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FAQs on Marine Environmental Disease/Losses 6

Related Articles: Environmental Disease, Establishing Nutrient CyclingMarine Water Quality, Maintenance,

Related FAQs: Marine Environmental Disease 1, Marine Env. Disease 2, Marine Env. Disease 3, Marine Env. Disease 4, Marine Env. Disease 5, Marine Env. Disease 7, Marine Env. Disease 8, Marine Env. Disease 9, Marine Env. Disease 10, Marine Env. Disease 11, Marine Env. Disease 12, Marine Env. Disease 13, & FAQs on Environmental Disease By Cause/Types: Environmental Deficiencies, Oxygen/Gas Problems, Poisoning, Mis-stocking: Psychological Challenges, (Aggressive Behavior, Territoriality, ), Physiological Challenges (e.g. Metabolites, Allelopathy, Stinging), & Troubleshooting/Fixing

Zoanthids... are toxic... period.

Mouth tumor (?) on wrasse Good morning: Couldn't find the answer in the archives, so I'll burden you w/ the question: <Okay> I have a mature Christmas Wrasse <There are three such commonly named Labrids... this one is probably Halichoeres ornatissimus> who has been healthy since purchase and placement in my 125 (reef w/ deep sand bed) 8 months ago. 4 weeks ago he began "pecking" at the back of the tank. I noticed a deformation w/ his mouth. I put him in my QT. He also had rot on his caudal fin. MelaFix did a fine job at that, but nothing for his mouth. It appears to be a tumor (no visible fungus or discoloration); his upper lip has turned up, the right side of his mouth and jaw are badly distorted, he can't close his mouth. He doesn't appear to take any food, whether brine, mysis, flake, whatever. I've treated for parasites with both chelated copper sulfate and Praziquantel, and for fungus with Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone. No improvement. He still has his coloration and is swimming despite apparent lack of food an my rather harsh treatments for 3 weeks. Is there any hope, or should I end his suffering? <If the fish appears to be wasting away I would euthanize it> FYI, water quality in the 125 was excellent (zero ammonia, zero nitrite, very low nitrate, no phosphate., corals and the stupid, vandal anemone all healthy) except for low calcium. Jon in da Nort'woods <Some specimens do seem prone to such growths... perhaps to some degree environmentally linked. Bob Fenner>

Niger Trigger...Please help - - I have already checked out the FAQs Hey Bob, I have just read all the FAQ's and I think I have an idea of what is going on, but there are still some unanswered questions.  We have a 70 gallon tank, Ph, is 8.3, salinity is fine, and my husband is running out to gather nitrate testing supplies today. We have had the tank for a little over a year.  The tankmates, Picasso trigger at 2" the bully of the tank, one snowflake eel, one sea urchin - equipped with armor (scallop shells he has attached to his body), three starfish; two chocolate and one blue, a newly acquired porcupine puffer, yesterday (my husband's not smart idea) and Foo our Niger. He is roughly 3"-4" with tail. All other tankmates are fine. <This mix of species is a... disaster waiting to happen> OK, so about 6-7 days ago, Foo ducked out. It was after a tank cleaning and rearranging of the rocks, Foo hates that, but it has got to happen. Anyway, he of course disappeared for all of that, but never really bounced back. (My friend, who is a marine biologist, felt like he was swimming funny when we cleaned the tank, so it is possible that it was not simply the stress of the cleaning.)  He has not been eating, seems to have some trouble swimming when he does emerge, and now is currently hiding in his favorite cave. He has done this before, emerging with new teeth (I was glad to be reaffirmed that they do teethe, people laughed at my husband and I when we explained we thought that might be what was going on this time) anyway, that time he emerged with new orange teeth.  This time, taking a good look at him last night when he was out of the cave, but still triggered into the side of a rock, he looks to have new white teeth, however, this morning, I can see his other side, he still retains at least one orange tooth. Clearly, we are concerned about him. Unfortunately, we were not very versed at fish owning when we got the tank, therefore we have no way to qt him, and I know that if I tried to feed him with a stick, Mr. Van Winkle (the Picasso) would simply follow and make the situation worse.  The only strange thing about his outward appearance, obviously his behavior is odd, is that two - or three times, when I have looked at him one of his eyes has white around it which is swollen and protruding, noticeably but not enormous. I did not find anything on the FAQs about this. It seems to come and go. Questions: Is he simply teething again? What is up with the eye? What can we do? <Continuously grow out teeth... the eye is damaged... likely physically... you can/could bolster the Trigger's immune system with soaking its foods in a vitamin et al. supplement> PS: I know you will have bad things to say re: tank size etc. so go ahead and lay it on, it will only give me more ammo to show my husband that we need a bigger tank! Thanks in advance for your help... VT <You definitely need bigger quarters, somewhere to separate the eel, other trigger in future... Bob Fenner> 

Coincidence?  I Think NOT!   Hmmm. OK, I have had a very healthy, thriving system now for about a year. (125gal tank, 150lbs of live rock, live sand bed, 2 Maxijet 1200's for circulation, Aqua C Remora Pro skimmer with MagDrive upgrade.) With very little livestock, mostly inverts (30 small blue-leg hermit crabs, 1 sally lightfoot, 1 small purple lobster, 1 coral banded shrimp, 3 serpent stars). So I decided to start adding fish. I added a coral beauty & a flame angel. All was good. The next week, I added 2 gobies. All was good. 2 weeks later, I added 3 small marine catfish. (later learned that they were not a great choice, but still, all was good.) <Neat animals, just dangerous to touch> Waited about a month and added an African red Seastar... <Mmm, overly predaceous> ...and a very tiny baby snowflake moray (again, not a great choice, I know...)... <Eats crustaceans...> ...and another MaxiJet to increase circulation with the heavier bioload, and now I have a problem.  All within the last 2 weeks, 1 catfish died, the moray died, the African red Seastar is deteriorating so rapidly that it will be dead by tomorrow (heartbreaker), <Remove this NOW> ...and the flame angel has one eye that is bulged out and cloudy (though he is still eating voraciously. Could this simply be too big a bioload for the tank size/conditions? Or are the variety of plagues and deaths simply coincidental to have happened at the same time? (Or something else?) <Very real possibility that this situation is a function of all of these influences/inputs... some/the fish being challenged initially, the system being disrupted by so much being added so soon... and no quarantine? A giant gamble...> There is also a 280gph emperor filter I added for some additional carbon filtration, (simply out of insecurity, as this is the first tank I've done using no wet/dry system, as the no-filter concept seemed like voodoo to me) Thanks for your time, you guys are gods among men. Hopefully I will not lose any more livestock. -Pat <Mmm, just a petfish sort of guy amongst fellow minded/hearted friends... Bob Fenner>  

Poisoning Possibility Mr. Fenner, <James today> First off, I love your site and read it often. I've searched for some insight on my latest problem but I couldn't find anything that resembles my problem. I'm sure that are answers here but I just can't find them.  I have a 90 Gallon salt tank, Wet Dry, Skimmer, UV light and I deep Chemi Pure bags in my sump. I've tested my water throughout this problem at the local store and they say all levels of PH, Nitrates, etc. are perfect. I had a dwarf Lion fish, a flame Hawk, Blue Tang, Yellow Tang, Porcupine Puffer, Fiji Puffer and a snowflake eel in the tank. Over the past 2 weeks I have lost the Lion, Flame Hawk, Yellow and Blue Tangs one by one. Each began to display erratic and lunging swimming behavior. Racing across the tank, swimming into the glass, swimming in circles etc. until they died. I thought the problem was gone but I just noticed my Snowflake Eel displaying the same behavior tonight. The eel is jerking around like he's having seizures and has lodged himself under some rocks. Over the past week I've been told my Salt levels were too high so I adjusted them. I was told to treat the tank with Kick Ick which I did. I obviously have not solved whatever problem this is however.  It seems something is actually attacking the fish one by one. No others get sick until another dies.  What the hell is going on here? Any input would be greatly appreciated. <I believe your problem lies in poisoning. The negative side of puffers is that they can release Tetraodotoxin, a very powerful poison they use to ward off would be predators. I think I would put the ChemiPure in a canister type filter where all the water has to flow through it to help decontaminate the water. A 50% water change will help also. James (Salty Dog)>

Sick Gramma - Fin Rot & Black Smudge My Royal Gramma was in quarantine for 10 days, when she developed a case of fin rot on her tail. I tried several medications before I found one that worked, which was Furan 2. I gradually dropped the salinity in her tank from 1.022 to 1.018, and I followed the procedures for treating the fish, and even gave her an extra treatment since her case was so severe (which was part of the instructions). After her treatment was over I did a 25% water change and added activated carbon to the filter (part of the instruction for using Furan 2). The next day her tail fin was getting worse again and she had developed an area black on her side, that looks like an ink smudge. It does NOT look like little dots, but rather a large blob or area. I added MelaFix to her tank to for the fin rot and have no idea what to do from here.  1. Do I treat the black blob?  <Improved water quality and nutrition... this is environmental/stress in origin> 2. Should I start using Furan 2 again, or have the bacteria built up a resistance to it? <Doubtful... could re-use> Thanks for your help, Thresa  <Bob Fenner> 

Everything Died I have a 10 gallon tank that used to have a small damsel and a very small clownfish. <Too small for these fishes...> Recently both got ich and died. I tried treating with Rid-Ich but they still passed away. <Likely helped on by the medicine> The clown went first and then the damsel. They were covered completely in white dots, even on the eyes. I was sure it was ich at first but now am not sure because along with the white dots was an cloudy mucous-y gunk on most of their body?? <Maybe Brooklynella, possibly just their skin/reaction to the formalin/malachite> My water chemistry was perfect until I started treating. I have the tank cycling without anything in it and am wondering if I should empty it out and clean the entire tank completely and buy new live sand and live rock or will I be just as well off letting the tank cycle for about 3 weeks and add some live rock to the set-up? <Better to bleach all... re-set-up with some new LR> I want to make sure that there are no diseases left in the tank when I begin to add fish and that there is a large population of "good" bacteria. I just want to get a small damsel, maybe two and that's it. Any advice on what I should do? It was sad to see both the fish die, I really felt like the damsel would tough it out, but it didn't. Any idea why?  Thanks. <Read... go here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ - see the Google search tool? Insert: "Damsel stocking", "Brooklynella", "Clownfish Disease"... study my friend. Bob Fenner>

