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FAQs on Marine Environmental Disease 5

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 6, Marine Env. Disease 7, Marine Env. Disease 8, Marine Env. Disease 9, 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

Beware of large (toxic) sea cucumbers in small volumes of water... can be "wipe out" city. 

Halimeda Algae causes disease? Hello Mr. Fenner, Thanks to you and the WWM crew for all the info you have provided (and $$$ saved) me over the past year. I came across this recent article and wanted to get your opinion: http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/pfk/pages/item.php?news=449 <Hi Cliff, Ryan with you today.  Interesting article, but I wouldn't freak out at the first sign of a Halimeda sprouting from live rock.  Algae play an important part of the reef aquarium- But common sense tells us that they're better displayed in refugia.  Halimeda isn't the best choice for nutrient export, so it has recently lost some favor in the reefing community.  Competition is fierce in a reef!  Anything you truly want to flourish (in this case, stony corals) will need a bit of pampering, and removal of competition.  Could it be that the Halimeda causes undue stress to the coral, therefore creating opportunity for already present disease?  Food for thought.  Thanks for the link!  Ryan> Thanks, Cliff What Could The Problem Be? Hey Bob, <Scott F. here today!> I just found out about your site and it's very useful, I have a few questions that I hope you can answer. First, thank you for taking the time to read this letter. <Our pleasure. That's what we're here for.> I have a 150 gallon tank-its really big, and about 130 lbs of live rocks, 3 dust feathers. Inside the tank there are 3 clowns, 6 damsels, one Yellow Tang, and 50 small crabs. They get along pretty good,  but as time progress, the Yellow Tang turned all white, and you can see the inside of the tang which is its skeleton. <Not good at all...> The first tang died because it turned white, so I decided to buy a new one, about a week which is today. It's starting to turn white. I feed the fish every day, the pet store also told me to buy seaweed because it' good for the tang, and so I did. <That's a good supplemental food for herbivorous tangs!> It has been eating. The saltwater level is fine. I don't know what is wrong, do you know? <Hard to say...The fish may be turning pale because of environmental stresses or even some form of disease. Do run checks on basic water parameters, and observe your fishes carefully for signs of illness.> Do you think I need to test my water for chemicals? <Well, every marine hobbyist should have some test kits to measure basic environmental parameters, such as pH, alkalinity, nitrite, ammonia, and nitrate. Knowing these parameters will give you a good idea what is going on in your tank.> I have these bottles to test the chemical such as phosphate, and some other chemicals, but I'm not really familiar with them. <No problem. If you do a little reading here on the WWM site regarding water chemistry, or better yet- arm yourself with a good basic marine primer, such as "The New Marine Aquarium" by Michael Paletta, you'll get a nice introduction to basic marine husbandry that will serve you well for years to come.> I have a pump, filter, heater and the temperature is about 75 to 80. I also have light for the fish that cost me $1000, and I don't leave it on all the time. <Well, that's a pretty big investment for a part-time lighting system! Hopefully, you'll get lots of use out of it in years to come!> How many hours do you think I should leave the light on for the fish a day? <No set rule here...A photoperiod of 8-10 hours a day for light would be okay for fishes. If you are thinking of keeping photosynthetic invertebrates, such as coral, then you'd want to keep lights on for 10-12 hours a day.> I think that might be a problem, thanks for your help and I hope you have a solution. Thank you, Bob! Andrew <Well, Andrew- I think that the problem may have an easy solution. You probably need to review your water chemistry parameters regularly to make sure everything is in proper ranges. It's also a great idea to quarantine all new fishes for at least 2-4 weeks before placing them in your display tank. With a little reading, and a few minor adjustments to your techniques, you're going to be a very successful hobbyist! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

A damsel problem In my marine biology class, we recently got 4 blue damsels, 1 yellow tailed damsel, and 2 4-striped damsels in. They were distributed blue blues to each tank, the yellow in one, and the striped in the other. Within a few days one blue damsel in each tank got the "lockjaw" that I have been investigating. They were each in separate environments for about 2 to 5 days, so I don't think it has to do with the environment, and it hadn't injured itself on anything. Both fish had died by the next day. We dissected one and nothing was stuck inside to prevent the mouth from closing. Today another blue fish has this same lockjaw, and we don't know what to do to cure it, if there is a cure. So unfortunately we assume it will be dead in the morning. Could you email me back with what you think the problem is and the solution, if there is one. Thank You -Paul Hooper <Mmmm, don't know of this ailment "lock jaw" in Pomacentrids. Some do die shortly after arrival (all are wild-collected) with their mouths "stuck open"... perhaps a manifestation of these specimens inability to generate sufficient oxygen, or loss of osmotic integrity... consequent to poor, rough collection, shipping trauma. Fishes have very high (relative to terrestrial Tetrapods) hematocrits (packed cell volumes) and live in a world/environment much less oxygen concentrated (at most about 7,8 ppm of O2)... and can have real troubles if the availability of oxygen drops, other influences to its uptake occur (e.g. drops in pH, elevated ammonia in shipping containers, slime wiped from their bodies...). Much more could be mentioned as possible sources of mortality, but I strongly suspect these anomalous losses are due to environmental stressors. Bob Fenner>

Suffocating fish Hi Please help my fish they seem to be suffocating, gasping and rapid breathing at the surface. <Not good. Time for action, NOW. Look to removing any possible surface film... a floating scum that may have originated from cooking oil, other aerosols... by dipping a pitcher at an angle, wicking off with clean, white paper towels (non-scented and non-printed)... and very possibly a substantial (25%) water change/s> There is lots of surface movement on my 300 liter tank as I have 2 x 1200 liters per hour power heads plus Eheim external filter and an internal  filter all turning water over about 10 times per hour , the oxygen level seems to dip at night when the lights are off. What can I do to increase the level of oxygen in the tank? <Increased mechanical aeration like a long airstone (and pump...) along an inside edge... adding a lighted (photosynthetic) refugium (a sort of live sump), tying it in (with plumbing) to this system...> I have all the power heads and filters with the aerators on the end. The fish have been in the tank or 4 nights now and the problem has just started. <Oh! It may well be that your system is still "cycling"... do you know much re ammonia, nitrite....?> Though the aerators were not on the ends of the power heads to start with. The fish have also lost most of there colour within the last few hours going almost see through. I also have a protein skimmer going constantly. Please help with any suggestions. Thank you very much. Ben <Is your system cycled completely? How long has it been set-up? Do you have a local shop or other pet-fish friends that might come and look at it? Bob Fenner>

Counterattacking A Disease! (If It IS A Disease) I recently set up a 12 gallon Via Aqua reef tank and put in Catalina water, live sand, three live rocks, and a Tongan branch. Before I put all that stuff in, I had the tank running for about a week. I bought a cleaning crew: two shrimp, three hermit crabs, and a blue knuckle crab. Two days later I added a coral, a scooter blenny, a yellow clown goby (this guy is about 1 cm), and one false Percula. <Wow! That's a lot of bioload added really quickly after startup. Did you monitor ammonia and nitrite during the cycling period? Did the tank actually cycle yet?> The false Percula only lasted about a week because it died. His cause of death of very sudden-one day I noticed a long, white stringy matter coming out of his exit hole, and a couple of white opaque spots on his body. The very next day he was lying on the bottom of the sand with a open lesion on the side of his body and I decided to take him out of his misery. ( I found it rather fast that in a matter of hours something could eat away at it so fast.) <Sounds horrible. Could have been caused by any number of things. Selection and reliable source are keys. too. Sounds like it might have been parasitic in nature, but it would be impossible to determine without a pathological exam at this point. The need to quarantine all animals prior to being placed in the display tank cannot be stressed enough here...> The tank is at 77 degrees, and the hydrometer and marine test kit params are in check. <Ammonia and nitrite are undetectable? Do confirm this> So, I decided to go to Petco and buy a pair of tank-raised false Perculas thinking that the one that "bit the dust" was already sick when I got him from the LFS. I brought them home and they acclimated well. I had them for a week now but now one of my clowns is rapidly breathing hard while sitting atop the coral. Today he's a the bottom of the tank breathing hard. Since my first clown died of something eating away at him, and now my new clown is sick and breathing hard, what should I do?  I don't want to start all over with new rock, new water, etc. Can I still save him? And with what? Help, and thanks for the advice! Sincerely, Janet <Well, Janet- sounds like it could be two possibilities here. The first thought is that your tank has not "cycled", and excesses of ammonia and nitrite are poisoning your fishes. Do test ammonia and nitrite again so that you can rule out this as a probable cause. If the parameters do check out okay, then the rapid breathing and lethargy displayed by the fish could be one of several virulent parasitic illnesses. My thinking is that you may be looking at Brooklynella, which is common to Clownfishes, and can kill quickly if not attacked. I would remove the affected fishes to a separate tank for treatment, using a commercial copper sulphate remedy. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter, and be sure to test for copper concentration. As far as the display tank is concerned- you may indeed need to remove all of the fishes and let the tank run without them for several weeks to deny the parasites their hosts. Yes, this disease is nasty- and it could become necessary to completely break down the tank in an extreme situation. It's that bad. Let's hope for the best, though- and get those fishes out of the tank for treatment. Time is of the essence. Remember to move slowly when adding new animals, but quickly and decisively when treating diseases or correcting problems. Arm yourself with a good basic primer on marine aquarium keeping, and go for it! Best of luck to you! You can lick this! Regards, Scott F.>

Quirky Swimmer, Marine Angel Good Morning Crew! Just a quick question.  I've got an emperor angel that swims on his side...kind of.  Maybe 20-30 degrees off vertical, been doing it since I got him three weeks ago.  He seems to be in great health.  Adult coloration, maybe 5 or so inches.  Eats like a teenage boy.  He's active and personable.  Should I be concerned?  Thanks! Scott Critter Cabana <Mmm, concerned for this animal's health, not likely, though it may be hard to sell. Likely it was "damaged in collection"... perhaps by mis "needling" (puncturing the gas bladder with a thin diameter syringe to facilitate rapid "decompression" from depth, or suffered some other gas bladder damage in too-rapid ascent. Sometimes (about half) these problems/traumas solve themselves (over weeks to months time), other times... the fish swim at an angle going forward. Bob Fenner>

Ray poisoning from fried powerhead? - 9/8/04 Please help, I have a 150 gallon saltwater tank. I recently had a powerhead (pump) burn up very bad (submerged) and now my ray is very sick. <Crap! Sounds like copper poisoning. Have you checked copper levels? If you have a quarantine tank move the ray. Massive water changes need to be in effect here. I would change more water ASAP!!! Likely there is some copper used in the sealed portion of the powerhead. So if it cracked, there could have been some exposure.> I have tested all I can on water quality and can find no problems. I am changing my water 10 gallons at a time as we speak. <Excellent> I am in Florida, in the middle of a hurricane, so I can not contact my local aquarium shop. Please advise or let me know if you need more info. <Not sure what else it could be> Any suggestions to save my baby would be a great help. <Be sure to supplement your rays diet with vitamins as well. You could try vita-zu from Mazuri. (www.mazuri.com) Sorry for the delay, Wes. I hope your water changes have helped. ~Paul>                 Thanks, Wes

