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FAQs About Water Changes for Marine Systems: Trouble/Fixing

Related Articles: Marine Water Change, The 'Perfect' Water Change Regimen? by Scott Fellman, Water Changes, Exchanges by Anthony Calfo, Captive Seawater Quality, General  Marine Maintenance

Related FAQs: Water Changes for Marine Systems 1, Water Changes for Marine Systems 2, Water Changes 3, Water Changes 4, & FAQs on Water Changes: Rationale, Gear/Tools, Frequency/Amount, TechniquesAutomation, & Water Top-Off Systems, Evaporation/Water Make-Up, Treating Tapwater Marine Water QualityMarine Plumbing

Marine Water Change Mishap 11/2/11
Good Evening WetWeb Crew,
<Good morning Wayne>
First of all, like most users of your site, I find it to be the most comprehensive and helpful utility available when it comes to aquatic issues. So kudos to you.
<Thank you. Glad you enjoy/use.>
On to my issue--I recently (three days ago) installed a sump and overflow on my setup and when I added the RO water (about 20-30 additional gallons)
I think I forgot to mix salt into a bucket or two. I'm still not sure what I did, but either way the SG plummeted (down to about 1.019 or 1.02 from 1.025 ish).
Consequently the water became cloudy and all of my corals refuse to open or feed, and a couple of them look like they are starting to deteriorate.
<Osmotic shock.>
I have continually raised the sg until it's back to normal levels, but everybody is still mad or dying. I guess I'm trying to figure out which, and what if anything I can do.
<Other than what you have done, nothing more but wait/see.>
All of my fish and inverts are fine. Here are the details of my setup:
75 gallon
two 250 watt MH
actinic supplement lighting
20g sump w fuge, holding Chaeto and sand bed, fluorescent light 24 hours skimmer
Zoanthid polyps
devils hand
daisy polyps
candy cane (looks like it's receding)
chili coral
bubble tip anemone (closed tight)
crocea clam (open and fine)
arrow crab
coral beauty
Clarkii's clown
PJ cardinal
watchman goby
Coris wrasse
I just did a third test and my levels are
NO3 8ppm
Ca 400ppm
KH 161 ppm
pH 8.0
PO4 20 ppm (I know this is high but everything has been thriving for some time at this level)
Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated--hopefully I'm needlessly concerned.
<Not much you can do here Wayne, you have corrected the problem, now hope for the best.>
I've had this setup for going on three years with no problems running only a skimmer for filtration.
Thank you!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Tap into a SW sys.    8/4/11
Ok so I just did a 20 gallon water change and wanted to siphon the sand bed.
I asked my sister to hook it up to the sink and she reversed the valves.
Only about a quarter gallon or less of tap water went into the tank before she turned it off. Should that be something that I should worry about?
<Not at all. B>

Blue Jaw Triggerfish/Behavior 12/10/09
<Hello Jenny>
I have a 76 gallon tank. my Blue Jaw Trigger that I've had for about a week in my reef tank started swimming in circles after doing a 5 gal water change. I have an allardi clown and a Copper Banded Butterfly Fish in the
tank along with some snails, brittle starfush <starfish> and a small sea urchin. When doing the water change last night he disappeared into a rock. After finishing the water change he emerged but was swimming in circles in a clockwise direction only for about 24 hours now. Salinity levels are 1.023, alkalinity is 196, calcium is around
420, ph is 8.0. I have searched everything online no one has had this problem. I called my LFS and he said he may have injured his spine somehow on a rock. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for him he is so beautiful I don't want to loose him.
<I've heard of similar reactions with triggerfish after water changes and there are probably a few things to examine here which is source water? Is the pH of the newly mixed water the same as the tank? Salinity identical?
Temperature? Are you letting the freshly mixed saltwater aerate/circulate for 24 hours before using? Any of these things or a combination could cause the reaction you describe.
James (Salty Dog)>