Klein's butterfly I have a 120gal with two Eheim 2229's, 10watt UV and a MagDrive 320gph pump to move water around. Things have been great for over a year with my 3" Klein's Butterfly, 4" Koran Angel, 3" Maroon Clown, 3" Yellow- eyed Tang, 4" Sweetlips and 8 hermit crabs to help with the cleanup.  It's a fish only tank. Just after my last water change of 25% a week ago, my Klein's Butterfly has lost his ability to swim upright. His fins seem to be stuck in opposite directions making him spiral constantly. Now, here's the kicker, he still has beautiful coloring; is eating well and when other fish investigate he seems to regain control just for those few seconds to get away. Now here is what I think. when I changed the water, my thermometer was registering 79 degrees the whole time. After refilling the tank and placing the rocks back in place, I noticed by touch that the water felt very cool. I immediately grabbed my camping thermometer and it registered 74 degrees. I immediately drained the tank a few inches and reintroduced warmer water slowly. I brought the tank up to 80 degrees and nobody else seemed to mind the accident. However, my Klein's butterfly looks like a Top Gun fighter pilot in the tank and it makes me queasy just watching the poor guy. Any suggestions??? Tank parameters are back to normal. Actually salinity is a little low after I reintroduced the warmer water.  Salinity - 1.018 (I just didn't have anymore salt after the water change a week ago). Nitrates - 0 Nitrites - 0 Ammonia - less than .25 but not quite 0 pH - 8.1 Copper - less than 1ppm. residual from a treatment over a year ago (any way to get rid of this without starting over? I have tried lots of water changes and a copper removal solution that was a crock.)  <Richard, when you say salinity is a little low (1.018), that is more than a little low. I'm wondering what your salinity was before the water change. First thing to do is get the parameters back up to normal. You are going to have to get the SG back up to 1.023/024, and see if any improvement was made. Butterflies are a touchy fish in that regard. James (Salty Dog)> 

Ammonia... killing off one's biofilter Mr. Fenner, Thanks for all your help in the past. <Welcome> I have been battling ammonia the past couple weeks, and I lost a lot of fish.  <Mmm... what are fishes doing in such water?> I seem to have gotten it under control today. I have had my tank setup for about 6 months. I suddenly got a tremendous (off the scale) ammonia spike that I could do nothing to fix immediately.  <From?> I don't understand. I'm thinking I might have somehow caused new tank syndrome. I did replace my CPR BakPak skimmer with an ETSS reef devil, but the downward spiral started a couple days before that. I did keep my biomedia from the old skimmer and put it in a ventilated container and floated it in my sump. I don't know if that would do any good anyway. <Should have> Somehow, I think I killed off all the beneficial bacteria. <I agree... or overwhelmed the system with proteinaceous material... did someone toss in a bunch of food... might an animal have died and you not caught it?> I was reading all the posts and I think it was from excessive vacuuming of the DSB. it was so dirty though. I wanted your opinion on this observation: Immediately after 2 ammonia spikes settled down, the deep sand bed was covered in a rusty brown substance. That's what I vacuumed away. Is there any correlation between this "stuff" and the ammonia level going back to zero?  <Yes... the brown stuff are likely diatoms, other algae... that need the ammonia to be gone, nitrate (product) to flourish> It's just odd that the sand is white, and my ammonia is through the roof, and then finally the ammonia is gone, and instantly the sand is brown. Well, I still have 1 dogface puffer and 1 striped damsel left, and I don't want to go vacuuming if its gonna finish them off too. I'm really surprised they made it. My ammonia scale only goes to 2, and it was definitely way over that! <Yikes> Also, what do you think about Chemi-clean?  It's supposed "removes disease causing red Cyano bacteria, oxidizes trapped organic sludge and sediment. Chemi Clean also clarifies aquarium water to crystal clear and promotes ideal enzyme balance."  <... not a good idea... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgcidefaqs.htm> I started having the troubles when I added this in conjunction with B-ionic Calcium Buffer, and Ruby Reef Kick Ich. <Oooohhhh... This is the source of your trouble... you actually killed off your nitrifiers...> I think maybe it all had some unknown effect. <Yes, for sure> I read something on your site about one of these effecting pH, which might affect ammonia? Thanks for your time, I read your posts daily. B. Robinson <The "Clean" product... kills microbes... including your beneficial bacteria... the "kick" product does nothing (but flavor food), the B-ionic is a fine product (for pH, alkalinity). More study, less chemicals my friend. Bob Fenner> 

Vacation disaster Hi: <Hello> I am new to the hobby, and have a 10 gallon tank, standard filter, immersed heater, no live rock etc.  <Something stands out here. "Standard" filter, "no live rock". It sure sounds like you do not have effective bio-filtration. I believe you are getting ammonia spikes which is causing your problem.>  It had 1 small green Chromis in it, 2 small false percula clowns, one serpent star, 2 snails, and a very small Gramma. Everything was going fine and everyone seemed happy. I went on vacation. Before leaving, I installed a timer on the light, bought an autofeeder... <Most of these autofeeders feed way too much food, another problem>  ... and had it feeding the fish every 2nd day. I also did a water change and gravel cleaning just before I left. I lowered the salinity slightly (measured using a swing arm measure) because I knew there was going to be some evaporation. <Should have left salinity alone, the gradual evaporation would have been safer. Problem with small tanks is that parameters can change too fast. Lose 1/2 gallon of water and that equals a 5% change.> I don't think the salinity change was any different from how it usually is when I change water. When I returned, both clowns were dead, and the Gramma had disappeared. I am assuming the Gramma died and was eaten by the snails/other fish. All of the levels of nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, salt, pH in the tank are *fine*. I expected them to be off just because of the dead fish, but they are all OK. I have tested them myself several times, and have them tested at the shop. A few days later, the Chromis began to behave oddly. It began to swim in a very agitated and erratic fashion as if it was having spasms. <Are these changes taking place right after a water change? May be something in your makeup water?>  A couple of days later it also died.  None of the dead fish have any markings or discolorations on them. They look fine. The snails seem to be OK, but the serpent star is acting oddly--it keeps itself raised off the gravel when it hides under rocks, and occasionally sits on top of rocks (usually it always hid underneath). I bought two new clowns and added them to the tank -- one seems fine but the other is swimming in a frenzied and erratic fashion. I may just now be over sensitive to fish dying, but I know how clowns normally swim and this one seems even more erratic than that. I do not know what is going on. The water is and remains fine. The heater is fine. There is no evidence of disease on the fish. They did fine before. Do you have any idea what's going on?  <Zimran, I'm posting a link here you should read as I believe your problems lie in your biological filtration. And, four fish in a 10 gallon tank greatly contributes to this problem your having. THREE small fish at most. My rule of thumb is one cubic inch of fish per five gallons of water. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for your help. <You're welcome> 

Vacation Disaster - Follow-up Hi Salty Dog: Thanks for your reply:  <You're welcome> < <Something stands out here. "Standard" filter, "no live rock". It sure sounds like you do not have effective bio-filtration. I believe you are getting  ammonia spikes which is causing your problem.>> I thought so too, but I checked the ammonia repeatedly. The ammonia was and remains 0. <Ammonia spikes are not necessarily present all the time.>  Likewise the nitrites are at zero as well, while the nitrates are high because I think we're at end of cycle.  ... bought an autofeeder, <<Most of these autofeeders feed way too much food, another  problem>> and had it feeding the fish every 2nd day.  Yes, that's a problem. But when we returned to manual feeding after we got back the problem remained. The remaining Chromis died, we replaced the 2 clowns (so now the tank just has 2 clowns, 2 snails, and a star) and the clowns began to have the same issue as the Chromis did. One of the clowns died after 2 days, and the other is struggling. ... there was going to be some evaporation. <<Should have left salinity alone, the gradual evaporation would have been safer. Problem with small tanks is that > parameters can change too fast. Lose 1/2 gallon of ...>> Agreed. I will not make that mistake again.  ... fashion as if it was having spasms. <<Are these  changes taking place right after a water change?  May be something in your makeup water?>> A couple of I think there is something wrong in the water in the tank. I think it was contaminated by maybe a household cleaner (the cleaning lady may use an aerosol spray close to the tank). Just to be sure, I did water tests on the makeup water, and it has 0 nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia.  <Cleaning ladies need to be informed not to use any ammonia based sprays in the vicinity of the tank.> I changed out all the water in the tank today (2 gallon change, 4 gallon change, 4 gallon change) and the new readings are: Salinity is normal pH is 8.2 (it was actually a little lower, 7.8 before) Ammonia is 0.25 mg/L -- will give bacteria time to deal with this. Nitrite is 0 Nitrate is ~15 mg/L (down from 160+ mg/L) my hope is that if there was a contaminant, it's been diluted out to non-lethal levels. <A good idea.> >  ... have any idea what's going on?  < <Zimran, I'm posting a link here you should read as I believe your problems lie in your biological filtration. And, four fish in a 10 gallon tank greatly contributes to this problem you're having. THREE small fish at most.  My rule of thumb is one cubic inch of fish per five  gallons of water. >> Thanks for the link, and yes, I'll definitely have a lower bioload in the future as well. Incidentally, the new fish that died did not look normal -- they had swellings around their eyes and were trailing tissue/slime from their fins. A sad way to go. After all the water changing, I'm going to give the tank a little while to stabilize. I'll add a Chromis and see how it does. If it dies too then I think I'll have to flush the tank and start again.  <Zimram, I feel you are moving too fast, not giving the biofilter time to cycle, cleaning lady could have added to the problem, slow down a little.>  All the best, and thanks for your help.  <You're welcome. Zimran, in the future, do not use carets to quote us as it appears confusing to someone reading/editing this. James (Salty Dog)>

