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FAQs about Toxic Water Conditions : Exogenous Causes (External, Inorganic... e.g. Paint, Metals, Fish Medicine-Biocides... 3

Related Articles: Copper Use in Marine Systems, Marine Toxic Tank Conditions , General  Marine Maintenance,

Related FAQs: Exogenous (from outside, External, Inorganic, e.g. Metals) Source 1, Exogenous Source 2, Exogenous Source 4, & Insecticides, Cleaners, Copper Use in Marine Aquariums, Toxic Situations 1, Toxic Situations 2, Toxic Situations 3Toxic Situations 4Toxic Situations 5, Toxic Situations 6, Toxic Situations 7, Toxic Situations 8, Toxic Situations 9, & FAQs on Toxic Water Conditions by: Unknown Causes, & Endogenous (from inside, e.g. Internal, Organic Causes), Foods, Nutrients, Venomous/Poisonous Tankmates, Wipe-out Syndromes/New Tanks e.g.,

Exogenous Causes: Marine Algaecide Use/Chemical Control, Toxic Copper Use Situations/Troubleshooting, Insecticides, Cleaners, & Troubleshooting/Fixing,

Toxic fumes in mixed reef     1/3/17
I have been contacted about installing a mixed reef containing live corals, fish and invertebrates in a printing and special coating finishes on business cards etc. company's office. However, the fumes from the printing processes are extremely strong and I was wondering if you thought that they might kill the reef inhabitants or corals.
<I hope not... but can't tell what the chemicals, their concentration may portend. I will relate that our business installed systems in many commercial settings... some of which had strong industrial fume issues, and didn't have issues. I AM a huge fan of Boyd's ChemiPure... we used to go through a gross a month or so... rotating the units new in, oldest out, every month. I want to give credit to this use for help in this matter>
I have searched and only found information about latex paint fumes ( which are supposed to be relatively ok).
The aquarium would be covered with a glass canopy and there would be an open sump in a cabinet enclosed on 3 sides underneath. Is there anything in literature or in your personal experiences or hearsay that you know about these toxic fumes affecting the aquarium.
Thank you for any input you may have.
Aquarium Environments
<Ahh! One of our old DBAs as well. I would try out the system here myself.
Bob Fenner>

Pest control      3/2/17
Dear WWM crew,
I've been looking into various IGRs (Nylar in this case), but can't find any information about how effective they are outside of the treatment area.
<Mmm; am concerned enough to write that I would do my best to keep over-spray out of the systems; lay damp towels over the tanks, turn off air pumps, air-entraining gear...). Don't see much re Nylar itself, but other IGRs are recorded as being detrimental to aquatic invertebrates>
I don't want to risk killing or sterilizing any of my aquatic inverts, and don't plan to treat the room the tanks are in, but I have no clue how far away is "safe".
Best regards,
<I'd be calling the manufacturer of record. Look for their MSDS sheet/s on the Net; perhaps call your local to not "poison center". Bob Fenner>

