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FAQs on Livestock Losses in the Business of Ornamental Aquatics

Related Articles: Stocking for Retail Aquatics, A Livestock Loss/Credit Replacement System, A Complete Livestock Treatment System

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Livestock... needs to be live, healthy to sell... and promote your business.

Treatment of Ich in Retail System      11/7/14
Hi Crew,
I have a relatively new fish system (has been stocked about 6 months). It has 6 divide 70 gallon and 3 undivided 70 gallon display tanks, a 100 gallon sessile invertebrate flow through unit attached,
<... trouble. Your invert., actually non-fish system/s need to be separate>
and another 600 gallons of water circulating around in the filtration systems. For a total of about 1300 gallons. The filtration is still under construction to some degree but mostly operational. Currently I'm turning over the water in the tanks ~8 times per hour. There are two pumps with this job each pumping through their own inline 440w TMC sterilizer.
<Helps; but of and by itself won't prevent parasitic, infectious issues; nor cure them>
The biofilter, skimmer, etc are all supplied by ancillary pumps. The tanks are all bare bottom but do have small amount of porous rock to give the fish a little structure. To date, I've had one or two fish break out in Ich but showed little stress and recovered quickly without any action.
However, I had a recent outbreak which was bad enough to treat and I think my poor management of the situation has now turned into a disaster. I have done much research on your site for many years yet still find myself struggling to understand disease management well enough to apply it effectively in our system, but want to! I've also duo of full line stores to run and my fish guys all have their own ideas of what to do and I need a
system that we can apply effectively and practically now and in the future.
1 week and 1 month ago... our first major Ich outbreak occurs in one of our divided 70 gallon tanks stocked with an Achilles tang,
<VERY susceptible>
indigo hamlet, dwarf lion, dog face puffer, goldbar wrasse, Toby puffer, and falco Hawkfish. All Sm to M in size and in the tank between 1-3 months or so save the dog face puffer and all except the little lion were voracious eaters and apparently hardy specimens. The tang and the puffer broke out at approximately the same time. One of my fish guys caught it quick and we isolated the tank from the system. We put an Aquaclear filter with some media from the main systems bio filter and added a heater and water circulation. We did a 3 day treatment of formalin in the tank using quick cure at the recommended dose and over that period increased temperature to about 84. The treatment at first seemed reasonably effective and we did a large water change on the tank on day 3 but kept the tank isolated and increased the heat to 86, at which point I thought Ich was unable to reproduce which I thought I had read in a text book a couple years ago but upon further research realizing may only apply to the FW variety
though still effective in speeding up lifecycle as I understand. Well after a week or so the tang had a recurrence and we started another 3 day regime of the formalin. The tang was lost shortly thereafter and most of the other fish broke out as well. This time around the Ich were much more abundant and effected the majority of the fish. During treatment the wrasse died but the rest of the fish pulled through and the tank went another couple weeks before my fish guys had some concerns about water quality and ongoing maintenance/reliability in the isolated tank. At this point all the fish were given a freshwater dip and moved into other tanks.
The isolated tank was cleaned with a bleach solution and left to dry before being added on to the system. It's about a week later now and I have 7 or so fish from various tanks who now have Ich, a couple fairy wrasses, a
couple blue tangs, a long nose butterfly, a porcupine puffer, and a flameback angel. The puffer, angel, 1 of the blue tangs, and one of the fairy wrasses are all new fish only about a week or so in the system. I've tried to identify probably causes and I have a plethora of options.
A. Previously QT'd fish still had Ich when they were spread (although not all
the tanks that now have the Ich have one of those fish in them).
<Highly likely>
B. New fish just brought it in on them
<Quite probable this time of year>
C. Sterilizer effectiveness waning?
D. Stress related to a couple of buggerups I made
<A contributing cause/influence>
(I did some work on the system using both pvc glue and silicone and I started running water through these components several hours later and afterward did some research and discovered that until its fully cured can contaminate the water) E. Some sort of cross contamination from nets or buckets from the previously quarantined tank.
<Maybe... what do you use for a dip?>
I considered several options including copper (The invert tank can run on its own if needed),
<Ah; thank goodness>
but really don't want to introduce copper into the system as I've heard it can persist and plague invertebrates even after using media to remove it. I thought about the same with formalin but that seemed too extreme for the
situation and the wide variety of fish in the system. So I ended up moving all the affected fish to their own divided tank (on the system) and removed the rock. From their gave them all a SW formalin bath using Steven Pro's
recommendation of .75 ml per gallon. Most of the fish bathed for about 45 minutes in well circulated tank water. I lost the flameback during the dip but he wasn't looking real great to begin with. My plan is to continue
giving the dip once daily to affected fish and continue moving affected fish to the rock free tank and scraping the walls and floor of this tank every few days. Does this plan seem prudent?
<Mmm; worth trying if this is all the facilities you have>
Aggressive enough? Should I isolate the tank again (I'd rather not, the fish didn't do great last time around and it seems the UV sterilizers may aid in treatment but do I put the other tanks at greater risk?)