Suspended Particles/Hosting Christmas   12/25/08 Hello! Great website and a great service you provide! <Thank you Aaron> Here's my setup and "dilemma". I'd really appreciate any help and direction you may be able to give me. 75 gallon saltwater aquarium w/ live rock, no coral Two small powerheads at top of tank agitating surface One large powerhead in middle (height) of tank on opposite side of filter Hang on back filter The "dilemma" is I did a water change two days ago (Sunday) and the water in the aquarium is still pretty cloudy with suspended particles. Normally, I'd just wait and let the filter suck it out and the particles to settle naturally. However, we are hosting Christmas tomorrow and my wife wants that water crystal clear! Any suggestions on how to speed up the process? <Mmm, really best to just "let time go by" here... But we should discuss, ask you re what might be the cause/s here... Do you pre-mix and store your water? A very good idea... as municipal supplies can be "variable" in their make-up... and much of this can be discounted by mixing/storing... Have you changed a product (salt mix, supplement) here recently? Or altered your tanks water chemistry in some way? Some types of "precipitation" are spurred on in this way... I would NOT use a chemical "clarifying agent"... too likely to cause real trouble here> I've shut off the powerheads and left the filter on (and cleaned it out again) so hopefully that can help. Any other ideas or should I leave the powerheads on? <I would leave all on for sure> Thank you so much for your help and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Sincerely, Aaron K. <Thank you. There are mechanical filters one can rent or buy, and use temporarily to remove/sieve out such particulate matter (e.g. "Diatom" filters), but if it were me, I'd just leave all as is... And read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I2/Water_Makeup/makeup_water.htm and the linked files at the bottom. Bob Fenner>  

Water change issue/pH, FOWLR spg, Crypt... 10/23/08 Hello, <Hi> I've been having an issue that I just started to realize recently. I have been conducting water changes, and finding that the next day my pH is rather low. Around 6.5. <In the tank? Does it stay here consistently?> However when I test my water prior to putting it into the tank the pH is perfect. I believe this is due to the oxygen being generated by the pump mixing the salt and everything else in the tub prior to me pumping it into the tank. My tank is a 120 FOWLR. I usually conduct 30-50% water changes every 2-3weeks. So basically that's one issue, is how do you think i can go about balancing out my PH more efficiently right around water changes. <How long are you mixing your water for before adding it to your tank, make sure you allow 24 hours for everything to mix correctly and stabilize. Also do you buffer your water change water prior to adding the salt? See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm > What is the ideal salinity for a FOWLR? I do have live rock, and nice purple coral growing. I keep it usually around 1.019-.21 <Too low, close as possible to natural levels, 1.026, the creatures in your tank have spend thousands of generations adapting to this fairly stable parameter.> What do you guys think about the AquaC Urchin Pro in sump skimmers? <Love Aqua-C.> And for a future reference, what's a good way to treat ich without medication? <The only way I know of is using the tank swap method, where you switch the fish between 2 bare bottom tanks, completely cleaning and drying the tank not in use.> Or perhaps help prevent it, or stop it from getting worse during beginning stages. <Quarantine, Quarantine, Quarantine, and have I mentioned Quarantine?> I've been told to soak food in garlic extract... <Not useful for ich treatment, or much of anything really, does seem to stimulate a fish's appetite a bit, but so do many other products that also add value to your fish's food. A nice article from Steven Pro http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-08/sp/index.php > Thanks, Sam <Welcome> <Chris>

Water change? to Mr. Fenner, How are you Robert? <Very well my friend, thank you>  I have a quick question. I have been recently bringing down a high nitrate environment. I have a 180 gal tank and have been doing about 40 gallons at a time. When I did my last water change everything in my tank stopped moving and shriveled. I use tap water with declorenease. It sits with a large power head overnight.  <Hmm, a dangerous protocol... Please read through the "Seawater Use" section on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and you will find I encourage a good week of mixing, waiting ahead of such new water use...> When I had checked my salinity the first time they were both the same. Afterwards I realized that the hydrometer was broken. My new readings are 1.022, nitrates are at 40, nitrites are 0, and ammonia is 0, ph is 8.4. I believe that the salinity may have been off now, The clams have folded in on themselves but are still alive. some of the snails died but seem to be coming out of shock. All of the corals are wilted and shrunken in. The zooanthids are closed. They all secreted some sort of slime, I am assuming as a protection.  <yes, likely... and maybe from chemicals in the new synthetic in addition to or instead of a difference in spg...> My question what to you does it sound like I did wrong. And will my corals and clams survive? Desperately needing advice, Ryan Alexaki <All will likely be fine... Do look into reducing your nitrates in other ways other than dilution ("Nitrates" FAQs on the WWM site), use of "Macro Algae" and perhaps more live rock... a deep sand bed, maybe a plenum set-up in an attached sump... and do develop a solid routine of pre-making your seawater (with a marked volume in the tub, and a container of about the right volume for the sea salt... to get the spg about right, and let aerate, heat for a good week ahead of use. Bob Fenner>

