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FAQs on Marine Environmental Disease/Losses 7

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

Related FAQs: Marine Environmental Disease 1, Marine Env. Disease 2, Marine Env. Disease 3, Marine Env. Disease 4, Marine Env. Disease 5, Marine Env. Disease 6, Marine Env. Disease 8, Marine Env. Disease 9, Marine Env. Disease 10, Marine Env. Disease 11, Marine Env. Disease 12, Marine Env. Disease 13, & FAQs on Environmental Disease By Cause/Types: Environmental Deficiencies, Oxygen/Gas Problems, Poisoning, Mis-stocking: Psychological Challenges, (Aggressive Behavior, Territoriality, ), Physiological Challenges (e.g. Metabolites, Allelopathy, Stinging), & Troubleshooting/Fixing

Sick damsel  9/19.5/05 My blue damsel has big internal lumps on both sides of his body that have distended him outwards and are whitish.  They look like they're about to   penetrate the skin and he gasps.  He's still active and eats  well.  I've read about the Epsom salts cure for intestinal blockage.   I have 2 other fish doing well in my 10 gal. as well as a hermit crab and a  new bubble anemone but the damsel has been with me about 3 yrs. and is by  far the oldster.  I have no idea about ammonia levels, nitrites, etc.   I change the tank infrequently and feed fish pellets every 3 to 5 days.   I've had small marine tanks for about 11 yrs. and do well with them  generally.   Thanks for your help.   Geralin <You've been pretty lucky as I see it.  Water changes infrequently, no idea of water parameters, a bubble anemone in a 10 gallon tank?, a steady diet of fish pellets (not a good diet), and, as far as the damsel, he is getting old fast with all the above conditions.  James (Salty Dog)> Cloudy Tank ... what comes first? Livestock or filtration/environment? 9/17/05 Hello, Your site is great and I've learned quite a bit about my tank and fish thanks to your helpful hints.  I can't seem to find that much on "cloudy tanks" except that with Koi it may be bacterial related.  Anyhow I'll start off with my tank specifics: 1 month and half 90 Gallon w/ 20-30 gallon sump (cycled in two-three weeks with ammonia drops) Sump is basically a trash can and a 10 gallon tank (that *will* be a refugium) 240 Watts Jebo Odyssea Lighting Eheim 2217 canister filter no LR (*will* be getting some in the future) no Skimmer (*will* be adding one in the very near future, that's why I put the sump together) 1 Marine Beta 1 Kole Tang 1 Lawnmower Blenny 1 Bicolor Blenny 1 Maroon Clown For the past 2-3 days my tanks water has been (very) cloudy.  The only addition that I've made was hooking up the refugium tanks water flow into the system and adding some fresh water to get the salinity down to around 1.023 (where I normally keep it).  I thought that it might be the return hose on the filter as that has built up with whitish stuff so last night I cleaned that out with hot water.  Today the water seems even cloudier.  Also and I don't know if this is related but the Tang has started to develop a smallish white spot on his head.  Looking around this site I think this is HLLE and so I'm going to modify the tanks diet and add in some iodine supplements. <Mmm, should have added the LR, skimmer... before buying livestock....> 9/11/05 tests: Salinity 1.024 PH 8.3 Ammonia 0-0.25 (Not totally yellow but has a small hint of green) Nitrate 2.5 I did the previous tests on the 11th and that's when I noticed the Tangs problem. 9/14/05 tests: Salinity 1.023-1.024 PH 8.3 Ammonia 0.25 (Almost every test except for the early ones have been this level) Nitrate 2.5 Do you think this could be from the plastic the trash can is made from? <Not likely... very likely is from the general environment... get that skimmer and you'll see... the LR to help make your water more "biologically friendly"> It's a regular Rubbermaid-like trashcan.  Or maybe the new lighting (which I added last week) has caused some kind of algae bloom?  All the fish seem to be acting normal. Any help would be greatly appreciated. And sorry this is so long ;) Thanks, -Dustin <Fix your environment, the fish will fix themselves. Bob Fenner> Drum noise and marine hermit crabs  09/13/2005 Hi Helper Guys!     My grandson has a huge drum set in his small bedroom, and a ten gallon aquarium 2 feet away, on a stand.  He had about 20 fish that quickly died, and our local pet store fish expert said it could've been heart attacks from the extremely loud noise from the drum set.  I had the water checked a few times a week at the pet store, and it was usually fine. Once it barely registered bad so I did a water exchange until it registered good. They were regularly fed, too.  There are still 2 sucker fish in the aquarium that are alive, but the pet store said they are very hardy and have thicker skin.     Anyway, now he wants to put marine hermit crabs in the aquarium, and we were wondering if the same thing will happen to the crabs when he plays his loud drums.  Thanks so much for your help. The pet store said the crab's shells would protect them from the noise, but I'm not sure that they really knew the answer, and so I wanted an expert's opinion. <Vibrations will and do cause undo stress on aquatic animals.  James (Salty Dog)>                                                 Coreen Bousfield Light shock from bulb replacement?  9/1/05 Hello Crew, <Tom> I have a 75 gallon tank with one toadstool leather coral and two clownfish. Last month, I replaced four 65-watt power compact bulbs and charcoal on the following schedule: 7/2/05  13 month old 50/50 bulb replaced 7/4/05  10.7 month old 50/50 bulb replaced 7/6/05   new charcoal in <This is an important bit of data... as you likely know> 7/15/05 13.25 month old 10K bulb replaced 7/21/05 12.7 month old 10K bulb replaced I went on vacation 7/24-8/4.  While on vacation, my daily fish caretaker called to say the power was out (GFCI had tripped).  Power was restored, but it could have been out for as much as 24 hours.  There was no canister filter or wet-dry filter to go bad with a power loss.  And the fish had no problem.  I'm not sure about the leather coral. On returning from vacation, the coralline algae appeared mostly gone, except less so in areas sheltered from the light.  And it seemed like the macroalgae was largely gone too.  The rocks looked mostly light brown. My son says this type of bulb loses about 50% of its output every 6 months.  If that's true, I would have more than quadrupled the light over about a 3 week period. <Yes> My questions: Do you think light shock accounts for what happened to my tank? <Mmm, could... directly and not> If so, do I have to replace these bulbs more frequently, or on a more stretched-out schedule, or somehow stagger when they need to be replaced (e.g. replace one every 3 months)? <Better to stagger as you mention> Or was the power outage a major contributor to what happened? <It could have been as much... from the stress of irregular environment on the Leather/Alcyoniid... that might have released sufficient chemicals into your water to kill off the algae... not from a days lack of light. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Tom