<I'd re-do the plumbing... isolate the two systems... non fish to one (algae, plants, invertebrates), fishes to the other... and treat w/ what you prefer. Chelated copper if you want; a quinine compound even better>
Should I do FW bath instead of SW?
<? Yes... pH adjusted... See the SOP on WWM. Sorry; am at an airport and short on time to look up>
The SW is much easier with less room for error than the FW and there are so many conflicting reports on effectiveness of FW bath as treatment and highly variable tolerance times that it's not nearly as practical.
<Aye ya... my talk at this year's Aquatic Experience show this wknd in Chi town is about this.... Have campaigned for decades to eradicate the naiveté of folks... including in the trade>
I've also considered hyposalinity but many conflicting reports there as well from industry pundits ranging all the way from it's a bogus internet myth to it's far and away the best and most effective ongoing treatment for
commercial systems.
<Again; please use WWM. ALMOST all stores, wholesalers utilize artificially low spg (but not hypo. as a treatment; it rarely works)... a good idea on several counts.>
I know my current plan is practical enough, but do you believe its effective enough to implement as our "official system" for dealing with this problem as it occurs. Are there other measures or advice you would recommend? At what point would you consider fish safe to relocate?
<... MANY... can't do the Vulcan mind-meld (unfortunately), and there's WAY TOO MUCH to re-key. WHAT you need to know is archived on WWM. See how to use the search tool, indices>
What would be a prudent length of time to restrict livestock sales on
1. tanks that had an infection but have no further outbreaks and
2. Tanks that are on the system but did not experience any outbreak 3. Fish that have been treated and recovered
<There is no set answer here w/ any degree of confidence. Were it my shop; so few organisms involved, I'd bleach the systems; treat the fish elsewhere>
For new fish, mostly I understand FW dips are a worthwhile measure and plan on doing that in the future as well as rearranging my tanks to get new fish in their own tanks between orders both to minimize stress and limit
potential impact of disease transmission. Full QT system big enough for new fish may be in my future but that comes at a heavy cost (retail comes at a premium!).
<Ah yes. Are you attending Aq. Exp.?>
Thanks for your time and effort, not sure where I'd be without your resource,
<We'll be chatting. Don't lose heart or give up. Bob Fenner>
e: Treatment of Ich in Retail System, plus some mgmt. questions       ‏            11/9/14
Wish I was in Chicago hearing you talk but sadly no, I'm here in the weeds.
<Ahh; home now... in S. Cal. MUCH warmer!>
Quick update on the situation is fish seem to be recovering okay using the SW formalin bath. I'm fine tuning our freshwater dip method before I go that extra step. Thus far I have am having a heck of a time getting pH to
match. My ph meter goes wacky in the RO buffered water.
<Oh yes; needs to be mixed up hours in advance of testing>
Add to that my fish system stays at 8.0. Alk is fine and I've calibrated and tested my pH monitor multiple times. So I just haven't worried about it. But getting my buffered water stabilized at 8.0 or even within .2 has been difficult to do and to test since it tweaks my tester.
Re: Separate Inverts. Our invert system is physically separated from our coral system with an aisle in between the two so I couldn't think of any way to join them. However, your vehemence was enough to inspire a little
more innovation and I think I can make it work using float switches to transfer water back and for the between the systems without the need to share a sump (our sumps and filters are all in a room ABOVE the display
systems which often necessitates some creativity (this choice was made as a last resort of a do the best we can retrofit type of scenario)).
<Yes. KEEP these two separated>
Re: Hyposalinity. Prior to adding the invert system we were running our fish system at 1.019 which made acclimation from Quality Marine easier as that's what theirs came in at, and seemed like a fairly widely accepted
good thing for us to do. However, I ran across this article http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2009-04/newbie/index.php  at reefkeeping.com that made me feel real stupid for carrying on the practice as it was a "Newbie Myth" propagated by pet stores to save money on salt.
I will say, from an anecdotal standpoint we didn't have any issues with crypt until we started bringing up the salinity. Additionally the general response I've seen on WWM is that fish should be kept at natural sea level.
Here you mention in your response that almost all wholesalers and stores keep artificially low spg in their fish systems with good reason. Amidst my confusion, I'm gathering that it IS good for me to do as commercial
operation, NOT good for a hobbyist to do. Please confirm.
<Yes; the biz is different than end-users/consumers. I would keep all but Red Sea fishes and species that live in close association w/ invertebrates (Clownfishes the best example) at artificially low spg... for salt savings,
greater DO, reduced external parasite loads...>
Re: Sterilizers. I have these guys setup (I hope) to provide level 3 sterilization which to my mind would aid in battling even these hardy protozoa. This is according to the recommendations here, http://www.qualitymarine.com/UV-Sterilizers/T.M.C./P2---110-W-Commercial-UV-Sterilizer-(up-to-264-g)  turning 8x hour and running 880w of their sterilizers in my 1000g turnover volume. Where they state Max Sys Vol of 1056 at 4x, though they recommend 7x for Marine ornamental aquariums.
Re: "Finding everything I need to know on WWM". All I can do is smile there. Yes it's a wealth of information, almost too vast. Over the last 12 years spent many sleepless nights browsing and searching.
<Don't like you losing sleep>
I have a couple other questions relating to management thoughts that have been percolating.
Net Sterilization:

I know you recommend formaldehyde. None of our regular wholesalers sell this without malachite green which really makes a mess. Would ParaGuard be an acceptable substitute?
<Mmm; yes; worth trying. Though, you likely can order formalin/formaldehyde from out of state>
Couple Acclimation questions:

1. Do you know of or have any sort of guide for approximate lengths fish can dip/bath. For example, Small Tetras, ~30 seconds vs. Tangs 60 minutes etc. that I can use as a starting point for staff getting this figured out?
<Not really... is an individual "guess" per species, sizes, apparent state of health... Better to under-time than over, AND always be present, observing while>
2. Currently our acclimation process is simply neutralize ammonia in shipping water with prime and drip acclimate until pH of shipping water matches tank water. I've been studying up on the Guerilla method and your acclimation power point presentation. Is a video of you presenting this available anywhere?
<Ahh! There will be very shortly. Tiff recorded my presentation this weekend for this purpose. Thank you for asking>
I did not find it on YouTube. If not, I'm going to have some questions for you but I'll keep them pending.
What's your analysis of a good markup for marine aquarium livestock.
<For inexpensive livestock (e.g. most damsels) three-four hundred percent... most all three hundred, expensive species (tens or more dollars cost) doubling>
I'm just crunching some numbers in my head and it seems that if I were to be doing this in the best way possible, I'm going need to mark up my already expensive (MAC Certified and SSC) livestock a lot more. If I distribute the cost of ordering, shipping, and receiving, quarantining, and moving livestock in batches of say $1000 at a time (which I'm estimating at about 30 hours per order from preorder > ready for sale)... if I price even close to my competitors, then I'm giving away the fish.
<All too common in our trade>
Granted, its still probably a better way to go as giving away the fish is better than killing the fish. Do I just need to get this system down to such a degree of perfection that it's easy-peasy. Is this just the way it has to be to earn dry goods business?
<Some folks have argued (myself included) that the livestock really does just drive dry-goods sales... and that the latter pay the bills. There are a few (not many) shops that make money selling fishes, invertebrates, plants... but not much>
The problem there is that my dry goods margins are shrinking like crazy as ecommerce grows. I saw Bulk Reef Supply mention in a YouTube comment on a MACNA talk recently that the industry is moving to a 30% standard margin and that retailers aren't setup to survive on that.
I'd say he's definitely right.
<I wholeheartedly agree. I WOULD NOT offer/sell anything that you can't make/clear a forty percent NET margin on... overtime otherwise you will go broke. Our own stores gave up selling tanks, stands, canopies, some
lighting, pump, filtration lines as others locally (LFS!) were giving these away. No sense>
I guess I'm rambling beyond the point of productivity here... so I'll let you go.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