-Tank too small, Fish too tall- Hi! <Hello> My boyfriend and I have a 92 gallon corner tank. Complete with large wet/dry filter, Rainbow UV sterilizer, and Protein skimmer. <Good setup for a high fish load, but be careful as the wet/dry does raise nitrates levels over time. A good DSB in the sump will help that.> We have a Humu Humu Trigger, Niger trigger, dog face and porcupine puffer, large domino damsel, and a coral banded shark egg (almost there). <Wow, I do not mean to be rude, but that is an incredible amount of fish in a very small tank. To house these fish well for any really length of time you need at least 240 gallons or 300 gallons for the shark alone. as each trigger gets 12”-15” or more, the porcupine puffer will get 18”, the dogface 15” and that shark around 3FT (NOT typos on the sizes). Not to mention the waste that each fish puts out would strain any filter system and yours is way too underpowered to handle these fish.> Each one of those About 2 days ago he purchased a Fu Manchu lionfish<You do not have space for any of those fish please do not add any more>. I noticed his left eye was cloudy and he was dragging all over the tank. I was reading the FAQ's and noticed that this could be attributed to bad water quality. <Yes I am surprised any of your fish have not become ill yet already.> About an hour ago there was a whole bunch of snotty, mucus chunks floating all over the tank. The lionfish is now hiding behind some live rock on the ground, he is still breathing fine, but, I am nervous about what is wrong with him and will it affect the other fish? Should we remove him and put him into a hospital tank? Do you know what could be wrong with it and how we can treat him? Thanks, Heather <Well Heather I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you have severely overstocked a tank that can only handle maybe 2 fish at full size being 1 trigger and one puffer but probably only one large fish. Having so many huge waste producers has destroyed your water quality, not to mention that you have what I call a tank crash on your hands which is where water quality drops then completely crashes as there is too much waste and not enough water and filtration to fix it. I would immediately recommend taking out the lion and putting in a hospital tank with some Epsom salt (1 tsp per 5 gallons) to help the eye as Epsom salt releases the built up water pressure behind the eye to help it heal. Then I would call your LFS and either buy a much larger tank (300 gallons or so) very soon, as well as the best filtration, protein skimmer and wet dry you can get. Otherwise I would trade or give back the fish you have, keeping one or 2 of the bigger fish. You must really research the fish you have and read up on the FAQ’s on sizes before buying them as each of those fish will get very large and you will have if you do not already have a massive tank death in progress. Please test your water quality ASAP and do a large water change (50%) as well as vacuuming the gravel. Also be prepared and get as many spare tanks or containers that you can use as makeshift hospital tanks to use if the other fish become sick. There is no treatment med wise for poor water and dirty tanks other than to put in clean water and hope for the fish to heal up and get healthy in cleaner water. > <Good Luck> <Justin (Jager)> 

- What Now? -  SW Wipeout When I woke up this morning everything in my 54 gallon marine tank was dead. EVERYTHING from my 2 cool cleaner shrimp to my fish and even some bristle worms. One of the Perculas is all I have left , and  some hermits and a snail. The percula I don't think is going to make it. <I am very sorry to hear of your loss.> What do you guys think went wrong. The three things I can think of is ... 1. I added a new piece of LR last night. LFS said all there rock is already cured and I've gotten all my LR from them before. <This is the most likely culprit, IMO.> 2. There was a dark snail attached to the LR that I noticed giving off what looked like little wisps of smoke for about a half hour. 3. I started using garlic extreme on there food, only 2 drops though. 4. This is probably what did it.... do you agree. I turned off the venturi hose on my Bak Pak skimmer to up the circulation a bit when I did a water top off and didn't turn it back on. Seeing a I keep the water around 80, I think there was a lack of surface agitation and everyone suffocated. <A possibility, but I'd be surprised to see "everything" make an exit over night. I've made similar errors in smaller tanks and see no ill effects overnight... if it had gone longer I might suspect that was the problem.> After I had a good cry I took everything dead out of the tank. Only the LR, clown, and one snail and hermits remain. I don't the  clown is going to make it since he's been breathing heavily all day and can't swim. <Would give him a healthy water change and hope for the best.> Second question is how do I start over? Replace all the water?.. if so how with the LR and hermits. <I'd leave them in for now and just perform a couple of large water changes... let the tank settle for a couple of weeks. Will give you time as well to decide what you will do next. Understand well the feeling of loss that comes with such events.> The ammonia only went up to .1  mg/L when I checked this morning. <There are other things, not easily tested for that likely came in with the live rock...> I'm still leaning towards breaking the whole thing down if the clown dies, but if I don't, where do I go from here? <Well... I'd like to encourage you to stick with it. This is generally a rewarding hobby and although sometimes the rewards aren't always positive, the lessons learned are. In the future, don't trust anyone's word for how cured live rock might be. Always re-cure it yourself... let it sit in another container, even a bucket with a powerhead for a week or two before using in your tank. I do think that if you do the water changes and let the tank rest for a week or two, it will be fine to start slowly introducing fish again.> Broken hearted in Chicago, Heather <Again, very sorry to hear of your loss. Cheers, J -- >

- What Now? Follow-up - J, Since you think the new piece of live rock was the culprit for everything dying, do you think I should take it out and toss it or leave it in there for the few weeks the tank will be fallow? <The latter... as long as it's in there, might as well leave it and let things take their course.> Oh, and the clown died last night after I wrote you, so that means everything in the tank died but some hermits. <Am sorry to hear this.> Can a piece of live rock kill everything from fish to shrimp and some bristle worms?? <Sometimes... if the tank is small enough, live rock is still curing.> If so then no more LR for me. <I wouldn't take this tact... it's actually the best thing since sliced bread but must be treated with caution. Again, would recommend re-curing yourself, if only in a bucket.> If I do break the tank down will the LFS take the LR back or should I toss it? <Take it back to them... you may get a few bucks for it, and as far as I see it, they owe you something at this point, if only an apology.> Thanks for all your help along the way, I did make it to this point I guess that's an accomplishment. <Life is a long series of events like this... would encourage you to keep trying.> Heather <Cheers, J -- >

Micro Bubbles Or Coral Fish Disease Hello, <Hi there> This may be a silly question, but being fairly new to saltwater fish keeping I don't want to take any chances. <Life is not life w/o chances> Tonight I noticed my red sea Prizm skimmer had lost prime so I re primed it and got it going again. I guess I did not back it off enough and it created millions of tiny bubbles in the water. I backed it down more and the bubbles went away. Just after that I noticed my coral beauty looked like it had Ich or coral fish disease (a ton of tiny white spots about the size of pinheads) Before the skimmer was adjusted he looked just fine. Is it possible for the bubbles to stick to the fish and look like a parasite. <Yes... good description> My other fish two false clowns and a blue damsel did not have the same problem. The Coral beauty seems to be trying to shake off what ever is on it (kind of like a wet dog) It is eating well and shows no other signs of distress. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Brad <Keep your eyes on all... the skimmer being off, on, itself may trigger some trouble. Bob Fenner>

Sick Koran Angel Anthony, <Seems to have dropped off the planet> I have attached photos of my very unhappy Koran Angel. <Good pix> She has been in my tank for about 3.5 years (Since she was the size of a quarter).  About a week ago, she started to get red behind the gills. She has stopped eating, and now has cloudy eyes.  <Trouble> Prior to getting sick, no fish had been added to this tank in about 9 months.  My Blond Naso tang, now has a nasty red patch from the top side of one of his gills. <Oh oh...> In the past week I have done a 100g water change. I also turned off the ozonizer, so as not to irritate the gills.  <Might be better to leave on... to reduce total bacteria...> I added some cleaner shrimps and cleaner wrasses and they were all over her for the first couple of days and then they disappeared (not unusual with cleaner wrasses).  Any thoughts or ideas ? Thanks, Dave B <Something has gone sideways with your system itself... water quality is the first thing I would check... You might want to add antibiotics to your fishes foods... maybe even an injection for the more valuable... all this is gone over and over on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>


Sick Flame Angel and Coral Beauty Hello: <Hi there> I have 2 fish that have white stuff in both their eyes. <... from what?> Some history about the tank: Had ICK pretty bad before Christmas and have still been battling it a little. I did quarantine the fish for a month and let my tank fallow for 5 weeks. My fish sometimes show signs of ICH but I give them garlic and vitamins in their diet of about 10 types of food, Frozen, freeze dried and flake. I noticed the white stuff on the eyes of the flame angel first. It looks exactly like someone filled their eyeball 1/4 full of skim milk. It stays in the bottom portion of the eyeball. Now my Coral Beauty has it in her eyes also. Is this ICH or something else? <The latter... very likely a chemical burn...> I also notice the Flame Angel has lost his bright color and looks a little dark especially along the top of his head. I am beginning to think I need to quarantine all my fish again... what a pain in the a** I might even setup my other 55 so I can put all my inverts in there so I can bring down my display tank to super low salinity for a couple months. This might even be a good time to buy that new tank I've had my eye on (250 gallon Wahoo).  So what do you all think this is in the fishes eyes? This milky stuff around the bottom of their eyeballs. <Either a medicine, procedure and/or outright "poor water quality"> Thanks for your help everyone. You guys are great! Without your wonderful website I would have never been able to keep up my 3 reef tanks. Jay Steinmetz <What have you been treating these fishes with? What records of water chemistry have you to share? Both fish, all eyes affected... this is an induced environmental problem. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Sick Flame Angel and Coral Beauty Actually I haven't treated my fish with anything. I have a 55 gallon with 4 inch DSB, Remora C skimmer, I also run a Magnum 350 with quality carbon. I have 0 nitrites. 0 nitrates , Cal 400, I drip Kalkwasser and done with iodide occasionally. In this tank I keep a green brittle star a serpent star and a orange Linckia star. I also have about 100 small blue leg hermits and Nassarius snails. I moved the flame angel, Maroon Clown to quarantine for a month before Christmas and treated them with copper for ick but the other fish are new since Christmas (Coral Beauty, Lawnmower Blenny, Royal Gramma and Domino Damsel) I keep water parameters perfect and do water changes with RO/DI and Instant Ocean every 2 or three weeks. Someone on 3Reef.com mentioned Flukes maybe. This cant be caused from chemicals and I don't think it is from poor water quality either. Oh yea I also have lots of soft corals and 3 torches and a frog spawn. I do use food for filter feeders and Coral Excell from Kent sometimes. Jay Steinmetz Thanks again <Jay, your spelling is atrocious, but your system sounds fine... am at a loss, but something non-biological/pathogenic is still likely at play here... At any length, your fishes should self-cure in time, given the gear, care you detail above. Bob Fenner>

