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FAQs about Marine Water Quality 6

Related Articles: Captive Seawater Quality, Nutrient Control and Export, Water Changes/ChangingUnderstanding Calcium & Alkalinity,

Related FAQs: Marine Water Quality 1, Marine Water Quality 2 Marine Water Quality 3, Marine Water Quality 4, Marine Water Quality 5, Marine Water Quality 7, Cloudy Water, Smelly Water, Films on Top of Water, RO/DI & Distilled Water 1Environmental Disease,

Bryaninops yongei (Davis & Cohen 1968), the Whip Goby.

Let it not snow...  - 1/30/2006 Hi Bob - <Carl> Thanks for your prompt reply.  You might have misunderstood my last question.  What are the calcium, dKH, and pH numbers to avoid so that I don't get a snowstorm? <Not possible to state very accurately... a nomograph might present a reasonable approximation... relatively high ph (more than 8.4... and "too high" calcium (let's say 500 ppm) and a dKH of over 11 can often trigger such. Bob Fenner> Carl Beels, M.S.

Water Surface Scum - 01/05/2006 Hello WWM crew. I just have one quick question. On the surface of my water, it seems that there is a cloudy like residue. I have done several water changes, but it just comes back.  What could this be and is it sign of poor water quality. <Most likely, this is a concentration of organics from the water. There is a chance it could be from the area around the tank (airborne contamination). It can contribute to poor water quality if your tests are not indicating such currently. You can remove by scooping/skimming across the surface. To prevent return, make sure you are using a good skimmer and have good water flow/surface turbulence.> Thank you very much. <Sure. - Josh>

Cloudy Marine Tank  - 01/03/2006 The water clarity in my 70 gal. Plexiglas marine (fish only) tank has a visible cloudiness to it. The tank has been established for three years using a standard wet/dry filtration system. The aquarium supports:   a.. Green Bird Wrasse  8"   b.. Anthias                   3"   c.. Percula Clown         1"   d.. Percula Clown         1"   e.. Percula Clown         2"   f.. Blue Damsel           1"   g.. Blue Damsel           1"   h.. Dwarf Lion              3" I have had these fish for over two years with absolutely no problems. About six months ago the cloudiness visibly appeared. Water analysis revealed Ammonia, Nitrite, PH, Nitrate and Specific Gravity were all within ideal ranges. I have removed all ornamentals and small portions of substrate from aquarium with zero effect. Water changes are done on a regular basis from 10% change to 80% change again with zero effect. Any input or solution would be appreciated. Thanks: John Woodward <Actually... the symptoms you describe so well are part of a general trend in "aging marine systems". Likely the readily-soluble alkaline and calcium/magnesium components of your substrate have become exhausted. If it were me/mine, I would switch out more of the substrate (say half), and possibly add a few pounds of live rock. Do you have a skimmer here? I would. Bob Fenner> Strontium in reef aquariums...  12/24/05 Hey crew just wanted to get a second opinion on the advantage of strontium. Pretty much I know it helps in strengthen the corals skeleton, but I also heard to can interfere with calcification and stunt the growth of some corals; I'm wondering if I should even dose strontium when I already use tropic Marin which contains its trace? <Nathan, read the FAQ's on the subject on this link.    http://www.google.com/custom?q=strontium&sa=Google+Search&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com   thanks so much, <You're welcome>   Nathan M

Water Quality Issues and Poor Advice/Husbandry - 12/15/2005 Hello! <Hi there Jeri!> I have been searching your website for answers to my questions.  I have had some luck, but want to get a little more specific answers. <I'll see what I can do.> I have had my 150 gal. saltwater tank set up for around 4 to 6 months. I started out with 6 damsels, one of which 1 is still alive. <These were used to cycle? I hope you've found our info. on fishless cycling now.> I have since added a Percula Clown and a Yellow Tang. After a short while the tang developed red marks on his sides near his tail (looks like a bruise). I went to my local pet store and asked them about this. They suggested maybe one of the others was picking on him. I have seen no evidence of this. <Could be the case. May also be from shipping/handling stress, poor tank conditions. Best thing for now is proper diet, optimal water quality and careful observation. May or may not need to do "something more". Read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ytangdisfaqs.htm and beyond to prepare.> I left the pet store with two more fish - a Pearlscale Butterfly and a Flame Angel. <Why? With your current issue, adding more is not good. And QT!? I've not seen this mentioned.> Both seemed to do well after some territory issues. The Damsel thinks he owns the place and all new inhabitants suffer a couple days of bullying. <Maybe more than the Tang could handle. Any LR in this tank to help the fish "find a happy place"?> The new fish have been in my tank now for about 1 or 2 months.  Everything seemed to be good until today.  I noticed the Pearlscale just kind of sitting in a corner.  When I approached the glass he darted away so I thought I was worried about nothing.  The next time I saw him he was in some decorative rocks lying on his side and breathing rapidly. He was also a really nasty shade of gray.  Within hours he was dead. <Happens often with Butterfly fishes.> I decided to test my water (which I have been more than a little lax with). <This on top of no QT!?> I keep one of those ammonia testers with the suction cup in the tank at all times. <I would use actual tests.> It says the water is "safe" and I checked my alkalinity and it tested at about 8dKH.  I also tested my pH.  The card that came with this test kit has shades of yellows, greens and blues to check against.  The sample I tested turned orange.  There isn't even an orange on my card!!  I called the guy at the pet store and he suggested my pH level was too low and that I should use a buffer to bring it up.  The instructions on the buffer I have from an old tank my husband had a few years ago said to put in a teaspoon for every 20-30 gallons of capacity.  I added about 6 tsps.  Now I am hoping that this guy was right - I am not sure how much I trust this store, having had problems with them in the past. <This was a mistake. Did you not at least ask if they would test it for you to confirm. You can't dose tanks based on "possible" but only if you have a definite result. Please review the maint. and testing FAQ's in our archives. Put the power to control these situations in your own hands, not a store you don't even trust. They apparently know that if your fishes die you'll just come buy more (bonus!). Look to reputable online dealers or other sources if you've already had problems here.> There are not too many choices in my area, so you have to take what you can get. <Common misconception keeping poorly run business open.> All of my test kits and the buffer have been around for quite some time. Do test kits get old and unreliable? <Yes.> After reading some of the articles on your site, I am left wondering how much smells and such around the home can affect the fish and to what extent.  I have some holiday potpourri that I put out last night. It is quite aromatic which makes me wonder if it could have affected my tank (which is in the same room). Or is my problem the pH? <Likely more than just the pH. I do not however feel it was the "scents". Learn and practice the proper maintenance, test your water and eliminate these variables.> Any help you can give me would be very much appreciated!! Thank you!! Jeri Reeve <I can't actually offer any more than the above for lack of information (which I feel is the biggest of your problems now). I don't mean that condecendingly but you've left yourself at the mercy of others. Not wise in this hobby. - Josh> - New tank, low pH, High Alkalinity - 11/30/05 I wish I had found The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, The New Marine Aquarium, and this web site before I pursued a saltwater tank. Six months ago, my wife purchased a used 54-gallon FOWLR corner marine aquarium for my birthday - something I've wanted since before we were married 11 years ago. It has consumed much of my disposable income, given me hours of enjoyment,  <I understand entirely> and now has the following equipment (some of which came with the setup): a) Magnum external canister filter b) Three power-heads (two with rotating heads) c) one small HOB refugium (opposite light-dark cycle w/ Chaetomorpha) d) 1/4 hp chiller unit (I could not keep the temp below 88-degrees Fahrenheit without one) e) One Penn-Plax Cascade 600 internal filter f) Approx 75 lbs of live rock g) Approx 1-inch crushed aragonite bottom h) Excalibur HV-1 HOB skimmer I change 6 gallons of water each Sunday with RO/DI pre-mixed saltwater purchased from my local fish store, except when I change the filter material. On those days (about every six weeks), I change 12 gallons of water in the event I release too many nitrates. The water is aerated for one week prior to these changes. <Good> Salinity is 1.0235, and the temperature is between 77 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. My water specifications (based upon test kits from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals): pH - between 7.6 and 7.8 (also verified by the local fish store and a Hagen test kit) NH3 - 0 ppm NO3 - 0 ppm NO4 - 0 ppm Based upon Salifert test kits, the following specifications apply: dKH - 9.2 Ca - 430 <How do you measure salinity? If it is with a swing-arm hydrometer, it could be inaccurate (mine read specific gravity .006 too low). I would verify your salinity, and then gradually bring it up to natural marine levels (1.026 - 1.027). You may find the higher salinity will help you support a higher pH.> I realize the calcium is a little high. <No, this level is fine> I previously used the FasTest calcium test, which indicated the level between 380 and 420 ppm. When it was empty, I switched to Salifert and the calcium read 500 ppm. The fish store verified this reading, and it's been slowly falling for about 6 weeks. I have not added buffer for two months, since all it did was raise alkalinity (it was once over 14 dKH), but did not affect my pH.  <That's what buffer does> In reality, I don't believe I ever got more than 7.8 pH. I was advised by the fish store to allow the alkalinity to fall a little more before adding buffer. I used a powdered-buffer, but now have the two-step liquid solutions available. I test the pH in the morning and at night, but do not find much of a difference between the readings. <It is very painful testing pH with liquid reagents... I would recommend a (cheap) electronic pH meter> I also have Chaetomorpha in the main tank, green microalgae growing on the glass (which I clean every 2 - 3 weeks), and coralline/green microalgae growing on the rocks/powerheads. My fish (3 yellow Chromis, 2 blue Chromis, two clowns, and one flame angel), 3 peppermint shrimp (which helped, with Joe's Juice, to get ride some Aiptasia), hermit crabs, and snails, all appear to be doing well.  <Good> Should I be concerned about the low pH, or allow the alkalinity to drop and increase the pH with a buffering agent? <If everything is OK, I would not loose too much sleep, but it would be nice to bring it up to more "normal" levels, certainly. I would not allow the alkalinity to drop much further> I don't really know how else I can get the water into closer balance. I must admit I do not test the new water prior to its change, but again hesitate to add more buffering agents. <Sam, with only fish in the tank, there are no immediate worries here, but there are a few things you could try. First of all, I would execute a series of larger water changes to see if that brings the pH into check. I would recommend testing the alkalinity and pH of your store-bought water to ensure its efficacy. Larger regular water changes will likely also be beneficial -- I try to change 15-20% weekly on my 55 gallon. I would also undertake to either clean the canister filter and hang-on filter more regularly (weekly or twice weekly), or remove them altogether (and let your live rock and skimmer do the work) if this is unmanageable. Without corals in the tank, calcium and alkalinity are not critical, but I prefer to maintain alkalinity around or above 10 dKH to make conditions less favourable to nuisance algaes. If you live in a modern/well-insulated house, make sure the room your tank is in is well ventilated.> Thank you for your help and this great website.  Sam <Good luck! And let me know if none of these approaches work. John> 

pH follow-up - 11/30/05 Thank you for your guidance.  <My pleasure> I'll send you a follow-up in a few weeks with the results. I purchased 10 gallons of RO saltwater yesterday (29 NOV 2005), and will make my change this Sunday after I complete the aeration. <Keep us posted> Just a quick question - are the liquid pH tests reliable? I have an electronic pH meter, but it may be too cheap, as it gave me varied readings even after setting it to 7.01 with the buffering agent. <I prefer the electronic meters as I find the colours for the liquid tests too subjective. Most pH probe/op-amp arrangements should be accurate to within at least .05 units. Best regards, John> Sincerely yours, Sam in Virginia Beach, VA 