Eucalyptus oil toxic to marine shrimp?         4/5/16
Hi Crew,
I have had a bad cold (and no, I don't believe my shrimp caught it). A little over a week ago, my friend lent me a humidifier and some eucalyptus "100% essential oil" to be used with the humidifier to help with my congestion at night. The eucalyptus oil created an odor, as you would expect, that lingered for days after the humidifier was turned off, and pretty much permeated the whole house.
<Mmm; as it is wont to do>
After a couple nights using this humidifier and oil, I noticed the Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp in my bedroom tank seeming lethargic and not eating, then a day later I notice a similar problem with another Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp in my downstairs living room (a different room on a different floor, but on the same air circulation system). Suspecting the eucalyptus oil as a likely problem, I discontinued its use and moved it and the oil bottle to the garage. I also changed 20% of the water, and replaced the activated carbon with twice the usual amount, in my bedroom tank.
<Good moves>
The next day, the shrimp there seemed a little better, so I also replaced the activated carbon in my living room (but did not change water, as I did not have enough available).
After a few days, both shrimps seemed better and resumed eating, though I had the sense that they were not 100% back to normal. Then, a couple days ago, I found the shrimp in the living room tank dead on the bottom. Today,
I noticed the shrimp in the bedroom tank being harassed by the Lemon Peel Angel, who normally would go to the shrimp for cleaning services. As I watched, I noticed that the shrimp did not seem to signal his willingness to clean as he had before, and I wondered if this inappropriate behavior (for a cleaner shrimp) causes the angel to respond inappropriately. I also notice that this shrimp's tentacles do not seem as straight as I remembered them being (he had molted a few days before all this started).
<Good observations, reporting>
All my fish and hardy soft corals seem fine.
So, what is my question? Mainly this: do you think it is likely that this airborne eucalyptus oil is the cause of problems for my shrimp?
<By inference and some otherwise deduction I do. The class of compounds that include Eucalyptus "smell" have various and diverse biochemical properties; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptol#Toxicology>
Perhaps you don't (or can't possibly) know, in which case my email will serve as a caution about a possible risk of using eucalyptus oil around marine aquaria.
<Yes; thank you>
<Bob Fenner>

Dealing with exceptionally hardy strain of crypt?    Impt. notes re Quinines; old Amquel toxicity           11/12/15
​Hi Crew,
I've been happily reading your site for several years now and am grateful for all of the information. Ever since ich entered my 170g reef almost two years ago before I learned to properly QT, I've been fighting it with just about every method in the book, including many "reef-safe" snake oils, but also QT with hypo, Chloroquine, and quinine...sometimes keeping the fish in
the DT while removing LR and corals, others removing fish to QT and letting the DT go fallow.
<With you so far>
I've blamed failures on everything from not keeping medication levels high enough, to keeping the QT and DT to close together so that aerosolized crypt could move between the two systems.
<Interesting speculation. More likely resident/residual infestation. Most systems have this/them>
I've also demonstrated through studies in a lab with good equipment that Chloroquine degrades super fast leaving behind an inactive molecule in my tank (I was monitoring by HPLC , and I believe, based on changes in CPQ behavior over a year, that a microbe capable of detoxifying Chloroquine either entered or evolved in my system...more about that another time, but high levels of the degradation do appear to be toxic to Zebrasoma tangs).
<I REALLY encourage you to publish your data, explanations>

I now know that quinine is perfectly stable in my system and that the concentration remains constant after dosing regardless of skimmer or keeping lights on. It clearly wipes out any visible ich on my fish within 24 hours and prevents the return until removed. Unfortunately, as you already know, it dos nothing for the inactive cyst stage, and I find that certain tangs (particularly Zebrasoma) begin to show signs of drug toxicity after about a week (labored breathing, failure to eat, general listlessness) but they recover fully withi8n a day of being moved to a system without quinine.
<I have suspected such as well>