Aquarium overheated - what next  8/30/05 Hi all, <Mmm, your and my mother in-law's maiden names are the same...> Today was a bit of a downer, I got into my office and noted it was really really warm (probably high 80's/low 90's).  Upon inspection of my tank (36 gallon), I saw that I had lost both cleaner shrimp and both of my fire gobies were missing.  Best I can put together is that my door got closed on Friday, the gobies died (either due to the heat or loss of oxygen), the shrimp ate most of them, and succumbed as well.  Only my false clownfish survived. <Bunk> I removed the dead and half eaten fish, did a 5 gallon water change and measured the water parameters for Ammonia and Nitrite (Ammonia = 0 ppm, Nitrite < 0.3, the kit doesn't measure lower than that).  I've taken the glass cover off the tank to expose the entire tank to air in order to get it to cool down and increase the oxygen/water surface area <Good> I'm concerned a bit about the nutrients that may have gotten into the water due to the deaths.  I'm planning on bringing in my canister filter and running a mix of Phosban and activated Charcoal to remove phosphates and other things.  What would you recommend for extra water changes for the week (frequency and magnitude). <Twenty percent twice, with three days in-between should do about all the good...> Lastly, what should I do about lighting? Leave them off, or put them back on their normal schedule (power compacts). <If you lack photosynthetic life, leave them off> I'm sad at the loss of my fish (80% tank), but there is a silver lining (of sorts).  The fire gobies tended to hide by early afternoon and it would be nice to get a fish that would be more "on display" than they were.  (I'm thinking of a six-line wrasse) I'm torn about replacing the cleaner shrimp or getting a long nosed Hawkfish (I was concerned the latter would dine on the former). Thanks for your time/advice. David <Perhaps a seven day timer... that would leave the heat-generating lights off during weekends? Bob Fenner> Rapid Gilling, listless fish part 2 8/1/05 Adam, THANK YOU!  I can't believe the difference in this fish - overnight even!  He's now out and about, swimming around, curious in his surrounding again, and he had a good breakfast, too.  I am so grateful for your assistance!  Many thanks and may your fins never tire! <Glad to hear!  Best Regards.  Adam> Problems with tank... actually, misplaced species, mix... 7/28/05 Hi there,     About 6 months ago my mom decided to dive into the world of marine aquariums.  She bought a 55 gallon aquarium and a bunch of live rock and such and it has been doing just fine.  But recently we have been having problems.  Firstly, we had an anemone, which I want to classify as an Atlantic Carpet type based on a pic I saw online, but I am just not sure. <Anemones are not easily kept... pose problems in turn for other life housed with them> Anyways it was fairly small (perhaps 4 cubic inches) and when my mom was adding some more water to the tank (dechlorinated) it flipped over. <Water quality, temperature need to be carefully matched...> I worried about it righting itself but mom is rather stubborn and said it would be find.  Needless to say it slowly faded from beige/purply to white and died.  It never flipped back over.  If we buy another anemone should we make sure that it attaches itself to the substrate or a rock? <... please have your mom read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm and the linked files above...> Now I should tell you about the fish we have.  We have three tomato clowns, one about 3 inches, another 2 inches and one that is perhaps 1.5 inches.  We have 2 domino damsels (3 inches), 2 1-inch 3-stripe damsels.  We also have a flame scallop, <Almost impossible to keep alive...> a feather duster, one anemone (with a tubular body and very long tentacles-he grew out of the live rock), two saddleback clowns- each about 1 inch long, one little percula clown (1 inch), a scissortail goby (2 inches), and a few other fish that I do not know the names of.  One is very multi-colored and boxy with one long spine on its back, two others and goby-like but completely yellow and one it like the goby-type ones only with a bright pink patch down its head and back with a yellow belly.  (sorry for the length of this)  Anyways one of the 3-stripe damsels started to swim towards the surface of the water.  He developed a bubble on one of his eyes and his tail fin seemed to be rotting away, even to the point where we could see his flesh.  We added medicine to the tank (white powder from pills, name starts with A. anthromycin is what I want to say) <Likely the antibiotic Erythromycin> but it did no good and he died.  Was this preventable? <Mmm, yes to maybe... for a fifty five gallon, you have a good deal of fish life, not very compatible... too many clown species, individuals... and the Dominos... very aggressive> Now just in the past couple weeks the tiniest of our clowns, the percula seems very unhappy.  He is always by himself, and hovers slightly above the Mag Float tank scrubber we have on the side of the tank.  He never leaves it, not even when we feed the tank.  (we feed them 2 cubes of frozen shrimp a day alternating between mysis and brine)  I went on a short trip, leaving 5 cubes of food in the aquarium (on recommendation from the woman at the fish store).  When I returned today I saw that the percula clowns fins were seemingly thinner and frayed-looking.  He was also not swimming very strongly and laying on his side on the bottom of the tank.   When I put food into the aquarium he did not seem to go for any of it.   About 5 minutes later I observed the biggest tomato clown nudging the percula and then nipping at the side of his face.  He then chomped on the percula and swam for about 6 inches with the percula in his mouth.  I decided to intervene.  I removed the percula from the tank into a smaller tank I had available but it has no filter or anything.  I put in a cube of the shrimp but there seems to be no improvement.  It simply just lays there on its side, 'breathing' rapidly.  What could be wrong with it?   <You're joshing right?> Does it require more of its same size and type of clown fish? <Ahh, yes... in an otherwise uncrowded, well set-up system> Why was the tomato clown treating it this way?   <Territoriality... resource partitioning... so it could have the space, food in the area> Thanks so much for your time.  Hopefully some of my questions are answerable. <Kind of...> Perhaps this way I can help guide my mother into properly caring for this ecosystem when I am off at college next year as this has become my job.  Anyways, thanks again. -Louise, MI <Do have her read through WWM re her set-up and the needs of each species... Bob Fenner> Fatal Mistake 7/27/05 Hi guys,   <Hey, Mike G here this afternoon.> I just got back from a four day vacation and found that my reef tank had crashed.   <Ouch.> I lost my Xenia and a colt coral.  They appear to have completely melted away.   <Again, ouch.> I also have some mushrooms and star polyps. The mushrooms are bunched up tight and the star polyps won't come out. <Definitely a problem.> I didn't lose any fish.   <That's a good sign, and also helps to pinpoint the problem.> I suspect that my tank temperature may be the source of my crash.   <Agreed.> I forgot to leave the AC on and my tank temperature was at 95 degrees (F) when I returned (normally around 82 during the summer).   <Ouch, fatal mistake.> Would this alone be enough to kill off the corals? <Yes, it would. That is an extremely high temperature. Your tank should never go above 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Fish are much, much more resistant to temperature shock/high temperatures, so they pulled through. Your corals, however, were not so lucky.> Thanks for your help, <Glad to be there for you. Mike G> Eric Sudden Fish Loss, BGA wipe-out 7/18/05 Yesterday I experienced sudden fish loss which freaked me out. My system has been up and running for 3 years with no major problems. 46 Gallon About 70 pounds live rock 5-6 inch fine sand bed AquaC HOT skimmer Magnum 350 canister (for Carbon and Mech. filt.) A couple power heads Medusa Temp controller (hooked to small fan and heater) Ground probe Live stock: Regal Tang (I know, too small a tank but didn't do my homework when I first bought him) 2 Ocellaris Clowns 1 Chromis Coral: Bubble, Candy Cane Yellow polyps, and a few mushrooms. 4 Turbo Snails Have not done any tests in a while, SG 1.026 I am currently going through a Cyano out break and got lazy the past week or so and let it build up on the glass. I used the Magnet and cleaned off most of it from the glass, of course there was a ton of it floating around the tank so I reached my hand in and took the screen off the canister filter intake so it doesn't get clogged and it can suck up the floating blue-green algae. About a half hour later I glanced at the tank and noticed the Chromis was dead and the other 3 fish were gasping like crazy. The clownfish were on the bottom gasping and having trouble staying upright, the tang was gasping also but seemed to be handling a bit better (I guess because he is a lot bigger), The starfish then ate the dead Chromis. I had no reserve saltwater so I hurried and mixed a batch of fresh saltwater, (obviously you are supposed to let it mix for a couple days in normal situations) the salinity was a bit off cause it was the last of it (about 1.023), I put the worst of the clownfish in there but he didn't last long and died. I then put a fresh batch of Carbon in the canister filter <Which I hope/trust you rinsed of the Cyano> and let the remaining 2 fish stay in the  tank. <No... move them from the toxified water> The 2nd small clownfish died overnight I think. I believe the starfish ate him too because the central disk was a big bulge this morning . The Regal Tang seems kind of OK, it looks pretty lethargic but I put a few flakes in this morning and it did eat. Also he is not gasping like crazy anymore. The coral and polyps seem to be ok, they extended there tentacles last night to go into feeding mode. The starfish is fine I assume, especially since  it ate 2 fish. I did do an ammonia test this morning and results showed no ammonia (old Salifert test kit though not sure how accurate it is anymore). So could have the tons of Cyano floating around have caused the sudden fish loss? <Oh yes> I don't think it was me putting my arm in the water, I don't recall handling any chemicals or anything that would be toxic. I am at a total loss here. There is also a couple Caulerpa (I believe) stalks growing not sure if that could be hazardous in any way. I do have a small toadstool mushroom that is being taken over by blue green algae, could it have released some kind of poison? <Possibly> The system has been running just fine for 3 years and all of a sudden this happens and I have no idea why. Its kind of discouraging, I wanted to replace with a bigger tank at some point <Much more forgiving...> but am now re-thinking that idea. So any ideas? Thanks. Angelo <The BGA is likely the primary culprit here... need to be diligent about keeping it steadily kept down... A larger system, with a sump/refugium will be much more stable, easier to maintain. Bob Fenner> Caulerpa racemosa raising ammonia? Indirectly 7/18/05 Hey guys, <And gals> I bought a handful of racemosa Caulerpa last week and placed it in my sump.  When I got home that night, all my racemosa skipped over my baffles and got sucked into my pump. <Oh oh> I saw racemosa floating everywhere.  I know that this type of Caulerpa releases back several compounds.  I immediately checked my water parameters and  ammonia levels spiked up to 1ppm from 0!  I did a large water change ( about 40%), checked my ammonia afterwards and it fell to 0ppm.  I also tried to remove as much of the Caulerpa as possible.  My  fish and corals are ok.  This week, the levels jumped up again but to .5 ppm.  I've never had an ammonia problem.  I did another water change and now the level is down to .25.  I also cleaned my prefilters thinking that there maybe some decaying Caulerpa hanging around.  What else to do you guys suggest I do?  For how long?  I hope that this ammonia problem levels out soon. Nilesh <Keep monitoring your water quality, watching your livestock for signs of overt stress... I would place activated carbon, a pad of Polyfilter in your filter flow path... Likely the Caulerpa stressed the livestock, which produced extra ammonia... Bob Fenner> Ammonia... from a cat litter box... possibly 7/14/05 I was wondering if you could help me with my 125 gallon tank.  I've  had the tank for 2 years and ever since it has been giving me problems.   I've had fish grow large and then die. <...> This year alone, it has been disastrous.  All my fish die and there seem to be a fungus in the water  that would not go away.   No matter what medication I would use or how many  times I'd do a water change, nothing would help.  In fact, the water changes would shock the fish and they would ultimately die.   <Bingo> One  day, a friend suggested that perhaps the cat's litter box may be causing the  problem, seeing that it's right next to the tank. <Interesting... a possibility... ammonia can be introduced in this fashion... best to move these apart> I have another 46 gallon  tank across the room away from the litter box that has never given me any  problems.  As she explained it, cat urine contains ammonia and the large  tank may be absorbing it. <Yes> I moved the litter box to another room and  bought new fish.  They seem to be doing ok, but it's too soon to  tell.  Could this be my problem??? <Yes indeed. Bob Fenner> Thank you, George