Recovering from ammonia poisoning? Or something else?  Hi Bob, I know you guys get thousands and thousands of e-mails everyday.. <Luckily only dozens... but tens of thousands of visitors...> ...but I just couldn't find the problems to my fishes. Do you think you can help me out? <Will try> Well, I ordered two maroon Clownfishes from internet (not the smartest thing, but I decided to risk it), and received them in horrible conditions!! They were both on the edge of dying! When I opened the bag, the smell almost made me puke. After I quickly made QT tanks and placed them into the tank, I seriously thought, I was going to lose both of them.  After a day, they seem to be swimming around, but one of them have severe burns from ammonia (will name this #1 to avoid confusion). He cannot swim horizontally. Also, his fins are folded.  The other one(#2) is sitting at the bottom of the tank. His fins aren't folded or anything, but no active movement. I believe all clowns are suppose to be very active. #1 and #2 isn't eating anything either. I tried brine shrimp and flakes.  Now, I checked my qt water again and this is the result. Ammonia and Nitrite: 0 pH 8.2 gravity : 1.022 Temp: 79 Is it possible that they are still reviving from ammonia poisoning? <Yes, absolutely... this takes days to a few weeks at times> Should I give some more time or do you think there is something else that is wrong with them? I would hate to lose a fish! I wanted these fishes for so long, which for some reason LFS never carried when I checked in. Sincerely, Sarah <Keep the water aerated, don't add much food... or any other livestock... one of the side issues with ammonia poisoning is a loss of blood cell volume... they can't respire easily... so, keep the "noise" down around their tank... a few days should prove whether they will recover or no. Bob Fenner>

Itchy fishy or just a matter of self-reflection? Hi guys! I am fairly new to this hobby. I had a 20 gal. for almost a year with 2 Perc. I now have a 55 gallon with a magnum 350 pro system with the bio-wheels, a CPR BakPak protein skimmer[ with added airstone] <Good addition> a Hagen underwater filter. I have Coralife 50/50 lighting and I am waiting on my Coralife U.V sterilizer. [these are the best I could do for now, will upgrade as time goes on] Anyway, I have in my tank: 1 Perc. clown 1 lawnmower blenny 1 royal gamma 1 flame angel 1 small yellow tang [ I was told I could trade her in for a smaller fish if I thought she was getting too big, of course by then I will be so attached to her I'll probably get a larger tank!] So here's my question, my yellow tang started hitting herself on the rocks, sometimes darting around, I noticed her doing this a couple of days after I got her [about 3 weeks ago] she sometimes twitches and my clown sometimes slam-dances with the glass.... they do not do this constantly They are eating great, I have lots of different kinds of seaweed salad, frozen Cyclop-eeze [ spelling?] frozen Mysis shrimp, zooplankton, frozen emerald entree, frozen pygmy angel formula, frozen brine shrimp plus various pellet, flake foods. <Yummy! I want to be reincarnated as a fish in your tank!> I do not see any spots of any kind on any of my fish but I freaked out went and bought 2 cleaner shrimp, I bought Quick Cure from one LFS and Marex from another I went and bought a 20 gallon beginners tank [has every thing , mechanical, I need]. So I have everything now I still do not see any spots. I am a little scared to use the formalin, malachite green combo.. <You should be... toxic> .. and I cant find much info on the Marex...and I am wondering if I need to treat them if I am not seeing anything on the fish My water quality is good- 0-ammonia 0- nitrites 20-nitrates[ I am working on that] alkalinity- 300 pH 8.2 I was stupid and did not quarantine them first, my only tank at the time had my other Perc clown... I regret not qt but its too late now.....what would you suggest I do?? I also have 65#of live rock.[ by the way] please advise as I am a worry wart. Thanks Kim <Likely the very simple explanation is most correct here... your fish/es are mal-affected by their own reflections... Try this: taping a piece of paper over the sides so that they will not "see themselves". Bob Fenner>

Inverts dying Hey Blundell, < Hey Martin. > I'm in a bit of quandary here.  I've finished setting up my 137 gallon AGA. I've been cycling the water for more than a month after mixing it directly in the tank.  All the live rock was cured in the tank. I've got two skimmers running.  The current tank parameters are 82.6 temp, 8.23 PH and 310 ORP.  The calcium is a bit low (under 300) but I will add a Kalkwasser reactor soon.  Three weeks ago I put in a blue damsel just to see how the water was and it has been doing fine.  I added a medium sized clown and a small clown fish a week later and all the inhabitants are thriving.  I tried adding an anemone last week which was very well established in my dealers tank and it promptly died the following day. < The following day!?  Wow that is odd, and reason to be concerned. >  This weekend thinking that was just a fluke, I put a large pizza anemone in and a small white anemone. Both died almost immediately.  In addition, I had a small pizza anemone that had been my 30 gallon tank for over two months and when I moved in to my big tank, it promptly died as well.  My question is why would the three fish that I put in plus a coral banded shrimp and anemone shrimp all be thriving while the four anemones I put in have all died just hours after I put them in?  < Right off I'm guessing metal poisoning.  Something like copper in the water.  I would either do some serious tests, or as bad as this sounds, I'd consider taking down the tank and starting over.  Please check biological filtration and make sure you don't have some very high nitrates or ammonia. > Am I missing something here? < Certainly, but I'm not sure what. > Thanks! Martin <  Blundell  >

Metal toxicity or something else? Hi Blundell, < Hi Martin. > Thanks for the response but I just have a clarification. If it is metal poisoning of some sort why would the fish plus the other inverts like the coral banded shrimp and the anemone shrimp still be doing well? < Because I might be wrong. I think metal poisoning would affect all the inverts. But maybe it is a low enough level that some things are able to tolerate it. Or maybe it isn't metal poisoning but a water quality issue with ammonia. Tough to say but if it is affecting inverts plus fish that is what I would be guessing. > Plus there is a substantial amount of brown algae growing on the rocks. < This leads more towards high nutrients (phosphate, nitrate) and I would think maybe a water quality issue. A large water change and a protein skimmer would certainly help in this case. > Thanks... Martin < Blundell > 

Metal toxicity? continued Blundell, < Martin. > I just ran some tests on the water chemistry. Nitrite is 0.02 mg/l; Nitrate is <1mg/l and Ammonia is 0.0. I really don't think it is the water. Any other ideas? < Wow, very good to know. It still may have been a water problem. When this is the problem, nitrate spikes, but usually falls before you test and see it. However, nitrite usually stays elevated for a few days. But in your case that isn't happening. Regardless of the reason, my advise would still be the same... skimmer and water changes. > Still stumped, < Me too. > Martin < Blundell > 

Novice marine aquarist    I love your site. Reading the articles and advice has helped a great deal, but I'm still confused about a couple of things. I have a 55 gallon with an Amiracle wet/dry, built in protein skimmer (that rarely works). <It's not you, these are feeble> The tank has about 3 inches of sand/crushed coral, and I've started to add live rock slowly (about 15 lbs right now). The tank has been up and running about a year, with a Featherduster, bi-color Pseudochromis, a clown and 2 other small damsels, and 2 hermit crabs. They're all healthy, but every time I try to add a fish or two, something happens to the new ones. Always the same pattern. I take a long time to acclimate them, and they start feeding within 2 hours after introducing them. They seem fine for the first 2 - 3 weeks, co-existing peacefully and accepting food without difficulty, but then die suddenly, often with no signs of parasites or fungus. The older tank members stay fine. Any ideas? <Mmm, something is awry with your water quality that your current livestock have "gotten used to"... It may well be that this will all change with your addition of more live rock. Do you measure for nitrates? I am given to suggest that you look into a better protein skimmer... am sure you will be shocked at the gunk it removes> I have read several times that eventually the bio balls should be removed, but hesitate to do so when my protein skimmer is less than effective, and with only 15 lbs of live rock. Am I wrong to leave the bio balls? <No, can do real good... and should not make much functional difference when you have more live rock. However, the skimmer will make a HUGE difference> Should I increase/decrease the sand/crushed coral mix? <Until there is some reason to do otherwise, I'd leave as is> I do about a 30% water change every month. Temp is a constant 79 - 80 degrees, pH is fine, no ammonia problems, and no problems with nitrites. Occasionally the nitrates begin to rise, but I'm thinking that the inverts would be bothered first by that if the levels were too high. <Not necessarily... especially if this occurs slowly, many invertebrates can tolerate huge amounts of nitrates. I've seen culture and holding systems with thousands of ppm...> Finally, It's clear I'll need a new protein skimmer, as the Amiracle doesn't work. What would be your preference?  Thanks so much for any help you can give me. <Likely an Aqua-C unit... unless you have plans to up-size your system... than a Euro-Reef product would be my choice. Bob Fenner>

Cowfish Poisoned Tank Hi Bob, <George>    I have a 120 gallon tank I converted to salt water about 4 months ago and went through the cycle and all my fish were doing fine. About every other day I checked the salinity, nitrite, nitrate, pH and ammonia and they are always perfect.  I had 2 Yellow Tangs and A Powder Blue Tang <Not easily kept> and a few Damsels and about 2 weeks ago I purchased a cowfish. The aquarium store I purchased it at didn't tell me the fish was poisonous and if they had, I wouldn't have bought it. <This is mentioned several times, places on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfishes.htm> It seemed to be OK for a day or two and then it kinda started just floating around in the tank, swimming a little every now and then. I told the pet store I purchased it at and they said that it was just stressed because it was in a new tank and that it would be OK in a few days. I believed him and then the next afternoon when I came home from work it was hung behind one of the decorations I have in my tank and it was dead. I carried it back to them and they gave me a different fish to replace it. When I got back home about 3 of my other fish were dead and the others were swimming around with hardly no life at all. Then, the  next afternoon they all were dead. I found out that if the cowfish becomes stressed before it dies it releases a poison that will kill everything in the tank and it did. I went to a "Barnes @ Noble" book store and after looking through all their Aquarium Fish books and reading about the cowfish they all said that it was poisonous and it will release a poison if it becomes stressed and it will die instantly and poison the entire tank, and  it did. Over the past two weeks since this happened I have changed about 50% of the water 3 times and one time I changed about 75% and each time I did a test on the water and it was all perfect. <I would change ALL the water... in fact, if this were an account, I would drain it all, re-fill it with fresh and lightly bleach (acid) wash all... yes, killing all biota, oxidizing the ostracitoxin> I have also replaced the  carbon in my two filters every other day as I was advised by the aquarium store. I have added a few damsels to it and they have all died after being in the tank after about 2 days. Every time they died I purchased 3 more damsels and about 2 days later they died. They all seemed to be doing well and then the next morning when I turned the lights on they were all dead. I am trying everything I can think of. I would appreciate any suggestions you have before I recycle my tank. George <Sorry to hear of the losses here. Please refer to WetWebMedia.com re how to thoroughly clean your system... and start over from "square one". Bob Fenner>

