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FAQs on Marine Aquarium Maintenance/Operation 15

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Related FAQs: Marine Aquarium Maintenance 1, Mar. Aq. Maint. FAQs 2Maint. FAQs 3Maint. FAQs 4Maint. FAQs 5, Maint. FAQs 6, Maint. FAQs 7, Maint. FAQs 8, Maint. 9, Maint 10, Maint. 11, Maint. 12, Maint. 13, Maint. 14, Maint. 16, Maint. 17, Reef Maintenance 1

Help please ? SW maint. f'    6/13/09
Hi Crew,
My name is Claire, and I am a completely newbie in saltwater aquarium.
I began from scratch with my ex freshwater aquarium.
Aquarium : 1.5 meter - 350l
2 Hydor Koralia 4
1 auxiliary pump
2 XP filters Rena
Protein Skimmer BerlinX2 Turbo
2x2 T5 Life Glo (2 white for day - 1 full spectrum and + 1 blue for night)
I had a lot of reading before beginning to buy anything (I am reading a lot more now). The aquarium cycled for 5 months now, after a lot of Cyanobacteria (I still have some): after microscopic exam of a sample of red and green algae in the lab, we saw cyanos, a few diatoms, and some nematodes. Then I put some Ulva in the tank, as somebody told me that they will compete aggressively with cyanos for photosynthesis.
Three weeks ago, I saw something moving in the tank. After a few moments of observation, I saw something that I think is a decapod, but I am absolutely unable to identify the species, even after a few nights on the internet browsing every link of marine shrimps categories. Somebody in another lab told me that apparently the salinity of the aquarium is ok because these kinds of eggs can get out of dormition only if they find a correct salinity for the osmosis to work. So I thought the moment came to introduce something in the tank, and I went in a shop to have a look. They told me I could begin by a 2 or 3 mushrooms. So I bought a tiny piece of rock (10 cm long and 5 cm large) with what they told me were 3 mushrooms and came back gladly home with the bag. I made acclimation for almost one hour by adding one cup of my aquarium water to the bucket each five minutes, then put the rock with a tong and placed it down in the aquarium, with low current and dimmed light. Then I saw the temperature raised from 29 C to 31 C. I opened the canopy and closed lights, put fan on and added saltwater to the tank with dechlorinator. 10 minutes after, my skimmer went crazy, and the floor with covered with brown foam.
I tested water and the results were:
Nitrate = 0
Phosphate = 0
Calcium = between 380 and 400 ppm
Carbonate = between 196,9 and 214,8
After 30 hours, temperatures went down at 29 C. I saw that what I suspect to be Zoanthids were suddenly present with something which I am almost certain is a mushroom.
<One of your pix is of a Corallimorpharian...>
I still do not know what was these "mushrooms" that I bought. And then I saw the worm, that I suspect, perhaps wrongly, to be a fireworm.
<And one of these... as well as another type/species of Polychaete>
I was for two nights on your site and I read almost all about mushrooms, Corallimorphs, invertebrates, but I humbly say that I am lost.
I love animals and I do not want make them suffer or die only because I am dumb.
<You're doing fine... not to worry>
So I am really sorry for these "mushrooms" that perhaps you will be enough kind to identify; because, if they have only a digestive apparatus, that does not mean that they have to suffer.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read me and to help, and thank you so much for your site, which is so full of competent resources
Sincerely yours,
<Oh... Do keep reading, observing, sharing... and enjoying. Bob Fenner>

SW sys. improvement input/maint. f'   6/13/09
Hi crew,
I haven't bothered you all in a while, so I was hoping you could help me out. I have came to the point where I have to ask myself if saltwater tanks are for me, but before I jump off the roof, I thought you might shed
some light on what I'm doing wrong. I have read your website, front to back with anything that seems to pertain to my tank. I've attached photos, I would love your advise
regarding anything that needs improvement. My big issues are, hair algae, cryano, and glass anemones. Also loss of fish, although infrequent, and the mushrooms in my tank don't to be doing so hot, please let me know if they look fine to you. Any constructive criticism would be appreciated.
I have a 75 gallon tank. For equipment I have two Hydor stage 4's, a Hydor stage 3, a Remora Pro, an Emperor 400, a heater and 210 watts of T-5 lighting. (3 10,000k bulbs, 1 actinic). I have about an inch of sand
<Mmm, I'd have more... here and or in a refugium>
and 80lbs of live rock.
For livestock, I have a Flame Angel, Lawnmower Blenny, Royal Gramma, 3 Green Chromis, a Serpent Starfish, assorted snails and hermit crabs, a Hammer coral, Frogspawn, Torch coral, assorted mushrooms and what I believe to be Kenyon Tree coral.
I keep the lights on for 12 hours a day. I do a weekly 15% water change every week with tap water treated with prime, and Reef Crystals Salt. When my Alk needs adjusting I use Kent Marines SuperBuffer, when I need to raise calcium, I use Kent Marine's Turbo Calcium. My nitrates show 0, ammonia 0, ph 8, cal 400, Alk 9-10, specific gravity 1.025 and temp 78 degrees. For treating my issues (or at least the ones having to do with the tank) I have been scrubbing off the cyrano and hair algae with a tooth brush before water changes, and have been treating the anemones with Joe's Juice, and Red Sea's product.
There seems to be a lot of detritus in the tank, I only feed the fish once a day. Half a cube a day, alternating between Formula One, Formula Two and Mysis Shrimp.
I wonder if having all the powerheads aiming at each other is counter productive,
<Better to arrange to form a vortex... best to have this reverse itself periodically>
It seems like I only have flow in the middle of the tank. But I can't find a better way to place them without disturbing corals.
I have customized the Emperor to be better suited for my needs. I epoxied outlets that go to the BioWheels, and removed the BioWheel. This way all the water is pumped through the 4 cartridges of carbon in the Emperor. I also fitted a block of foam to catch debris before it reaches the Emperor.
It's a lot easier to remove the foam for cleaning once a week, I stole the idea from the Remora. Both prefilters (the Remora's and the Emperor's) are cleaned once a week.
So with that, I hope you can tear apart my tank, and point out what I'm missing. I've attached photos to help you see what's going on in my tank, mostly the direction in which the powerheads are faced, and the customizing of the Emperor filter.
Thanks again,
<Mmm... I'd look into using Spectrum food as a staple, adding a working refugium with RDP lighting, algal culture there, the DSB alluded to... Bob Fenner>

Keep your hands out of my tank Marine System and Maintenance. 6/5/2009
<Hi Edward.>
I would just like to take a moment and share my experience with you.
I have found no other hobby that excites and disappoints so often. 'Tis a roller coaster ride beyond match. And I do consider them pets, short of naming them...so far.
<Me too, though the rest of my family names them. The only one that seems to fit is "George" the Clownfish.>
My comment and general advice is this, keep your hand out of your tank as much as possible. I have found this to be the single most important principle to my aquarium. Letting nature take its course and allowing the tank to mature and stabilize is just as important as the research beforehand.
<We are in agreement.>
I have customized my own aquarium to minimize contact with the water during feeding and water changes. This means I let coralline build up for a while before inserting my hand to scrape it off.
<I leave one of those magnetic scrapers in the tank at all times, hand never has to enter the water.>
If something is on my hands or arms, I'd rather take the chance of contamination only once. My ill-educated excitement has led my initial fish overstocking to a select few by following this rule...survival of the fittest. I thought a mixed reef would be nice, but found that :chasing numbers" didn't allow me to really enjoy my aquarium.
<It is a common source of frustration. In the scant few months I've been a member of The Crew, I've answered countless emails from people stressed because their pH or calcium level wasn't exactly right.>
And while I may yearn for a colorific SPS dominated tank, I wonder how natural that really is? I can even survive the seemingly seasonal Cyano outbreak because I know as long as I keep up with regular maintenance and my hand out of the tank, it too will pass. It happens in the ocean, why such a big deal when it happens in our tanks.
<There can be some adverse reactions to your livestock by the presence of Cyano, but I agree. In my tank, Cyano loves a few particular spots on my back glass. As long as it stays there, I don't stress about it too much.>
But, I digress. Having found myself further from my original point I would just like to say that there is a lot to be said for natural looking reefs, even if their and result doesn't look exactly as planned.
<Thank you for sharing, and I do agree with you.>