Re: water chemistry 11-27-05 Thanks for the reply. I have been dripping Kalk, but perhaps I could up the level. After looking at the hammer, only one head died, the other is healthy as ever. I remembered it tipped over onto a zoo colony. I think that killed it. <Most likely.> What other components to the water should I monitor that would effect this; perhaps silica and iodine? I am using a Hagan phosphate kit. I don't think that the accuracy of it is good enough. <I suggest Salifert kits.> The first division >0 is .25, which I think is already trouble. What do you recommend? <Mentioned above.> My RO feed water is well water with a TDS of 750-800, so I think that RO unit is doing it's thing, but I need to polish with the DI. Another clue was prior to adding a UV unit, I also had uncontrollable diatomic algae. <High silicate levels can contribute to diatom growth.> That took care of that.  It also took care of some problem that was effecting the corals. They are surviving much better. I thought that perhaps there is some bacteria in the water that it was killing. <UV can make the water more clear which can make corals look more healthy.> Would that have any effect on the algae as well? <Any dead organic item will increase nitrates, which is a fertilizer.> Happy late Thanksgiving! <Thanks and same to you. Travis> Jon

Hey.. There's Milk in my Water!  11/18/05 Hi. <<Hi.>> I added activated carbon (pre-rinsed) with the extra media cartridges in my Penguin 400 double bio wheel filter on Sunday. <<Cool. I sat around and visited with my sister, our dogs got into a fight and we had to break it up. I think you had more fun.>> Yesterday, Wednesday, the water looked a little cloudy and today, Thursday it was extremely milky and there is a film on the top of the water. I've done a 20% water change today, Thursday. The fish don't seem bothered by this yet. Could the carbon have caused this? <<No.>> Perhaps I didn't rinse it enough?  <<If you hadn't rinsed it enough, you'd have black "dust" all over everything in the tank.>> And what do you suggest to remedy the problem? Any information is appreciated. Mrs. Jablonksi <<I think that when you replaced the carbon (my assumption is that you added the carbon to replace carbon removed, if this isn't the case it doesn't change my remedy) you eliminated a large portion of your bacterial cultures (nitrifying bacteria - you don't mention fresh or salt water system, I'm assuming fresh but it doesn't matter either way), and non-benthic, competing bacteria have set up shop. You will need to tip the balance in favor of your benthos-loving microbes. You may likely have a problem soon if you don't.  How to fix? When performing the water changes, treat this like a brand new tank; NO VACUUMING, no cleaning of inside surfaces. IF you can find it, BioSpira of the appropriate type could fix the trouble almost instantly (BioSpira comes in a freshwater and saltwater formula, they are not interchangeable). Then, to avoid this trouble next time, figure out how you're going to allow for biological filtration by some other means than expensive carbon meant for chemical filtration (the bacteria don't care WHAT they're living in, just that it suits them). This is rather a shot in the dark, as you have not provided much other information. Search our FAQs via our Google bar on the home page, enter keywords that match your situation - "milky cloudy water", etc. for more results than you can shake a stick at. Marina>> 

Nano Lighting and Alk/Calcium Levels 10/28/05 Hello Crew Member, <Hi Don.> I was thinking of upgrading my lighting system... <Okay.> I currently am running a retrofitted Eclipse hood 1 - 15W Coralife MarineGlo fluorescent (runs from 9:15am-9:30pm) 2 - 13W 50/50 pc's (running from 10:30am-6:30pm) I was thinking of replacing it w/ 1 - 96W 50/50 Aqualight and having it run from 9:30-9:30 <Well it would help to know what the targeted photosynthetic specimens are to give you the best answer as to how this lighting system relates to your system. I will say that this lighting system will dramatically increase the heat in your system, so look into fans and top-off systems.> My Aquarium specs are: 15 Gal. Tall 1 - 15W Coralife MarineGlo fluorescent (runs from 9:15am-9:30pm) 2 - 13W 50/50 pc's (running from 10:30am-6:30pm) eclipse 1 filtration system (120 gal/hr pump w/ carbon filtration and BioWheel) <Carbon is rather has quite a short half/life and after 24 hours of usage is rather inert, after that its really just a breeding ground for bacteria, really its not necessary in a mature system. As far as the bio-wheel, it's a quality filter but in a marine tank, especially one of this size I would rather see a protein skimmer.> 1 Rio 200 w/ a hydro Flo diverter 2-3" LS bed <Your in 'No Mans land' with your sand bed, should be 1' or less for aesthetics or 4' or more for the effects of a Deep Sand Bed.> 18Lbs. LR 2 Reef Hermits 1 Left handed Hermit 2 Margarita snails 1 Rainford's Goby <How is he eating? This species often starves in smaller/un-mature aquaria as it is mostly a filamentous algae eater.> pH 8.2 (even w/ high alk stays consistent) Ca 500ppm (this is a drop from 800ppm) <I imagine you had a snowstorm, (calcium precipitation during this 800 ppm period.> NH3/NH4 0 NO2 0.00 NO3 0  Alk (off the charts) (no change recently) <Should be between 7 and 12 dKH.> temp 80 F Gravity 1.025 Water changes are being preformed weekly (4-5 gals) Ro/Di water low amounts of salt mix added as I am attempting to lower both Alk and Calcium. <Well you still need to keep the S.G. levels up with inverts in the tank, you need some sort of Alk/ph buffering product. Though the stable pH is a bit odd, maybe bad test kit? I would try to confirm you readings with a local store.> <<Brand, age, storage are all contributing factors to the efficacy and reliability of any test.  MH>> Thanks for your time Don <Welcome, Adam J.>

