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FAQs on Marine Environmental Disease 3

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

Related FAQs: Marine Environmental Disease 1, Marine Env. Disease 2, Marine Env. Disease 4, Marine Env. Disease 5, Marine Env. Disease 6, 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

A surprising number of marine organisms are toxic, able to be toxic...

Popeye related to environmental problems I emailed you a couple of day regarding Popeye on my Sweetlips. I think I have figured out that this was caused by bad water quality. My water started getting cloudy 2 days after a water change. While doing the water change I decided on cleaning some of my decor with some bleach I let it sit in the sun for a day and then rinsed it of and put it back in my tank this was the problem I believe that I did not clean the decor good enough and the bleach ruined my tank. I came to this conclusion when I test the water and my ammonia and nitrites starting climbing just like when you first setup a tank. I took out the decor that I cleaned with bleach but the damage has already been done. Do you think this is possible. <Yes... not uncommon in service companies... where bleach sometimes "gets away", accidentally spread into systems> After reading the above statement if you think it is true,  please tell me is you think the steps I am taking or good. I have been doing some small water changes about 10 gallons I have a 90 gallon tank. I have been feeding once a day very small quantities 4 or 5 pieces of krill and a half a cube of brine shrimp. I added some aqua plus to the tank water to get ride of any chlorine the might still be in the water. Do you think I should add some type of Beneficial Microbes to help speed things up and if so what should I use anything besides live rock I know its the best but I don't have room or the money to do so. Thank you for your input and help as always and hope 2003 is well for you. <I would add the beneficial microbes (like Hagen's Cycle) here. All else you are doing is fine. Do keep testing your water for ammonia, nitrite. Bob Fenner>

Tang Environmental Disease Crew, <Steve> Thanks for being there!  See attached JPG. <A scratchy yellow tang> These blotchy red places started appearing on my Yellow Tang about four days ago.  No other fish are effected.  Everyone seems happy. I have a 75g FO tank.  Nothing unusual: 1 Yellow Tang 1 Saddle puffer 3 yellow tail damsels 1 Domino damsel 1 Neon velvet Damsel 2 turbo snails The tank is drilled and has a sump with BioWheel.  Protein skimmer to be added soon.  I did a 30% water change yesterday, thinking it may help. Didn't seem to help at all. <Get the skimmer, quick. May be that the Domino or Neon Velvet is beating the tang up, but much more likely just "poor water quality" affecting the more/most sensitive fish here. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Tangdisease.htm and the files beyond on tang disease, on to Yellow Tangs...> Any hints, advice? <The added skimmer will likely "do it"... improve overall water quality, the tangs health. Bob Fenner> Thanks again,

Loss of a Tank I have had a saltwater tank for over 7 years in my house and never had any problems with my tank.   I decided to have the local fish store start to take care of the tank. (2 times a month)  They have made 4 visits at a cost of over $400.00.  Two days after their last visit the tank become cloudy and the 12 fish laid on the bottom of the tank. Wrasse seemed to be in convulsions for 3 days.  The ammonia had sky rocket out of control.  I did a 50 % water change in a 150 gal tank that has LR and brought the ammonia down.  Then the nitrate and nitrite levels began to spike. <Yikes... something... too thorough a cleaning... shutting off of circulation to nitrifying bacteria populations... introduction of a chemical with biocidal properties... at work here>   I contacted the fish store and they told me not to do any more water changes and add reef carbon. <Good advice... but what about suggestions as to how to re-start your biofiltration?> A week has now passed and only a snow flake eel has seemed to survive.  I now notice on the gravel in the tank rust colored looking worms. (What are they)? <Likely some species that are greatly increasing in population... that used to live in your substrate... now that there's an abundance of food (dead fish) they're coming out, not being consumed... Oh, and not a problem. I would just leave them be... their numbers will wane with time, restabilizing of your system.> If the snow flake dies.  Where should I start to rebuild my tank.  The tank never lost power and the temp remained @ 77 degrees.  I am just very confused as to what could have happened to the tank so quickly. <Very sorry to read of your losses, trials... I would wait a period of time (a few weeks) to allow both your system and your "peace of mind" to settle... and begin to formulate key species, specimens that you've wanted... to make a stocking plan> Please let me now any input you may have. Thanks Jason <Again, my consolations. Bob Fenner>

Re: Loss of a Tank Dear Bob: I can't thank you enough for your quick response.  I agree that I would wait before restocking the tank.  Do you think the LR is ok? <Yes my friend. Even if a transitory toxin, like bleach, was inadvertently placed in the system, or otherwise an entire re-cycling is required, the LR should recover. Bob Fenner> Regards; Jason

Re: Loss of a Tank Dear Bob: I can't thank you enough for your quick response.  I agree that I would wait before restocking the tank.  Do you think the LR is ok? <Yes...Just let the tank run fallow for 3 or 4 weeks to let it become stable again> Regards Jason <David Dowless>

Queen Angel With An Eye Problem? Hello <God Morning. Scott F. here> I have a queen angel who has a problem in the eye ,I will try to explain it at the best way that I can (since French is my first language!) <C'est ca va! Je parlais Francais tres mal!> It is not  pop eye (eye is not swollen at all) ,and doesn't seem to be cloudy eyes (not sure). When I look at his eye, it is like the external membrane is out and forming a little tube on the side of his eye ,sometimes he stays in the corner of the tank, for a few minute and then swims around a little bit and goes back to the corner. He is eating very well. <The fact that he is eating is a good sign!> Can you please help me? I looked on your website and cannot find something similar. Maybe he hurt himself ,or another fish attack him ,will it heal by itself! Thank you for you reply. <It sounds to me like it may be some form of minor injury to the eye. This injury may have occurred during the collection process, or possibly in your tank, where the fish may have scraped against a rock or other object. I would continue to observe the fish regularly, and be prepared to move him to a different aquarium for possible treatment, if necessary. Maintain very high water quality to reduce the risk of infection if this is an injury. If it becomes infected, treatment with antibiotics is advised (in a separate aquarium). Minor injuries often heal themselves without intervention, however. Let us know if you have any further questions! Bon chance! Scott F>

Yellow Tang with Red top fin Hello and thanks for your valuable time. <And you for yours> I have a 75 gallon fish only tank, with only two small live rocks.  Fish wise I have a velvet blue damsel, three yellow tail damsels, a saddle puffer, a clown and five turbo snails.  All seem to get along dandy.  I had two Condys that were added a week ago, but died the last two days because of lack of light (my fault and working on getting better lighting and will try an anemone again some day in the future).  I don't yet have a protein skimmer and no QT as of yet. The Yellow Tang has a dark reddish/orange area at the base of his top fin, closest to his head.  It's come on in the last three days.  He eats romaine, and frozen food.  He doesn't seem to like the dried algae.  He seems happy, but does do a little rubbing on occasion on the back of tank glass and some rocks (but not necessarily on the reddish/orange-ish area). What do you think this is? <A reaction to less than ideal environmental conditions. You should definitely acquire and place a skimmer (you'll be amazed at the gunk this tool removes)... All your livestock will benefit from this and the use of a QT system. Please do read through here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks! Steve

