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FAQs about Toxic Water Conditions: Cleaners, Aerosols

Related Articles: Marine Toxic Tank Conditions , General  Marine Maintenance,

Related FAQs: Toxic Situations 1, Toxic Situations 2, Toxic Situations 3Toxic Situations 4Toxic Situations 5, Toxic Situations 6, Toxic Situations 7, Toxic Situations 8, Toxic Situations 9, & FAQs on Toxic Water Conditions by: Unknown Causes, & Endogenous (from inside, e.g. Internal, Organic Causes), Foods, Nutrients, Venomous/Poisonous Tankmates, Wipe-out Syndromes/New Tanks e.g., Exogenous (from outside, External, Inorganic, e.g. Metals): Marine Algaecide Use/Chemical Control, Toxic Copper Use Situations/Troubleshooting, Insecticides,  & Troubleshooting/Fixing,

Ammoniated, chlorine-containing... soaps, detergents. Almost all household, carpet cleaners, insect bombs, flea products are toxic. Sponges with anti-microbial activity,

Chemical Poisoning, household cleaners   3/1/11
Hi to all,
its been a bit since I have needed serious help, if anyone knows about my issue it will be one of you gentlemen.
Here it is, I have been involved in the science of fish keeping for 20 some odd years, I have worked on the consumer and seller side of things. I have read more books than can be easily found in a 20 mile radius from me, the Conscientious Marine Aquarist being one of my favorites (I aspire to be half the aquarist Bob is). My question is this Windex, granite cleaning spray, pledge and probably a few chemicals I don't know about are being used in a room containing a 90g saltwater "reef" tank kill off coral?
<Can seriously harm them; perhaps kill>
(Windex is being sprayed on a sliding glass door a foot away from tank)
<Mmm, get whoever to spray the cleaner directly on the cloth/paper towels and apply these to the glass... NOT spray the glass. This will greatly diminish the amount of aerosol getting into the air, tank>
I know the location is not ideal being on two outside walls, it is my client's tank and that's just the system fits with room layout. every two weeks I come in to service and the house smells like chemical soup. I open doors and windows but I fear the housekeeper comes weekly. I have totally hobbyists stories. I want to know if anyone has done actual scientific tests on the use and contamination household cleaners in saltwater fish tanks?
<Not as far as I'm aware, but the ammonia in at least the olde/stock Windex product has been scientifically tested MANY times for toxicity w/ aquatic life>
The system for about 1 year keeps trending to grow a lot of algae, and tends to loose its snails and hermits in spurts. Every time I get the algae, coral, and clean up invertebrates balanced, two weeks later I come in to find a combination of rotted or melted coral, dead hermits, snails and from the die off copious amounts of algae. The fish are unaffected, no loss in over a year for them. That tells me the tank has to be somewhat viable since it still grows algae and fish are good. My client is less than receptive to the idea of his maid killing his tank, I really need more info on the potential effects of chemical cleaners around tank. The tank has no chiller (or lid to help with heat exchange), and from salt spray on the metal halides I don't believe my client is diligent with freshwater top off, so some temperature flux is suspect as well.
<Mmm, I'd add a simple auto top off system and another heater, set a little (a degree) lower.>
The tank has live rock, about 120lbs in tank, and 30lbs in filter instead of bio-balls. It also has a g-series skimmer that works well. Water testing is always consistent, ph 8.2 - 8.4, dKH - 300, nitrite 0, nitrate 10 ppm usually (20 ppm occasionally), ammonia 0. Lighting is two 150 w metal halide (8hrs per day), two 96 w actinic (12hrs per day), moon light led's (8hrs per night). Any information or links would be immensely helpful, as well as any thoughts you may have on the tank's problems.
Thanks a million!
Daniel Chidester
<Daniel... do you routinely utilize activated carbon products (e.g. Chemipure), Polyfilter in/on your accounts? I would here. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Chemical Poisoning... keep the roses, toss the thorns 3/1/11

Hi Bob,
Thank you for your quick response, I have not found (other than hobbyist reports) the Windex study, I have been searching the term household chemicals, I will look for Windex specifically.
<As I hinted at the olde "Ammonia D" formula is easy find data on... the NH4OH...>
I am not a huge fan of carbon, but yes I use it regularly in my services.
The tank in question has about 2 cups of activated carbon in sump. I replace carbon 4-6 weeks normally, tanks with extra issues I change bi-weekly. Two or three years ago, and every so often since I recommended the Windex along with any aerosol not be used anywhere near tank (including spray in towel not on glass), I have even stressed vinegar based products as being equivalent, and much safer to no avail. The problem is the client thinks the concept is "manure", his exact words a bit more harsh. At one point even with the issues the tank was balanced and thriving, for about a year now the housekeeper is coming at least on the service days, and slowly but surely the tank has lost its coral and grown more and more algae.
That's why I was looking for studies so someone else not me has proof of this preverbal elephant in the room. At this point there is very little coral left, even leather coral I thought was doing ok (growing, good polyp extension) for a few months, I came in one service to find mush, not any even base was solid, just piles of goo. Between this chemical issue and temperature flux, I think tanks spiking up from pumps running nearly dry then dropping down when sump is refilled (client prefers to manually fill, not auto fill). I change 15-30 gallons (depending on nitrate level) every two weeks, I go through tank and remove most algae growth with a turkey baster, toothbrush and lots of elbow grease. I clean sand as needed, stir regularly (sand infrequently loads up detritus) and suck the mulm out. I test, I look for what's growing and accumulating where, and I diligently change water. Sometimes I think am I messing up? Am I nuts to think this is an 'x' Factor issue? I have literally seen the maid spray stuff in the room to the point my lungs hurt.
<Daniel... from the apparent angst this account is causing you... if you can afford, make sense of giving it up, I would... A personal note re folks that we "hang about with"... even, yes, customers... need to have at least confluent value systems... These folks obviously don't... Leave them to their life-cheating behavior/lives>
I am specifically told not to interfere with her job, and I am sensitive to cleaner fumes (almost never use them myself). On a side note I do supplement Kalkwasser (1/4 tsp. per 10g) to keep up calcium and ph. Calcium is useless with out buffer so I use sodium bi-carbonate (1 tbs per 50g), and as needed (based on load/growth) I will add a general trace element supplement (1/2 dose or less). I'm not a fan of supplements (prefer water change) but I have had tremendous success with this method personally and commercially, as in soft or stony coral grows well long term 4+ years and strong skeletons. I know what happens with over use of these supplements (learned a little goes a long way years ago). I would be interested to know if you agree with my focus on the problem, or do you feel I am off in my care? Maybe you see something I am missing.
Thank you for your valuable time, its always an honor to hear from you,
<Glad to share with you. BobF>
Daniel Chidester 

