going on with my invert. For about 2 weeks it began to stay in it's tube more than out. Now, for about 3 days, it hasn't come out at all. The tip of the tube seems to be 'sealed' up! I don't know if the color has changed, ( I'm embarrassed to say) but in the middle of the tube it is a very dark brownish/maroon color. <Yikes... often not a good sign> I have a 55 gal, 60lbs. LR, crabs, T snails, a couple camel shrimp, and 4 damsel fish. I have recently added many supp.s every week consisting of, SeaChem's: Reef Builder Reef Advantage Strontium Reef Advantage Magnesium Reef Plus vitamins and amino acids Reef complete On the day after I add all these, I add Reef advantage Calcium <How much of all this...?> Yes, I have visited www.garf.org . This is where this novice has learned most of her stuff. Am I all wet?? I need a site where I can find ANSWERS! So here I am, asking you for some help. Thanks very much for your time! Pam <I will gladly help you (and all others) if I can... We may need to start "further back" in the set-up, history of this system. To expedite matters, get us ahead faster than "going back and forth" please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm re troubleshooting... I would stop adding biominerals (Sr, Mg, even calcium) until you know about what these are concentration wise in your systems water... do you have an alkalinity test kit? A history/values of what this has been? I suspect this is low... The vitamins are fine to keep adding. We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Novice at work! I went to the site Robert: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/suppleme.htm, and all I can say is,......... WOW, lots of info, daunting, but I got the message! Maybe all my supplements are NOT a good thing. <Decidedly not... many have negative reactions with each other...> But it's very difficult when you are new to the Reef World.  There is so much info out there, it's hard to sort out the 'truth of the matter' .  <Everything... is difficult at first my friend.> Maybe the best way to do this is to ask, "Is he selling something"? www.garf.org does sell, but they are also very knowledgeable as far as I can see. I'll stick with you Robert for the time being, <Do not "stick" with "either of us"... but decide always for yourself on the basis of your understanding> you appear to be the most dedicated, informative, knowledgeable and passionate person I've seen out there in the great WWW. I love your site and have made it my Home Page. So, this means you'll be hearing from me often! Pam <I look forward to our sharing. Bob Fenner>

Another Cloudy Eyed Angel!! Bob; The PH below should have read 1.022 not 1.22 <Mmm, specific gravity... and understood. Bob Fenner> Lew ---- "Lewis M. Kirschner" wrote: > Bob; > I lost a flame angel about 3 months ago when my return tube started putting out > fine bubbles and probably caused the flame to have an air embolism ( a sudden unexpected loss on night) <Yikes. A bummer for both of you> > I replaced him with another about 8 weeks ago and his eye got cloudy, bulged > and he developed a white blotched appearance on his face and subsequently died. <Time to look into another source, or your source in turn to look into theirs...> > I replaced him with another flame about a week ago. everything was fine, he was > eating OK and this morning I noticed this one developing a cloudy bulging eye. > I don't see any white facial blotches yet. He's still eating for the time being. I also > have a very listless lemon peel that I put in the tank a couple of months ago. No > outward signs on this guy. I have two clowns a small 2 1/2' wrasse, longnose > hawk, yellow tang, Kole Tang and a hermit crab. Any ideas or suggestions?? > I can send you the water chemistry parameters if you need them but I believe > everything is stable and in range (nitrites are bit elevated, very slightly). <Nitrites? Should be zero concentration> > I have a 90Gallon Salt Fish only tank, Protein skimmer, UV, AMiracle Trickle > Filter, Ozonizer with a Redox controller, PH of 1.22 and temperature of 77 > degrees. I bleached my Coral about a week ago and can't get the Redox above 260 at this point?? <Get rid of your wet-dry media, if not the wet-dry itself (can use the "guts" as a sump instead...). Many sources of possible trouble here. Please read over this section: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm of our principal site, and on to where the links, FAQs lead you... Consider the contributing causes that are potentially impacting, impinging on your livestock's health, your success. We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner> > Lewis M. Kirschner