Slimed! Hi I have a 285 gallon tank. I have a clear slime on the glass and under the sand. I stared noticing it about 3 months ago. I have lost all my corals since then. I did a couple of water changes. It seems to be under the sand a lot. Starts as little clear rings on glass than they get bigger. It looks and feels like clear Jell-O. Lots of little clear pockets under the sand. I Tried red slime remover, and saltwater MarOxy. Any suggestions thanks cliff <Well, Cliff, I'm sorry to hear about the wipeout! These types of events are usually the result of a breakdown in some aspect of husbandry, sudden toxic event, or a catastrophic system failure (such as a malfunctioning heater, ozonizer. etc). Since you noticed the slime gradually appear, I'd say that some kind of husbandry issue may have been the cause. Based on the description, IMO, this material seems to be some kind of bacterial or dinoflagellate formation. I saw something similar in a tank that had a large buildup of accumulating uneaten food and waste matter in the substrate. Perhaps your water quality was on the decline when this stuff started to appear? Was there some animal death(s) that went unnoticed, causing a big ammonia spike? I'm sure that as the corals started dying, a large amount of decomposition products were released into the water, furthering the "downward spiral". Your idea of using Maroxy was not totally wrong, IMO, but administering this product in the main system may have caused further deaths and more degradation of the water quality. Do you have a protein skimmer? A properly tuned skimmer is your first line of defense, and will exhibit highly increased production in a situation like this. My recommendation here is to execute massive (like 50-75 percent) water changes, attempting to thoroughly remove any remaining "slime" material from the tank in the process. Re-evaluate your husbandry techniques (i.e.; feeding, water changes, source water, additives, etc.) and try to see what could have caused this massive die-off. Make sure that your water parameters are where they should be. You'll probably have to let this tank sit without fish or corals for a while until you get things stabilized. Make sure that all future animal purchases are quarantined, and that corals and inverts are compatible. Basically, do a complete system re-check, clean it up, and start over again. Don't let this catastrophe discourage you! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Mysterious Fish Losses Hello Scott? <Good morning!> Well thank you for the supportive words about it not being my fault about the sudden Anthias death, the dealer replaced them with 3 Banggai cardinals. <A nice choice! Very accommodating of him/her> I did the same welcoming freshwater ph adjusted with methyl blue dip, and they were fine for 3 days but today 2 of them died.  All of my levels still check out as being good but this is four fish in less than a week, it makes me so sad. <I'm really sorry to hear that...> I do not have copper in my quarantine tank which the dealer said is a mistake, but I choose to see if the fish is sick before treating with medicine but maybe this is costing lives because I am not detecting illness soon enough. <Well- I respectfully disagree with your dealer. I am very pro-copper, but I don't like to use this, or any medication on a prophylactic basis. IMO, medications should only be used when treating a specific disease. Many fishes do not handle copper well, and some fishes can suffer greatly after prolonged exposure to it. I like your procedure of the freshwater/Methylene blue dip. I have never lost a fish using this procedure. If a fish is so far gone that simply not using copper during quarantine led to its death, something is wrong. Either the fish were not healthy to begin with, or there is some other factor at play> In my observation of the cardinals, I thought I only saw one of them that ever ate, although this is hard to say for certain because they all look the same.  I was feeding frozen mysis.  I think the one that ate is the one that is still alive.  Also today before they died they had white trailing feces, I thought maybe a bacterial infection.  I gave them another dip and they died shortly after.  So I have this one survivor, I don't think he is eating any more and I saw some white feces, so what should I do for him, or is he a goner?  Should I try Maracyn or Maracyn 2, or copper in case of parasites, which I don't see any signs of but I could be missing something.   <I agree- sounds like an internal bacterial infection. Antibiotics should be used. Hopefully, the fish will make it. Generally speaking, these types of infections usually are the result of poor water quality, parasites of some sort, or even injury. I'm not going to point fingers, but I wonder how the overall water quality is at your dealer. Does he seem to select healthy fishes? Sounds like something is not right...> Also if by some miracle he lives, (I am not feeling very optimistic any more) will he be okay by himself or should I try to find him a mate? <I would either keep them alone, or in odd-numbered lots (3, 5, etc)> I have read contrasting things about this.   This hobby is very stressful for me, I hate when any type of living thing dies.  I was so happy and proud of myself after saving my first two fish from ich, through a 2 month hospital and copper and fallow period and now they are so healthy and happy back in the main tank, but now I can't keep any new fish alive for more than 3 days, what is going on?  Like I said all my levels check out and I am doing stuff by the book (Bob Fenner's').  I don't think I will get fish from that dealer any more in case that is the problem, he runs copper in all his tanks and thinks I should too.  Any advice will be greatly appreciated, you guys really are wonderful helping everyone like you do.   Thank you.  Kylee Peterson <Well, Kathy-first of all, don't blame yourself...You are using valid techniques of dipping and quarantine, and it sounds like you're well-disciplined in tank maintenance. It is never pleasant to lose any fishes, but you are doing a great job. I strongly disagree with your dealer about running copper on a continuous basis in your display. It simply is not a great idea for long-term use. Maintaining therapeutic levels of copper is tough enough in a bare quarantine tank for most people, so trying to do this in a tank with rocks, sand, etc. is really tough! And, if you ever intend to keep invertebrates of any kind in the tank in the future, copper will be a constant concern. Your desire to avoid this dealer is a good one, IMO! These losses are too similar to be coincidence! Hang in there, Kathy- you're doing just fine...Unfortunately, bad experiences like this are part of what make us better hobbyists in the long run. Good luck! Scott F>

Puffer Trauma... another intake injury I ve been referred to you by to very smart people.  Last night I arrive home late, to hear a loud noise coming from my 45 gallon tank.  When I tried on the light, my puffer was caught in my uv sterilizer pump.  normally he's around 4inches long, but when I first saw him he was the size of a baseball. The pump caught about 2 cm behind his side fin, at first he was dazed and messed up, then my lion came out and start picking on him, well I solved that and the lion is no longer in the tank.  Its been around 20 hours, he still swimming slow but is now back to normal color, only this one side is all white, looks like necrotic tissue. <May well be> He wont eat and is apparently hurt, this fish means the world to me! I have a 45 gallon, with some live rock and only 1 small star polyp, other fish include small Picasso trigger, new yellow tang, and two damsels.  I have a 15 watt uv sterilizer, back pack protein skimmer and AquaClear filter, lighting I have 440 watt ice cap with VHO's.  Please help Thank you very much <The only real course of action is to keep the system stable and optimized, and hope... plus of course put a screen cover over that pump intake. In all likelihood, if this puffer is alive at this point, it will heal... though it may not eat for several days more. Bob Fenner> David White University of Michigan School of Dentistry Ann Arbor MI