SO....I still have ich. I just completed a 13 week fallow (no new coral or other additions), my QT and DT are far apart, precautions were taken to heat-sterilize anything that went from one tank to another, etc. I moved a Kole tang with no visible signs of ich from QT to the DT.
<Note the qualifier, "no visible signs">
He had been at high quinine concentration for the previous five days and was allowed an hour in the quinine containing water during the transfer process, just in case there were any random cysts that had just hatched so that the new hatchlings would have time to die from high drug exposure.
About a week later, the first small blotch appeared, looking nothing like ich.
<You should sample, check under a microscope>
Couple more blotches (as opposed to raised sugar grains) appeared here and there until this morning when I clearly saw some raised sugary grains. So, it's back to QT for him, and I'll have quinine in the tank to make sure that anything on him dies before it can re-encyst and live to infect another fish.
Finally to my question: Would you let this DT go fallow for 6 months?
<As long as possible, practical... more likely, with no desired life present, I'd bleach all and restart it>
A year? Or sacrifice your corals, cook your live rock, empty the DT, and go over every component with a hair dryer to make sure not so much as a single drop of water remains anywhere in the general vicinity?
<No; I would not go this far. Just as likely to (re) import Crypt w/ new fishes>
I have also considered periodically placing an ich-resistant fish in an isolation box within the tank in case this strain requires fish hormones to break dormancy. I realize all of this might seem extreme, but I seem to have a real survivor here and the theory of crypt weakening after a year of successive generations seems to either be wrong, or to not apply to this strain.
The good news is that my fish seem to be real survivors....though I did lose many to a bad batch of Amquel plus, which I will write about separately.
<To/for browsers; DO give your polyvinylpyrrolidone solutions (commercial dechloraminators often contain) a "good whiff" and if they smell, toss rather than use them>
I would greatly appreciate any advice here.
Thank you
<I'd have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/reefparfaq2.htm
and a few of the linked files above.... for solace, input. I'd strive to "keep balance" in your/fishes favor here; through optimized care: environment and nutrition; use of cleaners.... Bob Fenner>
Bad batch of Amquel Plus          11/12/15

​Hi again crew.
I wanted to separate this subject from my previous tome on a persistent strain of ich.
<Ah, I thank you>
I have found a little about this on your site, but wanted to add. It took me 3 die-offs and a discussion at my LFS to get here.
I have used the product many times in the past with great success,
<I've used hundreds of gallons commercially; and know where you're going here>
but I bought a new bottle from Amazon in July when we were having a heat wave. I had just restarted a quarantine tank and was ready to begin catching fish after another ich outbreak and put some of the product in. I trapped a pbt that was heavily infected, added him, and he died overnight. I assumed he was too badly damaged by crypt or that something was wrong with my parameters or that it was new tank syndrome even though I had added a well seeded sponge. I let the QT (75 gallons) settle for a few days, added carbon, and tried another fish, but assumed I didn't need the AmQuel for just one fish. That fish lived, and I added more, one at a time. They all lived. After a week, I was heading out on vacation and thought I'd leave
the fish with a big water change and clean filters....and of course, some Amquel plus prophylactically in case the bacteria count was too far reduced to fully keep up with the bio burden for the first couple days. The water went cloudy overnight and many fish died immediately or over the next week while my house sitter watched helplessly. Again, I blamed it on my water change and the weekend state of my fish.
As the end of my fallow period approached, I decided to do a tank transfer just in case there were any cysts capable of surviving. I set up a 20 gallon with new water and seeded sponge filter and checked my temperature, pH, etc. Then I added Amquel plus from that same bottle, now 2 months older. I placed a fish in the tank and it began twitching and was dead
within 10 minutes. I had removed it to a bucket of water taken from my DT within 5 minutes, but it could not recover. The water turned cloudy and the pH dropped to 6.5.
After my fallow ended and I transferred my few remaining fish back to the DT, I decided to buy a couple new fish and begin the QT process over again. They went into the same QT my other fish had been in with good stable conditions, and they were swimming happily. At 10 PM, I decided to add a single capful of Amquel plus from this same bottle, still thinking
the other deaths were something I had done. Six hours later, I awoke to find the fish dead and the pH very low but no ammonia.
I tasted the material and found it to be acidic and strong, then went to my LFS and explained what had happened, and asked if they had open AmQuel I could taste. The two were not the same.
<Note to browsers, please DO NOT taste test aquarium products>
When discussing my decision to purchase off Amazon in July, the owner noted that he only orders Amquel for the store between October and May, and stocks up in May to avoid shipping in summer. He stated that exposure to high temperature will sometimes cause it to go bad, and that was likely my problem.
<Yes; though simple time going by can result in such degradation>
I bought a new bottle to run some tests, like change in pH of live salt water, but the old and new were identical. I cut off a couple pieces of filter floss from my canister filter and added them. It did seem like the old bottle made the water hazier in the presence of the dirty filter, but I could just be seeing things. since I cannot distinguish between the two bottles based on appearance, smell, or effect on simple parameters, I am terrified to add this to my tank.
I have since added a couple fish to this QT, after a water change and carbon. There have been no deaths.
Since I can't similar stories anywhere else on the internet,
<There are a few accounts. Am going to try "Amquel Toxicity" in the search tool: There are ref.s, but they're not coming up counter-shaded for some reason, and am wont to look w/in the FAQs files for the specific Q/As.... I assure you though that I am well-aware w/in you speak; chatted w/ Dr. Bob Rofen (RIP) who passed earlier this year; owner of Kordon/Novalek Re (the maker of this product and NovAqua, and...) and John/ny Farrell Kuhns, the actual chemical patent holder for these lines..... the aging, break-down and toxicity of this product IS a known quality>
I was wondering if you had similar experience or had heard this from somebody else in the past. I am particularly interested in whether the "heat effect" is real.
<Sped up rates of reaction; yes. You can see/read my bio. on WWM, elsewhere. I taught H.S. level chemistry and physics....>
Thank you in advance for whatever information you can provide....I'd like this info to help others, but I understand if you need to keep it private in order to avoid lawsuits from the manufacturer.
<I am very long since past any such consideration. Am really only interested in establishing fact/s, disseminating them in a useful, timely manner to others that are interested. Again, I thank you for your sharing, concern. Bob Fenner>