Base Rock and Soap   7/3/10
Hello Crew!
I have a situation I'm not sure how to deal with. I have about 30lb's of Base rock I want to add to my Aquarium. The rock was from an old tank and I was soaking it in fresh water to get all the old Algae off of the rock.
When I put the rock into a sink to drain I left it there overnight. The problem is this sink is used as the drain system for our Washer. My Fiancé washed clothes that night and I'm afraid some of the soap may have gotten into the rock. This was about 3-4 months ago. Is there anything I can do to make the rock safe to add to my tank or should I just get rid of it.
<It depends on your time table and budget. Doing a number of soaks for a week or more would probably fix any issues. Just be sure to change the water often. I might employ the trick of putting it in the toilet tank (not bowl), it would get rinsed many times a day. If you have the $$, new rock would be safer and quicker. With enough rinsing though, I don't see it being an issue. Ideally one would cure and seed it before adding it to an established aquarium. That would add another safety net.>
Thank you for your help.
<Hope this was helpful, Scott T.>

Killed fish with bleach   3/12/10
Hi guys, just a quick one to see if I did the right thing......or not!
Cleaned out my PURIGEN 2 days ago with bleach water solution, rinsed and replaced in tank (as I have done so many times before) Only this time there must have been still small amounts of bleach still in there.
The result was after about 15 minutes my anemones closed and I saw about 8 of my fish all drop like stones! I did a massive water change and flooded the tank with water ager (Seachem Prime) and then added slime coat additive. Was too late for about 4 of my fish, but the others seemed to recover well. I lost a mandarin, pixie Hawkfish, a couple of Chromis and a cardinal fish. My problem now is that my corals are not looking the best. I have Sinularia that has all drooped and my mushrooms have shriveled. The good news is my brittle star, sea cucumbers and urchin seem good, as is my dwarf lionfish, bicolor blenny and my stupid humbugs (that¹s it) I think I did about 100 liter water change immediately (400 liter tank ­ 100 gal). What else can I do?
<I wish I'd seen your msg. sooner, immediately... "came in" about 12:21 this AM to us/me here... I would have immediately treated the system with a large dose of sodium thiosulfate (hypo-sulfite)... sold in solution as "De-Chlor" by Weco corp. years back, and still available for a few purposes (for home developers in the film-photo interest) to neutralize chlorine, free chlorine... minutes to an hour or so later, the chlorine is gone... changed to chloride, and done doing its damage to the life its exposed to>
Will all my bacteria be dead?
<Perhaps, but doubtful>
Will my coral recover?
<Only time can/will tell>
And how do you think my deep sand bed faired?
<As stated above... likely impaired to degree...>
I noticed all the bristleworms and my brittle star made quick work of the deadens.
Water parameters look good again so is there anything else I need to do?
<Have a good quantity of pre-made, stored water on hand, add double the use of whatever chemical filtrants you have on hand...>
I currently have some carbon going to suck out any extra chlorine from the bleach. (insert word of warning to others here, must have been a drop or two only and it decimated my tank)
<Not the bleach anymore, but consequences of its presence>
Any words of advice or encouragement greatly appreciated.
Ren ­ Sydney Australia
<Maybe have a read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
put in the terms/string: "chlorine, bleach poisoning", read the cached views. Bob Fenner>

Re: Killed fish with bleach   3/14/10
Thanks Bob, just a quick follow up The Seachem Prime seems to have done the trick (maybe it has the sodium thiosulfate (hypo-sulfite) in it, it certainly smelt sulphurish. Anyway, everything is back to almost normal now.
My Sinularia have erected themselves, mushrooms opened again and fish are all as happy as ever (the ones that made it anyway) My PH did dip dangerously low the following 2 days but I have been kalking and used some bicarb to fix this, it seems stable once more.
I hope my tank bad luck is over now, my sump blew a seal last week and now I am using a plastic tub (MacGyver rig) which seems to work ok.
One more question though, I have been using Kalk only last few weeks, would you suggest using it in all top up water? Or just once or twice a week?
<Is fine if your make-up water is lacking alkalinity. There are better additions however. See WWM re>
And I wont even bore you with my incessant hair algae issues despite daily changes I am constantly battling this. (the reason I started Kalk) As I have tried everything from critters to massive magnesium levels. I don't know how many times I have taken out the live rock and scrubbed it clean. (also part of the reason I went to a DSB (which seems to maybe be working......Maybe!)
<Does help>
Thanks again, you guys rock!
P.S. Been reading up on your bristle worms pages. Thanks Bob, you sure know your worms.
P.P.S. I have been sampling some LED lights to replace my MH 150 watts (I had 2 of them) I must say I think we have finally caught up. I am getting a perfect 14000k light level which my corals love, I get the shimmer on the sand, they are instant, quiet and importantly.... Cool! Not to mention the 500000 hrs I should get.
If you want any info on them let me know. I am sure someone will want to either shoot them down, or do some readings with them (I don't have PAR meters etc. I only go on how my tank inhabitants react.
So far so good) by the way they only cost $170 US each, I needed two for a 5 ft tank)
<Excellent. Thank you for this. BobF>