Re: frustrated... SW op., much reading...  04/27/09
Thanks for your quick response. I guess that most of my problems resulted from listening to the guys at the LFS who have been in this hobby for years but apparently don't know anything about it. They only deal with it almost every day of their lives.
<Uh... not always. I worked at a LFS once myself. I have learned quite a lot since (through reading and experience), but back then, I didn't know much more than the customers coming in. Trust me tough, people don't necessarily learn a lot about keeping a personal home aquarium from caring for fish in a LFS. For one thing, the populations of these tanks are constantly changing as fish are brought in and sold. Secondly, the systems themselves are usually just very different (and often get many more water changes and are much larger in overall volume). Point is, yes, you have learned that you should not necessarily listen to "the guys at the LFS."
Maybe they know a bit more than the average Joe, but they often don't always know quite enough to help you. Then, there are also some who will just flat out lie to you... or just tell you what you want to hear. The
guys/gals who actually do know quite a bit about aquarium keeping are usually the managers/owners who avoid talking to people at all costs (note, this is a generalization-- there are exceptions).>
You'd think they would eventually pick up some of these lessons....
<You'd think they would... and many do in time. But many are young people just working a temporary job. Others are stubborn, some don't really like the job, some just don't feel like learning anything... some think they know it all already.>
The 3 Damsels were specifically recommended along with live rock to cycle the aquarium.
<I don't doubt that they were... but this was/is a *bad* recommendations.
Believe me, I try to tell LFSs workers/owners this as often as I can. But again, many are stubborn, think they know better... some just want to sell fish any way they can. Others are just ignorant and "loyal" to the old, bad "traditions" of the hobby. Cycling with damsels is one such old, bad "tradition" that people just don't seem to want to let go of (for whatever reason).>
They recommended only algae sheets as a supplement for the tang.
<That's fine/good... tangs do appreciate these sheets.>
They told me that as long as my nitrates remained nearly constant, I didn't need a protein skimmer.
<Uh, ok...>
They also said that as soon as all the system parameters stabilized I could add more fish. They were stable for months and still are (except for lowering the salinity to help the tang, which was recommended on another contradictory site). The stores and the internet are full of people that don't know what they're doing. So with all this mis-information floating around, I can see how I got sidetracked.
<I hope you don't think I was judging you in any way. I'm just trying to help you understand why things went downhill. Your tank is too small for a tang. It's almost too small for a dwarf angel. It's definitely too small for both! It is certainly too small for both in the same tank as 3 damsels. Overstocking is a *huge* problem in the marine aquarium hobby.
LFS workers, people on the internet, new people in practice... all, quite often, have a very poor idea on how to stock a marine aquarium. Most people will, at some point or another (usually in the beginning) attempt to over populate their tanks.>
So now I have some questions:
1. What exactly do you mean by "poor water quality"? If the water is clear and my water parameters are all good, what's "poor" about it?
<When we test for nitrates, that's only a "sign." The nitrates themselves aren't actually that harmful to fish. The presence of nitrates is just an indicator. Unfortunately, your water can be polluted with organics without
necessarily showing a lot of nitrates.>
2. I've heard that a dying anemone can "nuke" a system? Maybe that's the real problem I'm having? I'm starting to think so. If so, what can I do about it?
<This is quite possible (and a good example of the above). A dying anemone can be quite toxic (without necessarily raising your nitrates all that much).>
3. Do sea stars hurt or help water quality? I was under the impression that they helped it.
<Depends on which sea stars... >
4. I've heard "5 gallons per inch of fish". Is that acceptable? I have about 4.5 inches of fish with my 3 damsels.
<Well, the 1in of fish per 5g of water rule is a decent "rough estimate"-- but still very much a rough estimate. And if you're going to use it, you need to use the adult size of the fish you want to keep. Though maybe not
such a problem now, those fish will get at least 3x as big as they are now (if not bigger). Did I link you to this article already?
That would mean that my tank wasn't and isn't overstocked.
<Overstocking isn't just about the size/number of your fish... there are other issues, like aggressiveness... again, please read the above linked article.>
Then what about inverts? They're not "fish", so do they count at all when performing this calculation?
<They can, yes... to what extent is often difficult to "calculate.">
5. Is a nitrate level of 20 a problem for tangs (not that I'm planning on ever getting one again, but I'd like to know what was so "poor" about my setup)?
6. What effect does complete darkness have on fish? How do they manage to do anything in the dark?
<They don't, they usually "sleep.">
Would a sea-star ever attack a sick fish in the dark,
<Yes, it's possible for some sea stars, but not most that we usually keep. The "green monster" is notorious for killing smaller fish.>
given that sea-stars are much better equipped to deal with the darkness and actually quite strong?
7. So, aside from getting a protein skimmer, what should I do?
<Just be patient, wait a few weeks... you might even consider a refugium, or growing macroalgae in your sump, etc.>
The water parameters are still as stated below and stable. I'm using a Fluval 305 btw. I'm especially worried about toxins and microorganisms from the dead anemone in the water.
<Water changes and running activated carbon in your Fluval should greatly help this.>
Thank-you again for your help.
<De nada,
Sara M.>

Re: stocking - nitrates - feeding 05/24/09
Hi Sara or another crew member,
Thank you for your response. I am just a little confused with some of your answers. I'm not sure if I asked the questions clearly or not. So if you could clear a few of them up for me. That would be awesome.  I understand your comment about the DSB and the Ph.  When you said that my tank was "about fully loaded at that point" - was that with the 2 Clowns and the Zebra blenny - the shrimps and clean up crew. As I did not have the 4 Chromis' at the time.
<Ok, I must have misunderstood then. If at any point, your tank had 2 clowns and 4 Chromis, then it would have (at that point) been fully stocked. If it only had two clowns, then no, 2 clowns in a 55g is not what I would consider "fully stocked" (unless maybe if there's a huge anemone in there with them).>
Maybe my mistake was not labeling current occupants and past occupants a little better.
<I was a little confused...>
I had mentioned that I wanted to get the Chromis' eating pellets and that I was using New Life Spectrum and Formula One and that the LFS had been feeding the Chromis' Formula One - You had said "just feed them that then". What - the Formula One?
I was already trying that!
<Oh, then I misunderstood... I thought you had said that that's what they *were* eating but that you weren't feeding them that. If you have tried what they were eating in the store, and the Spectrum pellets, and they're still not eating... then I think your fish are unhappy and/or ill. I would do a water change.>
I also asked you how to start removing the filter media from the two Fluvals in the hopes of lowering the nitrates. You told me to add "activated Carbon". Is that all I need to do? Reading your site - I thought that canister filters were nitrate factories.
<They can be if you don't clean them regularly. When I said use "activated carbon," I should have been more clear... you want to empty them out of whatever's in them now, then start using new activated carbon *instead* of what you're using now. Do 50% changes of this carbon every month or so.>
In my last e-mail I had written about the two Fluvals and what I had in them. Seachem's Seagel was one of them. I was also under the impression that the Seagel was a combo of activated carbon as well as a phosphate remover. You also told me to add a powerhead or two for circulation was that one or two MORE powerheads as I already have two as mentioned in my last e-mail.
<Sorry again for the misunderstanding, I thought you said you were planning to use your Fluvals as the only source of circulation. So if you have two additional powerheads, in addition to the Fluvals, don't remove them and that should be fine.>
I'm sorry to be a nuisance. And could you point me in the right direction in regards to stocking. What determines how to stock? Equipment - filtration -maintenance - amount of LR and the sand??? Or is it just size of tank.
<Please see here:
Do ornamental shrimp and your basic clean up crew add anything into this equation?
<A *small* clean up crew, and one or two small ornamental shrimp is usually almost "negligible" when it comes to bioload....>
You had said that one more chromis would be ok - would it work if I got the flame angle instead?
<No... there's more to stocking a tank than bioload. Please read the article I've linked you to. There are some compatibility issues here too.>
And as for the bio-load - overload that was on advice from the LFS. This is hard when you are new at this hobby and not all advise is created equal !!!
<Very true! It is a struggle sometimes.>
Would be 4 chromis- 2 clowns - 1 bicolor blenny - a flame angle - 2 shrimp and clean up crew work with my system!!!!! I would really like to get the flame. Your help with these matters would be so greatly appreciated. Thanks again for your help!
<If you really want this flame angel, you could try it... just know that it's a risk.>
and have a super weekend!!
<Same to you!
Sara M.>

