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FAQs about Live Rock  and Water Quality 1

Related Articles: Live Rock, Answering Some LR FAQs by James Fatherree, Live Rock, Reef Systems, Refugiums,

Related FAQs: LR Water Quality 2, LR Life Identification, Live Rock Selection, Shipping/Moving, Curing Liverock, Placement, Lighting, Live Rock in General, Live Rock Studies in Fiji Collaboration & Charts, Copper UseSumps, RefugiumsFaux Rock,

Curing and cured  live rock requires consistent alkalinity, biomineral, pH...

Adding Live Rock 2/9/07 Hello there, <Hi>   I am trying to figure out when you have the water in the tank and the substrate in the tank when is a good time to add cured live rock to my aquarium and also how much can I add to start up a new 58 Gallon aquarium. <As soon as salinity and temperature are correct you can add the LR.> I have read that if you put to much live rock into the aquarium at first it will do more harm than good. <Unless it is completely uncured this should not be a problem.>   And then how much total should I have in my Aquarium (I have read 1 pound per gallon is that right).   <Sounds about right.> Thank you for answering my first question right away!! Again this is an excellent web site. Jeff <Welcome> <Chris>

New Live Rock, New Nitrates - 03/19/2006 I have done a lot of looking on the site, and I have found many answers to many of my questions, but one. I have had a 72 gal salt water tank set up for 8 years, I just now wanted to change it to a reef tank. I purchased 45lbs of live rock. I put it in a different tank for 1 month to make sure it was fully cured. It did not stink. I put it in my tank yesterday. Today, my nitrates are 10ppm. Before it was app. 2ppm. <I see...still not too bad though.> I use RO water and all other parameters are in stable limits.  Should I worry and do a water change or let it work it's course? <A water change won't hurt you here...vacuum any debris from the rock. Just keeping with your standard maintenance should see this come back down with time.> Thanks. While I am here, I want to know which protein skimmer you would recommend. An 150 AQUALINE PROTEIN SKIMMER or an AQUAC URCHIN. We are looking to upgrade. <I've had much success with the AquaC line. Don't know anything about the other.> Thanks a bunch! <You're welcome. - Josh> Live rock going white/Ammonia up  - 02/16/2006 Crew, the last 2 days my tank is turning south I added a DSB 6 weeks ago and doing normal water changes and such. Parameters were all good. Now in the last 2 days ammonia has come up to .4 and today the Live rock is dying turning white, <Something awry here... a die-off> the skimmer is getting nothing but watery foam since 3 days ago and the collection cup fills up in an hour with water. All other readings are good Calcium is a little low at 350 but I dosed it with 3 tsp yesterday. Is it crashing? <A downward slide at least one could say> What can I do? <When, where in doubt... a water change... and do check your alkalinity... I suspect it's shot here> I can't seem to skim nothing. <Anything> I have a 100 gallon stock tank to take action with. Should I start making tons of water (RO) up and prep a 10 gallon for all creatures with their own water. <I would at least try a couple of consecutive/daily water changes of 20-25%> I have the supplies to do this if needed. This tank is 4 years old and most rock is 2-4 years old. I've been more conscientious than ever with it the last year. I'm puzzled Thanks Jeff <Mmm, and I'd add a bit of new live rock here once all is settled down. Bob Fenner> Re: UPDATE!!! Live rock going white/Ammonia up  - 02/16/2006 I've figured it out!!!! After more reading I think it was the Maracyn I put in treating my Regal Tang!! I could not catch her so LFS said it was safe no problem for a FOWLR. What is my best coarse of action I'm thinking massive ro water change? 20% every other day for about 10 days? Thoughts can I save the inverts and rock? Jeff <Ahh, this antibiotic, Erythromycin will "do it"... Thanks for the follow-up. Bob Fenner> Live rock salvage after long power outage 9/15/05 Dear Bob, After all the help you've given me everything died due to 2 weeks of no power after Hurricane Katrina. <Very sorry to hear of your losses.  I hope that family and friends were spared from harm!> I've started to recycle my tank and have a nice pod population as well as some inverts. However my question begins with my dead live rock. I had nice rocks with coralline algae on them and worms, etc. Now they are just white, with a little (very minute) coralline still on them and no life what so ever. Is there a way to boost the algae and make them live again?  <The same basics that always apply... strong water movement, maintenance of pH, Alkalinity and Calcium.> I have added a few pounds of live rock already to try and see if the algae and worms will disperse, but that doesn't seem to be working very well.  <It will.  It just takes time.> PLEASE HELP. The tank was looking so nice and now everything is white with Diatoms on it that I have gotten about 2 dozen turbo snails to clean (40 gallon tank).  <Yowza!  After they do their initial cleaning, I would pare this number down to no more than four or five.  Turbos have huge appetites and too many will starve each other.> I am adding calcium and Kent's Marine Pro. Buffer dKH along with Kent's iodine and Kent's Strontium & Molybdenum  <All good!> Any advice would be great, I'd hate to have to trash the rock and start over (can get expensive esp. since I need to replace all my fish). Best regards, Jay  <I would advise frequent large water changes (perhaps 30-50% every two weeks) until everything gets back on track.  As part of each water change, aggressively blow the detritus from the rocks.  These measures will help export allot of the nutrients liberated from the die off.  Best of luck in your recovery!  AdamC.> Live rock contamination with soap 8/3/05 Hello all, I am a LFS owner and I am not a marine biologist and have a customer with what I think is a very serious problem. <No marine biologists here either, just dedicated experienced aquarists, but I am quite sure we are only going to back up what you already know...> My new customer recently moved (1 month ago) into my area and bought some fish (pearlscale butterfly and sailfin tang) which had been in my main tank for weeks and were doing excellent. Within a week he lost both as well as his large clownfish. (clownfish died first). So being a purchase of 7 days or less I gave a refund and said to watch for some type of bacterial problem. I told him to wait a week before buying anymore fish until he could see no other problems (he still had some damsels). <Kudos on having such a generous guarantee!  Bacterial problems are rare but I do agree with your advice, although I do think I would have questioned them more and tested there water since these fish were established in captivity and healthy.> A week later he shows up and ask for 2 more pearlscales as well as a valentine puffer and a spotted file. Well low and behold a week later and the pearlscale are dead. I decided to go see his tank and could not believe what I was seeing. His live rock which he states is about 2 years old (4 large pieces) looked to be having a massive die off, all the hair algae was turning white (about 85%) and his purple was turning grey. And the tank glass even had a whitish slime on it. I have never seen anything like this and being I use your sight for my personal learning I hoped to get your help. <Yikes!!  Isn't it amazing that they didn't realize on their own that it might be a bad idea to add fish?!?!?> My first thought was bacterial but also note after talking in great detail with both him and his wife I found out 2 things. The tank was torn down, cleaned and reset up 1 month ago. I then pressed them to explain how it was cleaned. Thinking toxicology I asked if they used bleach or anything of that nature and was told no, but after a few more questions I was told they used lite dish detergent to clean off some of the rock. <Yowza!  There is obviously no way to get all of this stuff out of the porous structure of the rock, and even if it isn't toxic on it's own, who knows how it is affecting the water chemistry!> At this point I asked how quickly the white took over the tank and got no straight answer. Being at a loss as to what to do I did dose their tank with Maracyn hoping to slow this down if it is bacterial but my gut tells me its toxicology and figure they should probably clean the liverock bare with a toothbrush but wished to ask a pro before I tell them anything else to do. <It sounds to me that these people knew they did something wrong, but hoped that it would just go away and didn't want to fess up to it.  I would recommend that you offer to hold any animals that are still alive at your store (with no guarantee) while the tank is re-established.  All of the equipment should be thoroughly cleaned with fresh water and the live rock (as well as any other porous media or substrates like sand, ceramic filter media, filter pads, etc.) should be discarded and replaced.> So I am asking you guys since I think you're pros and have found you to be dead on compared to asking other LFS owners who I must say I think have no clue and guess at a lot of there answers. Any ideas are greatly appreciated and a thank you in advance for any help and for having such a helpful site. Jeff S.  <Thanks for the kind words and good luck with this difficult situation.  AdamC.> New Live Rock + New Bristleworms = Dead everything Hi,  We are novice salt water tank owners.  Actually, my husband,  Jim, is the one who does everything and has been learning so much about this  year old hobby of his.  The only thing I do is sit back and enjoy as well  as having a keen sense to notice odd behaviors in the tank which helps Jim to  realize there may be a developing problem.  The problem is this:  Jim  just purchased a lot of live rock off the internet.  The advertisement said  it was ready to go.   <... but "ready" to go where? In almost all cases there is sufficient die-off in transit to warrant re-curing "cured" LR> He put it right in the tank after receiving it.   It was about 24 hrs. and the ammonia levels and nitrites or...trates whichever,  (I don't understand all of that yet), shot off the chart.  He used Ammo-lock <Won't work> and waited for a couple of days.  The fish started acting weird and  they began to die.  He did a water change and the next day the tank was  infested with these nasty looking white and pink worms.  The starfish was  covered in white mucus and when we checked him, he just disintegrated.  All  of our crabs were out of their shells and looked like skeletons.  All of  our fish were dead.  After finding your site, I think I have figured out  that these are bristleworms.  Your site talks about these worms being okay  but I found some other information that claimed them to be bad....... stinging  the fish and putting an anesthetizing mucus on them and eating them. <These worms were likely "poisoned along with the rest" of your livestock... not out and about consuming their tankmates>   We  are not sure what is going on and what to do with this tank full of worms.   Like I said, there is nothing else living in there.   Should we throw all of  the live rock away and empty the tank to clean it or can the live rock be  saved? <Can be> What does it sound like is going on to you and what should we  do?? <At this point? Let time go by... a few weeks... gives you time to read over WWM re what you're, your husband are up to here> Help!!!  My sweet "Sally" died....she was a sailfin tang who responded to my voice.  We also had a Picasso trigger and some  damsels.   Thanks for whatever you can do to help.  Karen and  Jim <Patience here... all will be well, with understanding, knowledge. Bob Fenner>

Copper and rocks Dear Mr. Fenner  <James, today> I have been browsing this subject through your site and haven't quite found the answer I was after. 7 years ago I purchased a set up second hand tank 6*2*2 ft with back drop trickle filter over bioballs. The tank was supporting Caulerpa in abundance. I believe one of my tangs had ich so was instructed by local fish supply to medicate tank with copper. Did this and the Caulerpa started to die, so I stopped medicating. I pulled out all of rock, probably a third of the tanks volume and scrubbed what copper I could off them.  My tang was still sick however I didn't want to re medicate as I didn't have a hospital tank (and I could not catch him) and I wanted to keep the Caulerpa. I tried changing the fish's diet, and fed it brown algae growing locally in the bay. All the fish loved it and the ich went away, as well as the Caulerpa.  <Nothing like a natural healthy diet. Must be chicken soup for fish.>  The tank has since been a fish only tank supporting a large community of fish. They have all been healthy for years with supplements of local algae being fed to them. This leads me to believe the rocks are acting as a biological filter.  <Yes, indeed>  I upgraded to a bigger tank 8*2*2 and transferred all the rock. I was intending to set up a reef tank and use the rock as a base. After 5-6 yrs, could I safely assume the copper has leached from the rock?.  <Yes>  The rock is covered in small anemones and full of worms and God only knows what else?  < James (Salty Dog>