Strange Angel Color Change Dear Bob and Crew: <Scott F. with you this evening> I am sad to report that my pygmy angel is losing his  dark blue coloration on his body and the yellow "under color" is showing through.  It's like he is shedding - that's what I'd call it if he were a dog or cat.  We have had him for nine months, got him full grown so I don't know how old he is.  He is eating and swimming as usual and this color thing just started this afternoon.  His tankmates appear to be fine. Water stats: Salinity:  28  (specific gravity 1.0215),Alkalinity 3.2, Ammonia 0,Nitrates 0, Calcium 450 ppm Please let me know if he is sick or what.  He has no spots on him, but as he is from the sea and not tank bred he could have parasites that I don't know about.   Connie Cavan PS =: As I finish this note, his color appears normal again.  What is going on.????  Hope Bob, you can help, he is named after you.!!! <Wow, Connie, any fish named after Bob deserves our best...! I'm a bit curious about this color change; there could be a number of reasons and causes. First, I am assuming that you are referring to Centropyge argi, the "Cherub Angelfish", or Centropyge acanthops, the "Flameback Angelfish" (Do check the wetwebmedia.com site for FAQ's and articles on the genus Centropyge for a firm ID on your fish)? The reason that I ask is that both of these fish are basically dark blue with yellowish "faces", and, in the case of C. acanthops, a yellow dorsal region. As such, these are normal color variations. However, a sudden color change could be anything from a stress reaction to the onset of "Head And Lateral Line Erosion" ("HLLE"), which is thought to be a "disease" brought on by dietary or environmental deficiencies. Without seeing this for myself, I'd have to go out on a limb and say that it's probably some kind of stress or fright reaction, especially when you consider that he was eating well and that the color returned quickly. In the absence of other obvious disease symptoms, I'm going to suggest that you continue to observe him, provide excellent water conditions, and a varied diet rich in vegetable matter. Monitor the environmental factors regularly, and be prepared to act should some more serious disease symptoms arise. Let us know if we can be of any further assistance! Good luck! Scott F>

Angel Shifting Color (Pt. 2) Hi again Bob and crew: <Scott F. here this afternoon> Bob is a Centropyge argi and when we got him nine months ago we didn't know that he was an adult.  He hasn't grown at all since we got him.  He is swimming and eating today, but is no longer speeding around the tank.  As I don't know how old he is, I can't be sure, but isn't it possible that he is dying from old age? <Always a possibility, but I think that you'd notice a gradual decline in health and activity if this were the case> He has slowed down tremendously in just one day and his mouth is open slightly. He still shows interest in chasing the dithers, but not like before.  Our tank is in prime condition, we have live rock and all sorts of critters that have grown from them.  I do a 10 gallon water change once a week and it's a 60 gallon tank.  I don't see any signs of lateral line disease. However, I feel it's possible that he has parasites, as he is from the sea. <Well, the fact that his mouth is partially agape is of some concern. I think that some type of parasitic infection is possible, but hard to tell from here. I assume that he showed no signs of infection during quarantine?> We have a royal Gramma we got about the same time from the same place and she was also fully-grown, so we have no idea how old "she" is either. I don't want to stress him further by removing him (HA) from his environment, but if you think I should be treating him for that I don't know how to do it except to remove him.  I don't think he is strong enough to weather removal into our "emergency room" 10 gallon tank. Catching him would be something else, but certainly would remove all rocks etc. if you think he should be treated.. <Wow- tough call here. What I would do is pour over the disease FAQs and resources here on wetwebmedia.com and see if there are any pics of a fish with the condition that you've noticed. I certainly don't recommend just throwing medication into the tank (or QT tank, for that matter), so I think that, in the absence of other disease signs (i.e.; rapid breathing, obvious spots, fin tears, etc), I'd observe him a little longer. If these unusual symptoms persist, and the fish appears to be on the decline, you should remove him to your hospital tank for more observation, and possibly treatment for whatever condition you get a positive ID on. I am always concerned for the other fish in a tank where one might be Ill.. sometimes everyone needs to be removed for observation or treatment, as is the case with ich.> You can see our test results of our water in my first note.   I should add that we use ROWAphos, along with 2 carbon filters in our Fluval 404. We have been using it for 3-4 months and it has really helped the quality of our water. I'd appreciate any comments you have on this. <Not familiar with this product, but your H20 quality seemed high last time> >We also have a CPR skimmer and two powerheads. Am not crazy about the CPR, but aside from wanting to replace it in the future, everything in the tank is fine except Bob.  We have a low bioload and have never had water problems since we got the phosphates  well under control. <It sounds like he may need to be removed for some TLC in the QT tank soon. You'll have to make the call on this one, unfortunately! Sorry to be so long-winded, but nothing has scared him, he is king of the tank, and with his color back he looks fine,  but he really has slowed down. Thanks for your time and effort. Connie Cavan <Thanks for writing, Connie-keep me posted...Wish that there was more I could tell you at this point...Regards,  Scott F.>

Trigger fish, crab/food, misadvice... we have purchased our new trigger fish, he has been in the tank for one week and the nitrate? levels have increased, so on advice from the pet shop we have placed a poly filter in the tank. we were also advised to get a crab? Well less than six hours later we don't have a crab and the fish is fighting for his life, full loss of colour and very heavy breathing, he seems to stay near the protein skimmer. Is there any advice you can give. <... water change, now! Hopefully with pre-mixed water... and add aeration, cut the food (more crabs included) to zip, nada, nothing... and go to a store that knows what they're doing and seek out a microbial nitrate reducer (my choice here: Cycle by Hagen)... How large a system is this? What filtration? Polyfilter for nitrates? Please, please, please read through our site: www.WetWebMedia.com re all the above terms...  Bob Fenner> P.S. we don't have a quarantine tank

Naso Tang with cloudy eyes (more: antibiotic use) Hello all, I have a customer with a Naso Tang that has stopped feeding and has cloudy eyes. All of their water parameters look good and this particular customer is very diligent in maintenance and feeding. I have never experienced this type of problem and honestly have rarely had to use antibiotics with any saltwater fish so I would be very appreciative if you could recommend any antibiotic or other course of treatment. <May well be that this animal (especially if it is the only one thus affected in the system) just mechanically injured itself (ran into the sides, rock)... this happens with Naso tang species (need room)... and that there is no specific treatment advised, advisable... other than good maintenance practices, self-healing> Also, if you could recommend particular antibiotics for treatment of various "common" bacterial type infections in saltwater fish I would be grateful.  <There are none. Most all infectious diseases of ornamental aquatics are secondary, tertiary... opportunistic due to deficiencies in water quality, nutrition, battering by tankmates, the odd genetic anomaly... some antimicrobials like Furan compounds are efficacious as adjuncts to improving ones chances in improving conditions overall... in some cases dips/baths, feeding, injection (intramuscularly mainly) of antibiotics is something to be suggested... but the cases are few, specific> In my years of keeping saltwater fish both as a hobbyist and now an LFS owner I really can't recall needing to use antibiotics so I feel a bit inept when asked how to treat these types of problems. <Oh, agreed. This has been my experience, recollection as well. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Richard