Rapid Breathing Onset I have a 55 gal marine reef system. Tank is going on three months now and seem to be cycled with 85 pounds of live rocks<Use care...it's "cycled, but not "established" which takes nearly a year>. My live stock are yellow tang, 3 Chromis, mated pair black saddle back clown fish, true Percula clown fish, engineer goby, small brittle starfish, arrow crab, and a pistol shrimp. Seriously I thought fight would break out among the clown fish but they seem to get along<I've had the same results, but who am I to argue?>. Anyway my question is yesterday my fishes were all fine, they normally are aggressive eater when its feeding time and they look pretty healthy. well the problem is the next day majority of all my fishes are breathing rapidly like they were going to die. One of my clown is breathing extremely fast as if he was going to die and the day before he was eating fine. All the fishes are not acting usual and appetite is gone too. They only thing that seem to be normal is my inverts. what do you think the problem could be. I also removed the carbon media a couple days so I could treat the whole tank with Kick Ich a medication that was said to be reef safe <First off, there's no such thing as a reef safe, effective medication. The only thing this usually cures is excessus dollerus in the walletus>  . I check my water and my Ph is the only thing out of place. Ph in main tank 7.8 Ph in sump 7.7 nitrate- undetectable nitrite- undetectable ammonia undetectable Do you think it cold be the medication that is dropping the Ph or do you think it is the missing carbon media? Or do you think there are other reason my fish are acting so strangely. they way there acting I don't think there going to make it.<You don't mention why you treated the tank for ick. If it was merely for the rapid breathing, you blew it, and should immediately always think of extra water changes as the FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE and never treat your main tank. You're tank is actually overcrowded and if you, like many, tend to overfeed, that's likely the source of your problem. You also don't mention having a skimmer which you NEED with that fish load in a tank that small. for now, do 5 gal. water changes every other day, which should alleviate the breathing problem and gradually raise your pH as well. There are products for raising pH, but that's a time bomb best not played with. Chemicals and medications are reached for way to easily, ending up BEING the problem in almost 90% of the situations.>

New Tank Difficulties Hi Mike, <Hi again, Richard> Thank you for your prompt reply.<You're very welcome> I have tested ammonia with a new set of test kit and it shown a level of 0.25 which according to the instruction is ok.<Uhhh...no. More so than any other chemical, you want your ammonia level at 0> Nitrate level result shown as 25. After recollecting on what you stated that may have spike the ammonia  I think it must have been the 4 small damsel fish which I have added thinking that they were very small which may not have cause the ammonia spike<Sometimes adding the new fish AND the resulting increase if food is exactly what causes it>, anyway 2 of them did not make it but I am unable to locate their bodies, it just disappear<Actually, they didn't "disappear", but rather got trapped in the LR as dying fish often do, and slowly decayed, thus spiking your ammonia>. Also I have added a few soft sponges.<Ouch. Sponges are famous for not surviving in home aquariums. Although they CAN be extremely tough organisms, they also require copious amounts of food, which they are rarely given. An added cause for concern is that many sponges, once they begin to die, not only raise ammonia and nitrites, but actually release a very real, deadly, concentrated toxin!> I have change about 20% of the water, all the filters sponges, cleaned the skimmer and suck out the dirt from the sand surface and tested the water again and shown a slight drop.<My suggestion is to change about 5 gal. per day until it drops to acceptable levels. Once ammonia poisons the organs of a fish, recovery can be slow and difficult, if not impossible, plus weakened fish are always prime candidates for bacterial or parasitic organism> I also removed my Anthias to a quarantine tank and it is still not eating, have added a bit of Selcon to it.<Again, do daily water changes to keep the water from spiking there too, and making a bad situation even worse> Can you advise me what else can I do to remedy the situation. Thank you so much for your help,<You're more than welcome, and good luck to you. Down the road a ways it gets MUCH easier or I wouldn't have stuck with it this long.> Regards Richard.

Power failure for 15 hours 8/1/04 Hi all, I blew it big time last night.  I turned off the power to our 90g reef tank w/o knowing it.  The power was out for 15 hours.  The cleaner shrimp, kole tang, Sailfin tang, a fang blenny and emerald crabs died. <Yikes!!  Sorry for your losses.> 5 green Chromis, snails, conch, brittle star and Clarkii clown are still alive. All the corals appear to be doing pretty well. The tank has a 4-5" sandbed, Berlin skimmer, 3 powerheads, sump w. sandbed. Our lights are 4 x 96 pc.s. We have roughly 100 - 125 lbs of LR.  We immediately took out everything alive (rock, fish, inverts) and performed a 50% water change.  Then we put the rock back in and it's running now.  There are also some snails which were hiding in the sand.  The water temperature is fine. The current nitrite level is roughly .5, the ammonia .2 and nitrates 25mg/l. We use ro/di water and it gets changed weekly - 10 - 15%When we turned on the tank there were lots of copepods (dead) floating around and small slug-like animals sucking on the glass.  We have 2 smaller tanks which we put the corals in.  I plan to add a PolyFilter to the sump. <You are fortunate to have other tanks to house your survivors!  Please keep them where they are until you have confirmed that the tank has re-cycled and ammonia and nitrite are undetectable.  Also, you may wish to employ some mechanical filtration to get rid of any pod corpses or other yuck that may be floating around.> My question is how is the sand bed affected by the loss of oxygen?  Do we need to replace part or all of it? <You may want to consider replacing it.  It is hard for a sand bed to recover from a major die off (which may or may not have occurred).  A good compromise may be to replace about half of the sand (removing side to side, not top to bottom) now and the other half in a few weeks.  This will allow bacteria and surviving critters to populate the new sand.> Should I put the inverts back in the tank? The tank was healthy before and would like to know the best steps.  I didn't see anything similar so I'm writing.  Thanks, Nancy  <You certainly can move the animals back after the cycle is completed, but do add animals back slowly if possible and pay close attention to water quality as you do. Best regards.  AdamC.>

Undergravel Filter Hi Bob <Hi Robert sorry for the delay in getting to back to you. MacL here, Bob is off at the Galapagos and the rest of us are very envious!> I have a 60 gallon tank, and have enjoyed it for the past four months I've had it. it has all the usual, a sump filter, skimmer, etc.....etc. but the other day I purchased the death of my fish, an undergravel filter. Yes I had purchased this item after seeing another tank with one in and thought that's actually not a bad idea as I  noticed a lot of crap on the bottom of my tank floor where little flow gets to. so I wondered down to my local pet/fish store and got the undergravel tray and a power head to "suck the crap out of it". I put the undergravel tray in, and powered up the powerhead looking good I thought. put all the fishes and my one shrimp back in there newly decorated home. Everything was looking good, fish seemed happy so did the corals coming out to full bloom. Two days later disaster hit, my yellow tail damsel was swimming side ways. I did an emergency 30% water change and still the fishes seem sick. There eyes are completely black and there breathing is heavy. all my levels are text book levels I'm stumped I have a large air stone going all the time. <I would have thought your ammonia or nitrite levels would have been high. When you put the undergravel in, it has to go through a "cycle" yet again with the ammonia rising and then the nitrites as at the beginning of your tank. You already had some bacteria in the tank so it should have been fairly quick but when you moved your sand or crushed coral to place the undergravel you had to have disturbed your bacterial bed there.> PH 8.3 ammonia/nitrite/nitrate all at 0 phosphate 0 calcium 420-430 but yet my fish are not getting any better, at the mo I have made a small tank, to see if they get better.  fingers crossed P.S. the undergravel filter doesn't have gravel over it, the gravel is around the outside of it and I have placed my live rock on top of the undergravel filter. (By definition an undergravel filter needs to have some type of medium to filter through. <Generally in a salt system that is crushed coral or sand. It sounds like you might be looking at something similar to a plenum system. I would encourage you to look at the FAQs on WetWebMedia about the plenum system. I think what's happened is that you have destroyed your bacterial bed Robert. Or a least seriously messed with it. This should show some kind of ammonia rise however so you not having one seriously has me stumped. Have you double checked your water? Did you take your ammonia readings before or after the water change? You say you've set up a small tank to move the fish into as a type of quarantine? Watch for ammonia rises there as well.> Please Help.... Regards Robert

Gravel Filter <Hi Robert, MacL here again> Thanks for the reply, disturbing the sand could have been the culprit. I got my hands on a book and all the symptoms point to poisoning of some sort, so I did a 70% water change and everything is back to normal, as for the source of my poisoning problem maybe it was from disturbing the sand but I would have thought with a four to five month setup there wouldn't be much to effect the balance of the tank, but nothings impossible. <Had you touched anything then touched the tank? Put anything new into the tank? Sprayed anything around the tank?> I had done my tests as soon as I noticed the sick fish and got the fish store to double check and their readings were a match. <It never hurts to double check, I once got a bad bunch of chemicals> Thanks for the reminder on watching the levels in the quarantine tank, levels are good but salinity is the hardest one as the tank is only a 12Gal, I need to upgrade that to. My corals also were effected but all seem back to normal. <Great to hear>  Well luckily have been reasonably patient with the setup and not put a huge amount of live stock in there all at ounce, I think I'll leave the tank alone for now and think twice before acting on my sudden urges. Thanks again. <Good luck and please keep us updated. MacL

Temperature Spike- Loss of Livestock 7/6/04 Hey There- You seem to be the end all resource here so I have a few questions for you.  I got home from work last night to find my reef tank a whopping 83.5 degrees.   <hmmm.. the temp is not so terrible when the climb is/was slow. Many reef creatures can tolerate much higher temps. But in general, more then 2-3 F spike over a short period of time can be rough> I added a frozen bottle of water to the tank to bring the temp down but it appears I have lost some livestock and everything in the tank looks ill.   <a sharp drop can be equally stressful. Do note this for future reference. All good and bad things should happen slowly in aquaria <G>. The first thing to do in such cases is heavily oxygenate the water. Turn up Venturis, add an airstone and/or add fans to blow across the tank. Improved O2 and slow temp reduction> My LT Anemone hasn't melted but was found in the back of the tank with a lot of the mucous looking stuff in the trail of its path.  The cleaner shrimp was dead, and my goby, wrasse, and blue tang look like death has touched them.  I did an emergency water change this morning (20%).   <excellent... when in doubt do a water change - agreed> Is there anything else I can do to save my tank???   <a few more large water changes in the next week or two> I took the anemone out and put it into a hospital tank to see if it opens up again.  If not I think it shall be the toilet for him.  My live rock looks ill as well (the mushrooms and Zoanthids are closed.)  What happened during the temperature spike-  The tank is normally 78.3??  Did the temperature spike cause an ammonia bloom????   <more likely sudden oxygen deprivation> Will a water change be sufficient to bring this under control or am I S.O.L.??   <no worries... the tank can get right back on track. DO consider adding a fan to the timer for the lights, or run full-time if needed. It also would not be too expensive to add a fan to blow across the top of the tank plugged into a thermostat> Thanks for you time on this matter.  Russell Sacramento, CA <best of luck! Anthony>