Ammonia Hello again, <Hello John> I am setting up a new 90 gallon AGA tank. After putting 90 pounds of live Fiji rock in the tank this week, the ammonia has spiked to about 5.0 ppm. I have a mature, thriving 40 Gallon tank from which I would like to transfer most of the substrate to my new refugium. Is the ammonia too high right now to safely do this and expect the bacteria to survive? I purchased a bottle of Amquel+ but have been reluctant to use it yet. <Sounds like the rock is not fully cured yet.  I'm assuming there are no fish in the tank.  Just let the rock finish curing.  For more info, do a google search on Wet Web, keyword "liverock".  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again, John BTW - One evening as I was scanning through the message boards; I noticed that someone had asked Bob if the live rock from Foster and Smith was quality. I received 90 pounds from them this week and was very impressed with what I received. 90% of the rock was between 6 - 10 inches with several very large pieces measuring 12-16 inches. Only a few ounces of rubble in each box. - Reviving Live Rock - First, I'd just like to say how helpful your website has been over the past year and a half. You guys are awesome.  I have a 30 gallon reef aquarium which I set up about a year and a half ago. I use a protein skimmer which does a great job and I have a heavy duty power head at one end and an in tank canister filter (Fluval plus 4, I think) at the other. When I started it I put in 50 lbs of Fiji live rock or so and have been slowly adding creatures ever since and until recently everything was hunky dory. Currently living in the tank are some candy cane corals, a toadstool leather coral, about a million xenias (they spread like wildfire), a bubble tip anemone, 2 ocellaris clownfish, 1 yellow tang, a blood shrimp and various snails and hermit crabs. The problems occurred when I was forced to move to another city. The main problems are that my anemone, which would take over half the tank in its heyday is now always shriveled and sad looking and that there is an enormous amount of slime algae (red, green and brown). At first I thought maybe the water quality in the new location was much lower (which it is) and this was causing problems, so I've since started buying distilled water. This appeared to help some things (once I figured out that I needed to add a lot more calcium and buffer with distilled water) and the anemone is a lot less sad (though nowhere near when he was huge and friendly) but there is still a lot of slime algae.  <Give it time.>  And I've noticed that I only see bristleworms very rarely these days. Also, it used to be that there'd be amphipods and other little crawly things all over the place whenever I cleaned the filter sponges but now I never see more than a few.  <Your system has yet to re-establish itself. If the rock wasn't dry for too long, then it will recover in a couple of months.> I do regular water changes and test for ammonia and so forth so I'm pretty sure it's not a chemical imbalance at this time. But after reading a lot about all these things, I'm pretty sure that when I moved I killed off a lot of the small stuff that was living in the rocks and sand.  <Yup.>  It's been a few months since I moved it and they don't seem to be coming back. So my question is: does it seem like a good idea to add fresh live rock/sand to the tank to try to replenish these organisms?  <Wouldn't hurt, but keep in mind that any rock you add better be well cured ahead of time. But still... live rock is shipped into this country dry, and often stays dry for many days - I'm pretty sure your rock will recover in time, but does take many months.>  Or is there something else I haven't thought about? If I should be trying to add fresh live rock/sand, how should I go about this so as not to kill everything in my already established tank with the waste products from die off of the new stuff?  <Just cure any new live rock in a Rubbermaid bin, with a skimmer if you have a spare, and add only cured rock to your system.> Thanks a lot. Colin L. <Cheers, J -- > 

Mystery Live Rock Query - Who did Answer? Dear Crew, I have looked through your faq's and articles on high nitrate and nitrite levels, but I haven't found anything that pertains to my situation. I have a 29 gal live rock tank that has been cycling for about 3 weeks. I have the pH at 8.2, Ammonia at 0, temp at 77, but very high nitrates/nitrites.  <Can you give me specifics on very high?>  A week ago I took all the rock out of my aquarium, scrubbed off the unwanted growth, and vacuumed my substrate. I put the rock back in and did probably 12 gallons of water changes in the last week. The NO3, NO2 levels are still really high. I also have a lot of red algae, that seems like it could be Cyanobacteria. I have an AquaC Remora protein skimmer, and I don't know what the problem could be. I am using a backpacking pump to filter my water, and Kent Marine sea salt, which means the water I am putting in is nitrate free. When I first got my tank I put the substrate in without washing it, and it cleared up in a few days. Could this be my source of nitrates? Any advice you could give me would be most appreciated. Thank you for a such a wonderful website  <Devin I really need some more specifics like exactly how high things are and types of fish etc.> 

pH problems... not really Hello, I have a problem. My 75 gallon tank has been cycling for about 2 and a half weeks now, and when I check the pH it reads about 7.9. So I went out and bought Reef Buffer to raise the pH to 8.3. It did but the next day I checked and it read 7.9 again! Could you tell me why it wont keep a pH of 8.3 when cycling? Thank you write back soon. <This low and continually dropping pH is due to the cycling process itself... it's reductive... as in redox/acid-base chemistry... I would not worry re the 7.9 pH... and only add a "dose" of the buffer product if it drops below 7.8... in a month or so, when the tank is fully cycled, you can switch out some water, do some other things that will boost it. No worries. Bob Fenner> 

Live Rock Salty Dog, Gracias.<You're welcome> One further question...what happens to "live rock" when its exposed to fresh water? <It dies unless it is very short term. James (Salty Dog)>

High copper readings Hey guys <Hello Max> I am fairly new to the saltwater tanks, I have a 55 gallon and decided to replace with a 155 gallon tank. When we filled the tank with water (after treating it with salt) we noticed a blue tinge to the live sand. Upon further inspection and test somehow we got a high amount of copper in the water.<You may want to test the copper level of your source water.> Apparently it reacted with the salt and turned some of it blue. My question is we have vacuumed out most all of the blue residue and the copper levels are coming down (started @ .4 or higher I believe according to the place we had it tested). However, will this ruin the 50lbs of live rock that we had already placed in the tank?<At that level I would say yes.> and what about the live sand?<That too> We have not moved any fish yet. We do also plan to in the near future start a reef system. What would you suggest? <Max, I would suggest you get a Polyfilter pad or a good grade of activated carbon and use this until you cannot read any copper levels. Once the level drops to 0, remove the pad/carbon and wait a few days and retest.  The copper that has been absorbed by the rock/sand can leach back out.  If you get a copper reading, then reemploy the Polyfilter/carbon.  You may have to repeat this process several times.  Your other option is to chuck the sand but that only gets rid of half the problem, you still have your live(?) rock which I don't believe you want to chuck.  If it were me, I'd go with the first suggestion.  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog)> Calcium while Curing live rock? Hello,<Hi, MikeB here.> I purchased 60 lbs of select "uncured" Lalo live rock from Drs. Foster and Smith about a month ago. It is now cured, but during the process, every bit of coralline algae fell off and it looks like bare base rock now. My LFS told me its because I haven't been using calcium additives and it killed it. <That is one possibility, there can be many other reasons i.e. lighting, water quality, water movement, and lack of nutrients being some reasons.>  He also said it would take years to grow back like it was. <If your water parameters are at a premium and proper light is supplied I find once it starts ageing it will grow like a weed.>  I started adding calcium today, but is the info he gave me correct? I thought I read here that it is not necessary for calcium during the curing process. <It is not.>  How long will it take for the coralline to grow back? Thanks for any info you can give me, your site has already been so helpful already. <I would make sure that your calcium is between 300 and 500 ppm and the alkalinity is at 5 meq. With that and the proper lighting your algae should grow back fairly quickly. Also, you can add a piece of cured rock with coralline algae to start some additional growth in the tank. Good Luck. MikeB..>

Anthopleura xanthogrammica and live rock drama Hello, I am glad you are there. I couldn't find my predicament with your search engine and I don't trust information from my LFS's. I am thinking of making your daily Q&A my startup page. <Please do> Like so many, I jumped in as an ignoramus. While visiting the California coast I harvested a two inch and 3 nickel sized giant green anemones from the carpets of them I found at the tidepools and decided to begin my marine aquarium with these specimens. I began in a terrarium paradigm. <Mmm, for a class in College I chose a congener, A. elegantissima... the "clone anemone" for a histological study in invert. zoo.> I set up a 10 gal tank with live sand, rock and a  side mount filter and  then made a second similar ten gallon tank. I fed the anemones bits of dehydrated krill and they seemed to remain healthy. <Hope you have bright lighting... or they won't stay green for long> All was well and  I built up to 4 damsel fish in the second aquarium without the anemones and they were active and hungry. <Uhh, four damsels in a ten gallon system?> I decided to add a new 4 pound chunk of live rock, removing a two pound chunk to the anemone aquarium which also had three damsels. I was alarmed at the rotten egg smell that came from the bottom of the two pound live rock from where it was stuck in the live sand when I moved it to the anemone tank. The fish in with the new 4 lb. live rock in two hours began to die, showing rapid gill movement. There was a very slight jump in ammonia like less than .10, otherwise all normal. <All "normal" that you could/did test for> I immediately moved them to the other normal aquarium where two revived, one died, and the other started to recover from near death and then disappeared when I turned around. Suspecting the larger anemone as the fish predator, I moved it to the new live rock tank where I saw what looked like excrement coming out of it's mouth in the morning and it appeared inordinately robust. I put the dead damsel on it and it also disappeared when I turned my back again. I had no idea it had this capacity so quickly. <Yes> The anemones seem to be ok at tropical temps and I note tide pools often get warmer. Should I get rid of them? How? <Mmm... up to you, and by freezing (as in the freezer, in a plastic bag, then the trash on or about "trash day"> I couldn't find anything really definitive on what was wrong with the live rock. Was something dead on it emitting toxins? <Something dead, likely, toxic... yes, to your fish> Will carbon and time clear the problem and then test with a damsel? <Yes> Water change and isolate the live rock? <Just regular maintenance> I know I am overloading the one aquarium. I am looking forward to getting a used 30-50 gallon aquarium and moving my little family to that. Greg <Ahh, you will find this a vast improvement... easier to maintain, more fun to experiment with. Bob Fenner> Live Rock, curing, water quality Hello, <Hi there> I jus set up a 155 gal tank, with live sand and live rock, the water was already cycled, should I still wait few weeks to introduce some fish and corals? <Mmm, if I understand you, yes... a few weeks to see if the LS, LR will cause another re-cycling event> I am using a sump with bio balls the skimmer and miracle mud with sand bed and Caulerpa, and some carbon. My Live rock has a chocolate like color on it how could I clean it and it is full of calcareous alga, should I take it off? <I would use a powerhead or other pump discharge to just blast off any loose material... the light brown stuff is likely algal colonies... diatoms, dinoflagellates, blue-greens et al.... competing for space... will settle down on its own. And leave the calcareous (coralline) algae be... you want this life> Could I brush the rock to remove the dirtiness from it with a toothbrush? What supplements should I add to my water? Kalkwasser, calcium in liquid and what else? <If you check your water chemistry and it is shy of alkaline reserve, calcium concentration, you might add some of these materials... otherwise, water changes will likely be all you need/want to do to provide mineral. Bob Fenner> Well Thank you much.