Advice would be great, Thanks in advance ("Bring in another patient of industrial disease") Please Help! I have a 180G FOWLR with Dogface Puffer, Pork Puffer, Wrasse (Bird), Lion & a Sailfin Tang. The Tangs fins started to deteriorate about 3 months ago. I kept asking the LFS and they told me someone was picking on him. I knew this wasn't the case because it was deteriorating all over. She did not have bite marks. She was eating great and had great colors and activity. I finally had my LFS convinced and they told me to quarantine her and treat with Kanacyn. I did this in a 10Gallon and changed 5G of water every other day and used my main tank water to fill back up. <A good practice> Everything went great she looked better in just a few days. I finished the 10 day treatment and put her back in the main tank. She started getting worse within days. So once again I did the Kanacyn in the quarantine. Did a 10 day treatment then left her in there for 3 more weeks. Kept changing 5 gallons of water every other day. She was about 95% healed. all fins grew back to normal height except for one very small spot which was the worst when she was sick. Put her back into main tank and of course she is getting worse again, took only 3 days for it start again once she was in main tank. She eats great is very active and colors are good but fins look like crap. The tank is grounded and her diet has not changed from day one. Same diet I gave her in quarantine tank. I do not know what to do. This bacterial infection (I think) will eventually eat all her fins and she will die. Any Ideas will be great. Thanks in advance. Oh yeah, all other fish are perfect. Jim <A few notes, hopefully pertinent, and thank you for so much information: the other fishes listed have greater tolerance for "environmental pollution", lower dissolved oxygen and nutritional deficiencies... I would try to improve on all three of these arenas. You don't list your gear, but I suspect you do have a useful protein skimmer. I would clean this thoroughly (the collector cup and contact chamber in particular) to aid its efficiency. Water quality tests: please supply information on nutrient accumulation. Nitrate and phosphate particularly give useful insight... as will pH and alkalinity... the latter may be low even in such a good sized system as yours, the heavy feeders that are the other fishes listed can significantly contribute to pollution. I would employ some activated carbon in your filter flow path (a couple of pounds or units of Chemipure, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals equivalent...) to reduce organics further. Nutritionally, do supplement the animals diet with more greenery, soaked in Selcon or similar, plus iodide prep., the latter of which I would add a stock dosage (likely as Lugol's solution) once a week directly to the water. For enhanced gas exchange, do check, point your powerheads, other pump discharges "upward" to increase circulation, surface area at the surface. All of these improvements will incrementally help your system and its most sensitive inhabitant, the Tang... if you want to consider a "light year" enhancement, consider adding a lighted sump/refugium to culture macro-algae with a mud based substrate. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm Be chatting, Bob Fenner> James Muldoon

Re: Advice would be great, Thanks in advance (tang troubles... environmentally induced) Bob, Well thanks for all that info. I have a poor set-up right now for filtration and will be upgrading within the next 3 months. <Ahh, likely a large contributing cause to your tangs problem> Let me tell you what I have then what I want to do. I would love some opinions. Here goes: Currently: Very Old Acrylic Tank which originally had Undergravel Filtration. <Wowzah> I have four 3/4 inch holes across the bottom of the tank down the middle (Not in the corners). Two of these holes suck water through the gravel into a canister (Aquanetics), then a carbon chamber, then 2 UV lights, then returned to the Back middle of the tank. The other two holes suck down through the gravel and through an in-line heater and returned through a spray bar across the surface of the tank. I also have 2 Rio powerheads inside the tank pushing about 400GPH each. I have one on the top corner spraying across the surface and the other in the bottom corner spraying through the rock. No protein skimmer. The reason for this setup was that this is what my father used 10 years ago and had the tank up and running fine for over 5 years. Tank is now been setup for 9 months. I use Seachem test kit and readings as follows. Nitrate : 5-7 PH - 8.3 AK - 10-11 Phos: Don't know. never tested. Salinity - 1.023 - 1.024 I also use a Kent Marine 60gpd HI-S water filter for all water changes and water additions to the tank. My Plan: Plug the four holes along the bottom and the 2 holes on the back. Then have the tank drilled and two overflows installed (one in each corner). I was told that my drain holes should be 1-1/4" and return should be 1" (so 2" of drain and 1-1/2 of return total). <Sounds good thus far> Then I have a 55 gallon I was going to use as a sump. I was looking into the Kent Bio-Rocker and Kent Nautilus Skimmer. Of course draining into the sump will be gravity and then two Mag Drive 900 or 1200 to return back to the tank. Then from the sump have a Mag1200 pushing into the Biorocker( According to Kent this is the best way to do it since the Bio-Rocker only has one input and can only handle 1000GPH without it knocking) and Mag900 for the nautilus skimmer. I am not sure how to hook up UV lights or carbon chamber but I'm sure there is a way. <Yes... on the discharge side of the pump you will use to return water from the sump> I don't think I missed anything. I am not planning on making this a reef tank just keeping it as FOWLR. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and knowledge. Jim <This is a great plan. The present holes can be sealed over inside with squares of acrylic and silicone rubber (easy to take off later if someone wants to). What would they say on Star Trek shows? "Make it so". Bob Fenner>

Hospital Tank Hi, <greetings, my friend> I have been having a problem in the past month or so with fin rot on my maroon clown. I treated my 30 gal aquarium with Maracyn 2.  It helped but it is starting up again after 1 week.  <a common problem... Maracyn 2 is a synthetic tetracycline and is largely resisted by bacteria nowadays... a weak antibiotic> I just went out and bought and set up a 5-1/2 gal hospital tank with a penguin filter.  It was inexpensive so I went with a separate unit.  <very glad to hear about the QT tank... a wise move> I am using Maracyn 2 again in the small tank. can you give me any advice on this matter.  <a different med is needed here. Try A Furazolidone/Nitrofurazone mix. If a FW brand, do double dose for 5 days in QT> My 30 gal is currently being filtered by a SeaLife wet dry and I have live sand to help with the bio filtration. I would like to know if I should use anything other then Maracyn 2 to help. I have in my tank now a maroon clown, purple tang, a Huma trigger, and a goby. I don't want to add any other fish because I can't afford to lose any more.  <agreed... and please be sure to put all new fish through QT for 4 weeks too before entry into tank> Last week I lost a hippo tang to some kind of bacteria it almost looked like a ulcer then it turned his scales white and the he died.  <hmmm... one infection is uncommon, two is rare... I'm wondering if there isn't a water quality issue here? Are you doing frequent and regular water changes? If only once monthly or less often then do you have a skimmer that produces dark skimmate every day? Carbon changes regularly (monthly or better)? Is the tank large enough for these fishes (75 gall or larger)?> What am I doing wrong and what can I do to keep a healthy tank??? <you are on the right track with the QT tank. Keep reading and learning. Some good books would help too: Untergasser's Handbook of Fish Diseases is a good disease reference, and Bob's Conscientious Marine Aquarist for overall husbandry if you don't already have it. Paletta's New Marine Aquarium for basics too> Thank you, Vito Carlucci NY <best regards, Anthony>

Reply about snail problems Hi guys, just replying to Anthony about a prior discussion. Anthony, it took me some time but I ran the test as you suggested. The snails in the water change water are fine, they were immediately active, while the snails in the tank did the usual fall over to the side. I also bought two red leg hermits for the test, with the results the same. I took the snails and hermits out of the tank and put them in the water test batch with a piece of live rock and they are moving about and appear fine. I have also bought a Salifert magnesium test kit. The results were 1410. This is in the range of seawater I think. Do you think it could be a contaminate or something like low oxygen saturation?  <much more likely a contaminant... not O2 level at all likely although that is easy enough to test for. Some rocks have embedded deposits in them... who knows, perhaps a piece of you "live rock" is an encrusted iron relic from a Spanish Galleon! Heehee... do use a Polyfilter or two to absorb and possibly indicate (color change) contaminants> I have a lot of water movement about twenty five times the tank volume per hour. I took off a second light which had some rust on it. Could this be the source of the problem?  <unlikely enough of a problem for hardy crabs. Any of the rock ever been through a copper treatment before?> On a side note I was going to coat the bottom edge of the light with a latex coating used for grip on tool handles, any thoughts?  <seems like a good idea once cured> Thanks for your help, Lowe <best regards, Anthony> Lowe Winfield Runkle II