Condy Anemone - 07/11/05 I recently bought a Condy anemone and added to my collection of a BTA, Sailfin tang, regal tang, Copperband butterfly, diamond goby, algae blenny, serpent star along with several inverts and a few mushroom corals and button polyps. <<I hope this tank is a couple hundred gallons in size...>> I awoke the next morning to find that my Condy inevitably moved to my power head and is no longer with us today. <<Sadly...an all too common problem with motile inverts.>> The problem is that the next day all my fish showed very distressed breathing and the regal and butterfly have now died to the Sailfin, goby, and blenny are doing somewhat okay still showing difficulty breathing, however all the inverts including the coral and BTA are doing just fine.  Could this outbreak of death and destruction be caused by the Condy dying and possibly releasing a toxin into my tank. <<Strongly coincidental at the least.  I think a large water change/carbon filtration are in order here.  Eric R.>> Anemone loss trouble in turn? Checking on the checkers on the checkers... 7/12/05 Bob, Was reading through the sent mail.  A query from Nathan on a "Condy Anemone".  Writer states Condy got stuck in power head and he lost it. Then, lost a couple sensitive fish the next day.  The writer asked if death could have been caused by toxins from the dead Condy.  Eric R. wrote "strangely coincidental".  My opinion is the death of the fish was caused by this.  Seen it too many times.  Agree? Regards, James (Salty) <Mmm, I'd almost bet Eric meant "strongly" rather than strangely. Eric? BobF> <<Hmm, yes...maybe my poor choice of wording.  I definitely meant to imply the incidents were very likely related.  Eric R.>>

Recycle 7/11/05 We have a 72 gallon saltwater tank containing live rock with coral and several fish until today.  Yesterday we went from a bio-wheel filter to a canister filter and now all of our fish but two are dead.   <Well, I think I know what happened. The Bio-Wheel played host to the majority of beneficial bacteria in your aquarium. When you removed it, you removed all of them, then you added a sterile canister filter. No more bacteria resulted in nothing to metabolize Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. This caused a spike, and killed your fish.> Are there any steps can we take to save our last two a clown fish and cardinal fish, they are not looking so good.  We do not have a quarantine tank. We tested our water and had the fish store test our water (everything testing acceptable) right before the change and now everything is out of whack.  Any help would be very appreciated. <Well, I would advise you either: a) Ask your local fish store to hold your two fish for you while you re-cycle your tank, as you will have to. (Pretend it is a brand new aquarium, just set up). b) Purchase a live bacteria product to re-seed your tank. Bio-Spira is high on my list of favorite aquarium products, and would serve your cause wonderfully. Put it on one of the filter cartridges in your canister filter so that water passing through the filter will be "treated" by the bacteria. I have found that, when working with Bio-Spira, it is always best to buy a size 2-3 times larger than they recommend, as, when I go with their recommended dosage, it never works out. I suppose a great deal of the bacteria perish when in the tank or were already dead in the pouch.> Thank you, Brandie Emmett <Best of luck! Mike G>

Caulerpa toxicity! 7/9/05 Hey Anthony, <M. Maddox here today - not as good, but a lot cheaper! ;)> I need your help!!! <Mental or physical?> I just recently added Caulerpa racemosa to my new refugium.  I know that you're not a big advocate of Caulerpa for nutrient control. <Not at all - and I've seen it take over tanks, smothering everything in the process>   I've been careful pruning this algae without actually breaking off dead strands.  Unfortunately, when I stepped out last night, the an entire handful of Caulerpa floated into my pump! When I got home, I found pieces of Caulerpa everywhere in my main tank. I tested the water and found that the Ammonia level hit 1ppm from 0. <Good god.  100% water change time!> I've NEVER had any other reading than 0 for ammonia.  I did a 25% water change last night and checked my reading several times afterwards and the ammonia level fell to 0 again. <I would another, larger water change to be sure - ammonia is BAD>   I also tried to remove every little piece of Caulerpa from my tank.  I also placed a bag of carbon in my sump.  Do you think that the shredding of this algae caused the ammonia spike? <Yep>   Also, what else can I do to reduce the toxins released from this Algae?  More water changes? <More/larger water changes, carbon, Poly-Filter (the one by PolyBioMarine)>   I'll carefully test the water for the next few days.  I'll also remove the algae and go for an algae like Chaetomorpha. <Good idea> Thanks Nilesh   <You're welcome - M. Maddox>

Scary Tank? 7/7/05 Hi WWM crew, <Alex> I have always seen fish swimming peacefully in LFS display or other people's display and I have a 45G salt water tank set up for almost a year already. The weird thing is, my fishes in my tank are always seem restless. They are always nervous and hiding. Wherever there is sight of a human moving in even 5 meters away, they will all dash like crazy and went hiding or go dash from one side of the tank to another. I have about 45lbs of live rock in my tank and made quite a few hiding spot for them. But I just can't make them feel safe. I sometime feel that this whole issues is because I have the tank setup at a location which has quite lots of human movement, but then I saw a tank in the middle of a shopping mall with almost hundreds or thousands of people walking around it and the fishes are all fine! They just swim around the tank and never seem bother to swim up to the glass and check out who's on the other side. What can I do to fix this problem? <Mmm, it may well be that you have a "chemical" issue here... I'd spiff up (clean) your skimmer, and add a unit of Chemi-Pure and a Polyfilter in your filter flow path... to remove organics...> I understand that some fish need long time to settle and before that they will hide all the time, but it now seem that ANY fish that enters my tank went crazy (even when they were fine in the LFS display). Is there anything I can consider doing? (besides moving the tank) What about covering the sides of the tank? I once had a well eating Moorish Idol who did great in my tank and even let me hand fed. And my cleaner shrimp is doing okay, but all the other fishes seem to be in constant nightmare.   BTW, I currently have 2 ocellaris clown (which ALWAYS hide in between rocks except dashing out for something to eat at feeding time), <Unusual> 1 saddled butterfly, and 1 Copperbanded butterfly (both dashes like they are going to die the moment they see me from 5 meters away. The Clownfishes were here for almost 3 months (they were fine before) and the butterfly I got them recently (almost a month). <Not outgoing fishes, these butterflies, for such a small system... but I would try the chemical removal route here... and if the Chaetodonts go, look into more outgoing species. Bob Fenner>

Re: Scary Tank? 7/9/05 Hi again, <Alex> Just curious here but why bad water chemistry can make fish hide? <Can... mainly metabolites... some pheromonal. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FrightChemsFWArt.htm> And also, you mentioned that the butterflies are not outgoing fish in such small system, do you mean that they only hide so much and be so shy in small system? <Mmm, that they hide more and are more skittish in smaller systems> Sorry and hope you don't mind I add one quick question here, can Copperband butterfly and saddled butterfly be kept together? <Yes> Because I search through the internet and I didn't find anyone who mentioned butterflies can't be kept together like tangs. But I notice them fighting for a little bit (usually the saddled chasing away the Copperband) when they both try to eat the same fresh clam I offer them (the only thing they will eat). Thanks <I would expand their food selection... please see WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Yellow Tang with Brownish, Streaky Discolorations... iatrogenic disease 7/7/05 Hi Everyone, and thanks for such a great resource. <Welcome> My Yellow Tang (see attached photo) has developed brownish streaks on his skin and fins.  His behavior is more aggressive than usual, but he is eating well. SETUP 35 g. glass 30in 1x65 Watt Current USA PowerCompact Single Satellite CPR BakPak 2 Protein Skimmer with bio bale intact Emperor filter (BioWheel removed to keep nitrates lower) one heater LIVESTOCK True Percula clown Frogspawn coral Green colony polyps (Zoanthids) Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp Hermit Crabs (2) Diamond Goby Convict Fish Yellow Tang 4-Stripe B&W Damsel Orange Linckia Star Turbo Snails (2) Nassarius Snails (4) 35 lbs. Live rock Fiji Pink live sand (2-3 inches) Water = 78-81 degrees (I have a cooling fan set up but it's been very hard to stabilize the temp for about 3 weeks, which is about as long as the Tang has looked poorly).  No ammonia, no nitrite, pH 8.2, Salinity 1.024. Nitrates are high, over 80ppm, and I am using a product called AZ-NO3 to lower them.  It is working very slowly (9 days of use, per instructions on bottle, an about a 50% reduction from ~120ppm (eek!). <... a good product, but...> Other issues in tank include Zoanthids suffering a little bit of die-off (see attached photo), and a seeming fungal infection on the 4-stripe (red-pink-whitish "wound-looking" sore where dorsal fin once was). <... all related> Yeah. It's a tuff time in the tank. Any advice, especially on the tang and polyps, would be very greatly appreciated. Best, DS <You have a "classical" situation of environmental disease creating biological disease creating environmental... your tank is too small for the life you list... its degraded condition, particularly the Zo's, are poisoning the livestock further... You could do a few things to ameliorate the induced dangerous water quality... more water changes, more filtration, activated carbon use... But really need a larger system period. If you want to save the fishes, you should remove the Zoanthids pronto... I wish you well. Bob Fenner>