Invincible cloudy water  9/23/05 O.K., this one has me beat. Been doing this for 36 years. In June I set up a 70 fish only, utilizing some dead coral and rock from a well established smaller tank.  Substrate is very minimal crushed coral; Prizm skimmer; Millennium 3 filter (I'm not really happy with this, but I wanted to get away from a canister and can't find a good, simple hang-on anymore - like the old Danner Supremes) Anyway, I added a 6" volitans and a 7" French, both intended to be temporary residents. A 4" damsel that's been around for 13 years that I ran out of places to put. The tank is fine for a couple weeks; without much warning, the water goes cloudy, then suddenly very dirty; I do a large water change, throw on the diatom, bring it back. No problems for a couple more weeks. Then, the cloudiness returns, very slowly. More water changes; more diatom, which is taking out particulates; Chemi-pure; all of which helps, but the water never goes back to really clear. This is a month ago. Last week. I run the diatom 3 days straight; again, I can't get it to clear. Now a day later, its back to significantly cloudy. Feeding has been light, fish aren't stressed. It's very similar to a tank with something gone bad, but there isn't anything bad in this one; but, the water has that off smell; not bad, just not right Worst case scenario, if something was bad, in three months it should no longer be an issue. The diatom is still pulling particulates, but from where I can't imagine. At one point I did a 70% change, 6 hours later you wouldn't have known it visually. The only new decor has been sitting on a shelf or outside for years, I pulled each piece and my nose approves of all. Now I am really ticked. Any thoughts would be really appreciated. Steve. <In reading your query, I really don't see a means of an efficient biological filter.  The Millennium isn't going to do it, you have no live rock and a skimmer not efficient enough (IMO) to handle that size of tank.  I suggest a trickle filter with cell-pore biomedia.  Use a filter pad and change weekly.  Another avenue would be a hang on refugium.  Google WWM, keyword "refugiums" for more info on this.  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> pH level  9/4/05 Dear WWM, Thanks for helping me with my problem. You mentioned for me to test the water and I did, but the pH, nitrate, and nitrite are off the scale. I have no idea how to get them back to normal. Can you help me? Thank You. <"Off the scale"... Please see WWM re... for freshwater... marine... brackish... Articles and FAQs files on water chemistry, quality... For nutrient tests that are more concentrated than the scale of your kits, you might try diluting samples with distilled water... half the system water equals half the concentration... Bob Fenner> Calcium, Kalk... alkalinity? Understanding basic marine water chemistry 8/23/05 Hi there.  I've emailed you guys many times over the years and always got great advice, which is why I am once again requesting some advice.  Before I ask my question, I've searched your site already and couldn't find the answer to my question.  I have a 120 gal. reef tank and I've been dosing Kalk at night for about a month now.  I also purchased a calcium monitor which is constantly monitoring my levels.  I haven't been able to raise my calcium doing what I'm doing past 315 ppm.  I only started putting corals in the tank. I have 5 pieces; a colt, a mushroom polyp, a "flower pot", and 2 toadstool mushrooms.  They are all doing great, all of them are fully opened and look great.  I use only RO/DI water, and have PC lights.  Anyways, my question is.... how can I raise my calcium levels more rapidly than just dosing at night?????? <There are a few ways... but... what is your alkalinity? Do you understand the relationship twixt these?> Can I tank out a few gallons of tank water, mix in some Kalk, and slowly return to the tank???? <You could...>   Also, when I do a 10 gallon water change, which I do once a week, will this deplete the calcium levels???? <? By the proportion/s of calcium concentration in the respective solutions volumes...> If so, how do you compensate for this????  Thanks for your help.  Jeff. <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Water Chemistry... Mostly - 08/21/05 Hi Guys, <<EricR here > Thanks for the response as below - prompted a couple of follow ups though I'm afraid! <<.?.>> And I thought I might share my recent experiences of Refractometers that read way out and the danger of relying on shop water! <<Mmm, yes...should always check yourself, no matter what the source.>> Anyway - from the top - The two powerheads are 500 Litres per hour - is this really not enough (I've always thought it might be slightly overkill!) or was my description unclear? would more be advisable? in addition to the spray bar return from the Fluval 203. <<Ahh...ok...was not clear before.  This combination; if my calculations are correct, yields about 17x-18x tank volume...excellent!>> I'll cover the shop water here I think - I've been getting de-ionized water (first batch tested fine) from a LFS since I discovered my tap water was suddenly full of phosphates, anyway the last batch had been maturing for a couple of days & I was due a water change - by chance I tested it for phos prior to chucking it in my tank (& more to the point- before siphoning waste out of my tank!!) & guess what - full of phosphates!! at least 2 ppm!! Needless to say I'm not impressed & have suggested to the LFS that they may want to consider sorting this out! <<Hmm, very interesting.  I don't doubt your findings, but I would confirm this with another brand test kit, if only for your own satisfaction.>> I'm sure you have told people many times to test source water but the more we can spread the word the better! <<much agreed>> I have since found a new source of RO & will be installing a RO/DI at home in the near future!! (my wonderfully understanding girlfriend thought it was a good idea! - maybe my stomping around with test tubes & furious face helped!!)  I think I have learned my lesson with water now!!! :o) <<Excellent my friend!>> I should have added to my phosphate reading in the original email (below) the measurement - Doh!! the 0.1 was ppm - is this still too high? (it has in actual fact increased a little from there to a current reading of 0.2 ppm - I probably need to replace my Rowaphos) <<Still too high in my opinion...would like to see this fall below .05 ppm.>> Finally a word of warning to all - I recently got a refractometer & not a cheap one either!  To cut a long story short, I had my suspicions it wasn't reading right & took it back to the shop to compare to theirs (different make) - after much testing & recalibrating we decided that the one I'd bought read consistently .002 - .003 higher than theirs - clearly a large discrepancy!! <<Mmm...unless "theirs" was the one that was off.>> They got another out of the box & this too read out by .002/3.  I got a good deal coz the fella in the shop gave me one that was 3 times the price for the same I paid initially!! But the lesson is not to rely on anything reading right!! & double check to make sure! <<Personally, I prefer electronic meters for this purpose.  Not much/any more expensive than the higher priced refractometers.>> Cheers Chris <<Regards, EricR>> Marine Culture System... mainly water chemistry 8/18/05 Hey Bob <Jacob> After reading over all the Q and A's, (good reading), I have question left unanswered.  I would appreciate any advice from yourself or your associates. Thank-you Jacob FAQS: Culture tanks V = 150 000 Sump V = 100 000 Culture tanks + Sump V = Total Volume = 250 000Liters Water exchange = 5% daily TAN: 0.05ppm (as N) NO2: 0.008ppm (as N) NO3: 5ppm (as N) H2S: 0.025ppm (as S) Q 1. is this sulphide level to high for crustaceans? <Mmm, can be under some conditions... not a problem if "acclimated" to this concentration... and not likely a problem period> Total Alkalinity: 290ppm (as CaCO3) have added Na2CO3 in the past to lift alk however i would now like to lower to alk back to 130ppm Q 2. how do i lower ALK without lowering pH while maintaining Ca at 425ppm? <Change water out with that which has less carbonate, bicarbonate... dilution, time> pH: 8.35 (using caustic soda NaOH to maintain via dose pump). Ca: 300ppm (using CaOH in attempt to lift). <You would do well to read a few references... Stephen Spotte's works in particular... you can get a glimpse of what your possibilities are by perusing WWM... perhaps starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm The articles, FAQs files on Water Quality, pH, Alkalinity, biominerals... Bob Fenner>

Water Chemistry...Mostly - 08/14/05 Hi Guys, Shouting loud from across the big pond to all the WWM crew. <<Greetings>> Now 9 months on since I last communed with you, I am still more captivated with my salty charges as time goes by. <<Me too...have to stand and gaze every evening.>> I have and continue to use the numerous FAQ sections of WWM & salute you all. <<Outstanding, and thank you.>> If I may begin with a brief resume of my tank history (a little disjointed - so apologies)- small system I know but it's all I can have till we move (I am thinking of adding a refugium soon tho but want to sort my algae & water params first). <<excellent>> 60 litres tank, 10Kg+ Live rock + 1Kg dead LR that is hopefully live by now, 1" crushed coral substrate, 2x powerheads for circulation <<2x tank volume?  Not near enough my friend.>>, Seaclone skimmer <<uh oh>>.  I know...I know - new skimmer will be arriving once I've moved <<whew!>> & much larger tank is on the horizon next summer (got the nod from the missus :o) <<Mmm, wonder who gave/gives our wives so much control...?>>, also Fluval 203 with foam, floss, de-nitrate (Seachem I think) carbon & recent Rowaphos addition (see Below) <<Cleaned weekly I hope...>> - set up about 10 months ago. Current water params - 1.023 sg Nitrate <5 Ph 8.4 (difficult kit to read but definitely higher than 8) Phos 0.1 <<Way too high...likely part of your algae problem.>> Calcium 390 (again difficult to read, point where solution turns blue & never matches the blue on the card!) Alkalinity 6.5 dKH <<Would try to bring this up a bit (8-9).>> 10 litres water change twice weekly (more recently) just deionized water (after below phos issues with local tap) <<Ahh...had issues of my own with the tap water when I was living in Ipswich in the late 80's/early 90's.  Suffered two complete tank wipeouts (poison used to kill freshwater shrimp in the water lines, I was told) before I smartened up and started running everything through carbon and Poly-Filters.>> & Instant Ocean - no other additives - is this OK? <<Since you're getting a new skimmer <G>...other than your phosphate being too high and your alk a bit low, yes, just fine.>> Livestock is 2 Clowns, 1 scooter blenny (Dragonet I think) <<yes>>, 6 dwarf pygmy blue legged hermits, 1 porcelain/anemone crab 1", 2 turbo snails & 2 unident snails (like turbans but more the shape of a Chinese Coolie hat with nice pearled effect -magnificent hair algae eaters! - any ideas as to ID or where to look? not found any pics of similar yet)  <<Hmm a few hits on Google doing a keyword search.  Depending on where you look...either a prehistoric fossil...or a temperate water snail.>>, 3 very small polyp colonies, 1 pulsing xenia, 1 pussy coral (I think) <<?>> 1 small mushroom & 1 other unident - domed pale yellow with many extensions tipped with kinda open baskets on end?.  All corals are very small frags and recent additions just before the new lights went in.  Upgraded lamps about a month ago from single 18" tube to 2x55w PC with 2 bulbs both half white half blue (this should give an ideal spectrum or at least a very good one?) <<Better than what you had, yes, but would rather see one full 10K lamp and one half white/half actinic instead.>> Following this the hair algae and dark green slime algae (Cyano?) that has always lurked in the odd corner took off & started to expand rapidly, I thought down to the lights - however I did some research on your fine world class resource site & got a phosphate test kit - aquarium water was off the scale!! <<Yes...the lighting provided the catalyst for the phosphate lurking in your system.>> Checked my tap water which I had previously dechlorinated, mixed & aged, this too was off the scale! Got Rowaphos - 250ml now sitting in the canister filter (Fluval 203).  Since then I have found a source of deionized water (not RO) and now use this to mix up & age - is there an advantage of deionized over RO or vice versa? <<Deionized will likely provide more "purity."  Many folks here employ R/O followed with a deionization cartridge.>> Would either be suitable for me? <<Either will be an improvement over the tap water.  I prefer to employ both as mentioned and would suggest the same.>> Are there any issues I need to be aware of with DI water - e.g. supplements etc? <<All prepared water should be buffered before use.>> RO water unit is not possible due to lack of space (money is not an issue within sensible limits), would a deionizing filter be a good purchase as I only need small quantities of water? issues?? <<The Kati/Ani units are good units, and regenerable.>> Hair algae & green slime (Cyano?) seemed to begin to recede very quickly, phosphate levels are now good - 0.1, one patch of hair algae still growing however my 2 new snails are having a feast chomping into it!!  Higher forms of algae now seem to be appearing - thicker hair like algae, stuff that looks like very small duck weed attached to rocks & some fern like algae - good sign? <<Maybe...but some of the shorter "turf" algae can be "very" difficult to eradicate.>> I have also noticed lots of bubbles clinging to the substrate and rocks, much more than before. <<Nitrogen processes stimulated by the increase in light...not to worry...>> There is no noticeable smell (other than fresh sea smell coming from the tank) My thoughts are that this may be due to the Fluval 203 canister & the skimmer dumping micro bubbles into the tank (203 seems much worse for this since the addition of the Rowaphos (I'll look at fluidizing this at some point soon) Does my theory sound OK or are there more unpleasant possibilities? <<Could be either...likely nothing "unpleasant.">> My main question is around calcium & alkalinity as you may surmise from my params above - <ok>> I've only just started to test for these (last week) but am concerned that both Calcium & Alkalinity are low, I did read that Rowaphos can lower pH - has this eaten into my buffer & reduced alk levels or have I still not got the idea?!!  What else could have caused this? <<Nothing to be alarmed about.  Your calcium in not "low", and upping your water changes a bit will likely help your alkalinity.  Or it may simply be you need to buffer your makeup water.>> I have had some coralline growth but this seems to have bleached a little (my snails have had some good shell growth some time ago but this seems to have slowed), the bleaching is maybe down to low calcium & alk? <<Or high phosphate.>> Should I be looking at some sort of additive to bring up my alk & calcium?  If so what is recommended (simple solution preferred). <<You don't have many organisms requiring high calcium uptake, increasing your partial water changes is the best way to deal with this.  If you find it necessary to supplement...either try Anthony Calfo's Kalkwasser slurry method, or use a two-part supplement to keep alkalinity and calcium in balance.>> Many thanks in anticipation Chris Learning quickly I hope! <<Keep reading/asking questions...  Regards, EricR>>