commercial holding tank questions; Crypt...   5/16/13
Hi Bob,
It has been awhile since I last wrote you so I figured I would check in as I had a few questions I am hoping you can answer.  Last time we spoke I was about to open my new saltwater shop and you were helping me figure out my issues regarding ammonia spikes with the new dry rock and instead adding the fresh live rock to the set up in the fish holding system.  I'm happy to say that business has been really good since opening and I have been busier than I could have ever expected to be honest in my first year.
<Ah good>
 I am so busy some weeks that I have trouble keeping up with getting new livestock in to the shop after everything is sold on busy weekends.  Which leads me to my questions.  If you recall my store consists of a 1000g fish holding system and a 800g coral/invert system.  The coral/invert system does fantastic.  I run a skimmer and ozone and dose supplements for the corals as needed.  No problems there. The fish system however has been a headache from the start.  No matter what I do I can not seem to get things the way I want them.  If you remember I have a centralized system of 24 x 40g breeder tanks with an inch of aragonite sand
<I'd switch to coral sand... for looks, function; though not really a giant step forward here>
and one or two live rock pieces for each tank.  One 3ft LED strip light on each tank. In the back I have a 150g sump
<Is there room to add volume here? I would>
with a commercial sized protein skimmer, an Ozotech 1g ozone generator, and a Emperor Aquatics 300w HO UV along with 900w of heaters.  Salinity is kept at 1.022-23.  Temp: 74-75 in the winter months, 76-77 currently in the spring months as the retail space is on a concrete slab floor which stays cool.  No ammonia, nitrites, <10 nitrates.  I have also been corresponding with Bob Goemans regarding my current utilization of Chloroquine phosphate through the holding tanks as I have had good luck in the past using it in a hospital tank setting.
<I do hope/trust that you're not using CP on a continuous basis>
 My question in essence deals with disease prevention.  Every time I get a new shipment in of fish I see crypt spots pop up on the tangs and angels within a few days of arrival.
<Ahh, very common... the rule rather than exception>
  I was hoping running the CP through the holding tanks at 10-15mg/l would prevent this from happening
<Mmm, no... copper would be an order of magnitude better>
but it does not seem to be as effective as I hoped.  I am not sure if the rock and substrate are effecting the effectiveness of the drug or if the tank lights are degrading the medicine or even having an effect at all.  I turn off the ozone and UV when medication is present.
<Yes; have to>
  And have been redosing every 5-7 days as directed by Ed Noga and Bob G. I have tried the Guerrilla acclimation technique and have been ordering from reputable wholesalers (QM, SDC) without much luck in preventing outbreaks on new arrivals of certain Ich susceptible fish.
<You likely have a resident infestation... Are you "up to" the possibility/practice of bleaching the receiving/holding/isolation area every shipment? Moving some clean filter media from another system (perhaps the invertebrate sump)? Otherwise... I might stoop to the use of a chelated copper product in your fish system>
 I am thinking in going a couple different directions at this point...
1.  Setting up a three level QT rack in the back room big enough to hold 30-40 fish upon arrival.  Treating fish as needed for 1-2 weeks then moving up front to displays.
2.  Pulling all calcium based live rock and sand from fish system and replacing with bio balls, faux ornaments, inert freshwater gravel so as medications are more effective and I can treat fish system with copper or formalin if necessary.
<Ah yes>
3.  Adding more UV and Ozone to the system in hopes that better sterilization will be achieved without medications.
<What is your RedOx/ORP currently? I'd keep it (safely) consistently under 400...>
My concern obviously is once the fish have visible spots or symptoms in the retail holding tanks that they are no longer a sell-able product and the shop loses money and time treating and rehabbing the fish.
<Yes; not practical>
I guess my question then would be what is your preferred method for keeping a fish system healthy in appearance.
<As you've done and stated: Have stable, optimized holding facility, buy initially clean stock, quarantine/treat if necessary enroute to offering for sale...>
 I do not want to over medicate but it seems my ozone and UV are not enough on their own.  Perhaps I am undersized?
<Perhaps; a factor is volume size for sure... but only "a few percent" of your issue/situation. Again, like most all shops, you have a resident/in-place parasite situation>
 Other stores in the area run inert substrates and fake decor in their fish systems.  I am positive the one store uses formalin in the system when adding new arrivals and then UV there after.
<I'd use the formalin only in (heavily aerated) dips, short immersion baths>
  Their fish always seem to look in good health although I do hear they have high initial losses.  I am worried that my live rock and sand is harboring a lot of the disease.  I would like to keep some sort of substrate and decor in the tanks as I do promote reef tanks and Fowlr as my main selling setups. 
Any input you think would be helpful I would be glad to consider at this point.
Thanks again Bob!
<Though it can become a "bad habit", I'd lean, direct you to try the copper route (testing for and adjusting daily) at this time. Going forward; when you and your market will pay for it, separately holding incoming livestock shipments... Bob Fenner>
Re: commercial holding tank questions, Cu use       5/26/13

