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FAQs about Marine Water Quality 5

Related Articles: Captive Seawater Quality, Nutrient Control and Export, Water Changes/ChangingUnderstanding Calcium & Alkalinity,

Related FAQs: Marine Water Quality 1, Marine Water Quality 2 Marine Water Quality 3, Marine Water Quality 4, Marine Water Quality 6, Marine Water Quality 7, Cloudy Water, Smelly Water, Films on Top of Water, RO/DI & Distilled Water 1Environmental Disease,

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I hate to pester you with more questions Guys, I haven't bothered you since my last email because I've been busy reading as much as I could on your site.  It's great!  I still have what are probably some stupid questions, but I don't seem to be clear on some things.  First let me tell you what I ended up with (I'm sure you don't remember but this is my first saltwater tank).  It's a 45 gal. corner tank.  After reading everything I ditched my old equipment and upgraded.  It has a Via Aqua 750 canister filter, CPR BakPak, and I gave up the UGF for 20 lbs of liverock.<sounds good>  I know this isn't enough liverock, but I plan on adding more later. <agreed> The substrate is about 3/4" of crushed coral.  It's been set up now for about a month.  I have one 2" tomato clown that I just added.  The ammonia has been 0 for a while, but I still have a little nitrate in it.  I've been testing the water daily and making partial changes weekly.<good> My first problem in water chemistry.  I'm mixing Instant Ocean with distilled water that I buy bottled.  (I read all the info on using tap water, but I live in a agricultural area and have well water.  We don't drink it, but it hasn't seemed to hurt the other pets at all.  After I added a water softener, I just started using it cautiously in my freshwater tanks mixed with bottled spring.  I know it's loaded with dissolved minerals and metals.  So I'm afraid to try it and don't have enough water pressure for something like a RO system.)  The carbonate hardness is too high, 17 dKH,  after I mix the saltwater and I have trouble keeping the PH over 8 in both my mixing can and the tank.  I used SeaChem's Marine Buffer and it helps some with the PH problem (added after the salt) but it still fluctuates.  Last night it was finally up to 8.3 but I suspect it will be down some when I check it tonight.  The water I start with has 0 dKH and is very acidic.  What am I doing wrong when I'm mixing the salt to end up with such a high dKH?  It's in a 33 gal. trash can with a Maxi jet 1200 circulating it.  When I buy water I can also get spring or just purified tap, would that make a difference?<not really> What is the best filter media for the canister filter?  I currently have 1 L. of Ehfisubstrat, the 2 types of filter pads, and carbon and deNitrate in bags.<that should be sufficient>  I've have freshwater tanks for 25 years and have always used certain things like UGF and carbon, so I guess I'm a little set in my ways.<yes I would say so>  I'm not sure what is best for a saltwater tank and I keep going back to what I've always used.  I'm starting to think the carbon should go but I don't know what else to use.<I would use a Polyfilter as well. Will pull most harmful agents from your aquarium in a timely fashion. Good luck, IanB> Thanks so much in advance, Dawn Clownfish Aggression Query Part 3 <Ryan with you today> I just put in the same chemicals I have been putting in for two years, Immuno-Vital 1cap twice/ wk. <Once a month is fine>, Natu-vite 3 ml twice / week, LIFO 2 drops / day, reef former 4 oz. twice/ wk. with strontium added to it, 1 drop per ounce, iron 3 ml twice / week, 3 ml iodine twice/ wk. , 2 oz. y2 kzyme twice/ wk, and 1 cap of bromactine once a week. <Whoa...quite a collection you're got going!  The reef former is vital, but I fear you're overdoing a few...Frequent water changes would replenish many of these nutrients naturally...See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seah2omats.htm> My water test come back perfect every week <Broad statement...real readings are far more useful> and I stay up on the RO water when my levels get low. I do everything I'm supposed to do plus more. I think my water is ok but maybe the store has been telling me to add all these so they can sell them. <Possibly...Some rely on chemicals to avoid doing water changes.  It's the wrong way to maintain a tank in my opinion...and a far more pricey way to get the same/poorer results.  You'll need to access for yourself exactly what your RO water needs- You can do this by sending it away for testing.  May save you in the long run.  Good luck, Ryan> Travis Green Tide? (Strange Material In Water) I'm a longtime reader and a first time writer... or asker if you prefer. Excellent site, very excellent, but you all know that already! <Well, we are grateful to have fellow hobbyists who share our goal of mutual learning! Thanks for the kind words!> Anyway, on to my dilemma...Well, first some tank parameters: 55 gallons spec. gravity consistently 1.025 ammonia/nitrite- zip nitrate less than 5 ppm ph 8.2 1 Tomato Clown, 1 Sixline Wrasse, 1 Firefish, 1 Bicolor Blenny, 1 Flame Angel. 1 stalk of wildly pulsing Xenia, 1 sand sifting star, 1 quickly growing tumbleweed of Chaetomorpha. No more fish to be added. 2 Penguin 330 BioWheel filters sans Biowheels (cartridges changed weekly and at great expense <Great way to eliminate potential nutrient accumulations> ... 10 gallon sump in construction) 230 watts of PC, 1 AquaC Remora pulling out 1/4 cup of coffee-colored skimmate a day <Like to hear that!> 50+ pounds of live rock tank is 6 months old About a week and a half ago, I came home to my tank and I hardly recognized it. All of the walls were covered with a thin neon green scum. So was all of the crushed coral and LR. Bright, neon highlighter green. Since I do weekly water changes religiously, I was quite concerned. Was this that diatom outbreak I had heard so much about? Probably. <Doesn't seem like it...Seems like something else. Neon green is not a color generally associated with diatoms.> Opening the tank I was OVERWHELMED by a stench only equaled to that of a bucket of molding chum. I panicked. I decided to do a large water change. So, in the process I discovered the carcass of my shrimp who was alive that morning. I attributed the smell to him. Changing the water out greatly improved the smell. <When in doubt, do a water change! Nothing wrong with that!> Well, ever since that day, my tank has been acting as though it were possessed. The thick lime scum invites itself back daily. I scrape it off and it comes right back. Each day. I tried keeping the lights out all day and it seemed to impede it's growth, but the next day with full light it bloomed once more. Well, I did a 15 gallon water change again today. Out of curiosity I smelled the LR. The smell almost knocked me out. It was pungent beyond pungent. I scrubbed each piece with a toothbrush, vacuumed the crushed coral and changed out the filter pads. The tank looks sparkly and clean and the fish seem happy, except for the angel who is swimming around like a maniac) eating normally and are colorful. I guess my underlying questions are these: Is this a normal diatom outbreak? Are my power filters out-competing my protein skimmer? (by which I mean are they getting and trapping the scum before the skimmer can eat it?) Is this horrendous, foul, unholy stench normal for a tank that has regular water changes (with name brand bottled water?) Am I too worried? Well... I'm just scared for my poor fish. I fret over them like I would my children. (Is that sick or what?) I eagerly anticipate your advice. Don't hold back any scolding if I am doing anything wrong. With greatest respect, Jason Dix <Well Jason, it sounds to me like you are doing everything right here. Based upon the appearance and smell(!) that you describe, I doubt this is a diatom outbreak. Could be dinoflagellates, or some kind of strange organic accumulation, similar to the "red tides" that occur in nature from time to time. Hard to be 100% certain. One thing is sure, however- you need to keep up the aggressive protein skimming, frequent water change schedule, and other good husbandry techniques. Bottled water can be good- or it can be problematic...You might want to run some water tests on the water, to make sure that it is appropriate for aquarium use. You may want to consider using a reverse osmosis water purification unit in this situation, as it could save money over the bottled water that you're using. Continue to utilize chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and/or PolyFilter as well. These media can help remove some of the organic compounds before they get a chance to accumulate, not to mention the smell! My best advice is to try to hunt down a cause...Some sort of environmental lapse, excessive uneaten food, spawning, dying animal, etc. If you cannot ascertain the cause (or even if you can!), just keep at your good husbandry techniques! What may have occurred in this tank doesn't seem like your fault...Just a strange occurrence that may have its roots in an equally unusual cause. Chin up! Regards, Scott F.> Water Change Recommendations (9/7/04) Hi, <Howdy. Steve Allen tonight.> I have a marine aquarium and have had for some time now. It has 1 Damsel, 1 Clarks Clown, 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Chromis, 8 hermit crabs, 2 turbo snails and a sand sifting star fish. The tank is a Juwel Vision 180 bow front (180 litres) and is about 3 feet long by about 1.5 feet deep by 2 feet tall. <nice> Water readings are; Sal - 1.024 PH - 8.0 Nitrate - 20 Nitrite - 0 Ammonia - 0 Calcium - 450 It is a very healthy tank and I have an external Eheim filter running with an Aqua-medic protein skimmer and a UV Sterilser. My question is, what is a good water change interval. I currently change 25% of the water every 10 - 14 days or so with general glass cleaning, skimmate empty every 2 - 3 days. Is this overkill? <No, but more frequent, smaller changes may be even better.> Should I do a 25% - 30% water change say every 3 weeks? <Start here and read the links, especially the on about "the perfect" regimen:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm> Just some advice I guess. Many Thanks. <You're welcome. Hope this helps.>

Cloudy Saltwater Tank I have a 90gal salt water reef, filter is a trickle sump 450 gallon ph,120lbs live rock. Berlin Turbo skimmer , 4 maxi 1200 powerheads Live stock is 1 clown, 3 Tangs powder brown, hippo and yellow, bristle star and cleaner crew 30+ red leg hermits and 8 Turbos, Assorted anemone mushrooms, 1 star polyp rock, two leather coral mushrooms and 1 zoolids colony rock. I have 384 watts compact floor. Set for dusk to dawn 12hr a day with moon lights at night. Four inch deep oolite sugar sand substrate. My problem is lately the tank has become cloudy with very small white things crawling on the glass (micro size) they seem to dart around the glass. <Copepods of some kind, these are very good to have in the tank.>  My skimmer collects about a half cup ever 3-4 days. <I have to say I think that's a rather small amount.> I checked the PH, ammonia, calcium, nitrate, nitrite, all where good temperature is steady a 79 degrees. <There are degrees of good, it would help to have exact numbers here.> I changed 50 % of water and it looked fine than over night it was cloudy again with the white things back. <I think you are having a bacterial bloom in your tank. This sometimes happens after the tank has settled in, it could also be some type of algae bloom. When you put a true white piece of paper against the tank what color is the water? Clear or yellow or greenish?> All my live stock look fine and corals seem to be OK. <A bacterial bloom occurs when something is feeding the bacteria in the tank. Its basically the tank seeking to balance itself.> The tank has been running about 7 months now and this is the first time I have had a problem. <There is another possible option and it depends on what additives if any you are adding to your tank? Sometimes too much calcium can cause a cloudy tank as well.> Any idea would be great I love your web site. <Please give me some  feed back and we'll try to narrow it down. Good luck Barry, MacL> Barry Wisell