Re: stocking - nitrates - feeding -ScottV's reply 05/24/09
Hi Sara or another crew member,
<Patti, Scott V. today.>
Thank you for your response. I am just a little confused with some of your answers.
I'm not sure if I asked the questions clearly or not. So if you could clear a few of them up for me. That would be awesome.  I understand your comment about the DSB and the Ph.
When you said that my tank was "about fully loaded at that point" - was that with the 2 Clowns and the Zebra blenny - the shrimps and clean up crew. As I did not have the 4 Chromis' at the time. Maybe my mistake was not labeling current occupants and past occupants a little better.
<I would be comfortable with all of the above in a 55, but as Sara said, at this point it is near fully loaded.>
I had mentioned that I wanted to get the Chromis' eating pellets and that I was using New Life Spectrum and Formula One and that the LFS had been feeding the Chromis' Formula One - You had said "just feed them that then". What - the Formula One?
I was already trying that!
<Well, you can continue to try other brands, just give it time or even swap them to flakes for a while to get them off the frozen stuff. I find that smaller chromis generally will try to eat and spit out pellets, then grow out of that habit as they get larger, eating the pellets.>
I also asked you how to start removing the filter media from the two Fluvals in the hopes of lowering the nitrates. You told me to add "activated Carbon". Is that all I need to do?
<Hmm, no. I think what Sara meant is to empty out all of the other media and use them (just one is all you need really) to run carbon. The other media in the things provide nothing that your skimmer and LR do not already.>
Reading your site - I thought that canister filters were nitrate factories. In my last e-mail I had written about the two Fluvals and what I had in them. Seachem's Seagel was one of them. I was also under the impression that the Seagel was a combo of activated carbon as well as a phosphate remover.
<Basically, you could run this instead of carbon if you wish.>
You also told me to add a powerhead or two for circulation was that one or two MORE powerheads as I already have two as mentioned in my last e-mail.
<They are not large enough, you need more flow. See:
I'm sorry to be a nuisance. And could you point me in the right direction in regards to stocking. What determines how to stock?
<Volume, compatibility, psychological crowding. Use the search tool at the bottom of any WWM page and enter "marine stocking" and you will find many articles and FAQ's with all the answers. More importantly research each addition re compatibility with others in the system and the system itself. There is no one magical answer here.>
Equipment - filtration - maintenance - amount of LR and the sand??? Or is it just size of tank. Do ornamental shrimp and your basic clean up crew add anything into this equation?
<These are all very basic, simple questions that can easily be answered with a few minutes reading WWM or buying a book like Conscientious Marine Aquarist.>
You had said that one more chromis would be ok - would it work if I got the flame angle instead?
<No, point in case. Read through WWM about flame angels and their compatibility in systems.  it is not a good idea.>
And as for the bio-load - overload that was on advice from the LFS.
<Well, I do question their statement re the chromis eating the pellets.  Did you actually see this?>
This is hard when you are new at this hobby and not all advise is created equal !!!
<Unfortunately it is not.>
Would be 4 chromis- 2 clowns - 1 bicolor blenny - a flame angle - 2 shrimp and clean up crew work with my system!!!!! I would really like to get the flame.
<Really, skip it, get a larger system first.>
Your help with these matters would be so greatly appreciated. Thanks again for your help!
and have a super weekend!!
<You too, Scott V.>

Thanks, marine set-up reading   4/2/09
I recently purchased your book, "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and very much enjoyed it. My only regret is that I did not read it before setting up my system last year. Not knowing what I was doing, I probably made a few bad choices in equipment and livestock purchases. What I would like to do now is to try to improve the system with equipment additions that will have the most "bang for the buck". I was hoping to get your opinion on my ideas. I have a 110 gallon system with about 70 pounds of Tongo live rock, a few mushroom coral, and lightly stocked livestock. I have a wet/dry filter,
<Mmm, would convert this to a sump, refugium. See here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm>
coral life skimmer (read bad things about this skimmer), and a emperor aquatics 40 watt UV system. Not knowing what I was doing while setting up the tank, I have about 3.3 inches of aragonite sand (20% was live sand). I've had a bad nitrate problem that I can't seem to reduce, despite weekly 20% water changes.
<Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm
and the linked files above>
From what I understand, this is not enough for a "DSB" and too much for a pure nitrifying sand bed.
<Correct... see WWM re>
I've read different views on how much one should clean a sand bed via vacuuming. Given this level of sand, should I aggressively vacuum while doing water changes?
<And this>
Should I add more sand or remove sand?
Also, I am thinking about adding two media reactors by NextReef for running Purigen and phosphate remover. Do you think this is a worthwhile addition?
<No... also covered/archived on our site>
Also, I've read some conflicting views on removing bioballs from wet/dry systems.
<... see mine... on...>
I am considering removing them, however the wet/dry Bioball chamber of the sump is not that large, and I don't know if it would benefit from having something in it's place (like a few pieces of live rock), or should I replace the whole thing with a refugium type sump?
Lastly, in your book you say that adding ozone should be one of the top considerations before other types of equipment (like UV). After reading a few articles that indicate there is a potential to poison your house with ozone gas, do you think that it is possible to add ozone to a standard skimmer without a lot of special equipment? Thanks so much for all your help!
<Keep reading Jason... the answers to all you posit above, and much more important, the rationale for their stances, is posted on WetWebMedia.com
Bob Fenner>

Two questions about a 60 gallon setup, 3/22/09
First off - thanks for providing such a fantastic resource! I have a 60 gallon tank - all-in-one so it loses maybe 15 gallons to a wet/dry filter. I've got quite a bit of live rock (although I'm growing more and more convinced that some of it may not be particularly "live" - a little more on that later. I've got a yellow tang,
<Will outgrow this tank.>
one percula clown, one damsel, and a newly added Picasso trigger (3 weeks now).
<Will also outgrow the tank, and can be quite destructive,>
I realize that last choice may not have been the best one - particularly after I had just returned a very badly behaved lunare wrasse that decimated my snail and hermit crabs - but the store owner told me that the very small Picasso that I bought might leave the other critters in my tank alone.
<Perhaps for a while.>
So far, I've lost 10 snails, two emerald crabs, a brittle starfish (in a particularly gruesome death), and another percula clown I had originally had. The snails and starfish were clearly from the trigger as even the little trigger had no trouble flipping over my turbo snails and he completely tore apart the much larger brittle star.
<Fairly typical for a trigger.>
But to get to my questions:
1) the clown that died had what looked like thin red blotchy stripes along his flanks - three on one side and maybe two on the other. He lasted with these for a few days until his midsection got really thin and he eventually died. I have no idea what caused this and my Google searching has been in vain. It happened right after the addition of the trigger - so it is hard to imagine that it is not related. But the trigger largely ignored the other fish in my tank - even the yellow tang who is quick to use that rear blade if the trigger comes too close.
<Be careful here, when agitated the fish may use that blade on your hands if they are in the tank.>
So my uneducated guesses were:
a) the trigger intimidated the clowns from eating (definitely seeing this) and these stripes were brought on by malnutrition?
b) the trigger did attack the clown - but I just never saw it - and these are wounds
<Generally here you would see fairly distinctive bite marks in the shape of the triggers mouth.>
c) the poor quality of the water (despite water changes) from the loss of my snails and crabs may have lead to some form of infection?
<Most likely.>
I do have a good amount of Cyanobacteria forming in the tank...
<Nutrient control here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm .>
Any ideas? The problem is that the remaining clown had similar, but fewer, striping on his flank - but it seems to have cleared up somewhat.
<I would guess water quality related.>
The only thing I've been doing differently is feeding them more (to ensure that he actually gets some food) - but that of course is making my Cyanobacteria problem worse.
2) My live rock turns green (from the algae I feed them), brown, and red (Cyanobacteria). The green and red really get out of control - and without snails, it kills my water quality.
<The water quality would suffer with or without snails.>
I realize the trigger should not be used in a tank with live rock
<Its ok with live rock, just need to be aware of its tankmates.>
- but is it harmful for me to flip the live rock over and rotate them around every two weeks or so? By
doing this, I deny the algae (and Cyano) on that side access to light (for the most part), killing it off, and then the clean side that was face down will accumulate algae until it is then flipped.
<This won't really work long term, as long as there is food for the Cyano it will grow.>
This is done in addition to weekly water changes of course. In addition to controlling problem algae, I thought it would also break up any territorial behavior from my fish by changing their environment frequently?
<Not likely, most fish figure out what is going on pretty quick.>
But perhaps there are negative effects of this - aside from it being a pain in the butt to do? I'm not at all convinced that my live rock is still "live" to be honest - as I think algal growth could adhere to any surface that I stick in this aquarium.
<The rock is most likely still ok from a microfauna and bacterial standpoint.>
When I received this tank from the previous owner, the tank was completely drained and
the live rock was covered with some dust - the previous owner said I just needed to add salt water and the tank should be fine.
<If the rock was completely dry then the rock is most likely dead, and perhaps worse carrying lots of rotting detritus that is adding to your algae problems.>
Is that true? Can live rock be left out of the water for a period without killing off the micro-organisms?
<If it's kept wet then most is ok, but if allowed to fry out problems ensue.>
Thanks very much

Re: two questions about a 60 gallon setup 3/23/09
Thanks very much for the answers - a few follow ups please:
When would I know that he needs a bigger home? Purely based on his size or are there behavioral clues?
<By the time the behavioral clues come up there is often permanent damage done, but I would guess within a year or so it will need a larger home.>
One of the rocks has a nasty black patch on it - I'm guessing this is rotting detritus?
<Could be.>
But the rest are either brown, red, or green with algae or white (when left out of the light for long enough).
<There may very well be lots of dead material deep within the rock that is not visible.>
Since there is nothing more interesting growing on them (i.e. some of the purple live rock I have seen) is that a good sign that they are dead?
<More to it than that, many bacterial and small life also plays a part in live rock.>
My concern is that the fish seem to enjoy having places to swim through and hide in - I'd hate to get rid of something that could be useful for them even if it is not helping me with filtration. Of course, if it is making things worse, that is another story.
<Just needs a good cleaning, freshwater soak and a good scrubbing will be helpful here. With the addition of a little live rock it will become live once again.>
And if I do need to throw out the not-really-live rock, should I consider getting more?
<I would.>
Or with the trigger, and the lack of clean-up crew, should I just move to a fish-only tank? (Or get rid of the trigger)
<Well, the trigger will also need a new home eventually, but to me live rock will be very beneficial here.>
Thanks again!