Marine Alkalinity Issues Please Help, <Happy to.  Ryan Bowen with you today> Have a saltwater tank that has been up and running for about 3 months. <OK> My water all checks out except the PH. PH was 7.8 yesterday.  I did a water change using R0 water. Changed 15 gal of a 60 gal tank. The PH did not change at all. <Is the pH of your RO ideal?> I added some PH up then it shot off the charts.................(only added the recommended amount). So I added the PH down immediately and not it is back at 7.8 <OK> I tried to bring it back up again by just adding a couple of drops per hour then gave up after 4 hours of no change. I had just added a rose bubble anemone, coral angel fish, and a fire shrimp. The fire shrimp died................. <I'm not surprised- a shift of this magnitude could easily kill everything in your tank!> What can I do to get the PH up to the recommended 8.2? <Best bet is to do a few semi-major water changes with the pH adjusted to your "make-up" water.  Use a buffer, something designed to raise your pH to 8.2 and keep it there.  A buffer won't swing you past your destination.  Then, once the water is ready, do 25% daily water changes until pH is where you want it.  In summary, you're not adding the buffer to your tank directly!  It's all going in through water changes.  This limits the negative effects it could have on your livestock.  Good luck, and please refer to this article for a more complete understanding of pH: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm> Did the huge swing in the PH kill the shrimp? I am just devastated............. Audrey Donaldson

Fish Breathing Hard <Hi Susan> I have a 65gal saltwater tank that has been set up for 4 months.  Last night we did a 10% water change (RO water with Instant Ocean) and added another live rock to the system.  The water that I was adding was the same temp as the water in the tank and I let it set several hours after mixing before adding it to the tank.  This morning, several of my fish are looking bad (I think dying) and breathing very hard (yellow tang, Kole tang, Clarkii Clown).  I tested the water and ph was a little low at 8.0.  (I don't think this is the problem because it has been low and I am having trouble getting it up to 8.3 - I did add ph increase this morning to see if that would help - any suggestions on getting it up?).  Ammonia was 0, nitrite was 0 and nitrate was 5. <Nitrates were five.  Still way way way too high.> I don't know what to do. <Big water change will help> We did not use any type cleaner on the inside or outside of the tank.  The only thing I can think of is that something may have been on our arm or had to contaminate the water. <That is a possibility but I think your problem is your nitrates. Possibly cause by over feeding.  And if that's the case don't feel badly we've all done it at one time or another but you should probably cut way back on feeding.> Should I do another water change tonight? <Frankly if your fish are in such bad shape, on the bottom and gasping, I would not wait and do one immediately.> If so, how much should I change to get whatever is in the water causing problem out but not cause too much stress to what is left? <I would consider a 25 or 30 percent water change.> This time, I will buy premixed water from my LFS to be sure it is ok. <Your R/O water should be fine but you might want to get it double checked.> Would it help to start an airstone in the water? <Airstones in the water will help because it will get top movement going.  And allow the oxygen more fully into the water.  Changing directions on some powerheads etc will also help.  You do possibly need more oxygen exchange.> Please help fast!! <Do another water change Susan.  You need those nitrates down much farther.  Also be prepared to do another one tomorrow and possibly the day after.  Don't feed the fish at all while you are getting this down. It won't hurt them at all to go a day or so without foods.  In fact, because I am such a horrible over feeder I don't feed my fish at all on Sundays.> Susan <Good luck Susan and please let me know if this helped. MacL>

Re: help - fish breathing hard <Hey Susan> On the test kit I have, it says the nitrates should be 40 or less. At least that is what I remember, I am at work and don't have it with me. <It very well might say that Susan, I know different test kits say different things.  Its been my experiences that high nitrates can cause problems with fish.  But the advice I gave you should work if there's some type of poisoning in the tank from something you might have had on your hands as well.  Several medium changes of water done over a period of a couple of days.  This way the fish aren't stress to totally over a huge water change but a lot of the water is changed out.  Good luck with this and please let me know how it turns out.  MacL>

Sad Puffer....possible electrical problem (6/15/04) Hi Phil, Leslie  here this morning. I am very sorry to hear about your troubles. Puffers are one of my favorites!!. Your scenario reminds me of something very similar that happened to a tank of mine once. My first thought is stray electrical current in the tank.  It took one nasty electric shock for me to figure out,  after a sub standard lighting upgrade done for me by a LFS.  I was quite surprised that the fish were not in worse shape. I had an out break of ich in what was a healthy and stable tank with no new critters added as well as fish acting erratically and jumping near the surface.     If you do not have a ground probe on your tank you should consider placing one immediately, but that is just a Band-Aid and finding the source of the problem would be warranted as well. I called an electrician to come and test my tanks as well as install GFIs in all my water related electrical outlets. This could be done without an electrician if one was handy but since I am challenged in that area I got some help from a pro. These articles on electricity and FAQs should be helpful.... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elecmar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elecmarfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elecmarfaqs2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gfcimarfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pumptrouble.htm Hope this helps and best of luck with your Puffer! Leslie

Dying tangs and mystery algae I have had a 72 gallon tank running now for three years.  Current tank inhabitants are a Maroon Clownfish (added 2 1/2 years ago), six line wrasse (added almost three years ago), Highfin Cardinalfish (added three years ago), Watchman goby (added 2 years ago), Royal Gramma, Pajama Cardinalfish, and blue Chromis (all added a few months ago). Water Parameters are as follows:  ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=5, phosphate=0, ph=8.2-8.3.  I have lots of hard and soft corals and a starfish. My tank used to have a ton of coralline algae to the point where it became annoying.  About six months ago, I scraped off the coralline algae and then my tank went through a series of mishaps- the power went out for 14 hours, the heater got unplugged for a day in the middle of the winter, my powerhead on my sump broke, you name it!  When the sump broke, a lot of water leaked all over and out of sheer emergency, I added a bunch of tap water because I didn't have any RO water available.  This is when all the problems started.   I lost my yellow tang in the power outage which I had for over 2 years.   Then several weeks later, I started to get a colorless/slightly copper algae that started to cover all the rocks.  Some of that is left still, but then the algae mainly turned into a hairy green algae.  I have tried everything to get rid of it- I turned my lights off for a day and then left them on for only 4 hours a day for over a week.  I lost many of my corals, which I have now replaced. I tried getting new bulbs in my lights.  I tried adding phosphate sponges. I did water changes with RO water. Then I got about 20 snails and 60 hermits.  Practically all of them are dead.  The shells are empty now and lying in the sand.  My sea urchin (which was over a year old) lost its spines and died.  I have tried water changes, using "Chemi clean", manual removal, but the algae keeps coming back. It covers the back wall, the powerheads, some of the rocks, my Porites coral, and my green polyps.   No matter what I do, it keeps coming back.  Earlier I mentioned that I lost my tang in the power outage.  Well I love yellow tangs and wanted to replace it. So I got another one.  It lived about a month then got thin and died.   So I got several more.  I have bought probably at least four or fiver.  They live one or two days and then they die.  I always notice they have a slight reddish color on the top and bottom edges of the dorsal fins and also red where the transparent fin connects.    I decided to wait a couple of months to get a tang. Then I got another yellow tang last weekend.  It was a perfectly healthy specimen.   Fat and full.  It had been at the pet store for several weeks.  As soon as I put it in the tank, it started grazing the rocks and ate some of my Caulerpa.  I watched it graze for hours and felt that it was going to adjust very well.  When I got up the next morning, the tang was lying on its side breathing heavily.  Then it died.  I took it out and put it in a plastic bag to see if the pet store could find out why it died so rapidly.  I also brought in a sample of water and a bag of the algae.  The tang again had the reddish coloring on the top and bottom and where the fin connects.  The pet store thought for sure it died of ammonia poisoning but when he tested the water, the water was fine (the parameters I mentioned earlier).  We figured the algae might be the culprit, so he took some home and looked at it under a microscope.  He called and said that it had microscopic creatures in it that kind of look like copepods.  He described them as being oval shaped with two horns on one side and a thin tail on the other side.  He seems to think that this creatures were eaten by the tang and that maybe they attacked its gallbladder.  Have you ever heard of this happening?  << I have not heard of this happening. >>Are these creatures a host of the algae?  << Typically if a fish is going to eat the algae, it is because they know it is good for them.  They have natural instincts that tell them not to eat stuff that will kill them. >>Could it be dinoflagellates?  If so, I do I possibly get this out of my tank?  Am I ever going to be able to keep a tang again? << Of course, I'm not sure how we'll figure this out, but I'm sure we will. >> Herbivore creatures have seemed to die very quickly lately-- hermits, snails, sea urchin, flame angels, arrow crabs, and of course the tangs. << Don't add any more fish.  Lets tackle the algae issue first. >> The starfish and all my other fish are fine.  I am sorry this is so long.  I just can't find any information and I don't  know how to fix my problem.  Hope to hear from you soon. << I would suggest testing the tank water for some other elements, copper in particular.  Also, I've seen craps and snails all die when alkalinity was high, so please check your alkalinity as well. My next advice is to run a protein skimmer, and grow as much "other algae" (like Caulerpa taxifolia or C. racemosa).  They will compete with whatever you have, and hopefully remove the nutrients that are causing the problem. >> << I realize this has been going on for a while, but patience will pay off, just keep waiting. >> <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Toxic Algae? I am already growing Caulerpa species in my tank with the intent of ridding the tank of hair algae (that is probably why my nitrates are only 5), but hair algae is starting to grow on the Caulerpa.  I already have a protein skimmer, too and have had the skimmer for years. <Make sure it's cranking out a couple of cups of dark skimmate per week for optimal results>   As for the copper, if I had copper in my tank, it would kill all my corals, not my fish.  My corals are just fine and so are all my fish except for tangs.  Anyway, fish can handle small amounts of copper-- that is why we treat fish-only tanks with copper to kill parasites.  Besides, I never add copper to my reef tanks. Even if there was copper in the tap water I added six months ago, it would have dissipated by now.  I have only used RO water for the last six months. I actually have heard of people using tap water in a tank-- they just let it sit for a couple of days and then it is fine. I suspect my algae problem is from adding too much phytoplankton.  I am going to cut back and only feed phytoplankton once a week. <Overfeeding just about anything can be a problem if you're not exporting the excess> For now, I am trying a UV sterilizer to try to kill off the algae, plus I am going to try another 25% water change.  Hope it works. <Water changes are always a good thing> I do strongly suspect I have dinoflagellates (I have read about them in Julian Sprung's volume one text book).  This is the only thing that explains why only tangs and other herbivores die. <Assuming that they are dying from eating the algae, of course, and that some other factor is not involved> I think the dinoflagellates are mixed in with the algae and the tang wouldn't know the difference.  Not only are dinoflagellates toxic, but they decrease the amount of oxygen in a tank, especially at night so this is why I believe the tangs are dying. Have you ever heard of dinoflagellates? <Sure. If you're convinced that this is the problem, then I'd do some research on them to verify if this is what you're dealing with, and a proper course of action can be taken! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Spotted Snowflake Eel Hello, first time poster here, I have just recently noticed that my snowflake eel has developed a white spot on the lens of each on of its eyes.  My other fish do not display any signs.  My eel has been for the last couple of months, inactive.  It does not appear to be eating and has areas of redness on its skin which appear capillary or vein-like.  His nostrils or breathing tubes are now pointed downward instead of up and out.   << Very good description.  Thank you.>> He also appears to be thinning.   << Is he eating?  Two parts to that question, are you trying to feed him, and is he accepting the food?>> What is going on?  Is this ich?  And, as I have read, in your other postings, is a garlic treatment warranted?  Thank-you. << It doesn't sound like ich, but it does sound like a water quality issue. Is this a fish only tank, or a reef tank, and how are you filtering the water? I don't think Garlic would hurt, but I'm not sure how much it will help.  With eels I don't recommend medications or freshwater dips or things like that.  I do think that feeding him is the important first step, so if you have to use a pair of tongs to hold the food right in front of his face, then do that.>> Jonathon Jones << Adam>>