Our three year old tank. Dear Mr. Fenner, HELP US PLEASE! About 18 mo. ago. We used pyramids to feed our fish while on vacation. <You hopefully are a regular gravel-vacuumer...> When we came back, we had our first dead fish, a loss of two. Our tank still contains ~5 or 6 of the original fish. We started with~ bleeding hearts, lemon tetras, neons, etc. in a 50 gal. tank (about 40 fish @ peak). Periodically we go through bouts of fish loss. About three days after each water change. This has become quite regular again, and we suspect that the bleeding hearts (that never looked quite right, but never die) must be harboring some infection. <Perhaps... but the correlation with water changes leads me to suggest that you would benefit from "pre-mixing and storing" your freshwater ahead of use... As in a designated trash/other container... with an aerator, perhaps using your water conditioner there and moving/using this water a few days to a week or so later. It may well be "the water" that is the real trouble here. Treating it thus, or even resorting to more chemical preparation is likely a good idea> Each fish death looks totally different. Some get pop eye, other torn fins, others head missing, and others tails missing, others lose their color entirely. We've ruled out aggressive fish as cause. Water chemistry is on target, with the occasional need to add "buffer up". --> for pH stability. For meds I've tried, Clout, Maracyn, Maracyn 2, Spectrogram, and Anti bacteria medicated flakes. Sometimes in back-to-back dosing as directed. I have just purchased Tetra Media: MarinOomed, and used it in conjunction with Na in the water (in a nurse tank). I'm at a loss to understand what's going on with these fish. I have only 12 left. I'm about to disinfect my entire 50 gal. tank, and equipment with bleach, and start anew. Should I, buy new fish at the start of this, or try with whets ever left of these guys?  <I would try a few things first... I don't think there is an actual infectious or parasitic agent working here per se... but mainly or primarily an overall water quality issue.... Perhaps just low dissolved oxygen (so I would try adding a "bubbler", like an airstone, pump...) or noxious metabolite (for which I'd try activated carbon in your filter flow path), maybe this or a nutritional component missing (worth trying some live plant material)... Or even some source of metal poisoning (try the product "PolyFilter" in your filter flow path here).  I've never had such a bad fatality rate in a tank before. None of my local aquarium stores seem to have the answer. Do you have any advice? (buy a puppy?!~) <Not the puppy yet, or perhaps yes, in addition to your aquatic experience... Please read this section on Tank Troubleshooting: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm and on to the many FAQs associated, related articles... I sense you will come into an understanding of your options. Follow your intuition here. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Valerie Petrovits

Re: Salt Water Woes well the main thing is I won't be killing the eel. I can't introduce my eel directly back into my main display tank with fresh (fresh as in new) water and expect him to survive. he seems to be doing quite well with the parasites so what the hey I will move that to the hospital tank. <Yes... but a need to not move him/it back into the main tank with the parasites> now once I get the main tank established re-introduce the eel to this tank. take the hospital tank down, clean very well and start it over as well :) also what's the best URL on your site to read about starting up my new salt tank, like salinity and ways to add bacteria (cycle the tank) to the water etc etc. I found some of them but they talk more about tank size and type of fish to go into the tank and not on the procedures I should follow. <Ours: www.WetWebMedia.com> thinking about doing a few days of a bacteria culture and then adding some damsels. monitoring the chemical levels and halting feeding once I discover any spikes. also is this a true statement or not: a brand new mix of salt water with no bacteria to break down any ammonia/nitrites would not kill a let's say damsel directly. it's the waste products and slime from the fish that causes the water to foul up, and this is what kills the fish (high ammonia levels).  <Could be both, neither... new water or the consequences of "running in" are both possibly deadly> of course this is short term. I understand there are other things in the water that are beneficial to the long-term health of the fish like nutrients and social well-being, but I'm talking about short-term fish health. this takes into consideration salinity levels in acceptable range and temp is not WAY out of whack, also considers proper acclimation to the water. also I'm not really clear on your site on introduction of live rock. I could'a sworn a few weeks ago I read that you should never put live rock in until at least a week or two after you set it up. but I can't seem to find this now. <Not attributable to me.> once more I appreciate all the great help you have provided Robert. I understand I'm just a beginner and sometimes it's hard to find time for people like me.  <It is my time to use as it pleases me> you're time is probably better spent dealing with complicated issues. <Mmm, not as far as I'm concerned. There is time for both> I can relate to this as I am in the technology business and I hate stupid questions that seem like people didn't do any research to solve the problem themselves. <Perhaps you should seek other work. I am enthralled in engaging myself to help others in these fields... greatly enjoy re-living my experiences through their own... find it deeply gratifying to consider that I might be of assistance in "awakening to the consciousness" of others appreciation for the living world. Bob Fenner>

Re: Salt Water Woes one thing I forgot to mention in my main tank. all of the damsels that I buy have died within a 2 hour time period. can parasites react this quickly in killing them or could we potentially be dealing with another monster? <Likely another complication... perhaps the quality of the damsels themselves> have had several batches of 2 and 3 all different kinds of damsels (mostly yellow tailed blue) including domino which are supposed to be more disease resistant supposedly. <Study on WWM (set-up, maintenance) my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Salt Water Woes Robert, Seem to be still having major problems after waiting some great deal of time <How long?> to let the parasite population die off. decreased salinity to around 1.0.17 and temperature well that's always high with my lights on 83 - 86 :) (probably a lil warm huh?) <If organisms okay, short term, few weeks, no problem> I'm thinking about taking a small amount of water and live rock from this system into a future hospital tank and putting the eel in this. <Perhaps a "best" move> Then taking the main system completely down. wash with fresh water the crushed coral really really well and all tank surfaces and starting over. This needs to be done correctly from the start and I was way way lost on doing this correctly. how do you feel about this? <What will, do you hope to accomplish with all this? If you move the eel, some of the rock... you will also be moving a/the parasites...> also due to my lack of knowledge I believe most of my live rock bacteria and micro/macro/exoskel organisms are dead. I had added copper to help get rid of the parasites and I know have found out this will kill most of the stuff on the live rock and it's not good for the eel either. so this rock is not good for much other than a nice paper wait correct?  <Not necessarily... many deep "nooks and crannies" still have microbes, "starter" organisms of many kinds, stages... and the copper in/on the rock is mainly insolubilized, otherwise can be removed by simple chemical filtration... I would not throw the live rock away... but wash/rinse it as you describe, use it for "base material" with some new place around, on top of it> thinking about buying some new Fiji rock from PetWarehouse.com of course after a couple weeks from the tank being setup and not immediately like I did the last time :) <Not a bad plan. Make it so. Bob Fenner>