Re: Two questions about a 60 gallon setup, 3/23/09
Thanks again - please, one last follow up?
You mention the fwd and scrubbing - I've been checking around the web for more info for this, and have found a lot on "curing", but I think that is a different step than what you are asking me to take.
<Curing is for live rock where you want to save most of the life on the rocks, which in your case where the rock was totally dried out and dead there is nothing worth saving (hope this is correct). In your case its all
about removing dead decaying matter, where a good scrubbing and a soak, even can use a mild bleach solution and rinse well with dechlorinator afterwards would help. You will probably want to do this just a little at a time so you don't remove the entire biofilter and cause another cycle.>
As I understand curing is removing detritus from viable live rock before placing it in an established tank?
<Yes to a degree, allows bacterial processes to break down the detritus outside of the main tank while allowing most of the life to survive.>
Whereas what I may have to do is completely clean my rock to leave a porous surface for new microorganisms?
If that is correct, my concern is going to far in that second alternative - I had originally taken one piece of live rock that was completely black out and scrubbed it and dried it - and it turned completely white. Is that too excessive?
<Not in this situation where there is no life to be concerned with. Remove as much dead material as possible.>
And when you say a little live rock can make my rock viable again - how little? I've already got a lot of rock in the tank.
<Just a few pounds will do with time.>

Re: Two questions about a 60 gallon setup, 3/23/09
This all makes sense - but I'm just a little confused on the ordering, since you mentioned doing this a little at a time. Should I add the new live rock first, and then gradually (i.e. one rock a day?) clean the existing rock? Or should I clean the existing rock (again something like a rock a day) and then add the new live rock?
<I would probably clean the rock first, then add the live rock, but it most likely will not make a huge difference either way.>

max number of starfish
Marine Newbie With Problems And Not Enough Reading 3/21/09

Hey guys, wanted to say first what a great and informative website you have.
<Thank you Erica.>
I'm new to the saltwater / reef stuff and really want to make sure I'm doing the right things.
<Makes sense to me.>
I started the tank about 4 months ago with live rock and live sand. I let this cycle for few weeks then introduced a few damsels. I later added a Scooter Blenny and Green Mandarin dragonet. After a week the mandarin died.
<Not surprising.>
Researching, I found this was probably due to no copepods for it to feed on in new tank.
<Would have saved you some money if you had learned this before hand and also the fishes life.>
After a couple weeks I added a clown (false percula, aquacultured, not wild) and a bubble anemone.
<Another mistake, not an animal for a newcomer to start out with. Most tank bred/raised clownfish will
not enter an anemone.>
Did well for week or two then the anemone started to shrink up and had moved itself under a rock cliff away from light and water flow. Again, going back to books and online believed it to have lost its zooanthalea <Zooanthellae> and needed supplemental feed.
<It needs the Zooanthellae to survive much more than the food.>
By the time I got some frozen Mysid shrimp it was already turning itself inside out.
<A goner.>
I pulled it out of the tank before it completely died so as not to contaminate my tank.
<A good move.>
My water quality numbers were all textbook levels for good water quality with exception of calcium levels - which I've read are only necessary for corals.
<Not necessarily so, pH, dKH, and calcium are all interrelated and one can affect the level of others.>
I started to notice some green and reddish purple algae growing and couldn't understand why when levels were testing so well.
<Could be coralline algae which is beneficial, helps to prevent nuisance algae growth in the area of the coralline growth itself.>
I purchased some additional cleaners (crabs, snails, cleaner clams,
<cleaner clams??>
shrimp, and a brittle starfish). Still no improvement to algae. Went back to readings which suggested this was all normal and ok and the reddish purple algae and lavender "spots" were a good sign of a cycled tank. Shortly after this, we noticed our Scooter Blenny was missing... never did find him.
<The Scooter Blenny is actually classed as a Dragonet, which also includes the Green and Spotted Mandarin Goby. These fish are more suited to a reef tank environment with plenty of live rock and a good population of copepods to survive.>
Also at this time one of the two scarlet crabs I had was lying dead and in pieces in the sandbed.
<Could have possibly molted and you are looking at the old skeleton.>
Over the next several weeks noticed more algae growth and 2 or 3 Blue Hermit Crabs dead. Water still ok. Talked to local saltwater store with no answers other than lighting might be issue so I converted to T5 set that has 2 actinic blues, 2 10,000, and LED moon lights with built in timer. Did a 50% water exchange and used distilled water this time instead of filtered tap with a dechlorinator. Scrubbed the tank walls, syphon vacuumed sand, and waited to see. After week or 2, ordered orange Linckia Starfish with pink tip Haitian Anemone.
<Why? Your track record for keeping animals alive needs to be looked at. Now you have another anemone that likely will not survive in your system with your present lighting. Is your LFS recommending these animals to you as easy to keep?>
Initially the anemone was placed on rockwork in well lit area with good flow. It walked itself to a side wall and up to nest on magnetic scrubber near top of the tank water. At present, the anemone has finally settled in corner of tank in the sandbed by decor fixture. It has really plumped up and seems to be ok for now. Orange Linckia consistently stays along top of waterline, not above but right at water line bent over backwards with 2 or 3 of the 5 legs attached to the wall.
<Mmm, has this starfish been exposed to air, taken out of the water, properly acclimated?
They are sensitive to sudden water parameter changes and exposure to air.>
Not having any prior experience, and as our brittle starfish stays hidden in the boat fixture, I'm not sure if this is normal or if I should be worried.
<Are generally nocturnal, and hopefully it isn't a large brittle as they are known to attack/eat sleeping fish.>
I saw some discussions about supplemental feedings and wonder if I should try to add some Mysid for it or if this is just part of the adjustment phase.
<If it is a large specimen, do yourself a favor and return to your LFS.>
Any and all info you can give to let me know if I'm doing right by the fish and starfish. Also to note I did add a single green Ricordea with the anemone and starfish and it appears to be opening up and looks ok. Sorry to be so lengthy, but I wanted to make sure you had all the facts if any of it would matter in giving advice.
<Is helpful>
Also, what limits should I set with respect to total inhabitants (fish, inverts, corals, etc.) in my 65gal tank?
<Is all going to depend on the size of the fishes, keeping in mind that they grow.>
I have an Eheim multimedia canister filter, 2 jets, and a Berlin in tank protein skimmer.
<It appears that your major problem here is lack of reading/learning about these animals and the requirements needed for keeping such alive, including compatibility with other animals. I will provide some links for you, do read/learn about animals you may be interested in before making any new purchases, will save you grief and money.
A marine index to our information library is provided here.
To help with algae control,
The following link is provided so you are aware of the requirements/needs for keeping anemones, and I
would not recommend keeping one until you gain more experience in this hobby, not an easy invertebrate to keep.
Sincerest thanks and appreciation for your time,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Erica Bradley

Protein Skimmer... new tank op.  3/19/09
I am pretty new to saltwater tanks. I have a 75 gal tank, my problem is I purchased a used Protein Skimmer and not sure it is working properly. I have a 200gph (new) pump on it, had to buy an additional air pump (100 gph) for bubble because couldn't get the one on the pump to work. It is bubbling but I'm not collecting anything in it other than what appears to just be water from bubbles that have bubbled over the top.
<What skimmer/pump is this? How old? Most skimmers really do have a "break in" period of at least a few days before they start to produce.>
I'm having a problem with the red-slim algae and green algae.
<See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and the linked files above.>
In addition to the protein skimmer, I have 2 Koralia #2 turbo pump mounted to each side of tank for movement, a 9x3 turbo twist sterilizer with a 200gph pump and a 600gph pump in sump returning water
back to tank. I have a wet/dry system with bioballs.
All 3 pumps are in sump (sterilizer, protein skimmer and return pump). Is this enough water movement for
this size tank?
<Depending on what you wish to keep it can be, yes.>
From what i have read about it, it seems to be. My tank has been running for about 4wks. My live rock I purchased from someone who was moving and needed to sell their stuff. I have done 3-4 20%w/c and 1 50% w/c in the last 3 wks. Should I be doing anything differently?
<The only thing it sounds like I would do differently here is to remove the bioballs from your sump.
Your liverock will act as the biofilter, the bioballs will only really serve you as detritus traps, raising nitrate by letting the detritus sit there and rot basically. I too would go ahead and test your source water you are using for the water changes just to be sure. You do need to get the skimmer squared away too, do write back with more info about it. Then just keep doing the water changes and give it time.>
Please help.
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Suggestions...   skimmer sel., AquaC... pump for... gen. mar. maint.  2/26/09 Thank you Scott V. for your reply. <Very welcome.> Just found out about this site about a month ago, there is a ton of information on here. Thanks for referring to the other links. After more research, i agree with you and will go with Remora #2. Will put # 1, which has Maxi-Jet 1200 pump, on 55 gallon, and go with a Remora with a Rio 1400 or Mag-Drive 3 pump. One better than the other? <The Mag for my taste.> With being unable to install a sump right now, the Emperor 400 filter, should it stay or go. Would good canister filter be better? <Not really in this case, with the live rock you will basically just be using the filter for running a bit of carbon. You already have the Emperor and it is just easier to replace the carbon IMO.> I figure with the fishes, i need some kind of filtration besides skimmer? <With the liver rock and a bit of carbon, no, not necessary.> Didn't know that about sand sifting star. He, or she, is one of tanks first inhabitants. It is about twice the size as when first put in. Because of rock, it stays in about 1/3 of tank, in front. But if it is sucking the life out of sand, it will go. Will take to LFS and trade or give to. <The real issue is it will deplete the live in the sand until it has nothing left to live on itself.> What are other critters good at keeping sand clean? <Nassarius snails and the microfauna that will populate the sand from the live rock. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbbiomakeup.htm for other options.> I test for salt, try to keep at 1.024, Ammonia, pH, Nitrites, Nitrates, Calcium, try to keep about 400. Anything else i should be testing for? <Definitely carbonate hardness, I would test for magnesium too though. And I would raise your spg to 1.025 too.> The Bubble Tip has been in tank about 5 months. It attached near bottom on rock, about half under a ledge over sand bed. It has never moved from this spot. The 2 Maroons have been in about a year. They were both about the same size at time. One has grown very little, about 2 inches. The other is now about 3 times it's size, female i figure, it now wants to keep all the sand blown away. Down to the glass. Like a bowl. I push sand back in and in short order, swishing and with mouth, she has her bowl again. Should i leave her alone? <Yes, not much you can do if the fish wants to dig, other than remove the fish.> The Anemone, it stays open for the most part, sometimes it gets in a ball, but it isn't filled out like at first. I hand feed it, once a week, a piece of raw shrimp about the size of a nickle. I was thinking of maybe feeding twice a week and soaking shrimp in some Zoe? <You can, yes.> Now to the 55 gallon. The rock i put in last week is doing good. No spikes at all. I've got some hitchhikers. After putting rock in i started hearing this clicking sound. I thought, oh no, sure enough, 2 Mantis Shrimp, that i know of. My first time to deal with these bad boys. I see now why Mr Fenner says with any size these would be the T-Rex of the ocean. They are bad to the bone! <!> Will have to get these out before adding any livestock. Just a comment here. I think i have come a long way in this so far, but have so much more to learn, i thank you for your help. <I am happy we have been able to help out.> I have gotten a lot of compliments on my tank. Have had people come by, they see the tank, say, what's that, grab up a chair, sit in front of tank, they are just amazed, ask 400 questions, what's that, wow, look at that, is that alive. Now i have people come by asking, how's the tank? As always, thank you for any suggestions. <Welcome.> Larry