Tank Overheated - No Medicine to fix that >I have a Sailfin tang and] two percula clowns. Last weekend I went out, and when I came back everything seemed to be dying. >>Uhh.. I'm not going to ask you to elaborate on what you did last weekend, I take it you were not around in one way or another. >My Sailfin had white burns at one side and one at the face area. >>Why do you call them "burns"?  I'd like (and need) a better description, a clear, focused photograph would be even better (please, well under 1MB in size) for me. >The water temperature went too high (95 ?F) >>Holy Canoli, Batman!  You're lucky you didn't come home to VERY slowly poached fish! >I think that was the problem. >>Uh, yeah. >My corals seem to die also (mushrooms, anemones and Montiporas). >>Oh man, bad, bad news.  I've been reading of MANY folks in the south with these problems.  FANS, people! >Is there any medicine that I could add to the water to help my fish? >>No!  You MUST perform large water changes, 75%-100% are in order, and immediately is the time frame.  If you can get it, I'd use something like "Real Ocean", a natural, filtered seawater that is safe for our aquaria.  Not cheap, but NO mixing, aging, or other matching of parameters other than temperature are required.  Since I don't know how you cooled the water, I have to let you know that you may have exacerbated the problem if you cooled it too quickly.  If the fish are otherwise now infected, I must be emphatic when I tell you not to treat them in the display.   >The clown fish seem to be ok. Water quality is good.  Misael O. Aviles >>Well, thank goodness for small favors, but I'm not so sure of how good the water is if your corals, etc. died in there.  I would expect some degradation of water quality, and my mantra is that whenever in doubt, do a water change.  All this now being said, I cannot in any way advise any medicinal (or other) treatments without having a better grasp of what's wrong with the tang.  All behavior you notice is helpful, as well as the photo requested above.  Remember, we do have size limitations on our mail server, so this is important.  But, have on hand some Spectrogram, a hospital tank with filtration (NO chemical filtration), Bio-Spira, enough water on hand for at minimum one complete water change, a refractometer or other means by which to measure very low salinity (I say this in case the tang develops ich - often very well treated with hyposalinity), and be prepared for copper or formalin treatment for the aforementioned ich if necessary.  If the water quality is very good, the fish may be able to heal on its own, but it's best to be prepared (these things should always be on hand, in my opinion).  Marina

Anemone Wipe-out >Hi Bob and Crew >>Hello. >Thanks for all the advice and pleasure I've had from reading your great site. >>Most welcome, what can we do for you today? >Foolishly -I installed a Ritteri anemone in my FOWLR 65gallon(UK) tank. >>I need my little converter to sort that, but I know the UK gallon is greater than the US gallon. Let's continue. >All was well for several weeks. Then I came home and found it had climbed up the glass and got a handful of its tentacles sucked into the skimmer powerhead intake. >>SHEET! Mierde! Oh.. crap. I really hate when that happens (this is where those sponge intake covers come in SO handy). >I extracted it and a cloud of cream liquid spewed in the tank. >>Oh Jesus, the guts, nematocysts, the whole shebang. Not good, my friend, not good. >The fish went crazy and most were dead within 10 minutes. >>Ooohh.. man, I'm sorry to read this. Poor things. >I didn't have anywhere to evacuate the fish to but probably would have not have done it in time anyway. >>Agreed. Should you wish to venture into anemone care again, DO make a habit of having on hand at all times enough water for a 100% water change, mixed, aged, heated, pH matched. In a pinch the fish can go directly into that (I love plastic trash cans for this, usually lined with plain black plastic bags). >Inverts seem OK ( crabs/urchins/shrimps). What the hell do I do now? >>First, it's ok to sit down and have a cry. Then, you are going to need that water, for at least two complete water changes. Carbon, lots of good quality, and if you have one, crank UP that foam fractionator! >Full water change? >>Absolutely. >Have I got to replace the live rock/sand? >>No. >Will active carbon in canister filter, over time, clear out the toxin? >>You need this to happen quickly, my friend. Water changes, go mad crazy with the carbon (this is not a cheap proposition), changing frequently for the next week or two. >Shall I strip down and start again? >>No, no! No need to do that, just need to clean out as much of the nematocysts and dead material as possible.  >Will the inverts live? >>If you act quickly, most certainly. >PS - two clown fish survived - unscathed. >>Notice; Clownfishes are able to live within the tentacles of the anemone, are they not? Do the water changes, DO test for ammonia and nitrite, and let us know how it goes please. Marina 

-Tangs kicking it!- Hello, I came home from work today and both my yellow tang and regal tang were dead. <Oh no!> I have had both fish for about 5 weeks and both were doing well as of yesterday. I did a 15 gallon water change in my 90 gallon tank using Real Ocean brand water. I conduct these changes every two weeks and I have never had a problem. I also changed my carbon bag in the filter and installed a wave maker. I checked for ammonia and nitrate today and both are great. I also checked the PH and Alk. and both look good. My other fish, 2 clowns and 2 fire fish along with 7 different species of coral are doing very well. Can you give me an idea as to what may have happened? <Wow, you got me. Did the fish show any signs of parasitic infection? Anything notable wrong w/ the bodies that you removed? Were they underweight? Should something like that happen to me, I'd do a large water change followed by copious amounts of activated carbon in case it was some sort of contaminate. I can't say that I know what happened here, any other details you can think of? -Kevin> Ken 

Chemical Warfare? Help please!!! <OK, fire away.  Ryan here> I have a 150 gallon reef filled with shrimp, stars, crabs and corals.  The fish load is not high but I do have some activity with tangs and gobies. I have had no problems in the past with the reef other than the occasional brown algae from to much light, and other nutrients. <OK>  Lately my brains and other LPS have been on the decline. They have been very healthy for some time and suddenly all of them have crashed at once. All of the softies are very happy and seem undisturbed by whatever the problem is. The only thing I have noticed in the tank that is odd is blue mushrooms shrinking a bit. I have changed water, checked for water problems, checked temperature, and any other thing I can think of.  <this isn't real helpful- Actual test results are needed here> I have now moved all of the LPS to another tank and they have immediately made a dramatic comeback. Whenever I move one back to the other tank, the same result occurs. Please help me help my LPS! <Are you skimming?  If not, I would imagine the LPS (Although you haven't mentioned any specific animal) are at the receiving end of a little chemical warfare.  Please re-write with some helpful details and we'll see what we can do.  Sorry I couldn't do more, Ryan> Brian    

Chemical Warfare pt. 2 Thank you for your response. <No problems! Glad to be of assistance> The specific animals affected have been a large green Lobophyllia, a large green brain (not sure of specific type), candy cane corals, two plate corals, elegance corals, and a red and green neon brain. As far as the specifics on the water, I will get that for you ASAP. I am not running a protein skimmer. I will put one on immediately. <I would encourage you to do weekly water changes of %15 total volume, and put a decent skimmer like an Aqua-C Remora or a Double Bak-Pak on there. You're headed in the right direction. Also, if you aren't running activated carbon at this point, it will help get things pristine again. Good luck! Ryan> Brian 

Air bubbles in eye... Hello, I have a Liopropoma eukrines that is slowly accumulating air in one of its eyes.  I have had the same problem with a Short Big Eye (P. alta) and cannot find any information on what causes it or how to get rid of it.  Any ideas? Thanks, Josh <Yes... these vascular complaints are very often linked to the presence of small air-bubbles in the water, and/or gas super saturation... if you have a high pressure mechanism I would look to it and possible air intakes leading to it as a source here... and correct, possibly by arranging for a de-gassing area where the pressurized water can be agitated before it is delivered to the main system. Re: Air bubbles in eye... Hello, I was just thinking...I have had some small bubble issues in the tank the last few days (although when my Bigeye had it there were no bubble problems).  If this is indeed causing it, how does one ensure the bubbles will leave besides the obvious of getting rid of the bubbles. Thanks, Josh <You can use specialty gear that measures gas in water... or simpler assays for dissolved oxygen... to check for super saturation. Discharging pressurized water through a baffle or even a coalescing sponge/matrix will eliminate most gas solubility problems. Bob Fenner> Re: air bubbles in eye Bob, Thanks for the quick reply...not to beat a dead horse...but should the problem resolve itself if the gas saturation goes back down? Thanks, Josh <In many cases, yes. Though this can take weeks to sometimes months. Bob Fenner>

- Air Bubbles Harmful to Fish? - Hi, my name is Shane. I work at a LFS in Athens Ga. The store is new and we are having trouble getting the air bubbles out of the salt system. Before you start thinking (oh another person that does not understand the baffle concept) I am not new to the hobby. I have been working in stores on and off for 17 years. <Fair enough.> I am working with a home made system (not made by me). I have done a lot to remove what I believe to be all the bubbles from the intake to the pump. I believe the problem to be in the pump or after it, but am not sure that is possible. <Sure it is... especially in a complicated plumbing system such as that in a store holding system. For a home aquarium, the plumbing is fairly simple and easy to trace troubles... not so easy in a store with lines going everywhere and tanks already in place. Given the nature and speed of the setup of the majority of these systems, I'm not at all surprised there would be a leak.> The bubbles come out of every return to every tank, therefore I do not believe it to be a venturi effect unless it is right after the pump. <That's where I'd be looking... just a small leak in/around the main pump will induct enough air to cause this exact problem.> The system is about 2400 gallons. 1400 of this is one tank that is about 13 ft long and about 5 ft high. The bubbles are so fine that they don't even rise out of the water in this tank. My boss does not believe these bubbles can be harmful to the fish, but I disagree. <And I'm with you on this, and time will likely prove you correct - if your boss is prepared to toss his livestock money down a hole, then you may have to let him. Rest assured, there is a well documented condition known as Gas Bubble Disease, which really isn't a disease, but an acute syndrome brought on by air being forced into the water at high pressure - and most probable in a system with a large return pump. Any small leak along the return loop can do this, although as you have observed, it should be close to the pump and its intake, and this includes the volute.> Can you help me with plumbing ideas or proof that the bubbles are harmful to motivate my boss to help me and the fish. <I'd try misting the input to the pump, the pump, and return lines with colored water - use some food coloring... like red, and if there's a leak, it should be fairly obvious what's going on. You can also use a piece of air line tubing as a stethoscope and try to listen for the air leak. If the problem is fact air being inducted into the returns, this is a serious problem that will compromise the livestock sold to the end user and in turn cause great financial loss if not remedied. If you do nothing at all, time will tell. Cheers, J -- > Air bubbles harmful to fish?  I am trying to find out if very fine air bubbles are harmful to Marine fish.  <A qualified yes>  The bubbles in question are constantly present. They are so small and constant that they do not rise out of the water. The main tank that they are in is 1400 gallons and it is thick with these air bubbles. This has been happening for months now and I am concerned about the fish. Please help  Shane Moon.  <Very fine bubbles can be a cause for a host of environmental diseases... Emphysematosis, "Popeye"... among them. Many folks arrange their plumbing or use a piece of foam media to coalesce these fine bubbles. You are advised to do the same. Bob Fenner>