Tang problem  07/02/05 Hi I have recently set up a 210 gallon aquarium. I had it filled by a local fish store who does maintenance on tanks... well, after everything was up and running I released three yellow tangs in it along with some other fish two days after. The day after I added some more rock to it...its been approx. four days  since the fish have been in there and now I'm noticing brownish blotches on their  sides....above their eyes and close to their back fin....but I haven't noticed  anything on the other fish but all are dark in color also (domino damselfish,  black clown). from what I've read so far I believe it to be bacteria from the  environment....so how do I go about getting rid of the bacteria? I have no  corals...a couple of Featherdusters and crabs ..... so I do have a feeling that  I should treat the whole tank considering that the others may be infected......but what should I use? <The tank was only up and running two days, no wonder you are having problems.  How was the tank cycled?  To start with, the tank is too new to add tangs in it.  I suggest checking the  ammonia level in the system and this should have been done before adding any fish.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks

Disappearing, Reappearing fins Hi Salty Dog, The Fin shedding question sounded pretty stupid when I was reading your reply, he he. I would be very surprised if  the Radiant/Iridis Wrasse was the culprit. I have read they are the most peaceful of Wrasses and I can confirm that he is a very calm, well behaved fish. But I guess anything is possible. As far as the Angels, I have not given them any medicine. Their fins are usually completely healed the next day and other than the fins are acting normal. I have kind of been worried I might have a uninvited guest in my rocks as I have already removed 3 small crabs. I placed these crabs in my 55 with my Arc Eye Hawkfish and Painted Wrasse. I have noticed that if the Hawkfish sits near the crabs that they try to touch the Hawk with their pincher's. I don't know if they are trying to pinch him but It annoys the fish. Good thing Its a small Hawk or he may have made them into a Crabby patty!  Anyway, thank you so much for your time and help, Kim p.s. do you know of another site where I can ID these crabs? I would love to   get some info on them but I have had no luck so far. <I guess I'd do a Google search on "marine crabs" and see what come up Kimberly.  James (Salty Dog)> AQ Crew

New Setup, Old Rock Hello again WWM crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have another quick question. <Ask away!> Although I have had my tank (55 gal.) for several years, its quality hasn't been all that great. This is partly due to being stubborn, lazy and... lack of funds. <We can all relate!> Well, the tank finally crashed a few months ago. The rocks started turning white and most of the fish died except for two. A hermit crab that I recently bought committed suicide. (YES, the tank was that bad.). <Yikes!> Anyway, I cleaned out the tank, rearranged the rocks, bought new equipment (Euro-reef skimmer, Salifert test kits, refractometer, etc) and it has now been running for about a month and a half. All parameters are good. Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite are showing zero. Calcium, I believe is about 400. pH is 8.2. Not sure about alkalinity. <A parameter worth knowing...Do get a decent test kit for alkalinity and monitor regularly.> Anyway, my question is, do I need to buy a couple of live rocks to seed my existing rocks with the needed "organisms", or will the few remaining ones rebound from the bad environment I gave them? Is there an alternative other than buying new rocks? That is all. Thanks in advance for your answers and keep up the great work. Sincerely, Aldrin <Well, Aldrin, some surviving life from the rocks will no doubt re-colonize the system, but you may want to introduce a few pieces of new rock to help "diversify" things a bit. Also, do ask yourself what were the factors that led to the "crash" of the prior tank. It is important to learn from these tragedies to prevent them from happening again. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Sudden loss of fish... environmental... biochemical poisoning Bob, <Yes>     Please help!  In the last 5 days I have lost  1 large yellow tang, 1 blenny, 2 Chromis,  and 1 tomato clown and my long  tentacle anemone that was sucked into a power head. <..... did the anemone go first?> My mushrooms and  leather appear to be fine.  I checked my water quality and all appear  to be normal:  Ph 8.2, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0  and ammonia 0.1.  My tank setup is a 72 gal bow with 20 pounds aragonite, 40 pounds live sand,  approximately 45 pounds live rock, lots of coralline algae.  I only have 2  yellow tangs left alive in my tank.  the last time I added anything to my  tank except for water changes was on April 8, my tangs all 3.   <What?> My tank has  been setup over a year now.  One of my tangs appears to have lost some  scales and has a white film starting to grow on him as well as having cloudiness  in his eye.  Additionally it appears to have blood coming from the line  that runs down his side with the cloudy eye. I have included a picture of my  tang.  The only thing that I have done differently was where I   purchase my RO water.  and I have been using this new source over 2  weeks.  Could this new water source be what is killing my  fish?      Thanks for your help, Jim Tobia <Likely a "biological-chemical cascade" effect of the life (mainly the other cnidarians) reaction to the anemone... massive water changes, chemical filtration, or moving the fishes to another system... Bob Fenner>
Re: Sudden loss of fish Bob, <Jim>     Thanks.  But by the time I was able to get the  water changed, both tangs had died.  I still have my finger  leather and a couple of mushroom frags.   Hopefully, the water change will  keep these guys alive.  Will it harm these guys to do another partial  water change in say 3 days. <I would do them daily> I already have done a 20% water change.       My anemone was the first to go.  Could it  have contaminated my tank? <Yes, absolutely> should I move the leather and mushrooms to my  hospital tank and do a complete breakdown to ensure I do not have anything  else contaminating my tank.  Your thoughts are greatly  appreciated. Jim Tobia      <As I recall these cnidarians weren't mal-affected. I would not move them... just do the water changes, chemical filtration route. Bob Fenner>

Differing pH Levels (6-11-05) Hi <Hi Adam, Leslie here representing the crew this evening> I purchased my fish and corals for my 29 gallon saltwater tank pretty much from two different LFS.  All the fish that I purchased from one of the stores have died within one week of purchasing them. <So sorry to hear that.> All the fish and coral from the other store have flourished in my tank. <That is much better news I am happy to hear that!> The fish I have purchased that died were 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Fox Face Rabbitfish and 1 True Percula Clown. <I am sorry to hear about the losses. Its hard to say what the problem might be without seeing the shop or fish, but my first thought is to stay away from the shop where you purchased the fish that died, at least for now. They may have something going on in their tanks that needs to be resolved,  before you continue to purchase fish from them. If you like the shop and want to continue doing business there I would recommend that you place any fish you are interested in on hold.  Go back and observe it a few times prior to purchasing it and be sure you see the fish eat before you bring it home.> I also purchased a Blue Tang that I took back when I came home to find the Clown and Gramma dead. <Very wise decision my friend.  Your 29 gallon is much to small for a Tang or a Rabbitfish. Both fish get to big for that size tank and need quite a bit more room to be happy and healthy long term.> When I came home with the Blue Tang I tested my water and everything tested good, Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0 and pH 8.2. <That sounds fine.> However when I returned the Blue Tang (because I didn't want to chance another fish from that store dying), they tested my water as well.  Everything tested the same except for my pH, which they tested at 7.4. They claim this is the reason my fish have been dying, however my other fish and my corals (which are supposed to be more sensitive to poor water quality) are doing great.  When I got home, I decided to test my water again just to make sure.  I again tested my pH at 8.2.  My question is why would my pH be different when I test it and they test it when we are using the same pH formula to test the water? Adam < The pH difference seems a bit drastic and if the pH was really 7.4 it could have caused the losses but I would expect that your other corals and fish would be suffering as well.  The shops test kit reagent may be expired or perhaps left out and open to long rendering it inaccurate. Hope this helps, Leslie> Need Help!...Too Many Fish/Anemones - 06/05/05 Hi Bob, <<Eric R. here (while Bob gets his sight back after too many hours in front of the monitor).>> My question is regarding my 30 gal. saltwater aquarium which is about 2 and a half months old.  Some info on the tank:  I have a BioChem powerhead/protein skimmer, Lunar Aqualight w/ one 96w True Actinic 03 Blue and one 96w 10,000k Daylight, two 3/4w Lunar Blue-moon glow LED, 20 lbs of live rock, a bubble tip anemone, long tentacle anemone, xenia, a rock with different types of polyps on it, Kenyan tree (recently purchased), strawberry Pseudochromis, 2 blue Chromis, a flame angel, a yellow tang, a baby hippo tang, 14 snails, and a shrimp. <<Some problems here.  This tank is grossly overstocked...neither tang is suitable for a tank this size (baby or not)...motile cnidarians (anemones) should never be housed with sessile invertebrates, and to make matters worse, you have two differing species of anemone in this tank.>> I just lost my two clownfish this afternoon due to unknown reasons. <<Not so unknown, re my previous statement.>> The tank water has a SG of 1.023, ph 8.2, ammonia .50ppm, nitrites .25ppm , nitrates 20ppm and temp of 78. <<Yikes!  This tank is NOT handling the bio-load.  Remove the two tangs and perform a LARGE water change.  I'm surprised your anemones haven't turned to "jelly.">> About a week ago I had to take the fish out of the tank because they all were showing signs of ick and put them in a hospital tank with copper, but the fish are back in the main tank and doing well, (except for the clown fish loss today). <<Mmm...perhaps not as "well" as you believe.>> The pH has just come into spec because it was at 7.8, but the guy at my LFS showed me what to use to help bring it up, which it did, and yesterday I went out and bought nitrate gravel stuff for the filter, and ammonia detoxifier.  The tank has also been getting very dirty, green dirt looking algae and brown spots all over the tank walls, gravel and LR. <<With your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels I'm not surprised.  Your tank will be going through the algae succession as if it were cycling again.>> I have been doing water changes about one a week at 20%.  One of my questions is how do I get rid of this algae if it in fact is "bad" for my tank?  I read up a little and the website said that photosynthesis can cause it, and poor circulation, but I have the big power head and one the current maker.  I keep my light on during the day for about 12-15 hours, is this bad for the production of algae? <<12 hours should be sufficient.>> Also another question, my xenia, Kenyan tree, and a few of the polyps dont open, any known reason for this?  The xenia had a hard time attaching at first but now it is attached to a little indent in the LR, and has great water flow, could it be too powerful of a flow?  Also the Kenyan tree is out in the open with great water flow, but it is still all bunched up just like the day I brought it home. <<Aside from overstocking and poor water quality, the anemones are likely waging a war that is being felt by all (releasing stinging nematocysts to the water column).  Remove the tangs as recommended earlier, remove at least one of the anemones (would rather see these in a specie specific tank by themselves), and perform a large (50%) water change...check ammonia/nitrite/nitrates again and do another/more water changes as necessary to get all down to zero.  Keep up the monitoring/weekly water changes as before and things will improve.>> Any advice/help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.   Thanks! Francis (Welcome, E7 (MSgt) Russell, Eric USAF (Retired)>>