Oh No, What Have I Done?  Killed Live Rock with High Salinity? >Hi Crew.. >>Hi person.  Marina today. >I'm sure I speak for everyone here by saying "Thanks for being here". >>Ah, very nice.  And I'm sure I speak for everyone *here* by saying, "You're welcome!" >Anyway, I searched the site and really couldn't find an answer to a simple question. I have 75 lbs of LR curing in a plastic bin for around 6 days now.. and before I did a partial water change I checked the salinity and to my horror it was around 1. 027  (maybe a tad lower) I used a Instant Ocean hydrometer to measure. >>If it is a swing-arm hydrometer, you'd probably get the same accuracy tasting the water.  Either a decent refractometer, or my personal preference, a lab grade hydrometer really ought be used.  Even so, let's assume that you are using a good quality, reliable hydrometer; you're not very far outside the range of 'acceptable', and I don't think any damage was done.  The most important thing is to not change salinity rapidly. >I checked several times and the result was the same. I promptly changed 1/2 the water and got it down to around 1.024.   >>Uh oh.  Well, if you get die-off, such is life.  Hopefully you won't, just keep up with the water changes, and if you've got one hooked up, foam fractionation on the righteous side. >I am also buying a refractometer soon. >>Good, but know that it's not a requirement.  Lab grade means it's good enough for scientific purposes, so it's good enough for me. >Did I kill everything in my LR???? >>I dunno.  Do you see dead things? >Or is it still good to use in my tank? >>It ought to be once fully cured. >Thanks guys...(and gals) Mike in KC >>You're welcome, Mike in KC (whose Chiefs are LAST in the AFC West!).  I think your rock should be fine, and so should you.  Marina

Do I have to feed my live rock? Do I need to add any supplements or "feed" my live rock in any way? The tank is a FOWLR, and has a moderate bio-load, and low lighting. Thanks! << Nope!  Isn't that great to hear.  Live rock lives, by filtering the left over food and waste products of the tank inhabitants (in this case fish). The real key is having enough rock to keep up with the fish load, not having enough food to keep up with the rock.  I so wouldn't do anything, and don't worry about it.  Blundell  >> The High Cost of "Reef Safe" Medication Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. in tonight> I have a new 55 gallon tank with 46 pounds of live Fiji & Tonga rock. I've had to tank running for 2 weeks with damsels and a trigger. My trigger got ich and my local fish shop gave me OrganiCure and said this product was SAFE for live rock and crabs (as I have both). <Grr...I cringe when I hear that term...No medication is really "reef safe"...Regardless of what medication you choose to use, make it a rule to NEVER treat in the display tank!> Well, the following morning I awake and 10 crabs are dead (1 survived) and all of my feather dusters are all gone/dead. The colors on my rocks are also looking faded and white.  I spoke with my fish shop and they told me OrganiCure is safe and shouldn't of killed my rock and crabs so they are unwilling to help me out at all. ARE they incorrect or being dishonest??? <I don't think that they are being dishonest, but I am almost certain that they are incorrect. Just don't medicate in the display tank! period.> How can this product be sold as "safe for inverts" when it really isn't??? <That's the $40,000,000 question. I don't know why products are marketed this way, and I'm not sure why they are so aggressively sold as a "reef safe" treatment. It's a bad practice that can result in a disaster, as you now know> In order to ever have feather dusters, snails, crabs, starfish, etc do I basically have to trash my tank and start again??? I'm just devastated by the amount of money I spent on live rock just 2 weeks ago to now have to trash it :( <I don't think that you'd have to trash it. What I'd do is execute a series of large water changes, and use some good chemical filtration media, such as Poly Filter (which excels at removing medications and other impurities from tank water) and activated carbon on a continuous basis. After a month or two of this, chances are good that you'll have gotten out the majority of the medication. Some will dissipate on its own, too. You can never be 100% certain, so do check with hardy, inexpensive inverts, like snails or hermits, before adding more delicate animals. I hate to have you "experiment" with these inverts, but that's really gonna be your best guide. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Copper and Rock (5/21/04) Dear Crew, <Steve Allen here tonight> I just had an ich infection in my damsels and royal gamma and immediately removed them from the display tank to a QT and added Paracure to bring up the level of Cu 2+ ions to 3ppm in the QT. The QT was bare except for a 2 inch layer of sand, so I moved some live rock in for the fish to have a place to hide. <Oops> After I did this I realized it was not such a good idea since the copper would get absorbed by the live rock. The next day I went out and got a bunch of pvc elbows and replaced the rock. I then put the live rock into a bucket and filled it up with water removed from the display tank. I am measuring the copper in the bucket to see if any leaches out. So far I get 0 to 1 ppm. It is very hard to tell from the test how many Cu 2+ ions are in solution. I wish I had a titration test which gave me a better idea. My question is am I wasting my time with the live rock or can it be rescued and returned to the main tank after a week to 10 days of sitting in the bucket while replacing the water every two days? <The rock may leach copper for weeks or months. Do you have invertebrates? Consider your biofilter as well. As expensive as it is, if I were in your place, I would throw away the rock and sand that was exposed to copper. Is it really worth the risk?> Regards, MB 

Water & Live Rock Questions >I have a new FOWLR system, 92g corner with a wet/dry sump, with built in skimmer.  Mainly will be a fish tank with about 35# of LR and some snails, worms for algae removal and sand shifting.  I have  1" sand base with about 5-6X/hour of water turnover and a 36", 192 watt power compact lights. Ok, you won't reap full benefits of the live rock if it using insufficient quantities, we usually recommend a minimum of 1lb/gallon.  You may experience a little trouble with nitrates because of this, unless your skimmer is very efficient and you keep up with regular, rather large water changes. >My first question is, since the tank is cycling right now with the live rock, I notice the rock is dying off, i.e. white spots, white fungus that looks like cob webs and some other black areas.   >>Clearly, you're not cycling (culturing nitrifying bacteria), you're curing.  We have a great deal written on both subjects on the site.  Please use our Google search bar and enter "cycling", "curing", and "live rock". >Should I be concerned? >>No, but you should be doing large water changes, unless you aren't terribly concerned with losing a good deal of the life that came in with the live rock.  Much of what's dying off may be sponges and the like.  Another issue is the smell - usually something akin to what Dante was writing about when he spoke of The Inferno and damned souls, etc.  I recommend using your skimmer at this time, as well.  It should be pulling practically BLACK skimmate, and it should be, again, incredibly foul. >After the cycle is completed should I remove the LR and scrub all the dead life off and then place it back in the tank? >>You are curing, and this should be being done to help maintain some water quality.  In searching our FAQs, you'll discover that live rock already has nitrifying bacteria, avoid killing it. >My second question is in regards to water changes.   >>Quite pertinent when curing! >I don't have  RO/DI unit yet, looking into one based on suggestions I have read on your website.  What about store bought filtered water, the ones where you take your bottles and pay to have them filled (the machine says it uses, RO, carbon etc. to provide clean water, of course I don't know how often the filters are changed).   >>Many, many people go this route.  However, DO test for nitrite, nitrate, and phosphorous in terms of nutrients.  Then you will also need to test and establish alkalinity (hardness) so that you can accurately determine whether or not you will need to use buffers (this is usually added *before* mixing the salt).  Since you aren't growing any photosynthetic animals that would require bio-available calcium, you ought not need test for that. >The cost is only .25/gallon.   >>This can quickly add up for a tank this size, but if I were in your position, I, too, would prefer to have time to research RO/DI units before taking the plunge. >What about bottled water, such as Alhambra? >>I hope it's not FROM Alhambra!  It can be used, too, but again, TEST first. >Ok, actually I have a third question.   >>Oh!  You cut me to the quick! >I also have a UV sterilizer which was purchased to help combat parasites since I wont be able to use copper in this tank.   >>This sounds like a lead in as to why you won't be able to quarantine.  I cannot stress emphatically ENOUGH the true importance of quarantine!  There are many options for this.   >I have read that you don't really support the use of sterilizers, why is this, will I be running into more problems using the sterilizer?   >>Most of us don't support this because we know that U.V. sterilizers will do little to effectively combat parasitic infections such as ich in a display tank.  Proper use of quarantine, and hyposalinity during q/t can be of much better utility. >I plan to keep a couple of tangs that love algae, will the sterilizer prevent the good algae from growing? >>No.  I again strongly suggest utilizing a greater amount of live rock. >Thanks a bunch, sorry I was not able to post on the forum, something about internet filters at work:)  You guys are awesome, I am glad I found your website before I have progressed too far with my setup, as I have learned a lot from reading the FAQs.  Only been cycling for about 10 days now. Devin >>Please DO search our site for more information regarding all these questions, and especially since you plan on keeping tangs.  Marina

Throwing away lava rock Good afternoon WWM crew! <Already? Time flies!> I have read your website religiously for a few months and have found it invaluable.  I have a 55 gallon tank with a 10 gallon sump underneath, and have had my tank running for almost 3 months now.  I am definitely on a budget, so I have tried to spend just what is necessary, which has sometimes led me to cut corners. And what I have found in my short stint in this hobby is you cannot cut corners. <Generally not w/o ramifications> One of the corners I cut was in the rock department. I didn't have the money when I started for live rock / base rock.  So instead I bought red lava rock and cut caves and holes through it myself (I know, I know, I can hear you groaning).  Through my reading on your website and talking with my LFS representatives, I have learned that this was not a good choice.  But just yesterday I learned that it can actually be causing chemicals to leech into my tank (iron, copper).  So I decided to discard the last cut corner and replace all of the lava rock with a base rock / live rock combination.  So I thoroughly cleaned the tank, vacuumed the sand, and added 21 pounds of base rock and 10 pounds of live rock (plus another 1 pound piece of live rock I had had in the tank for a couple of months).  I then ran all of my water tests including a copper test kit that I had just bought. It is a Red Sea test kit and the greens on the scale for 0 and .1 ppm are so close to the same color that I cannot tell which I have (I have never added any copper and have always used RO water).  So I thought I would just run some activated carbon to clear any traces.  But then I had the heart-pounding realization, that if I do have any copper in my tank, it is already in my sand, my 1 lb piece of live rock, and the $100 of rock I just bought. <Mmm, but not much (copper)... I wouldn't be overly concerned here> I would like to have some invertebrates soon, and potentially down the road some corals.  So here is my question (finally you say).  If the level really is .1 ppm and I run activated carbon, will I be able keep invertebrates? corals? <Yes> or will need to get rid of my substrate, rocks and bio-balls and start over (because I think then I would just quit)?  Is there another test you can recommend that would provide a more accurate reading so I can know if I even need to be concerned?  Are there other things I need to be concerned with in this scenario that I haven't even thought of? <I applaud your concern, but not to worry... what little copper might be in the water and substrate presently will complex, be absorbed by the new LR. Again, not to worry. Bob Fenner> Sorry for the long winded email and thanks in advance for your help.

Small areas of live rock turning white. 2/17/04 Dear sir,  Tank You for your great site. I ve been  trough the faq 's but couldn't find any answer for my problem with my FOWLR tank.  It's a 125 Gallon with wet dry filter under the tank with bio balls and Protein Skimmer and lots of live Rock. Fishes: 2 Ocellaris,1 small Picasso Trigger ,1 Yellow Tang 2 small Snowflake Eels,2 Bubble Tip Anemones .  All my readings and test are fine salinity 1.022,Temperature 24 c, PH 8,1-8,3 ,Ammonia 0,Nitrate 0-5,nitrite <3   ,.I did a % 25  water change yesterday with RO Water. I do it weekly)  My problem is that some small  places of my life rock Mainly on the purple algae) are  turning white. Can you help me out here. <You did not list values for Calcium or alkalinity.  Both are very important for the health of coralline algaes.  Water movement is also very important.  I would be surprised if they are low if you really perform 25% weekly water changes, but I would check them.  Too much or too little light can be an issue as well, but lighting adequate to maintain a BTA should be adequate for corallines.  Also, some corallines will die out because conditions aren't favorable, and other varieties will replace them.> Thanks for being there. I nearly spend 2 hours a day at your website :) <Glad you enjoy WWM!  Best Regards.  Adam>

Live rock contamination 1/27/04 wow -  this is great!!  I am just pouring thru your book of coral propagation........my aquatic bible...you might say...hehe.... <an honor to hear :) > It is good to know that the knowledge truly is accumulated with the hobby with  all the advantages of books - internet  - chat lines - and personal experience. again thanks for sharing with me and best wishes...... Reenie <very welcome my friend!> in case you are ever interested....I have a little local website....    www.reefkeepers.ca  from the beautiful Okanagan <much thanks for sharing... continue to share, learn and grow. :) Anthony>