Water Change = Dead Fish'¦But Inverts Are Fine (RMF'¦differing thoughts/input?) -- 02/22/10
I hate to be one of "those" people, who complain of mysterious wipe outs,
<<Does happen'¦ There's always a reason for/cause of the wipeout'¦but identifying/finding it can sometimes be tough>>
but after 12 years of keeping marine fish I've never had anything like this happen.
This 46 gallon tank has been set up for 10 months and was stocked with 2 Firefish, 1 goby, 1 fathead Anthias, 1 Lubbock wrasse, two cleaner shrimp, one colt coral, assorted mushrooms, and yellow polyps. The last item added was the colt coral about three months ago. I do bi-monthly water changes, 8 gallons at a time. We have a well (not city water)
<<Hmm, perhaps a clue'¦>>
and I mixed my water 48 hours prior to the water change. (I don't use RO.)
<<Ah but you should'¦I think having 'well water' is an even stronger argument for pre-filtering than having 'crappy tap water' as it is more susceptible inadvertent contamination. I had a couple 'mysterious' wipeouts after non pre-filtered water changes when I was living in the UK back in the early 90s that I believe were linked to chemicals added to the tap water mains to control freshwater shrimp in the system (so I was told). Whether that was the cause or not, it never happened again once I began pre-filtering the water for my reef system>>
I used my usually bucket and powerhead. Just before the change I checked the salinity and temp. I changed 1/3 of the filter media (including the carbon) in the canister filter and changed the water (vacuuming a small section of gravel like I usually do). I put the tank back together. I then went to the kitchen, got a paper towel which I sprayed with Windex,
>?!! Ammonia based... toxic! RMF<
walked back to the tank (about 20ft) and wiped the glass. All done.
<<Aside from the unfiltered well water I don't see any red flags here>>
Within 30 minutes the wrasse was racing around the tank like crazy. The Firefish and goby seemed normal and the Anthias was hiding in his cave (normal after a water change). An hour later the wrasse was dead. Two hours later the Firefish, goby and Anthias were all hiding where I couldn't find them. Three hours later the Anthias swam out, laying on the bottom. Hour four dead Anthias. At around eight hours after the water change one Firefish and the goby came out, both hopping along the bottom. I netted and started drip acclimation into my quarantine tank. They didn't make it through acclimation. However, all of my inverts are just fine. The shrimp are cruising around the tank and the polyps are open. Salinity is 1.024, pH 8.2, nitrate 10-15,
temp 78. The only things I can think of was either 1) the pH of my new water was off (I didn't check prior to the water change),
<<Mmm, no'¦were this the issue here your crustaceans should have been affected...and before the fishes>>
or 2) some of the Windex somehow got in the water.
<<Unless you dropped the Windex-soaked paper towel in the tank, I think this too is unlikely to be the problem here>>
The problem is that my inverts should have died first,
<<Often the case, yes. But as you have witnessed'¦not always so>>
or at the very least been slightly unhappy- but they seem _fine_. Do have any ideas as to what happened?
<<My first impression is a contamination/poisoning event...and something that exclusively targeted the fish'¦but what this might be, I have no idea. Another thought is that something was introduced that caused a rapid explosion of aerobic bacteria; oxidizing organic matter creating an anoxic event, thus robbing the system of oxygen and suffocating the fish (have experienced this firsthand'¦did not seemingly malaffect smaller/lower life forms [e.g. -- small crustaceans and mollusks], and corals to 'appeared' unaffected). I'll also ask Bob if he has any thoughts/input here>>
What tests should I run before I think about restocking?
<<It's not likely there's anything 'you can test for' here re a contamination/poisoning event beyond the standard battery of tests as though you were cycling the tank'¦ even an anoxic event would no longer be detectable. Do also change out/run a fresh batch of carbon on this tank'¦in fact I would load up a small canister filter with cut-up Poly-Filter chemical filter media and give the system a good 'scrub' before attempting restocking>>
What can I do to make sure this doesn't happen again?
<<It's hard to say without knowing the problem. We can only speculate at this point as to the cause of the mortalities, but 'my' first action would be to obtain a RO/DI prefilter for processing that well water before use in your reef system. Do also make sure there's been no contamination of the salt mix and the containers used for mixing/holding>>
Thank you so much for your time!
<<A pleasure to share'¦ EricR>>
>Considering the time, circumstances, I do think the vapors from the ammoniated towel are the prime suspect here. RMF<

Re: Water Change = Dead Fish'¦But Inverts Are Fine -- 02/22/10
<<Hey Tricia!>>
Thank you for the quick response!
<<Quite welcome>>
The "missing" Firefish turned up this morning when the lights came on and ate normally.
He seems a little timid, hanging closer to his bolt hole than normal, but considering he is now the only fish in the tank he seems ok.
The shrimp were begging for food and my snails were moving around. The polyps opened fully on everything (colt, yellow polyps, Ricordea, even my picky "fuzzy" mushrooms), except two of the largest "normal" mushrooms. They are shrunken, have expelled their "guts", and even have two or three "threads" coming from their flat surface.
<<Could be unrelated>>
The smaller ones in the colony have good color and were as big as they get, but obviously something is rotten in Denmark if the larger ones are this unhappy. Does this give more of a clue?
<<Not really, no'¦ The reactions of the Corallimorphs may or may not have anything in common with the fish mortalities, but we still don't know what 'that' was all about>>
**Another thought is that something was introduced that caused a rapid explosion of aerobic bacteria; oxidizing organic matter creating an anoxic event, thus robbing the system of oxygen and suffocating the fish**
Do you think I could have hit a "bad" spot in my gravel and released something? It doesn't seem likely, but I'm grasping at straws here.
<<I too think this is unlikely. Most notable would be the release of Hydrogen Sulfide, but this gas exits the water so quickly (given the circulation in most systems) that it would literally take enough to knock you down to do severe damage (you certainly would have noticed)'¦and there's still the fact that only the fishes were seemingly affected. Anoxic conditions are generally the result of the introduction of a carbon source (like the Ethanol used in carbon or 'Vodka' dosing; due to its perceived purity, but could also be a number of other sugar/carbon based molecules) which feeds and spurs the aerobic bacteria bloom>>
I will swap out the filter media and carbon when I get home from work-- and start shopping for an RO/DI unit.
<<A good course of action considering what we know>>
Thank you so much for your help-
<<Always a pleasure to assist'¦ Eric Russell>>
R2: Water Change = Dead Fish'¦But Inverts Are Fine -- 02/23/10
Thank you for your help with my mystery!
<<You're quite welcome. And did you see Bob's comment? He's of the opinion your Windex-soaked paper towel is the prime suspect'¦something to consider next time you go to clean the glass>>
Best Regards,
<<Cheers, Eric Russell>>
PS: The lone Firefish seems fine tonight, so I'm assuming he'll be fine. The tank is its normal, beautiful self, but empty. So sad.
<<Indeed'¦ I think you can view the Firefish as your 'canary in the cave''¦and can likely begin to restock'¦slowly. EricR>>
Re: Water Change = Dead Fish, but Inverts are fine
Noted and thank you.
Best Regards,
<Welcome Tricia. BobF>