Knowledge is Power, Quarantine Like This a "Good Thing"? Hi I'm having some serious problems and really need your help. I have moved all my fish out of my 130 gallon main tank to an emergency treatment tank I had not got the tank cycled and as expected the ammonia levels have shot up really fast (21 fish including 2 big tangs) <... all in a 130?> the ammonia on a Tetra test kit is at 1.5mg/I nearly down to 0.25 after a 30 percent water change in a 240 litre tank that I am using for the quarantine tank. The fish had got white spot and it was spreading fast so having read your site and Bobs excellent book many time decided to fallow my main tank for 30 day and take all the fish out to a 52 gallon tank for treatment with Waterlife's Cuprazin.  In the quarantine tank I have some rock (about a bucket full) and a canister filter with bio material. The rock was in another tank but I had to much and left it outside the house in a rain but and just dumped my change water on it the temp drop killed lots of the bristle worms but I guess it also killed the bacteria and putting it back in this quarantine tank is adding to the ammonia levels I think? <Temporarily, likely so> What should I do take the rock out and do some major water changes everyday I am in a panic here I really dont know how long my fish can stand an ammonia level of 1.5 <This is transient... will vacillate, cure itself in time. Read on WWM re ammonia, cycling...> They are all alive and look ok but I am scared I will lose them if I dont get the ammonia down please help. I have read your site but could not find any thing like my situation to compare with. I swear to the great fish god I will never put another fish in my tank with out sending it to the quarantine tank first lesson learned the hard way I think Bob should have said in his book you must have a quarantine tank <Is stated... over and over, in so many words> or else followed by the testimonies of those of us who have had to empty our tanks. Hope you can calm me down and save my fish. <Read on my brother. Knowledge, help is available. Bob Fenner> 

Ongoing fish health, environmental Thanks for the fast reply Bob today after a 40% water change with the last of my made up fresh salt water the ammonia levels where still at 1.5 mg and one of my Chromis was on its side and breathing hard. I decided that I would take out the rock as its full of dead bristle worms and just leave the canister filter medium in. I then took out most of the water and replaced it with water from my main tank which has zero ammonia it now tests out at 0.25mg better. It's Sunday so I cant get any more salt till Monday. To be exact I have in the 55 gallon quarantine tank, 2 large Regal Tangs and 1 small one, 10 blue green Chromis, 1 mandarin, 1 maroon clown and 4 normal clowns.2 Banggai cardinals,1 flame angel fish,1 copperband,2 blue damsels,1 cleaner wrasse, 2small sea bass. I'm trying not to panic here but should I leave my main tank void of fish for 30 days and battle on with ammonia levels in my hastily set up quarantine tank, or put some of the fish back like the clowns and Chromis that dont have whitespot on them. <Up to you> It would be really annoying if after all this I put the fish back and white spot rears its ugly head once again. I read that 30 days with out a host should get rid of it in my main tank. The fish in the QTank have now gone 3 days with Cuprazin treatment and the white spot seems to be going. By the way I am dyslexic and find reading all that text quite hard but your book was really good and I mentioned it on my webpage, you must like fish a lot. Many thanks Mark and Kathy <Still need to read... Make spaces twixt your sentences. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ongoing fish health, environmental I have decided not to put any fish back until my main tank has been empty for 30-40 days hopefully the itch will have died off  in my main tank by then. <Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!> I'm also going to borrow another tank to separate the fish and reduce the ammonia load and water changes needed that way I will have 3 tanks to treat the fish in. <Outstanding plan> The Chromis died this morning from white spot he was the first to get it before I took them all out aside from the tangs who seem to attract itch like a magnet. <And... how do you feel about quarantining all incoming livestock now?> Taking the rock out was a good move it was full of dead worms and now my ammonia levels are not rocketing up. This is hard work!:-) <Imagine being IN the system... Bob Fenner>

Re: Ongoing fish health, environmental Issues You're going to hate me for this but.. <Yikes, not a fortuitous, cheering beginning...> I have moved everyone back to my main tank except for the regal tangs.  Having treated all the fish with copper based medication for 5 days <Not long enough> and the main tank with Oodinex before all this started the fish that went back look clean. I know you're going to slap my wrists and tell me that the itch will come back but I had to make a choice.  <No... will do this after admonishing you for your illiteracy, discourtesy in not checking your messages before sending> I couldnt keep up with the water changes in the tanks that dont have a good biofilter in place and the fish where battling with ammonia and worse water. <What?> I called my nearest big fish store and asked for there advice they told me that even after 30 days the white spot could still come back and that I would probably lose more fish the way I was going putting them back in the main tank would give them a better chance.  <Hey, keep calling... you'll meet people that think George Bush isn't a dolt> I have to agree the fish that went back Chromis yellow tank flame angel mandarin clowns all look much better now and no white spot has shown itself yet. <Yet... is the operative word here> I think the real problem is the two big regal tangs. One of them is fat and eats well the other is much more nervous and seems to be picked on by the other  <... they don't live... in pairs...> it will eat but only when the light are off.  These two fish got covered in white spot and it got worse but the other fish didnt get effected. I really like the regal tangs they are lovely fish but I'm considering giving them to my local fish store as they seem be effected by itch much more then any other fish I have kept.  <Good> I figure that if the itch comes back on the other fish then at least I have bought some time in getting one of the QT tanks properly set up and they are not dying because of ammonia levels and constant water changes. I had to make a choice dead fish or alive fish and time to set things up better. Time will tell if I did the right thing but I feel this is better then losing fish every day. <It is an important choice. I do hope you have made the better one. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Ongoing fish health, environmental Issues Well Bob so far things seem much better the fish that went back have all picked up and are feeding better they all look much happier as well and as yet no sign of any itch.  I have lowered the temp to 74 and have started to bring the salinity down to 20 and then 19 rather then dumping any more useless chemicals in my main tank. In the mean time the treatment tank with the tangs in it is becoming more manageable with ammonia levels going down below 0.25 and I'm still doing daily water changes about 20%. with plenty of aeration in the water. The itch on the tangs is gone from sight but I'm keeping them out of my main tank.  I have set up another QTank to get ready for any more itch attacks should they occur in my main tank.  By the way Bob being dyslexic I do make spelling mistakes and I have tried to space out my sentences and check my spelling for you, sorry about that. <No worries... I had similar troubles when young/er... My advice... do what I do, and learn to use computerized spelling and grammar checking tools... Very useful learning experiences> Where I live the fish stores are mainly tropical fish and good marine stores are hard to come by so you tend to get every one giving you confusing advice. <All the more reason to do as you are doing... educating yourself> Please check out a picture of my tank on my website so you can see what I'm dealing with. Your book is mentioned on it, many thanks for your time. Mark and Kathy www.freewebs.com/fishwish22    <Very nice. I really like your stand design, with the lighted sump in the front. Bob Fenner> 