Reef Water Chemistry - pH and Ca high 8/1/04 Hi--I have a 175gal tank with about 350lbs live rock. <as an aside... seeing that you have a nice beefy supply of live rock here (very fine at 2 lbs per gallon), I wonder if you have the rockscape built so that no pieces are touching the vertical walls? If so, its a common mistake and one that significantly impedes water flow around and through the reef. It causes problems in time as detritus accumulates in inaccessible places. Do consider if this is a problem> Have not successfully been able to keep coral yet--they do not like my water, but fish are well. My question is about a high pH reading (8.8 tonight--has been around 8.2 - 8.4) and a high Ca reading 480ppm. <pH is likely a non-issue... ideally it should be 8.4-8.6. The Calcium is getting scary high though. I suspect too that because of it, your alkalinity is flat or low (under 10dKH). Regardless... it is this way because the source water is mineral rich, or you have misdosed (excess or imbalanced) supplements. Please do look into our archives for the article called "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity" and follow the related links on the page> Ammonia, Nitrates and    Nitrites are all 0. <you will want to allow a small amount of nitrates (5-10 ppm) to linger in the future for optimal coral health and color> Our alkalinity kit hasn't arrived yet, so don't know about that. We are doing the Kent Marine Tech CB (part A&B). Do you know what could have caused the pH spike? <if you do not shake the 2-part supplements vigorously before every use, they can be dosed imbalanced. Or... if your chemistry was not balanced before you started using the 2-part supplement, then the imbalance was simply carried along (the 2-part mixes cannot magically correct and imbalance... they ARE balanced and need to be finessed relative to your chemistry and what your tanks daily demands are)> I skipped adding the CB solution today because Ca is so high. <very good> Is this harmful? <necessary> What other tests do you recommend? I also tested for Copper and that was at 0. Thanks! Janet <do get a good reef book on hand my friend. It will be money much better spent rather than killing another coral. Eric Borneman's Aquarium Corals is excellent for livestock/pictures... and if I may say so, my Book of Coral Propagation has a very easy to understand section (most of the first half of the book -450 pages) on Reef Husbandry, water quality, etc. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Water Chemistry learning curve 8/5/04 Hi--thanks again for your quick response. <always welcome my friend> I am trying to get up to speed--just bought Bob Fenner's book and will get yours shortly. My latest problem is the alkalinity. The kit just arrived today and all the other water parameters have not been alarming, so I expected the same with the alkalinity. It was 7.2 when I tested it tonight; pH was 8.2. What causes this? <Alk, pH and Ca are similarly influenced/quasi-related but not dependent on each other. Your source water, sea salt and supplements have varying influences on these> I had a red sponge growing on live rock and it has totally lost all color (within a day). How can I bring the alkalinity down? <Hmm... I assumed that 7.2 was your dKH (and is a whisker low if so). However, if this is meq/l... then 7.2 is staggeringly high. To correct it, test your newly mixed seawater to confirm that is not the source of high ALK and then do a large water change or two. Misdosing supplements caused it then> The fish don't seem to care, but I don't know if there will be long term effects with them. <there is a serious risk of a precipitous reaction here... Calcium falling out of solution in your tank like snow and crashing the pH... perhaps the whole system. Rather serious> I put the carbon filter back when you suggested it... Also, there is a lot of red algae in the tank. It isn't stringy, and is deep red in color. It's on the rock and glass. I don't think it's coralline algae. It's pretty but I'm worried it shouldn't be there. <if its slimy, mat forming cyanoBACTERIA (AKA - BGA), the its a sign of excess nutrients and/or inadequate water flow. Do take the time to read more in our archives here at wetwebmedia by doing a keyword search form the home page on the Google tool for "red algae" and "red slime algae"> Could this somehow be related to the alkalinity problem? Thanks!! R/Janet <not really. Anthony> White Blotch on Coral Beauty and Cloudy Water after Feeding (7/29/04) Hi all- <Hello There! Just Leslie on duty for the crew this morning.> I'm a newbie with saltwater tanks, so please bear with me. <No problem at all I was a newbie once and still am in many areas.>   We've got a 55 gallon tank - started up in May.  Started it off with 6 damsels - 4 survived and are still in the tank (domino, blue devil, humbug, yellow tail).  Lucky 4, they are pretty tough little fish with the personalities to go with it. .....I am sure the LFS recommended cycling your tank with live fish but for future reference many, folks are using the fishless cycling methods these days. Cycling is very hard on the fish and it is considered cruel by many.> Water has been tested by local marine aquarium store and they said it looks fine. <Great!> Went through the pioneer algae stage and survived, now getting some green algae (hair?) - cleaning it out weekly by stirring up and filtering out.   <Take a look at this article and related FAQs for information on controlling nuisance algae in your tank: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm > Added a Longhorn Cowfish and Checkerboard hawkfish at the beginning of July - all doing great. <That's great. Do you realize that your Longhorn Cowfish can attain a size of 18 inches and will need a much bigger aquarium in the future? > Here is an article on your Cowfish..... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm Added Diamond Watchman Goby and Coral Beauty Angel this past weekend. <Much better choices for a 55g> On Monday I noticed a white blotch on the side of the Coral Beauty -- I believe it is a fungus. <It's hard to say what is on your Coral Beauty, true fungal infections are not very common. A white blotch,  depending on what it looks like could be a number of  things.......Lymphocystis is one thing that comes to mind, but there are many diseases that have white specks, spots, patches and areas of pigment loss.  This is why quarantining new fish for a period of 4 to 6 weeks, prior to placing them into your display tank with your other fish that are doing well, is essential. > I called the store and they said I could bring the fish back (but I don't want to) or I could try using some peroxide on the fish.  Is this the best way to treat the fungus?  They said it isn't contagious... I hope not.  I've applied the peroxide to the spot and it seemed like a few scales came off... is this okay?   < I have never used peroxide directly on a wound on a fish. Mike D. treats cloudy eyes with an 11 to 12 minute dip in a diluted solution of Hydrogen Peroxide. He uses of  7cc of 3% peroxide in 1 liter of tank water. It apparently works very well. There is also a recent article on the use of peroxide for treating Marine Velvet......   http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-07/sp/feature/index.htm .  I don't think losing a few scales is to serious but you should keep a close eye on the area for any signs of infection or worsening of the condition. Wound Control is an excellent product that is used topically for any loss of skin/scale integrity. This article should be helpful..... The Three Sets of Factors that Determine Livestock Health and FAQs:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm > My second question is about my water.  It clouds up after I've fed the fish and stays cloudy for a few hours and then clears... is this normal?   <Yes, I believe so.> Do I need a better filter (using Penguin 330 double wheel filter and a Top Fin 40)?   < A protein skimmer is a good idea in a marine tank of your size. Live rock would also be a good addition if you do not already have it. > The store says my water is fine and think that the fish are just stirring things up when eating... I'm just not sure. <That sounds right on.> Thanks for the help in advance. Denise <Your most welcome, Leslie>

Nitrates and Nitrites High (7-25-04) Hi, <Hello Leslie here> My nitrite and nitrate  are really high <Utto, that's not good. What is really high? > and I think it might be because we smoke and air is being pumped into the tank.   <Those levels have nothing to do with smoking or air being pumped into the tank. You may want to consider smoking outside or quitting it is really not good for you or your animals and I would turn your air pump back on, extra oxygenation is a good thing, especially with all the additive you have been using.> So I stopped that problem by turning off the air pump. <That will not help>   I do water changes <that's good> and place products in the tank to help the problem, but it does not seem to work. <pouring chemicals into your tank to remove waste products will not help either, those products  prolong the process and are just sort of a band aid. > You gave no tank details so without those it is difficult at best to diagnose the exact problem. Basically  there is to much waste in your tank and not enough biofiltration and nutrient export to handle it, which can be caused by any of the following ......incomplete cycling initially, adding to many fish at once or to soon, over stocking, over feeding,  over zealous cleaning,  and inadequate filtration.   Please  review  the following links on Nitrates http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm Nitrites: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no2probfaqs.htm Establishing Cycling: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm Biofiltration: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr1.htm Nutrient Control and export: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm and associated FAQs on each subject

DUSTY TANK 30 Jun 2004 hi crew, <Hi Steve> I have 2 questions for ya folks... First, I bought a nice, used 70 gal tank + stand and canopy along with tons of live sand. <Wow nice> Fact is that there is too much silt/dust and I'm starting to regret that I did not take care of this problem initially, now that I have my rocks nicely aquascaped and fish in there. Is there anything I can do besides taking all that sand out? <Is the dust problem only from the sand? Or is part of it from the rock as well? Is it the creatures living in it stirring the sand? Is it the tanks current? I do know people who have put in some crushed coral on top of spots where current hit the water directly. Or added a touch of a larger grade of sand to try to "hold it down".> My LFS recommended fine filter media that is 50 microns or less, which is logical but that didn't do much yet. I have come across a product called "Particle Clear" from a freshwater site, that will clump silt together to be heavy enough to sink. <There are similar salt water products. Please don't ever put one for freshwater in a saltwater tank. Could be big big problems.> Has anyone heard of this and is it safe for saltwater use? <The micron filter is a good idea. Also something like a poly filter might work. I cleared mine out by adding Caulerpa to the tank. All of the sand seemed to be attracted to the Caulerpa. There are also products available called Diatom filters that are very useful for clearing out a tank. I just recently had to use one at a conference to keep a tank clear after using Southdown sand.> Secondly, in this tank I have a copperband and a flame angel. I'm thinking of tearing down my other smaller coral display tank and move the inhabitants to this 70 gal. I have shrooms, zoos, and other mostly soft corals. Will it be safe to place them with these 2 fishes? I hear that copperband is the most reef safe of all butterflies and yet I think he ate 2 zoo polyps that I planted from the other tank <It is possible that either of them ate it.> (I was hoping they will propagate in the new tank). I assume he ate them since he is most prone to doing that. Besides these fishes I also have 3 clowns and a Mithrax emerald crab. Could they have been the culprit instead? <I think its very possible. Especially the crab who might just have moved or dropped them.> Your time and response is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.... <Good luck with this, MacL>