Copper Contaminated Rock >Hi all, >>All say "Hello one". >I would just like my worst fears confirmed please... >>Sure.  You're right. >I have a 200 gallon tank which has been up and running for a few months .I started the cycle with live rock and all was well 5 weeks later . I have now added 2 Blueline clowns and a school (10) of Chromis just so I have something to look at in the tank.  I put an anemone in with the clowns but that died within a day. >>Curious as to species, etc... but still, usually takes most folks a little more time than that to kill their anemones.  You move fast. >This had me baffled as all my water parameters were spot on.... I then tried a few Trochus snails for clean up crew and they too would not last an hour in the tank. >>Whoa.. I wasn't kidding, was I? >I tested the water for copper (I am using an RO unit) and there was around 0.3-0.5 on in the tank. >>HOLY SHEET!   >I could not work out where this was coming from until I inspected a suspect pond pump which had a copper and stainless impellor the size of a hand in it!!!!!!!!!!!!! >>A human hand??  Oooh my goodness. >Needless to say the pump is out and replaced with an Oceanrunner 3500 and I have absolutely no (detectable) copper in the tank now, although snails will not last more than 4 hours before retracting and falling of the rock. >>Time to run a few Polyfilters through this tank, my friend.   >Am I safe to presume my live rock is polluted and my sand and I have to through the whole lot in the bin?. I am aiming for a full blown reef set up. >>Oh my.. well, to be safest that would be the plan.   >Could you please give me some guidelines on how I can rectify my system and how thoroughly does every thing have to be washed out (e.g. tank skimmer etc.).... by the way your web site is the most informative and helpful thing I have ever come across in my life..... I am never going to listen to LFS again.........or buy cheap pumps again.  Stephen >>Man.. what a female dog that has whelped!  Ok, strip out the sand and live rock, that's gonna have to be discarded completely.  (You have no idea how this sort of thing CHAFES me)  Then, tank bare, run the whole set up with Polyfilters.  These things are your best bet at grabbing onto ANY residual copper.  Then, when you get set up use the CHEAP Condylactis anemones to test (or similar inverts).  Then, KEEP OUR FINGERS CROSSED!  I feel for you, my friend.  Marina

Copper Contaminated Rock - II >>Hi Marina >>Hello Stephen. >I was just wondering what (Polyfilters) are, could you describe them to me please as I have never heard of anything like that in Australia. >>It's a brand name of a chemical filter/filtrant.  See here:  http://www.reefkeeper.co.uk/acatalog/Polyfilter.html http://www.aquariumsuperstore.co.uk/mall/biomarinepolyfilter.asp >Also should I try and get New CURED rock to avoid another 5 weeks of waiting for a cycle or will it still cycle anyhow?. >>Curing and cycling are two different things, mate.  I think you'd be better off getting cured rock, then jump starting cycling by tossing a bit of raw shrimp in the tank (likely with new sand, don't spend the money on live sand, it'll be plenty live by the time you're finished with this process), then testing for your spikes of ammonia, nitrite, and finally nitrate. >I think the anemone was a quadricolour Entacmaea?????. Sorry about the spelling. >>No worries on spelling, let's see what we have here..  It's actually  Entacmaea quadricolor, a.k.a. a bubble tip anemone.  Among the easiest to keep, do search our site for good information, and DO feed!   >Cheers Stephen >>Good luck (sorry for your checkbook, though).  Marina Recycling rock and sand 1/1/04 Hi, <Hi Mihail.  Happy New Year!> Quick question: I got a second hand 90G setup that also came with a considerable quantity of sand (~50lb) and some rocks that were likely live rock a long time ago (bone dry now). I understand (from your *excellent* website and from Bob's book) that the risk in re-using this substrate and dead LR (DLR) is copper contamination (if the previous owner did use copper in his tank, this was absorbed in this substrate and will be slowly released in my tank). Is this correct? <This is correct, but would be the least of my concerns.  In addition to the possibility of copper contamination, there will be a lot of organics (all of the formerly living things in them) in both the rock and sand.  The costs of replacement will be a bargain relative to the nightmare of "reviving" this material.> However, I do not want to throw this sand and DLR away if I can help it.  Therefore I decided to test it. The problem is that I'm not sure how to go about it. I was thinking to buy a copper testing kit, place the sand and DLR in a Rubbermaid container with a powerhead and test the water after about one day. If any copper shows up (more than what was before introducing the substrate) I'll throw them away. If not, I'll keep them... <To better test for copper, I would scrape some material from the surface of the rock, dissolve it in some weak HCl and then test for copper.> How does this sound? Are there any other risks besides copper? <As above, I really think you will have serious problems with the rock and especially the sand.  I personally would avoid using them.> Thank you, Mihai <Hope this is helpful!  Adam>

Re: recycling rock and sand 1/4/04 Thank you for your timely answer. However I think that a few clarifications are in order:  I do not plan to use the dead sand and the dead live rock instead of "live sand" and "live rock", but rather instead of "dead, dry sand" and "dead base rock" that will eventually be colonized from my new 100lb of live rock and some live sand that I'll get from the LFS. <I actually assumed that this would be the case, and my recommendation stands.> As of now both the sand and the rock are dry for over one year, and hence there is no trace of any of the living organisms in/on it. <Where did they go?  They are still in the rock/sand.  They are just dried up decayed organic matter.  Lot's of stuff you really don't want to put into your tank.  No amount of rinsing, etc. will get rid of it, the material is just too porous.> I do not worry about getting live in it... I know that it will get there eventually... My main question is if recycling it can harm my new live rock that I'll buy in a day or two, my live sand or my new tank, and if I can test for this harmful potential (I know about copper, anything else of concern?). <The organics, phosphate and/or possibly copper and other metals have a very high likelihood of causing problems if you reuse this rock and sand, even in combination with new live rock and live sand.  IMO, it is just not worth the risk.> BTW, do you know where can I find some HCl? <HCl (AKA Muriatic Acid) is available at home improvement stores in the painting supplies.  It can be quite dangerous, and after some thought would recommend plain white vinegar instead.  It is much safer and readily available.> Thanks a lot for your help, Have a happy and productive year, Mihai <You too!  Best of luck!  Adam>

Re: recycling rock and sand 1/5/03 Thanks a lot! That was REALLY good advice. First, I just realized that I actually needed *lots* OF SAND (180-200lb),  and my recycled 30lb of sand would have not made a big difference. Regarding the test, I put about 2-3oz of sand and a bit of dead live rock in about 4oz of water and left it over night. The second day, testing for  copper revealed about .3ppm of copper, i.e. exactly the "treatment" dose. It is clear that the previous owner used copper in his display tank and I  would have killed all the invertebrates I would have put in my tank. Thanks again, Mihai <Mihai, I think you are making the right choice not to use this substrate.  The fact that the rock liberated that quantity of copper tells me that the previous owner used copper liberally.  Good luck!  Adam.>

- After the Copper - I have a 75 gallon tank with a few fish and the tank has been cycled for 9 months now but in the beginning I used copper to cure my parasite problem I took the copper out with carbon) and now my 50 pounds of live rock looks like its dead and nothings growing on it. Should I just add a few more pounds of live rock to help seed my other rock so it will all become live rock or what should I do? Thank you for your help! <I'd run carbon for a little while longer - typically the rock will absorb some of it and then leach it out over time. Your rock is likely now dead, and adding new live rock will re-seed it, but you wouldn't want to kill off the new live rock if the old stuff is still leaching copper. I'd run carbon for about a month, switching it out every week. Cheers, J -- >

Feeding live rock <hi jess> I have been advised that I need to add/do  the following to my tank, Currently on a FOWLR, but I plan on keeping yellow polyps as well....   a.. Calcium hydroxide (Kalkwasser), for water make-up;   b.. Iodine: 1 tablespoons every two weeks, between water changes (for a 100-gallon tank);   c.. Strontium: same dosage as above (for a 100-gallon tank) Tank: 85 Filtration: I) AquaClear 500 ii) UGF (modified) with MaxiJet P/head iii) SeaClone Skimmer Bioload: 10 Yellowtail Damsels 2 Turbo Snails 20lbs Live Rock The above looks like its for Coral...the real question is what "additives" can I introduce to "feed" my LR in order to get coralline, worms, etc to grow.... < you are adding Kalkwasser that is what I would recommend for coralline grow(2 part solutions also work good) As for feeding the critters that live in the live rock, I would feed some type of phytoplankton a couple times a week. Hope this helps Mike H> In advance thanks Jess Bansal

Redox Hello everyone! <Thanassis> I had my new 85-gallon reef running only with salt water for some time and the ORP monitor had a reading of 280 to 320. Two days ago I received my first box of live rock from Indonesia (about 45 lbs) and put it in the tank. After I placed it in the tank my Redox has been increasing constantly and today it has a reading of 400 ! I thought that the Redox should drop because the quality of the water is declining due to the slow curing of the live rock. Is this high reading normal ? Best regards, Thanassis <Likely so and nothing to worry about. The reduction oxidation level will slowly begin to drift downward with aging/curing of the live rock. Bob Fenner>

-Coppered live rock- Hi, I had a discussion with someone about live rock being used in a quarantine tank.  I am pretty sure I heard here that if you have to dose copper, the live rock will absorb it and make it hard to keep the copper at the right level. Is this true, or am I just repeating useless hearsay. <Copper binds to most things it comes in contact with in your aquarium, but depending on how much rock you had, it shouldn't even be a detectable amount. The bigger problem is getting the copper out of the rock since it takes a long time for it to all be out.> We agreed that the copper would kill the microfauna on the LR, but I want to be sure before I tell someone that again, do any of you have a reference for that theory??? <Well, not sure if I can dig up a reference that would say that live rock isn't going to soak up all your copper, but since copper isn't a toy, you need to test and adjust the level frequently. That said, even if LR was a copper sucking sponge, you would already be on top of it. It is also important to note that if you're going to copper the tank, you shouldn't have live rock in there in the first place. The invert die off from the treatment could send ammonia and nitrite levels sky high. Use large diameter PVC T's and elbows for hiding places, and only use live rock when it's absolutely necessary. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks Bryan Flanigan

Big Bad BOOBOO With Live Rock >Hey guys, >>"Gal" Marina today. >I need your advice on my screw up :( I currently have : a 90 gallon reef tank, with Aqua C Remora, Power Filter, 65 pounds of live rock, and aragonite sand. The inhabitants are 3 Clark clowns, two damsels, a Sailfin blenny, candy cane coral, open brain coral, and a Bubbletip anemone. The tank has been up and running for a little over a year with good results and no losses! The problem came yesterday when I had ordered 30lbs Tonga Live rock (to add to the 65 I already had) that was uncured from Live Aquaria. The rock looked great and really didn't smell bad at all. I rushed and put it right in the tank. I tested the water about 5 hours later and ammonia was 3ppm! >>DOH! I added some Seachem Prime and a little Amquel and that brought it down to about 1ppm. I'm very concerned because none of the fish are really swimming around they seem to be just hovering in one place and the corals seem to have shrunk. I know I made a big mistake! What is the best way to handle this?? >>Remove all that new live rock IMMEDIATELY to a large trash can.  Get it out of there PRONTO, then start doing MAJOR water changes NOW.  I'm talking 50% or MORE, and plan on doing them daily or even more frequently if needed.  You'll need to do the same to save what's alive on the live rock, too.  I used to keep several large trash cans just for the purpose.  Line them with black trash bags (be sure they aren't "anti-mildew" or anything like that), they're chemically inert. >My skimmer is running full power as is my power filter with carbon. The water circulation is about 1000gph. Should I keep putting Prime in the tank to keep the ammonia and nitrites down or should I do heavy water changes??? >>Water changes, my friend.  O!  You have a wet day ahead of you. >Any advice you can give about help me reduce the stress I caused my fish and corals would be very appreciated!! Thanks, Derrick >>Those water changes are going to be your best friend right now, Derrick.  Good luck!  Marina

Live Rock Do I need established salt water to put cured live rock in or can I start with a fresh batch of mixed salt water.  Brian Cooper <You can add live rock to freshly mixed salt water, just be sure it is mixed/heated/aerated in a separate mixing container.-Gage>