Algal blooms with water changes Hi Bob Hope you are doing well these day's. I have a question about my water changes. I make up my water about 7 day's before I do the initial change. My salinity is a steady 1023.Every time I do my water change, I seem to get an alga bloom. All of my readings are, calcium 450, alk 11dkh,ph8.3, no nitrate or phos. detectable. Do you know what is causing this?? <Possibly silicates (SiO2)... or other "rate limiting" material in the source water...> I don't have a algae problem until I change the water, hope you can help, everything in my tank looks great. As always ,thank you very much. <Look into an inexpensive reverse osmosis unit. One with a "carbon" contactor filter in its flow path. Bob Fenner>

Water changes (mal-affects causes) Hi Bob, A quick input if you will...what's wrong with my fish after water change??? My yellow tang swims around in circles & gets dizzy looking. A couple of water changes ago, I lost a damsel; so I'm wondering what's killing my fish or almost killing my fish. I change 5 gallons a wk & 10 gallons during any major tank clean of my 55 gallon. So, what's affecting my fish the most? The temp of my new water?? The salinity of new water?? Low oxygen of new water?? or just changing out to much water. All of the above! I do match the new water with tank water pretty good, I think...I guess what I'm trying to ask, what are fish most sensitive to during water change?? thanks, Lee Harris Dallas, TX <Very good question... and "who knows?"... perhaps all the above. My ongoing advice can be found under "Seawater"... on the WWM site... pre-mix and store it... Bob Fenner>

Water change bubbles Bob, Once again, I turn to the master. In trying to raise the PH which was just slightly low, I did my first water change in my new tank (live sand only, so far-LR tomorrow). I got a bazillion fine bubbles in the tank. They were just flowing out of the Bak Pak 2 water return in a cloud. I put filter floss over the opening of the return pipe but it didn't help much so I turned off the air to the skimmer. surely this isn't normal. What am I doing wrong? <Likely not much... maybe some hygroscopic particles came in with the water change... and your system is new (and will become less "bubbly" with age)... but the Bak Paks do have this propensity... You might want to rig up a "dump area" like a hang on device in the tank... with more material (bioballs, Dacron...) to dissipate these for now... Bob Fenner> I hope by now you have recovered from your "working" vacation but, I have found with age, it takes a "few hours" longer. <Wowzah, been back for two weeks and am way past due for getting out again!> Thanks for the help.
Thom Walters

Water Changes Stressing Yellow Tang. Hi WWM Guys, <Cheers, Glenn> I don't know how my FOWLR tank got by until I found y'alls site. <whew... a lot of pressure answering this query with a lead off like that <wink>> I perform a 10 gallon salt water change each week for my 75 FOWLR tank. <very nice schedule> Every time, my Yellow tang seems to stress out for a day or so. Then he goes back to his normal self. <hmmm...odd and shouldn't be> The new water is usually w/in a degree of the tank water. PH & SP are the same. I siphon water from the bottom of the tank and then slowly pump new water back into it. Would a sudden reduction in Nitrates stress a fish? <a little... > I would not think so. I've recently started using aged tap water. However, he reacted the same way w/water from the LFS. They use RO for their water supply. Any ideas, what I'm missing here? <do check the other components (Alk, Ca, etc)... but you may simply have a skittish individual. Are the other fish generally undisturbed by it? Perhaps the bright lights with the water level drop shock it... eh, maybe not <wink>. Your YT may be just sensitive> Thanks again, Glenn <kindly, Anthony>