Re: Air bubbles harmful to fish?  Shane here. The bubbles are not so easily gotten rid of. I believe the pump is creating them.  <This is very bad... high saturation due to higher pressure in the volute>  The sump to this system is about 3 feet deep. The intake to the pump is a the bottom divided into 4 different 2" holes pointed  down. There does not appear to be any bubbles or air going into the intake as is commonly the problem.  <Then... where is the source?>  I have tried many things and asked many opinions but nothing has been able to stop the bubbles. Have you ever heard of a pump creating bubbles?  <Not a reasonable supposition... this is not the source>  This is a very large rainbow lifeguard (9600 gph) pump. The whole system is about 2400 gallons and the air bubbles come out of every return. My boss does not believe the bubbles are harmful. You are the first person to name a negative effect of these air bubbles. Thanks for your help.  <Gaseous oversaturation and micro-fine bubbles are real trouble... and guarded against in all large public institutions and aquaculture facilities... there are a few ways to check (on the intake side) for air entraining... please see WWM here. Bob Fenner>

- Cloudy Eyes - I have an 180 gallon tank with 320 pound live rock. <That's a lot of rock for a tank of that size - do the fish have room to swim?> In the tank I have 1 harlequin tusk, 1 Asfur angel, 1 lion fish, 2 yellow tangs, one semilarvatus (I think that's how you spell it), <Shift the 'r' a little bit - semilarvatus - no worries.> and 1 Tessalata eel. Here is my situation: the Asfur and the lion fish both have cloudy eyes. <Uhh ohh...> The Lion's eyes are nowhere near as bad as the Asfurs. One of the Asfurs eyes looks like it has a white cap over it but I wouldn't call it pop out because its nit popping out. I did a 50 gallon water change and all of my tests appear to be fine. Is there anything you can recommend I can do. <More water changes... these conditions are most often an indicator of water quality issues, and most often something that can't be easily tested for.> I don't have a quarantine tank. <You may find you do soon... I wouldn't waste any time, prepare one quickly.> Thank you very much for your help. Anthony <Cheers, J -- >

- Cloudy Eyes, Follow-up - First off let me start by saying thank for yo u responding I appreciate it very much. <My plsur.> Well I lost the Asfur and now my harlequin tusk has a weird line going down each side and the lions slime coat looks like its starting to disappear. <I'm sorry to hear this.> I'm being told this is a bacterial infection [and/or] environmental problem did this all start by mean pulling the l/r out then putting it back 45 min later. <Is quite possible this is a bacterial problem, and yes it could have been caused by taking out the rock - again, would advise you to start a series of large water changes - perhaps 25% a week or more.> p.s. by the time this reaches you there is a blue face in there that will have died the same way the Asfur did oh and I recalculated the amount of l/r its abt 275 pds is that still too much (according to Fenner book I thought he said 1.5 to 2 pds per gallon pls correct if I'm wrong) <I typically suggest one pound per gallon - any more and you start to lose water volume as displaced by the rock.> again thanks for your help Anthony <Cheers, J -- >

- Stray Current or Red Herring? -  Hi Bob (if this is your personal address :) ), and or WWM Crew! <You got the crew today.>  Quick question for you all; hopefully you guys have some ideas. I've been working with a couple of fish tanks, both of which have had many MANY fish losses.... One tank has had major problems with stray voltage, and one is very close to an array of microwaves in a cafeteria. Both tanks, otherwise, have great water parameters and very stable temperatures. <Before we go on much further, I have to tell you that I'm not a consumer of the stray current theories that abound in the pet fish world. If you had a container of saltwater and a digital volt meter, you'd find that even a bucket of saltwater can produce a small amount of current all by itself... which then begs the question... how stray does this stray current need to be. If your tank's electrical equipment is plugged into a GFCI outlet, any truly stray current will pop the breaker... I've yet to see this happen all on its own without dropping an open electrical fixture into the tank. In my opinion, stray current gets bandied about when all other explanations seem to not apply, when in fact they probably still do. Likewise... we all, humans and fish alike are bombarded by microwaves on a continual basis... this is also a non-issue in my opinion. You need to look a little deeper.>  Well, in both tanks, all the fish have come down with incurable Ich, and all the fish have died. Both tanks have very healthy inverts living in them. One tank (the first) has a Cleaner Wrasse, and the other has a very healthy Mystery Wrasse. In both tanks, both species of fish have lived through all the other deaths, completely unscathed with no signs of disease at all.  I'm wondering if these fish have some type of immunity to voltage related stress, be it voltage in the tank or electromagnetic interference (from the microwaves, as pregnant women and people with pacemakers shouldn't use them). <Have never heard the pregnant women/microwave thing, and do think the pacemaker issue has more to do with electronic interference [RFI] than the actual microwaves themselves. Do not believe that stray current or microwaves are the problem in this case. Would encourage you to seek out a more standard cause/effect relationship.> Do these fish have some ability to not be affected by this, almost like they can turn their Lateral Line off? <I seriously doubt it.> Any info or links you could provide would be greatly appreciated. I've researched this through many books and articles, but haven't found anything yet. <Again... don't waste your time barking up the wrong tree... put a GFCI outlet on those tanks - any true electrical problems will make themselves immediately obvious. Once you've managed to personally disprove the stray current theory, you'll be back to more of the standard explanations... like genuine parasitic issues, stress, and husbandry.>  Thanks! Greg  <Cheers, J -- >

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

Firefish with mouth injury - secondary infection? treatment? Hello crew!  You guys/gals are the best! What an incredible website! My husband and I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been when a wealth of information wasn't readily available at one's fingertips. This hobby is very lucky to have such an active and knowledgeable community. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication. <Thanks very much for the kind compliments, we try. I wish I would have had this site available to me ten years ago, and I'm most grateful it's available now!>  We have a fire fish who was injured. We are unsure what to do next. We had a case of ich...our bad (long story). <Not fun> We moved all fish to 10 gallon hospital tank for hyposalinity treatment. It's very over crowded. We no longer see any white spots and have been treating almost 2 weeks. However, one of our two fire fish apparently got into a scuffle. We suspect the royal "look how big my mouth is" Gramma was the perpetrator. The fire fish has a large injury by his mouth. It looks like a lot of his "chin" is gone. The injury occurred a few days ago and he had continued to eat until last night. The wound does not seem to be healing and the edges are turning brown. <Likely dying tissue, could lead to infection - keep an eye on it> We separated him with his mate from everyone else. <A good precaution> We are concerned about secondary infection. We are doing one 4 gallon water change per day and feeding mysis shrimp treated with garlic. <Try Selcon as well> We are looking for suggestions. We are unsure how to treat him. What antimicrobial do you recommend? Antibiotic? Antifungal? Any that don't interfere with biological filtration? Would Methylene blue be of any help? <Not much at present> Has anyone had success with MelaFix? What is the optimum treatment? We (and his mate) don't want to lose him. Any help would be greatly appreciated. <Hmm. Maracyn 2 might be of help and doesn't adversely affect the bio filter as much as most antibiotics. However, I generally don't recommend using antibiotics as preventatives. However, MelaFix sounds like it's worth a try. I've no personal experience with it, but I spent some time researching it, and reading forum archives. It seems a lot of people have had good luck with it, and seeing as it's not an antibiotic per se, I would give it a try. Remember to turn off your skimmer while dosing. Should you see any signs of a bacterial infection, start dosing the saltwater Maracyn-2. Keep him in the quarantine tank for at least another week or two. Let me know how he does>  Thank you, Kent and Michelle  <Anytime, and good luck - M. Maddox>

Kacia's fish problems 3/22/04 Hey Adam, the tank was set up at the end of Jan. this year.  I know it goes through all the stages of algae and losing some fish etc. and I've been through all that, they have had ich several times and I managed to save a few from death on that one. <Please don't add any new fish until your current ones have been ich free for at least two months.  Even then, please quarantine all new additions! My chemicals are all great and my maintenance is by the book because I'm new at this so I follow directions!! <It is really important to describe your practices and list the results of what you are testing for.  I trust that you are proceeding "by the book", but what if you got the wrong book!?<g>> But I over fed them on the Garlic Guard for a while, no-one told me to stop putting it in their food when they start eating, I was just told that it was an appetite enhancer so I put it in with all the food!!! OOOPS! <I'm not familiar with that particular product, but I doubt it is a problem unless you way over dosed it.> But anyway, I had to give the poor fish a chance so I removed the live rock, it's now in my bathtub in cold water, no bleach yet(!) <Yikes!  Even without bleach, prolonged exposure to fresh water will pretty much kill everything in the rock.  I recommend that live rock never be exposed to FW at all.> But when we put it in the water in the tub out came hundreds of baby bristle worms, some other clear flea looking parasite that swims, and a skinny white starfish thing, also those little white thin worms. <Parasites?  How do you know they are parasites?  All of the critters that came out of the rock are the beneficial critters that are the reason you paid good money for live rock!> So will my live rock still be live after a freshwater soak?? <Nope.> will the bugs be gone?? <Yep.  Unfortunately, even if there were some bad guys in the rock, all of the good guys are gone too.> Also I forgot to tell you that the bugs crawling all over the sand and rock were black like little centipedes with antennas and legs. But my angel fish looks like it has cataracts with it's white eyes now and losing color on it's body too.  Kacia <Black or gray?  Amphipods look kind of like "potato bugs" or "pill bugs" and are probably what you have.  Your fish problems are most likely related to water quality.  Please write back with a list of all of the tests you perform and the results.  This should include as many of the following as possible: Temperature, salinity, pH, Alkalinity, Nitrate, Nitrite, ammonia.  Please list the brands and names of your salt and any additives you use and how often and how much.  What is your water change routine?  When you have provided all of that info, we can solve your problem.  Best Regards.  Adam>