Clownfish (environmental) disease question I have had my clown fish for about 5 years.  I am not sure what type of clown fish he is - see attachment. <Premnas biaculeatus, a Maroon>   This week he has developed a white spot under his eye and possibly discoloration on his top fin. <Yes, I see these. Good photo>   You will also note that I am getting some burgundy slime/algae growing on the rocks. <Yes, a type of Blue Green Algae, aka Cyanobacteria> I have wrapped my 12 gallon saltwater tank in a towel to kill the slime/algae and have done syphoning and water changes.  The slime goes away for a couple of days and comes right back.  This may or may not have something to do with my fish. <Likely has to some good degree. What is important to understand, work against, is the root causes of the favoring of conditions that are allowing the profusion of BGA here> I have a snail, a sea urchin, and some multiple legged creatures that live in the rocks (starfish with long stripped legs??).  Can you shed any light on my problem?   Thank you in advance. <Yes... your Clowns principal, basal health issue VERY likely stems from poor water quality... your system has "aged" in ways that favor the Cyano... you would do well to change out, add some new live rock, possibly a good part of the substrate, make some large (25%) successive daily water changes... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marenvdi.htm and the Related Articles and FAQs (linked, in blue at the tops of these links) where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner>

Dying Hermit Crabs and dead Cleaner Shrimp Hi, <Hello there> I recently bought some hermit crabs and they are seem to be dying, not dead yet. First few days they were doing fine, feasting on the algae. But today I can't seem to find the small dwarf hermits and the bigger red leg hermits are not moving, may be moving just slightly. Just a few weeks ago, I also lost a cleaner shrimp. I had it for almost a year and for some reason one day it started to fall off of the rocks all by itself and few days later it eventually died. <Something's wrong here> All my water parameters are fine. Zero copper and nitrate and phosphate are undetectable and ammonia and nitrite are zeros and also 410 mg/l Calcium, 5 mg/l Strontium, 1400 Magnesium, 3.5meq/l Alkalinity, 0.04 mg/l iodine and 8.2 PH. Salinity is at 1.024. <Mmmm... your alkalinity is way off. Please see here: http://ozreef.org/content/view/87/2/> My 29 Gallon tank has Eheim Classic Canister filter, Teco Micro Chiller, UV Sterilizer, 96 watt of Tek 4 24" T5HO lights, and Aqua C Remora Pro Skimmer which is an over kill for my tank. I use for chemical filter media SeaChem's Matrix Carbon, Phos Guard, and Purigen. And for biological filter media Eheim's Substrate Pro. I started my tank year ago and I used SeaChem's Cupramine twice because of my yellow tang's white spot disease. But eventually the tang was cured with SeaChem's Para Guard in a separate 10 gallon hospital tank. The two times I used the copper I moved the cleaner shrimp to separate tank and put it back after copper readings were zero for at least a month and I never had any problems with the cleaner shrimp and it was healthy. Recently I started to use the Tap Water Filter that I bought from Dr. Foster and Smith online because of silicate in our tap water. Our tap water has so much silicate that I run the water through two Tap Water Filters simultaneously to get zero silicate level.  I don't have RO/DI and we are planning to move soon so I did not want to purchase one, yet. Also, I've been adding SeaChem's Calcium, Strontium and Reef Buffer for about six months to get some coralline algae to grow in my tank plus I wanted to turn my tank into mini reef some time in the future. <This may have been the beginning of your alkaline earth/alkalinity imbalance> My tank is fish and base rocks only tank for now. I've ordered some live rocks from Florida but because on the hurricanes last year it has been delayed. I don't know what could be the cause for the death of inverts in my tank. I'm guessing that it could be poisonous diatom algae or my strontium and/or iodine level is off the scale and my test kits are wrong. But then the fishes should be affected too, right? <Likely yes> I don't have a clue to what has happened to my tank. Why the inverts are dying in my tank. Please help, I really like to figure this problem out soon before whatever gets to my fishes also. Thanks in advance for reading through the story of my tank. Hans <Good record keeping, and relating of your system, circumstances... I do think that a dearth of alkaline reserve is at play here. You can read re such developments on WetWebMedia.com and how folks go about curing them... you may even get by through simple additions of baking soda. Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hermitdisfaqs.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpdisfaqs.htm then here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm then on to the Related FAQs where they lead you. What do you think? Bob Fenner> Damsel sickness or health? Hi, I have two yellowtail damsels and one of them has developed a white growth on his mouth right on the lip it looks like.  the fish has no other signs of problem and is eating and swimming great.  Today I prepared and administered a freshwater dip for him but I'm not sure if I helped or not, the white growth is still there.   Thanks for any help <Sounds like a "secondary" infection (microbial) from a physical injury (a bump in the night)... will hopefully heal with time. No real medicine to administer that is worth the stress of application, netting the specimen. Bob Fenner> Treatment mistakes compounded by crowding influenced by treatment, no quarantine... hello to whomever I landed at the crew.     been a fan of the site for some time and have enjoyed the tips and tricks offered for freshwater/brackish puffers and other fish, but let me get to the problem tank 55 gallons SG 1.023 temp 76 degrees 0 ammonia 0 nitrites 20 nitrates ph 7.9-8.1 (depending on test kit from LFS and mine) I have two hospital tanks a 5 gallon and a ten gallon tank filtration protein skimmer (air driven rated for 90 gallons) 120 gallon hang on tank dual pad filter in the tank 20 gallon filter for current and extra filtration two powerheads on side for current tank mates 1 porcupine puffer 2" 1 Atlantic angel 1.5 " 1 niger trigger 1.5 " 4 damsels less than 1" a piece and 1 rectangle trigger that I was keeping for a friend 1.5 " <Yikes... this is way too much life for a 55 gallon system... and going to get much worse in time> my problem.  I had a beauty of a Atlantic angel fish that began to form a large white cyst type object on its head, after consulting friends in the saltwater trade and both my local LFS stores they recommended to simply watch it since it probably was Lymphocystis and everything was swimming and eating fine no heavy breathing very active but not scratching or twitching, over night it burst into a petal type thing with little white strands hanging out of it I netted him into a quarantine tank for more observation. in the main tank though, the next night the puffer and the triggers being covered in white film and spots as were some of the damsels affected the entire tank with ich or velvet, after researching it and removing the live rock to another tank I treated the whole display tank with formalin and a fungus remover that has moderate antibiotics as recommended to not disrupt all my tank filtration bacterial wise.  this because we were not sure if it was a fungus or a parasite or what.   <... real trouble... formalin is an outright biocide... it crosslink's peptides... the building blocks of ALL life (if you skip viruses and their kin) on this planet...!> the puffer died during the treatment (stopped eating or swimming I put it in a net at the top of the tank with a bubble bar and even a separate tank but no luck he was too covered in the whitish strand film) and the angels head bump lost its strand like stuff on it but was still and open sore with white all around it and coming out of it, not skin as the angel was a beautiful yellow.   <I fully suspect your fish did NOT have an actual biological disease per se... but an environmental one, greatly worsened by crowding psychologically> the rectangle went back to my LFS so it could be better monitored and treated as I have diabetes and cant get around as well.  the other fish were reunited with the LR after all clearing up from the initial bout after I vacuumed the gravel and changed 30% of the water , but I put the angel and the niger in a quarantine tank together since the niger was still spotty and the angels bump was growing again.   well now the main tank has reinfected my damsels, the angels white blister like thing reopened and infected the hospital tank.  I used clout since it seems to all involved, my family friends with saltwater tanks, my LFS's and here that it probably was a parasite, since it was very effective on the rectangle trigger to cure it.  well the angel died very quick, and the niger and 2 damsels are quarantined in the hospital tank after it was steam cleaned and reset up. and remedicated with clout.  this has been going on for over two weeks though.  I'm afraid I cant get the green parasites (green from the clout supposedly dead) to come off the fish.  I vacuum the bottom and change water to keep it good quality.   I have two other fish in another quarantine tank since they came in form an order after the attack.  my display tank is fishless with only the substrate and LR in it and I'm vacuuming it, I had to take the heater out for the other q/t tank and disconnect the skimmer on it as it was leaking water without the heater and filter to keep the water high enough.  what can I do now to keep the LR coralline algae alive without reinfecting the other fish? <Leave all fish life out of your main tank...> is it ok in 60 degree water? <Not for very long... a few days will be okay> or do I need to keep the temp up for it? <Yes> also how can I help the niger shed its supposedly dead parasites and keep it form being reinfected.  it wont tolerate copper as it almost died from .15 copper treatments at the LFS.   I am quarantining my fish as per recommendations and such but I wasn't expecting such a mess from something like a blister/cyst.   anything else you can offer would be great thank you very much.   Justin <Justin... you need to take a good long read, consider your options here. You do NOT need to add any more "medicine" to your main system, but let it go fallow (w/o fish hosts) for a good four plus weeks. Read here please: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm and on to the various Related Articles and FAQs (at top, in blue) where they lead you. Do NOT buy any more livestock till you have enough room to support them AT adult size. DO monitor your treatment tank water quality daily, and be prepared to change out a good deal of the water (with stored pre-mixed). Bob Fenner> A mariners worst nightmares #2 sorry I forgot to mention that I do freshwater dip with ph and temp adjusted water for two weeks as well but doesn't seem to help <Ahh, a further clue that what you are observing is NOT parasitic in nature, but environmental. Bob Fenner>

Haitian Reef Anemone Good day. <How goes it?  M. Maddox here, earning his keep>  I've read your site and thoroughly enjoy your wealth of knowledge. <Thanks, so do I> I recently started a second marine tank (my other is a 75g Reef).  My wife wanted an anemone and a pair of clowns in the bedroom. <Spiffy ;]>  So I went to my local LFS and purchased a Haitian Reef Anemone (yes I now know a poor choice *gasp*). <Do you mean Condylactis spp?  If so, they're not difficult to keep, as anemones go.  If not, scientific name, please?>  I placed the anemone in my cycled tank after the acclimation process. <Unless you're using a significant amount of LR\LS from your main tank I wouldn't add an anemone for several months or more>  The next morning I found the anemone dead and in pieces all over the tank.  A classic epic of Anemone v. Powerhead. <Why is it that everyone who has an anemone insists on using powerheads?  I see\hear this all the time! At least cover the intakes with foam> Needless to say the powerhead won. <They usually do> My question is this:  What steps do I need to take before putting anything else in the tank?  Did the untimely death pollute my tank? <Probably not much> Is so what steps, if any, can be taken to render it safe for marine life again? <Wait a few months, research anemone care, cover the PH intake with foam, or preferably, get rid of them in exchange for better means of flow> Thanks Marc <Anytime - M. Maddox> Fish jumping out of tank Just a quick note.  Thanks for the reply.  Royal Dottyback seems to be leaving the other fish alone however, the same night I wrote the email my Orange Spotted Goby leaped out of my tank and died.  I don't have any huge holes at the top and he's lived in my tank for over two years.  Wonder if he was being bullied??? << Possible.  Maybe not bullied but just decided he leave that part of the reef and find another home. >> Or the second theory is the fact that I was watching Finding Nemo on my 65" TV right by the fishtank, do you think he became inspired to attempt to get back to the ocean? Hahahaha... << Well that is the first time I've heard that possibility.  If it becomes more common to hear of this then maybe you're on to something ;) >> ok not funny. <<  Blundell  >>