Salt water tank cloudy Bob I am hoping you can help me. I have gotten so many answers it is driving me crazy. Here we go.<You've got MikeD here>   I have a 100g tank which just cycled. It took about 2 months, not sure why. My tank has had a mild cloudiness from the get go.  I do not the the kind of clarity I see in stores, or other friends.   My filters are two Emperor 400, and a Prizm Skimmer.  The reason I use Emperor 400, is because an experienced guy, with 3 90G tanks, uses Emperor 400, and claims his tanks are crystal clear.  Another private store told me, it's my filtering system, and that I do not have the right filter, I should have Wet Dry Filter. When I called my experienced guy, he told me, they are just trying to sell me a 400 dollar filter system. He tells me it is my gravel, and to be patient, and to keep turning the gravel over, and cleaning the filters.<This sounds like the probable source right here. I believe you have fine substrate dust in suspension, and if you let your tank settle it should clear eventually> Some other guy, told me to change the water 20 percent weekly till it is clean.<Won't do any good as long as you keep stirring the substrate and putting more dust back into suspension> Remember the tank was cloudy to start, it was always the same, even after I cycled. The 6 Blue Damsels have been with me from the beginning. I believe you call stock the fish you buy.  These fish were just recently bought, and all seems well with tank, fish are happy, were a happy family, my issue is the cloudiness.<one other suggestion...some stores will rent out a Diatom Filter,  which is basically a miniature swimming pool filter that utilizes a diatomaceous earth filter medium and removes particles as small as .1 micron. I knew the gentleman that invented these almost 30 years ago, and they are still an excellent cleaning tool. I suspect if you were to rent one, use the DE filter medium not the plain cartridge) and run it overnight your tank would be crystal clear. Stock: 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Dog face puffer, 1 Bird Wrasse, 1 Flame Angel Fish, 1 Maroon Clown Fish, 6 Blue Damsels, 2 Blue Stripe Gobies.<You may regret the damselfish not too far down the road. Small, but very aggressive> My gravel was a in the tank when I bought it from a friend.   I recently purchased two live rock, about 8 pounds total, because I was told this would solve the problem, but that I needed about 40 pounds.<At least. Many people suggest 1lb/3 gal. and it will be a gradual solution, not a fast acting one...in fact your tank probably had a mini-cycle again when you added it, and the same for your fish if they were added all at once.  One or two at a time is best. Are you running a quarantine tank for new purchases, although your fish will grow so that you have maxed out now.> Bob, that is it in a nutshell.  I have some coral reef, and other stuff like wreck ship, pirate stuff. The tank is beautiful setup, but the cloudy water is driving me up a wall.<if you stop stirring the gravel that will help, and running a diatom filter overnight is almost guaranteed.....one last question just occurred to me...what are you using for food? If not thoroughly rinsed, frozen brine, mysis, krill, etc. will have oils in them that will keep the water cloudy as well>   As far as the chemical, nitrites, etc.  All I can say is, I just took a cup of my water to Petco, and they tested everything, and told me the tank is in perfect cycled condition. All my figures are where they are suppose to be.<As long as the employee that ran the test knew what he/she was doing, great! If not, that could be another Ooops> Jay

- Making Adjustments - Thanks for all the help you have given me in the past. I usually can find an answer to anything I need. Sometimes more than I need but that may be just a mental problem on my part. <No... it is our intention to "lead" folks on... to encourage their learning what they may not have considered, but related material. RMF> My 55G has been doing great, one fish, live rock, snails and crabs and a few corals and lots of growth. My coralline algae is doing great. My question is what would be the order I should adjust my levels in my tank. Ca 560 too high Kh 120  too high PH 8.6  too high SG 1.024 Temp 82 I know they are interrelated and I am not sure where the best place to start. <I'd start by examining your replacement water, both before and after you add the salt. Could be it's already high in alkalinity, or otherwise. Also, if you haven't already done so, I'd stop any supplementation. Is possible you can affect a change with water changes, but more will be known once you test. Also, test the pH of your tank a couple of times a day, including first thing in the morning, and before you go to bed - work out an average - could be the pH is more normal than you think.>  My tank has been doing great and I don't want to screw it up. Thanks in advance for your help. <Cheers, J -- >

Smoke In The Water...Or Clouds In His Eyes, Or...(Cloudy Water) Found your web site a week ago and you guys are great. Could you please tell my any ideas to why my water looks smoky?  If you guys don't know I don't think anybody will. Thank you. <Shh! Don't tell anyone, but we don't know everything! But we do have some pretty dedicated and experienced people working here! Cloudy water can have a variety of causes, ranging from debris in the water column to bacterial clouding. Could even be an algae bloom of some sort. The possibilities are many. I'd start looking into things like clogged mechanical filtration media, recent additions of sand that were not washed properly, or a number of other possibilities. Without seeing the tank or hearing lots of specifics on the set up, I regret that I'm reduced to just guessing! Do a little research on the areas that I suggested here, and that might get you started. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

- Water Quality Issues - Kind Sir, Thank you for your help, but I think maybe IM confused I sent my water to a lab and they sent me back the results. You asked for more info on my tank and I sent it but you never shared your insight on my Diatom problem. <Hmm... I am not the person who got to read that information you sent so I'm at a bit of a loss to explain.> If my copper is so high why is all my inverts alive still? <It's what's known as a chronic condition - not immediately fatal, but will be over a long time.> and please look again at my test from the lab and tell me if you think its because of silicates. <It's? Do you mean the diatom problem - perhaps, hard to say for certain. Otherwise... consider using fewer indefinite pronouns... what is "it" that you are referring to.> Do you think I should get a RO/DI? <Yes, I would consider it.> IM going nuts now thinking everything will die? <If you continue using this water... then probably yes - the presence of the small amount of copper is a potential long-term problem.> Since IM still using my well water.  thanks again IM using well water. Please tell me if you see anything wrong and can explain if my silica readings are high thank you for all your help. pH 6.5  PHOSPHATE <0.01 PPM  NITRATE 2.9 PPM ALK 66.3 PPM  IRON <0.01 PPM  COPPER  0.66 PPM  this is the part i don't understand. <What's to not understand? 0.66 PPM is less than one part per million parts - that's not really a lot of copper when you stop and think about it.> silica liquid =15   detection limit mg/l 1.0? is 15  bad? <I honestly don't know.> and then silicon liquid =5.6  detection limit mg/l 0.10 <Cheers, J -- > <<RMF comment: 0.66 ppm of free cupric ion is actually real trouble... but, depending on the sample was treated, the actual copper content of the water may be very different... I doubt if there is this much Cu++ present. Nonetheless I would use some type of chemical filtrant here and look into better source water>>

New set up with cloudy water (5/28/04) Hi I'm sure you have covered this topic but I'm afraid I can't find an answer. I'll try and be brief. I have a new set up.....100gl Tenecor tank with 'sea swirls', halogen, attinic and moon light, sump with Euro skimmer, heaters, chiller, Neptune controller. I invested $10,000 so I believe it's a perfect set up. <Sounds very nice!!> The tank occupants include live rock, sand and detritus crew. The tank has been up and running since March 1st 2004. The problem I'm having is cloudy water. I'm told this is normal and can last for as much as six months. It does seem to be clearing a little but some people I have talked with say that it's strange that it's still cloudy. I can only see approximately 6" into the tank. I'm using RO water and all my tests seem spot on.  Do I just wait or do I have a problem? < You may have a bacterial bloom, not necessarily a problem per say. If you are not using carbon the addition would help along with small frequent water changes of about 5% twice a week. Hope this helps,  Leslie > Best Regards Grant

System Eliminates Need For Water Changes? Too Good To Be True! Hi all, first time at asking you guys anything, though I've gained tremendous knowledge from your site up to this point. <Glad you've enjoyed the site! We're thrilled to bring it to you each day!> As for my 2 questions. I've seen reference on several forums as to a member named Kdodds that has a setup that "naturally" filters the water, making water changes unnecessary. Has this system ever been outlined? If so, could someone please direct me to a thread, or link to this. If not, would it be possible to outline it, so that it might be a consideration for others? <Not familiar with this individual or theory. To be quite honest, short of an "open" system, which flows water in and out directly from the ocean, I don't think that there is a system that makes water changes unnecessary. Quite frankly, I'm not sure why everyone is seeking a system that eliminates the need for water changes. DO our animals truly benefit? I think not! Let's face it-when we keep fishes in closed systems, water changes are necessary. Period. And they are really not difficult. Not even taking into account the need to properly export organics from the tank water, I question how such a system can replenish and maintain a proper balance of trace elements and minerals in the system. Just adding trace elements is really problematic...How do you know how much of a given element has been used up? And at what rate? If people would spend more time trying to propagate marine animals and less time trying to cook up schemes and additives to avoid water changes, we'd see an even greater diversity of fantastic captive-bred animals in the hobby, and the need to harvest from the ocean would be greatly reduced! That's my two cents on the issue!> Secondly... I live in the southeast, and as most everyone knows by now, Southdown/Yardright/Old Castle sand appears to only be sold in the northeast. At least, it isn't sold anywhere around here. So, I am setting up a 72G All-Glass bowfront, predrilled, with an oceanic sump system below, a Kent Nautilus TE skimmer powered by mag drive pump, and a second Mag Drive to force the return back into the tank. We had the Oceanic sump's optional sectioned glass top custom cut to accomodate the hulking size of the Kent skimmer, hoping to still cut down on salt leaching out of the sump area and cutting down on evaporation. We are planning fish only, and realistically, due to budget constraints, will most likely add no more than 20lbs, 40lbs at the outside most, of live rock, and even this will have to be done across time. We have the tank set up and the sump plumbed, finally... we will be using Instant Ocean salt, and currently have 40 lbs of Aragalive sand and 25lbs of Ultra Reef dolomite. From various reading, I've seen that I should be shooting for a 4-5" sandbed. <If you are seeking denitrification, this is a good depth to start with> 4-4 1/2" will probably be more realistic, in order to not take up so much volume in the tank with substrate alone. Obviously, for that much of a sandbed, I will need additional substrate. As mentioned before, money is always a concern, so, with Southdown and its many aliases being unavailable to me, what, if any, are my options on padding the sandbed size without breaking the bank? I've read in a couple of places that most any cleaned, sanitized play sand could be used, particularly if used as a bottom layer to the other media, but I wanted to run it by the experts first, before making a big mistake that could cost me far more in both money and time to correct. <Well, you want to avoid silica-based sands, as they can fuel tremendous nuisance algae blooms over time. I'd go for an aquarium-specific aragonite sand. Yes, it may be a bit more expensive, but the long-term benefits of this material are worth it.> Thanks, in advance, for any help that you can give. Eric <My pleasure, Eric. Keep in mind that there is no one "right" way to do things. I'm offering opinions and advice based on my experiences, and what I have found to work for me over time. Take any an all advice with a grain of salt, but do turn a very skeptical ear to anyone who tells you that their system or product "eliminates water changes". Better to develop conscientious husbandry habits for your aquarium, instead. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Problem tank - 5/3/04 Well, I just had to write to tell you about my visit with the "fish guy". <Oh??> I told him all the problems I'd been having since we started chatting, and you know how many problems that is! <Yep, yep, yep!> Well, he took the ph and ammonia readings. That's it! <Huh?> He didn't have a test for the ALK, nor for the salinity nor the calcium, phosphorous, etc. Need I go on? <Weird!> He told me "your system looks great. It's skimming, and your ph is 8.2. Looks like you're in good shape here." <Hmmmm I wonder if you might be more skeptical of your skills. Another opinion thinks your tank looks great?.....>  In my mind I said, "Whaaaaaa?"  I said to him, "if the alk is consistently low, then this system is not stable. <Correct> And what about my bleached out corals, could that not be a calcium or a nutritional issue? Could they have possibly expelled their symbiotic algae?" He peered into the tank as if he were searching for something, very seriously, and said, "do you have any brittle stars in here?" <Oh...he was looking for something dying or expelling some sort of toxin....part of troubleshooting though>  (again, my mind said, (Whaaaaaa?") He said, "they are sand sifters you know." <Uh......OK> Then he said, "how many hours do you keep the lights on?" I looked at him and said,....."if you're not equipped to handle reef aquaria, then I don't think you shouldn't advertise as such." He said,. "oh, we do reefs exclusively!" <Sounds like he may not be the guy to choose for your tank> I said, .."thank you very much for your time, what do I owe you?' Can you believe this one Paul? <Not good> What a joke! He had no clue what he was doing, and didn't answer a single question! <Too bad. Any others out there?> Finally, he told me there was no charge because he didn't do anything. I said,." you're right, you didn't. Have a nice day!" <BAMMM!!!! SMACK!!! OUCH!!>>>>>> So, I will continue to read and learn and perfect this environment for my precious captives. <Good idea. Always good for a second opinion. Any reef clubs within an hours drive?> That is my promise. I just bought a new book titled, "AQUARIUM CORALS" By Eric H. Borneman. <One of my favorite books> Whoa, what a book. <Right?> I'm reading one page at a time and taking notes. In just 35 pages, I've learned quite a bit. <Good resource> Thanks for listening Paul! <No problem ~Paul. Just an Fyi this is my last few days on the site for the next month or so.> Pam