In the past I have used Seachem Cupramine.  I have never had much luck with using it though on dwarf angels such as flame and potters angels and wrasses.
<Mmm, these families members don't "like" copper for sure>
  My research says you are supposed to ramp up the dosage until recommended level is reached or run half levels for dwarf angels and not use at all with some wrasses. 
<Mmm, no; or not really... the active ingredient (check whether you're using a chelated kit...) should be at 0.35 ppm free copper (Cu++); no more than 0.50 ppm, nor less than 0.20... you'll have to check... see below>
How would I do this for new fish shipments if the copper is already at full strength in a holding system?
<? Don't follow you>
Out of curiosity why do you say the Chloroquine Phosphate only lasts a day or so after dosing?
<Often falls out of solution in typical settings... photo-oxidized et al.>
  I thought most authors were recommending treatment every 5-7 days.
<... Mmm>
 I was basing my dosing regime off of Norga <Noga, Ed.> and Goemans literature on CP use and dosing once a week-10 days.  I have been very happy with using CP in the past but it seems no one knows or follows a standard dosing regime for disease treatment or which diseases CP actually is effective on eradicating.
<Most all external Protozoans>
  I also liked CP for its algaecide like properties in the display tanks. 
From what I understand copper will do the same for combating algae?
<Yes... more olde timey>
  For the UV, it is an Emporer <Emperor> Aquatics HO 150w per bulb model. 
The Ozotech ozone generator is 1g/hr but no air dryer which then reduces the output by half I believe.
<Highly variable depending on temperature and (relative) humidity>
 But if I am running copper I can not run UV or Ozone anyways if I understand correctly?
<Yes; correct>
  The QT tanks have been ordered and I am hoping to put together the new holding system this upcoming week.  I am still not sure which direction to go on sand and rock in retail displays as it is a big endeavor to change out. 
<Then I'd leave out for now... just have to check the alkaline reserve, perhaps adjust more often... that, and/or more expensive, larger water change-outs>
 I will have to ponder more on this subject.  Thank you again for your guidance.
<Glad to assist your efforts. Bob Fenner>
Re: Re: Re: re: commercial holding tank questions; was Crypt, CP, Cupramine f's, quarantine sys. des.      6/13/13

Hi Bob...a short update on the store...I'm in the process of changing over all the live rock in the store holding tanks and large main sump to fake resin decorations out in the front tanks and bio balls in the filtration room to get ready for a possible copper treatment if necessary in the fish system.
<Mmm, do bear/keep in mind that you'll still need to monitor (daily) and re-add on a regular basis. The copper med./s will fall out of solution even in "just" plain saltwater systems, sans any décor... from the alkaline water and absorption by biota>
 Currently the Chloroquine phosphate is still running through the system, would you recommend trying to remove that before treating with copper?
<Mmm, no>
 I obviously have no way to test to see how much remains in the water as that is one of its drawbacks when using.  I was thinking I could turn back on the ozone and UV to remove the CP?
<It is so transient... and not trouble "mixing" w/ Cu; that I wouldn't/don't worry re>
 I have also reduced the salinity in the system down from 1.023 to 1.015.
<May as well drop a few more thousandths... to 1.012... even for most fishes 1.010... just need to take your time "re-upping"... a thousandth per day or thereabouts>