Sick fire fish (new tank syndrome) Hello, I have a 20 gallon tank with two fire fish and some live rock. The tank is not new, but it's new to me; it was a gift from a friend of mine who had the fish for a year before. She brought it over to my place with 10+ gallons of cycled water and I added the rest. <One note for you, the water is not cycled. The liverock is where the beneficial bacteria are located. The water is merely old and what the fish are used to.> I'm new to salt water, but have been monitoring the tank closely. Two days ago, I came home and the tank was covered with brown algae (with some green weed like stuff on the rocks). I changed 2 gallons of water and decided I would purchase a hermit crab and snail this weekend. Tonight I came home and the littler fish (Ginger) was gasping for air at the top of the tank. Every once in a while she'll dart around the tank like a maniac and then hide under a rock. Her fins are all ragged. The bigger one (Fred) looks fine. Nitrites are between 0.25 and 0.5, Ammonia is at 0.1. <There is your problem.> I know these aren't ideal levels, but I didn't think they were lethal? <No, that is indeed a problem and could be lethal.> Any other ideas what might be happening with Ginger? <No other ideas necessary, you have discovered your problem. Now you need to go up with a solution. Please read what we have concerning the nitrogen cycle and new tank. Your tank seems to have undergone a loss of nitrifying bacteria due to the move. I would also strongly urge you to pick up a great book by Mike Paletta called "The New Marine Aquarium." -Steven Pro>

Temperature Hello again, I wrote to you Wed. regarding my high temperature situation in my reef tank. We had just returned from vacation and discovered that our central A/C had failed while we were away. Thanks so much for your prompt reply (thanks Anthony!)...your site has been the primary source of info since we began this tank in early spring. Your teams dedication to the hobby is unbelievable! <such appreciation from friends like you is a tremendous inspiration. Thank you!> Just wanted to let you know that I followed your advice regarding water changes, bringing the temp down slowly and heavy skimming. Everything seems fine...there have been no losses and the corals are open as big or bigger than before our trip.  All fish are eating well.  <outstanding!> The xenia seemed to like the higher temps and multiplied rapidly (or either this was a defensive survival mechanism).  <just as likely they prospered with the increased dissolved organics from the mucus producing stressed corals. Xenia farmers often keep leather corals with their cultured Xenia for this reason> I know that several more weeks will be a better indication of recovery success but I wanted to let you know that all seems well so far. Thanks again for your site and your willingness to help others! Jonathan Bush <our sincere pleasure... it sounds like you are back on track! Best regards, Anthony>

Funky smell / one dead fish Hi, Bob. I spoke to Jason today and am ordering my EV-180 tomorrow but unfortunately it might be a little to late. Earlier today (hours after speaking to Jason) I went down into my basement which houses my 125 FOWLR tank run with a wet/dry (bio/balls) and built in skimmer (not productive at all). I immediately smelled this odor which source could not be detected. I thought it might be a cleaning product that the dogs had tipped over. I went over to the tank and could smell it there but didn't think it was the source because the odor was stronger about 15' from the tank. I then noticed my 3yr. old Coral Beauty swimming about the tank on it's side. It eventually settled on the bottom breathing heavy, gills open wide. I immediately checked my other fish (Niger Trigger, Maroon Clown , Blue Palette Tang and Clown Wrasse) . All were fine with the exception of the tang (8"), he was in his sleeping position and I disturbed it to view it's reaction. It reacted as if it were weak and I fear it will receive the same fate as the Angel. I immediately changed about 40% of the water hoping the others would not get ill. My question is have you ever heard or should I say is it normal for a tank to emit a odor in conjunction with fish getting ill and dying? The odor dissolved after the water change so I think it came from the tank. It was a strong odor initially. Could it be the live rock which is cured and been with me for five yrs. Thanks. (by the way Jason of Aqua-C speaks highly of you) Jim <As you have detailed. The apparent, odd behavior was due to an electrical leak... I suggest plugging all aquarium gear in/through GFCIs: Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gfcimarines.htm Take care, Bob Fenner>

Re: funky odor/ one dead fish Hi, I e-mailed late last night about the unidentified funky odor (ufo) and dying angelfish. Well this morning I ran down to the tank and discovered the angel dead but everyone else o.k. I found the problem, a cracked plugged in sub. heater (Visitherm) in the sump w/o being suctioned. Another lesson learned in the world of fishkeeping. Thanks. Jim. <Yikes! Glad no one (else) was electrocuted. Bob Fenner>

Cleaners & Predators I have a 55 gal with live rock but no coral. In there I have a panther grouper, small lion and a snowflake eel. Don't worry, by next year I will be upgrading their home to a larger aquarium. All are acting ok but the grouper has a reddened area by one gill that looks like it shows through the skin. <Sounds like a water quality issue.> He seems to be going up to the eel and lion and pushing that area into them like he wants them to clean him. I was wondering if I could get a cleaning organism for this tank or if it would become lunch or pick too much at them. <It is hard to say whether they would eat your shrimp or not. I would get one cleaner shrimp, Lysmata amboinensis for experimentation.> I have read conflicting reports about the fish recognizing the cleaning shrimp as a cleaner and therefore leaving him alone but all three of these fish eat frozen krill and silversides like candy. I hate to buy them a $30 lunch. If not is there anything I should do about this mark? <Check pH and nitrate in particular. If pH is below 8.2 or nitrate above 40 ppm, water changes are in order.> I'm not sure if it is just a injury or if it may be something else because I did loose a puffer recently to what I think was a bacterial infection (his eyes clouded and he refused food and kept swimming into things). <Yes, definitely sounds like some water quality parameter is out of whack. Very easy thing to occur in an overstocked aquarium.> When this happened the pH was a bit low <Bingo!> but not too much and was corrected but all else was good. <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

Re: Sudden fish deaths Hello Anthony, <cheers, my friend> I already bought the Poly Filter and I put yesterday a piece in the Aqua Clear 200 and other piece in the Prizm skimmer. <interesting placement in the skimmer> I forgot to tell you that two days after adding the royal Gramma I also introduced a Yellow Watchman goby. This guy has been already a week in the tank and he is doing fine.  <good to hear about the acclimation and consistent with the theory that the root is non-pathogenic> A difference that I have noticed with the death of the percula and the royal grammas is that the Coral Beauty Angel is not paying any attention to the goby. Do you think the Centropyge has become too territorial and is chasing any new guy when I am not there.  <possible, but not likely. Aggression severe enough to cause a kill should be easily spotted in advance. Lots of chasing and fin-nipping that causes wounds> The watchman is in one side of the tank far from the Angel rock caves so maybe that is why the Angel is ok with the goby. If you think the Coral beauty is the bad guy, should I remove him from the tank? <it may be... but do watch and confirm first. It sure seems like it would not be hard to spot. Aggression is very obvious at feeding time> Thank you very much for all your help, <our very best regards, Anthony> Rodrigo.