Sometimes it's Hard to Love your Mother-in-Law (allelopathy and contaminated tank) 1/8/10
<Hi Beth!>
I'm in a bit of a mess right now and desperately need some help. I have a 75 gallon that was stocked with coral, live rock, sand, shrimp, a clown goby and 2 Clown Fish. I had to leave for 2 weeks and gave very detailed instructions on the care of my tank with my family. They were very obliging and cooperative after meaningful threats of destroying everything that they love if upon my return I found my tank neglected.
I left my babies, my aquatic ones, in the hands of my very scared but capable hands of my children and husband, I didn't factor in my Mother-in-law <I don't like the sound of this....>.
3 days gone
I get a call from my oldest boy, (husband was too scared) telling me that my Coral banded shrimp was found melted, sticking to the uptake hose and my Yuma and BTA were all shriveled up <bad>. Since my son said that he was following my instructions faithfully, I was pretty sure he was seeing the molting remains of the shrimp and the yuma and BTA behavior was pretty typical and they should open up again. I wasn't scared yet.
7 days gone
Second call, My Seapen hasn't made an appearance and my candy cane coral has lost their heads, Yuma and bta still have not opened up.
Really scared at this point and have my sons do a 25% water change with the aged and circulated water that I store in a garbage can <good move to have things prepared for such an eventuality>.
The water change did not help and conditions worsened. Green algae was forming on everything. A very long week later <I can imagine, I hope it was not a holiday, I can't think of much to spoil your time away more than this>, I finally get home and see that everything is stressed and dying in the tank along with a thick green lush algae garden covering everything <nice>.
The phosphates and nitrates tested higher then my instruments could read.
I only had about 30 gallons aged salt water left so I used all 30 gallons in a single water change and made up a new batch for the next few days. I tested again and the readings did not change at all <did you run some carbon?>.
The next day I'm getting ready to do another water change when I see my Mother-in-law washing my garbage can and lid with cleaning solution. She cleaned the inside as well as the outside. Not wiping it down with a damp cloth, but scrubbing it with a dripping, soapy dish towel.
She had cleaned my tank!!!!! There was not a speck of dried salt on the outside or inside of my tank, no salt on my hood, no drips of dried saltwater anywhere. She even cleaned my powerheads! <disastrous indeed>
After a huge private temper tantrum, I moved all my coral to the quarantine tanks <good that a) you have QT tanks and b) you moved them there>.
I don't know where to go from here. Is everything contaminated? <most likely not permanently> Do I have to start with new sand, live rock and start the whole cycling process all over again? <Mmm, Have you tested for ammonia? You can rinse the old rock and sand well to clean and then run the system (without other livestock) with some carbon for a week in freshwater.
You should be able to re-use the rock and sand but you would need to 're-seed' it with some new biological material, i.e.. new live rock/ sand, as the life would have perished along with the biofilm. This way you might avoid a full 'cycle' but you will have to monitor this very closely.
Otherwise, if you think the contamination is not too much and there is life worth saving, you could rinse everything well in saltwater and run the system with some carbon to try to save some of the life. After a week or so you could try putting the mushrooms in as 'canarys' to see how they react.
I would still re-seed this with new material anyway however as you will have lost some biodiversity. You don't mention what happened to your fish - are they still alive?>
My other question is, how do I group my coral without starting chemical warfare? <Try here for starters:
List of equipment
14g biocube w/ <Tank 1>
24W Actinic
24w pc
Filter media Purigen and carbon
Nano powerhead
0 nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, ammonia
sand substrate
Live rock
20g saltwater tank <Tank 2>
65W pc lighting
65W dual actinic bulb
Prizm hang on protein skimmer
Rena xp1 filter with spray bar
2 power heads
live rock
crushed coral substrate
0 nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, ammonia
Surviving Coral and Invertebrates
Sun Coral, size of small fist <Tank 1>
Pipe Coral (still looks ill but better) <Tank 1>
Chili Coral <Tank 1>
Doughnut Coral (he stressed a long time ago and bailed, he has been floating in a container for over 9 months) looks a little ragged around the edges <Tank 2>
Frogspawn fairly large <Tank 2>
Crystal frogspawn fairly small <Tank 2>
Seapen <Tank 1>
Yuma mushroom rock, 1 large and 12 small (on one rock) <Tank 1>
Striped mushrooms (just a couple of hitchhikers) <Tank 1>
Lobo small <Tank 2>
Duncan whisker Coral 6 heads (lost 3 of them) <Tank 2>
Candy Cane Coral (was 2 heads now just one tiny green head growing back)
<Tank 2>
One live rock with bivalves, a small crop of Galaxea (I think) and a hidden cup coral. This is in my biocube and was never in the big tank. <Tank 2>BTA Medium <? Oh dear, do you have the space in these QT tanks for this? I would put in tank 2 because of the more powerful lights and space, but this needs to be away from other cnidarians as I'm sure you're aware. Ultimately this anemone is not compatible with the animals you have listed in a 75 gallon yet alone a 20>
2 Clownfish <Ahh, the fish, still alive that's good news! Tank 2>
Previous to the upgrade I was constantly moving things around and was relieved to finally be able to put them in one tank and not worry as much about compatibility and allelopathy
<and then this happens. aaaarrghhh!>.
I am trying to stay positive, most of the coral survived and I am very happy about that, my house was spotless when I came home, LOL but at the same time I feel just utterly defeated and am tempted to throw in the towel and get a cat <please don't! you have gone great job by moving these life forms as soon as you knew the problem and most can/ will recover with your good care>.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and helping me out. 
<it's a pleasure! you're actually my first 'helpee' so I hope I've done ok for you>
I really do not know what I would do without the help of so many gracious folks here at WWM.
P.S. My very sweet Mother-in-law was just trying to help and I know that but it's times like this that it is hard to love your Mother-in-law.
Thank You <please write back to us Beth and let us know how you are getting on and what you decide to do>