Benny ate some super glue       3/28/15
Hi guys,
Looking for a bit of help on a unique problem. My starry blend
<blenny I'll take it>
decided to eat a drop of super glue that was floating in my tank. It came loose while I was gluing a frag to the rock. He’s breathing ok but he’s having a hard time keeping food down and I suspect his esophagus is blocked. Have you guys got any experience with this?
<Have read of others>
He is fine other than when he is trying to eat, its difficult and he shakes his head violently to and fro.
What do you guys think?
<Am hoping it spits it out>
Jason Ruiter
<And you; Bob Fenner>
Re: Benny ate some super glue   3/29/15

Thx Bob. I guess at this point its a wait and see thing. Not much you can do about glue in an esophagus but hope it frees itself.
<Me too. BobF>
Re: Benny ate some super glue          3/30/15
Hi Bob,
<Hey Jas>
A bit of an update and a little advice. The Blenny is still alive, breathing and swimming around. This whole fiasco happened on Tuesday. He’s swimming around trying to get food, I can see a ball of glue in the back of his throat and his mouth seems to be gaped open most of the time. When he does try to feed he bite down on food and then promptly spits it out and shakes his head furiously, likely because its blocked.
<Mmm; am wondering re the properties of cyanoacrylates in water...>
Now for the crazy part, someone in the local reefing community suggested that I net the fish and sedate the fish in an ice cream bucket with a couple drops of clove oil and extract the ball of glue with tweezers. Is that a legitimate option or just too risky?
<Well; the anesthetic part is valid... just not too much or too long or you'll euthanize the animal. You'd have to have very steady hands for such an operation. Oh; and could be that just the semi-liquid state of the "glue" burned this fish's mouth... and that there is no solid matter present. BobF>
Re: Benny ate some super glue        3/31/15

As of this morning he ate a bunch of Nori so things are looking up. I tried the operation yesterday but bailed on it when I realized it was far beyond my ability. In the end, it hard to tell if a snowflake blend is sedated because he’s got pretty good balance and generally sits on the bottom.
<Mmm; perhaps no "glue" present; just a burn. B>