Water conditions for live rock >Hi, >>Hello and good afternoon, Marina here. >I am new to LR and have just put a 10" piece of Fiji Premium into a cycled 30 gal tank with nothing else but some base rock that will someday hopefully be LR! >>While the rock will become seeded ("live"), it cannot rival wild-harvested live rock.  Not to worry, though. >I am familiar with the test for water conditions for a FO tank, and my question is, in addition to the FO tests (pH, ammonia, ni, na) what other tests should I be doing to ensure that the LR will not only survive but flourish? And what are the acceptable levels? My LFS said something about calcium and iodine but the kid could not provide me any details. Thanks for your help. >>Really and truly, if you have no other animals placing demands upon the system for calcium (iodine is for those arthropods/crustaceans that require sufficient levels for good shell formation), there IS no need to worry about anything more.  Just keep up with regular water changes and that will ensure sufficient availability.  Also, if the rock was not previously cured then you'll have a "mini-cure", just do lots of water changes and it should be golden.  Best of luck, and have fun!  Marina

-Sick fish + copper with live rock- Hi guys!! You have proved invaluable to me before and now I have a problem I just don't understand.  I have a 40 gallon tank with 30 lbs of Tonga Branch & slab, a 5" Tobacco bass let, a Blue Damsel, and a Dog face Striped Puffer.  Everything was absolutely fine in the tank, no problems AT ALL for over a year.  The last problem, that you guys assisted with, was a Trigger that apparently had some kind of parasite that killed him in a matter of days.  The Tobacco Basslet began scratching and we subsequently treated her and she recovered and has exhibited NO symptoms since.  We bought the Damsel to check and see if she still had anything about 9 or 10 months ago and he has never had ANY problem.  Until now. <Figures, don't it?> I ordered a cleaner package (bumblebee snails, scarlet crabs, snails, emerald & decorator crabs) and a decorator package (gorgonian, mushroom, anemone, finger leather & a crappy "specially picked" coral <Oooh, you know when they pick it it's going to be garbage!> that has never done anything) from Aquacon three weeks ago.  Everything was absolutely fine, the invertebrates acclimated exceptionally well with the drip procedure and I thought everyone was happy.  The only thing I found wrong was an Aiptasia on the "special" coral, but I picked it off. <Excellent, they can take over a tank in short order> Yesterday, I got home and the fish looked frosted.  I assume it is something along the lines of Ick or marine velvet but I am completely puzzled. <Velvet and Brooklynella look like this> I read, possibly incorrectly, that invertebrates cannot carry such diseases.  Does that mean the critters brought it?  Furthermore, none of the water from Aquacon was introduced into our tank and everything was placed by hand from the acclimation bucket to the tank.  I just don't understand. <Is it possible that for some reason after you added all this stuff you got a light ammonia or nitrite spike? Possibly a fallen pH? Although I'm not familiar with the life cycle of velvet, ich settles out in the substrate at times and could definitely be transmitted that way.> I quickly got all of the invertebrates out (which was no easy task to find 30-40 snails!!) and put them in another tank and put copper in with the infected fish. <This should have happened the other way; fish in a quarantine. Now all the critters in your rock will soon be dead, which could create an ammonia spike and a pH drop. The copper will also bind to EVERY surface in the tank and will slowly re-release itself back into the water for a looooong time> The Damsel does not look very infected, the Puffer is COVERED but still swimming like normal, but the Tobacco Basslet (my favorite that I have had for years) is completely covered, red underneath, and has a damaged left fin. <Secondaries> She is sitting on the bottom (she usually does) but is laboring when she breathes. <It's in her gills now, you must act quickly or it is sure to die. Try a freshwater dip.> I moved the invertebrates instead because the she gets VERY agitated when caught (slamming herself against the sides of container) and I didn't think she needed the extra stress in her condition and I didn't think she could take a freshwater bath either. <Well, unfortunately this is the only option that will work with some speed.> We turned the tank off and made sure it would stay dark today so that they can rest. <As in shut down the filtration and water movement? Fire that thing back up immediately or everything is sure to die!!!> Are we doing the right thing?  Is there ANYthing else that we can do?  I cannot bear to lose the Tobacco Basslet, she is the most intelligent and friendly fish we have ever had.  Will the other tank, that has the invertebrates now, get infected? <No worries about the inverts. I do worry about what the fish will be going through though. I would dip the Basslet, and monitor ammonia, nitrite, and pH at least twice each day. When this whole deal with the sick fish is over, we can talk about what to do to get all the copper out so you can try to reintroduce your inverts.> Thank you SO much for your assistance in this matter!!!  I don't know what we would do without you guys!!! <Good luck! -Kevin> Arienne Wyatt

Dirty Water Hi guys! <Hello! Ryan with you> I received 84 # of Kaelini rock in my aquarium(120 gallons) this evening. However I forgot to rinse it off first!!! Now my water is really murky. What should I do to fix this embarrassing problem?? <Ouch!  You're certainly in for a longer curing period, with lots of die off.  I would actually remove the pieces, and scrub them with an aquarium only sponge.  Do a hefty water change, siphoning from the bottom of the tank (is it bare bottom?)  Then start skimming ASAP.  You can use activated carbon to remove the yellowish tint from the water.  Good luck!> Jason

Uncured Rock Causing Mayhem! Hello WWM team! <Hey there! Scott F. at your service tonight> I have had a problem for the last couple weeks, and now I know what's causing it.  I do 15% water changes weekly, and I noticed that every time I perform the change, my water becomes cloudy...It cleared up in a day or 2. My ammonia is higher than it should be 1.3 and nitrite is climbing fast 0.8 <Not good to see at all...> My question is that I listened to my LFS when they told me the rock was cured (22 pounds), but I don't think it was. My tank had a foul odor last week but that has gone away. <Sounds like your hunch was right on...> I have been adding ammonia remover (Amquel) every other day and that has kept the ammonia reasonable ( <0.3 ) and water changes along with bacteria twice a week has helped my NO2. <Good moves on your part> Am I just prolonging the curing process by using these chem.s? If my tank wasn't stocked I wouldn't be so concerned (3 fish, inverts, and corals) All are doing OK <Wow- that's fortunate...Do keep a close eye on things. Since you have animals in the tank, you cannot be blamed for doing what you can to get these toxins down. I'd keep monitoring things, and simply don't add any more life for a while. If possible, I'd hold on water changes until ammonia seems to subside.>   Can having this Un cured rock affect my PH level? <Well, organic accumulation and decay can affect pH by driving it down over time. Again- kept monitoring your water chemistry, crank up the protein skimmer, and embrace good husbandry techniques- should work out fine! Regards, Scott F>

Lava rock Hello - I've just bought and read Fenner's TCMA. I'm concerned about the possible slow leaching of various 'bad' things from some kinds of lava that he mentions could cause slow, chronic poisoning of my reef critters.<yes, have heard of this before> Great. I read this just after I used about 15 lbs of a very porous, rough pumice-like 'bowl rock' as a foundation for my Fiji Live Rock. The LFS staff insisted that it was safe for salt water usage...but you know how that can go sometimes. Can you tell me (please) a.) what exactly leaches into the water with this problem, and b.) how to test for it?<Personally I do not know exactly what elements, etc "leach" out from the live rock. But I have heard that this does occur.> I almost yanked this entire lava foundation out of the tank as soon as I read this ... but if you knew just how long I spent getting all the Fiji LR to balance on this lava, and having the whole thing look very sharp indeed (not to mention very stable for a non-epoxied or otherwise secured arrangement), you would understand that I don't want to impulsively do this. <I agree, I know how long it takes to aquascape an aquarium. Try aquascaping a 180 gal aquarium with 200-300lbs of LR. takes hours to do :(> Any further advice would be most appreciated.<If it were me I would remove this lava rock post-haste to be on the safe side. Wouldn't want all of your livestock to mysteriously die one day because of a few pieces of rock. IanB> Cheers, SLC

Uncured rock = frothy and cloudy tank! I recently switched my tank(72) from a Reef to FOWLR. This was mainly to the cost of several additives & soft corals. I was originally going with a fish only but was persuade to go w FOWLR.  So basically I sold all of my LR & corals and will be starting with new water & new LR. This brings the additive question again. I know in order to promote coralline growth in the FOWLR tank, I will need to add Calcium. I am not sure if I will still needed to add all of the other additives I was using in the former reef tank. I was adding Seachem's Reef Plus, Reef Complete & Reef Carbonate twice a week. <Pick up a calcium test kit as well as one for carbonate hardness. I can't tell you to add Ca unless you know that your level is low. Same with dKH.> I pretty sure the Reef Plus isn't necessary because it is a vitamin/ iodide supplement. Also I would add strontium and magnesium. <Sure> Are these still necessary? <Not necessary but may help> Are there any other additives I should still maintain other than just calcium? <People often forget carbonate hardness, so make sure you test and adjust that EVERY TIME you test your calcium.>  I just added the LR the other day. Should I start my skimmer right away? <Yes> The tank cloud over really bad about 12 hours after I add the LR. I am getting a lot of white foam in the area of my bioballs in the wet/dry filter. Is that normal?- I don't remember that happening when I added the live rock for the reef that start 2 years ago. When can I start adding my additives calcium). <The rock you put in the tank is uncured and the cloud and foam you're experiencing is a gigantic nutrient surge and ammonia spike, soon to become a gigantic nitrite spike. Do water changes and get that skimmer going ASAP so you don't end up killing the rest of the stuff on the rock that actually survived the journey.> Also, I have been reading a lot on your web page about you suggesting removing the bioballs from the wet dry filter. I was wondering why that is and if you suggest adding any sponge material or BioBale under the drip tray to catch the water before it hit the bottom of the sump? <Don't remove anything until the rock is cured, it will help right now with the nitrogen spikes (since it's still cultured from the changeover, well, i assume). The bioballs are redundant bio filtration that will lead to an accumulation of nitrate since you have plenty of LR in the tank. You may want to leave a thin layer of them so that the water does not splash and make  ton of noise. Another solution is to take off the cover and drip plate and simply lengthen the hose until it is submerged in the sump. Voila- no splash. -Kevin>  Thanks for your time- Ron

Chasing The Clouds Away (Clearing Cloudiness From Tank Water) Hi sorry to be a pest but I just remembered the other question i wanted to ask you. I now have close to 40 pounds of live rock in my fish tank. I just added a few pieces the other day and now I have white particles floating in my fish tank. Do you know what this could be? I've tried adding water and taking some out but it does not seem to work. It will go through my filter and right back out in the tank. I'm really confused cause I thought the filter would take care of this. Can you help? Tammy <Well, Tammy- sounds like it could be some fine particulate from substrate or rock (no matter how well we rinse, some stuff always gets through). I'd give it a few days or more to settle out. If time doesn't seem to do the job, I'd utilize a fine filter floss or filter sock in the system somewhere to help remove the stuff. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Smelly rock - 3/22/03 hi <Hi> i bought coral rubble and added it to my already running reef tank and the next day noticed a funny odor (not rotting egg) could this have been from the coral rubble since the rock was cured and had no visible life except for coralline algae/some Caulerpa <what was cured, the rubble? In any event, I would have quarantined the rubble anyway. In all likely hood, the smell is coming from the added rock (my best guess)> little worried cause of the years spent with the tank everything is still fine. <may not be if you continue to add stuff to the tank without quarantining =) (in my experience anyway)> maybe i should increase skimmer just for cautions <A good idea. Also, I would add some carbon via a mesh bag in an area of high water movement like a sump if possible. Good luck. Paulo> thanks JM

Live rock-Is it helpful for hair algae and Cyanobacteria? I have a 150g tank with a lionfish, clown trigger, lunare wrasse, yellow tang, Naso tang, and an emperor angelfish. I am always battling a little Cyanobacteria and hair algae. I have no live rock at all. Would adding live rock help with my problems? <Yes as it will help with Nitrate reduction the food these algaes/bacteria live on> Also, I don't want 1/3 of my tank live rock just some so the fish will still have plenty of room to swim. If adding live rock is good, how much should I add, and why would it be good to add it?! <Well, I would say 25-30% or more which you say you don't want. The rock will provide a natural bio filtration system that will benefit the livestock, lower nitrate/nitrate. Frequent small water changes (5-10% twice weekly) would help. Excellent skimming as well.> Thanks, Kevin <My pleasure, Don>