Lost nickel bob -- how much trouble (if any) am I in for dropping a nickel into my 90-gallon reef tank? I've had it set up and cycling for about 2 weeks. I saw the nickel go in, but I can't find it anywhere in there -- so it must be somewhere in a crevice in my live rock. any guidance would be appreciated. thanks! <beyond any small nuisance that the nickel in seawater may cause (which can be neutralized by the regular use of exchanges resins or pads like Poly Filter most likely), there is the peace of mind factor. Quite frankly, any time something goes wrong or looks less than perfect in this tank in the future, you will suspect this nickel. And rather than tear the tank down fully stocked with fish and inverts later, I'd suggest you remove the rock now, find it and restack the scape. Peace of mind. Use a magnet over the rock and sand if you must... I don't expect that it will be hard to find at all. Best regards>

Environmental Disease It's me again. with not so great news. I emailed you last week about my green water problem caused by the fish being overfed while I was on vacation. Since then I lost my cow fish, although looking him over I saw no explainable reason. I used phosphate sponge and several normal water changes to no avail then last night I finally cleared up that mess with a very large water change and the addition of micron filters and a airstone. While the water was still green (before the large water change) I kept the tank covered with a blanket to keep the light out and to my horror when I uncovered them yesterday before I did the water change the blue damsel is nowhere to be seen (possibly eaten because I had cut back on the feeding) but the real problem seems to be with my yellow tang. He has what looks like a blood spot about the size of a pea, but flat, right under the surface of his skin on both sides, one side is less noticeable than the other. It isn't an open wound but instead under the surface and his tail seems to be eaten away with tiny blood lines in what remains of it. Believe it or not he is still eating and swimming around and his coloring is good.  <This is a tough fish under most any circumstances> In the tank also are a porcupine puffer and a snowflake eel. The eel seems to be unaffected but the puffers tail is a bit cloudy around the edges and kind of clinched, just his tail, not any of his fins. I don't see any spots or ich on any of them. The water tests out fine this morning but I didn't test it before the water change but I am sure with it being that green something wasn't right. <Yes... plus the added stresses of having the tank covered, lessened feeding, the water changes> I couldn't find anything that looks like this on the site but I am sure that it is due to the bad water quality. What is happening and is there anything I can do to help them? <Environmental disease... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marenvdi.htm and the FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner>

Painting my "Fish Room" Hi Bob! I read one FAQ regarding household renovations and protecting your tank. However, we want to actually paint the room in which the 55 gallon reef tank is. It is a small room... maybe 12X12 with two entrances leading into it and a window. Is painting possible without hurting our creatures? Can you please give me some advice? Thanks. Terra <Most modern paints (low VOC's), particularly water-based varieties are no problem. As standard and added precautions I suggest turning off all air-entraining devices (Venturis, air pumps...) during the actual painting process, and draping a damp towel over the top of the tank to limit fumes getting to the water surface... as well trying to schedule the paint work for a warm, dry day with either some natural breeze, open doors, windows, or a handy fan to flush out the "paint air". Bob Fenner>

Yellow Tang, heavy breathing Hello gentlemen, <Cheers, Anthony Calfo up at bat> Quick question today. I have a Yellow Tang, Hepatus Tang, Royal Gramma, Flame Angel, two Perculas and Purple Firefish in my 90 gal reef. All parameters are good - Nitrate 0, Nitrite0, ammonia 0, phosphate 0, PH 8.3-8.5 calcium a little low last time I checked at 360, salinity 1.024. Question is this - the Yellow seems to breath a little fast and so does the Hepatus. <is your temp over 78F and do you have any aeration (major skimming, crashing water in sump, etc)> When I go close to the tank the Yellow comes right up to the glass and paces back and forth quickly. Darts around sometimes like something is bothering it.  <get an Oxygen test kit and take a reading peak day and dark night readings> Been up and running for about 6 months, and they are all otherwise doing fine and eating fine. He has been doing this for 2 months or more. No sign of any ick etc. I have carbon filter pads in the trickle, but is possible there is something in the water that may be agitating them, or is this normal? And is it wise to throw a poly filter in the trickle to take out anything that may be there?  <I highly recommend Poly-Filters> I have started raising the salinity slowly because it was about 1.021 and I read on your Q&A that it should be up where natural seawater is at 1.025.  <actually... lower is fine for fish only displays... but with a lot of live rock and especially reefs and invertebrates need more natural salinity> Thanks in advance for you advice. John <best regards, Anthony>

Chloramine Deaths. Hi There, <cheers!> Recently, I've had deaths in my tanks directly after partial water changes that must have been chloramine-related.  <Not likely... more commonly a discrepancy in temperature or pH. Do you really have so much Chloramine that you can smell it from feet away? Most dechlorinators easily neutralize this treatment> I unfortunately used a "one-step" product for my water changes that I will never use again. <do reconsider that most every Dechlor product is virtually identical in efficacy> A friend told me about your site. I'm glad he did! I've did a good deal of reading of your site. I'm intrigued about your "vat method," -- letting water sit or be mixed for a week or more before being added. <chlorine will dissipate in open air but chloramine never will... a chemical bond that must be broken (with a de-Ammoniating product.. most conditioners)> My question is, what will this method do, if anything, to "toxic metals?"  <absolutely nothing> Should I be concerned about this? <hmmm... rare in potable tap water. If concerned, get a prefilter stuffed with PolyFilter pads to draw water through> Thanks! Walter B. Klockers Plano, TX <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Angel injury (reddish opercular spine, bacterial involvement?) I have a 7" angel (Goldflake) that appears to have injured itself. I gently caught it and placed it in a 55 gallon for now and am watching it. It looks like on one side, it has injured the 'spine' on the lower side of the cheek. you know, the one that only angels have, but butterflies don't. <Yes, almost all> It appears to have a shade of pink on that side in there. Not that large an area though, so I'm not sure if its from the injury itself, or if there is an infection of some sort. <Very common... likely due to a physical trauma... running/swimming into something in the tank, net damage, collateral shipping if the animal is newer.> I only noticed it when it was no longer eating after two days. Anyhow, after putting it in the 55, its just swimming back and forth (not too fast, not too slow) and that's when I noticed the spine injury. Anyhow, should I just watch it or should I put an anti-biotic in there. Or perhaps a light anti-biotic like Melafix ?  <Not an antibiotic product... I would try to boost the animal's health nutritionally, add a cleaner organism... at this point.> I know that these bacterial infections can work quickly, but not sure if it'll recover without anti-biotics or not. Also, how apparent is a bacterial infection ? is it just a vague light pink redness or is it pretty obvious and just red underneath the skin ? I see only a light pink in the area and not sure if its just from the injury or what. Thanks for any help. Jim <Only way to judge is through culture and staining, microscopic observation... Outside the realm of pet-fishing by and large in terms of use/applicability... Sometimes, while already manipulating such animals (not worth re-netting damage, stress), a topical anti-microbial can be applied (like with a Q-tip (tm)) onto the affected area... Bob Fenner>

Yellow eyed tang I have a yellow eye tang been in the tank for a few months. recently it has gotten to look like it cant shut its mouth.  <A very bad sign, development... Often, a "bump" or rubbing on a bag in transit will result in microbial infection, loss of feeding, vigor... death. Best to react ASAP> It looks like his mouth is peeling. any ideas? It may also help to know that it wasn't until recently that I found out you are supposed to feed them seaweed. Could these two things be linked?  <Yes, likely> In the tank are 5 damsels a wassy or rassy however you want to pronounce it a clown (orange and white) 6 black and white fish my wife picked up 3 hermit crabs 3 anemone 4 Featherdusters about 20 lbs of rock and a walking pin cushion. Okay laugh I don't know the names of all these fish. Its a 30 gal tank with proper filtration unit (recommended by the fish shop) and a 50/50 bulb. please help. Mike <Yikes... this is a lot of fish in such a small tank... the Damsels in particular are often quite territorial (depending to a large degree on species). Please use the Google search tool at the bottom of our homepage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ with the names of your fishes, "tang health"... to learn what you should know as a keeper of this life. Bob Fenner>