New 55 gallon Snail and Shrimp Deaths (12-13-04) Hi WWM crew, <Hello. You have Leslie here this evening.> I recently set up a 55 gallon reef tank about 2 weeks ago. I have 60 lbs of Arag-alive Bahamas oolite, 45 lbs of Fiji live rock from LiveAquaria.com which took 5 days to cure, a sand sifting star, 2 peppermint shrimp but one died 2 days after I put it in, 12 red leg hermits, 3 blue leg, 15 turbo snails (about 6 aren't moving so I put them in a separate container and took out the ones that where stuck to the side. 4 I think are dead. they smell pretty bad). My equip. is 260 watt Coralife lunar Aqualight, Eheim pro II 2026, aqua c remora which I set up about 2 days ago, and a Rio 800 power head. I filled my tank up with freshwater from my faucet (well water that passes through 2 carbon filters and a water softener) and mixed the right amount of salt to it. I waited 2 days and check all of the levels. Then I added my sand which I opened the bags underwater and I spread it around. I waited 2 days then added my live rock to the tank. There were still some coralline algae on it since it took 5 days to cure. I set my light system for the actinic for 14 hrs and my daylight for 12 hrs. It ran for 4 days and then I added 10 Turbos, 10 red legs, the sand sifter, and the shrimp. I started adding coral-vital to speed up the growth of my coralline. I did a 25% water change with RO water I got from my LFS which I work at, because my phosphates were .5. I started getting brown algae on my substrate and live rock in a few places, then on the glass. About a week later my substrate was all brown and so was the live rock, on the glass were patches of algae and this single hair like matter about 1/2 long on the glass all over. Over 3 days my water started to get cloudy, on the 3rd day I couldn't see the power head in the back of the tank. the first 10 inches from the top was like white cloudy water and as it went closer towards the sand it become a yellowish-brown like a urine color. all my levels are fine I have been testing my water everyday) I bought the skimmer right after I came home from school and I saw this and I got next day shipping so I received it the next day. It has been running for about 3 days and the foam is white and it produces about 1/2 cup full of brown water everyday (I have it on the lowest setting collecting as much as it can, otherwise I get nothing.) I don't know if the snails that I think died caused this or the coral-vital. I put a bag of Phos-guard, Chemi-pure, and reef carbon in the filter. What could be causing this? Thanks Joe   <It sounds to me like the snails and shrimp were added too soon. If I read the sequence of events correctly you added the snails 6 days after you set the tank up. Your tank did not have time to establishing a biological filter. Please review following articles on biological filtration and cycling http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm> HTH, Leslie

New tank problems follow-up Sorry I couldn't reply..<No worries Joe, MacL here with you again> My internet spam blocker has been blocking all of my emails. All of my levels that I tested were ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate10-20 ppm, ph 8.3, calcium 400, and phosphate .1 after I added the PhosGuard. Just two days ago I added tons of Marineland black carbon in bags and placed it in my canister and removed the PhosGuard. Today my tank is almost as clear as when I set it up...just a little bit cloudy but I can see everything. I pulled out 2 more snails yesterday and it made a total of about 8 snails that died these snails aren't worth the money...good thing I get a discount). <I have to tell you really sounds like you've had some kind of ph or ammonia and ph problem.> I just ordered a algae attack from live aquaria this morning...6 margarita, 6 Turbos, 4 Ceriths, 7 scarlet leg, 20 red dwarfs. I have a lot of coralline growing and I added another Rio 1100 to move the yellow water around when it was nasty looking. <More water movement is good regardless.> I have some kind of coral like a Zoanthid growing on the shell of a snail that is alive but doesn't move, can I remove the coral some how?<It depends on the coral. Is the snail alive?> My skimmer is starting to work well now after about a week or so...I think it could have been a bacterial bloom but that doesn't explain the yellow water which didn't have any ammonia in it. <Did you double test your test kits to be sure? Have the water tested at the pet store?> The diatoms are finally gone and I hope I have some algae for the snails to eat! let me know what you guys think. <Watch your tank closely Joe. It just hit me that I hadn't asked you if you have any decorations that are colored yellow? I've seen them leach color into the water. BUT honestly from the description it truly sounds like you had some type of bloom. Let me know how it continues to do. MacL> thanks a lot for all of your help Joe

Chemical warfare question I have a 10 gallon sw tank, a penguin mini filter, and a couple inches of sand with a few fish. It is 18 months old and very steady water quality. I change 1 gallon a week. About 3 weeks ago I decided to add some color by adding 2 mushrooms; red, green and an orange Ricordea ( so now I also have 3 small rocks). I have a regular cover with a fluorescent bulb (which I just replaced) and mushrooms should be ok with my lighting based on what I have read. Yesterday I came across an article relating to mixing corals and the problem being discussed was the chemicals released by one kind against another. My question is, do these chemicals have any adverse affect on fish? <Can, yes> And if yes, will my mushrooms release anything if they are the only kind in my tank? <Generally not too deleteriously... though the larger the system, the safer it is... a ten gallon is a very small world. Bob Fenner> Parasitic, environmental... two, two, two diseased condition influences working at once! Hello Bob, <Jeremy> My name is Jeremy Gosnell, and I have been an aquarium hobbyist for many years. I have kept until now only freshwater fish, mainly African cichlids and discus. Just recently I set up a 30 gallon Saltwater Aquarium I cycled the tank for about 2 weeks <Will likely need more time...> and used Oceanic Sea Salt as the salt mix, crushed coral as a substrate, and currently have about 25 pd.s of live rock in the tank. For filtration I opted for the Aqua Clear 500, undergravel with dual Aqua Clear 301 power heads. For lighting I installed a 65 watt Coral Life compact fluorescent. <Okay> It seems like every new fish that I place in this tank gets some type of parasite. <Mmm, likely to a large degree environmentally induced... your system is small, probably not completely cycled> It begins looking like typical marine ich so I treat them for ich, then they get covered in ich like spots but these are much much smaller than traditional ich. They are white in color and literally coat the entire fish. As if someone had sprinkled a very fine sugar or salt all over the fish. This disease has taken many of my fish including 2 Sebae Clownfish, A pacific blue tang <This tank is too small for this species> and more. The only fish I have that remains healthy and free of this odd condition is my Juvenile Yellow tang. He had a short bout with ich that cleared quickly. <It's still there... in your system> I have used a variety of treatments trying to eradicate this. Malachite Green, PimaFix, MelaFix, Clout, have all been unsuccessful in clearing the condition. I am now trying a product called KickIch - a 14 day treatment that may hopefully help. I know you are the experts expert and wondered what your opinion was on this. I do have invertebrates in the tank several crabs and shrimp and some turbo grazer snails. The parameters are as follows: Temperature - 78 degrees F Ph: 8.3 Nitrite: 0.0 Ammonia - 0.0 I used both Stability by Seachem and Bio Spira by Marineland Labs to cycle this tank. Would that have any effect, its been running for about 1.5 months. Any help would be great Jeremy J. Gosnell <Time to take a few steps backward... I take it you have been trying to cure this parasitic problem in your main tank... contraindicated... you are disrupting the system, hurting your livestock's capacity to ward off further infestation by impugning their environment. There is not a whole lot to study to understand the gist of what you're up to here... Please begin by reading: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm and on to the Related Articles and FAQs (linked, in blue, at top)... especially the FAQs files on infested tanks. Stop poisoning your main system, and instead invest in a separate treatment tank... Study now and save your fishes, money, good nature. Bob Fenner> Fish Question - Cloudy Eyes Dear Bob - <Jim> Thank you for the answers to my past questions.  I have a new question that I need your help with.  I received a Royal Gramma yesterday from a reputable mail order company and noticed today that both eyes are "cloudy" or not popped out as of yet. <Likely a "burn" from shipping, rather than net, other damage...> I've been getting mixed information to use "Epsom Salt" or "MelaFix" or "Maracyn" to treat this.  I would really appreciate any input you have to handle this situation. <I would use none at this point... keep the animal in quarantine, under close observation to assure it's feeding... likely will heal of its own accord> One more question,  I always seem to have a problem with my "hospital" tank.   Is it possible since I don't always have a stock of fish in the tank that when I do put in new fish is it possible that it starts to cycle all over again?   <Yes, very likely so... a good practice to somehow "feed" the microbes there regularly... a bit of purposeful fish food, some change-out of live rock, even moving some "old" water from your main tank during water changes...> The filter system I'm running is the Magnum 350 Pro System - I know it's a little overkill... I also have a Aqua sterilizer. Thank you. Jim Hoffman <Some folks are likely to medicate themselves, children for mere scratches, other people just put on a band-aid... still others just say "Ow" and get on with it. Bob Fenner>

Sand layers and skimmers     My 11 year old son and I set up a 55 gallon marine aquarium about a year ago. My local fish store recommended an A-Miracle wet/dry trickle filter (that hangs on the back of the tank), with a built in protein skimmer. They also recommended that I use about 3 - 4 inches of  substrate, a mix of sand and crushed coral. I've had all kinds of problems with nitrate levels, and never seem to get the protein skimmer working properly. I then set up a secondary mechanical filter (a simple two cartridge Whisper filter). Still not much luck. I only have a three damsels, a Pseudochromis, a feather duster and a couple of very small hermits, and a few pounds of live rock. Every time I try to add a fish or two, they seem fine for about a week or two, during which they are active, they feed, etc.,  and then  they die suddenly, with no sign of parasites, fungi, or any other visible problems. << This happens to people all the time. >> Yet the original inhabitants are fine. Now, I tried another local fish store that came highly recommended by some other more experienced aquarists, and I'm told that the A-miracle is a terrible filter system. They say it's protein skimmer is about the worst on the market. They also claim that it's far too difficult to keep fish and invertebrates together << What?  Crazy talk.  Of course you keep them together. >>, that I should go with an Eheim canister filter with a protein skimmer, and that I should change the substrate entirely, to just a very shallow layer of sand. << I don't like that idea.  I like lots of deep sand. >> I've read a bunch of your FAQs, and now I'm totally confused. We want to add a few fish and a couple of invertebrates with more live rock. Should I switch to a canister filter with a protein skimmer? << Well a good skimmer is always a good idea. >> Should I change the substrate and go with a thin layer of sand only? << No. >> Can I keep a few invertebrates with the fish? << Absolutely. >> Is a canister filter alone sufficient, and if not, what other filtration do I need? << Lots of live rock, and then a lot of time for your sand to become a live sand.  This is the basis for marine tank filtration. >> Please help!! <<  Blundell  >>