Live Rock & Copper Is live rock, when used in a quarantine tank with CopperSafe to treat marine ich, still "live"?  Or does the copper kill off all the little critters in the live rock, essentially turning it into inert but porous rock?  Once your copper treatments have been completed, does restoring the live rock to freshly made salt water, without copper, restore its live qualities? (if they were ever gone...?) <NO! The calcium carbonate the rock is principally made from fixes and absorbs the copper making the rock unsafe for further use with invertebrates, etc.  Use only bare bottom tanks with inert hiding places, PVC, plastic, etc.> I ask because there are some fish that eat prepared or frozen food, but feed by pecking at live rock (like scooter blennies or mandarin fish); how can you quarantine them for a month without starving them? Thank you. Jeffrey M. Zegas <Good question Jeffery. Many fish have different QT procedures. Copper is not always used or required.  The best way to find out what is best for each is to search on each on WetWebMedia.com. Bob includes much useful info on introduction of each fish. Some Blennies, Gobies, etc.. including Mandarins do not get copper and are best purchased from reputable dealers where they have been observed over a period of time, then placed in an appropriately set-up QT (live rock/no copper for some) for at least two weeks and preferably three, or dipped as needed. Please read more at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm and: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stocking1.htm Hope this helps, Craig>

Re: Ammonia in my reef tank Hi again,<Hey there!> Hope all is well there. My question has to do with ammonia in my reef tank. I just added more cured live rock, 15 pounds to my 65 gallon tank, and now the ammonia levels are starting to show. Should I be concerned? <No this is normal> I have a bio ball wet dry filter. Should I had any chemicals to remove the ammonia, such as Prime? Should I let it go on it's course? Would chemicals do more harm than good? If the ammonia levels continue to rise what do I do? I had done a water change before adding the live rock. Thank you for your help, Tim <Hopefully there aren't any fish in the tank.  I wouldn't add any chemicals to the tank.  Let it run its course.  I would change 10-15% of the water every 2 or 3 days until the levels have dropped to 0.  Hope this helps!  Phil>

'Silty' Water & Live Rock Coming  Good Evening WWM Crew! << Don with you tonight >> Put down my 4-5" oolithic sand bed this afternoon.  Water is still real 'milky / silty'.  I'm concerned because my LR should be showing up tomorrow.  I've read thru the FAQs and statements have been made that the water should settle in a few days.  .But. Is it ok to go ahead and put my LR in the water when it arrives or have I put myself in a bind? <<Don't see any problems. Just keep the filtration running full blast and clean!>> Many Thanks. Scott the Saltwater Rookie

Nitrite From A New Rock? Hi guys and thanks for your previous help. <We're glad to be of service! Scott F. here today> I just added one piece of 18 lb live rock to my tank and I noticed a few small little green weed looking algaes on it. I didn't think much of it but then upon doing research I thought maybe the piece I bought wasn't cured yet. <Oops!> I have about 12 lbs before that and I have been gradually adding it. I have about 5 fish some small crustaceans and one bubble tip. I tested my nitrites and noticed just a trace amount of nitrite. I would guess .01.  Just a hint of red.  Is it possible that an 18 lb piece of live rock could give me that much nitrite in a 55 gallon tank with about 12 lbs already in there. <Yep- it certainly is...particularly if the rock is uncured. The possible die off in an 18lb tank is quite significant-particularly in a 55 gallon tank (which probably holds less than that when you account for the other rock, sand, etc). I'd also check the ammonia level to be sure. Execute some small water changes (5%-10% max) to help dilute the nitrite further> I am running a BakPak 2 and Fluval 404 and Emperor for filtration and next to no substrate. I have about 40 lbs of bowl rock that I am removing as I add live gradually. What is the best way to rid the nitrite. I was thinking about live sand?  or just more live rock.  I figure a water change but will it keep coming back if I don't change something. <Well, a live sand bed is efficient at enhancing the  denitrification process, and is a good long-term move. However, your first priority here is to get the nitrite level down to a undetectable level. Certainly, I would not advise adding any new life forms or rock to this tank until you have taken care of this. Execute small water changes-I don't like massive ones, unless the situation is truly grave. Larger water changes can cause even more disruption to the nitrogen cycle, IMO.> Or once that piece cures it will be okay, It has been about 3-4 days in there. <Well, quite possibly, it will go down on its own eventually, but it may be a good idea to perform that small water change to help things out a bit. If things take a turn for the worse, larger changes or more radical moves may be required. Keep on top of things, proceed slowly, and I'm sure things will work out fine! Good luck! regards, Scott F> Thanks again.  My nitrates are barely 10 if that by the way.

Raising salinity Just Live Rock I only have live rock in my tank at the moment and my spg is 1.020. If I want to bring it up, should I still do it slowly or can I boost it in one shot since there is no livestock, per se, in the tank yet? <Actually... there's a bunch of salinity-sensitive life that is the "live" part of your rock at risk from such quick changes. Do elevate the spg at most about 0.0005 a day... by removing some existing water, adding some of higher density in its place. Bob Fenner>

My anemones (residual copper) Thank you Bob for your reply.  Can you tell me if the live rock will ever be free of the copper or will there always be traces of it in the rock?  Thanks again for your help. <Most all of it (all for practical purposes) "goes away" (becomes non-ionic, bound with other materials) in time. Bob Fenner> Leanne

Bio-balls or Live Rock Howdy to whomever is answering questions today! <<It's JasonC! Howdy.>> Please forgive me if this is a simple question, but I couldn't find the answer on the site, and I am hoping there is just something I missed...I have a 140 gallon (tall) and about 110 lbs LR in the tank. There are seven fish, all small (none over 3"), a very few daisy polyps, and orange/green polyps that have a little bit of an orange coral growing on the rock. This tank was started in May, from a smaller tank, so not much in it yet. My question is this - I have a sump full of bio-balls due to when the tank started, I had only 60 lbs LR. Now that I have added more rock, should I be removing some of the bio-balls? <<You certainly could.>> What is the ratio for LR to bio-balls? <<as far as I know there isn't one - best to use one 'system' or the other.>> Is there some sort of formula, or is it all guess work based on what is in the tank? <<No formulas involved. Wet/Dry filter is one way of accomplishing a biological filter. Live rock is another way of doing the same thing. Each has their benefits/costs - personally, I side more with live rock.>> I want to add more livestock and LR, eventually, which would mean another change in the ratio, right? <<Just start removing a bioball or two each day... and think about living without them at all - unless your goal is to keep big hungry fish, and not necessarily a reef tank. Wet/Dry systems are so efficient that they can produce prodigious amounts of nitrates, which at high quantities are detrimental to most invertebrate life. Live rock works differently and is a great source of natural nitrate reduction.>> Thanks for help, and Happy Wednesday! -Cathy in TX <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Bio-balls or Live Rock Thank you, Jason! <<You are welcome.>> Guess I will have to see what works - I've removed a handful of bio-balls, and I am hoping that the nitrates will go down. Seems I cannot keep snails of any kind (except tiny ones) and I am getting the brown algae. 20% water changes are not keeping off the algae, so I thought maybe the bio and the rocks were "too much of a good thing". <<Well, be advised that nitrates alone don't cause algae - there are a handful of factors to consider - the amount you feed, the amount and type of circulation in the tank, etc. You might want to consider a couple of powerheads to help prevent the algae from settling in.>> Thanks again, -Cathy in TX <<Cheers, J -- >>

Calcium/Buffer Question Hi, Last week I purchased some live rock for my 55 gallon aquarium. Throughout the week the rock started to lose its bright pink color and now it is white. <Could be several things; rough shipping or curing, inadequate lighting, calcium or alkalinity, etc.> I was running copper in my tank until last weekend when I added a PolyFilter. <The copper could very well do it.> The fish store recommended adding B-Ionic calcium/buffer two part system. They said this will bring back the color on the live rock. Is there any adverse effects of adding this to my aquarium? <No. You should be doing something to maintain calcium and alkalinity levels; two part additives, Kalkwasser, calcium reactor, or even very frequent water changes. Do be sure to get calcium and alkalinity test kits so you know what you levels are and how much to add to maintain the proper targets.> Thank you, JPK <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Live Rock Hello, I setup my tank month ago. I used LR to mature my tank, however, my tank is not yet ready. Everything was great. All the living animals were alive (you can see them). Now I left town for a week & when I came back I redecorated my tank and I added some fresh water (I add the Anti-Chlorine and an airstone and let the water set for 1 hour). I had some work to do so I left for another 4 days. When I came back this morning the temperature was about 83F and there was some dead animals (some are alive and seem to do well and some are dead). What did I do wrong? <I have no idea. You are not giving me any information to work with.> Is it from the high temperature <No, 83F is fine, definitely not deadly.> or from adding the fresh water <Possible> or is it from redecorating my rocks (cause everything seemed really cloudy after) <That is also a possibility. I would run all the water quality test you can and perform a water change. -Steven Pro>

copper and coral again I may be crazy, but I thought I was told that if I used CopperSafe in my tank that it was free floating and would NOT absorb into my rock and crushed coral.  <that is complete crap... whoever told you that was ignorant indeed (as in not-knowing, although I wonder about some of the turnips at LFS I have met)> Although it would explain why I can't seem to get inverts to do very well in the tank. Tell me I am not crazy and that what I heard was right....I hate to think of trashing 110 lbs. of coral and a ton of my rock. thanks Robert <sorry, bub... but medication of any kind should NEVER be used in a display tank. That's what quarantine tanks are for, my friend. a proper QT is 4 weeks and the display tank unmedicated runs fallow without a host for the pathogen in the interim. Your rock is "poisoned" by copper. Still not to be wasted... you have choices, The rock can be used in fish tanks or any aquaria where inverts cannot crawl across the stained media. Or... you can use a bunch of poly-filters for months to slowly pick up liberated copper and resist buying any more snails, anemones, corals etc for many months until it all clears up. The rock is still biologically quite useful. best regards, Anthony>

Nitrates We have a 75 gallon salt tank that we have never been able to get the Nitrates down to a reasonable level on. They are always around 80 or higher even with water changes, a protein skimmer and 2 filtration systems. We did take the bio balls out of the one system on the advice of a student in marine biology. We have 4 fish in the tank. A sail fin tang, yellow tang, a damsel and a sand sifter goby. Also a snail. We have about 40 lbs of live rock. Any suggestions? <<Greetings, Susan. My suggestion would be to double your quantity of live rock, and if possible triple it and jam the excess into your sump. Live rock is probably the best solution out there for natural nitrate reduction.>> Susan <<Cheers, J -- >>

"Brown" Water Hi Guys, Hope you enjoyed your trip down under Bob. Pity we couldn't get together and crack a tinnie or ten whilst you were passing through the Gold Coast. <Bob is still enjoying himself in your country.> Anyway.... Fish, inverts, et al, all doing fine. My question is my water colour. After the recent addition of a new piece of LR (bonus clam included !) about 3 weeks ago, my water seems to be supporting some form of micro-life which is staining the water a brown-orange colour. Did a 25% water change yesterday (normally 5%, weekly) which diluted the intensity of the coloration, but it seems to be returning. Whatever it is, it likes my water !! Just wanting an opinion on what it might be as I'm sure it will dissipate in time as my Green Macro guys establish themselves. <Not really sure, but I would try adding some ChemiPure and Polyfilter and see if that removes some of the discoloration.> Thanks again, Glenn <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Air Bubbles Hi Bob Me again. Could you please tell me the cause of build up of bubbles on my live rock. The tank is 50 gallons 42" long. The mechanics are a Fluval 404 external filter, Sea Clone skimmer, 1 power head and one internal pump. The bubbles are between 0.5 and 2mm in diameter and stay on the rock constantly. I have recently noticed my 2inch Royal Gramma has also these bubbles on her side. (The bubbles are even on the live rock that are not directly reached by the return water from the skimmer or power head.) Many thanks Colin <often caused by lights that are too bright or on too long (danger of photo-inhibition to symbiotic animals like coral and anemones). Excess oxygen is shed from the over stimulation. Are you one of those kooks with 250 watt halide on a 75 gallon tank <wink>? Actually.. MH lamps on for more than 8 hours or high intensity fluorescents on for more than 12 hours can cause this at times. Do avoid it. Anthony>