 It definitely seems to be helping with the general behavior and outward appearance of the fish.  ORP is almost 300 now with no skimmer, ozone, or UV running because of the CP.
<I should make a brief comment here; so am doing so: To others/browsers: (please) don't use CP, other "chemical means" to raise ORP (or as algicides....)... >
 I'll be glad to get the skimmer/ozone going again to remove it from the water and get the ORP back into the 400s.  My question is regarding using copper for the 1000 gallons system if necessary.  Which type do you recommend for a LFS setting?
<Mmm, much to say/relate: let's have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cryptchelcucures.htm
see the upper right box?>
 As I mentioned earlier, all the live rock is being removed, but there still will be some live aragonite sand present in some tanks.
<Then copper will be lost a bit faster than if it/this were absent. No big deal>
 I was leaning toward just a regular ionic copper sulphate mix and maintaining it at .15 ppm
<... too low... Shoot for 0.20>

 along with the salinity at 1.015.  Is there an economical commercial brand to use or should I go the DIY mix route? 
<I'd use the commercial chelated here. IF this were a very large public aquarium I MIGHT make up my own citrated (10% citric) CuSO4 . 5H20 aqueous solution... but even then would likely just make a deal, purchase (rather than make) my own chelated mix. Look for the one gallon size... even comes in larger... not for your use here>
Most ionic brands recommend 1 drop per gallon of saltwater.  So if I have 1000 gallons, and 1 drop = .05 ml, I would need 50 ml of copper sulphate?  Does that sound right?
<... no my friend. Even more dangerous is what you sound like. Do you know stoichiometry? How to make molar solutions? Please, for here/now, just purchase the brand/s mentioned on WWM>
  I was also looking at CopperSafe (chelated) and also Copper Power Blue (not sure if it is ionic or chelated) but it seems I would need large gallon sized quantities of those forms of copper.
<Both good products, and one gallon will last you a good long while>
  CopperSafe instructions are 4 ounces per 100 gallons?  Seems like a lot to be dosing in a commercial setting.  Also, seems like most wholesalers/LFS are running UV/ozone as well?
<Often the case; yes>
 Is this possible with copper present?
<Mmm, yes; though these cause (even) faster "drop out", and the coating of sleeves of ozone made via UV are a pain to clean... acid wash. Better to turn off UVs during/IF using Cu>
  The CopperSafe specifically states on its label safe to use with UV and skimmer.
<Is safe, just not as efficacious... think on this idea: Copper won't stay in solution in seawater period... it gets ad- and absorbed even faster w/ more biota/physiological activity present, more so w/ alkaline décor (sand, gravel, rock) present, faster w/ higher (more concentrated) specific gravity, faster still at higher pH, ORP, UV use.... Do you understand? I would use whatever brand, a good test kit...>
 I would like to utilize UV and ozone if possible.
<... go ahead and try this then... Just monitor/measure for free Cu at least once daily, re-adjust>
 I know that is not possible with brands like Seachem Cupramine.  Finally, the new QT holding system is also nearly complete in the back room.  I still cannot decide how to plumb them together though.
<I would NOT do this. Keep both systems COMPLETELY separate... I'd go so far as to bleach the filter media, perhaps the entire quarantine system between each use... Yes; and re-inoculate w/ media from a known "clean" system each week/two weeks... whatever the new livestock incoming schedule is. You do NOT WANT to mix anything wet... nets, specimen containers, hands, cleaning gear twixt the Q system and the store's livestock display systems>
 I will be glad when the stress of re-doing this system is complete. 
<Ah yes; I do know>
I hope that the upgrades will translate into healthier fish and more profit for the shop.  As always thanks for your input.
<Am very glad to be here for you. Bob Fenner>

Retail fish store questions, treatment/s for livebearer losses     – 11/19/12
I recently found your site and it has been very helpful, so thanks!  I run a retail full line pet store and have had some years hobbyist experience (though we know how different that is!).  However, I have had some struggles with disease.
 <Most all of us do; in fact, there are no exceptions I'm aware of>
  We currently follow your acclimation procedures, but do not have the facilities to quarantine.  We have been feeding frozen food with Metronidazole and Sea Chem's focus as well as a few drops of liquid garlic every other day for the first week upon arrival.  This has done away with the Ich issue and helped with overall health.