Whacky Readings (5/1/04) I don't get it.... <Me neither>   My ph is around 8.5 When I measure the alkalinity its off the charts. They say to add a by the dropper till the water turns from blue to pink, it doesn't do that until I unload about 2 syringes full. <Is this a Salifert test?> Reading the chart that would make my alkalinity in meq/L about 11 and the KH value in dKH 28. Can this be right, if so how did that happen (I use a water softener and a RO/DI) Everything says about raising pH and alkalinity but how do you lower the alkalinity if the PH is fine. The pH from my tap and out of the RO/DI is very high (I have very very very hard water)  The TDS out of the RO/DI is 50-75 and the PH is 8.4   The tank is indeed new with only live rock and mushroom and 1 button coral. I have not added fish yet till I think the tank is in good condition. <Smart> Ammonia Nitrates and Nitrites are all low to zero so the tank is cycled. Also, some of the coralline algae is green, it looks likes the pink/purple stuff but its green, is it a bad algae cause my phosphate tests show color. <You have phosphate in your water? Strange with you not having fish. Perhaps your RO/DI unit is not working right. I'd mix up some fresh saltwater and test it for alkalinity and phosphates. You should be able to find info on excessive alkalinity by searching WWM.> thanks guys, love ya mark <Hope this helps. Steve Allen><<RMF thinks the test kits are non-functional... and and/or the RO/DI device as well>>

Cloudy Water? (4/27/04)  Hi Michael!  Thanks for the quick reply! <Anytime, sorry for not being as quick on this one> I came home from work today and noticed  that the water is a little bit cloudy. Nothing too much to worry about, but not as clear as it normally is. Is this normal? <In a new tank, yes> I took out the poly-filter, but haven't done anything else. Could it be the PhosGuard or Purigen clouding up the water a little? <Nope, probably just a bacterial bloom or small particulates. Had this happen in my tank, and purchased an H.O.T. magnum HOB canister filter. Crystal clear in about 6 hours :)>  Thank you again! <Anytime>  Jeff <M. Maddox>

Clearing Cloudy Water  Hello fish people....  <Hey! Scott F. your fish person tonight>  I have a 55-gallon tank and a Fluval 304 trying to clean it. My fish are all quite well and active, and all my levels are perfect, but the water is always a little bit cloudy, and yellowish to the minutest degree.. I have inert play sand as a substrate.. could this be the cloudiness culprit?  <Very well could be. Some of the material in the sand can take months to settle out. The yellowish color can be caused by a variety of things, ranging from dissolved organics to diatoms in the water>  My Fluval filter is broken down as follows: first come 2 foam pads, then comes the 1st media tray containing carbon, 2nd media tray containing carbon and ceramic rings, and the 3rd media tray containing ceramic rings...My question is: Can I layer each media tray with some filter floss, and put the media on top of it (if so how many inches of floss can I put) and what type of  floss or micron filter is the best for this?  <Personally, I'd go for more carbon than filter floss, as carbon has superb absorption capabilities. Floss is good for removing gross particulate, but removing the cloudiness that you describe is better handled by carbon. I also am a big fan of Poly Filter for many of the same reasons. Regardless of what media you use, be sure to replace them regularly, or they can become a source of accumulation for the very substances that you're trying to remove>  ..I'm looking for mechanical media that will catch the really small stuff...The reason I ask if I can layer each media basket with floss is that I don't know if this will be too much for the filter pump to handle (Fluval 304 is for 75 gallons, mine is only 55)..  <Good point. Another good idea might be to use the "micron filter bags" that are found at many e-tailers these days to catch gross particulate. These are usually used in sump setups, at the bottom of a standpipe, so it may take some creativity to apply them to your system>  Also I'm tired of having carbon media in my tank.. It is a planted tank and I think I will do fine without it, and my plants will get more goodies without the carbon.. What can I put in its stead?  <Well, I still like Poly Filter. I suppose that you can even use peat fibers to help absorb some particulate, even though its primary purpose in aquaria is to condition the water through release of tannic and humic acids. It will color the water slightly brown, too! This can be beneficial to your plants, of course.>  Thanks for your help  <Glad to assist! Regards, Scott F.>

Not Clouds In His Eyes- Clouds In His Tank!  Hello to the crew,  <Scott F. here!>  I am just wondering if it is normal for my marine aquarium to be clearer at certain times of the day. I have a tank that has been setup for about 6/7 weeks and is running nice. I have coral sand, ocean rock and a few bits of live rock. I have a handful of red legged hermit crabs, some turbo snails, a single blue/green reef Chromis, a couple of blue cheek gobies and a sand sifting starfish.  Everything is very healthy and in general running well. I have an external Eheim II Pro canister filter and an Aqua-medic protein skimmer. I am using a couple of Marine White Arcadia lights also.  Our lights are on a timer so they come on at 12pm and go off at 11:30pm. By about 9pm, the water is the clearest, even then, not what I would call crystal clear, but certainly in the morning, it appears a little cloudy and takes a while to clear.  Is this normal? I am just wondering if its typical with new (ish) aquariums and whether this will change later on in its life.  Any info appreciated.  <Well, it's hard to say what is causing this. Chronic cloudy water is generally a sign of some form of trouble. However, in your instance, since it's just at a certain time of the day, it may be something as simple as the fact that one of your animals is busy during the night stirring up the substrate. Or, it could even be a zooplankton swarm, or the release of sexual products by spawning snails or other life forms. Continuous use of activated carbon, and occasional use of the commonly available "micron filter socks" can often reduce or eliminate cloudiness entirely. Of course, do examine potential root causes, such as overfeeding, excessive dosing of supplements, incompletely dissolved salt mix, etc.>  PS. I have had an initial outbreak of Cyano algae which is gradually clearing - maybe something to do with it?  <Possibly, but this is a very common problem in newly-established systems, and can be rapidly eliminated with aggressive nutrient export processes that we advocate on the WWM site. Search for the source, and try one of the suggestions above! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