Continuing problems with ich You guy's helped me diagnose and treat lateral line erosion on a yellow tang.  I'm really starting to feel desperate about my tank right now. I have a 75 gallon tank with a canister filter, a protein skimmer and 3 powerheads for aeration. I have 75# of live rock and 40# of crushed coral. I currently have one snowflake eel and one clown trigger. <!> I can't afford a quarantine tank at the moment. <... but can afford Clown Triggers?> This is my second outbreak.  During the first outbreak I had the eel, a different clown trigger, an imperator angel and a yellow tang. My LFS told me to use Formalin. <Ohhhh> After just one application the angel started acting drunk. The next morning the clown was dead (and he didn't even show signs of Ich). That night the angel also died. I then visited a store in Chicago that seemed more knowledgeable and they told me to use Sea Cure. <Copper sulfate solution by Aquarium Systems> The tang recovered (the eel never was affected).  I waited two weeks and replaced the clown. <Too soon...> The tang actually bullied the clown! He gave him a gouge with his tail spike across his nose, eye and then another on his body. When the Clown started showing signs of ich I removed the tang. Started the SeaCure treatments and after a week with no improvements I started lowering the salinity (which I found on your website). He's not getting any better. The specks now cover his entire body and fins. He's to no sign of fin rot yet but there are some small irregular brown rings on his belly. His eyes have frosted over so while he still has a healthy appetite he has trouble finding food. When he started lying around I started adding StressCoat and he seems less lethargic but it's now been 2 weeks of copper and 1 week low salinity with no improvement.  I've read for hours through your website and you guys seem to really know your stuff. I'd really appreciate some help. I really have gotten attached to this guy and don't want to lose him. Thanks! <... much to state, too much in simple going back and forth here... Are you treating these fishes in the main tank? Are you testing for free copper concentration? The StressCoat will remove the copper medication... Please read on WWM re this disease, its treatments... Bob Fenner>

Re: Continuing Problems With Ich, Communication, Lack of Useful input, Focus I'm sorry maybe I'm not understanding but I've been doing what I thought your website said. I've gone from article to article and read for hours! <With comprehension?> I'm using copper, it's testing between 10 and 15 daily. <? Ten and twenty what?> Copper sulfate solution by Aquarium Systems is not available anywhere that I can find.  <... Sea Cure IS this product... http://www.marineland.com/products/asi/ammex.asp> Can you point me to a good source on the web? Salinity is at 1.012 I'm doing the last change to get it to 1.010 tonight. <Why?> I only have one tank. <Can't be done here...> Don't I have to treat the tank to kill the ich in it's other stages? <...... you haven't read...> Won't he just be reinfected if the main tank isn't cured? Copper sulfate solution by Aquarium Systems is not available anywhere in my town. Can you point me to a good source on the web? Do I have to clean out the SeaCure copper before I use the Copper Sulfate solution? Or can I just start using it to keep it up to 15?  <Please call an aquarium store, service company in your area to explain all this to you> The store in Chicago told me SeaCure is the only thing they'd use and then told me I caused the ich by doing the 10%/week water changes and using a protein skimmer that I thought you guys recommend. <... what? No!> Or am I reading that wrong too? I've never been so confused I really don't want to give up but I feel so helpless.  <Have someone help you who knows what they're doing... on site. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Continuing problems with ich I'm really sorry for wasting your time like this.  I'm trying to do the best I can.  I don't know what input is useful to you and what is not.  If I wasn't in over my head I wouldn't need to ask anything. <I understand this... am trying to help, but can't make sense of much of what you write, are relating> The copper has been testing between 10 and 15.  When it's 15 I leave it alone and when it's 10 I add 20 drops of SeaCure. <Hon... ten or 15 of what? These measures are meaningless w/o units... free copper is measured in ppm or mg/l... Are you using a test kit that is meant for unchelated copper? What is the brand name?> How big of a tank do I need for a hospital tank for these two fish? <... how large are they? Likely at least 29 gallons... bigger is better> Can I borrow one of the two heaters and one of the three powerheads from my main tank during treatment? <Sure> Can I use water from the main tank to set it up or does it need to cycle? <You can/should use the cycled water...> Thanks again for putting up with me.  There is nobody in town who can help me on site.  We have a PetSmart, a PetCo and a shop run out the back of a feed store that smells to high heaven and has more algae than fish in the tanks. <Rats! Might I ask the name of your town? Perhaps one of our readers lives nearby and will respond, be willing to help. Bob F>

Re: Continuing problems with ich It's the fast test kit that comes recommended by SeaCure to keep the level at 15.  I'm in Loves Park Illinois.  About an 1-1/2 hours from Chicago.  And unfortunately I'm working about 65-80 hours a week which makes it almost impossible to get to Chicago. <I think you're missing a decimal place... Is there anyone out there who lives nearby? Bob Fenner>

After water change, has it got better or worsened? Hi everyone, I just set up my first marine tank, of course running into problems and luckily I found this forum, hopefully someone can give me a direction. <Left, right... spinning...> I have a 90L fish only tank with a pair of clowns, a blue tang, a puffin <Really neat birds... are you in Iceland?> and a cleaner wrasse. <Yeeikes, poor choice> I thought I had the tank cycled for 6 weeks, before I putting in the fishes. I checked all test pH 8.4, NO2, NO3 & Ammonia are all 0 ppm before putting the fishes in. 2 weeks after putting all fishes in, I tested the water again.  The reading was: pH 8.4 Ammonia 0.5 NO2 0 NO3 10 <Looks like a mini-recycling event...> then I thought the ammonia should always be 0. <Yes, ideally> I had a 30% water change last night and did a water test today. The reading now: pH 8.2 <- down Ammonia 0.5 NO2 0.25 <- up NO3 10 <Yep> I was wondering has the water condition got worsen? <Worse, but getting better> I haven't mix the water with any agent except Pure water. What should I do now? <Feed very little, carefully...> Please help me as this is very frustrating, should I do another water change? <Mmm, no... unless the ammonia and/or nitrite exceed about 1.0 ppm... Changing water quality will forestall establishment of cycling... See WWM re> putting in something like the Cyclone/Prime agent or leave it? <Leave off with these. BioSpira would be great to add however> The tank I have got is a closed top with the filter on top and I also added a Eheim 2210 on one side. The water now outflow from each both side of the tank, what is the best water outflow setup for a marine tank?  <This is posted: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm > Regards, T.Ding <"When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout"... uh, no... Read on my friend, help is available. Bob Fenner>