Software review? 2/26/09 Hi there people, some time back I submitted an article to you entitled "Mbu for you?" and I am still very grateful for your inclusion of it on this great site. I am contacting you know to see if a review of an aquarium management software is something you would be interested in. I am part of the admin team on a forum, www.fishkeepingforum.co.uk<http://www.fishkeepingforum.co.uk/> and the site creator and the development team is in the finishing stages of version 2 of Aquatrax. What he would like to know is whether a review of the software would be something that you would support on your site? He is very keen to send you a free copy of it for you to have a play with in the hope that you will give it some coverage on your site and get global exposure. Here is a link to the site http://www.aquatrax.co.uk/ Many thanks for your time on this as I appreciate you are very busy. Stuart Morse <Mmm, will see if NealeM has interest or referral. Thanks Stu. BobF>

Marine aquarium program 2/26/2009 Hello all, A software publisher is looking to have a marine aquarium management program reviewed in the pages of our august journal. If someone would care to have a free copy of the program to play with, on the understanding that a review would be forthcoming within, say, 4 weeks, please step forward! The application is called Aqua Trax and can be seen here: http://www.aquatrax.co.uk/ I do notice that it works on Windows only, and whilst sold in the UK, it has the option to run using non-metric measurements. Cheers, Neale <Neale, I for one would be up for that, writing it up for CMA. Scott V.> Sold to the man at the back. May I send your e-mail address along to our correspondent and have him contact you with serial numbers and whatnot? Cheers, Neale <Yes, please do. Thanks, Scott V.>

New To The Marine Hobby, Need Additional Guidance 2/20/09 Marine Set-Up/Maintenance Hi there everyone. <Hello Amy.> I am a real novice here and am on my 4th week of cycling my husbands new marine tank. This was his new hobby and since I am home more than him, I have kind of started picking up with the tank where he leaves off. We currently have a 75g tank with a Rena XP4 filter, Sea Clone protein skimmer (that's finally working), a Koralia #4 and #1 powerheads, all I know about the lights is that there are 3 kinds.( white or yellowish light, actinic and at night there are some little blue LED lights on) Sorry for being so nonspecific again more my hubby's thing, not mine and so far about 50lbs of LR and 2in bed of crushed coral and couple of inches live sand. We are slowly adding LR as we go along. We are planning on buying another 70lbs from an established tank that the owner wants to get rid of for lack of time to maintain it. We currently have no fish because it's not time yet, but do have a couple of hitch-hikers on some of our LR. 1 yellow polyp and 2 button polyps and a host of several snails and some bristle worms that were in/on our last LR purchase. My water has been looking great every time I test it. Nitrates 0ppm, Calcium 420, Ph 8.2, Salinity 1.024, KH 11dKH, now here is the kicker, my phosphates have been running high for the past week. Started out going up from 0 to .25 now today I am up to .5. I cannot figure out what in the heck is going on. I am running carbon in my Rena should I remove it? As I read today in an article by Joe Jaworski (http://joejaworski.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/does-a-reef-tank-need-carbon/) it states that not all carbon is made equal and that there is a Phosphate Free carbon available. <Yes, there are brands that are better than others in this regard.> I had no idea about such things. Live, read and learn. Is this accurate? <To my knowledge, phosphate is used <<Hi Amy, A correction here in my reply to you. "Phosphate is used in processing all or most carbons" was meant to read, phosphoric acid is used. Sorry for the typo. James (Salty Dog)>>  in processing all or most activated carbon and the quality of post processing determines just how much phosphate could be leached back into the aquarium. Better grades of carbon made from coconut shells use steam for processing and should be phosphate free. An easy way to check the quality of your carbon as to it's leaching properties is to place a teaspoon of the carbon in a cup of distilled or RO water and let stand overnight. Then do a phosphate test on the water, if high levels are detected, look for a better brand of carbon. I use Chemi Pure for chemical media and have had no phosphate problems. This product also contains a mixed bed of scavenging resins that remove dissolved waste also.> Or should I just pull the carbon all together. <Carbon will do more good than harm and will aid your protein skimmer in removing waste.> I did have a diatom bloom the second week in the tank but it went away on its own <A normal event in new set-ups.> and the coralline is now spreading also. So I am really inexperienced here and am looking forward to being able to add fish in several weeks but worry about what to do about the phosphates in the interim. <Do read here, and especially related articles/FAQ's http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm An index to articles/FAQ's on our site can be found here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm> Thanks in advance for any answers and for your help. <You're welcome, Amy. James (Salty Dog)> Sincerely Amy E. Cox

2/19/2009 Substrate and blenders do not mix, Setup, Maint., Stkg., Reading. Hi, <Hi Ram> I have been looking up your site for any doubts I had about marine setups. I have a peculiar problem, that's why I had to trouble you guys with a question. <No problem, that is what we are here for.> First I'll give you a brief intro to my tank. I started it about 3 months ago. it started as a 10 gallon, now I have a 50 gallon display tank and a 20 gallon quarantine. I have 40lbs live rock, a Weipro skimmer connected to a 800gph fountain power head,150w 14000 metal halide lamp, 6w uv sterilizer, two 1000gph Wavemakers, heater and a hang-on filter. For livestock, I have a couple of Perculas, 2 blue damsels and a yellow tail Indian angel (Apolemichthys xanthurus) in quarantine right now. i also have 2 orange sponges,2 red sponges, one purple long tentacle anemone, mushroom coral, finger leather,2 brain coral, plate coral, sun coral. Ok sorry for the long intro but now I'll get to the point. I had a high nitrate problem which was not reducing no matter what so I looked up your website and read about DSBs. I tried to get fine sand at all the stores I knew but to no avail. Finally, one store sent me 25kgs of crushed corals saying it is the next best thing, but then my nitrate problem got really out of control(accumulated detritus i guess) and i had a really yucky looking outbreak of brown algae. Now at this point let me also mention that I am from India and around here marine tanks are not so popular and stuff is really expensive compared to what we earn. so as a last resort I made the really dumb decision of powdering my crushed coral substrate in my blender. <..Umm...> I added this to my tank and i ended up with what looks like 50 gallons of milk in my tank and a broken blender. I waited 2 days, but the muck has not settled down. I took out all the water and am going to add new saltwater mix. All my equipment is now covered with a fine powder, and I had to move all the living creatures to a tub. I'm so frustrated at myself, I feel like killing myself. what i want to hear from you guys is that i am not the biggest idiot in the world and that the muck will settle down eventually and that I won't end up destroying two months of my salary. Have i really goofed up? Is there some hope left or shall I just give up the hobby(after 3 white spot attacks,3 electrical fires, numerous electrical shocks and now this. I'm literally on the verge of giving up. Please help!!! You guys are what kept me going for so long. I really need your support right now. <Ram, no, you are not the biggest idiot in the world, and this is certainly not worth killing yourself over. You are making the common mistake of having too many things going on at once and you are trying to move too fast. When it comes to marine tanks, nothing good comes quickly, so patience is important. With a 50 gallon tank, you are limited to what you can put in the tank. With the list you provided, your tank is overstocked, and that is the likely cause of your nitrate problem, so you will have to reduce what you have in your tank. You do not mention how much and how often are you feeding and doing water changes, but you should be doing 10 - 20% water changes on a weekly basis. As to the crushed coral powder, continued water changes will get everything to clear up in time. As a reminder, please do be careful with electricity. One electrical fire is too many, let alone three. Please review where your electrical equipment is located and that it is well protected from water contact. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elecmar.htm for electrical questions, and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm for information on water changes and substrate maintenance, and lastly here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm for nitrate questions.> Thank You. <You're Welcome, MikeV>