Die off!! All Mixed Up Ohhhh Anthony!! <Steven Pro in this evening.> My ph. is 7.2 Ugh!! <You can add an Ugh! from me too.> Buffering capacity, @170. Double Ugh!! Salinity 1.020. Let me tell you something about my salinity. I think maybe it was never properly calculated at set up because it's always been on the low side. Then, about 2 weeks ago, I mixed up about a cup of salt and put it into the tank through the course of 12 hours. Was this a mistake? <Not if you intended to increase salinity.> Does this effect my Ph.? <No, not really.> Ahhhhh, I'm all mixed up! What do I do about the low Ph. now? Add sodium bicarbonate? <At this point, several large water changes are your best course of action to bring up the pH and to remove dead and decaying plant life. Begin mixing up a large amount of water for use tomorrow. Please match the temperatures and do not increase the SG too much. 1.020-1.025 is my preference for most fish-only tanks. -Steven Pro> Thanks Anthony! Pam

Wipeout help! mysterious plague has hit the tank....65 gallon, 0.021/22 salinity, normal levels of everything else, (according to my local dealer who checked a water sample I brought in), sudden death of 3 yellow-tailed blue damsels, 3 blue devil damsels, 3 humbug damsels, 1 royal Gramma, 1 domino damsel....ALL IN 3 DAYS! as I said, according to water test, no problem with water chemistry...this is getting expensive...any advice? <if you had the fish for longer than three days, I can tell you that no pathogen kills that fast. Even velvet in the gills with manifest in symptoms to a watchful eye a week or more in advance (scratching, glancing, rapid gilling). Look for a water quality parameter or a toxin. Do a large or 100% water change, change filter media ("floss"/carbon) and add PolyFilters. Wait several days and then try a single test animal and watch closely and pull out if necessary. Anthony>