The Importance Of High Water Quality Hi. <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I really like your site.  Lots of good info.  I have a 30 Gal. Salt with 1 coral reef light, 1 Prizm Protein Skimmer and one Aquamaster 350 aerating power filter.  I got the tank at Christmas (cheers to the wife!!) and had it cycle for about 3 weeks prior to putting anything in it.  I slowly added 5 lbs of live rock and then 2 damsels.  After about a week I added a Goby, a feather duster, a snail and 3 crabs.  About a week later, I put in 1 Orange Clown and one Yellow Clown.  That is when the trouble started.  The yellow clown started chasing everything around. <Different species of clownfish can be rather territorial, particularly in a smaller system> I added a fake plant for the others to hide in and that helped.  About 2 weeks later, I added a small Angelfish.  So - to recap for ya -2 Damsels,1 yellow clown, 1 Red Clown, 1 Angelfish, 1 Goby 3 crabs, 1 snail, 2 Hermit crabs. <Wow! To be quite frank, that is a very large bioload for a 30 gallon tank, particularly when you take into account the fact that the actual water capacity in this tank (when you take into account the displacement caused by rock, sand, etc.) may be much less.> After this was all going for about 2 months, I added a Dwarf Lion. <Ohh...a bad choice in this tank...> It died in 48 hours.  After that I started to have a bad brown algae problem.  This is was coincidental to the lion dying, and I think It was caused by the tank getting hit by sunlight. <Well, algae is caused by nutrients AND light. Light alone will not cause nuisance algae blooms. You didn't mention anything about your water quality parameters, but I'll bet that you have considerable phosphate and nitrate levels in there. A smaller tank with a heavy bioload is a surefire way to grow lots of algae. Do review the WWM site for information regarding nutrient export and other ways to lower the level of dissolved organics in your tank> But, after the lion died I started to notice small strands of hair like junk on my rocks and other items. <Sounds like some sort of algae) Then my fish started to die one by one.  I got to the Yellow clown before it was eaten by the crabs.  It had what looked like fungus or light fur all over it.  The eyes were cloudy also. <Well, it's impossible to be certain, but if you are talking about a possible bacterial or fungal infection, it is quite possible that water quality played a role in the fish's demise> My feather duster and crabs are fine.  The little amount of hitchhiker coral I have looks good.  I have not put any new fish in the tank, did a major cleaning, am changing 5 Gallons of water every 4 days and moved the tank out of the sun.   <Good moves. You should, however, devote a bit of thought as to what may have caused the algae problems and disease in the first place. By improving overall water quality, you will create a less stressful environment for your fishes, and provide less nutrient load to "feed" nuisance algae> What do you think happened and what should I do at this point? <As above, go on an aggressive campaign to embrace regular water changes (with high quality source water, such as RO/DI), use of activated carbon or Poly Filter, adjusting stocking level, etc. Consistency in procedure is very important!> Also - I have never been a fan of using a lot of chemicals. <Neither have I!> The only thing I have add was Prime Dechlor by Seachem. I hope to hear from you soon.  Could you please respond to this e- address? Thanks for your help. Eric "The Fish Killer" Schnellmann <Hang in there, Eric! You won't need to keep that Fish Killer" moniker for too long. You're learning more every day! Just take a few fundamental steps to improve overall water quality and husbandry, and I'll bet that the problems you mention will be a thing of the past. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Clearing The Clouds (Cloudy Water)  Dear Mr. Fenner, (crew too!!!)  <Scott F. your Crew member today!>  Thank you for your wonderful website and your book the Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Both have gotten me a far way in this most terrific of hobbies. I am now stumped, and a little frightened. First, my setup:  1) 75 gal saltwater reef  2) Filstar XP 3 with carbon, mechanical and around 1 Liter of porous bio-rock.  3) 370 W of PC lighting, 260 W x 6 hrs and 370 W x 6 hrs per day.  4) Seaclone (Aquarium Systems) venturi fractionator.  5) 9W UV-Sterilizer  6) Around 50 lbs live rock.  7) Around 2-3 in fine (not sand) bed.  8) Abundant Caulerpa  Quarantine  20 gal basic setup with Penguin and carbon  Stock  9) 1 True tank-raised Percula (Bozo)  10) 1 Royal Gramma (The Dahli-Gramma)  11) 1 Dusky Jawfish (Rocky)  12) 1 Algae Blenny (Jessie the Vegan)  13) 1 Green Clown Goby (Moe)  <Priceless names...>  Inverts  14) Small Hermits (The Rockettes) and Snails  multifarious  15) Two anemone crabs (Tina and Ginger)  16) Two porcelain crabs  17) Hairy Lobster (Lily)  <Sheesh- love the names!>  Corals  17) Propagated Xenia (doing great 4 mo around)  18) Pagoda Cup (doing great, 1 mo around)  19) Yellow Leather (comes out for 6 hrs per day)  20) Propagated Derasa Clam (doing great, 2 mo around)  21) Flame Scallop (doing great, 4 mo around)  22) Mushrooms, multifarious (doing well, 6 mo around)  23) Star Polyps (doing great, 2 mo)  24) Rose Bubble Tip Anemone (1.5 wks around)  <Good- I would have been afraid of you if you had names for them!>  Levels  In general, I am nominal zero in the following  Ammonia  Nitrate  Nitrite  Ph 8.3, sometimes dips to 8.0  Hardness 6-8 usually  Calcium, usually around 380- ish  Today - Ammonia 0  Nitrate 0  Nitrite 0  Ph 8.3  Hardness 6.5  Diet:  30 ml a and b of B-Ionic each morning  2 tsp of Plankton twice a week.  Seachem reef supplement once a week.  1.5 tsp of Iodine once per week.  small serving of brine shrimp and emerald diet once per evening for the fish. Phew, ok, now onto the real problem.  We have had this reef for around 6 months now, and it so far has done terrific. We have attempted to research most all of our purchases for compatibility, have quarantined stock, and basically have only had one ich infestation, that we took care of right away, fallow method.  <Good job!>  Around 1.5 weeks ago, we acquired a Rose Anemone to add to our tank. He has actually shunned light, and has been hanging out near the top where the light does not shine directly at him. Last night his tentacles were longer and stringier than usual, so we  figured he was searching for food. We fed him a 1/8 x 1/8 x 1/8 in chunk of fresh frozen table shrimp into his tentacles. He immediately accepted the food and we went to bed. This morning the tank was very cloudy and it almost seemed like there were small solid colloids suspended in the water. (BTW, yesterday, I noticed our Caulerpa which looks like a fern (I have forgotten the name) became very porous, and went through a large die off, this has happened before though, and I am not certain is  germane to what's going on right now, just thought I would mention it though, if it was) I have no idea what is going on, and from what I read on WetWebMedia, the most likely candidate that I see is overfeeding (even though I thought it was a small piece.)  WetWebMedia (Anthony Calfo) also suggested to others such things as noxious gametes, spawning, and the like. This seems like it is improbable to me, since the anemone is still so new in our system.  <Well, it is quite possible that the anemone did release a large amount of waste material as part of its "settling in" period. And, yes- the Caulerpa "going sexual" is certainly a possibility...>  I more likely think that the anemone has dissolved the shrimp offered, and inadvertently, has sent molten shrimp into the tank community. Please let me know if this sounds reasonable, or if there is something else going on.  <Well, it could be a combination of things, such as the event I suggested, and the possibility that you propose here. If it were me, I'd really make sure that your protein skimmer is working hard. Do keep monitoring water quality parameters>  I am only picking on the anemone, since everything else has always thrived in the tank w/o anything like this happening. This morning when I found the problem, I immediately did a 40-45% water change, using carbon filtered water and temperature /  salinity stabilized water (I must admit, I have not yet invested in RO/DI and holding tanks, my apologies, I promise to get around to it soon.)  <That's quite okay- but an RO/DI unit is a great investment...>  I am also thinking of heavily carboning the water for the next couple days, (it already runs some carbon). Are these appropriate actions? What else should I do?  <I think that you are handling things just fine. My other suggestion might be to run some Poly Filter as well, as this material excels at removal of dissolved organics. You would also be well advised to embrace a stepped-up water change procedure, like my ad-nauseum- recommended 5% twice weekly habit. This can help dilute whatever this material is without being too dramatic for the animals>  Thank you very much, this is my first time writing to you at WetWebMedia, and I hope that your prompt reply will help me out before I loose stock (not just stock, my little family).   Yours, Peter Kirk - Boulder, CO  <Well, Peter- Think that your good, decisive actions and excellent insight into what's occurring in your tank will continue to benefit you and your little pals! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Through The Clouds (Cloudy Tank Water) I had fallen out of the SW hobby for about 5 years and decided to start up a 30 gallon mini reef.   I added sand, pH Booster (constantly till my pH was 8.3), and reef supplements (carbonate, iodine, etc).  I use an Emperor 400 with 2 power heads (for now) for filtration and circulation.  My specific gravity is 1.024 at 79 degrees F.  I added 15 lbs of live rock and have had the tank running for about 3 weeks now with no fish.  My water is still very cloudy.  Any ideas to combat this or just more patience? Patrick  C. Hand <Well, Patrick- could be a number of factors contributing to the cloudiness. The first, and most obvious, would be that the sand was not washed enough. If you used a product like "Southdown" sand, cloudiness can linger for some time. Also, many supplements may not fully dissolve, and could also contribute to the cloudiness. Biological activity is also a possibility, especially if you have used uncured live rock. Remember, also, not to add anything to the water that you aren't testing for. My recommendation for combating this cloudiness would be to try two things: First, do utilize activated carbon in your filter. If you are already using some, do consider replacing the media. Also, consider changing some water in the tank; often, this will do the trick. Above all, be patient, observe your tank carefully, and I'm sure that things will work out okay! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Cloudy water? i have had my 29gal  FO (1 niger trigger, 1 Picasso trigger, and 1 yellow tang all juveniles)<wow this is definitely too many potentially large fish in only a 29 gallon aquarium> set up since aug03, with in the last 2 months the water has gotten cloudy (clear) here are my test numbers nitrate 2.5 nitrite .01 ammonia .25 pH 8.2 temp 80 salinity 1.021. it has gotten better after a water change, but then gets cloudy again. i have live sand, and crushed coral for the bedding. a power head running, and a whisper 20-40 filter running. all the LFS have no ideas. any suggestions? <I would use a PolyFilter or activated carbon...it might do the trick...IanB> Lacking Clarity Bob, <Ryan in his shoes> We have 5 saltwater aquariums. The latest one we set up is an Oceanic 46 bowfront and it is slightly cloudy.  We have 7 years experience with saltwater aquariums and thought we knew everything about them but we continue to learn. <The best thing about this hobby!> We never had this problem before but this is the first tank that we set up with just a hang over Emperor 400 filtration system. It is in it's 4th week of cycling now with 2 damsels and 15 pounds of live rock. It had some phosphate problems so I put a bag of Phos Guard in the filter after about 2 weeks into the cycling. That is when we started to notice that it is just not crystal clear like our other tanks. (which do all have different filtration systems.) I guess my question is what things make a tank look like you spilled a couple of tablespoons of milk in them? I thought maybe the white came off the phos guard so I now have taken that out and put an extra carbon/floss filter in that slot to try to absorb what ever this white stuff is. <You're doing the right thing.  My guess would be that small bacteria are feeding on something in the water column, and will pass with the use of carbon and water changes.  Don't be scared to change the water because it's new!  Good luck, I see clear days in your future! Ryan> Lesa Houston, Texas

Film? Hello, <Hi there> I've got a Big Film problem, I cant get rid of the film on top of the water. I've tried my jets nothing I've tried my Prizm skimmer nothing. Nothing seems to be working. I've even tried paper towels to get rid of it but nothing seems to be working. What could be wrong? What could i do?   Thanx <First, look for a source of this surface film... could be inside or outside the system... fish foods, aerosols from cooking... and try to cut it back. The present material may best be removed by dipping a pitcher in the tank at an angle... and you might find a "surface skimmer" attachment of an intake to the filter (mechanical if you have some) like the Eheim attachment (see their site) may be a good idea. But do keep the film from covering the tank water surface! Bob Fenner>

Water Quality and supplementation 2/6/04  Hi, if I do a 10 gallon water change on my 75 gallon tank (reef), every two weeks, would I still need to add calcium and buffer? Also, does SeaChem calcium contain strontium? Thanks, Adam  <this is too small of a water change schedule by any measure (please do a larger monthly water change or perhaps simply that 10 gall weekly). As to the need for dosing, if you will succeed in this hobby, please understand from go the need to use your test kits regularly. The systems need for calcium and buffer can only be determined by testing and then comparing to see how much water change and/or supplements are needed to meet the demand. Best of luck, Anthony>

Finding The Right Values? I ordered my LR a week or so ago to be delivered on Wednesday of this week. I had my water running for a week previous to ordering and everything seemed to be progressing well. I became alarmed yesterday, when I found that my ph was still 8.0. It hasn't moved an inch for a week. I know that ph is lower when there are no lights on the tank and my main lights have not yet come. I have been using a small leftover 10K 20W fluorescent for a few days thinking it would raise the ph after the day cycle but no luck. I started two weeks ago using Seachem buffer and builder, and then recently switched (5 days ago) to b-ionic 2 part calc/alk at night and buffering with the buffer at mid day. Since starting the 2 part, my alkalinity has risen steadily and is now at a whopping 6 meq/l (or 16.8 dKH if my conversion is correct). My calcium levels can't seem to reach over 325ppm, but this being acceptable is not a big deal at this point. I think maybe the light isn't strong enough to raise ph, or maybe the few hours (3-4) that I use it isn't long enough. I used RO/DI water and have heard it is harder to stabilize, but jeez. Would it have anything to do with the buffer I'm using. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately due to my ignorance, the buffer also raises alkalinity by a supposed 1 meq/l with each dose, so I don't want to overdue it on the alk considering I am also using the 2 part buffer system. Thanks in advance for your support. Eric Witschen  <Well, Eric, I'd avoid any more additives or buffers at this point. Let's see what the pH looks like once you get some more light in there. B-Ionic is great stuff, IMO, and will do a super job if used according to manufacturer's instructions. Keep it simple and continue monitoring these parameters. Don't get too caught up on hitting perfect numbers- look at how the overall system is doing. As long as the animals are doing well, and as long as the water parameters are within generally-accepted normal ranges, I think that things should work out fine. Regards, Scott F>