High kH level and low ph? 8/5/05 Hello, I hate to bother you all again, but my research on your site could not answer my question.  Well, I have a new 75 gal. tank with one inch of crushed coral and aragon. sand mixed. I have an Emperor 400, and two powerheads that move 400gph each.  I have not added my live rock yet, it is still curing. My problem is with my tests.  My pH is currently 7.7, and my KH is 11.  My calcium is reading 480.  Phos. is less than 0.5.  How can I safely raise the pH without raising the KH as well? <Add source/s of carbonate, bicarbonate, w/o calcium...> I've read that sea shells will work to raise it, but........  What would you recommend I do at this point? Many thanks. KP <Keep reading... perhaps starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Nitrate Problem Please Help!!...Overstocked Tank - 08/02/05 Dear Crew, <<Evening>> Firstly I would like to say what a great job you all do on this site, a real wealth of information and help. <<Thank you for this>> I wonder if I could ask some assistance with a Nitrate problem I have. <<Ask away...I'll try to help.>> Firstly my setup: 100 Gall Minireef system 2 x 150 watt MH Lighting 1 x 38 watt Blue 100lbs Live Rock Turboflotor Multi SE 1000 Skimmer Temp 76 - 78 Nitrite 0 ppm Ammonia 0 ppm Nitrate 60 ppm <<Yowza!>> PH 8.2 day 8.5 night <<?>> 2 x Aquaclear 5000 powerheads for flow 9000 Galls per hour <<Mmmm...more like 2,000 I believe.>> Corals : 1 x Sun 3 x Finger Leather 4 x single Ricordea Red Mushrooms Brown Mushrooms 3 x Star Polyps 1 Large & 1 Small Zoo colonies 1 x Xenia tree Fish: 1 Regal Tang 1 Naso Tang 1 Yellow Tang 2 Firefish 1 Clown (Ocellaris) 1 Coral Beauty 5 Chromis 1 Pyjama Cardinal 2 Cleaner Shrimp 1 Peppermint Shrimp 10 Turbo Snails 25 Hermits I have had a Nitrate problem with my tank for over 6 months now. <<You're overstocked my friend.  The Naso and the Regal tangs both require larger tanks than this individually...much less together.>> I am regimental with my water change routine. I have 3 x 4 gallon water bottles from the water coolers you see in offices.  I change 4 galls on Monday, Thursday, & Saturday and make up a fresh bottle of saltwater after each change which then sits being aerated for 7 days, so I always have 12 gallons of saltwater ageing at any one time. <<very good>> I use only RO water which is tested once every month and this shows no sign of any nitrate. ( I use Instant Ocean Salt) <<good again>> After spending hours looking through the FAQ's on Nitrate I came to the conclusion that my Trickle filter which is the OLD DLS type with a rotating spray bar, was my Nitrate Factory. <<Possibility...these can have a tendency to trap detritus.>> I also had a floss filter in the overflow, this is cleaned after each water change, but the main DLS filter was inaccessible.  So following the advice on the FAQ's about letting the live rock and skimmer do the work, out it came (And boy was it dirty) to be replaced with 15lbs Ocean Rock, hopefully this will become live rock with time. <<Mmm...not really/never as good as the "real thing.">> That was 3 days ago and I still have not seen any reduction in the Nitrate in the water, despite a 4 gall water change yesterday, and another one due Thursday. <<You need to do larger water changes...typically 30%-50% of tank volume.>> It also has to be said that Nitrite & Ammonia have remained stable at 0 ppm so the live rock must be doing the Biological bit.  Skimmer is producing around 40ml of dark brown, foul smelling goo each day, but that is about the same as it did before. <<ok>> Could any of you please shed any light on why I cannot get my Nitrates down. <<Removal of the DLS material is a start...do a "couple" large water changes a few days apart and assess.>> The fish are fed 1 2x3 inch strip of Nori daily and 1xcube of frozen food, I also feed the Sun Coral some Gamma Shrimp every other day by using a turkey baster, which obviously does not all go to the coral, the fish do steal some. <<And love it I'm sure.>> Any help would be greatly appreciated as this is really beginning to frustrate me, what am I doing wrong ??? <<You don't mention what type of substrate you have...make sure you're not also trapping detritus there...and do those LARGE water changes.>> Best wishes Robbie <<Regards, EricR>>

Nitrate Problem Please Help!! (More Info) - 08/03/05 HI Eric <<Hello Robbie>> Thanks for all your advice. <<welcome>> Agree with the rating for the powerheads at 2000 galls an hour, misread the booklet.  I assume this is sufficient for a tank this size? <<Mmm...what is "sufficient" depends on different factors (livestock requirements, aquascaping, type substrate, etc.), but as a general rule, 20x tank volume is considered sufficient, yes.>> Substrate is about 2 inches crushed coral and sand mix, but this is cleaned once a week with a power gravel cleaner and whilst cleaning this does produce some detritus it is not really a lot. <<The weekly maintenance is good...but were me, I would reduce this to 1" or less and forget about vacuuming.>> I don't have an Algae problem which I know usually goes with high Nitrates, and I have plenty of Coralline growing. This is why I am so frustrated, maybe my test kit is wrong !!! <<Tis a possibility...easy enough to verify...>> I also have a 5 inch DSB attached to my sump which has Caulerpa growing in it.  It is fed by gravity from the main return and an overflow back into the main sump.  It is also lit at night.  This is why the PH reads 8.5 at night, photosynthesis of the Caulerpa ? <<Ahh yes...but let me suggest you light the Caulerpa 24/7.  Lighting Caulerpa intermittently (day/night cycle) increases the risk (if not outright guarantee) of it going "sexual" and causing a release of many bad/harmful elements in to your system.  Do have a look here and among the related links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caulerpaalg.htm>> I always thought that doing small water changes on a regular basis was better than doing large ones as this did not upset the stability of the tank ? <<Several schools of thought here...but if your test kit "is" accurate, you need to reduce your nitrates quickly (dilution), and a large water change is the most efficient means of doing so.  Once you have the problem licked you can go back to your current regimen...though I feel larger (20%) water changes done less frequently (bi-weekly) to be more beneficial on a tank such as yours.  But again, have a look here and among the indices and see what you think: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm>> I do still have some mechanical filtration attached to the Aquaclear pumps and this is cleaned on a daily basis as they are very easy to attach / detach and it only take a couple of minutes, I do this at the same time as I empty and clean my skimmer collection cup. <<very good>> Will persevere and see how we get on after doing some bigger water changes <<Excellent...do let us know how things progress. EricR>> Thanks for all the help Regards Robbie

Water Quality 6/31/05 Hi Bob, <James, today> I've been visiting your website now for some time and I have used a lot of the great advice given to others. I'm not sure if you are able to give me any assistance but here goes. I have a 300 litre 5 foot marine tank. It has only four fish and a couple of corals and about 40 kg.s of live rock. The tank has been running for about 3 years now. I have a Red Sea skimmer running and a Jebo 950 filter and a Pond Master UV clarifier. I also have two small power heads at either side of the tank on timers and 1 airstone always running. But for the last few months my tank water has started to become yellow in color. I have added active carbon to the filter and also scrape off twice a week the build up of algae on the glass. There is some calm areas on the surface of the water but not much. I have two questions? 1.) what makes marine fish tank water turn yellow <dissolved organics> and 2.) how can I fix the issue as none of the shops around my area have any idea on what I should do to fix this issue. ps. I only use ro water in my tank. As for the tests of the tank water ammonia is 0 nitrite is 0 nitrate is 0 ph is 8.3 kH is between 161 to 179ppm or 9dkh 10 dKH phosphate is 0 any help you can give will be great.  <Nino, first off, if the skimmer is the Prizm model, I feel it isn't efficient enough for that size tank.  Secondly, try a product called Chemi-Pure to use rather than carbon.  It is much more effective and should remove the yellow tint and most dissolved organics.  James (Salty Dog)> regards Nino

Water Film - 06/24/05 Greetings WWM crew. <<Evening>> I'll make this short.  I'm not very sure when this "film" over the water started occurring but I don't recall it always being there. <<Organic materials attracted to the air/water interface (just like in a skimmer) at the surface of your water.>> My tank is 45 gallons and contains 2 percula clowns, 1 coral beauty, and 2 blue chromis. Also an assortment of snails, crabs, and a shrimp. I have a SeaClone skimmer with maxi jet 1200 on it, and a standard filter.  This adds up to be around 600 gallons per hour I believe , maybe more maybe less. Recently the film on the water surface has now began to get bubbles in it. <<A common occurrence.>> My friend recommended getting a power head to get the water circulating.  Is that the solution? <<Water circulation is always important, but not going to solve this in itself.  You need a way to "skim" the film from the surface of the water.  Several ways to do this, most notably with a surface skimmer that drains to a sump.  But with a little imagination and/or searching the WEB, you can rig a device for your "standard" filter to do the same.  Another option is to turn off all the pumps and lay a clean paper towel on the calmed surface for a moment...then lift away the film with the towel and discard.>> Thanks <<Regards, Eric R.>>

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.>

Water parameters out of whack Hello Crew, how you guys doing today? <Mighty fine, thanks> Well I decided to go back into the aquarium hobby after being away for about a year and everything had being going well until I started having some problems with my PH. This is what happened. I filled up my 380 gallon aquarium with some Oceanic salt and let it mix in for a week, then I added some crushed coral and 200+ lbs of Live Rock. I noticed that PH was low ~ 7.7, therefore I started adding super buffer dKH and brought it up to around 8.2 but it started going back down therefore I kept adding Kent super buffer DKH until I had poured 2 pounds of Super Buffer DKH in a week's time and my PH was still hovering around 8.0 - 8.1 . Believing that my PH monitor was off I tested the PH with another test kit which showed the same result, that's when I decided to test the other parameters, which are: <Mmm, the LR is "settling in" and you started with a bunk, inconsistent brand of salt mix> Temp 79.4 F SG 1.021 CA 330 PH 8.0 AK 16+ DKH Went off the Salifert Scale. <Yes...> WHAT in the world, how can I have a 16+ DKH and an 8.0 PH . <Surprising that you have such a large system and lack of understanding of basic chemistry (pun intended)... look at the ingredients of the Kent products... realize you have a situation... with the decomposition of the LR... that is exhausting the carbonate/bicarbonate... but not the hardness... Voila! Low pH, high hardness> I'm truly lost and I know I should have tested the ALK before I kept adding buffer, but I did not have an ALK test kit available and I figured hey it's a lot of water and Oceanic salt is known for having High Calcium and low PH. At this point I'm probably going to do a 80 gallon water change with Instant Ocean Salt unless you guys have other ideas. <All sorts of ideas... yours will work.> Thanks. <Bob Fenner>