Re: Water Changes Stressing Yellow Tang. Thanks for the advice Anthony. <Steven Pro this morning.> My other fish hide during the change, which is done with the lights turned out. Afterwards they come out and go about their normal routine. Here in North Texas, we're blessed with hard tap water. Although it's murder on plumbing fixtures with rubber o-ring valves) PH is usually 8.0 - 8.1 ..I guess my YT is just sensitive. BTW, his ailment (Velvet or Gill Flukes) are gone. I took your advice and gave him daily FW Dips for 8 days. Of course he did not go willingly. I had to remove all the LR every day to catch him though. <I think I know why you Yellow Tang is nervous about you doing something in the tank :).> Do you have any advice for catching fish in tanks full of LR? <Feeding then scooping quickly with the net or using a small barbless fishing hook. Once you catch them the first time, it is far easier on you and your fish to place them into a bare bottom quarantine/hospital tank with easily removable inert decorations.> Thanks, Glenn <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Chloramine Deaths. Hi There, <cheers!> Recently, I've had deaths in my tanks directly after partial water changes that must have been chloramine-related.  <Not likely... more commonly a discrepancy in temperature or pH. Do you really have so much Chloramine that you can smell it from feet away? Most dechlorinators easily neutralize this treatment> I unfortunately used a "one-step" product for my water changes that I will never use again. <do reconsider that most every Dechlor product is virtually identical in efficacy> A friend told me about your site. I'm glad he did! I've did a good deal of reading of your site. I'm intrigued about your "vat method," -- letting water sit or be mixed for a week or more before being added. <chlorine will dissipate in open air but chloramine never will... a chemical bond that must be broken (with a de-Ammoniating product.. most conditioners)> My question is, what will this method do, if anything, to "toxic metals?"  <absolutely nothing> Should I be concerned about this? <hmmm... rare in potable tap water. If concerned, get a prefilter stuffed with PolyFilter pads to draw water through> Thanks! Walter B. Klockers Plano, TX <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Top-Off Water pH Problems Sorry to bother you with another question again so soon, but I am at a loss as to what to do about my top-off water's pH. <No problem.> I purchase RO water from my LFS. I've tried Kent's Osmo-Prep as well as Seachem's Marine Buffer, but what keeps happening is that the pH is fine as soon as I add it to the RO water, but by the next day the water is highly acidic and below my pH test scale. I aerate the water as soon as I bring it home and keep it aerated as I use it throughout the week, but it will not maintain an acceptable pH. What I'm trying to do is have freshwater constantly aerated and pH adjusted so that I can just pour it in the tank once or twice a day to make up for evaporation. Can you recommend a way to do this? Or do I need to pH adjust the top-off water each and every time I add it? <You should not need to keep adding buffers everyday. Perhaps you are just testing too quickly and the RO water has not had enough time to mix with your buffers. I use Seachem Reef Builder and Marine Buffer, about 1/2 teaspoon of each for every five gallons, and have not had a problem.> Thanks so much again for your assistance! Karen <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Water Change & pH Problems Dear Mr. Fenner, I have recently diluted my 100 gallon tank from 1.024 to 1.022 during a water change and observed a drop in PH from 8.2 to 7.9. I have checked the water quality from Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate, almost zero concentration. Water buffer is still high. However, the PH remains below 8.0. What should I do? Change more water? <Usually the best move. I would first double check the pH and alkalinity of the new water to ensure it is in the proper range. Please search through WWM regarding saltwater mixing issues.> Best regards! I-Ching Liao <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Ammonia Bob, <<Not Bob, JasonC here...>> I believe I may have found the source of my ammonia problem. <<ok>> I vacuum the substrate surface ever time I do a water change every week (approx.. 13% removal) and my ammonia was still traceable. The tank has been running for 2 years, I have never had this problem before. I clean all of my filters every week. What the problem was is that I was not vacuuming deep enough, the tank has a 1-1/2" s deep sand bed and I realize that the fish waste and other junk was not just on the surface, but deeper in the sand bed. How often should you move around LR? <<Whenever the mood strikes. If I were you, I'd look into perhaps some more or larger powerheads in the tank so that some of this detritus makes its way into your filters and not into the sandbed. Constant vacuuming of the sand bed will disrupt the ability to produce/harbor beneficial organisms like copepods and the like that would normally deal with the detritus for you.>> Thanks
<<Cheers, J -- >>

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