Very cloudy particles in water 2/2/04 we have just set up a 100 gallon percula 120 marine tank. all I have done so far is fill with ro water and added salt to sg 1.020. we seem to have a lot of very fine particles making the water cloudy. what is this? is it a bad batch of water? poor quality salt we used Kent sea salt) a problem with the tank or will it clear as the filter matures. thank you. <This is totally normal and very common.  It will go away with time.  If you are just getting started, I strongly recommend "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Bob Fenner for a good beginner salt water book.>

Hi Bill and Tracy, <What did your nitrate and alkalinity test at, how much do you feed, and how old is the aquarium? Do you add any buffers to the aquarium? Elevated nitrate is often a sign that something is not being broken down. Crush coral will often cause detritus, which will then start to decay in the aquarium and produce nitrate. Some mechanical filtration, such as wet/dry filters, will also tend to cause excess amounts of nitrate. A large biological load (or, a lot of fish) will also cause elevated nitrate levels. There are so many possibilities. Water changes will help will lowering your nitrate level. Adding on a refugium (a tank connected to your main aquarium which houses various species of algae which will consume nitrate) will also lower nitrate. As far as alkalinity comes, its certainly not going to be an extreme danger for your livestock. I've kept my alkalinity in my aquarium around 14dKH without any problems. Knowing the exact nitrate and alkalinity level will help, along with knowing more about your setup in general. I hope this helps. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to email us back.> Take Care, Graham Stephan

Water quality - Graham Stephan OK , thanks for your input. I have tested for phosphate in the top off water ( de chlorinated tap water ) and it shows none / very minute amount. Tank test show nothing. The razor Caulerpa is growing but not very fast and small amounts of Kent's Iron is added ( 1 tablespoon every other week ) I first thought the iron was starting the bloom however experiments have ruled this out.. All the fish are happy so I guess I will just go with the flow so to speak and maybe not buy that expensive bottle of phytoplankton. Once again thanks for your input. Just a thought .... what about a spot light on the WWM crews tanks ? Maybe a little bio and a pic of one of your tanks. I am always interested in how the pro's do it. Before I built my set-up I must have spent 4 months or so looking at designs on the net. I still came up with my own design however the pictures were very valuable. <Hi Kevin, you're in luck. We already have an area which explains about everyone in the WetWebMedia crew and a possible picture/description of their aquarium. Look at the following link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/wwmcrew.htm Take Care! Graham> Once again thank you. Kev

Clearing The Clouds! I found out that my tank was becoming cloudy. Was told it was too much toilet mess in the tank, so I bought a stone hover and cleaned my tank stones and replaced the water with tap safe water.  I would like to know how often do I need to replace the water with tap safe water. Please help me - I don't wish to lose anymore fish.     <Well, I'm a big fan of frequent, small water changes. I recommend 5% of tank volume twice weekly. If you can get into this habit, your tank will really sparkle! On the other hand, do look into what has caused the cloudiness to begin with- overfeeding, too many fish, insufficient filtration/circulation, etc. Correct the problem, and things should really start looking up! Regards, Scott F>

- Newbie Nervousness - Hi Again, I have a small problem, well I'm unsure if it is but as a newbie I worry terribly if everything isn't as it should be. I set up my new 75 gallon on Sunday, filled and mixed salt, I used Kent Sea Salt, currently the vitals are: Temp: 75f SG:1.026 (I know it's a tad high, but rectifying) <Only a tad... shouldn't be a big cause for concern.> PH: 8.3 I have the Eheim 2260 and the Fluval 204 running well, both packed with sintered glass media and floss, I've placed 4 large cocktail prawns in the system for cycling as the live rock here is very expensive ?200 per 20kg! <Egads! Well... do try to get your hands on some of this when you can... it's really worth every penny.> I think that's like 325 dollars or something! Basically initially the water was crystal clear, I put the substrate down (1-1.5 inches of coral gravel 2-4mm). <You put the gravel in after everything else?> But today I woke to find the tank very milky, could the coral gravel be causing this cloudiness? <Quite likely, especially if the gravel was the last thing into the tank.> It was all washed very thoroughly, also the external filters outlets in the tank are covered in bubbles, I brush them off but the reappear a few minutes later, the skimmer return does cause turbulence but not much and the filter returns are submerged causing only light rippling, I know my setup is like extremely new but this really is bothering me, I've tried turning of the 2260 as the return is quite hefty, but no difference, please can you help, or am I just being crazy?! <You are being crazy... be patient instead, give things a chance to settle down... as you said, the tank is very new.> I really want this to work but I feel like im failing at something already, what can I do? <Breathe deeply and relax. Give the tank some time.> Sincerely George :-) <Cheers, J -- >

White particles in tank  12/16/03 Hi, After reading thru the forum and seeing a few unanswered similar questions i thought i would ask you directly for help. I have a 65gal reef tank with 70lbs of live sand and 52lbs of live rock. I am using a wet/dry rated up to 125gal with a Rio2500 pump, a skimmer, and uv sterilizer.  The tank is 9weeks old. The water is not cloudy per se, but i am seeing a lot of white particles floating around. I figure i would see some cause of the fish disturbing the sand, but this is quite a bit more than that. I tried redirecting the water flow as well as slowing the water flow but no luck.   <the material is probably just random "Stuff". Sand, detritus, bacterial flock, etc. and is a common concern in new aquaria.> Do I need an extra filter, perhaps a canister style?  How are people keeping the tank clear?? <The "stuff" will most likely go away on it's own or cease to bother you.  If it bothers you, I would consider a simple mechanical filter like a filter bag or some "filter floss" until the stuff goes away.> Please help me before i waste my money buying items that won't help! <please do spare yourself the expense of any special equipment just for this purpose.  The stuff isn't anything to be concerned about and if you have to remove it, and inexpensive way of filtering it can be improvised.  Adam> Ben

Heavy metals... including ferrous, in a marine system Hi, I have asked you guys questions before, but this one takes the cake. I have a 55 gal, 4 months, 11 LR, skimmer, Penguin 330, all levels very good, no copper.  Ok, in the past I have asked questions in reference to water filters since my DS reading is over 500 coming out of the tap. I had some misconceptions about resin filters and I didn't understand at the time that if a filter is spent that it actually rendered worse water then to begin with. I didn't have a DS meter at the time and I was actually replacing my tank water with water that had a DS of 560 or more. Oooh!!! Well the interesting thing is that my fish didn't seem to notice. I have Chromis, Goby's, Blennies, Damsels, and a horseshoe crab.           I bought a chocolate chip starfish and even though he was in the water from hell he lived for almost a month. The one that I bought to replace him only lived a few days, I tried hermit crabs, they only lasted a few days. The fish are fine, and I think the horseshoe is also. I am a little confused.           A breakdown of my questions: A. The gunk that I mistakenly dumped in my tank, is it filtered out by the filter as I have been told or is it just present? <little or none is taken out by the filter feeders here. Do consider water changes to dilute all with better quality source water> B. Is there a way to find out if there is heavy metals in your tank? <using a PolyFilter will help here by changing color to indicate what if any metals were absorbed> I haven't seen any tests for that and since all my other tests are fine, I figure that has to be what is killing the inverts.           C. This is a really strange question. I use a magnetic glass cleaner and I noticed chunks of substrate that were stuck to it. <yikes - ahhh... seems to me some metal contamination in your sand> It appears that I have pieces of iron in the crushed aragonite that I used. I am not sure how much, I am going to try to see how much I can pick up. Is this normal? <not normal... and it is a serious threat if not the cause for your invertebrates deaths> If I had a high iron content in the initial water I started out with, could it form iron chunks as I am finding?   <not likely. Your metals in the sand are more likely (and not entirely uncommon) a contaminant in the sand. Sifting out with the magnet will likely be good enough though. You may not have to remove the substrate. Anthony>