Blistering Fish in Reef     4/24/14
<Eric... your msg. was shunted to junk... as the file size is an order or magnitude larger than we allow>
Good evening. Hope all is well. I have a bit of an issue going on in my tank and am not quite sure what to make of it. I researched online but could not come up with anything. About 3 days ago I noticed my Firefish has blisters on both sides of his face. He is still eating and the blisters have subsided a bit. I originally figured it got stung by something or had a run in with a Bristleworm.
<My first guess as well; though could be other animals, stings... even supplement et al. burn>
Tonight I noticed my clownish has the same blister on its chin. I would have chalked this up to the anemone, since it never leaves it, but the two fish both having blisters has me concerned. The rest of the tank is OK at the moment. Any ideas what this may be?
<Just possibilities... I'd be reviewing what you've done differently in recent time; changing a good deal of the water, using a bit of GAC, Chemipure, PolyFilter or such in the filter flow path>
I am thinking about feeding some medicated food
since I can't break down the tank to get the fish out and treat elsewhere.
Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
<Send smaller, better resolved images; store bier in cool, dark places. Bob Fenner>

Re: Blistering Fish in Reef      4/24/14
I will try and get some better pics with a lower resolution when the lights
come on. About 3 days or so before this happened I changed out my poly filters, gfo, and ChemiPure.
<I'd drop the rust... speculations, rationale posted on WWM>
My calcium reactor also ran out of juice over
the weekend so I used Kalk for a few days until I could get more co2.
<Mmm... could be the cause here>

Maybe that's what caused it? Anyways I am assuming it should heal on its
own with time?
<Hopefully; yes. B>

Metal tank decoration... Not in SW     2/7/14
HI everyone.  I have a saltwater 75 gallon tank and have been having issues with ammonia lately.  I emailed your staff last week and got some good advise.  Something that I have been wondering about however is that my girlfriend knows nothing about the hobby except what looks " cute " or "pretty".... That said, she ran off and bought me a metal ship to put in the tank.  It has been in there for about a month now.  I'll tell you that I do not know what type of metal it is except that it is not stainless steel. It is about 14" long, looks pretty cool cause it's made to look like it was crashed/sunk.  Anyhoo... am I reaching here or could this be contributing to my recent ammonia spike or to the overall water quality that could have contributed to the recent outbreak of Ich in my tank?
What's your take on metal decorations in a saltwater tank?
<Maybe... I'd remove it>
I should tell you that she DID purchase this from a LFS not just at some hardware store which is why I initially thought that it would be okay but now I'm beginning to wonder.....
<Well; the item might be coated/sealed in some way; but... eventually, not to be trusted in seawater. Bob Fenner>

epoxy coral putty... Concern re poss. tox.         1/18/14
Hi Bob ! a very good evening from a snowy Denmark...while I take this opportunity to whole heartedly thank you for your soothing (and of course absolutely correct) comments on my partially injured brain coral, I have a another favour to ask....
I got a Acropora frag today and tried to fix it with Fluval coral putty. As instructed I mixed a small part (amount was like the size of a marble when mixed) the green outer and white parts evenly for 1 min or so till it became a uniform grey color and wedged it in a hole of a LR. However when I tried to set the frag into it I notices some part of the putty dissolve out as a whitish cloud into the water along with some tiny bits. I freaked out and with a tong scraped out the putty from the hole. Do you think I should be scared about it fouling/poisoning the whole tank ?
<Mmm; not so much if the tank is large enough... filtered, circulated "well enough"...>
 The protein skimmer (Juwel 3.0) is working a bit overtime and I plan to do 20 ltr water change tomorrow (total vol of tank is 125 lit). Any kind words of comfort will be very highly appreciated just like all the millions who are indebted to your support....br, Kaustuv
<You will likely be fine here. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Need a parasite ID/treatment recommendation... ... toxic situation     11/19/13
Hello WetWeb Crew,
I seem to have come across an unknown parasite,
<?... the pix attached; show two of the more aquarium-difficult Acanthurids... w/ a great deal of accrued body slime... exposed to what?>