Water quality problem 4 April 2005 Hi Crew- First, thanks for being there - you are an invaluable resource.  <Very kind of you to say.>  I've scoured the website and can't find a good answer to a couple of questions so I am writing. I have a 100 gallon fish only tank that had a mated pair of Hawaiian Dragon Eels, a Gold Puffer and 8 cleaner shrimp.  <Amazing tank, all I can say is wow nice fish.>  The Gold Puffer came down with a mild case of ich so I pulled him out and moved him into my quarantine tank (more on that in a minute).  <Is he a new addition or a fish you have had for a while? You might want to do some investigating about WHY he came down with ich.>  I've been observing the eels very closely and they seem to be fine so my planned course of action for their tank is to leave them in there with their cleaner shrimp with no other fish who could act as a host for at least 60 days. These eels are darn near irreplaceable so I'd appreciate any other thoughts you may have on what to watch for and any other course of action you think I should take with them.  <You might consider the use of a diatom filter. That will pull all the floating ich parasites out of the water.> The puffer is in my quarantine tank which is a 40 gallon, bare bottom tank. The plan is to keep him there for at least 60 days before placing him back in the tank with the eels. The only inhabitants in the QT when he moved in were two damsel fish who were working hard to keep the tank cycled. He's been in there for about seven days and the ich appears to have cleared up after daily seven minute freshwater dips and being medicated with a half dose of Quick Cure (99.20% Formaldehyde and 0.75% Malachite Green) for seven days.  <Good to hear that you got rid of it.> The puffer has been eating since the second day in QT but I've been trying to feed him lightly to manage the water quality given the increased load he placed on the QT. Despite feeding lightly, the tank is cycling. The ammonia levels have peaked at about 0.50mg/l and the nitrites at 5.0 mg/l!!!! I have been adding some Prime to the tank each day to try to lower the nitrite levels and reduce stress and have been doing daily water changes of about 50% to try to control the water quality during this quarantine. I've been battling to keep the pH above 8.0 also, perhaps due to the ammonia.  <I'm sure that's why. I think you are going to have to do very large water changes. There are a couple of possibilities that might work. You can use Nitromax marine or some other type of bacteria to speed the cycle without the fish in there. You can put him back in the other tank and use the diatom. I'm afraid that if you don't get the high ammonia and nitrites taken care of you might loose your puffer and I'm sure that's not something that you want to happen. The other option but its short term is to use carbon to take out the ammonia but you'll have to watch the tank very very closely.> So here is the big problem - no matter how many water changes I do, it seems that the darned cycle just won't end and the water quality, medication and light feeding seem to be putting the puffer dangerously close to the edge.  <If the cycle can't top out it won't ever finish. That's why just doing water changes just postpones and doesn't finish the cycle.>  Yesterday (day 7 of QT), he munched on both of the damsels. He didn't eat them, just bit them in half.  <That's an angry puffer.>  I removed all of the remaining parts to avoid exacerbating the water quality issues. He has been breathing harder and harder over the course of the QT and has on several occasions, closed one gill and only breathed through the other for periods as long as ten minutes. Since the ich appeared to improve and he was eating, I attributed the rapid breathing to the ammonia and nitrites in the tank but I fear that something else may be going on. Your thoughts would be appreciated.  <Its possible that the ich has left behind an infection and that's what is hitting him now. Made worse by the ammonia and nitrites and nitrates irritating him as well.> Today (day 8 of QT), his breathing today is even more rapid (although he is using both gills), both eyes are cloudy (a new issue) and he refuses food. He is splitting his time between being totally inactive on the bottom breathing extremely hard and swimming fairly normally. I did another water change of approximately 50%. Here are the water parameters before and after the water change today: Salinity 1.021 -- 1.021 Ammonia 0.25mg/l -- 0.1 mg/l pH 7.9/8.1 Nitrite 3.0 mg/l -- 0.5 mg/l Nitrate 20 mg/l -- 10 mg/l Temp 80.8 -- 80.8 I have read conflicting reviews on whether cloudy eye signifies a bacterial infection or not but also am very reluctant to use any antibiotics as they may harm the bacteria in the tank and make my water quality even worse. What do you recommend to improve the water quality in the QT and to help the puffer.  <At this point, you have some decisions to make to help the puffer. Put the puffer back into the first tank and use a diatom on it. Regardless of whether you put your puffer back into the tank or not you are going to have to do something to get the ich out of the original tank or it will reappear every time someone in the original tank gets stressed.  Secondly for the puffer you can keep him in the second tank and figure out a way to stop the cycle. You could possibly use a high grade carbon such as coconut carbon. Or you could do massive water changes very very frequently. You could try bacteria but my guess is that that would complete the cycle and raise everything through the roof although the Nitromax company says this will not happen. I haven't had enough experience with these chemical bacteria to say for sure. If it does raise the levels it wouldn't be good with the puffer in the tank.  This brings me to the third option. I really believe your puffer has a bacterial infection left by the ich parasites. I think you are going to have to use an antibiotic and I believe that is going to mess with the quarantine tanks cycle as well. Those things being said, if it was my fish and I was trying to get him well.  A final option would be to find a friend with a big tank that is already cycled that you could use as a quarantine tank. Is this an option at all? I personally would put a diatom on the big tank to take care of that. Move him temporarily back to the big tank while I ran the diatom.  In the meantime, add the Nitromax bacteria and hope that the quarantine tank will complete the cycle. If the puffer gets ich again and the quarantine tank is ready then move him back and get the ich off him again. As for the infection, will he continue to eat? There are flake foods that contain antibiotics that if you can get him to eat it will help him immensely. If he is not eating then you'll need to use an antibiotic and if that's the case you would want to use the quarantine tank and use an antibiotic. It probably would interrupt the cycle but at this point that's not a problem.  I hope this has helped and if you need some clarification please let me know. Please let me know how things progress. Good luck, MacL>

Water quality follow-up 4 April 2005 Hi MacL- <Hi Jason, You are most welcome.> Thanks for the help. Let me answer your questions and come back with some of my own. Thanks for the compliments on the tank, I am very proud of it. <With good reason.> As to why the tank came down with ich, I'm pretty sure I know.  The puffer is a relatively new addition to the tank and when I got him, he appeared to have a minor case of ich. <EEEK Jason you know you should never buy a sick fish. The ich could have been a symptom of many worse things although I can definitely understand why you would want that fish.> After a quarantine of one month with some freshwater dips and no medicine, he looked fine. Shortly after I put him in in the tank with the eels, there was a small spike in ammonia (up to 0.1 mg/l) and nitrite (up to 0.5 mg/l) and he had ich again. <So obviously he is very sensitive to water quality. I'm with you.> He immediately came out and went into the quarantine. The eel tank has a 40 watt UV sterilizer on it that is running 24 hours per day that I'm hoping is helping with the ich. <The one thing about U.V sterilizers Jason is that the water has to go through the sterilizer slow enough to kill parasites.> However, that UV sterilizer was running before the puffer went into the tank so it didn't seem to do the job entirely. <One question? How old is the bulb on the diatom? They are  only supposed to last about six months.> On the diatom filter, I've never heard of one of those before. I just did some research on your site and elsewhere and  they look like some sort of canister filter. <They are similar to the canister filter but they have the ability to use diatomaceous earth and that can catch small particles like ich.>  Where can I learn more about them? <The one I currently use is a vortex brand, and I'm pretty sure marineland has a filter that works like a diatom filter. I don't know if there are other brands but in my opinion anything that works that way is great.> What is your point of view about the eels and ich? <Honestly I have NEVER seen an eel with ich. But they might very well be a carrier, meaning they don't get it but they keep it and can give it to other fish.> Even on your site, there are conflicting responses, some saying eels can have ich, others saying they can't and others saying that they can get ich but it is extremely unlikely. <I think that's a direct result of our own personal experiences. Honestly I have never seen one with ich but obviously at least someone who answers questions here has. Once again I think its the nature of the beast. I think they do have the ability to carry it without catching it but under extreme duress they can get it. Sort of like Typhoid Mary.>  Do you think once I get my QT under control I should pull the eels and quarantine them? <No at this point I think you need to treat the entire tank some way. The UV filter is great but you need to see how fast the water goes through the UV and possibly slow it down. You also might want to check the age of the bulb. Little things like that makes a big difference.> Their care is obviously of the utmost importance. <Definitely!!!!> You suggest using carbon to get the ammonia out of the QT but state that I have to watch the tank 'very very closely.'  What is specific do I need to watch for? <I'm always wary of using carbon but you need to get the ammonia out and that's the quickest way to do it. My very very closely comment was simply because I think there could be a small cycling going on in your tank which would of course mean a rise of ammonia, nitrites and finally nitrates.> I am assuming you are saying that this is a dangerous strategy and I need to be very careful with it? <Carbon is at best a short term fix and I caution people to be careful using it. Also you need to look at higher grades of carbon because what is sold occasionally doesn't have much power to it.>  You also say that it is highly likely that the puffer has a bacterial infection. <I said that because generally when a fish has gone though a bout with ich the ich does some damage and leaves behind a minor bacterial infection. Is he acting ill or has he recovered nicely?  Do you have a suggestion for what antibiotic to use? I Maracyn 2 and Erythromycin on hand. Also, what is your perspective on holding off on the application of the antibiotic until I get the cycle under control? <I would definitely wait until that is under control so you can watch your fish closely. The fish determines whether to medicate or not by his actions. Often they can recover quickly on their own.> On the QT, I added one unit of Chemi-Pure last night (day 7 of QT) and don't have any other high grade carbon on hand (and honestly I don't know what coconut carbon is anyway). <Its a higher grade of carbon sorry I should have given more details.>  I feel like I am doing massive water changes very frequently (50% once per day), do you recommend more? <Nooo you are doing just great.> I have Bio-Spira bacteria on hand but my experience is that it causes a spike in the levels for 48 hours despite their claims to the contrary. <I haven't tried the Bio-Spira, I have seen Nitromax and it seems to work for adding bacteria.>  I am horrified at the thought of losing the eels and really don't want to put him back in that tank. <It should be fine when you get him well.>  I could take him to my local fish store for QT tomorrow in a nice 135 gallon tank but I'm worried that time is of the essence and I need to do something tonight.  One other option is to put him in my 46 gallon aggressive tank which has a Moon Wrasse, Blue Throat Trigger and Picasso Trigger (all fairly small) in it. The problem is that there is a small amount of copper in that tank (~0.10 mg/l) and he might get picked on by the triggers. <He is a prize specimen I wouldn't want to take the chance in loosing him.> I am thinking the best  option is to move him to that tank even though there is some copper and if the triggers pick on him too much, move them over the QT that is cycling.  Please advise on your perspective. <That is an option. Small amounts of copper shouldn't hurt him. Jason, your obvious concern for your fish is lovely. My thoughts and prayers are with you in this matter. Please let me know how it goes. MacL> Thanks again- Jason