  However, we still get issues with our live bearers and some bacterial problems.  I prefer not to add too much to the system for obvious reasons, would rather have things fed to them orally when possible.  Any suggestions are much appreciated!
<Mmm, well, you do what you can water-quality wise I take it... provide a good staple food (am a huge fan of the Spectrum line)... Do you have a system in-place for tracking losses, including the sources... where you buy from? This can really help in the long/er haul. Please see here Re:
Thank you!
<There are some pro-biotic items of worth... I really don't want to encourage you, the practice of continuously feeding Metronidazole (too toxic in constant use) or antibiotics (trouble to no use), even Anthelminthics... Bob Fenner>

Angelfish Die Off, FW comm.    9/27/07 Hello <Hi there> I own a live tropical fish store in Michigan and within the past six months, I have not been able to keep freshwater angelfish alive. Is there a problem that you know of that is causing these poor creatures to perish after 72 to 96 hours of arrival? <Yes... a couple in particular... One, an older plaque of Octomita that was the causative organism of "Angelfish Disease" years back... can/should be treated with treatment of existing systems (with Metronidazole/Flagyl), and strict quarantine and treatment with same for all questionable/Far East imported angels or angels that may have come in contact with... The second syndrome is "just exhaustion/stress" from import... Both situations can/are best remedied by buying your Angels from local, or as local as you can find, breeder/s> My suppliers out west will not ship to anyone via plane because they have had other customers complaining of the same problem. Six months prior, angels were great, healthy, and eating. Now they come in looking healthy but within a couple of days, perish. Could it be the same as with the piranha deal? <Mmm, yes> Thank you! Sincerely, W.L. <Try the Metronidazole... get folks about you to breed/supply you... Bob Fenner>

Hospital tank common filter. Copper removal, re-addition  9/24/07 Dear Bob, I am daily reading and reading your notes and FAQs. <Me too> I am sometimes confused and most of the time getting educated. <We share this impression> Your site is wonderful. As I discussed earlier about my plans of quarantine using one central filtration system which I have already constructed. I wish to modify it slightly. I have made a final sketch attached. I would appreciate your suggestions. <I see it/this...> After the fresh water dips the new fishes shall be kept in these tanks for two weeks in Cuso4 on 0.25ppm, SG 0.017 at 28 deg. Cel. <... okay> In the system there are two racks A and B with 9 tanks each total 18 tanks having sponge filters. <Again, the water should flow to and from each separately...> Total water vol. in 18 tanks is 1200 liters. The filtration sump (water vol. 200 liters) is further divided in to three sections: 1. To eliminate Cuso4 from returning water of hospital tanks using Activated Carbon. Carbon shall be replaced every week). 2. To remove the NH3 and No2. using biological filtration. 3. Storage area for adding Cuso4 again to maintain 0.25ppm of Cu and recirculating back to the racks. <Mmm, how will you accomplish this careful removal, replenishment?> The water circulation shall be done alternatively once every week <Needs to circulate continuously... to avoid the ill-effects of metabolite accumulation...> for rack A and B controlled by the gate valve. The returning water shall pass through the U.V.(30 watts) <Need more watts than this... covered on WWM> After the removal of Cuso4 and biological filtration, the treated water shall stand in the third section of the sump for addition of CuSo4 with aeration. The first two sections shall be aerated by the undergravel filter. After two week of treatment the CuSo4 shall be remove and the filtration system shall be kept on continuously. Is it possible for me to acheive this filtration. Will the biological filtration be stable. <Maybe... As I ask/ed... how will you know how much copper has been removed, how much to re-add?> Regards, <Good ideas though. Bob Fenner>