 and despite scouring the internet I've come up empty. I need some help in determining what this is, and how to treat it. First of all, none of these fish have entered my display tank - this pathogen has been confined to quarantine. Also, I've now experienced it on three different fish within three years. The first two fish (powder blue and brown tangs) did not survive, despite months of attempted treatment and troubleshooting with medications.
<Sans sampling and microscopic exam? Have you read the mat.s on WWM re parasitic identification?>
I have attached photos of those two fish for your reference. I had hoped to never see it again, but now here I am. I ordered a Red Sea Regal angel, and he came out of the bag with 4 of these "growths." I did not attach a picture of the regal because I'm having trouble getting a quality shot, and there is no doubt that it is the exact same symptom. What I've observed, is that these "spots" start out as a small speck on the fish, bigger than Ich and wrong texture/shape
for Lympho. They then proceed to "grow" outwards from the body of the fish and form a 2-5mm filament that hangs off.
<... almost assuredly reaction from something "in/of the water"...>
I've seen them triple in size within a day or two.
<... mucus, mucin... See WWM re body slimes of fishes (these four words in the search tool; on every page)>

 On the deceased fish, I've attempted to remove the growths via tweezers or scraping in hopes of learning something about them, but there's no real anatomy as far as I can tell. They don't seem to be worms. I've had mild results treating with .5mg/l Cupramine, but the parasite manages to return worse than ever after a week or less of symptoms disappearing, while still in full dose copper. I have not observed the disappearing act that is associated with Ich, once a growth appears it stays; though the delicate end piece can break off. Any help at all or insight you can offer would be most appreciated. A regal angel is just about the worst fish to try and experiment with medications on. Thanks in advance
<Am almost certain this is simply body mucus... a reaction to... something/s in your water... Sample it and see (under a 'scope). Some treatment, an aspect or more of your system is poisoning these fishes... causing them to become "very slimy"... that's what this trailing white material is, NOT parasitic; not pathogenic period. Treatment... involves investigating, eliminating the source of toxicity here... salt mix? source water? some "treatment" misplaced here... Bob Fenner>

Re: Need a parasite ID/treatment recommendation    11/19/13
Thank you very much for your reply Bob,
<Welcome Ami>
I had considered the possibility of excess mucous also, but there is nothing (detectable)
<The operative word... I WOULD add a unit or two of both ChemiPure (or eq.) and PolyFilter in your circulation, filter flow path... likely whatever this is... will be sufficiently absorbed to make a difference. Going forward I strongly suggest you look about for a source of metal poisoning (a fitting, piece of décor...) and sources of aerosols... ask your water supplier (number on your bill) for their analysis of your source water>
 in my water that could be acting as a toxin. Is there something specific you would have me check for? The obvious parameters are all perfect in my quarantine systems and display - Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate are all 0, phosphates are undetectable,
<... How are NO3 and HPO4 rendered as zero? Chemical filtrants may be the source of trouble here>
 I run my salinity at 1.025, temperature is 78 degrees. These fishes all exhibited symptoms prior to any medication being introduced, and within a day of being moved; including the regal angel which came out of the bag from LiveAquaria this way.
<Am doubly concerned then LA has very good livestock... they buy exclusively from the best outfit in the US... and several friends in turn supply them>
The two tangs came from the tanks of fellow reefers where they lived for years, but had never been quarantined previously. I am well aware of the difficulty level of the tangs, and I currently have powder blue, powder blue hybrid, and achilles all living quite happy and healthy in my 520g reef tank. I attribute my success to quarantine. These particular fish that showed sloughing mucous seemed quite random. Also, what am I looking for under a microscope?
<Structure; send along pix>
 Verifying that it is indeed mucous, or the nature of said mucous?
<Amorphous, almost clear, w/ some slight thread-like inclusions>

I will need to pick one up as I don't have one on hand.
<See WWM re>
 I have managed to take picture of the regal, the "mucous" blends in with the pattern of the fish unfortunately, each area is about 3mm long.
<Can't make out much more than this>
 I realize the picture looks pretty mild, but after experiencing what I have in the past with this thing, I'm nervous to say the least. I am also unsure how such excess mucous would manifest itself the same way in such soft bodied tangs and the thoroughly scaled angelfish. For now I will focus on getting her a healthy appetite. Thank you for your help!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

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