Re: Sometimes it's Hard to Love your Mother-in-Law (allelopathy and contaminated tank)   1/11/10
Hi Simon,
<hello again Beth>
A big WELCOME to WetWebMedia!!! <Thanks!>I'm Happy to initiate you, well maybe not so happy that I'm in this position to have needed the help <indeed not>. Thank You for your help with the placement of the coral.
Knowing where to place them helped ease my mind.
<No problem at all. Its easy really, to quote Borneman 'group your corals, and then group your groups'>
 There is the odd caveat to this but that does pretty much cover it>
The 75g tank was running carbon for the 2 weeks that I was gone. <ok> When ever I leave for extended amounts of time, I go overboard on filtration just in case of death of a coral or overfeeding <sensible>. I had carbon, floss, and Phosban in a tank filter that emptied into a 20g refuge.
Normally, I do not have an outside tank filter but I figured that it would be my extra guarantee that nothing tragic would happen while I was away
<Murphy strikes again!>.
LOL I also run 2 large hang on filters to increase circulation as well as 3 powerheads. I did lose my clown goby, a
few mushrooms, all of my shrimp, snails, Chitons and budding life on the live rocks <in some ways, these are the biggest losses as they are often the most difficult life forms to replace due to the random nature of 'what you get' in live rock.>. My awesome Nudibranch and limpets were nowhere to be found
<Gutted. but these creatures have already survived quite a bit to get to your tank in the first place. You never know what still could be 'hanging on' somewhere>.
My MIL used Windex, dish soap and comet to clean everything. Should have mentioned that the ammonia level was very high
<definitely a factor here>.
I have started the clean up. The water is gone, I have rinsed the sand, the tank, the refuge, all of the equipment
that was inside of the tank. All the filter media has been replaced, protein skimmer parts cleaned. The rocks have all been rinsed and scrubbed and placed back into the tank. The old water from the 20g and 14g water changes has been placed in the 75g tank and some of the live rocks from those tanks have been placed in the 75g <ok>. I don't know what to say about the BTA. I thought that a 75g set up would be big enough for him. I like the bugger and really don't want to part with him.
<A 75g is big enough for him/her/it. But is it big enough for him and everything else?
You might be lucky and he might stay on one place, not grow too large, and not split. But given time it is likely he will do all of these things and then your other Cnidarian life is in serious danger>.
Maybe in a year or so I'll upgrade to a larger tank
<an addiction that I have myself, with no signs yet of stopping>.
I do have one more question to ask. In my 20g I have lost most of my Chitons and all of my hermit crabs. Not due to water quality, just a week ago, I watched as 2 Chitons expel sperm and eggs. Very neat to watch them get their timing down. All I have left are shells and a couple of Chitons. I have a strong suspicion that I have a pistol shrimp hiding somewhere. Every now and then I hear what sounds like glass being tapped. Do pistol shrimp eat hermits and Chitons?
<No, not usually. The tapping sounds and missing livestock are classic hallmarks of Mantis Shrimps. Do read here:
Thanks Again Simon. I wish you all the best in your adventures on WWM.
<Thank you Beth and good luck!> 
Re: Sometimes it's Hard to Love your Mother-in-Law (allelopathy and contaminated tank)
Simon, <Beth> Hoping I'm not wearing out the welcome mat <of course not>.
I did some Googling, a while back, when I started hearing those tapping noises and had ruled out Mantis. The information that I read said that if there is a continuous tapping then it is a Mantis. If it is a single tap, heard only now and then, than it is a Pistol <Really? Then maybe you know more than me, certainly possible! There are many different species of Mantis however, and it is unlikely that a pistol shrimp will take on a hermit crab. Mantis shrimps on the other hand....>. I have only heard single taps spaced out over hours. Just tapped as I typed. Do Mantis
create holes in the rock work as well? <Can, yes> Noticed some newly drilled holes in one of my rocks. The same rock that has the remains of the Chitons laying on top <This evidence is compelling to me>. I love the idea of having a Mantis <me too! with the number of smaller tanks that you own I would consider removing this rock to one of them sometime in the near future if you can>. but at this particular time, with the clown fish in the 20g, I really do not feel comfortable about having a possible fish killer in the tank <agreed. Separate this rock from the clownfish>. I wonder if he was the one who got my Firefish a while back. Never did find any remains
<the plot thickens.....>.
Thanks, Beth <Simon>
Re: Sometimes it's Hard to Love your Mother-in-Law (allelopathy and contaminated tank)
Simon, <Beth> Regarding the Mantis vs. Pistol shrimp. I'll take your advice over a Googled website any day. I have no insight to the other persons credentials. As for removing the rock, I believe the creature has a burrow under the rock rather than in the rock <ok>. From what I have read, they are super fast. Do you think that I could catch him in a net without harming him? <In such a small tank I would give you good odds> Do you think that he will be alright in my 14g biocube? <yes, for a while at least depending on the species> I don't have anything other than coral in that tank <is best here>. The BTA is doing fine so far, I can start a 20g refuge directly under the other 20g to house him in and away from the other coral <ok>. All I would need to get would be some sand and tubing. Would I run the filter before or after the refuge? <hmmm, the refuge wants to be gravity fed, via either a drilled hole or an overflow box/ weir, the former preferably>. The last question before I call it a night <phew!>, will putting all these corals in the smaller tanks stress the bioload to much?
<not likely> If so, how do I counteract. <Monitor for ammonia and use water changes/ Amquel if necessary. Particularly the tank with the clowns in as this is the one that will have a problem if any. You need to take
care here, and monitor, but if you have some biologically active live rock in place this will probably be ok>.
Thanks again Simon, Have a Good Night
<thanks, and continued good luck and health to you!> Beth <Simon>

Soapy Sand: Best not to keep it. 12/10/2009
Hello, my name is Angel.
<Hi Angel.>
I have a problem with my 55 gallon tank substrate. My roommates accidentally got laundry detergent into my tank and killed everything inside. They also broke open a thermometer inside the sand while taking it out of the old tank.
<Sounds like you need to keep the roommate away from the tank.>
I have started over and now have another tank up and running. I need to know the best method to clean the soap out of the sand. I have strained it out very well and washed it at least 20 times with hot water, but I don't want to dump it into my new tank and have it mess everything up. Do you have any suggestions as to how to clean the sand out well.
<Short answer - you don't. Discard the sand and get new. It would be near impossible to get all of the sand soap free.>
Thanks a bunch,

Pufferfish with chlorine poisoning  2/3/09 Hi, thanks for having this service. I have found many answers here. I have a 125gal saltwater tank occupied by a 4" porcupine puffer, 7" Volitans lionfish, Foxface Rabbitfish, 3' zebra eel and 2 small damsels that survived the initial start-up a year ago. While on vacation we had a friend come by to feed the fish. Thinking he was helping, he removed a few of the skeleton corals and cleaned them in bleach. He did soak them in a freshwater dip with prime before he placed them in the tank. However, the next morning our Russell lionfish was dead and the puffer is sitting on the bottom, having breathing problems. <Yikes....> He also has a thick white substance coming from his pores, mouth, gills and eyes. <Body mucus...> Obviously, he is experiencing chlorine poisoning. Within 12 hours of the poisoning, I changed 40 gals, added extra prime to the tank, placed the airstone next to the powerhead to create a higher oxygen content in the water and added StressCoat to the water. He did begin swimming around periodically, but most of the time he is resting on the bottom. Is there anything else I can do to help him survive? <Yes, place a good deal (a couple of "units") of activated carbon... like Boyd's Chemipure or such in the water flow path, and possibly PolyFilter if you can get it pronto> I am also worried that even if he is recovering, he will not eat, as most fish won't when they are ill. <Not to worry... These puffers can go w/o feeding (if in good health initially) for weeks> I don't want him to starve to death before he has a chance to recover. How long can he survive without eating? I tried soaking his food in garlic extreme, that did not work. Do you have any suggestions to get him to eat? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FishInd3.htm toward the bottom of the page... re var. puffer groups Feeding> Sorry for going on so long, I just really want to help him. Thanks George <Patience here. Bob Fenner>