Copper and Live Rock Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I wrote to you before regarding my problem with white spot in my tank. I was advised to use MarinOomed which I did to no avail so I used copper and this has worked wonders. Before the use of the copper all my fish had died but I made the mistake of not taking out the live rock so all the life and algae has died on that too. I now have a powder brown tang and a juvenile Koran angel fish in there and they are both doing excellent. The colours are the best I have ever seen!! My Question is that will the live rock eventually get life into it and will the algae start to grow again if I just leave it or do I have to replace it?  <that depends on your goals and purpose for the live rock. If it's presence is mostly or only biological for a fish only tank, then you may leave it. If you have any hope of putting inverts in there (or going reef) then the rock must be replaced. Copper chemically binds with all calcareous media (sand, gravel, shell, rock) and will contaminate some inverts on contact even when copper is free from the water column> Also all the parameters are great now to so should I just leave it for nature to take its course or have I already lost the battle and no life will ever grow on the rocks? PS. I have carbon in there also and am told this will remove the copper in time. <the carbon absolutely will not remove copper, but a Polyfilter (Poly Bio Marine) will help. Life forms including beneficial algae will certainly return in time... just not all forms that you had previously. Avoid even putting snails or anemones with this rock in the future for the above reasons. Kind regards, Anthony>

Live Rock and copper Mr. Fenner: <Anthony Calfo in your service> You have suggested that I remove the crushed coral bed that I have along with the live rock since the copper has bonded to it.  <absolutely> I am going to remove the crushed coral, however, I would like to know if I bleach the live rock( now dead) with bleach, can I utilize it for base rock.  <bleach will do nothing but further ruin the rock. It will not remove copper either... a chemical bond. This rock cannot be used again in tanks with soft invertebrates like polyps, anemones, some starfish., etc.> I am planning to purchase new live rock for the tank. I have two anemones ( do not know type but are very plain and do not need a lot of light.) that are attached to some live rock in a quarantine tank I set up too late and would like to move them into my large tank since the live rock that they are attached to are nice pieces. <be very careful moving the anemones... they tear easily and are prone to infections. Anthony> Thank you again for your response. Mendy

More Live Rock/Copper Mr. Fenner: <Anthony Calfo in your service with the follow up> Thanks for the response. However, I do have a few questions on your answers. You indicated it has attached to all of the substrate in the tank live rock, coral gravel, etc..  <yes...chemically bound to all calcareous media even when water tests copper free> After I make sure all of the copper is gone, If I add new live rock will it survive?  <significant copper will not be imparted to the new rock...but the old rock/sand/shells/etc is still a problem> Secondly, can I use the now copper treated rock as base rock or do I throw it away.  <fine for fish only systems...but never with invertebrates that can attach or crawl over it (starfish, anemones, coral, etc)> Do I throw the crushed coral gravel away as well and my colored hard corals that made my wife so appreciative of the tank? <the crushed coral will be cheaper to replace than neutralize... I'll have to ask around for a refresher on how to chemically liberate the copper adsorbed on your curios so they are not wasted> Thank you again for your assistance. I did my reading before hand however I relied upon the LFS for backup and I felt he had more experience than I. I guess I had the correct answer and he did not, but I lost the battle hopefully not the war. <agreed...kind regards, Anthony> Regards, Mendy

Hyposalinity - Live Rock Bob, I am once again battling Ick, don't know if I introduced it with the many additions of live rock over the last 2 months,  <No... likely a "resting stage" that was not eliminated before... and sufficiently weakened, susceptible hosts...> I am resigned that I will have to deal with this disease on and off. I removed the 40 lbs of live rock from my 54 corner tank and put in a 30 gal plastic trash can with aeration and a light at least 12 hours a day. I coppered my main tank and the fish are improving nicely, my question is, if I use the hyposalinity method on my live rock, 1.017 and 84 degrees for 6 weeks, can be certain that I will kill off the Ick ? <Not absolutely certain... but close. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance Fred Warren

Milky yellowish water color Hello, <greetings, Jameel... Anthony Calfo in your service. You subject title reminds me of a Frank Zappa song about snow and where the huskies go, if you'll forgive the indulgence<G>> I have been reading your site for a few months now, very informative and interesting. I have recently run into a problem with my 72 gallon tank which has been running for about two months. My water has recently turned a milky yellowish color and one of my fish, a yellow tang has died. I have tested for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, salinity and pH, all are very good. I am worried about the rest of my fish and am wondering whether or not to do a partial water change. <always a good idea when conducted properly> Is this just a phase of the tank? Have you heard of this before? I have live rock (about 20 lbs.) in the tank which has been shedding some of its die off. Please e-mail me at XXXX  and share any ideas or tips. Thank you very much. Jameel <Jameel... the extended live rock curing situation is not normal and will easily cause the discoloration of the water. You unknowingly obtained rock that was not fully cured and that is the problem. Perhaps even the reason for the tang dying. If you are not using a protein skimmer that produces daily dark product...please do so ASAP. Chemical filtration is also highly recommended. Small amounts of activated carbon changed frequently (say... one ounce per 10 gallons changed every 2-4 weeks) will work nicely. After the tank is clear and stable, consider adding PolyFilters...excellent chemical filtration media and long-lasting. And small frequent water changes will really help to maintain superb water quality. 10-15% weekly in a perfect world. Best regards, Anthony>

RE: I know, I know... Great. Thanks. So all I have to do now is get carbon or something else to get the copper out of the system and then put the LR in. <The carbon will remove copper from the water but not from the substrate. Any and all calcium based media (crushed coral gravel, aragonite sand, liverock, coral skeletons, etc.) in the tank will have absorbed some of the copper. Any invert that tries to attach to the contaminated surface will usually die from contact poisoning. This should not affect the liverock you wish to add, but I wanted you to know for the future.> My LFS is very honest about what is cured/not cured in their stock. Thanks again for all the advice/clarification. PS I have seen a little piece of heaven (LFS when they got new shipment in) and it is filled with Pomacanthus angel fish and chevron tangs! (I know, I can't have either, but I can admire... ) Thanks again! -Rebecca <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Copper and Inverts Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo... author, aquarist and regular wine drinker, in your service> I have treated a small tank of mine with copper to eliminate a breakout of ich. <aiiiieeee! A bare bottomed quarantine tank or the main display?> Approximately how long must I wait to add back the invertebrates? <OK...assuming it was the main display... youa no gonna lika whatta I say.... copper has been absorbed into all calcareous media (rock, gravel, sand, shells, etc.) and as such will be present even after all copper is removed from the water column. So while the water will be copper free, sessile invertebrates like snails, anemones, etc will overdose slowly by contact with the contaminated calcareous surfaces. The substrates have been effectively ruined for inverts and must be replaced...else, enjoy a fish only display. Sorry to drop the bomb...but it is better than watching inverts die slowly over months. This is one reason why quarantine tanks are so strongly encouraged. And the efficacy of meds is also reduced by the buffering substrates. No copper in main displays. Kind regards, Anthony>

FUZZ ON MY LACE ROCK i have recently set up a 75 gallon cichlid aquarium and have put 2 large pieces of lace rock into it. the rock (for the first couple of days) seemed to look normal, but gradually a clearish fuzz started forming on pieces of what appears to be algae that was on the rocks when i bought them. i am wondering if you know what this is and how it can be cured.  <It's a mix of organisms... algae, funguses... nothing to be alarmed about... will pass on its own> i have taken the rocks out and washed them with a bleach solution and soaked them in scalding water, but when the rocks were put back in the aquarium the fuzz reappeared in about two days!!! please help me, these are great pieces of rock and i don't want to have to get rid of them. <Just wait my friend. The "fuzz" will turn to green types of organisms, mainly algae... other, better ways to deal with... leave as is for now. Bob Fenner> Jeff

live rock infestation? Here is a picture of some "plant??" growing all over my live rock. any ideas what this could be? <Not easy to make out... might be an encrusting red algae... some group of decomposition organisms. Bob Fenner>

adding fish to tank Bob I really appreciate all your advice and your web site. I have had my tank set up now since June 18th. The live rock I used has been in a guys tank for two years so it has been fully cured. I just added a couple of mushroom rock and some star polyps on July the 7th. My question is I bought a fire fish and a Cherub angel over a mouth ago and they have been in my quarantine tank and doing fine. When would be a safe time to add them to the reef? Thank You for your help. Jason <These fishes should be fine added to this tank... though the invertebrates you list are new. Bob Fenner>

Hi Robert! (recycling event mystery... solutions) G'Day Bob - I've been browsing you sites for the last 2 days with immense gratitude - I'm having a mini panic - I'm a total neophyte with extreme enthusiasm - I have a 105 gal tank with 2 anemones, a small parrot,4 damsels, a x-eyed squirrel, a rabbit and a 3'' imperator angel, a couple of cleaner shrimp and a crab. The tank is 5 months old - I think it's re cycling - I've lost an anemone and several fish in the last week - My nitrites are .1 to .2 ppm, Ph 8.0, Temp is 80'F. <Hmm, we need to discover why here> I've added charcoal to my trickle filter? Dropped the salinity to 1.02 and reduced my feeding to minimal and now I'm totally buggered if I know what to do next - I'd really appreciate your help and advice - thanks - regards - Graeme <Thanks for the lucid input... Would do about what you've done... and add a bit more aeration, circulation to the system... particularly directed at whatever spots you might have that don't have much water movement (like behind decor, live rock...). Otherwise, of course, continue with the limited feeding, and do your best to keep water quality stable. These problems have ways of resorting themselves out... usually by evidencing some sort of "dead protein" (a "mysterious" lost organism, die-off in the system somewhere... like a succession/turnover of mix of organisms in the substrate, live rock...) and recycling as you state. Bob Fenner>

Help!!!!! (Umm, water chemistry changes wherefores with new live rock) Bob So I tested my water before adding my live rock and got the following: Ammonia 0 Nitrite <0.1 Nitrate 0.5 Phosphate 0 pH 8.2 Salinity 1.024 Calcium 350 Alkalinity 5.1 Temp 78.7 Then I added 90lbs of precured rock from FFExpress on Friday and an additional 20lbs on Tuesday. So now its been eight days since the first addition and I tested again. Now I have: Ammonia 0.5 Nitrite >1.2 Nitrate 75 Phosphate 0.1 pH 8.15 Salinity 1.024 Calcium 350 Alkalinity 8.3 Temp 78.7 First, how did my Nitrate jump so high so quick? <In a word, decomposition... a bunch of proteinaceous (all life forms above viruses... are composed of such, which in turn are made up of building blocks termed Amino Acids, made of carbon skeletons linked together with ammonia of sorts... beginning of nitrification depending of where you start looking at so-called nitrogen cycles...)material getting aerobically processed... by "opportunistic" microbial life... > Has this rock cycled everything this fast? <Yes... life in a box... of rocks... and more> I assume the presence on ammonia and nitrite indicate that cycling is not quite complete, especially with the addition of the additional 20lbs five days later. And where is the darn phosphate coming from? <The same sorts of sources... all life also utilizes phosphate/s... remember ATP, GADPH... ADP? Adenosine diphosphate?... those energy transfer and storage molecules of the Krebs Cycle?... there's a bunch more... > So what do I do now? I knowledge tells me to do a large water change.  <Bingo... and wait> Should I do it now, or wait a week or two longer for the tank to settle down? I have 30gal of RO water just waiting to get some salt added to it. <Pre-mix it and wait... and keep measuring aspects of water quality... you'll find pH and alkalinity slipping... nitrates rescinding... if ammonia, nitrite get over 1.0ppm, do a water change... otherwise...when pH or alkalinity get "too low" (below 7.8, 2.5 meq) do the change then, again...> I wasn't expecting this cycling thing to be such a roller coater ride. <It often is...> Thanks again Paul <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