Retrofitting A Large System Greetings friends at WWM! <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have a couple of issues I was hoping to get some help with. The first is a fish health issue. I own a pet store, and recently we have had a major fish loss epidemic. The two systems in question are 200g tanks (DAS). One unit is 2 75g open tanks, 50g sump; the other is a 75, 15, and 2 30's with 50g sump. I am not sure if you are familiar with the DAS systems, but we are using the stock filtration and skimmers.  These are two fish only systems, with a couple inches of sand fake corals and maybe 75 or so lbs of "reef" (dead) rock dispersed in each 200g unit. pH varies slightly always above 8.0. Ammonia and nitrites are nonexistent at all times. Nitrates stay at around 10ppm. One of the tanks was treated with copper about a month ago, which we removed with Purigen after we killed the ich.  We use carbon constantly, and do a 10% weekly water change with RO/DI water. We buy from Quality Marine, and SDC primarily. We buy more expensive higher quality stock from "good" seas whenever possible. We presently have no QT system. We freshwater dip all fish that come in. <Sounds like good procedure; a quarantine system would really take things to the next level!> Our reef tanks, and other invert tanks have been doing phenomenally (better than ever really). So the problem is this:  In the past 10 days we have lost the following fish - Longnose Butterfly, Pinstripe Wrasse, Copperband Butterfly, Naso Tang, Lemonpeel Angel, Raccoon Butterfly, Auriga Butterfly, Regal Angel (RS), Lawnmower Blenny, Watchman Goby, 5 Lyretail Anthias, Thornyback Cowfish, Red Coris Wrasse - give or take, that's what I can think of off the top of my head. <Horrible to hear.> 75% of these fish have been fat, eating, healthy and (relatively) longstanding citizens until the night that they died. There have been three bouts of death, where we lost 4-6 fish dispersed amongst the individual tanks overnight. Several of them had rather odd marks on their bodies before or after death. The Naso had large black splotches that showed up the evening before he died. The Lemonpeel had a swollen mouth, that looked kind of bruised. Many of them in their death looked oddly bruised.  I would blame it on foul play without a second thought if there was anybody left to point the finger to. Survivors include: a 2.5" Flame Hawk, a 3" Longnose Hawk, a 1.5" Porkfish, a 3" Xanthopterus Tang, 3" Vlamingi Tang, and a Lizard Blenny. Within this same time period we have had a really nasty Cyano outbreak as well, for what that's worth. I'm at a loss...and appreciate your input! <Wow...really hard to say. The rapidity with which these deaths came about makes me think that we may be looking at some sort of very virulent parasitic disease. The other thought would be some sort of environmental lapse, but it seems odd that such a large cross-section of relatively hardy fishes would be affected. The same goes for some sort of poisoning episode...Why would only a few fishes perish? I guess the other angle to take is to look at the source of the fish. Were they all from the same wholesaler? did they all arrive about the same time? Did any customers report similar rapid deaths of fishes during this same period of time? Unfortunately, you're going to have to ask yourself a lot of questions to get some good leads on this one...> Second on the agenda. I have a customer with a 300g tank that I am taking over for them. The tank is now sitting fallow while we let ich die out, but they are patiently waiting for me to "make their tank beautiful". The husband likes oddball fish, and the wife wants a reef. They are paying me for a monthly to maintain it for them, and I REALLY want to put together something that works for them. I have never had any practical experience with a tank of this size, aside from when I pulled out all their fish. <That's not a fun experience at all, huh?> Right now they have standard fluorescent lighting, 100 lbs of dead rock, 80 lbs of live rock, a modified UG filter that is drained into a Red Sea canister. It's acrylic, stand and canopy included. I pulled out a dozen or so Damsels, a mean Wrasse, and a few other fish that managed to survive their reign of terror. They said they spent 15 grand on their setup at their LFS (rip-off?). <For a 1970's-1980's type filtration system and fluorescent lighting, I'd say that they may have overpaid somewhat!> They have given me a no-limit clause. No price is to high to pay for beauty, so as long as what I'm doing is necessary...just do it and send them the bill. I really don't want to take advantage of them, and I really want to make sure that whatever I do is really the best thing for them. I have only been doing salt for a year and a half, and reef for a year. I read a LOT, and deal with many many tanks so I have a lot of progressive experience, but I still feel rather limited in my capabilities. <Well, coming here is a good start! As you are aware, we have a lot of great information on marine/reef keeping here. I think I would start by re-assessing the equipment in the system and seeing what is truly effective. If your goal is to have a mixed fish/invert system, I'd shy away from the mechanical/UG filter setup and consider a simple sump-based system, with an excellent protein skimmer. A refugium is optional, but would be a nice feature. Better lighting is in order, too. I think that you really need to sit down with the client and find out exactly the kinds of animals that they want, and design and retrofit the system accordingly. They also need to be aware that a pretty reef-type system does not happen overnight; it takes months and years to grow into something truly amazing. As you are no doubt aware, it's not possible to simply dump tons of money into a system and expect a world-class system overnight. It takes time. patience, and dedication.> Can a reef be maintained long term with only once a month for heavy duty maintenance/water changes? <It can, but you need to pay careful attention to stocking and daily husbandry, such as feeding, etc.> If so, what kind of corals would be most conducive to success and beauty on that scale? <There are so many to choose from that I can't even begin to name them here. I suppose that soft corals, such as Sarcophyton, Sinularia and the like would be a hardy bunch to start with. Do some more reading, both here and in texts like Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" and Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation"> With the tank filled, and maybe 2.5" between it and the wall...any super secrets to increasing water flow without using powerheads or moving the tank? <A manifold-type return system from a closed loop might fill the bill. There are other methods, such as using devices such as Sea Swirls to oscillate the return flow, or even external powerheads, such as Tunze Turbelles, which move huge volumes of water with little electrical consumption and minimum aesthetic compromise.> The UG/Red Sea canister combo seems quite crafty to me...but I don't know about function. There is a LOT of particulate matter casually drifting around the tank. <Sounds like it may not have been the optimal size for the system, or perhaps husbandry was not top-notch in this system. You'd be surprised how efficiently sump-based systems can remove suspended matter through simple settling within the sump, or with minor prefiltration features. Do read up on this.> Should I utilize the available plumbing for a sump, skimmer, fuge, or closed loop? <Obviously, you want to optimize what is there to save your client money, but you may need to do serious re-vamping of the system to make sure that everything is appropriate for the animals that your client intends to keep.> I will leave it at that for now...there will be more to come in the near future no doubt. Thanks for your help :) Scott Johnson Critter Cabana <MY pleasure, Scott. Sorry I couldn't give you absolute answers in this space, but I hope that some of the basic concepts that we touched on will be of use to your client. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 

More Comms. From the Dyslexic (Or, "It's a Good Thing His Name is Bob!) - Itchy Fishy  Ok Bob, enough about my dyslexic spelling problems. I'm a bit touchy when people correct me on it, sorry if I came across as a bit crabby. <No worries> Well, I put the little regal back in the main tank and within 2 days he looks like his getting it again, grief! I cant figure out why the other fish are not catching it, why does it hit the regal tang first?? <This species is just touchy, more susceptible... Ones from further into the Indian Ocean are tougher by far than those from the tropical west Pacific> Having read up some more on other methods of killing white spot, I was thinking of taking the fish out that are infected and treating them buy lowering my salinity in the QT tanks rather then using copper based medication. Would that be a better answer. <Try it and see... IMO no> I must admit the thought of the white spot exploding as the salinity drops is very satisfying indeed.  Also if I took my corals and inverts out of the main tank and lowered the salinity to say 0.10 for 3 weeks would that kill the white spot quicker then just leaving it fishless for a month or two? <No> I am learning through all this and will put the experience on my web site to help others.  Glad you liked my site hope its content was up to scratch. <Looked good> Your help is greatly appreciated. Mark and Kathy <Bob Fenner>

Holiday Blues - 05/20/05 Hi crew, <Howdy!> I have not written for a while as your archives generally answer any questions that arise but recently I went on Holiday for a fortnight and upon my return there had been a few mishaps. <Uh oh...not an uncommon tale.> The tank I left was a thirty gallon with 20lb of live rock, ammonia , nitrite and nitrates all zero. It was equipped with a Fluval 404 and a Red Sea Prizm.  I also have an ozonizer running through the reaction chamber of the skimmer set at around 15 (unsure of the units, but I was recommended this level by the local fish store).  <OK> The inhabitants of the tank were as follows: 1 1" false percula clown 1 1" small Toby puffer 1 1" orchid Dottyback 1 1.5 " blue cleaner wrasse (bought on impulse without researching, now I realize that this was a big mistake) <Sadly less...destined to starve to death.  Hopefully it won't be in vain and you will have learned your lesson.> 1 brittle star (grey hairy, not green) <Excellent> 3 hermits black spiny urchin <Looking for one or two of these myself.> Upon my return the skimmer had stopped being fed through the inlet tube and was therefore not returned any water to the tank (the ozonizer was still running but had destroyed the air stone) the water level in the tank had fell dramatically <Likely what caused the skimmer to fail...you didn't have a top-off system/neighbor to keep the tank topped up?> and the whole thing was shrouded in diatoms.  Unsurprising I found the urchin spineless and dead.  My main problem is that the cleaner wrasse is nowhere to be seen and I cannot find it in any rock crevices or anything, I also cannot find the brittle starfish anywhere.  Do I continue to search for these creatures or not, and if so how do I flush out the corpses? <I would not disturb the tank/rock to look for these.  Your system will have mechanisms to deal (micro- and macro-fauna, etc.), though You might want to step up water changes for a couple weeks.> I have corrected the water with numerous large changes <Ahh...I should read ahead <G>.> and vacuuming and the parameters are back to normal (but surprisingly they had risen very little). <Yes...in a mature system, a lost fish (or starfish) or two is not the calamity that many think.> The other three fish are fine but obviously look much happier back in a well cared for tank. <Glad to hear your system is back under control.  Regards, Eric R.>

Re: Blond Naso Tang & Raccoon Butterfly NEEDS HELP! II Thanks, I will trade the Tang and Butterfly back which is better for them. I will start saving money for a bigger tank. <Real good> Last question, should I readjust the salinity and temperature back to 1.025 and 78-80 degrees and let the enriched vitamin food fights for the potential virus in the tank? <Good idea> I will change 5-10 % of water every 3-4 days to keep the water in the toppest quality. <Okay> Thanks for your advice. Patrick <Glad to proffer it. Bob Fenner> 