Emergency!!  Laundry Detergent In New Marine Tank...Importance Of Using 'Dedicated Aquarium' Items/Materials -- 07/09/07 Hello, <<Hi there>> I think I may have contaminated my saltwater tank to a point where something drastic is going to have to happen. <<Uh-oh!>> I was having a problem with the cloudy water after adding the aragonite gravel to the water. <<Common...some folks go to the trouble to 'pre-rinse' to mitigate this somewhat>> My LFS said it would be ok to add the gravel after I got my water mixed and the parameters right, but still over a week after I added it, it's still too cloudy to even partially see thru. <<Some water movement/running the skimmer will help clear this up in time...can often be very slow to realize though>> So I went to my LFS and asked them about remedies, they suggested adding a cloth (like a t-shirt) to the filtering process that I could probably clear up the water with that. <<Mmm, yes...or a fine-mesh filter-sock at the output to the overflow...or a canister filter with a pleated filter element...etc.>> So I came home, and grabbed a couple of t-shirts and added them to the process. I added the shirts to the (I don't know the name for it) corner piece of the aquarium, and the water was still draining efficiently, in fact it worked very well, after the couple of water changes and rinsing out the sump the water is almost halfway clear (I can at least make out the heater and all of the piece of live rock). <<I see...but?...>> My concern is that maybe the t-shirt contaminated the tank with laundry detergent and it was causing all the bubbles. <<What 'kind' of bubbles, as in detergent foam?>> If there is that much detergent in the tank what do I need to do? <<Obtain a 'cleaner/detergent-free' source of filter material and continue the water changes until the foaming stops...then let the tank cycle>> I turned off the pump and drained and rinsed out everything in the sump, added freshly mixed water and started it back up. <<Sounds good>> In a few minutes I will go do it again (as often as needed). My main concern is do I need to drain the tank, toss the gravel, and bleach/clean everything down before I can successfully clear the tank of this? <<I don't think anything so drastic is called for>> Or is there anyway that I can avoid buying more salt and sand, and cleaning out the water that I do have? <<If the tank is not foaming from the detergent, I would stop the water changes and let the system run/cycle ('minimum' four weeks). I think it likely once your bio-filtration becomes established it will deal with any remaining elements of the detergent. If you are not familiar with the nitrogen cycle please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm>> Thank you for all your replies Adrienne <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

Re: Laundry Detergent In New Marine Tank...Importance Of Using 'Dedicated Aquarium' Items/Materials -- 07/10/07 Hello again, and thank you for the reply! <<You're quite welcome Adrienne...or I guess it is Aerelynn now?>> I think I can possibly shine a little more light on everything now that I've had a little sleep and I'm not so panicked anymore. <<Ah, good>> **What 'kind' of bubbles, as in detergent foam?** They are just regular bubbles, it's not foamy and they pop relatively fast. There seems to be a little buildup in the overflow and the area beneath my bio-balls. <<Likely from water turbulence then>> **Obtain a 'cleaner/detergent-free' source of filter material and continue the water changes until the foaming stops...then let the tank cycle** When I started my tank my LFS suggested adding a bottle of this stuff called Stability, they said it was bacteria in a bottle to jumpstart the process. <<I do like most of the Seachem line but I am unfamiliar with this product...and if it is not a 'refrigerated' bacteria product like Bio-Spira I would have questions re its efficacy. If you really want to give your system a jumpstart, ask your LFS or another hobbyist for a cup of substrate from one of their established and healthy reef systems>> I've been checking my water at home and taking a sample weekly to the store, and all areas look very good. <<Do consider obtaining/learning to use the test kits yourself...I'm not saying this is the case here, but you don't want to become reliant on someone else's possibly old or unreliable/low quality kits for your information. Some quality kit manufacturers include Hach, LaMotte, Salifert, and Seachem>> The bacteria is apparently doing very well. I have my salinity at a steady 1.023, <<Better to be closer to natural seawater levels (1.025/.026) in my opinion>> and so far the only problem that I have is with ammonia, which they said was from the bacteria working. <<Do read/research our site re the 'Nitrogen Cycle'>> Of course before I add any fish, I will make sure the water is at the best levels. <<Mmm, yes...Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate all 'zero' for at least a week>> I guess what I'm trying to get at is, am I starting over because of this? <<As in restarting the cycle? Possibly, yes>> Or will I be able to start looking into fish again in a month or so? <<This is still a possibility...though I will state here that if you have the patience for it, leaving your system 'fish-free' for a minimum of six months to allow micro-fauna/substrate biota to establish and propagate without the presence of piscine predators will do wonders for the system in the long-term...and watching these critters as they flourish can be quite enjoyable and enlightening in itself>> My tank has been running for 3 weeks no problems at all (everything looked great), but I had planned to let it run another 3-6 weeks before adding my first fish. <<Okay>> More live rock was to be added weekly until I was ready for fish, now I'm not sure if I should even look into that until my tank is all cleaned up. <<You should be able to resume this in a week or so if you wish>> For whatever reason, I don't think that I've mentioned anything about my tank really other than my problem, I bought this tank used from a friend that couldn't really tell me much about it other than it had only ever been used as a fish tank and he said it was saltwater ready. <<Hee! Whatever that means...>> It's 125 gallons, has a sump and a protein skimmer (which didn't include the pump for it, so I have to get one soon), <<Mmm, indeed...sooner the better>> it's got a regular light and a UV light (but they need to be updated soon) I don't think that they are big enough for that size tank. <<By 'UV' I think you probably mean 'Actinic.' And yes, unless this too will be a FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock) system you will need to upgrade the lighting. Here's a good place to start reading/learning more, be sure to also follow/read among the links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm>> I've been running the lights while I'm at work, usually 7-10 hours a day. <<Fine for now, but I would like to see a more natural 'tropical' photoperiod of 10-12 hours once you begin stocking>> The purple algae on my live rock hasn't decreased in color at all and is still very vibrant after a week. <<Excellent>> My LFS told me that the little starfish that hitched a ride on it will probably starve to death since I'm not adding food to the tank as there are no fish yet. <<Hmm...actually, depending on species, the live rock may be the best 'source' of food for the sea star>> I'm not sure if I've missed anything. <<Me neither [grin]>> I don't know the manufacturer names for any of my equipment, but I've been working with my LFS to determine what is appropriate for my tank and fish choices. <<Good to know, but don't limit yourself to any single source. Research our site and the NET in general as well...and then use your own good judgment to make a decision>> Hopefully this little bump in the road I've had with this detergent mess will be the most horrible thing to happen, and me and my future fish will have a happy ending after all! =) <<My fingers are crossed>> Thank you again for your help! <<Is my pleasure to share>> I've been searching your site over and over again reading about other peoples problems, and different species profiles almost on a daily basis since I started my tank up. <<Oh! Very good to know>> I have to say Anthony is my favorite responder so far as we share a similar sense of humor I think. <<Ah yes, he is a wit...or maybe just half...(jus' kidding Ant!). Tis a shame he is no longer able to share time with us here>> You are all so very knowledgeable though that I am confident in the advice you all have to offer. <<Thank you for the kind words>> I have tried to do as much research as possible before starting this tank as it is my first saltwater experience. <<I can tell [grin]...just keep reading/researching/asking questions. Do also obtain a few good books to help you along as well>> I only want to do what is best for the fish I make myself responsible for, and ya'lls site has been an invaluable tool for information. <<We're pleased to be of service>> Thank you for the good work! Aerelynn <<You know where to find me. Eric Russell>>