The Hot Zone (Disease Outbreak In Tank) Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I stumbled on your website looking for information in desperation.  I'll cut to the chase.  I have a 55 gallon saltwater tank with a Sealife wet dry system and 25lbs of live rock lots of rockwork.  Anyway, I have had the tank up and running for about 8 months.  After cycling my tank I returned starter damsels and got a Clown Trigger, Bursa Trigger, and a Cinnamon Clownfish. <Some bioload for a 55! I hope a larger tank is in their future?> They have been living like happy little sweethearts growing like crazy for 5 months, and then last week right after a water change and filter cleaning my Clown Trigger seemed pale and stopped eating.  He basically turned white, got some bubble on his eye had white fuzzy stuff on him and died 3 days later. I took my water to be tested by the local fish guru who said my water was awesome and said maybe it was just stress or an internal parasite. <Well, the white fuzzy stuff doesn't sound parasitic to me, but the lack of appetite and loss of color could be...Hmm...> The next day, my cinnamon clown stopped eating and now he has a weird eye bubble and he looks like he is falling apart (little white stringy stuff) gasping at the top of the tank.  Definitely looks like he is on the way out. <Wow! Now, that may indeed be a parasitic-type infection, possibly Amyloodinium or Brooklynella, both aggressive, and both fatal if left untreated> I have a small quarantine tank that I keep with a damsel and a cleaner shrimp (which by the way is the toughest sea creature he makes it through everything), so I put the Cinnamon clown in there to see if the shrimp could help and also to figure out if this is contagious ( I figure the little damsel would get it if it were.) Maybe not a good practice but I don't know what's killing my fish and I don't want my bursar trigger to get sick.   <You're all heart, pal! Seriously- that's not the nicest thing that you could do to the damsel. BTW- a quarantine tank is not a permanent feature, and does not-should not- have any full-time inhabitants. You simply set it up when you need it and break it down when not in use. If the disease that you are dealing with is either one of the ones that I mentioned, the damsel is in immediate danger> He looks happy as can be,  a little confused at where all his buddies went though.  Sorry to be longwinded.  What do I do? <Well, If it were me, and the symptoms that you describe are still present, I'd remove all of your fishes to the extra tank for treatment with copper sulphate, following manufacturer's instructions to the letter. You can also do some freshwater dips (at least 5 minutes duration). However, the shrimp cannot handle the copper sulphate, so get it out of there. The main tank should run without for a few weeks. Take action sooner rather than later!> All my levels are great.  I just removed my Polyfilter the day before this all started. <Probably just coincidental> Other than lots of green algae the tank seems great.  Thanks in advance for any suggestions. Sarah <Well, Sarah- keep a very close eye on your fishes, and make sure that you get them treated quickly. With prompt action, you can defeat this disease problem. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Reversing A Disaster (Stocking And Disease Treatment) Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. here for you today> I have recently been experiencing problems with my tank. Here is my setup: 55 gal fish only, no live rock SeaClone 150 skimmer Aquaclear 500 filter Lifeguard FB600 fluidized bed filter 1 Picasso Trigger 4 Blue Damsels 1 Striped Damsel 1 Yellow Tang 1 Maroon Clown 1 Hippo Tang 1 Sailfin Tang <WOW! That is WAAAAY too many fish for this sized tank. Do consider finding new homes for some of them, especially the tangs and the trigger, as they need much larger amounts of space than this system  can offer.> My yellow tang looks pretty bad.  There are white blotches on the skin, and the fins are somewhat eroded.  One of my blue damsels has pop-eye. The hippo looks like it has some white spots on it. (looks like ich). I did find that my nitrates were high, so a couple days ago I did a big water change (approx 25 %)  What are the options in terms of treating the tank. <Well, the water quality will be a continuous problem with such a high bioload. This is a possible cause and contributor to a number of the illnesses that may be in the system. To begin with, you need to re-work your stocking plan into something that will be more viable for the long term. Do make sure that your skimmer is yanking out a lot of dark skimmate at least twice a week. Also, clean and/or replace all mechanical filtration media as often as possible, as the accumulation of organics in these materials will result in degraded water quality. In terms of treating the sick fishes, it will require removing the fishes to a series of appropriate sized containers (such as Rubbermaid troughs, etc) for observation and/or treatment with appropriate and effective medications (such as a Copper sulphate or Formalin based product for the fishes that appear to have ich. In fact- make it a Formalin based product with those tangs. Do read up on parasitic disease diagnosis and treatment on the WWM site before you begin treatment.> All the other fishes look fine for now. Liju <Well, Liju- although it may seem a bit grim now, your problems are quite solvable! With careful research into re-stocking the tank, and treating the affected fishes, you can end up with a nice system for the long term. Do your homework, and I know that you can turn things around! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Where To Treat Sick Fishes? I have a 150gal fish only tank. I recently discovered my heater had been unplugged for 3 days in which my temperature had dropped to 73 degrees maybe even lower. The tank inhabitants are as follows( 9" Porc. puffer, 6"emperor angel, 6"parrot, 3" Huma huma,5" cowfish ,4" yellow tang). <Wow! That's a lot of big fishes! I hope that a bigger tank is coming down the road...> All fish with the exception of the yellow tang are displaying ich. I do not have a large enough QT for all of these fish. I would like to know the best method of treatment considering my situation. Salinity is about 19 and temp 82. Thanks in advance. <If it were me, I'd still utilize the "fallow tank" technique. I'd pull out all of the fish and treat them in a few large Rubbermaid  containers. This works great if you don't have a large enough tank for the fish to reside in during treatment. I am personally against treating fishes in the display tank, for a variety of reasons; not the least of which is the tendency for substrates and rock to absorb medications, and make it difficult to maintain a proper therapeutic dose. Go fallow! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

6 line wrasse I have recently purchased a six line wrasse. On the second day he was in the tank, he started to swim head down. He still has lots of energy, eats, and has spats with the other tankmates periodically. Is this normal behavior? I was trying to wade through the FAQs on wrasses, but was unable to find specifically. Thanks <It may be that this fish is "adjusting" from the effects of capture, specifically that it has suffered internal damage from too-rapid ascent or being "poked" by its collector in the wild. Could be symptomatic of a "gut" blockage possibly... At any length, not "natural" or desirable. All one can do is hope and watch at any length. I'm rootin' for your wrasses recovery! Bob Fenner>

Noisy tanks... inside I put my ear up to the glass yesterday, and noticed all the noise that was occurring in the tank from filters skimmers etc.)  Do you think that the noise in the fishtank has anything to do with the stress that might occur due to the constant loud noise. <I do think this might well be a source of stress to a degree. Though it can be quite noisy underwater (marine, diving), fish tanks are far more noisy and a constant din is likely undesirable. Thank you for this insight. Bob Fenner>

Help!!!  Sick fish after tank maintenance 2/2/04 I have a 90 gallon with the following: 7 inch puffer 12 inch eel 4 inch Picasso trigger 4 inch niger trigger 100 pounds of live rock I have had a bad problem with hair algae and the tank was starting to get algae all over the inside of the glass...etc.... I tried purchasing a Foxface to eat the algae, but all the other fish attacked him and he had to be taken out and put in another tank... <Not surprising.  That's a rough bunch you've got there!> So.....I siphoned out about 30 gallons of water into a plastic container and placed the live rock in there, while I cleaned the inside of the tank.....I put all the live rock back in with the exception of ten pounds and put maybe 10 gallons of new water back in the tank..... Yesterday morning, the puffer looked like it had been sitting in acid and it was hardly moving, sitting at the bottom of the tank.....so I tested my water and got the following: <I'm seeing a high ammonia reading coming....> nitrates - 10 nitrites - 0 ph - 7.8  (it is usually low due to only 1 inch or so or crushed coral) ammonia - .25 <Dang, I'm good!<g>> All of the other fish seem ok..... the puffer looks like he only has a few hours left?   I have been putting buffer in the water to up the ph, is there anything else I can do?  Any suggestions as to what may of happened or what I should do now....in my house, I have a 55 reef and 20 tank.....should I put him in a hospital in that tank?  there has been a bad ice storm here (Raleigh, NC) and everything is closed otherwise I would have taken him to the fish store..... <I just got this message in my folder and I am very sorry you didn't get a faster reply.  Taking the rock out caused some die off which led to the ammonia.  Buffering would be bad...  Ammonia is more toxic at higher pH.  The slightly depressed pH was actually working in your favor in this case.  I would suggest that this fish be moved to another tank and the ammonia closely monitored.  If it continued to rise, small doses of Amquel could have been used to protect your other fish.  I hope all of your fish weathered this storm OK.  Adam>

New tank syndrome and Melafix worries, mate - 1/29/04 Hi <G'day> Brief history...I have a 90 gallon marine aquarium with a wet dry filter with a protein skimmer. <OK> I have a new tang that had what looks like abrasions from being netted, but I'm not sure. <Were they there before you bought your fish or after he had been in your tank for a day or two???> He has like little light brown spots that had like a white looking coating on the spots. <Hmmmm....sounds like more than netting abrasions> One of his eyes had a slight clouding in a small area. <Likely acclimation problems as well as possible poor water quality not the least of which all could also be related to general stress> I put a cleaner shrimp in the tank...and boy he went straight to him. <Good> I also put one dose of Melafix...wish I would have looked online before taking the advice of my LFS. <Always a good idea> The light brown spots no longer have the white on them...the shrimp must have taken care of that. <possible> My question is will the Melafix harm the bacteria that is in my wet dry filter? <It is not supposed to, but there is little known about the effects of this product as Aquarium Pharmaceuticals has published very little in reference to this product. Give a call to their tech support and demand more information and pose your question to them. Product/Technical Support: (800) 847-0659>  The tank is cycling and I don't know if I should do a water change at this point. <Oh....well that explains the brown patches on your fish. Likely from exposure to nitrite. Some fish can survive a brief exposure to ammonia during the initial break-in period but they are less tolerant to nitrite. Hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood, combines with nitrite (nitrous acid) to form methhemoglobin, which is incapable of carrying oxygen. The blood turns dark brown, hence the term "Brown Blood Disease," corresponding to the symptomatic brown patches on your fish. Nitrite poisoning can be prevented by weekly nitrite testing and partial water changes, especially during the break-in period.> I used Bio Spira and I was considering putting in more, which is what the packaging suggests. <Of course it does. They can't just say "Buy me" on it. I would just let the tank cycle for a few more weeks before adding any new inhabitants. Feel free to do water changes every day or so of about 20% to hopefully help keep the current inhabitants alive. Take a look at our site regarding new tanks and cycling here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm> My Ph is at 7.5 <Wow way too low for saltwater animals> Ammonia is at .1 (highest it's been after 5 days) <Not good> Nitrate is at .2 (also highest) <Check nitrite as well as it is deadly!!> I guess I'm not sure how often I'm supposed to do water changes when the system is cycling either. <Frequently when you have animals in toxic soup> I'm really freaking out about having possibly killed all the good bacteria in my filter. <I would be more worried about your current inhabitants being killed. Bacteria will re-populate in time. Likely there is no issue with Melafix as you just need to take your time to establish a stable system. Do read through the section on our site labeled "Set-up" under "Marine Aquarium Articles"> Also, it seems like it made the water a slight bit cloudy. <Should dissipate over time. Change your water though, just in case of an over dose. Probably made your tank bubbly at the surface as the surface tension of your tank's water has increased.> Thanks for your help!!! Van PS How can I support you/your web site? I really appreciate your help and service! <Well, first start by using our site to its fullest extent. Read before acting. Also we do have an honor system pay area located here: http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/pay/T3P5J4CVWEJER0/058-8132970-7585862 but we would be happy if you supported the site's fantastic authors. Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner are very accomplished authors regarding marine aquaria and the science that is our hobby. Thanks for asking and good luck ~Paul>