High phosphates I filled a 54 gallon SW a few days ago and so far have only added Instant Ocean salt and Carib Sea Reef Sand. I tested the phosphate level with a Hagen kit and the results were 5.0 (very high). I tested my dechlorinated tap water which I used to fill the tank and it measures between 0 and 0.2. I was going to add the live rock (40-50 lbs.) in the next few days. Do I need to get the phosphate level down now or not? If so, what's the best way to do it? <Mitch, this subject has been posted several times on the Wet Web Media. James (Salty Dog)>

Cloudy Saltwater Hi, <How goes it?> Hopefully you can shed some light on this topic for me. I have a 125 gallon salt tank with 120 lbs of live rock in it. I currently have four powerheads, an Aqua C Remora protein skimmer, AquaClear pro 150 wet/dry filter ( I took out the bioballs), an Eheim classic 2215 and 4 96 watt ( 2 dual actinic and 2 dual daylight ) compact fluorescents - I know that I am low, but I am not planning on keeping any high light corals). <Make sure you place them in the upper 1\2 of the tank> My lighting system is on a 12 hour timer and gets no direct sunlight. I have tested all my water parameters and they are all good. <Good as in...?> The only fish I have in my tank are 2 blue green chromis, a red brittle sea star, a fancy serpent sea star, a sandsifting starfish, 6 large turbo snails and about 12 Astrea snails and an eggshell snail that cleans the under the substrate which is a combo of Arag-alive, Seaflor reef sand and 40 lbs of live sand to make a depth of 3 inches. I use Red Sea salt and use SeaChem marine buffer. The only other additive I have used is adding Kalkwasser at night. I am using well water , I do not think that this is the issue since I have other tanks that this is not happening. So my issue is by the time I get up in the morning before the lights go on I can see the water getting cloudy ( like a smoky haze throughout) and as the day progresses it gets more cloudy until you can barely see through it and then it starts to clear up on its own. About 2 hours before the light goes out the water is crystal clear - what do you make of this? I thought it might have been adding the Kalk, but I didn't do it for a couple nights and the water still got cloudy. I have changed all the media and have added poly filters and carbon and nothing helps. Water changes will initially help but after a day it will just back to this cycle. I also thought that it might be my fish food, but I didn't feed them the other day and it still happened. Oh yeah, the tank has been running for 3 1/2 months, so I thought that it might be a bacteria bloom ( but those don't disappear and reappear- do they?) Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I want to add more fish, but not until this issue is resolved. <Hmm, bizarre. Have you checked your calcium and alkalinity? Have you tried buffering your make-up water with Kalk instead, or not at all? Check your calcium and alkalinity and let me know what they are? In fact, check ALL of your parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, calcium, alkalinity) and let me know> Thanks tons, <Sorry I wasn't able to be more help> Karen <M. Maddox>

-Help me Find the Silver Lining in my Cloudy Tank- <Hello Mitch, Justin here> I just filled a new 54 gallon SW. The only things that I've put in so far is the water (no salt yet) and a 40 lb. bag of Carib Sea Seaflor Special Grade Reef Sand. <Ok>  I rinsed the sand several times in a bucket and then put it in the tank. <Good move get as much of the dust off as possible.>  The water is totally milky cloudy that you can barely see past the front of the tank. The filter has been running for about 24 hours with no improvement yet. I'm using a wet/dry sump filter. Will this clear up at some point or do I need to drain the water and refill? I'd appreciate your comments. Mitch <Well this is normal, and I would give it a lot more time say another 72 hours before you see a clear water. Since you don't say anything about powerheads or other water current producing mechanisms I would say your only concern is to thoroughly clean the wet dry once the sand settles out, to remove excess dust that's accumulated. If you are running powerheads or other current items id turn them off and let the tank settle down before reusing them. If it really does not clear, disconnect your wet/dry and let it settle down and then vacuum the gravel to get the dust up without reclouding the water. Its cheap but effective. Good luck, and I feel your pain, I have fought with the dusty substrate before, and have almost given up myself. patience and you will be very happy.> <Justin (Jager)> 

Balance update 14 March 2005 Hello, I doubt the tank is out of ionic balance. From all the reports I read on your website when the tank is out [of] ionic balance the pH is very high.  <Out of balance is out of balance, whether the readings be high or low in my experience. My concern was that your calcium was way way up.>  I think it had to do with the salt that I was using. Oceanic is really bad I guess. I switched to instant ocean and did a test yesterday 2 days after my water change. The pH was 8.2, alkalinity was 4.5 meq/L, and calcium was at 480 ppm.  <These numbers are more in line with what you want but still a bit high. I'm thinking that they will stabilize as you do more water changes though.>  What do you think of these numbers? Do they read ok? Please get back to me. Thanks! By the way I was doing water changes 10% once a week. Thanks again guys!

Auto doser Bob, Some time ago someone wanted to know if anyone made an automatic liquid doser.  I've found that Eheim just came out with one and thought I'd forward this info to you. Regards, <Thank you for this. BobF> James New 3585 LIQUIDOSER For luxuriant growth of your aquarium plants Aquarium plants take in their nutrients continually through both their roots and their leaves. This is why plant fertilization is best achieved through regular daily doses. The new EHEIM Liquidoser, has been designed to do the job for you by automatically dosing EHEIM plant supplement. The Liquidoser doses 1 ml per rotation with up to 8 rotations per 24 hr. period. It has an optional push-button for manual dosing, electronic programming for precise dosing based on aquarium size. It is battery-operated with two stage low-battery warning and safety cut-out function with an LCD display with clock. The batteries are included. Electronic programming control for daily precise dosage, to suit the actual size of your particular aquarium. Option of manual release button operation. Visible filling level through transparent supply reservoir. Two-stage battery alarm with safety shutdown, LCD programming display and clock time. James Gasta Brown algae on the walls Hi, Why do we get brown algae on the glass, back flow boxes, and pvc pipes on   our fish tank. <Because "they can"> We need to clean them every 2 weeks. Then about 2 weeks later the brown   algae is back all over again. Is this a normal occurrence or is there something   else wrong in our system. <Mmm, depending on your point of view, the system is "out of balance"... for the (likely Diatoms mainly) algae point of view, it's balanced fine... in their favor> We have 85 pounds of live rock ( does not have brown   algae), 75 pounds of live sand, and a refugium tank with live sand and Caulerpa.  We also have about 12  fish in our 90 gallon tank. Blue tang, Lopez tang, yellow tang, clownfish, coral angel beauty, b&w Heniochus,  mandarin   gobies, and starfish, shrimp, turbo snails, and Nassarius snails. The nitrites are 0 and the ammonia is 0.1. Please help, Thanks, Cindy <You may have excess nutrients, mineral content... not enough alkalinity, insufficient circulation, aeration... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brownalgcontfaqs.htm and the linked FAQs (above) until you're satisfied with your understanding of root cause/s here, and your possible paths of intervention. Bob Fenner>

Reef Dust We have a 28 gallon hexagon reef tank with which we are perplexed. Despite the challenge of developing and maintaining a healthy reef tank of that size, we have done quite well nurturing clams, squirts, various feather dusters, and a variety of both soft and hard coral. We have a usual clean up crew of snails coexisting with a Pseudochromis and Naso tang. <A Naso sp. in a small hex? Not good. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/naso.htm> Our tank is very thriving and very alive. The problem is that it would appear that Mount St. Helen erupted over yonder and a strange marine ash is omnipresent. We have attempted a cleaning via a 'rinse' -- careful not to kill the life in the rocks -  using a turkey-baster to form current, a brine shrimp net to catch excess debris, a water change, etc. Some of this mysterious ash' comes off, but our best efforts leave a residue over the rock that redevelops within hours. Please find attached a few (amateur) digital pictures of the tank. We hope they may be helpful in your diagnosis, and would appreciate your thoughts on our own little natural disaster. <Good description... and good enough pix... it may be that the "ash" is simply the result of the health of your system... that so many organisms are "doing their thing" collectively that there is rock, sand, food, excreta, reproductive products... that are resulting as "ash".... If it were me, my system I'd add more circulation, filtration... and if you had the room, other resources, upgrade to a larger size... bigger systems are MUCH easier to maintain. Bob Fenner> Thank you for Alex Oyen

To heck with science, it's weird algae I've got some green algae which moves to light. when the tank lights are off, the algae makes swirly patterns on the two sides of the tank which are exposed to natural light. When the tank lights go on (for about 10 hrs per day) the algae slides off the glass immediately and looks like green smoke swirling around and goes to the bottom of the tank in pools. A few minutes later, the algae has dissolved into the water making it green and cloudy. <Neat... good observation> I do two weekly water exchanges with RO water, all nitrate, nitrite, Phos, ammonia etc are within normal limits. The tank is 140 litres and is 8 weeks old. Live stock is healthy (3 green Chromis and a couple of small clowns).  I'm stuck...... the protein skimmer isn't producing any dirty bubbles either. Any ideas on this spooky smoky algae? <"This too shall pass"... your system is just settling in... some otherwise non-sentient organisms do appear to be "positively photo-tropic"... nothing to worry about here... just let time go by. In a few more weeks when all is settled in more, you can start working on this algae... if it's still about. Bob Fenner>