Fish Deaths...Bleach In Tank  6/3/06 Hi, <Hello Jennifer> I had a serious problem tonight with my FOWLR tank. My husband was cleaning the tank and filters as he does weekly. <Lucky you.> He did a small water change and was sure to add de-chlorinator to the water first. He did dip his hand into the tank while it had bleach on it (accidentally), but it was a very small amount (obviously). My tank is 55 gallons and all chemicals were within normal range. Then, after he was finished cleaning, suddenly all my fish started to die. Literally within 5 minutes I lost most of my fish. I have never seen anything like it. The only things to survive (at least for now) were the starfish, two gobies and a clownfish. I find it hard to believe that such a small amount of bleach (only enough to cover his hand) could cause such immediate and widespread deaths, however, this is the only thing we can figure could have caused it. Is there anything else that could have caused this problem? There was one other thing, our wet/dry filter went dry and no water was flowing into the refugium, and we are not sure why, but that was only for a short amount of time (not sure exactly how long) and my husband fixed that right away upon discovery. I was very attached to the fish and I am very upset. We are thinking now the only thing we can do is to completely break down the tank and start from scratch. If this is the case, do we need to replace the live rock or the live sand? How about the algae in the refugium? Could they have been compromised also? We removed the rock ASAP after the surviving fish and put everything in newly mixed saltwater. (We had no choice but to mix it and use it right away to try to save some of the fish). What can we do at this point? The surviving fish are in a hospital tank, but cannot be in there for long (it is not cycled). Any help would be greatly appreciated! <Jennifer, very, very small amounts of full strength bleach are lethal.  The amount is in the parts per million.  I'd get some Chemi-Pure or a Poly-Filter and start running the tank water through this ASAP.  If none of these products can be found locally, at least get a good grade of carbon.  If you are using power heads, do employ the aeration feature for a few days, this will help some.  I'm sure some of the creatures on the live rock didn't make it, along with the algae, but I wouldn't tear down the tank yet.  Consider doing at least a 30% water change also.  Good luck to you.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you, Jennifer

Maintenance/Operation...Chemical Cleaners   8/16/06 Dear crew, <Ariel> I moved about a week ago, and set up a new tank at the new house to receive my fish from the old tank. The fish are in the new tank and doing fine; I drove them 800 miles in a car. Well I scrubbed the tank briefly just before I left, and went to go get the sponges today to give it a better cleaning, but behold, right on the package I read "not for use in aquariums." Uh-Oh. There isn't a list of chemicals, which I was hoping for, but the package says Publix Easy Grip Sponge, naturally absorbent, resists bacterial odors. They smell a bit funny. What could I use to clean out/ sterilize any chemicals that could have been put in the tank? <More than likely tainted with a chlorine/bleach substance.  I'd filter the water through a Poly-Filter or Chemi-Pure for a week, then discard the chemical media you end up using.  Wouldn't be a bad idea to do a 50% water change also.  Do this after the filtering is complete.> Thanks, Ariel. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)

FYI... Dyson Zorb and fish = no more fish   8/21/06 Dear Wet Web Media Crew - just wanted to give all a heads up to hopefully save others from the fish related catastrophe I just had happen :-( <Yikes!> My wife and I recently purchased Dyson Zorb Carpet Maintenance Powder for "deep" cleaning our carpet... it has no warnings about airborne toxicity issues or chemical breakdowns on the package, otherwise I hopefully would have realized the risk this product posed to my Saltwater inhabitants.  After using Zorb per the instructions (none was spilt in the tank) on the package yesterday... I woke this morning to a dead tank, this product killed a vibrant and healthy established tank w/ a Flame Angel, Kole Tang and numerous other fish and invertebrates. Hopefully by sharing my woeful experience w/ this product it will save others from the same results I had. Andy B <Thank you for sending this along. Please do send this note/message to the manufacturer as well. Bob Fenner>

Carpet Cleaned, Xenia Sick 9/13/06 Hello, Crew. <Hi> I am now seven months into my new saltwater tank in my office.  Three weeks ago they came and cleaned the carpets.  I came in on Sunday to check on things and the smell of carpet cleaning solution was strong. <Did this for a short while, chemicals used in commercial setting is pretty nasty stuff.> I opened all the windows and did a 10% water change and changed the carbon. <Good>  Things looked fine for awhile, but now my xenia and Montipora are dying and the first hint of nitrates (5) have appeared since finishing cycling. <Xenia tends to be very sensitive to these types of things, and probably so die-off on the LR fueling the nitrate increase.>   The pH previously cycled between 8.0 and 8.2 daily, now rarely gets above 8.0 (low 7.8 early AM).  I have added Seachem Buffer twice, but the pH drifts back down in a few days. <Something wrong chemically for sure.> I have replaced the carbon twice and done multiple 10% water changes. <Good> Today I removed the Chemipure filter media in case it was leaching toxins back into the tank. <Good idea.>  All other inhabitants look fine (Sinularia, mushrooms, yellow colony polyps, Lobophyllia,  rose anemone, Galaxea, Tridacna Crocea, cleaner shrimp, one yellow tang, one damsel, one maroon clown, seven blue-green Chromis and multiple various snails). The tank is a 65 gal with 94# live rock and DSB.  Two 150W MH 14K lights.  17gal Lifereef sump and skimmer.  Temp 78-80, SG 1.024, Ca++ 340ppm, Alk 3.6meq/L, no phosphates, ammonia, nitrite. Do you think the fumes are the culprit? <Most likely.> Do I need to replace the DSB as a possible source of continued pollution? <No> Do I remove the Montipora (color fading, but no obvious necrosis)? <Would give it time, see if it comes back.>  Any other suggestions or just wait it out.   Thanks   Hugh <Keep up the water changes and carbon replacement.  Also try some PolyFilters, very good at removing chemical contaminates.> <Chris>