Clown triggers swollen, hyposalinity... issues of too much money, too little knowledge Hi crew, I need your precious help to solve a great problem. I'm making hyposalinity in my tank (250 gallons) for fighting Cryptocaryon. A week ago I've brought my salinity to 13 ppt and now my fishes are free of white spots. But two of them (medium clown triggers) have their belly very very swollen. <... likely as a consequence directly of the lowered spg... and a comment re the two Clowns in one tank... not a good idea... you will likely have a great deal of antagonism, stress overall here> I've bought one of these two clowns Saturday and after a eight hours acclimatizing I've put him in my tank. <...! You put new fish in an ich/crypt infested system? Without quarantine?... Why?> Yesterday he had his belly swollen like the other clown who is in the tank from the beginning of hyposalinity. Another clown trigger is died 3 days ago this is body swollen. <Stop!> All other fishes are ok. Now I have put the two swollen triggers in another tank with 35 ppt of salinity to save their lives. <Are you moving these fishes between these differing densities of water immediately? As in within a day? Not good> Is possible the reason of this is too much salinity because of wrong calibration of my refractometer. What can I do to save them? Please help! Thank you very much Lorenzo <Lorenzo... please study www.WetWebMedia.com re Cryptocaryon, Hyposalinity, Clown Triggers, Quarantine... go to the homepage, use the Google Search Tool there. Much to learn my friend, that will save you worry, money, lost livestock. Do NOT buy any more livestock, or manipulate your water quality until you understand what you're doing. Bob Fenner> All snails dead My 115 G reef tank (90G display + 10 G refugium + 15 G sump) has been running since late August 04. Its inhabitants up until my problem, which I'll explain in a moment, were: 2 green chromis 1 lawnmower blenny 5 Trochus snails 7 Turbos 30 red-legged hermits 12 Nassarius snails 25 Ceriths snails 12 Astrea snails 8 margarita snails The fuge also had eight mangroves, <Eight? Too many... you are aware how big these plants grow?> Caulerpa prolifera, Chaetomorpha, and Red Grape Caulerpa. The display had green star polyps, and red and green mushrooms. The aquarium runs between 78 and 80 degrees. pH of 8.3-8.4. Ammonia and nitrite at 0. Nitrate below 5. Salinity 1.025. KH 9.6. No phosphate. Calcium has consistently been above 500. <Too high... 350 to 400 is better, more sustainable... particularly in the face of trying to maintain alkaline reserve> I have a Kalkwasser reactor that does automatic top off. I run 2 250W 10K MH and two 48" VHO blue Actinics. On 5 November, I removed Kalk from the reactor to try and get the calcium down, even though it did not seem to have any negative effect. On the next day, I added a purple Montipora frag and a toadstool leather coral. On 7 Nov, I noticed that the Turbos were dormant. None were dead, but they were not moving much. The leather had shrunk a lot and the Montipora turned a dark color. On 10 Nov, I changed carbon, replacing the 1.5 cups with new carbon. I usually run two bags of 1.5 cups each and only change one at a time. I also do 15-20% RO/DI water changes per week, matching temp and salinity. Later that day, the Montipora died. By the 14th, I noticed more snails were dying and the green star polyps remained closed. Somewhere around this time, the leather began developing scabs in its edges. At this point, all snails are dead. The hermits and fish are OK. <Good clues, input, records> One other thing I noticed was the Red Grape Caulerpa was losing its color. <Likely related to the loss of integrity of the chemistry, physics of the environment overall> The Chaeto was also becoming "loose" and instead of a rich green, was more faded. The Caulerpa prolifera, which had been growing like crazy, also began to slow and eventually deteriorate. I removed the Caulerpa around the 20th before they disintegrated completely. Theories include salinity that was way off. That did not pan out because I bought a refractometer and my hydrometer is not off that much. Another theory is copper or brass poisoning, but I do not know of a source that would be causing this. I do use a standard plumbing check valve on the incoming part of my RO/DI, and some standard garden hose  bibs to connect a pump to the chiller. Other theory: The Caulerpa poisoned the whole system when it began to  fall apart. <Not likely, though a minor possible adjunct> I am open to other theories and ideas. I'd like to avoid this happening  in the future again. Martin <Martin, it is obvious you care deeply, have some understanding of basic marine aquariology, and have a BUNCH of money invested in gear... but also apparent that some basic "hands-on" information has not been gained as yet... The problem you had is very likely a matter of a "cascade effect" originating with the super-normal calcium concentration (pushed by your Kalkwasser use)... to put the situation in simple terms, the overabundance of calcium hydroxide (Kalk) diminished the presence of carbonate (alkalinity) and its availability to your snails... AND likely poisoned your Mangrove "stand"... these organisms dying, have precipitated the other observable stress, loss of life. Please take the time to read over the materials archived on our site, www.WetWebMedia.com on: Mangroves, Alkalinity and Calcium, Environmental Disease... in the meanwhile, do NOT buy, place any more livestock or purchase more equipment... What you have, a good mind, capacity to learn, desire to do well... is all you need. Bob Fenner> Die off I recently purchased a 40 gallon "stretch-hex" saltwater aquarium. This is a hex-shaped aquarium 18" x 12" x 18" high. I'm using an Eheim professional II canister filter with a CPR Bak-2 biological filter/protein skimmer. Included are live sand (40 lbs.) and live rock (3 lbs). For the first two weeks I had a pair of clownfish and a pair of damsels. <What species of Damsel? Some are very mean...> We then added an orchid Dottyback. They were all doing extremely well. The ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels were at zero. The pH was 8.2 and the salinity was at 1.022. So, after another week I decided to add two more fish, a coral beauty and a juvenile Bannerfish. Within two days, all of the fish died. They became listless and wouldn't feed. The coral beauty began to shed mucus and dart to the surface. Just before the last fish dies, the coral beauty, I checked the ammonia levels at 0.5, nitrite at the minimum detectable by the test kit and nitrates at zero. <The ammonia likely came as a consequence, rather than cause... the fish/es dying, dissolving...> Any ideas about the sudden die -off? Could it be oxygen levels? Thanks, David Form <Possibly, yes... does sound environmental in origin... rather than biological (infectious, parasitic)... Hex shaped tanks can "get into trouble" quickly due to their height, lack of surface area aspect. I would wait a few weeks (no need to dump the tank) and start over... and avoid all but small species of fishes. Bob Fenner>

Re: die off Thanks for your response. Would you recommend including an airstone in this system? <Yes> The salesman at Tropic Isle, where I bought my set-up and fish, recommended against an airstone, but did recommend that I use a DI resin column, Tap Water treatment by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. Do you recommend this? <Not necessarily... unless there is something detectable, awry with your source water> I live in Somerville, Ma and use Boston City water. Thanks, David <Do take a read through our site's sections on marine environmental disease... www.WetWebMedia.com> P.S. I purchased your book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist,  and I'm finding it useful and enjoyable. <Ahh, glad you are finding it so. Bob Fenner> Re: Eel oxidized, help! Epsom, spg, env. disease, antibiotics The salinity level in my moray tank has reached 1.030! I suspect that this is due to the addition of Epsom salts into my tank. <This is a lot of Epsom if so... it only needs to be added once... unless a good deal of water volume has been changed out> Should I change the water immediately? <Yes... I'd lower the spg to 1.025 in three days water changes... taking out a calculated volume of tank water and replacing it with freshwater.> Both my eels have not eaten for more than 1 month but that is a rather usual occurrence. My Soapfish is faring rather well in the tank at present. What should I do? <Start changing the water, NOW> The fishes seem normal presently but I do not want any nasty surprises. The tank currently also contains tetracycline (to aid the oxidized eel which is slowly recovering). If I were to change water, the tetracycline dosage would be diluted. Is this okay? <Yes, but I would NOT add more Tetracycline... not likely of value/use... your fish will heal with improvement in water quality, time> pH: 8.5 Nitrate & nitrite: 0.15 <Nitrite should be zero> KH: 8dKH Alkalinity: 3 mEq/liter I figured out that the Epsom salts caused the rise in salinity. However, I need to still do a water change (last change was 3 weeks ago). However, I am afraid that if I were to top up both the Epsom salts and tetracycline, there would be tetracycline in the tank longer than the required dosage. This is because it takes time for tetracycline to be completely exhausted in supply in a tank. <Actually... the color of this antibiotic is persistent, but its activity only lasts a few days> I added tetracycline into the tank around 1 week ago. So, IMO, which may not be correct, if I add tetracycline in the top-up water, there will still be some tetracycline in the water about 1 week after the duration of the required dosage, which I fear may be bad for the fishes. <Me too... Do NOT re-add it> However, I also do not know the duration of the required dosage of tetracycline (not stated on package), and this makes things a tad more complicated. Difficult to explain. An example: Dosage for tetracycline: 5g (to be in water for 3 weeks). Tetracycline added. Further top up of new tetracycline 1 week later. 3 weeks later: Old tetracycline dosage exhausted (present in water for full 3 weeks), new dose only present in water for 2 weeks. Therefore some residual tetracycline stays in the water for 1 week more than required duration. Is that okay too? <Antibiotic use for marine fishes is tenuous at best... if administered NOT a good idea to place in their main tank itself... for loss of biological filtration, staining... reasons. I would hold off on adding ANY medication at this point. Lower your spg and supplement your biological filtration. Bob Fenner>

Re: Eel oxidized, help! The problem with my eel's eye is getting much worse. His affected eye is now swollen, red and encrusted. It is bulging dangerously out of its socket and is really gross. I am at my wit's end. What cure is there? Will it ever recover? It has not been eating for around 2 months. I dare not force-feed it for fear of damaging his eye further. Desperate action required. <I would try the staid remedy of adding a teaspoon of Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) per five gallons of water... and replenishing this with water changes... Keep offering foods... soaked in Selcon or similar. Bob Fenner>