Tapwater alkalinity Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2005 After recently upgrading my lighting, I've purchased quite a few more test kits, trying to get more exotic animals in my 55 gal. tank. Thanks to my new Pinpoint pH Monitor, I now know that I have a pH problem.  <Jacquie, did you calibrate your monitor before using?>  I've been reading for days, trying to understand the alk/calcium balance trying to figure out where my problems come from. Clearly my alk is too high, which is lowering my calcium, which is lowering my ph. I've been using tap water, mixing it a week ahead of time and using a power head to mix. After adding buffer, I realized that I'm just making matters worse as far as the alkaline problem goes. I tested the water straight from the tap, and am getting a reading of 4 meq/L. If I add a calcium doser to my top-off water, will this balance things out, or will I have to resort to using purified water? The 4 meq/L is not high, that makes it around 11DKH. The optimum for good coralline growth etc is 8 to 12DKH. Don't add anything to your makeup water. Leave things alone for awhile, and in another week do another test. The alkalinity is not that high for calcium to precipitate out of your tank.> RO water isn't easily available, but I could used distilled if it is necessary. I've been doing a couple of partial water changes a week... <A 10% change per week is plenty>  ...trying to balance things out, but after a few days, everything is all out of whack again. At the moment, my ph in the tank is 8.04, alk is 8.5, and calcium is 230. Last time I tested (Sat. I think) calcium was 400. This was right after a partial water change. I really don't understand how to get my ph higher in my new water without adding a buffer. <If the alkalinity is between 8-12DKH, there is enough buffer there to keep the ph at 8.2. You don't mention the fish load you have in that 55. You may be overstocked and the waste cannot be exported fast enough, and excess organics will lower your ph. Also, do you use a skimmer? This will definitely help keep organic waste down.>  That has been the only way I have been able to get my ph up to 8 or better, but seems to make the water more alkaline. Please help straighten me out, I'm so confused!  <Jacquie, let me know what your fish load is and answers to my other questions and I will go from there. Also what type of filtration are you using? James (Salty Dog)>

Of water changes and parameters... del Bob I am now in my fourth week of weekly water changes of 5 gallons on a 55 gallon tank. When my tank started 2 years ago I followed the GARF bulletproof reef, until after one year something happened and my tank water turned brilliant blue... <!> ...the fish headed for the bottom and I lost my yellow tang. Recently I have begun to religiously test my water after finding a calcium kit (SeaTest) that I could distinguish a color change with 8). Now for the question(s) upon first test my calcium was upwards of 580.  <Yeeikes!> I have not put any sort of calcium, Kalk etc in this tank in over a year.  <Uhhh, likely one of two things... you made some funky Arago concrete mix... and have been poisoning your system since... and/or your test kit is off... Easy to check both> I am very careful when I mix my reef crystals salt not to overshoot with salt as I know that can cause problems. <Not this much... I hope. Have you tested some newly made-up water for calcium?> After these four water changes (I have been deep vacuuming my sand bed a little with every change), my calcium level has dropped down to a more reasonable 450. My concern is with my ph (7.7) and alkalinity of 5, my water comes from Wal-Mart and I believe carries a pH  of 7.7, what do I need to add to this to bring up these 2 parameters without sending my calcium back through the roof, a recommendation would be great. <Mmm, am even more convinced of your adventure with cement... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm  Antoine's piece on Calcium and Alkalinity... and the "Related FAQs" (linked, in blue, above)... you've driven up calcium with the cement in your tank... and this is mutually exclusive of alkalinity...> I have debated about riding this out to see if the calcium would drop down into the 350-400 range and finding out my parameters are at that level.  <Should, in time... but this may well be a long while... whatever the source of excess calcium, you should remove it... "cure" it outside the system (likely with an acid wash technique... this is gone over on WWM as well> Also I have 2 Maxijet 1200's and a CPR BakPak 2r as filtration with my 75 pounds of live rock, is this enough for filtration with a four fish bioload with about 10 different soft corals and mushrooms. I have thought about a hang on filter (last canister filter ended up putting 5 gallons in the basement from the second story), I would also appreciate a recommendation on that. <Mmm, please read... on WWM re such arrangements... sumps, refugiums... all there for your perusal... you can use the search tools there or the indices> Many many thanks to you all, this site is a tremendous help to all who seek advice.  <Help yourself. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Of water changes and parameters... again To the best of my knowledge all of my rock was live not cement it was all purchased locally at a reputable LFS, could this problem be coming from an accumulation at the bottom of the sand bed which I have slowly been cleaning?  <Mmm, no. But, I am curious (enough) to suggest a bit of science here. How about isolating some of the LR... in some water of known quality, and seeing if the calcium, alkalinity shift over a few days, weeks time?> These calcium parameters are coming from the email I had with you previously about having to cut the sample of seawater with RO water. At original test at 580 my alk was at 6 and has since dropped to 5? I thought about adding a buffer to my water change regiment to try to bring this up, but am a bit leery at this point. Thanks again <I am leery too... Again, do think about how you might isolate variables, test... the source water, the mixed synthetic water, elements/decor in your system to ascertain the source of this anomaly. Bob Fenner

Of water changes and parameters de James I am now in my fourth week of weekly water changes of 5 gallons on a 55 gallon tank. When my tank started 2 years ago I followed the GARF bulletproof reef, until after one year something happened and my tank water turned brilliant blue, the fish headed for the bottom and I lost my yellow tang. Recently I have begun to religiously test my water after finding a calcium kit (SeaTest) that I could distinguish a color change with 8). Now for the question(s) upon first test my calcium was upwards of 580 I have not put any sort of calcium, Kalk etc in this tank in over a year. I am very careful when I mix my reef crystals salt not to overshoot with salt as I know that can cause problems. After these four water changes (I have been deep vacuuming my sand bed a little with every change), my calcium level has dropped down to a more reasonable 450. My concern is with my ph (7.7) and alkalinity of 5, my water comes from Wal-Mart and I believe carries a pH of 7.7, what do I need to add to this to bring up these 2 parameters without sending my calcium back through the roof, a recommendation would be great. I have debated about riding this out to see if the calcium would drop down into the 350-400 range and finding out my parameters are at that level. Also I have 2 Maxijet 1200's and a CPR BakPak 2r as filtration with my 75 pounds of live rock, is this enough for filtration with a four fish bioload with about 10 different soft corals and mushrooms. I have thought about a hang on filter (last canister filter ended up putting 5 gallons in the basement from the second story), I would also appreciate a recommendation on that. Many many thanks to you all, this site is a tremendous help to all who seek advice  <Hello Aron, here is a link that should help you understand the relationship between calcium and alkalinity. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm  James (Salty Dog)> 

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

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

Huge tank problem... actually small tank, little real trouble, just ignorance I have looked over and over again through the website to try and fix problems in  my tank but I cant seem to find it. so here's how it is. I've had a 29 gallon tank for about 11 months and through the first 8 or 9 months the tank was fine and I didn't have any major problems with it. one of my tangs got itch and died and made my other fish die <What?> but that was about it. recently tho I have had a huge problem with algae. I think some of it is hair algae, its stringy and green. and then there is brownish/green algae that grows on the liverock and on my substrate in my tank. I scrub it off the rocks but within three days it comes back again. I thought it was a problem with my lights that I got, so I went out and bought new ones since my other ones were starting to get old, but it hasn't helped the problem with the algae one bit. I believe they are a 20000k Coralife and a 10000k Coralife.  also I believe I have a parasite in  my tank because any fish I get dies within 5-10 hours. <What? No... something is awry with your water quality my friend> so my local fish store told me to keep fish out of it for about 6 weeks. in my tank now I just have a cleaner shrimp, an emerald crab, 12 blue legged hermit crabs and two turbo snails. something that concerns me is I  have these little white bugs that are in my tank. they look almost like little shrimp, but I don't know what they are. my local fish person said that they're not harmful and mean that my tank is doing well.. but they seem to be attacking the turbo snails that I just got. they crawl in and out of the snail shells and the snails seem to be bothered by them. I'm starting to think that I need to start all over because I don't know what to do with  my tank anymore. any help would be greatly appreciated and sorry for the long email. <No worries re the length... though you should proof what you send out... learn how to write contractions, the capitalization of proper nouns, starts of sentences... Basically, you're a person with too much money and too little patience and knowledge... Please read over the basics of marine set-up and maintenance on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Bob Fenner>

Mainly marine water quality Thanks for all your info.  I am a 4 month novice with 72 gallon BF tank with LR, cultured rock made with concrete and coral calcium,  fish and various invertebrates and corals.  I have excellent water conditions with a somewhat low Calcium level (300) and KH of 9-10.  My problem is white hardened growth on my LR which won't blow off with my turkey baster. <Mmm, interesting enough, this is one way real LR is "made">   On advice of my LFS I have started adding a calcium to bring to a level of 400 and have also started recently adding iodide for my xenia.  I have also committed to bottled seawater with multiple additives for balance that I will start using for water changes. <Mmm, this latter is likely an unnecessary expense... most all the chemical make-up you need/want can be had in salt mixes> I have just exchanged 10 gallons which has already seemed to enhance my coral growth and overall vibrancy.  The white on the rock seems to be dissipating but would like to know if you have any further advise for me.  Thanks for a great site! Lori <Keep reading, enjoying. Bob Fenner>

New marine system water quality testing, LR I have a 120g tank with only the live sand and salt level correct.  I just bought some live rock that is cured.  I have not yet purchased a water test kit yet, will my rock be ok till I can test my water.        I have a Berlin classic skimmer, will a mag drive of 1200gph be too much for this  skimmer, right now I have the pump hooked up to a spray bar.  if I can use this pump with my skimmer can I hook the spray bar up to the return from the skimmer. <Hello Btroy  You don't want to hook anything up on the return line from the skimmer.  There will too much back pressure on the line causing all kinds of problems.  Your rock will be fine.  Biggest test to do now is for ammonia.  Wait till it zeroes out before adding any livestock James>

Re: SECRET TO WATER CLARITY ?? One more thing, <Fergup> The Rena you mention, is that the Filstar canister?? I always though to avoid canisters BC of nitrate production.<All filters are nitrate producers if the filter pad/sponge isn't changed/cleaned on a weekly basis> What do you thing about an Aquaclear 500, coupled with my 802?? <I don't think a bag of Chemi pure would fit in the Aquaclear 500.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again Paul Re: SECRET TO WATER CLARITY ?? <Paul> Thanks so much for the advice, one more thing though. Can I include the GPH of the Skimmer??  or do I need the 900GPH to come strictly from the powerheads/filter.<Most skimmers do not produce enough flow to add to the overall picture.  James (Salty Dog)> Paul