Acclimation, Filtering, And Food for Anthias 2/17/09 Hi Crew, <Hello Sam> I am a bit confused about acclimating fish specifically those coming by mail. Most etailers give acclimation instructions. My problem is if I want to do a dip how does that work. Acclimation is getting the fish used to your particular setup in regards to temp, salt, ph etc. A fresh water dip is definitely a shock so what good is the acclimation if right after that you dip the fish. <Sam, all this is available on our site, just Google.> Another question relates to mechanical filtering. I have an 24 gallon Aquapod which has one motor and the flow is through a sponge and it comes back to the tank as from a powerhead. If I add a hang on protein filter can I remove the sponge? <Do you mean protein skimmer? Sure, you can remove the sponge.> My last question (for today) is what to feed a Dispar Anthias. Is Cyclopeeze a good choice? Will it eat any other foods like flakes or freeze dried mysis? <Sam, your tank is much too small for keeping one of these, but to answer your question, Cyclopeeze is a good choice as they are plankton feeders in the wild. This is not an easy fish to acclimate to prepared foods. Do read FAQ's here <<James... Where? Dude, maybe you need a break? RMF>> on feeding. Do search before writing. Answers to all your questions are available by just using the Google toolbar.> Thanks <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: 220 salt water fish... reading, using WWM - 02/08/09 Totally appreciate your feed back , I also have read alot <No such word> of the articles on the web media page and have been keeping salt water for over 25 years. I also have a 90 gallon with a 9 inch arowana 2 inch redtail shark , lima cat fish, turquoise Severum, red tail Chalceus and 6 inch yellow black stipe fish all doing fine. Also a 33 gallon reef that needs some help because my local water after it goes through my 6 stage ro cannot has a hard time keeping the alk high enough 3.5 and calcium up around 400. <See WWM re... use of RO, water treatment after... Alkalinity period> I make 3 times a week additions of the Kent a and b supplement ant Stron and mag. 40lbs of rock and a bunch of polyp rock and Kenya and colt all doing fine. The lighting is 4 65 watt pc I got on the internet 2 50/50 2 actinic still no coralline, lights on with 12 timer, and Seaclone skimmer <I'd replace this> and penguin 330 just with poly filter and bio wheel 4 small fish. The line fish in the 220 are small like the eels because I just got them . Will the bleached 100 lbs of live rock ever become active again?! <Possibly with some reinoculation with new LR> Will the bio ball be better in a trickle environment or keep submerged?! <Also covered over and over on WWM...> Thank you <Keep reading. BobF>

spiny puffer fish... gen. marine op.   1/30/09 I have had fresh water tanks forever, but i work in a office with a 125gal salt water tank that is taken care of by a aquarium contractor, he comes in approx once a month. For filters, he has 1 emperor 400 and 1 emperor 250. Never lost many fish in the 2.5 yrs i been here. We recently had the entire tank get wiped out (1 spiny puffer, 2 yellow tangs, 2 triggers, 2 damsels, 1 hawk fish, 1 clownfish). The fish guy had put some new fish in and 2 days later things started going bad. I thought he put a sick fish in (looked like ick to me), he told me the tank couldn't support that many fish? 125 gal tank? 9 fish? <Mmmm, maybe not psychologically... the two Triggers esp., and this filtration... inadequate> We got another puffer the other day and he started getting a pale white spot on his head about 10mm in size, which doubled it's size in a day, the it died 2 days later. what could this be? <Many possibilities... from injury to pathogenic> It has been about 2 mths since epidemic, and fish guy hasn't really did much but change filter cartridges and bring small fish to see if they make it. After i asked if he did anything to treat the tank, he said that the tank was "cycling" and this thing happens every so often, then he gave me some medicine called ich attack. <See WWM... not a fan> Our pt's liked our original puffer so we would like to keep 1 in the tank, any suggestions, I'm trying to learn more about salt tanks so I can be more pro active and not standing around watching fish die. thank you. <Best for you to borrow or buy a "complete" marine aquarium book... take the time to peruse it thoroughly... then use websites, conversations with other aquarists for fill in... Bob Fenner>

New Marine Setup  ~ 01/12/09 Hi there. <Kenny.> It has been exactly 1 month since I set up my 6ft x 2ft x 2ft marine aquarium, with pre cured Indonesian live rock. All the test readings seem to be fine, sg 1.024, ph 8.3, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 0, phosphate 0, calcium 340, kH 9. the temperature fluctuates between 79 & 82F <I would raise the salinity just a bit, 1.025. The Ca is on the low side, but livable so long as the level is constant.> Lighting 2 x 250w metal halides + 2 x 9 blue led spots + 2 x 54w actinic florescent tubes that are not working at the moment. The lights are on for 12 hours per day. The glass and live sand is covered with copepods, <A good sign.> and the live rock is covered in green hair algae, <Not so good!> the algae seems to be dying as it is changing colour from dark green to light brown green, I have been pulling lots of it out of the tank. There does not seem to be any other creatures growing on or coming out of the rock, is it to soon yet for them to appear? <No, they are likely there and just not noticed through the algae. The amount of fauna on the rock is really dependant on where the rock came from and how it was cured. Some 'precured' rock is simply but in a bin to rot, killing much of the desired livestock in the process. Rock like this will still have many of the desired creatures, but it will take time for the populations to come back up.> Do you think it would be safe to put some fish in the tank? I was thinking about some clown fish, a Bi-colour Blenny or a Linear Blenny and a Eibl's Angelfish, or a Lemonpeel Angelfish. or could I put them all in? <You certainly could start to add some if you wish. The clown and a blenny would be fine, I'd hold off on an angel for a while. Give the fish a stable, mature tank.> These are the only fish that my local garden centre have in stock, the problem is, that I live on an Island, and there are no other pet shops here, and it is very expensive to get fish sent up from my nearest good aquatic shop which is about 300 miles from where I stay. The people that own the garden centre keep a lot of fresh water tropical fish, and have only had marines for about 6 months, they told me that they could take home any other marine fish for me that I want when they get there supplies of tropicals in. Do you think that these fish will be ok? or should I wait to see what happens with the algae and the rock. <Start with the smaller, hardier fish. Don't go too much too fast, your tank is still in the maturing process. Many of us go through this algae bloom with new tanks'¦.give it love and time.> Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Regards Kenny <Welcome, Scott V.>

Water Movement for Debris -01/11/09 Hello Crew, Hope all is going well. I have read that a strong enough filter in an aquarium will provide proper water movement to keep the debris stirred up in the water column to be drawn in to the filter. But just as a backup, if I used 2 powerheads to do this how would I position them to get the max effect on the substrate? And in a 75 gallon tank would one powerhead be enough with a sand bottom. Thanks for all your help. James <For this I would suggest something that's come to be called "blasting." Every once in awhile you take a powerhead (in your hand) and "blast" the rocks (and to a lesser extent the surface of your sand bed). This will stir up debris much more effectively. I have done this many times myself and think it is a really good way to get debris into circulation. It will cloud up your water for about a day or so, but it is a good method for "cleaning" up the rock and everything. Best, Sara M.>