Nitrate, Calcium, and Alkalinity >Dear WWM, Thank you for all the time and effort you have spent answering people's questions. >>You, and they, are quite welcome. >I have spent many hours reading on your site. I am forever grateful for all the wonderful information I have learned from you. I just hope someday that I will be able to pass some of this information on to somebody else to help them out. >>You certainly can (we need help!). >I bought a used 75-gallon fish tank about 7 months ago. The guy who sold it to me was putting in hardwood floors so had to get rid of it. The tank came with a very large beautiful lionfish, a niger trigger, and a large snowflake eel. >>Nice collection, but they sure would have been better served in a tank double that size, but, a moot point now, yeah? >We moved the tank to my house, which was about half an hour away, and everything survived, except the trigger. >>Ah, too bad. >I immediately had problems with nitrate and pH. The nitrate in the tank must have been sky high. It was testing as high as my test kit would go(160ppm), but I'm willing to bet it was much higher than that. The guy told me that he only changed about 10% once a month, and he used tap water. >>Egads, 10% "about" once a month??   >For filtration he had a wet-dry filter, a HOT canister filter, and a crappy skimmer (Seaclone). >>Heh.. yep, you've learned quite a bit already.  ;) >Everything was a mess. After many weekly water changes and getting everything cleaned up I got the nitrate down between 25-50ppm. >>Wow, good job, great diligence. >I solved my pH problems by using an outside air pump to pump air into the sump (something else I learned on your site). >>Excellent. >I'm sorry I included so much information, but I just wanted you to know exactly what I have went though. >>Don't be sorry for giving us PLENTY of information! >Here are my questions. >>Ok, shoot. >I have learned on your site that I should replace my bio-balls with liverock. >>Mm.. you don't *have* to, but it is popular, and the live rock will also help a bit with denitrification.  I don't know that this would be one of the first things I'd do, though if you have NO live rock, I would strongly encourage you to get some, maybe around 50lbs.  The first thing I'd have you do with such a setup is get a GOOD skimmer, honestly.  I think with these animals it's more important than getting the live rock at this point (I'd also try to get a refugium set up to help with nutrient export). >Will I be safe doing this with the size of fish that I have? >>It can be done very safely by following some simple steps.  First, get the cured (I also like to q/t live rock, JUST to be safe) live rock into the system, either in the display itself, or in a sump.  Second, start removing a few bioballs each day.  Do it too fast, and you'll be removing your nitrifying bacteria too quickly. >I have a 20-gallon long for a sump.   >>That's rather slim.  Consider instead a larger Rubbermaid tub (as long as it fits, yeah?). >If I add about 20 more pounds to the display and about 20 pounds in the sump will this be enough to handle the filtration? >>It will definitely be beneficial, but for handling all filtration I'd go with 1lb./gallon. >Right now I am using a Prizm skimmer, which produces about 2 cups of gunk a week, but my dad said he would get me an AquaC Remora Pro for Christmas. >>Great!  Use them BOTH. >Do you think I will be happy with this skimmer? >>Yes! >I also use a HOT canister filter for carbon.  I am serious about water quality and I am willing to go to any length to achieve it.  If you have any advice on this subject or what I'm doing please let me know.   >>Have done so, my friend. >I also have a question regarding Cal/Alk. I am practicing on this tank to see if I can obtain reef quality conditions and am having trouble understanding why my alkalinity stays so high. For awhile my alkalinity stayed at 13 dkh and wouldn't seem to come down with water changes. >>Have you tested the make up water? >I just tested it again and now it is reading at 16dkh. >>That is a tad high. >I am use a brand new Salifert test kit so I think that these results are accurate. >>Since you're using a good quality, fresh kit, I'm inclined to agree with you. >My calcium is at 350ppm. >>This is a good level. >I am baffled at why the alkalinity stays so high. >>Look to the source first, then possibly your salt mix (?).  Some mixes tend to super-buffer.  I'm a bit old-fashioned and still like the good old Instant Ocean (and I bet you're using that, aren't you?). >I have about 2-3inches of crushed coral.   >>Should take it up, but only so high, eh? >The only other thing that I think might be causing it was this Australian shell rock that the LFS told me that I needed to buy awhile back when I told them of my pH problems.   >>I honestly don't think that this stuff would be any worse (or better) for controlling pH and alk than the crushed coral.. unless there's something about it that causes it to dissolve in aqueous solutions faster. >The reason the high alk bothers me is because I want to use kalk to increase calcium to 400ppm and also because of its other benefits.  I have read about that snowstorm effect that you guys talk about and I am scared this will happen.  Am I to understand that if I use the slurry method but I don't spike the pH more that 2 tenths of a point that I don't have anything to worry about?   >>Hhmm.. unfortunately, this is not one of my strong areas.  I think it will be helpful for you to do some searches on Randy Holmes-Farley, http://www.reefs.org (check the library and the Advanced Aquarist database), and.. darn, there's another online 'zine for reefing whose name is totally escaping me right now.  Go to our forums at http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk and check out Steven Pro's posts, I know he's written some articles for this mag.. I believe it may be hosted out of reefcentral as well. >Will adding more calcium safely reduce the alkalinity. If you have any advice for me it would be greatly appreciated. >>Sorry, but I'm not one of the folks who can answer this question for you very well.  I believe that something like a calcium reactor might actually be better for you in this situation, but it's a piece of equipment that I've never used (I have also RARELY played around with alkalinity and calcium levels, just never had any need out here in So Cal). >Just in case you need them here are my other water parameters. Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: 25-50ppm, Alk: 16dkh, Cal: 350ppm, pH: 8.15-8.2.  I don't have a test kit for anything else. >>Unless you were having problems with anything else (diatomaceous/hair algae blooms), there's really nothing else you NEED to test for.  VERY thorough, THANK YOU (you really have no idea how helpful it is to get this information up front, and so few folks even bother to tell us what kit they're using). >I change 20% weekly and I use Instant Ocean. >>LOL!  I *knew* it!  Good schtuff, Maynard. >The fish I have include the large lionfish, large snowflake eel, and a small Picasso trigger. >>Decent mix, but watch that trigger with the lionfish, they have definitely been known to bit their spines off and go after them. >Sorry again for writing so much, but I have been wanting to do it for a long time.  Have a happy Thanksgiving. >>Oy, stop apologizing!  I hope to have a good one, but I let my dentist corner me into getting a root canal on Monday, sheesh.  Hope this helps.  Marina Filtering Hi...I have written before but have a filtering question....I have a 30 gallon tank with an underwater filter. I have purchased a power filter that just hasn't arrived yet, but I am wondering because I have heard that once I get the power filter, I should take the "carbon" cartridges off of the tubes of the undergravel filter. Is this ok?<You could if you want to, I doubt it would hurt to keep them in> Also, I live in Florida and the water isn't always the best...but all the stores seem to have good water quality. I have had my tank for a little over a month now and cant get the water to be clear. Even after I do water changes, there are little particles floating around making it "cloudy"...Im worried for the fish.<I too live in Florida-Orlando area and the water is not that great, I advise you to purchase and RO/DI unit to filter your water> What should I do? Should I use non-tap water?<yes> What is another alternative? Is there anything not so expensive for non-tap water alternatives?<RO/DI units are not that expensive...check out the reefs.org forums and you can normally find a bargain!> Thanks for your time.<good luck my friend, IanB> Les

Rock solid tap water and a low pH Greetings and salutations fish people, I have been battling a recent bout of lower than desired pH, and questionable tap water. The setup: 180 gal FOWLR~130lbs of live rock sand bed ranging from 0" deep to 5" deep (depth is decided by my fishy) wet/dry filter (still with bio balls) diy skimmer which seems to work reasonably well: usually about 1cup of decent skimmate every 2-3 days~3250 gph total circulation (love those new Tunze streams) The fishies: 3 damsels @ about 1.5" each 1 adult skunk cleaner shrimp and 1 Gymnothorax fimbriatus @ about 35" named "Corporal Clegg". Had this little guy for about 7 years now. It is my hope to someday soon set up a refugium to get the Caulerpa out of the main tank and to also house some pulsing xenia.... maybe some xenia in the main display too :D.  From reading through the FAQs, I understand that the Xenia are pretty demanding on high pH: so begins my battle with trying to raise my pH The temp is kept at a stable 82F, attempting any lower and I start to see temperature swings of more than a couple of degrees. I have seen the pH in the display range from 7.9-8.1 at various times of the day, but the majority of the time it is a steady 8.0. This is measured with a digital pH pen from Hanna Inst. that I calibrate frequently. Other pertinent measurements in the tank - 11dKh Alk and 400ppm calcium.  I do not supplement w/ any calcium anymore as I currently have no calcium hungry critters.  In the past I have tried to drip kalk at night to try and raise pH, but had to stop because my source water had such high calcium numbers to begin with. I've tried opening windows in the house to let more fresh air in, but have seen no affect on the pH.... not a surprise since my house is pretty drafty in the first place. So now I start looking at my source water trying to find out why water why my pH is still low: I follow your instructions on treating tap water: I let it sit for 3-4 days before use, running it through a poly-filter for at least 2 of those days. Then mix salt and aerate for about 3hours with the help of a maxi jet venturi before use. Before mixing the salt (Instant Ocean) today, I measured the pH to be at 8.3 already.  After mixing the salt and aerating the water, it was at 7.8!!  WTF??!!! So I test Alk and Ca.  Ca was at 400ppm which is a bit lower than it has been in the past.  Alk was off the chart of the Salifert test!! I had to refill  the 1ml syringe to get the test to change colors - came out to be about 18.4dKh.  How is this possible? Especially when seeing a low pH?  I have tested twice to make sure I didn't screw up the test... same results.  Is there something else I am missing out on?  Given that this would be a 40gal water change, do you think it would be safe to do a water change with this water?  I am completely baffled here.  If these numbers are accurate, this seems like a huge swing in the hardness of the water in a short period of time (I test the source about every 3 mo.s) I will need to wait for a couple more paychecks before I can buy a dedicated high output RO system for the water changes, but what can I do in the mean time? Thank you in advance for your help. Mark < well mark you have done everything possible. I can't believe your alk is that high and ph that low. Try looking on the test kit and see if the expiration date is past due. I would use a Salifert ph test kit to verify your meter .I have found that meters can give false readings. Mike H>

New Tank Syndrome Over and Over Again? >I've had a 48 gallon reef tank for the last 4 months with little incident.  Yet every time I do my monthly water change (25%) something goes haywire for a few days.  Yesterday I did my usual change.  Rinsed the filter media out in dechlorinated salt water. Rinsed and added new reef carbon. (I have a Fluval 304 and a protein skimmer). Added dechlorinated saltwater made from Coralife mix. Everything was fine.  This morning the water is cloudy, coral are "pulled in" and one of my cleaner shrimp bought the farm! >>Hhhmm.. and you say this sort of thing happens every time you do a water change?  I'll tell you, most folks don't run reef with tis sort of filtration (the canister), especially if this is what you rely on for biological filtration.  My first thought on this is that if your water appears milky, you're killing off your nitrifying bacteria every time you use this method.  You need a more stable means of biological filtration, in my opinion.  If the shrimp kicked and the corals look so bad within 24 hrs., then it makes me think "ammonia spike".  This would jive with the killing off of the benthic bacteria (your nitrifying bacteria).  What you are seeing (assuming it's milky cloudiness) are free-floating bacteria that are allowed to take over when you kill the benthics.  It's a nutrient competition here, and you want the benthics to win. >I know I have to do water changes and clean the filter media on a regular basis.  Is this "drama" normal and should I just get used to it, or is there something I've done wrong or should be doing differently?  G >>No, it's not normal, especially in established tanks.  It IS normal for new tanks, and is known as "new tank syndrome".  My first advice is to alternate rinsing the carbon and the filter media.  I will also suggest looking into other forms of filtration as well.  A search on our site will net quite a bit for you.  Marina

- Changing Salt Mixes - Good Afternoon from Alaska, <Good morning from Southern California.> I've been reading your site a lot and have found that you tout Instant Ocean as a great product.  <Its quality is very consistent which makes it reliable, which is important in the long haul.> Should I change to using Instant Ocean from using Red Sea Salt? <Hmm... your choice really. I have a good friend who uses Red Sea salt and says it treats him well. I know it's a small sample size, but I figure if it were junk [and there are junk salt mixes out there] I'd hear from him more often.> If I do change, do I just start using the Instant Ocean in my water changes, or do I need to use both products for a while and ease into the change? <I think you can introduce through small water changes. You could also mix both, but in either case, you'll be easing the transition - no to 100% water changes.> In short, I'd like to change to the "healthier" product because I'm getting low pH (7.8) readings using RO and Red Sea Salt. I'd like to try to see if the Instant Ocean will provide the pH level I need, rather than adding buffer to all of my water changes as I have been doing. <Actually, as long as you use RO water, you'll need to add buffers as the reverse osmosis process has stripped out any minerals that might have acted as buffers before the process. Even with IO, the RO water will deplete the buffers present in the salt mix. You can use baking soda for buffer addition - mix with a powerhead for a day or so before adding the salts.> Thanks, I really enjoy your site. Sher H. <Cheers, J -- >