Lessons Learned I must apologize in advance for asking so many questions, I've found good advice hard to come by. I am very appreciative for any help you can offer. <No apologies needed...We're glad to be here! Scott F. at your service!> I have a 215g FOWLR system with about 215# of LR, 120# of LS, a Berlin sump, Sealife-250 skimmer,  Pro Clear Aquatic 150 skimmer and I'm not sure of the rating of the Gen-X pump. <I like the fact that you have two skimmers! A neat concept.> It has been set up for about a year. Just after purchasing a large green moray I noticed that I had ich. LFS recommended copper and after much hesitation I used it. The copper killed the ich but not too long after I started having very bad water quality problems (PH 7.9, ammonia 0.3 and nitrite 0.8). Poly Filter would work for a while but it got progressively worse and I started losing fish. <Well, you've just learned the valuable lesson about not treating disease in your display tank!> I tested water I was getting from a closer LFS and found it had nitrite 0.8, I don't know how long that was happening because I failed to test it after the first time I purchased it. <Another valuable lesson you've learned! Test regularly!> I added the PC 150 skimmer and increased water changes, reduced feeding and started dosing Cycle. My ammonia has been 0 for a while now (PH back to about 8.1, alkalinity 2.5 mEq/l) but my nitrite remained high (0.3-0.8) for at least a month and I lost most of  my fish. (I have a Dogface Puffer, Panther Grouper, Clown Grouper, and Black Volitans Lionfish left) My temp was extremely high (85-90F) but has since come down (81F), I am going to make a chiller before next summer. <A lot of factors could have contributed to the fish deaths...Of course, "collateral damage" from the medication, as well as the high temperatures, probably played a big role...> LFS was not sure why nitrite wasn't going down and said they needed to see my system to be able to tell what was going on. They have blown me off several times so now I have no desire to give them my business and consequently have no source to purchase water. <I think that you'll be better off (both economically and in terms of "quality control") to invest in an RO/DI unit and mix your own water!> I added a powerhead to the back of the LR and noticed that my nitrite went to nearly 0 and my nitrates went from about 20 to off the chart (>160, 10% water change doesn't dent it). If I remove the powerhead nitrite comes back to about 0.1 (I'm using a Tropic Marin nitrite test). Could this be denitrification in anaerobic zones producing nitrite? <Could be...Sounds like somehow the powerhead is stirring things up (like maybe the sandbed?) and disrupting some of the natural denitrification processes occurring down there.> Is there anything else I can do to eliminate the nitrite? <Nitrate can be reduced successfully with a well managed deep sand bed, liberal use of chemical filtration media (like carbon and/or Poly Filter), aggressive, frequent water changes with quality source water, growth and harvest of macroalgae (like Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria), careful feeding, reduced bioload, and just plain good husbandry techniques! Do research some of the ideas that I've mentioned here...These are a few ideas to get you started>> Is there anything else I can do to reduce nitrate in the short term other than water changes? <See above...> My fish are eating better now (although I don't feed them as much) but I'm still very concerned about the water quality. <Keeping working on it...It will definitely improve with your continued attention to detail.> I've since read TCMA and decided to try making my own water by aerating tap as suggested. I just purchased a Jungle chlorine/chloramine test and tested the water straight from the tap and it read nothing. Local water dept report says they add chloramine and tests at 3.1ppm (range 0.5-4.2). Can I blindly trust that it will be gone in a week or is there a better test? <Not one that I'm aware of. Again, it would be best to invest in an RO/DI unit to really knock out the nasty stuff!> Other parameters of the tap from my tests are: Nitrate 10, ammonia 1-2, nitrite 0.3, copper 0. <Seems fairly typical for many local water supplies...Pretreatment (RO/DI, as mentioned above) is the way to go, IMO> I have lots of particulate in my tank and I was considering adding a canister filter for part time or possibly continual use. Would this be the way to go? <They can be a good assist, but all mechanical filtration media must be cleaned or changed very frequently, or you will end up accumulating detritus, which can decompose and further contribute to decreased water quality!> Can these be added to the sump (i.e. pull water from the first sump chamber and return it to the middle or last)? I didn't really want to add more tubes to the inside of the tank and I don't really have much room behind it. <Sure, they can be placed so that the intake and output go to the sump.> I currently have a sponge and poly fiber or filter in between the second and third chambers. If the canister is a good idea what kind would you recommend? <Eheim are the "world standard" for many years, but there are other great units out there. We're going to run an article on canister filters by Steve Pro in the next "Conscientious Aquarist" online magazine here on the WWM site; hopefully, it well help you in your selection!> I haven't seen any rated for a tank my size.   <Check some of the popular e-tailers...There are canister systems for large tanks.> Once again, sorry for the length. I've been trying to read as much as I can as I've found experience to be a painful and costly teacher. <Unfortunately...But the lessons learned through experience are not soon forgotten!> I set up a quarantine tank and am trying to force myself to be patient. Thanks for the help. Tom <My pleasure, Tom. Keep up the good work. Regards, Scott F> Why Did They Die?  O2 Problems? >Hi Crew, >>Hello Chris.  Marina here. >Please keep this wonderful site up and running.  This is my first attempt at marine keeping, but I have spent quite a bit of time on this and other sites to gain as much knowledge as possible.  I have run into a bit of a problem that you may be able to quickly remedy.   >>We can only hope. >My set up is as follows.  36 gallon corner tank and no cover, 5.5 gallon sump (that's all I could fit under the cabinet), Aqua-C Urchin sump skimmer that is definitely doing its job, 130w power compacts 1 10k 1 Actinic, about 315 gph flow with a little homemade jet out of PVC with one opening that agitates the surface and two below.  I bought an RO/DI unit and use Tropic Marin salt at 1024, temp is always 78-80 degrees.  I cycled my tank with 42 lbs of uncured Tonga rock (not the branch stuff) and a 3" CaribSea aragonite sand bed, which took 4 weeks for the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate to read 0 and still does to this day.  The day before my cycle ended I began getting a diatom break out.  After reading posts on your site, I found it to be normal.  About a week later the bloom was still hanging around so I decided to start out with a cleaning crew.  Emerald crab, 10 Astrea snails, 2 Nassarius snails, 3 red Scarlets and 5 very young blue legged hermits.  All were introduced over a period of a few days, not all at once.   >>Watch out for the emerald's behavior (Mithrax). >Everything seemed to be fine, they were doing there job and my readings are still 0, however, my pH is stuck at 8.0 and had been during the cycling process which doesn't budge day or night.   >>This indicates a good degree of alkalinity (buffering), which is good.  Between the Tropic Marin and the aragonite sand this is what you want.  An 8.0 pH is fine. >I waited another week after my cleaning crew and decided since I am new to start off with a damsel and Chromis.  The damsel didn't make it through the night.   >>Sans quarantine?  Gentle admonishment, always quarantine.  You make no mention of acclimation procedures, either. >It spent the evening near the bottom gasping for air and found it dead in the morning.  The Chromis appeared normal, eating and swimming around.  The next day it had the exact same symptoms, near the bottom and gasping for air.   >>No other symptoms whatsoever?  No other physical signs?   >The LFS said it was my alkalinity, so I bought a test kit and buffer set.   >>That makes no sense, considering that you're not growing stony corals and your pH is QUITE steady at 8.0.  You don't mention what test kits you're using, and I've found that there is great variability in kit quality.  If not already, I suggest SeaChem, Salifert, LaMotte, Hach (the last two being best quality and priced accordingly).  SeaChem is U.S. made, so much more easily available, but Dutch Salifert is also very good quality for the price. >Doubting my LFS, I tested the water and my dKH is 11 maybe 11.5, they said I should be 15 to 20, but I am not going to add any buffer to the system.   >>I believe an alkalinity measured by dKH should be in the 8-12 range, especially in a system without hermatypic (reef-building) specimens).  What you're describing could also be attributed to improper acclimation, though I'm not ready to say that's exactly it at this point. >Could my pH be affected by a lack of oxygen due to the diatom outbreak?   >>Not so much by a lack of O2 as by an excess of CO2, however, if you have sufficient surface agitation (should be rather vigorous, almost splashing) this, along with the sump and skimmer, ought not be an issue. >I have many bubbles created by the bloom, which I am assuming is from photosynthesis and utilizing the available oxygen in the system.   >>Possibly, but then you could expect other animals to exhibit stress as well.  There are kits for measuring both O2 and CO2 that could be helpful in eliminating this as a possibility.  You don't mention how old the tank is, but if there's a chance of anaerobic pockets in the sand, this could be another consideration. >I plan to aerate a cup of water tonight to see if it is a lack of O2.   >>I'm not sure what aerating a cup of water will accomplish.  If you're intent is to measure O2 within the system, even removing a cup of water to another container will defeat this purpose.  Aeration prior to measurement will defeat all results. >The bloom is showing signs that it is receding and/or being eaten, but not coming back.  Should I give it a little more time, or add an air pump to my sump or main tank?   >>I would first try increasing surface agitation, and when you intend to introduce new fish, measure the pH of the water from which they come.  Large shifts in pH can kill quite easily, and what can be considered large from an aquatic animal's perspective may seem insignificant to us.  It's important to use both good quality test kits, as well as fresh (not a year old), as well as to use the *same* kit when measuring values from different sources.   >I like having my windows open, so I get plenty of fresh air in my condo and that shouldn't be the problem.   >>No, it shouldn't, unless the tank is rather tall and the surface agitation is poor. >Do you think my pH will naturally climb with more O2, or should I buffer it up to 8.3?   >>I always strongly recommend that folks do NOT mess about with their pH, yours is fine (in my opinion, even for a reef).  If it were bouncing by more than two or three points (right of decimal), then I would indeed recommend you buffer, but more to maintain a steady pH than to change it up or down. >Sorry for the long winded email, but this hobby is murder on your patience and those poor two fish I bought. >>Heh, indeed.  If you suspect the diatomaceous bloom to be the culprit (being positive it isn't Cyanobacteria, another very normal occurrence), then you might wish to begin gentle removal.  Again, I don't know the age of the tank, and it may very well have been that the fish caused enough of an ammonia and subsequent nitrite spike to have not survived.  You can prevent this by one of two methods - either utilize Bio-Spira to boost nitrifying bacterial colonies, or boost them yourself by a bit of overfeeding before you add fish.  I  do feel, however, that your pH and alkalinity are fine, and would first look to other issues with the fish or acclimation procedures first.  Also, please quarantine.  Marina >Chris   

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