Everything? Crypt... SW maint.  12/01/08 Greetings my fellow (albeit infinitely more knowledgeable) fishkeeping contemporaries, It's funny... When I first stumbled upon this sight, I quickly backed out of it to view the next Google result of whatever I was "researching". I immediately thought, "This site is all text. How... Uninformative. I want pictures!" This is the same instant-gratification mentality of buying a fish, running home and, while floating the bag, looking through some book from the late 1960's to see what exactly I was about to dump in my tank. In my defense, there was not quite so much information available when I started this hobby/obsession. So, twenty years ago when I converted my 20G to saltwater, complete with UG filter, crushed coral, HOT filter, never heard of a protein skimmer or biological filtration, etc... I thought my Panther Grouper, Picasso Trigger and Yellow Tang all did just fine. At least, as I recall. Then I upgraded to a whopping 40G Acrylic! High-tech... With UG filter and now a canister filter. And, to the best of my knowledge, my Panther Grouper, Picasso Trigger, Yellow Tang, Lionfish and Porcupine Puffer all did fine! "Bioload? Nonsense! Test for what? I have a hydrometer... Please don't show me those vials and color charts... Do I look like a marine biologist?" All was well. At least, until the 1994 Northridge quake launched the entire system across the room. I had retired. Now, after a fourteen year hiatus, I am back. Once again, unprepared... My girlfriend had a Betta in some sort of (maybe 16oz) solitary confinement, torture cup. The conversation of an "aquarium" came up and eventually morphed into a mutually agreeable decision to set up a 20-30G Freshwater aquarium... My heart has always been salty (May or may not be some pun there). Nonetheless, she is possibly going to kill me...I found an ad for a used 100G "complete set-up"... Only after retroactive research did I learn what I had acquired... My terminology may still be slightly off, but here goes: 100G acrylic (60x18x20) with center overflow, plumbed from bottom, standpipe, etc. Stand/cabinet with 30G sump, wet/dry with bioballs, Aqua C Remora skimmer, heater, Iwaki 40RLT(?) Pump, feeding the split returns on either end of the tank, Canopy with 2X 96w PC (6700K/420 actinic & 10,000K/460 actinic - These were new and I have pulled this info from the boxes - May not be correct/possible configurations as am losing my mind)... There was also some nice pieces of dead/dried coral skeletons (I believe that is what we call them). Also about 100 pounds of, at one point, very likely nice live rock - now quite dead (system had been broken down for many months). Anyway, $200 for the entire deal worked for me. That was two months ago. Over those two months, I have realistically spent a good, cumulative 150-200 hours logged on WWM. And although I am no longer capable of doing my job (internet at work) and am destroying my relationship with my girlfriend, I cannot thank you enough! I read, re-read and read again... I could write a book on all that I have learned... I could write a bigger book on all that still confuses me. But, hey, it's a process, right? <Yes> After everything I have manage to absorb, I decided that the best compliment I could pay you (Random WWM person) is to not write, at all... Just find the answers in the FAQ's... But, now... I just need some very specific straight answers... Or maybe just a little critiquing. Now that I have prefaced this with my (dis)qualifications, I will get to the point (in a very rushed and random order, as my girlfriend is asking me about something entirely different)I set up my tank with the base rock (100 lbs) and added about 25 lbs of nice, quality (allegedly cured) Fiji live rock from LFS. I built it up nice and stable with minimal pieces touching the bottom of the tank. Will this be enough Biological filtration for now? <Yes> Will this seed the base rock and increase nitrifying bacteria as fish grow? <Also yes> I added about 50 lbs of reef/ aragonite/whatever dry sand and another 50 lbs of live sand (fine) on top, for an over depth of about 3 inches. How do I increase depth? <A few ways... most easily by simply blending in more washed/rinsed new material when you can, want to> Just add another inch or two of Live Sand? <"Non" live would be fine> On top of the existing sand? <Mixed in is better> I have lots of caves and open spaces between the rock... Do I need more flow? <Would be better> Would a 1,200 GPH flow power head do the trick? <One approach> After a very small Ammonia, then Nitrite spike, all has been stable. Even after adding livestock, I have not had any change in parameters. Stable 0 across the board for Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. PH 8.2. I introduced a 4" Foxface Lo and a 3" Louti/Skunk/Lyretail/Coronation Grouper thirty days ago. I must now admit that I may be overfeeding the Louti as he is almost 5" now. Is this normal growth rate in a month? <Mmm, this is very quick!> Two weeks ago, I added my staple favorites: 3" Panther Grouper and 2" Humu/Picasso Trigger. There, I said it... I know! I need a bigger tank! I'm crazy! The information on the Louti is somewhat minimal, as far as I can tell... The closest thing I can find for FAQ's and entertaining anecdotes is about the Miniatus. <Mmm, no... t/here's an article on this species alone: http://wetwebmedia.com/variola.htm and linked above, a specific FAQs file> There seems to be a slight discrepancy in my comparison: Adult size... Is my little skunk, whom is capable of opening his mouth bigger than his head, going to grow to 3 feet? <Not this big... perhaps a foot in this setting> What does one really do with such an animal after the guilt shifts to acceptance that I should never have bought him? Really? <Most folks trade in to their store, with another hobbyist via a club, Craig's list...> Also, would like to add a Dogface Puffer. Just so you know. And finally... No. I did not QT any of these fishes. I will spare you the standard excuses. ICH on the Rabbit... ICH on the Trigger. And it looks like possible ICH on the Louti's fins... Nothing on Panther (yet). If I set up a separate hospital tank for these four fish... And also use it as a future QT tank... How big for four aggressive, messy eaters? How long? Copper? Freshwater dip? What exactly do I need in this? How long must my display tank remain fallow to eliminate the, um... Ich? <... all posted on WWM... at least forty gallons, copper could be used... dipping/baths en-route, protocol and caveats again are archived... and at least a month for the system to go fallow/sans hosts...> I have (for now) many Button Polyps and one Mushroom coral that appeared on some live rock, as well as feather dusters and other hitchhikers... I ALMOST went for a "Reef/Invert-Safe" Ich medication until I read that it does not exist in practical application. Also have enough diatom algae to choke a horse (figuratively and probably literally). I have many, many other questions and concerns... Mind slipping... Systems failing... Apparently, saving the fish will have to wait until I finish my lengthy discussion with my better half about the various pros and cons of different water temperatures in the WASHING MACHINE! (screams). To think this could have been longer... Love, Jonny. <Less livestock purchasing, more reading, contemplation... Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Questions on my 55 Gallon Marine Tank. Need to read en toto, esp. CCS's  11/17/08  I am overwhelmed with information. I was able to get a 55 Gallon Glass Marine tank. I have it equipped with two power heads, a Magnum 350 Canister Filter and a Supreme 400 skimmer/filter that hangs on the back. I have followed all tips on setting up and cycling the tank. I have 2 false Percula Clowns, a Fire Fish, a Bar Goby, Peppermint Banded shrimp, a chocolate chip star <This can be trouble with the small fish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstarcompfaqs.htm .> , and a black sea urchin. In addition I have a few bumble bee snails, 2 larger snails, and a handful of small hermit crabs. My tank has been up since January. My Hydrometer consistently reads 1.020 <Do raise this to a more natural level, 1.025.> Temperature runs 79-80 degrees. I consistently have brown algae on the back and bottom of the tank. I assume it is algae as looks like it is slightly dingy and dirty and brushes off. It is not stringy. I don't know if it is normal or what to do. <Normal, but not desirable. Sounds like diatoms/BGA.> Now my Chocolate chip star has stopped moving around and been in one place for 3 days. Please help me what I need to do to improve or make my tank better and how to clean it up and help my starfish. <First, I would flat out get rid of the starfish. CC stars are trouble, predacious. For the algae, regular water changes with frequent cleaning of the canister and controlled feeding will help you win out. More information here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm . As you advance in the hobby, do consider adding a sump/refugium and a better skimmer.> Any suggestions would be appreciated. <Welcome, Scott V.>

Changing tanks, reading   8/30/08 Hello, <Julian> I currently have a 90 gallon tank. Inhabitants include a Desjardin Sailfin Tang 4", Yellow Tang 5", Blue Tang 3", Queen Angel 4", <Mmm... too crowded and this volume is too small for this Holacanthus sp.> Dwarf Lionfish 4", Porcupine Puffer 4", <Ditto> 2 Scott Damsels 1", 1 Redspot Damsel 2", and Lawnmower Blenny 3", and a snowflake eel about 12". <Way too over-crowded... psycho- and physio-logically> I also have an assortment of Hermits and Snails. They all get along well, but do get irritated at times because of the lack of space for all of them. I have 120lbs of live Rock and 100 lbs of live sand. I know this is very overstocked, and I am in the process of buying a 300 Gallon Aquarium. I was wondering the best way to change tanks. I don't want any fatalities as I love all my fish! Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Julian <Posted: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/maintindex.htm Look for the pink tray... Bob Fenner>