Clearing The Clouds Hello Bob & All, <Scott F. here today!> Love the site!  It's a great resource for us ichthyophiles, but when I went to post I realized that I didn't know how so I'm emailing instead... hope you'll help me out here if you think the message is appropriate for posting. <Sure is...> I ran into a problem with my tank 55 gallon FOWLR, 30 gallon trickle/refugium/sump.  I have 220watt PC lighting on the 55 gallon, and 50 watts on the smaller tank.  The water test results are great with ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites reading 0 (or not reading!) @ 78 F, but the water itself is green & cloudy.   <Not good... However, this is usually traced to simple lapses in basic husbandry, and is easy to correct in most cases> I cycled the tank for 10 weeks, slowly building up live rock, putting finishing touches on the equipment, etc.; last week we bought two clowns (a small maroon and a larger, though not full grown false percula). <Quarantine? Did I hear "quarantine"? Didn't think so... Don't forget to follow this most important procedure in the future with all new additions, okay?> I will say that I was nervous mixing the two types of clowns, but the jury seems to be out on mixing clown species. <Yep- hit or miss... success depends on a lot of factors... In a large enough tank, it is possible to mix species, as long as there are enough of each, and enough space- to disperse possible aggressive behaviors.> They nipped at each other for about a day, no wounds, and then settled down. Three days later we were in cloud heaven.  Yesterday I found out that the LFS puts stress coat in their water, and now my skimmer is on the fritz too...can't run it with air or the cup overflows.  Can anyone at WWM lend me some of their expertise?  Thanks in advance,  Ernest   <Well, Ernest, it's hard to say if the stress coat stuff was causing the cloudiness, but it certainly caused the skimmer to go nuts! The best solutions for reducing cloudiness in water are generally to employ fairly sizeable (like 10-20 percent of tank volume) water changes, and use chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon and/or Poly Filter. Usually, this will do the trick. However, if your cloudy water was caused by something else, like overfeeding, improperly washed substrate or other organic pollution, take pains to discover and eliminate the cause, and things should work out well. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Dead, Stinky Snail - Hi crew, I noticed one of my turbo snails was "closed up" for a few days. Today I realized it was dead because the flesh was out of the shell. I took it out of the tank and it gave off the FOULEST SMELL  I have ever come across in my life!!!! I almost threw up! It was sooooo bad. Anyway, will this foul my tank in anyway? <Only slightly - if you ran some activated carbon, the smell would go away.> I use live rock as my bio filtration. Should I conduct an unscheduled water change? <Wouldn't hurt... how big is this tank?> Man the smell was so bad I can't seem to shake it! I don't think I will be adding any more turbo snails ever. Thanks. <Cheers, J -- >

- Just Wanted to Tell you a Few Things - Hi All! Love the site!  It's a great resource for us ichthyophiles, but when I went to post I realized that I didn't know how so I'm emailing instead...hope you'll help me out here if you think the message is appropriate for posting.   I ran into a problem with my tank 55 gallon FOWLR, 30 gallon trickle/refugium/sump.  I have 220watt PC lighting on the 55 gallon, and 50watts on the smaller tank.  The water test results are great with ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites reading 0 (or not reading!) @ 78 F, but the water itself is green & cloudy. <Probably need some better particulate filtration, and likewise step up to more frequent water changes.> I cycled the tank for 10 weeks, slowly building up live rock, putting finishing touches on the equipment, etc.; last week we bought two clowns (a small maroon and a larger, though not full grown false percula).  I will say that I was nervous mixing the two types of clowns, but the jury seems to be out on mixing clown sps.  They nipped at each other for about a day, no wounds, and then settled down.  Three days later we were in cloud heaven.  Yesterday I found out that the LFS puts stress coat in their water, and now my skimmer is on the fritz too... can't run it with air or the cup overflows. <Might as well run the skimmer and try to blow out the stress coat - just stand there for a while with a bucket and dump the collection cup in there.> Can anyone at WWM lend me some of their expertise? <What would you like to know?> Thanks in advance,  Ernest <Cheers, J -- >

Water Quality (10-17-03) Hi Bob, crew at wetwebmedia,<Cody here today! Sorry for the delayed reply.> I was wondering if I can ask you a question about my saltwater tank (well, I'm not wondering anymore, I am asking.. :) ) Onto the point... Tank is 150 g, with 50 lbs of LR covered with coralline, some button polyps, 1 blueline(6-7 inches), 1 niger(4-5 inches), and 1 black patch trigger (4-5 inches). I am running a Euroreef CS6-1, an Aquanetics sterilizer, with an Iwaki 40RLXT. Algae is not a problem (tank has been up and running since May 5th) except some brown diatoms here and there. I also have a bunch of grape Caulerpa (sp?) that is growing in the tank which I introduced solely to control nitrates/phosphates. The problem is my nitrates have been in the range of 60-80ppms, and I suspect my bioballs are contributing to this big time. I have never, ever been able to keep triggers with nitrates lower than 40ppms.<Taking the Bio balls out will help a lot. Try testing you source water and fix the problem from there also.> Due to the water circulation from the pump, and because my overall light wattage is only 155 watts, I haven't had any algae outbreaks (or should I owe that to the Euroreef)?<These are all contributing factors.> I was wondering in case I remove the bioballs completely (a handful at a time until none are left in the wet-dry), will my live rock be enough to sustain the bioload? <You should be fine.> I am not planning to add any more fish. My feeding patterns are rather heavy (I feed the equivalent of 2-3 cubes of food per day which most of it is consumed by what else (?) the Blueline trigger. He's grown from 2 1/2 inches to 6-7 in one year. I also do a 5 gallon water change with RO water every week (since I have no algae problems I figured I can get by with small water changes). These triggers are messy, so I'm not sure whether it is a good idea to remove the bioballs. Am I jumping the gun by expecting to have a triggerfish tank with nitrates in the vicinity of 20ppms? <Not at all, it can be done.  I would up your amount of water you change to about 15 gallons, which should help.  A deep sand bed would also help.  You can read more on all this at the WWM website.  Cody.> Keep up the good work. Thanks, D.

Water Quality (10-15-03) Hello folks!<Howdy, Cody here today.  Sorry for the delayed reply.> I wanted to ask if the following parameters were OK: Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 5.0 ppm<I would try to get this don to 0.> Ph 8.2 Alkalinity 4.5 meq/l Calcium 500 ppm Silicates 0.5 ppm Phosphate 0.5 ppm<Should be at zero, same with the silicates.> I have the following setup: 55 gal 10 gal sump Bio-balls (to be removed this weekend)<Good idea, I would only take out a couple handfuls at a time though.> Carbon 50 lbs live rock 1/10 hp chiller Aqua-C Urchin (just installed yesterday) 2x 300 gph powerheads + sump return line for circulation crushed coral at bottom 2x 96-watt PC lights (1x actinic, 1x 10k) <--- Soon to add a 175 watt MH bulb I have the following guests in my tank: 1 Indonesian sea apple (fed directly, eating and pooping often) 1 w Atlantic tang, eats anything you throw at it. 1 yellow toadstool leather <--- a little sick, jury still out on him 1 green polyps, they are spreading to the other rocks 8 feather dusters, 6 w Atlantic, 2 Hawaii 8 hermits 2 stars <-- the small common reef friendly kind 2 sand sifting tiger stars 2 scallops, 1 flame, 1 plain white) Colorful comments or just a pat on the back are desired. Just need some reassurance. I just bought several water tests, and I am beginning to see the real status of the tank. I am also thinking about dripping kalk. Got some SeaChem Buffer to do just that. Also got some nitrate sponge to lower the 5 ppm to 0 for when the skimmer breaks-in.<I would think a bout getting a RO filter or buying your water to get rid of the silicates, phosphate and all that other junk.  You can also find tons of info on our website: www.wetwebmedia.com. Cody> Thanks for all advise, which is greatly appreciated! Juce

Cloudy Water Problems - It's All in the Sand >Hi, I have been reading everything I can find on your site since I am quite new the reef hobby (great stuff, too). I've been with freshwater for some time now, but I'm making the big move! I've recently bought a 50 gal acrylic, BakPak 2R, AquaClear 300, 2 Eheim powerheads, and my salt and sand. I set up the tank two days ago, and my water is still quite opaque looking (maybe a 3 inch visibility). I made sure I rinsed the sand well (about 5-10 minutes per bag, 3 bags). I expected some cloudiness, since my other tanks have always had it during setup, but this cloudiness hasn't ceased, except for a little. >>This is to be entirely expected, there are those who experience this unsettled sand issue for quite some time.  Combination of factors, not the least of which is the difference in density between salt and fresh water.  Once you get the beginnings of a bacterial colony adhering to the sand it will settle out.  Try reducing the flow of the powerheads, or just turn one off. >My protein skimmer is skimming the white dust (which smells horrible), and I was just wondering if I made a huge mistake and didn't rinse my sand as well as needed, or if this will eventually clear up. I was also curious if it is a bad idea to add the live rock if the water's still cloudy. -OR- am I looking at emptying, re-rinsing, refilling this thing?? >>No, no.  Let it be.  Adding CURED live rock will help seed the system with bacteria, but I honestly wouldn't cure it in the tank itself.   >Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!!  ~Eric >>Just sit tight, if you've got cured live rock go ahead and place it in the tank.  It'll both break up the flow patterns and seed, as I said before.  There's no need to skim at this time, either.  Have fun!  Marina

- Cloudy Water Problem - Good Afternoon! <Good morning.> Ok, I must first say I have searched and searched and can't find this cloudy water problem anywhere on the net.  Tank is as follows: 75 gallons, 20 gallon sump, lots of live rock.  Water testing has the following results: pH 8.3, spec grav 35 ppt, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate >5 ppm, phosphate 0, calcium 450+, temp 77.  Make up water is RO/DI, and before adding salt has 0-2 TDS reading.  Everything indicates a smoothly run healthy system.  I am using an ecosystem filter (the Caulerpa is growing nicely), I also use a protein skimmer on the system (because of my research on WWM).  Water is returned from the sump using a SCWD (which is awesome).  None of the inhabitants show any sign of stress.  I have cut back feeding to almost nothing.  I do a regular weekly water change of 10%.  My water is just cloudy, to describe it more fully it is a whitish cloudy. <Is it possible this cloudiness is due to air bubbles in the water - perhaps from the skimmer?> I went as far as doing almost a complete water change last week.  Immediately after the water was clear, but within a day it was nice and cloudy again. <Hmm... I can't decide, and I can't be real specific either. I think your problem is either air, as I mentioned before - or - you may be experiencing calcium precipitation - you should also run some alkalinity tests to see what your levels are. Although I think this second possibility is more remote, I think it's worth running the tests and perhaps stopping any calcium/alkalinity additions you may be performing. At least until we get a handle on the cloudiness problem.> Any ideas what I can do to solve this annoying problem? <Examine your other husbandry habits just as carefully... consider any/all additives you may be using.> PS, I have several other tanks all are doing fine, so I am stumped.  Thanks for all your help!

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