New Tank, Biomineral, Alkalinity queries  Hello Bob,  I would first like to apologize for disturbing you.  <No problems my friend> I am sure that you get  plenty of SOS emails. I am taking a shot at this because my LFS and  newsgroup are unable to help. None of my books discuss it either. Please  take a moment.  System  50Gal 36x18x18 Started Dec. 28th 2000 with three blue damsels.  Aragonite base 2-3"  UGF fed by a Skilter 250  Supersweep 228 Powerhead I think that's the name.  All-Glass 110Watt HO "Super Daylight" 9350 36" Compact Fluorescent  30" Actinic 25watt single fixture  Feb 5th System was about to cycle and my LFS dropped a new box of 35lbs of  Walt Smith premium Fiji on me. I took it and placed it in right away.  I ran my lights for 10 hours a day.  Skimmer at full blast. Works but slowly tapered to little or no bi-product.  Ammonia 0  Nitrite 0  Nitrate trace  SG 1.025  Ca Start 440 400 390 370 Buffered 440  Phosphates 0  temp 79 constant  Copper 0  PH 8.3 8.1 Buffered 8.3  <So good so far...> The rock was beautiful with lots of green coralline. They began turning  white on top as if it was reacting to the light. Now it is spreading and in  a few spots it is now turning grey. Around the time it began to turn white I  had a golden brown algae bloom with some red hair here and there. The tank  clouded for a day or two then cleared last weekend. I added another piece  from another LFS but same Walt smith batch, again all green at the beginning  in three days has already begun turning white. I really really don't want  this to die! Please help!  <Hmm, could be a few things amiss here... right off, I'd certainly check into the alkalinity in this system... it may be so low that your water can't support encrusting algae life... Also, do measure for free phosphate... a long shot, but you may have a "mysterious" source at play here...> Thanks in advance for your help  <Please do measure these variables and get back to me... and read over the "Toxic Tank Conditions" materials posted on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Rob Lipic jr 

FW: LR Hi Bob, Thank you for the information, I appreciate your time. <Glad to help> I tested my alkalinity with two kits. Hagen Master- 360 ppm? <Hmm, check these units... think you're referring to the biomineral Calcium here... most folks express alkaline reserve in milliequivalents per liter (meq/l...)... can you tell me if there is a "of units measured" description on your test kits? PPM of what? or equivalents in dKH? > Aquarium Systems fasTesT- 440ppm? I believe you may be onto something....but what is it when its that high? <Something is amiss...> Best I can find out its a build up of Carbon Dioxide but there are no signs of that. I have no detectable phosphates but am not sure what you mean by free phosphates. Rings a bell but I cant find any reference. I have retested everything to confirm and have noted another decrease in Ca from 440 to 350 practically over night. I have been using Tropic Marin Bio Calcium for about a week. Tank seems to consume great amount of Ca. Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate trace SG 1.026 Ca Start 440 400 390 370 Buffered 440 Phosphates 0 temp 79 constant Copper 0 PH 8.3 8.1 Buffered 8.3 Again, Bob, I would like to thank you for your help Regards, Rob <Let's get this straightened out, and quick. Bob Fenner>

Fw: FW: LR Hi Bob, The alkalinity results from the Aquarium Systems fasTesT- are 10meq/l <Wonder why this is so high? What sorts of supplements do you utilize and how/when do you administer them?> The other Hagen kit is a little confusing now that I am looking closer at it. <Ah, good> There is a conversion factor but it starts with mg/l not meq/l so give me a few minutes to try and recalculate that one. the other test is accurate though! Thanks, Rob <You're on a path of... enlightenment for sure. Bob Fenner>

Fw: FW: LR Bob, KH or 400mg/l (ppm) as Calcium Carbonate. 400mg/l x 0.02 = 8 mEq/l <Yes, close enough> I think!!! Which from what I've read at www.WetWebMedia.com this is acceptable? <Should be... a bit high though... could still/be a problem... back to those questions of how you supplement... What products do you use, how do you administer them, when?> Any other ideas? <Many, but the principal issues, one at a time for now, and for prosperity> Thank you, Rob <Bob Fenner>

Another avenue Hi Bob, Me again with a thought. These new lights I purchased are a concern for me. ALL-GLASS Aquariums call them "Super Daylight" 9345 Kelvin 110W (2x 55w) Compact Fluorescents. They are sitting flat on the tank (12-16" above LR) with a glass lid protecting them from moisture. <Okay... these are good units... esp. for the money... and you may not need or want the glass interface...> Since I can only describe the original observations as "it appears the algae is reacting to the light" meaning the peaks began to turn white first I was wondering if its even remotely possible that its "not used" to that much light. <Certainly a possibility... you may be just witnessing "over-driven photosynthesis" with an abundance of biomineral and alkalinity...> I still cant find out if these lights are full spectrum or wide. Next time I'll know before I buy them. They seem like a very good quality light and I hear so much about never having too much light that I can't see it being the problem. <These are full spectrum... and there are many cases/scenarios of inappropriate "too bright", "too constant/consistent" light regimens in captive systems.> I have cut back the light from 12 hours to 5 hours now I am thinking of taking them out altogether until I find the answer, but if you feel there is no way its the problem I will leave them out of the equation. <Many possibilities... try adding some live macro-algae of the genera Caulerpa and/or Halimeda... See the many FAQs on algae control posted on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com> Regards, Rob Rob Lipic jr <Bob Fenner>

RE: Another avenue Thank you Bob for your advise. I still have no idea what is happening but will try the macro algae. <Ah, good> The "high" alkalinity 8-10 meq/l doesn't matter does it? <Not by itself, no... there are places in the world (esp. where the surf meets the beach) where this value is small by comparison> I have another box of Walt smith Premium Fiji on its way for next Wednesday. Should I cancel it? I am not looking forward to adding another 35lbs with this unknown problem still going. <No... actually, the new rock will help "solve" any chemical, physical problem...> Many other threads I have read say it will all recover and return quite well. The three damsels are as healthy as any fish I have seen in the past. <Do agree with this sentiment> I will wrap up this lengthy thread with your reply! <No worries. A pleasure> Thanks you once again for your patience! Rob <Bob Fenner>

Re: Fw: FW: LR Replying to this one from home!! I have only used the following products Tropic Marin Bio Calcium. <A very good product... actually does what it says it will and is relatively non-toxic...> This was in response to a drop in Ca from 440 to about 370 and the rock was already getting white so increased in case it needed more. I have only used it three times and as per instructions dissolved one spoon at a time directly into the tank. <The "whiteness" may well only be a "die-off" syndrome... with decomposers being the white stuff...> Seachem Marine Buffer. <Oh... You've got to be a bit careful here... gain an understanding of what products you're mixing... stick with only one mix of carbonates, bicarbonates (and a little borate)... troubles in the long term otherwise...> This was used once to increase PH from a high 8.1 to 8.3 <Only used once? No problem> There was a dosage of 10 teaspoons of Stress Zyme from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals on advise of another aquarist to combat cloudy water or a golden brown algae bloom?? about 5 days after the rock began to pale and my levels of ammonia No2 and No3 had all dropped ( Cycled). It was advised that this would clear in a day or two with lowered lights and it did just that. <Sounds good, reasonable> My initial water source was tap water 6 week ago, I have done two 5 gal (10%) water changes since and used distilled bottled water which I predissolved Instant Ocean and aerated the bottle for 24 hours before use. I then heated the bottle in hot sink water to 78 and used 1/8" air hose to siphon slowly the new water into the tank. <Good methods... but distilled? Look for cheaper reverse osmosis, or install a unit...> The original cycling went with three Damsels which was textbook. IT was just about to finish cycling when I added the rock. but the ammonia was zero and the nitrites were near zero. They did spike back up for a week or so with the rock but that was all. Now I only have traces of Nitrates. <Sounds like a typical "recycle" with the addition of the rock> I cant think of anything else right now. If you need more information please let me know. Note I have printed your book order form and look forward to ordering it on Monday!!! It looks interesting. <Know you'll enjoy, benefit from it.> Thank You, Rob <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>I have a 75 gallon non reef tank that I have recently started adding live rock to help control nitrates and for the natural look. I have five angels, two tangs, two clowns, two starfish, five red legged crabs, two snails, and two anenomes. I try to mainly use protein skimming for filtration, but I do have a wet/dry that I have a UV sterilizer running on the return flow with the protein skimmer in the sump area.. I also use the wet dry shelves for carbon, PolyFilters, and other media for chemical filtration. Since I have never used live rock before, is there any additives necessary to promote the health of this live rock? Does this sound like appropriate filtration? All five angelfish and the two tangs love to graze on the rock. I have picked pieces with lots of coralline algae from the LFS assuming this is the material that will help with nitrate reduction.  I also a got a passenger of unknown identity on the last piece. I believe it is a "nudibranch". It is about an inch long, oval and black with a white stripe on its back. It has two short tentacles on it's head and mouth that it seems to eat film algae with. Should I have any concern for my fish or crabs? < Very good question re the live rock: "feeding" needs. In general, most folks seem to rely on the LR dissolving, it's animal and vegetable life dying/decomposing/being eaten to provide nutrient base to the ever-changing make-up and loss of bio-diversity (though not especially loss of biomass) that accompany the "aging" of LR in a captive setting... However, the LR can indeed be "fed" a chemical mix that will boost its health, even growth, and sustain, at least slow, the succession which I've alluded to as a loss of biodiversity. A friend and associate in the trade, Walt Smith, of WSI (Fiji) is working on putting together such a mixture as we speak... Very basically, this is the same stuff (buffers, alkaline earth material) that folks utilize for biomineralizing livestock (like hermatypic corals) in reef tanks... Re the nudibranch... I'd probably remove the animal... if for no other reason than the fears that it might munch something I value, or die suddenly and cause a chemical problem, or be eaten by an unsuspecting tankmate and cause its demise... Bob Fenner>

I have two systems. One is 240 gallons with 300 lb. of live rock and fish  (only about 15 at the time). This tank has been set up for about 4 months  now. It has a wet/dry skimmer system with a UV sterilizer. The second tank  is a 55 gallon reef aquarium with about 90 lb. of live rock and several  pieces of coral (both stony and otherwise). There are only two fish in this  aquarium at the time. It runs with a skimmer and two emperors. Even though  it has been set up for nearly a year, the live rock was added 4 months ago as  well and the tank cycled once again. We are having a difficult time dropping  the Nitrate in both aquariums. It is running fairly high (over 50 ppm).  Ammonia and nitrite are "0". We have always performed water changes of 20%  every other week in both aquariums. We even upped it to weekly once we saw  that the nitrate was on the rise. Could the live rock been an ongoing cause  of this? It is the only thing I can think of because we feed so sparingly.  < In the FO (240) the wet-dry media is the culprit. In the smaller system, the LR is definitely doing something... dying, and contributing the nitrates... It should stop, and there are a few ways you can speed up the maturation. Increase lighting, add some macro-algae to the system or to the sump with another light. If you get real desperate, a unit of Polyfilter in one of your outside filters will help. Otherwise, and really in my opinion, unless you see your animals negatively reacting to what seems to be high nitrates, I'd not worry.

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