Help, I goofed!? Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service... Bob was trying to assist with e-mail queries remotely from Australia, however in a bizarre beach bonfire accident it turns out that the patch of brush that cut down to kindle the fire was a rogue patch of hemp... Bob and seven others have been staring at their hands catatonically for three days now...hehe... except for one occasion when he got up to get a big bag of Doritos> I hope you can help me out and as well keep other novices from making the same mistake that I have. About 10 weeks ago I ventured into this hobby and I set up a 125g reef tank. I have about 175-200 lbs of live rock in it, approx 1-1.5 inches of a crushed coral substrate, 600w 50/50 blue/white PC's,  <a nice set-up so far although I would consider adding more sand to exceed 3" depth for the benefit of denitrification> approx 10 fish (tangs, goby, wrasse), 50-75 hermits, ~ 25 snails, <unbelievable! way too much to add in first ten weeks my friend... please stop for a bit, and focus on maintaining stable water quality> couple brains, 1 leather (doubled in size to ~ 8" in the last month) <cannot grow that fast my friend, simply swelled with water or is panning for light if it came from a tank with metal halides or brighter light. Still it is fine, but do know the difference> couple small brown star polyps and another brown star one covering about a 14" chunk of live rock. About 4 weeks ago I began experiencing lower ph level issues  <mitigated by the fast and furious sticking in part> (8.1-8.2, I was targeting 8.3 for the corals I was wanting to introduce into the tank).  <agreed 8.3 is the minimum> I was advised by my LFS to start adding on an as needed basis Seachem's reef buffer and another additive I believe made by SeaChem that was to stabilize the ph at 8.3 (forget the name of it but it has 8.3 ph in its name).  <OK> I had been informed that as long as the ph did not spike I should continue to add these (but following manufactures recommended doses) until the ph remained around 8.3 on its own. As I was feeding the 2 additives ph would level off nicely to 8.3 in the evening and then be down to 8.1/2 by morning so I would follow up with the prescribed treatment to boost it back to 8.3.  <somewhat normal cycling due to respiration (pH is always lowest in the dark of night)> After about a week of this alkalinity levels seemed to hit a brick wall at about 4.0 meg/l and generally remained there (which I have since learned was probably a good thing).  <exactly!> After a couple more days of repeating this process the ph finally got to where I wanted it, 8.3 in the morning and gradually creeping up to 8.4 by the end of the evening.  <very good> During this time I had nice calcium levels between 400-550 (achieved by a weekly turbo calc treatment).  < 400-450 is safer and more realistic for fear of a carbonate precipitation (AKA snowstorm). And Calcium Chloride is NOT a safe long term daily supplement... do use Kalkwasser or a calcium reactor for the staple. Turbo calcium should only be used for a quick fix (else it contributes to the accumulation of chloride ions over time that skew the alkalinity/calcium dynamic> It took about a week and a half to get to this point and at this time things generally looked good so I backed off on my daily testing of levels, kept an eye on ph and tested everything weekly (everything within range, 0 ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, calcium 400-550, alkalinity 4.0 meg/l, salinity 1.022-3, temp 78). <outstanding parameters> A week went by with no issues so I started adding corals, corals and fish were doing well. Two weeks after this I introduced a nice yellow leather. <one of the only leathers not recommended for beginners... they are very delicate and sensitive to handling> At the time I introduced the coral I had done my weekly testing and noticed that the alkalinity had jumped a bit to 4.6 meg/l and the calcium had dropped to 300 and I attribute it to new and growing calcium needs in the tank  <Argghhh... the beginning of a bad thing> and I added an additional 1/8th tsp of turbo calc to my weekly dose bringing the total up to about 1/2 tsp (to be honest I didn't even give the 4.5 meg/l a second thought). <adding more can accelerate the reaction/precipitation> The yellow leather looked nice for about 2 days and then between 8am and 6pm on the third day I had the coral 80% of its mid section had turned brown (and it practically disintegrated by morning). This prompted a complete retest of all levels and I was shocked to find that my alkalinity had shot to 7.5 (I had not added reef buffer for over 2 weeks since the ph had stabilized) and my calcium level had dropped to 225...so I am assuming something triggered a precipitation storm?  <yes my friend... indeed> I didn't see it and I certainly have no idea as to what might have triggered it?  <too much calcium too fast to a system with too much buffer... in that order> Anyways, during this molecular changing going on in my tank ph remained 8.3 in the mornings creeping to 8.4 by end of day (one thing I do want to mention in the event it may be significant, I am a bit suspicious of my ph level because about 2 1/2 weeks ago I noticed that the reading on my pinpoint differed by .1 from that I was getting from a reputable powder based test. This prompted a recalibration of the pinpoint but oddly no adjustments were required). I also want to mention that, right after my leather died my large star polyp started to retreat and is now currently "hibernating" (I hope) and now hasn't been out for 2 days (although everything else looks great). So, although I am curious as to what might have jacked up the alkalinity (I am assuming my calcium levels dropped as a result of this)  <exactly... read more about this in Sprung's reef Aquarium book or my Book of Coral Propagation> but I am more concerned about a plan of attack to correct this. For the last 2 days I have done a 10g water change and have slowly started to introduce calcium back (using Kent's turbo calcium).... <agreed but easy on the calcium> and for lack of a better plan I also threw some carbon in my sump to see if it might pull out some alkalinity?...desperate moves here! <nice for water quality but nothing to do with alkalinity> After poking around on your site a bit today I see that water changes are probably the best move but I am still concerned that too much too fast may cause more harm.  <not with a properly conducted water change... you need dilution to get back onto an even keel, at which point you can abandon the separate additives and use a two part calcium additive (B-Ionic and the like)> As for my rationale behind adding small doses of calcium; 1) I need to get this higher,  <but must be careful to not continue to feed the reaction> 2) I was lead to believe that there was an inverse reaction between alkalinity/ph levels and calcium so I was thinking that this might help drop both... <true , but a slippery slop. You simply need dilution at this point> after reading posts to your site I am thinking that maybe this is a bad idea (although I have calcium levels back up to 375, I am noticing that alkalinity remains 7.5 meg/l. and I believe I have learned today that dropping the alkalinity is more important than raising the calcium?). <agreed> My new/continued plan of action, more water changes!  <BINGO!> But what is too much to do in a day and when should I stop diluting?  <no rule on what is too much if the new water is temp adjusted, aerated, etc... and stop when levels from excess water changes are even keeled (325-400ppm calcium and 3.5-4 mEq/l alkalinity)> I'm planning on another 10g tonight and depending on how things go I might do another 10 several hrs later...or maybe I should just do 20 all at once to get a better dilution as well as done sooner?  <I favor less and larger water changes for this> I was thinking that I need to dilute until the alkalinity gets to 4/4.5 meg/l. If my ph comes down during this process I plan on adding some of this chemical that adjusts ph to 8.3 thinking this should not impact alkalinity <not always true.. careful here. Little should be needed if you are aerating and buffering your freshwater before using it> and I guess I should hold off on adding calcium until alkalinity reaches 4/4.5 meg/l. In the meantime, I have already started scouting out a calcium reactor to help keep me out of such a mess... <excellent my friend> anything new and exciting with Korallin Kalkreaktors or would you still lean towards that German "old faithful"? <advantages to both... visit our forum/the message boards for a consensus that sits well with you.> So, how would you dig yourself out of this mess? Thank-you very much in advance for you help, time and insight!- Scott - <best regards, Anthony Calfo> Follow-up: Help, I goofed!? Thank-you for you input Anthony and good for Bob! <you are quite welcome... and we have received a phone message from Bob since then.. well, sort of. He called and left a seven minute phone message singing reggae at the top of his lungs and finished with a rousing chorus of Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger in Paradise"> Much of what I had deduced/speculated on my own came from not only reading material covered in your book but also from what it left behind! I found it ironic that as I was reading how chemical imbalances can result in a "precipitation storm," I also found that so can turning the pages of your book! :-) Bob's book gave me pointers as well, but your visuals were impressive! (I highly recommend both Anthony's Book of Coral Propagation and Bob's The Conscientious Marine Aquarist...had I not had both I probably would not have known how to start bailing myself out of my jam while Bob was otherwise preoccupied). <Thank you, kindly... in saying so you have given an author aquarist the ultimate compliment/validation> hmmm, have either of you given consideration to writing a complementary book that defines the things you shouldn't do and if so inclined how to do them how to bail yourself out? <Bill Clinton's autobiography will probably beat us to the press... we're backing off. Thanks for asking> Anyways I have changed out 40g over the weekend (2 20g changes bringing the alkalinity down to 5 meg/l), unfortunately due to the volumes I am dealing with and the short timeframe the replacement water is not ideal (ro is somewhat aerated and it is pretty much mixed, sits for a couple hrs and added to the tank). I have not been adding buffers to my replacement water because I feared it would jack up the alkalinity of the water and it seemed counterintuitive to do this while changing out water to lower alkalinity? <agreed...let the lingering carbonic acid in the R/O mixed water exhaust a little of your high alkalinity> So given a choice, do I want to temporarily deal with lower ph or higher alkalinity (I can slowly add Seachem's Reef Builder to boost ph a bit but this also appears to boost alkalinity.  <at this point... I wouldn't mind a temporary low pH (try not to go below 8.0)> Anyways, as of this morning, ph was 8.2, alkalinity was 4.5 and calcium was 275 (so with some hesitation I did add a small amount of turbo calc). <its definitely getting in the ballpark> So my next plan of attack is to swap out another 20g of water tonight, hopefully taking the alkalinity down < 4 meg/l using Reef Buffer sparingly and only if needed to keep ph above 8.2 (intentionally letting it drop a bit while I get things under control) and then I'll start working on a means of administering Kalkwasser until I can get a calcium reactor in place (any tips here, I have seen a number of methods for administering Kalkwasser but dripping into a 125g seems like a lot of work?) <yes... I don't mind putting a small amount (mixed in cold water) directly into a string stream in the sump as long as it doesn't raise the pH more than .1-.2 in a short time. Begin with 1/8 teaspoon (no worries... this is very conservative. This technique is elaborated on in the book as well since you have it handy. I agree that dripping limewater is tedious and not always adequate> Oh, one more thing, initially I had 3" of substrate but removed 2" of it when it started to "rot" (turned the rock black and had a very fouls smell) out my live rock that was buried by it.  <highly unusual considering how diligent you are with the tank. If I didn't think so I would have suspected accumulated detritus from a gross lack of water flow/protein skimming> Might this have been because the rock was not completely cured or is this just the way it is?  <you are correct... rock that hadn't finished curing could easily have caused it. Don't worry about returning it unless you need denitrification> Also, given my current alkalinity problems, should I possibly hold off on adding additional 2" crushed coral substrate or would it be beneficial to add in now? <I don't care for crushed coral at all and if I did, I would still wait. Fine sand if anything (less trapping of detritus and better denitrification> Seriously, Thanks Guys! - Scott - <quite welcome and thank you. Anthony Calfo>

Unknown Disease Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a 50 gallon tank that's been running since August. The tank has experienced an Ich infestation and has been under control. I let it sit fallow for a month and slowly added green Chromis, a maroon clown, two cleaner shrimp and a neon goby and a flame angel. My Purple Tang has been the one fish to develop the while Ich spots, but has managed to overcome that. Just tonight my Tang looks like it is all crusted with white flakes on close to 80 to 90 percent of it's body. He did show signs of Popeye just prior to this flaky substance outbreak. My flame also developed Popeye as well. And know, besides my white flaky tang, my flame shows sign of battered fins with this white crusty look on the body too. What could be this problem. I have not clue what this is or what could have caused it.  <temperature fluctuations are common in the Spring and Fall especially and cause such symptoms to flare from the stress...one possibility> My tank has been running problem free since January and there was no stress or water chemistry imbalance. Please help. Should I move the affected fish ASAP to prevent further contamination. Thanks, Javier <please read through the disease articles and FAQ's to see if something sounds more familiar... a look through a good fish disease book too (Noga, Untergasser, etc). Without seeing the fish, the symptoms are too general to make a diagnosis sight unseen. Do act quick and remove the fishes into a quarantine tank in preparedness for medication. Best regards, Anthony>

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