Water Quality Mistake Makes a Good Cocktail? Hi, this is WJA <Hello, this is RMF> I am fairly new to saltwater fish keeping, I have had my 55 gal. tank for about a year now. During that year, I have had no major problems up until now. I have visited this site numerous of times and it has kept me out of trouble. <Mmm, has the opposite effect on me...> This is my first time asking a question, because most questions were already asked. The same is true for this question (it probably has already been answered) but in a way the problem is unique because of mistakes I made. Anyways, I'll get to the point.  First, I have checked my pH at in the early morning (before the sun is out) and at night, and it is in the 8.2-8.3 range now, which was not the case yesterday morning and the root of my problem. I have tested for ammonium, nitrates, and nitrites and found nothing out of the ordinary, all showing little or no trace that would be a cause for concern. My specific gravity is at 1.027-1.028. I know that is high, the couple of times I had it checked at the LFS, they advised to lower it, which is what I was trying to do by adding RO for top offs instead of saltwater. <This will only keep the spg the same...> I know that it is advised to not use saltwater for top offs, but I found that by adding saltwater, my pH was very stable at 8.3. I only used very little saltwater during top offs, so I never filled the tank to its original volume before evaporation, but would fill the water to its normal volume only during normal routine water changes (and everything, corals and fish, were doing great for months). So about three days ago, I decided to try and lower the salinity in the tank by adding RO for a top off.  I added the RO AFTER (mistake #1) testing the pH. So yesterday I check the pH and it is at 7.8, the lowest I have ever seen it. I PANICKED (mistake #2) because I have always had good water quality (I buy all water from the LFS). My corals ( 2 pulsating xenias and a mushroom that was a frag given to me, 6 mths and 5 mths old, respectfully) were not looking bad, but they were not open. In my panic, I added MORE (mistake #3) than the required dosage of Seachem Reef Buffer. And to help my corals, I also added the Kent Marine Reef Starter kit which includes Liquid Calcium, Iodine, and Strontium & Molybdenum right after the buffer, which seems to be mistake #4 because I just read on the pH buffer to not directly mix with the very three things I added. I did this yesterday morning, by yesterday evening my xenia was shriveled to almost nothing and the mushroom is not looking good at all. I also have button polyps that are doing fine.  When I saw this, I did a 7-8 gallon water change and re-added the three minerals, which was probably another mistake because of what I read on the website. The xenia is almost totally dissolved today and the mushroom looks better than the xenia, but still is in bad shape. I guess I am asking what can I do, if anything, to save them. I have seen one of the xenias look like this when an unstable piece of live rock fell on it, it shriveled up in a few hours time but was close to normal in about 3-5 days.  So I am hoping it is not too late to save it and the mushroom.  I know I made a lot of bonehead mistakes, so do not be too harsh in your reply. By the way, I had a cleaner shrimp that disappeared the night before I discovered the low PH, so I am guessing that was the cause. I also have a yellow tang, a percula clownfish, a Sailfin blenny, a brittle starfish, and numerous snails and crabs; all housed in a 55 gal. tank with approx. 55 pounds of live rock. I have two 1200 powerheads with a Emperor dual bio-wheel filter, and Coralife compact fluorescent lighting with two 10,000K and two actinic bulbs, both at 65 watts. Please help me with whatever information you can. I truly appreciate it and sorry this was so long. Keep up the good work. WJA P.S.-Looks like the xenia is gone, as this e-mail was delayed, and the mushroom is getting worse, so I guess I just need help on correcting the water quality now. <Sorry to read of your trials, troubles... as you likely realize the principal error here lies in adjusting water chemistry in your main system, instead of in pre-mixed, stored water... Do realize that the new spg needs to be slowly adjusted by using lower spg make-up water (simply adding RO to your evaporative lost water in your main tank will not lower the specific gravity...)... I would do nothing presently to change the water quality in your main tank... the lowered pH issue from the RO addition is/was only temporary... You might want to look at your overall cost of buying, carting about store-bought water, and get your own RO device... easy to install, use. Bob Fenner> Lion Fish Help, actually more help than this... mis-stocking, treatment, poisoned system Hi Guys. Please HELP! The strangest things have been happening to my aquarium for the past 2 weeks. I Have a 40 Gal Marine Aquarium with a Whisper 40 carbon filtration system, a Coral Life Protein Skimmer, Crushed coral with about 20 pound of live rock-which I think is dead rock now. The water quality is as following, Salinity is 1.022, <Too low... raise this to 1.025> pH 8.4, KH 300... <No...> NO2 0, NO3 80... <Too high> and a blue fluorescent light (I forgot what they called that type of lighting). I Have 1 small Red Pterois volitans, 1 small sweet lips  <Hard to keep these alive> and 1 clown. About a week ago I noticed some white spots on my lion and sweet lips, but It wasnt ich like spots, it was almost like a powdery substance. <Maybe Velvet/Amyloodinium> I treated the tank with Quick Cure and removed the carbon out of the filter cartridge. <... your main tank?> The powdery substance seemed to be melting away but within the 3rd treatment I noticed that my lions eyes were getting cloudy... <The treatment, destruction of your bio-filter...> ...and the powdery substance was getting worst. Eventually my sweet lips died but my lion is still swimming, his activity level has slowed as well as his appetite. Is there anything I could do, I really love my lion fish and I dont want to loose him to. Oh by the way, I think I killed my live rock by using quick cure (blue), is there anything else I can use. PLEASE HELP ME!!! Elvin Pizarro <There is one principal thing you can do... transfer/translate your stated love into action: Study re what you're about here... On WWM, books on the topic... You should not have added the copper to your main system, should not have bought a Sweetlips in the first place... Do read re biological filtration on WWM... test for ammonia, nitrite... add a "booster" like BioSpira... seek to understand what you're doing... Bob Fenner> 

New setup, uncycled, overcrowded... Hello! This is my second note since I never received a response from my 1st note over a week ago. Anyway, I just setup a 26 gallon bowfront (oak trim) saltwater tank about 4 weeks ago. The tank has entirely cycled since I used about 15 pounds of live rock and about 35 pounds of live sand (3-4" sand bed). My ammonia readings fluctuate between 0 and .1. <Is not completely cycled then> Nitrites fluctuate between 0 and .15. <Ditto> Nitrates are steady at about 10. Temperature averages between 78-80degrees. Salinity is about 1.024. I perform a 10% water change once a week. <Change nothing till ammonia, nitrite go to and stay at zero> I have stocked the tank (gradually) with the following (in order of arrival): <What? You placed livestock in an uncycled system? Not good> 4 turbo snails (about 30 baby snails from the live rock) 1 baby horseshoe crab 2 juvenile percula clowns 2 neon damsels 1 mushroom rock 1 African red knobby starfish (I know it's not reef-safe, but so far it's doing great and doesn't bother anything in the tank - usually just cruises on the front of the glass or on one of the live rocks) 1 juvenile yellow tang 1 flowerpot coral <... dismal> 1 baby neon goby Sprigs of Caulerpa All of the fish are fed twice a day from a variety of frozen brine shrimp, frozen krill, frozen algae blend (soaked in Zoe supplement), marine flake food. I alternate what I feed them. The tang and the damsel seem to be friends, often swimming next to each other. I switched out the lighting from the standard fluorescent 15watt bulb to a dual 15watt bulb that's ProGlo2 (10000k daylight). I have a TetraTec 150 filter with the heating plug built-in. I added a ZooMed rotating powerhead for water movement. I'm going to order an AquaC Remora protein skimmer this week. <Should have been running day one...> My concerns are primarily with the lighting. I have no idea how to get the proper lighting to work with my 26gallon Tetra bowfront tank since the hood is curved and there is only about 4" x 22" opening with the glass top for the lighting (24" wide total). I'd like to upgrade my lighting to allow for a few more corals and possibly an anemone. There is approximately 16" from the top of the sand bed to the light fixture. Please help! Thanks, Heather <Forget about the lighting... stop feeding, seek out BioSpira or equivalent (there is none better) to really cycle your system... and hope your livestock survive the cycle. You've placed way too much biota period, in an uncycled system... Please read on WWM re marine set-up, biological filtration, stocking... and lighting. Bob Fenner> 

Vibrations & Fish Health Hello Crew, <Hi there> I'm not sure you have been asked a question like this before (at least I couldn't find it on your site) but if you guys/gals don't know probably no one will. I will be installing a large free-standing fish only aquarium (10'x24"x36") in a disco/club.  The club will be rocking Thurs night thru sat night, the rest of the week its closed.  During the time its opened there will be a lot of vibrations from the speakers.  Do you think these vibrations will be detrimental to the overall health of the fish? Thank you, Joe <I've often wondered about this, and ofttimes seen speculations by others re many fishes capacity for sensing low frequency, high amplitude noise... But have also seen several such systems in similar settings, and the fishes not seemingly affected... Bob Fenner> Holocanthus passer disease = Shipping/Temperature Stress Thank you in advance for your assistance. I purchased my king angelfishes from Costa Rica about a week now, they started sloughing on the second day. I did quarantine them for 4 days but decided to transfer them when 'sloughing' began to worsen. Treated with tetracycline & copper sulphate....when more died I tried Praziquantel about 1.5ppm for another 3 days; still no improvement; in fact more died. Now my other angelfishes is affected as well. Please advise. Tony yen <This sounds very much like "shipping stress", particularly the mal-affects of chilling. We used to collect and ship via air or boat this species... and if they were too long in getting to where they were going or the temperature dropped on them, they would invariably "break down"... as yours are. I would not add more medicine chemicals to their water, but would lower the specific gravity to about 1.018 and add a teaspoon of Epsom per ten gallons of water... and hope that some self-recover. Bob Fenner>

Help! bubble trapped in fish! Hi crew! <Rebecca> I want to thank you in advance for your help! Y'all are a life-saver for those of us trying to hone our skills as novice aquarists. <Welcome> I have a serious problem! I just hooked up a Aqua C Remora protein skimmer to my 46 gallon tank. As predicted, the skimmer is putting out a small amount of microbubbles, but nothing unbearable (I think). All of my fish are doing well except for my golden goby, who seems to have taken a liking to eating the bubbles! He has a visible air bubble inside of him and I'm afraid that he's headed for fishy heaven if I don't intervene in some way! My mom told me to try to feed him a pea because they make her fart, but I'm fairly certain they wouldn't have the same effect on a fish! <May work, worth trying> Is there anything I can do for the little guy? He's still eating and hanging out on his various perches on my live rock. <You might try adding a bit of Epsom Salt (a level teaspoon per ten gallons of actual water volume) to the system to see if this too will "move him"> How can I help him?  <Not much else to do... hopefully "this too shall pass"> Thanks!!
<Bob Fenner>

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