Water Quality Questions I have well water with a purification system on it. I add stress coat to the tank, it says that it removes chloramine from the water, however, I am pretty sure it only breaks it down and leaves the ammonia still in the water. <Correct> Since I have well water, I am pretty sure that water doesn't have chloramine or chlorine in it since we don't add any in there anyway. The only thing we use in the purification system is salt and of course that helps to soften up the water a bit. So my questions are does well water contain any type of chemical in it that I really need to remove? <If it's safe for human consumption and free of all chlorine/chloramine, I'd say your golden> I still add stress coat in every time I do a water change. <Why?> The pH levels only need to be raised slightly, <Why?>  which well water is always more acidic anyway.  <Maybe in your area. Not so everywhere>  Should I add an ammonia remover to tank?  <Why? Your source water does not have any. Good bio filtration will handle the fish waste> Does the ammonia bags you add to the filter really remove the ammonia from the tank or does it just mask it? <I think it just changes it into a safer form> Also if you have an established tank, I have had mine up and running for about two years now with regular water changes and I check everything with the kits as well.  <If you are testing, why the worry about ammonia? If it's zero, great. If not, do a water change> The tank stands empty right now because I transferred some too large fish into another tank. I want to add new fish to the 10 gallon tank I have had for awhile now, and I was thinking about adding nothing but cardinal tetras, I want to put at least 10 of them in there, if I add them all at once, do you think there will be a problem?  <Maybe. How long has it been empty? The bacteria will starve out without an ammonia source. If your bio filtration is still strong, you may be OK adding them all at once. Just test for ammonia and nitrite until the bacteria adjust to the increased bio load in the tank. Do water changes to correct any spikes. This "mini cycle" will adjust much faster than a new tank startup> I have heard that adding too many fish to a brand new tank will cause an ammonia/nitrate spike. But if you already have an established tank, does this same thing apply? <As above> I would think it would be okay to add this many at one time and not see a problem, but I could be wrong. Thanks for any info you can give to me. <Think I covered it. Don> Any advice is greatly appreciated.  I have read essentially all of your FAQ postings and responses regarding the below concerns before generating this email.  A couple of questions/conflicts remain.<O.K. Maybe I can help.> First the background - 125 gal SW, with crushed coral substrate, two of those top mounted "emperor" BioWheel filters and a protein skimmer.  No under gravel filter and depth of substrate is about 1 inch.  Fish, Naso lituratus, white spotted puffer, squirrel fish and yellow tang. No inverts.  The tank was up and running for about 6 months without incident until (stupidly) I added an unquarantined yellow tang (before I had found this site and excellent advice regarding quarantine procedures).  Also, I have now purchased the Conscientious Aquarist so I'm trying to mend my ways.<As are we all.> So - my new Tang brought Ich and Turbellarians to the party.  I fresh water dipped him when I noticed the black spots on him to no avail (4.5 minutes in FW and Methylene blue) and have since moved him to a hospital tank.  The other fish look good but I'm sure the tank is colonized with Ich and maybe Turbellarians?  As such, I'm willing to do a full tear down rather than go fallow for 6 weeks and still not be entirely sure the Ich is gone.  So here are the questions: 1. Assuming I tear down - how do I sterilize my gravel and is this necessary?<I find the best way is to wash the gravel in freshwater.  It will kill the parasites quite easily.> 2. If I don't tear down - other than killing my nitrifying bacteria, what is the downside to treating the heck out of the vacant display tank (will move all the fish to QT's prior to TX) with copper?  Will it eradicate the ich and any other worms/parasites? <Yes, it will.  The problem will be that you can't go with a reef tank later on.> 3. Regarding the yellow tang in the hospital tank - if the life cycle of the ich is so short (24hrs) and I have no gravel in the tank, why treat with copper as part of the "two front" ich treatment, rather than just vacuuming daily for several weeks, especially since the treatment seems quite toxic?<Vacuuming will not remove/kill the baby forms of the parasites and that is what the treatment is for.> 4. Regarding the yellow tangs black ich (Turbellarians), the website remarks that a fresh water dip is all that is needed but in another area formalin is recommended as well... I have no idea where to get formalin in Hawaii, so how essential is that piece?<It is just an added method.  Formalin will also help to mitigate further diseases.  Quick cure has formalin in it.>  Are there any web retailers and if so what formalin product do you recommend?  Also how quickly can the Turbellarians move to colonize the system - the tang has only been in for a week or so?<The tank is colonized in 24 hours.> The general goal is to start from scratch and re-establish the system using better QT procedures rather than doing stop gap measures to deal with the ich etc. Your expertise is greatly appreciated..... <I would treat the tank with copper for 6-8 weeks and that would be my preferred method.  It seems that either method you do will work and I have done both methods.  I recommend treating the tank because your other fish are not sick and the disease can be controlled.  I would only tear down the whole tank when all the fish are sick.  Good Luck MikeB.> Wanted:  Simple solutions to big problem 12/22/04 Hello, I only recently found your site and am very impressed.  I have questions regarding KH, PH, and Calcium as they pertain to my setup.  I have searched with the Google tool and found lots of helpful information, but have not been able to put together the solution to my problem. <Glad you found us! Let's get to it...> My aquarium is a 265 gallon, which makes some solutions impractical.  I am running a wet/dry filter with a lighted sump with Caulerpa, protein skimmer, and UV sterilizer.  It has 4 175w MHs, and 4 6-foot VHOs. <Wow!  Sounds nice.> I also have a Deionizer that feeds out to a Y.  One side feeds to a 60 Gallon Vat that holds mixed salt water, and the other side feeds fresh water directly to a float valve in my sump.  Inside the tank is a whisper thin layer of sand and rubble and about 150 pounds of base rock and about 100 pounds of live rock.  I have corals, inverts, and fish.  It's in the wall of my Den so from the Den you can only see the front, like it's in a picture frame.  There is a small room behind the tank, so I have space to add things if needed.  Now, here is the question (finally): My Carbonate Hardness (KH) is between 6.5 and 7, PH is about 7.6 and Calcium is at 360. <These values definitely need to be addressed!> Currently the only additives I put in the water is Turbo Calcium and Lugol's.  I add them mixed together in a 1 gallon jug of de-ionized water.  I mix enough in the jug for one full week of dosage.  I have an old I.V. pump that I bought off of eBay for $35 that serves as a precise, hospital grade dosing pump.  It doses 12 drips per hour and I have it set to last for a week.  So, I am not having spikes in calcium or PH.  All of the problems I have with my tank stem from the low alkalinity.  (Unless you have another thought). <I agree that your low alkalinity is a problem and could be causing other problems.  Way too many aquarists and store employees fail to recognize that Ca and Alk have to be added in a balanced fashion, and that alkalinity is at least as important as calcium if not more important.> Obviously, I need to raise my KH and PH.  How can I raise the PH and KH (buffering capability) in this setup in a way that is permanent and requires little fiddling?  <To raise it initially, you can use commercial buffers (please avoid those that contain borate) or simply use baking soda.  For the long term, using Kalkwasser or another balanced way to add calcium and alk is ideal.> I have seen posts saying that a Deep Sand Bed will help with this, and that I should use Kalk or a Calcium reactor.   Is there a type of rock I can add to a refugium or Tub that can be put inline with the rest of the system that will cause a more permanent, stable result?  What about in the tank itself...do I need to use a DSB?  I was thinking of setting up a large Rubbermaid tub with about a foot deep of aragonite sand and Caulerpa from my sump.  Will that have the desired results?  That is the type of solution I hope to find...as chemical free as possible.  I'm sure that is the type of solution everyone wants, right? <Unfortunately, there is no passive way to adequately maintain Calcium and Alkalinity.  DSB's will help a bit, but ultimately additives are required.  A calcium reactor is a great solution, but they are expensive and require maintenance.> I remember when I kept freshwater fish, I would use the substrate and rocks to adjust the water chemistry to where I wanted it.  That way I never had to worry about PH.  I figure you guys will know exactly what to do.  <In FW systems, there is no real consumption of alkalinity or hardness, so some calcareous rock or sand will buffer the water adequately.  This is far from the case in marine systems.> Also, if I put a DSB in my tank, can it build up from front to back, say from 2 inches deep to 8-10" deep in the back?  Will the front 2 inch part still function or will too shallow a sand bed cause problems?  thanks Scott <I would suggest a remote sand bed in a sump or refugium rather than disrupting the display.  Sugar fine sand will denitrify at about 1.5-2 inches, but since it will dissolve, it is best to start with 4-6".  If you slope the bed as you described, it will be no time at all before it re-distributes to an even depth.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Cloudy Marine Water 8/2/05 Hi Thank you in advance of any help you may be able to offer. My 100 Gallon Marine tank has been running for over 12 months with the following set up: AquaC Remora Pro (imported into the UK after reading about them here) Large circulation provided by 3 Tunze pumps (50 times per hour!!) 2 external filters Eheim 2028 professional The tank is fish-only with no live rock, bare bottomed and contains 1 10 inch Dog face puffer (Arothron hispidis) or Horace to me!! I have this simple set up like this so I can continually remove the mess this fish creates and the water quality seems good: Nh3 0 no2 0 No3 40 - 50ppm ph 8.4 sg 1.25 temp 25 c My problem is that recently the water when viewed from the side of the tank has a cloudiness to it.. visibility down to probably 2 feet.. it is a whitish colour and this can clear suddenly and then be back the very next day. <Good description> After reading questions on your site  I initially thought it could be Nh3, <Mmm, no> I  tested with three test kits all zero. I did add some of the commercial cycle bacteria in a bottle supplements just to be sure but this made no difference. <Mmm, large fish, inadequate (yes) filtration...> I have tested calcium and alkalinity as I  do buffer the RO water I use   ( incase of snowstorm effect) ca 420 alk 8  so no problem there Phosphates and silicates are 0 due to RowaPhos and oxygen level is 7. Yesterday I changed the filter pads as normal in the external Eheims and replaced the Polyfilter.. within 3 hours the cloudiness had gone.. I thought that it was therefore fine particulate matter getting through the fine filters but today it is back. My only thought is now it could be bacteria blooming <To a large extent this is it> but I don't understand why and If it is, would it be  harmful to my fish. Do you agree with my theory any advice would be gratefully received Thanks again Dave Squire (England) <Mmm, you need more biological filter surface area... especially if you intend to keep this puffer in a hundred gallons... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm and on to the linked files... hard to gauge where to refer you to best... but you might want to look into adding a sump... Bob Fenner>  

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