Stressed fish Mr. Fenner, sorry to bother you again, but I cannot seem to get a handle on my tank. Our fish still wake up every morning with white salty marks and inflamed brownish black marks on hippo tangs) with brown blotchy spots on my gold rim tang. My percula even had some white spots this morning. <The "balance" of the three general sets of factors that determine health/sickness are not centered in your favor. Have you read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm> They disappear as the day progresses, but then wake up with them again. We have thought it was a few things: PH was at 7.2, so we added buffer daily to raise.  <Um, yes> It was normal (8.2 a few days ago, but again this morning it is 7.8-8.0. Why I don't know?  <Study, understand, act... READ: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm> Also, I kept getting shocked when I put my hand in water, we realized the lights were wet and shocking everyone. <...> Yesterday we let lights dry out and fixed things so the lights will not touch water. We were shocked when we woke up after lights were off all night and noticed the spots again) Our ammonia was at .50 a few weeks ago overfeeding) but is now and has been at 0. Nitrites 0 and Nitrates under 20. We also have 2 spawning cleaner shrimps don't know if this bothers fish or not)... We cannot seem to figure out why these fish woke up again this morning with these symptoms when we corrected everything possibly going on, except the PH, I am trying to raise it slowly. Why would PH get low in an established Aquarium? <Read...> I don't want to lose my fish as a few I have had for a long time and am very attached to. <Then study> Will low PH and electricity cause these symptoms and if so, when should they look better. Please help... What are we missing and why are they stressed? <Don't fail your livestock by simple ignorance. Study where I've sent you my friend. Bob Fenner>

A few problems That header might scare some people. Robert you are the only one that I know that will know the answer to my questions. <Mmm> Murky water and disease. About a month ago I broke my protein skimmer, it was years old, it was a Sea Reef Counter Current skimmer, hooked up to a powerful air pump, believe it or not it did a pretty good job, lots of black protein scum. <Yes, nothing wrong with "being old" technology or otherwise... Or with air-driven skimmers... most being sold, used in Europe are still of this kind...> In the week that I went without a skimmer my water got a little cloudy, nobody but myself thinks so but I know my aquarium, after all I watch it for hours at a time everyday. After that one week I received the Aqua C remora pro and hooked it up but the water still has not cleared. I have never had problems with cloudy water. Skimmer works great, a bit noisy but very efficient. Any ideas? <Different dynamics, micro-organisms became situated in the week interval... the system will re-center, stabilize... you could "push" the manner, time frame by adding a bit of fresh live rock, some fast-growing macro-algae...> I have a 90 gallon FO tank and I do 20 gallon water changes every two weeks religiously/ clean filters etc.. My second problem is disease. For the longest time I had problems with Velvet disease in the tank, I thought I got rid of it because it has not reared it's ugly head in quite awhile until about two months ago. I bought a beautiful Queen angel (slap me now, no quarantine period) <Yikes... sounds like you've already done so yourself> anyway she either contracted it from my tank or brought it with her and some of my other fish got it. My Emperor angel is my concern here because he seems the most bothered by it.  <Both these angels in one tank? More stress...> I've had him for years. I have had copper running in the tank since the passing of the queen but it does not seem to be curing the Emperor's ailments. He eats great but his left pectoral fin is really tattered and opaque in color and he does not seem to use it much and where it touches the side of his body it looks almost like it has scratched him. He rubs on the gravel and coral skeletons. No live rock here. Could the cloudy water have anything to do with the copper treatment?  <Yes, absolutely... I might remove the copper, go with biological cleaners instead here> I am also running a UV sterilizer, it's always on and I changed the bulb about 3 months ago.  <What type, brand of copper? Read the labeling... your UV might have changed it, creating some of the opacity...> I am feeding Tetra Medicated food to see if it helps any. Any thoughts? Man sorry for the length of this. I have a Fluval 403 and the skimmer and various powerheads going. Thank you, Mark <Many things going on here... skimmer out for a week, new skimmer, two angels, one new/unquarantined in the same system, persistent velvet infestation, copper of some sort, UV... Time to step way back... examine your system, not place any more fish life... formulate a plan on how to proceed, eradicate the Amyloodinium. Please read through our site starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm

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