New Setup,  SW maint.   8/11/08 Hi, <Hello> You guys have been very helpful with my new set up which I really appreciate. I have had my tank for about 6 months now and would like to ask you a couple of questions. <Ok> My system: * 150G acrylic display tank with ~200 pounds of Fiji live rock and a small amount of live sand; Calfo style 60" overflow; return manifold with 12 outlets, * 90G upper refugium with ~100 pounds of live rock (rubble, small pieces) with spaghetti algae, with 2 Lights of America lights * 90G lower refugium with ~ 10 inches of live sand and spaghetti algae with 2 Lights of America lights 50G sump pump * Octopus 200 protein skimmer * Dart pump * 3x250W 10,000K MH lights with IceCap ballasts * RO/DI water <Nice> Water parameters: * SG 1.024 * pH 8 <A little low.> * Alkalinity 1.7-2.8 * NH3 0ppm * NO2 0.05 ppm * NO3 5 ppm * Ca 440ppm Fish: * Yellow tang * Powder blue tang * Foxface rabbitfish * cleaner crew (crabs, snails) * I am planning on adding corals as soon as I resolve the two problems mentioned below. <Sounds very nice.> My first question is regarding the upper refugium: currently it contains small pieces of live rock (~100 pounds) and spaghetti algae however due to low flow rate of water I think that it became a detritus trap (the lower refugium and the display tank have a much higher water flow and are perfectly clean). When I shake the spaghetti algae and move the live rock, there are tons of small particles of detritus and dirty stuff. The refugium is full of all kinds of living creatures, such as small star fish, all kinds of warms, etc. However, I am concerned that the accumulation of detritus in the upper refugium will negatively affect the quality of water. What are my options? I am thinking about either getting rid of the upper refugium, or adding a powerhead pump to increase the circulation. But I am concerned that this always will be a dirt trap so I am not sure what to do. <I would try the powerhead, keep the detritus in suspension until the skimmer can pull it out.> Also, if I were to get rid of it, what can I do with the small pieces of live rock? Throw it away? <Could, or just set it aside somewhere for a while till you find a use for it.> Or should I turn off the lights above the upper refugium and just keep live rock and some filter media to allow growth of zooplankton? <Could, but I think you will still have the detritus problem.> Are there any benefits of having the upper refugium in addition to the lower one with deep sand bed (the idea was to have a second upper refugium which would produce food for my livestock and would feed directly into the main display tank without the pump chopping up all the plankton etc)? <Different environment will encourage different things to grow, definitely not a bad thing, but probably not a huge difference from the lower refugium. Also for what it is worth, I would not worry too much the pump killing the plankton, most pass through no problem.> If the lower refugium contains live sand and spaghetti algae what purpose should the upper refugium have and what should it house? <More water volume is always a good thing, will tend to produce larger amphipods with the LR rubble. Some people will house shrimp to produce eggs and feed the tank, although be aware that they will hunt much of the little critters produce in the refugium.> I am planning on keeping a garden type of coral reef with several fish. Please advice. My second question is about the nasty brown microalgae problem. <Cyano? Diatoms?> If I keep at least on of my MH lights on, the brown algae starts to cover all surfaces in my tank, such as live rock, sand, the walls of my tank. If I turn the MH off and keep a very low level of light, all the brown algae disappears. What may be causing this problem and how can I get rid of it? <have you tested for phosphate? Silicates?> I use DI/RO water but as long as keep the MH on the problem persists. The brown algae starts to form large air bubbles and keeps growing. <Cyanobacteria is my guess.> One thing that I have not done yet are water changes. <Ah, start.> Should I start changing water in small portions weekly? <Yes, definitely.> I have about 300G of water in the system. <If you could do 10% weekly I think you will be in good shape.> Thank you for your help, John <I would not do anything drastic until you start water changes, see if this alone does not improve your condition over a few weeks/months. Part of what is going on is just normal establishment of the tank, simpler, hardier life forms (Cyano) take hold first, usually outcompeted by more complex life over time.> <Chris>

High KH level, using WWM  7/11/08 Hello again Bob. First of all I wanted to give you an update on my lionfish. He is eating great and constantly begs for food when he sees me in the room. <Good, keep semi-hungry> He will only eat freeze-dried right now, so I am soaking one small piece per night in Selcon and just got him to eat from the feeding stick. Now I am hoping he will eat other foods if offered in this way. But I come to you with yet another question and possibly a problem. I just picked up a KH test kit the other day and my test cane out to be 500 ppm! <Mmmm> All other levels tested good, PH is 8.0. Is this a problem and if so how do I go about lowering the KH? All tank inhabitants are great, all are eating and getting along just fine. Any feedback to this situation is much appreciated. Thanks again for all your help, Shea <... please learn to/use the search tool and indices... I don't have time to do for others: Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll down to Alkalinity... BobF>

Help! please! -Ants and Tanks! 5/10/08 Hey, <Hello Sarah.> I have an ant problem on my 20 gallon fish tank. The ants are laying their eggs under my filter and next to my light. <Uh oh.> I know that if we spray, we could harm the fish. We started vacuuming them up but more came back. We even threw the vacuum bag away outside. Is there anything that I can do to get rid of the ants? <You will need to find the source, where they are coming in and seal it off. A good ant bait placed both inside where they enter and ideally outside where they are coming from will keep them from getting as far as your tank. I am personally fond of the Terro product line, very quick and effective. Couple this with your vacuum technique and your tank should be ant free within a few hours. If all else fails do not hesitate to call a professional exterminator.> Thanks! -Sarah <Welcome, best of luck, Scott V.>

Dead Fish Removal, 5/1/08 Dear Wet Web Media, <Hello> My husband has a 40 gal salt water tank. He's traveling until Monday (4 days from now) and one of his fish has died. It's sort of under a piece of coral and I have no idea how to get to it nor do I really want to. Is it ok to leave it in the tank until he gets home? Thanks for your response! -Gina Keller <Would be best if you could remove it, perhaps blow the body out with a turkey baster until it is in area where it can be easily removed. However if you do not feel comfortable doing this most likely the tank will be fine.> <Chris>

New Marine Setup... gen. op.  4/23/08 Hi WWM, I have a new 50 gal tank that I'm setting up. I'm currently using a remora protein skimmer and an aqua clear filter with reverse osmosis water & instant ocean sea salt. I'm using live gravel/sand and live rock... Its been running over night and this morning the tank is still not clear yet. What do you guys think is the problem? <Suspended sand particles most likely, will clear in a few days.> The protein skimmer does create a lot of tiny bubbles, would that be it? <Could be contributing to it.> Or should I wait it out? <Patience> Help with your knowledge would be greatly appreciated. as you already know I'm new to this hobby. thanks -Khoa <Welcome> <Chris>

Overcoming the Overstocking Urge!   3/12/08 Hi, <Hey there! Scott F. in tonight!> Great Site! <Glad you enjoy it...We have some great people who do a fantastic service to fellow hobbyists worldwide!> I've had my Oceanic 175 gallon bow-front tank up for 10 months now. I have about 150 lbs. of LR and 100 lbs. of sand in the main tank also, a 55 gallon refugium with 6" DSB with Chaeto and 50 gallon sump. I ultimately want to stock it full of corals. I have 3 - 250 w metal halide installed but only using the center one. I have two Tunze Stream 6101 circulating the tank. I'm currently using a Corallife Super Skimmer Needle Wheel rated at 220 gal. Is this efficient or should I get something else? <If the skimmer is regularly producing skimmate, I would have no issues with it. If the skimmer is not producing, either tweak it until it does or replace it with a more efficient unit.> Also, I'm having trouble keeping the nitrate low around 40ppm, I feed Nori about 4 sheets, 3 times a week and feed about 3-4 cubes of frozen mysis once a day. <Continued good water management (including regular water changes, chemical filtration media, such as carbon, PolyFilter, etc) and careful feeding should do the trick. I assume that you utilize RO/DI water for source water.> My other parameters, Temp: 78-80, Ammonia: 0, Nitrite:0, Ph: 8.2, SG: 1.025, Ca: 380 I do about 32 gallon water change every three weeks with RO water. Right now my tanks has the following livestock: (2) 1" Percula Clowns (2) 2.5" Bartlett Anthias (3) 3" Yellow Tang, (1) 3.5" Orange Shoulder tang (1) 5" Sailfin Tang <That's a LOT of Tangs in almost any aquarium, especially a 175 gallon one! These fish eat heavily, produce copious amounts of metabolic waste, and need large amounts of physical space and water volume to live anything close to a natural life span. You will definitely need to find larger/other quarters for this collection, or you will continue to have rising nitrates and very unhappy fish!> (1) 3" Midas Blenny (2) 3" Diamond Goby (1) 4.5" Magnificent Foxface <Another nice fish, but gets quite large and my comments for the Tangs apply here, too.> (1) 3" Hawaiian Flame Wrasse (1) 2.5" Blue Hippo Tang <Stop it with the Tangs, man. You're KILLING me!> (1) 3" Rhomboid Wrasse (2) Cleaner Shrimps (1) Fire Shrimp I have a feeling I'm overstocked and feeding too much. <Ding! Ding Ding! We have a winner! Yes- you are WAAAY overstocked. All is not lost, however- I commend you on the first step to solving the issue- recognition that the aquarium is overstocked!> I want to get my parameter down so I can start stocking the tank with corals. <Good...Do rethink your stocking plan, and pare down (way down) your fish population. Keep in mind the large size that your Tangs will reach, and environment that they require to be healthy and happy. I would trade/return/find new homes for all of the Tangs and Foxface, with the exception of the Yellow Tangs. Although 3 of them in this sized aquarium is not ideal, it is a workable arrangement-in the short run.> Recently the coralline just started to grow on a few rocks. <Always a good sign.> Also another quick question in my fuge the Chaeto just sit there, I've read that it's better to have it roll up into a ball and spinning. I'm a little hesitant to throw a powerhead it might fall and kick up the sand and be to hectic for the pods to reproduce. Currently I have baffles setup and water just flows over the stop of the Chaeto. I've notices some detritus on top of the sandbed. Should I be alarmed? <The detritus is not in and of itself bad, but if allowed to accumulate, it could result in deteriorated water quality. Do siphon it regularly, and utilize some detritivorous animals (such as Starfish) to help "work" the accumulating detritus.> I think the Chaeto is growing really well, I pull about half a 5 gal bucket once every month. Yet my nitrates aren't at 0. Thanks. <Well, you will see a decline in your nitrate levels with continued good husbandry, and a SUBSTANTIALLY reduced bioload. Make some stocking concessions and adjustments, and I'm certain that things will trend in your favor! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

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