Cloudy, smelly water Thanks so much for your great site. It's the best one on the Web, and I've spent hours reading it, trying to figure out my problem. On Sunday, (five days ago), I converted an established (several years old) 30 gallon saltwater aquarium to a new corner 36 gallon aquarium. I used my existing crushed coral substrate, rock decorations and a few gallons of my old aquarium water <Good> in addition to about 20 gallons of dechlorinated tap water mixed with Instant Ocean and aerated for several hours. <Better by far if the water is/was pre-mixed for days... a week> I transferred one hermit crab to my new tank and some star fish. <I hope/trust through a slow, perhaps "drip" type acclimation method. These animals are quite sensitive to many aspects of water quality change> I also reconnected my Fluval canister, protein skimmer, powerhead and heater. <And the Fluval/canister filter... was either not left turned off for more than an hour, or drained of water while it was not engaged?> The ammonium, nitrite levels spiked a bit the first day, but then fell. The nitrate level was very high. <How high is that?> By day two, however, things started to go really wrong. My water became really, really cloudy, so much so, I couldn't see any of the rocks in the tank. Within a few days, the water also developed a eggy odor. <Yikes... evidence of die-off... perhaps precipitated by the "new water"... or the canister, even a bit by the "challenged" moved livestock... cascading into loss of biota on the rock, sand> I am completely stumped on what happened. I've set up numerous tanks and never had cloudy water before. The ammonium, nitrite and nitrate levels are all now within range of safe levels, but my starfish have died. I'm not sure about my hermit crab because I can't see him. I've asked several fish stores about it, and gotten a variety of answers. One fish store owner said he thought it was an enormous beneficial bacteria bloom spurred by the fact that I had transferred my crushed coral filter, releasing all sorts of wastes in it. He thought it would go away on its own. <Define "beneficial"... I wouldn't say the loss of livestock is a good determinant. All things "go away on their own" eventually> Two days ago, I added some Chemipure to my Fluval, (in addition to the Fluval carbon packet) but the water has remained really cloudy and smelly. <Good move on the Chemipure.> I'm really depressed about the whole thing. My husband jokingly called me a fish killer and I almost wanted to cry. He, of course, felt really bad then. <Please don't despair... very likely the new water is directly/mostly at fault here> Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm tempted to take the whole thing apart and start over. HELP!   Thanks, Susan <IF the ammonia, nitrite aren't above about 1.0 ppm and the water not too smelly (subjective evaluation) AND you don't have another system to move the livestock to... I would just "wait it out" and feed sparingly to nothing for now till those two aspects of nitrogen cycling drop to zero. Please read here re mixing, storing new synthetic water: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm  Bob Fenner, accused many times (even by himself) for being "a fish killer". It hurts>

Toxic Algae? (1/27/04) Hi, <Howdy. Steve Allen here.>    I have Brown Algae, not like the one I had when my tank was new, that seems to get my Yellow Tang sick. My tank went through all the algae that I know of. Now the tank is almost free of algae but there are these Brown Algae that just won't go away.    My Yellow Tang was sick and it was in the hospital tank. When I put it back to the main tank the Yellow Tang was doing ok for a day or so and it was eating those Brown Algae. Then the Yellow Tang stopped eating altogether and its fins were collapsed. <Certainly something is amiss. Unlike people, fish are usually smart enough not to eat things that are dangerous to them. Hard to say for sure that it's the algae itself versus something else in the tank.>    Every time the Yellow Tang is in the main tank and eating those Brown Algae, it gets sick. This is just my assumption but I check the water and it was ok. <Zero ammonia and zero nitrite?> Only thing I can think that could have gotten my Yellow Tang sick is the Brown Algae that I haven't seen before.  Can you identify this Brown Algae, or stuff, is? It is darker brown then the brown algae that I had when my tank was new. <Kinda hard without a picture. I'd suggest you have a look at Julian Sprung's "Algae: A Problem Solver Guide." You may find it in there along with some good information on ridding one's tank of undesirable algae.> Hans

- Help With Dying Fish - First off, thank you for your website, I find it to be one of the best sources on the Internet.  I wanted to see if you could help me - I had a juvenile emperor angel die 2 days ago and this morning one of my percula clown fish stopped swimming. <I'm sorry to hear of your loss.> Both of these fish were doing great earlier this week and have lived in the tank for months.  I have a feeling that I may have some sort of parasite or something, can you please help me identify why my fish have died so it doesn't happen to the others; I have attached photos for identification. <I'm afraid there is nothing obvious in the pictures.> I have given the imperator a freshwater dip twice in the past because one of his eyes would get cloudy and it appears that it was cloudy again when he died. <Hmm... cloudiness in the eyes is often an indicator of water quality issues, although not always necessarily so. Would examine all possibilities - keep a keen eye on the remaining fish... look for scratching, spots, labored breathing... these would be signs of parasite problems.>   The parameters of the tank and water are: 60 Gallon tank, 50-60lbs live rock, 50lbs live sand, wet dry sump, with a Euro-Reef skimmer and UV filter.  Water has 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0-20 nitrate, salinity is 1.02-1.021 at 79 degrees and the pH is 8.2.    Lighting is 4 forty watt fluorescent bulbs.   Thank you for your help.
<Cheers, J -- >

Aquarium Disaster Caused By an Egg (1/9/2004) Howdy Wet Webbers-- <Steve Allen tonight> Well, a sad story to relate: got home from work, immediately noticed my 100 g  FOWLR tank water as cloudy as a London fog.  This tank has been up 5 years without mishap, fish fat. Mystified, I searched in vain for what possibly could have gone so wrong in 8 hours. Even a power outage would not have likely caused such a complete crash! (I know 'cause I've had 'em)  Well, finally, after much bewilderment <I can only imagine>, and then  questioning the 'at-homers', my daughter finally admitted an entire raw egg had entered the tank. Seems she was about to cook it, got distracted, and left it atop the hood, where according to Murphy's Law it of course slipped southward, plate and all. Well, there wasn't time to do anything really, as I witnessed each fish giving up the ghost one by one virtually before I could even get my coat off. <How awful!> Well, stuff happens. <Sadly. I imagine your daughter feels horrible. How old? Do help her through this too.> I'll restock after a 100% water change and time for recycling if needed. <Would cycle again. Consider adding Bio-Spira Marine. QT all new additions.> Had one question though. Seems to me there wasn't really enough time elapsed for an ammonia spike (thought it took at least 12 hours, even with a high protein source?) <In a warm aquarium, I'm sure an egg will break down quickly.> so I'm left wondering just what exactly did the fish in? Is there something in egg that's just plain anti-fish? <Perhaps there is something in there that coated their gills and suffocated them.> [thing shark repellent here] Or,  is it just that ANY mammoth source of foreign junk added to a tank is going to end badly? <An egg doesn't seem all that mammoth in a 100G tank. Perhaps something was already unstable and just waiting to be thrown out of balance. Old live rock/sand with unstable biofilter perhaps? No way to know for sure. Could have been interesting to test ammonia at the time. Can't think of much else.> Your thoughts appreciated. <My condolences to you on this sudden grievous loss of long-held fish. I hope your daughter is not too distraught. Good luck in re-establishing.> Thanks, Zack

Tiny Bubbles- Big Troubles? I have been reading about skimmers, etc. making tiny bubbles in tank..... How big of an issue is getting bubbles in your tank (apart from aesthetics')..? I can't seem to find any reference as to problems with bubbles, and I would think that it would not do any harm to have some in your tank.....in fact, right before lights out (for my fish), I turn on the venturi to create bubbles for approx: 10-20 minutes....it seems to create a nice "wave" effect in the tank and stirs up debris etc.... Is this practice bad...? Jess <Well, Jess- the practice may not be bad, but the big concern about microbubbles or other bubbles in the tank is the potential for them to become "trapped" in sessile inverts and corals, potentially irritating or damaging them. The "danger" of this happening may be somewhat overstated, but it is a good practice to avoid activities that could cause irritation to inverts. I'd make sure that you don't see a lot of bubbles accumulating on your inverts. If this does not appear to be a problem, then I wouldn't be overly concerned. Just use your good judgment, and all should be fine! Regards, Scott F>

Small Bubbles- Big Trouble? (Pt. 2) Thank you very much for your help Scott, the power heads are half way down the tank walls ,...and I even went out and bought 4 more thinking the others were just bad, but like I said ever few min they spit out a ton of bubbles,......... and  when I shut them off my water is so clear it gives me chills lol. Do I need to just put up with it?  Thanks <Hmm...I'm afraid that you may have to just bear with it...So many possible causes/solutions....You may have to do some experimenting here. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>