Most Common Nitrate Export Method at LFS   7/2/07Dear Crew, <Pablo> At local fish stores (LFS), I notice that very few tanks seriously employ refugiums, DSBs or live rock. Sand and rocks appear to be ornamental in most tanks. They seem to use a variant of the "bare bottom" method. What is the primarily means of nitrate export at an LFS? <Mmm, likely water changes... replacement of such with bagging, selling the livestock... Some shops do incorporate various means of filtration that incorporate nitrate reduction/export... LR, DSB's, lighted algal et al. refugiums, chemical filtrants... physical devices like UV, ozone that affect such nitrogenous accumulation... What would you do? Bob Fenner> Thanks, Paul. LFS Hello,  <Hello Jonathan, James here> My name is Jonathan, and I spoke to you before. I'm pleased to talk with knowledgeable people about fish. Right now I am in a unique position. I work nights at a local pet store with salt water fish. I'm 7 year fishaholic. Right now, I can try things out and gain insight into what products work.  <Nice position to be into>  I'm interested in helping the fish out, and will learn whatever I can.  <Great!> So off the bat, I know there are things I can't control and realities that exist. Some fish will always die due to the stress of shipping, that's just unavoidable. Some fish arrive in very poor condition, they are hard to help. But once I get my hands on them, I want to try. P.S. I'm also fortunate enough to work with an experienced veteran who is open minded and willing to try new things. (as long as I don't tint the color of the water, or of course endanger the fish) Off to a salty start. Our salt water section is about 16 tanks, some with a partition. Each tank is about 80 gallons; total system is about 900 gallons. Each tank having 2 very large sponges filter each attached to a powerhead, also the tanks are centralized, each sharing a common source of water through a sump with wet-dry. I have one tank shut off from the system, which acts as a treatment tank. We have copper in the system to help combat disease. Occasional use of Maracyn is also delivered. One interesting issue is the red Cyano bacteria we get on the crushed coral substrate. Since we cannot limit lighting, it has to be on about 14 hours, and we have a dealer fish load. We are combating this foe by removing heavily infested gravel into a bucket to dry out, occasionally mixing in some MelaFix on the gravel. By rotating the gravel in this manner we are making progress. Also increasing water changes and removing debris in the tank helps. We are about to Chemi-clean. An expensive option, but recommended to help get rid of the infestation. Any tips would be appreciated.  <The Cyano you are experiencing is helped along by excess nutrients. I suggest cleaning the sponge filters in salt water every other day. Some dealers do not put any substrate on the bottom. This makes vacuuming easier in removing waste from the tanks. Maracyn works much better than MelaFix for killing Cyano.> My main concern is marine angels. They come in and half the time they do poorly / die. Mostly Im referring to the large angels, the dwarfs are a bit better. One recurring issue is when one of the eyes gets cloudy, from just a little to completely. I don't like thinking that there is nothing I can do. The fish can be eating great, well adjusted and swimming fine for weeks. But the eye gets worse and worse, and then the behavior changes to being lethargic or hiding, then death.  I was thinking about trying a medicated antibacterial food for the ones that will eat. Medi-gold comes to mind, since it seems powerful, yet untested on tropical or marine. I'd be willing to try others. I also have SeaChem's Focus. Something which lets me bind a medication to food, even if I have to have a vet prescription med I could try that. I can separate to treatment tank. I can perform freshwater dips if very necessary. Please any suggestions?  Dealers I know will not stock large angels for just that reason. They will special order only. Most dealer's tanks are overstocked and that adds to the fungal/bacterial problem. Obviously, dealers want to sell the fish as soon as possible to relieve the overstocking problem. If I were to "stock" large angels in my store, I would have a 180 gallon or larger tank for that purpose, where I could treat the angels I have for any diseases. I would also dose this tank with an iodine supplement. I would also employ the use of UV sterilization in all systems. One dealer I frequent has a large Lifeguard UV system. I rarely see a diseased fish in his tanks. Also I'm looking to entice fish to eat. off course many will not eat the first few days. It seems also, that many never learned to eat fish food.  <True>  Like the angels which pick off the gravel, but seem to snub whatever I try. Any recipes you have. I have SeaChem garlic guard, <Good>  and a little food processor. Could I make something more appealing?  <Yes. Here is a link to an article by Adam Blundell on a homemade recipe.> <<Where is a link?>><<Sheesh: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i3/Progressive_Recipe/Progressive_Recipe.htm RMF>> Thank you again for any words you have to offer.  <You're welcome> Any referrals to books or articles would also be appreciated.  <Search the Wet Web Media. There are tons of articles just waiting to be read that cover most any subject. James (Salty Dog)> 

Bio-balls and LR, CuSO4 in commercial systems Dear Bob, <Charles> Thx for your advice. Can I place bio-ball and live rock together in my holdings without removing any of them? Will nitrate level going down? <Yes, and yes, it should> I guess UV light is still cheaper than Ozonizer such as SANDER. <Yes... to buy and operate> What do you think of alternative such as adding Copper Sulphate? Do you know the exact dosage for 1 litre such that it will kill all bacteria but not toxic enough to kill the fishes? <Very dangerous to use copper sulfate on an ongoing basis... if you do get involved in such practice, make your choice a chelated/sequestered variety (e.g. Coppersafe)... I encourage you to develop and adhere to a protocol of pH-adjusted freshwater baths (on arrival) instead to discount the introduction and spread of ectoparasites. Information re these practices can be understood from a cursory reading of materials archived on WWM. Bob Fenner> Charles

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