Helping an Injured Fish (12/18/2003) I think I injured one of my Heniochus.  <So sorry, I know how you feel, many of us have accidentally hurt a fish at some point.> I stupidly fed my fish with a butter knife and my Heniochus swam right into the knife. <Fish do get anxious to eat.> The injury is on the top of his head and consists of a deep wound with a piece of flesh hanging from the body of the poor thing. The wound seems really deep. <ouch!> I feel so bad about this... and will never do this again.  I was lazy using the knife that I used to chop the food up. <A lesson learned.> He is eating and shows no sign of distress.  Would you recommend treating him for bacterial infection in my quarantine tank or just watch him for awhile, maintaining high water quality? <A large avulsion-type wound like you describe is quite likely to get infected. If it's not too hard to do, I'd suggest you catch the fish an put him in the QT. You might want to swab the wound with iodine while you have him in the net. Then treat in QT with a broad-spectrum antibiotic such as Spectrogram to prevent bacterial infection of the wound. Hopefully, it will heal. High water quality is a must, of course. Good food enriched with HUFAs & vitamins may help.> Please, please help...the fish is ok now but I am afraid he may develop an infection. <a legitimate concern> Also, should I try to pull of the hanging flesh or leave it alone? <I'd leave it be, messing with it will very likely worsen the wound.> Thanks again, Chuck Spyropulos <We all certainly hope the fish will be OK. Do keep us posted, Steve Allen.> The Eye Has It...Or Does It? I recently bought a 4" bluespotted watchman goby.  I have had it for about 3 weeks, and he has been my favorite fish since I added him.  I went away for the weekend, and came home to find this goby in distress.  He usually hides out in a certain cave under a piece of live rock.  When I came home, he was out of his cave, sitting on another piece of rock.  One of his fins looked like it was ripped, so I took a closer look.  His eye was also injured, it is cloudy looking, and has a small tear apparently from some physical injury.  Should I pull him out and put him in QT, medicate with something? <Well, a physical injury can be healed by simply providing clean water conditions in many cases. If an infection is manifesting, then other procedures may be necessary.> Is the eye likely to heal on its own?  What could have caused these injuries?  The fish appears to have some abrasions on his body, as well as the one ripped fin and the eye injury. <Hard to say- usually happen from handling, abrasions with rocks, etc.> I have him in a 55 gallon with two percula clowns, a coral beauty, a clown goby, and a banded coral shrimp. I once saw him appear to get in a stand-off with the shrimp, but this seems like an unlikely suspect, as he is a shrimp goby (shouldn't they be friends?). <Usually-but anything is possible> I am new to this, and am not happy to see injuries.  I was sick of fighting after having a cichlid tank for years, and am trying to build a peaceful community tank.   When I got the goby, his eyes had a green holographic like tint to them. I thought this was weird, but saw pics on the internet of this fish that looked as if its eyes also had this.  Any advice would be appreciated.   Thanks, -Ken <Well, Ken, at this stage of the game I'd take the easiest approach. I'd simply maintain scrupulously clean water conditions and observe the fish closely. If the condition seems to be worsening, then I'd consider isolating the fish for possible treatment. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> The Eye Has It- Or Does It? (Cont'd.) Sorry to send this first message without being fully prepared. I just panicked when I saw the state of this fish.  I did some more looking, and noticed that the white "wound" on his eye was moving around the eye pretty quickly, as if it was something crawling around in there.  Then I noticed that his body had similar lumps on it (though much more subtle). I looked around your site, and think it might be some kind of Gas Bubble Disease.  I have had a micro-bubble problem lately, and have been working to address it. It has gotten a bit better, but I had to run my skimmer hang-on (remora pro) which did still produce micro-bubbles.  I got a new sump on Friday, and moved the skimmer down into the sump tonight.  The micro-bubbles are totally gone now.  Do you think he will just get better on his own?  Is the moving bubble on his eye an indication of GBD, or could a parasite behave like this?  Is there anything I can do?  I have been very careful when buying livestock, and have quarantined everything.  No other fish show signs of any illness.  Thank you very much for your valuable advice. -Ken <Well, Ken- this is a tough call at this point. I'm still thinking that it may be best to simply observe the fish for a while to see if the condition clears up without intervention. If it does not show signs of improvements in a few days, we probably need to look into some possible medical treatment. But, in the interest of keeping the stress level of the fish as low as possible, let's continue to take the "wait and see" approach first. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Killer Algae? Hey Crew! <Scott F. your Crew Member Tonight!> Recently Bob was at our MARS meeting in Sacramento CA and did a great presentation on algae.  After the meeting I followed up with him on an algae problem that I am having which we speculated may be the results of poor top off water.  Following up on this, I tested the water and found it and the RO system to be fine.  In doing some more research I found a possible cause and possible solution, but was hoping you can offer a second opinion and maybe a less radical fix. The algae seems to be the same as Gambierdiscus toxicus described in Julian Sprung's book, Algae.  It is a fast growing brown algae with a slimy appearance with trapped air bubbles attached.  Sprung describes it as being toxic to both Turbo and Astraea snails.  This fits as I have found a number of my snails tipped over and dying.  Even my little Lawnmower Blenny died. <Yikes!> It is also aggressive, killing a colony of green star polyps and Zoanthids. <Absolutely, Gambierdiscus is a very nasty algae, and can do all of the things that you said...> Sprung recommends not doing any water changes and letting it run it's course, saying it can last weeks or months!  It's been a month so far but not knowing this I have conducted three water changes, 25 gals each in a 135 gal tank, over two weeks.  Even though I siphon out as much of the algae as I can, days later its back and more of it! <Physical removal of the algae is helpful to remove the "symptoms", but not the "cause"....> As if it thrives off the water change. <Despite the RO water, it is possible that either some minor element is being replenished with the water changes (possibly silicate or orthophosphate?)...> Advice from the LFS is to break down the tank.  They recommend "cleaning" the algae off the live rock in clean salt water using a power head. Then, remove ALL the substrate replacing it with new.  This is a pretty radical solution!!  If it is a solution.   <It really is overly aggressive, I think. Not to mention, disruptive! And, if the issue is nutrients, disrupting the established biological processes and adding new water that may contain more "algae fuel" is a recipe for more problems! Better to find the root cause. I would test for silicate and phosphate repeatedly. It is possible that this algae is "manufacturing" its own food at this point, which is probably why Julian recommends leaving things as they are.> The tank has been up for about five years and I have never replaced the rock or substrate.  I have always run a skimmer, calcium reactor, very good water flow, 2 - 4 inch sand bed, excellent water quality and lighting.  Up until recently it is the kind of tank which can take injured corals from LFS and make them whole again. I was told it may be "old tank syndrome" where pollutants build up over time, trapped in between the rock and under the sand bed they eventually cause the phosphates and nitrates to increase to uncontrollable levels.  I know Bob recommended changing the live rock and vacuuming the substrate periodically which I can see would prohibit this problem from occurring, if this is in fact the problem.  What suggestions would you recommend? Have a beer and wait for it to run it's course?  Replace the substrate and clean the rock? Or some other ideas?   <Well, I would agree with both Bob and Julian on this one. I'd occasionally siphon or stir some of the sand bed around the rocks, and maybe replace some of the rock over time. But with religious maintenance practices (regular, frequent water changes with quality source water, aggressive skimming, use of activated carbon and/or Poly Filter), you should see this algae start to fade away.> This is starting to make me nervous because I can't get a handle on it. Here are some quick numbers:  SG 1.025, Ph 8.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20 ppm. Calcium 412.  As always your help is appreciated. Jim <Well, Jim, the nitrate level is a bit high for a tank with an established deep sand bed, so you may want to consider increasing sand bed depth to help foster additional denitrification. I'd still look into silicate and phosphate, as well. I think that with continued good husbandry on your part, coupled with a few minor adjustments to the tank, and this algae should gradually fade into oblivion. Oh- and you could have a beer anyways...Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

- Livestock & Behavior - Yo, Crew...You rock! <Thanks.> Couple quick questions.  I have a 37 gallon tank with 2 blue-green Chromis, a maroon clown, coral beauty angel and blackcap Basslet. <Sounds like a lot of stuff in not a lot of space.> I also have a couple of soft corals including a small toadstool leather. Plus 30-35 lbs LR. <That is a lot of stuff.> When I returned from work today, the smallest of the two Chromis was hovering in the middle of the leather in the same way a clown takes to an anemone.  He seems a bit distressed (rapid gill movement and blotchy color that comes and goes).  I'm guessing he was chased after by one of the other fish and found comfort in the coral.  Or, perhaps this is just pretty normal behavior? <Chromis rely in safety in numbers and places they can duck out of sight.>  Could there be egg-laying or breeding behavior going on? <Possible, but wouldn't expect it given the number of potential predators for the eggs.> The other fish seem quite disinterested and none have shown any aggression. <Might be happening while you are at work. Need to watch for an entire day... just sitting back and letting things happen.> The coral is new to the system (less than a week).  Any reason to think he can harm the coral? <Wouldn't expect so.> I sure don't want a $3 fish causing grief to a $40 coral. Thanks for the insight... Bob <Cheers, J -- >

Sea apples -Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - 11/24/03 Hello I believe I have a Australian Sea Apple, and the other day it was secreting yellow little balls, possibly eggs. <Possible...either way....not good!!!>  But the next day 2 of my fish died. <Craaaaaap. Sorry to hear about that. Yes, well, this is why these are not good in mixed aquaria. Either dedicated tanks or not at all my friend.>  I was curious if it was from eating those balls. <Absolutely, but just being in the tank with this noxious material would be enough to kill everything in the tank! Doesn't even take eating it. Do read about this on our site.> I did a 90% water change <More frequent water changes with about 30-50% daily might help. 90% percent was probably necessary though. Do read up before purchasing any inhabitant you are to take into your charge. Good luck ~Paul>

One Hot Clown Trigger! Hey, I have got a clown trigger (3in) in a 55 gal. <Larger quarters in the future? Please say yes...> Yesterday my heater spazzed out on me and the water got really hot, probably 90-95...really hot to the touch. <Yikes!> My Koran angel, yellow tang, and 4 stripe damsel all looked fine still, but the clown trigger was breathing very rapidly and having trouble swimming.  Once I noticed the problem, I took out 5 gallons of the tank water and switched it with 5 gallons of cold water and removed the heater, this cooled the water down a lot, for the past 14 hours he has been under a piece of my live rock, still breathing heavily and not moving around, his coloration is almost entirely black-the yellow is very dark, and the white spots are dark as well.  My biggest worry now, is I noticed that his eyes seem cloudy, and maybe bulging( I can't really tell because of his location) He is not eating, or swimming at all, but the other fish still eating and behaving normally. So, my question is, should I remove the trigger and treat him in a doctor tank, if yes then with what? And is there anything else I can do?  Thanks a lot Eric <Well, Eric- first of all, please perform any and all treatment in a separate aquarium. It is hard to say exactly what this guy may be suffering from. Some of the symptoms that you are describing are similar to those which accompany bacterial infections. However, many times, these maladies can be corrected with very simple means, such as maintaining very high quality water conditions (use aggressive water changes, protein skimming, chemical filtration media), and overall stability. Removing the fish to clean stable quarantine conditions could make a big difference. I'd try this and see if any improvement occurs. Otherwise, you may need to utilize an over-the-counter antibiotic (once again- this assumes a bacterial problem) once you confirm what you're dealing with. Finally, I do once again want to urge you to provide a larger aquarium for your specimens. Both the Clown Trigger and the Koran need a lot of water volume and sheer physical space, both to ensure long-term health, and to dilute their substantial metabolic wastes. Keep a close eye on things, and tweak as necessary. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- This is the End of My Pets and the Tank - All starfishes and worms appears to be dead, and all begins to decay. :( :( :( :( :cry. And so well.. I should tell back the first storyline why this is can happened. I have a 3 gallon tanks (I guess; it was 60 x 30 x 36) and the inhabitants were living with harmony and living happily. The water was so clear, never polluted and nitrates were very low. But... When I want a horned starfish (Protoreastor) I see in the aquaria, I just foolishly selected it and without any guesswork and considers what could be happened. The seller were so clumsy and looked not so smart (did you know how he put the stars in the transport bags?? He took them out from the water and expose them to the air!! <Next time, don't buy them if the store clerk bags them up that way - refuse to pay for them and tell them why; Seastars should not be exposed to the air.> and I'd be sure they became stressed) And, when I opened the bag in my home, milky saturation exists replacing the water. I ignoring it, and started to put the stars in my aquaria (sorry, this ones without acclimatization and I just put them into the small tank because of the heavy bag to put floating in aquarium.) and they starts to exudes the rotting secretion to water, and next  day the vision was totally obscured. So, I went to the second aquaria marketplace (with my mother began shouting to me) to buy two gallons of saltwater (hey.. in this country no salt mixes available for this; Bob Fenner maybe had been here, for diving in Bunaken and Bali) and using water changes for this. I change it, and waiting to Monday. Next day, all stars die (they as prominently exuding slime and ossicles were falling apart), worms sheds the crown and die. The only survivors is the semi-terrestrial mangrove Ceriths and they now hanging creeping above water surface. And I am fully aware and sure the water were boosting to high-ammonia, nitrites, nitrates.* sob, sob, waahhh !!!!* Mercifully, my mother did, tolerant this likely unforgivable event and I promised to be more careful in selection and care. So, I planned to restart all of this. I started with Archasters, and some others. Can you give me a recommendation for tankmates for Archasters? <Unless space is a real issue for you, can I convince you to get a slightly larger tank? Three gallons is smaller than small, and as you've now seen things can go badly very fast in a tank of this size. Even so, if you must keep this small system, I really wouldn't put much in it - perhaps one Seastar, one Featherduster, and maybe one shrimp, but that's all. If you put too much life in this tank, you'll have a repeat of this bad experience.> (I would be happy if I can put some other starfish species and Brittlestars) and can I use the old sand (I scared if it was contaminated) for the new setting? <You should be able to use the old sand - just let the tank run for a week or so with nothing else in it.> Thanks a lot!!!
<Cheers, J -- >

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