Airborne Toxin Concerns 9/13/06 Hi crew, hope all is well with you. <Is, and hope the same is for you.>  I have a question about using things that emit fumes and scents etc. around my reef tank. <Generally a bad thing.> I have a 150 gallon reef in my living room that is a large great room situation that also is connected with my kitchen. <I'm jealous.> My concern is that I have read many places about noxious fumes and stuff like cleaning products being pulled into the system via the filtration and aeration. <Can happen.>  I am now concerned every time anything gets into the air in this room and indeed in the house.  So I was wondering if you could give me a more complete idea what is a problem and what isn't. <Will try to give general guidelines.>  For example, is it okay if I fry foods in the same room? <Sure> Is it okay to use scented candles in the room or any room in the house? <Usually, some of the bug repellent ones I might be concerned with, but if you are using those in the house you have bigger problems ;)> Is it okay to use cleaning products in the same room? <Well, in reality this is a necessity.  Just try to use non-aerosol variety when possible, and ventilate the room as much as possible when using either type.> What about hair spray in the other room? <Probably fine since the 80s are long gone.> As you can see I have become quite paranoid about this but do not want to be obsessive so any more specific help would be great. Thanks Debi <It is a real concern, have heard of issues with this fairly often, often involving nail polish remover it seems, so be especially careful with that.  Otherwise use products in moderation around the tank and ventilate the room when using these products.  Generally good for you too, since some of these things can be quite nasty.  Basically anything that is toxic to you or bugs is a no-no, food smells, candle smoke, and non-toxic cleaning supplies are fine, in moderation of course. Heavy duty cleaning supplies, toxic chemicals, cigarette smoke, and pest repellants use should be limited around the tank as much as possible.  If their use cannot be avoided, turn off the skimmer since this is where most aeration takes place.> <Chris>    Bleached coral rocks I had Bryopsis taking over my tank. I took out the infested rock and bleached it.  what do I need to do before I can place it back in my tank? << I wouldn't. >> I do not want to introduce bleach to my system. << Exactly.  With all the money we invest in our systems, I wouldn't risk the health of the animals to something like bleach.  Instead I'd look for different ways of fixing the problem next time, and this time just use the rocks as home decorations. >> the tank has been very well established and holds a lot of difficult to keep corals. << Again, another reason to not risk the introduction of the bleached rocks.  I'd just count them as a loss and move on. >> PED, concord <<  Blundell  >> <... can be easily rinsed in freshwater and just allowed to air dry for a day or two... or liberal amounts of DeChlor or similar product (sodium thiosulfate, hyposulfite... applied. Bob Fenner, who wonders where AdamB got his labcoat>  

Breathing extremely heavy Hi, I have a serious situation.  My puffer, eel and trigger are about to die.  They are breathing extremely heavy.  Have been in the tank now for 1 year with no complications.  I tested temp, salinity, ammonia, nitrite/nitrate, and ph.  Everything is normal.  No new fish have been added to the tank.  There is no way that anyone of them has a parasite. Eyes are not cloudy (very clear).  I just can't figure out what is going on. <Sounds like either "just" low dissolved oxygen or the accidental introduction of something toxic. I would execute a large (25%) water change, add a goodly amount of activated carbon to your filter flow path, add as much circulation, surface agitation as you can... and leave off feeding anything for now> I have been doing this for 3 years without any problems like this without a reason.  The only thing I have been doing differently is my ro water unit broke so I am using tap water.  I have been using this for about a month.  Although of course, I have been using prime to strip out chemicals.  The other tanks where I am using the tap are doing fine.  I appreciate any help you can offer.  Thanks Kelly <The time to act is NOW. Bob Fenner>

Breathing extremely heavy Hi Bob, <Howdy> I executed the 25% water change and added the carbon.  All the fish seen to be doing well. <Ah, good> When my mother was over my house yesterday, I found out she sprayed with bleach cleaner. <Yeeikes> I almost went into cardiac arrest. It is obvious that the toxic cleaner got into the water.  Thanks for your advice Bob. Kelly <All's well that ends well. Bob Fenner>

Toxic Tank Hello Bob. I have a 55gal. marine aquarium which seems to be toxic to most species of fish. Most new arrivals die within a few days. The water tests perfectly ; no ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. The pH is about 8.2, calcium about 350 and the alkalinity is about 4meq/l. I have a trickle filter, protein skimmer, and I run U.V.. The SG is about 1.021 at about 78 degrees. I also run a coil denitrator. I've heard that this type of unit can produce toxins. Is this true?  <Yes, a possibility... Would like to know what types of fishes tried, order, ease of death, appearances/behavior... but no, more important to press on, give suggestions/path for most likely chance of improvement... Have you tried changing all, as in 100% of the water out?... If this did not improve your survivability, I would look for evidence of outright poisoning... tramp metal (a clamp? thermometer?), soaps/detergents, even window cleaner getting into the system.... Is your water adequately aerated? No sign of oil film on the surface?... Perhaps the livestock themselves have been of poor initial quality? Maybe try some of the hardier Damsel species from another location this next time with the all-new water... relate back to me what happens > I would appreciate any information you can offer. Thanks. <And I do appreciate the opportunity to aid you in this endeavor. Bob Fenner>

Re: Aquarium Problems Bob (love your web site) Thank you for taking the time to consider my problems, and directing me to your web site for more information. I think the one thing I am guilty of is using the window cleaner on the glass. It has ammonia in it.  <Ah, yes... a very common cause of almost-instant poisoning of aquarium life...> That's about all I can figure, based on what I have learned from your section entitled "Toxic Water Situations". I have since purchased some glass cleaner made specifically for cleaning aquarium glass. <Good to read> I do have another question / problem. I have a Scolymia (sp) Coral in my tank. Over the weekend I purchased an Eibli Angelfish. He's very well acclimated in the tank now, but seems to like to occasionally nip at that particular coral. He doesn't bother any of the other corals in the tank at all. Is there any way of getting him to leave that coral alone?? <Perhaps by offering some more live rock, foods... Centropyges of all species do tend to pick on large polyp stony corals> Thanks again.... Pat Marren <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Protecting tank from chemicals, toxins?? Hi Bob, This is the 40 gallon gal here. Glad to see that the Q&A are back up to it's usual. This is a community of sorts and we all need each other right now especially I feel. <Agreed> Anyway, getting back to the critters, Saturday I will be having my kitchen floor done (including doing the sub floor). I am worried that there will be strong chemicals including petroleum distillates that may hurt my creatures. The tank is in the LR (living room not live rock :-))! I have a fan or two and a stove fan, A/C and big windows in the LR. <Hmm> Tank critters include the Kole tang, 2 Clarkiis, the Midas Blenny, a few Turbos, a feather duster, a Rhodactis cluster, a stripped mushroom cluster, plate coral, and a Cleaner shrimp-- plus the refugium and LR critters. Do you have any ideas on protecting the tank? I really don't have another place for the critters (QT also in living room to be on GFI). Or should I be concerned? Also I may have some painting done, but it will be spot painting perhaps. When the floor gets finished I can finally put the place up for sale! <I usually turn off air pumps, pumps period, and cover with damp (not soaking wet towels during the application, drying time if possible> BTW, the floor got damaged because I was running the TWP and forgot about it as it is so slow. <Yikes, have to add this to my "reasons" for not liking this device...> Or maybe it is my great age. :-} If anybody has one of these it is cheap insurance to buy a flood alarm (about $10 from the hardware store). This is costing about $1000!! (I guess though were are having a LOT of training in perspective right now.) <Yes, but still no need to lose assets. Sorry to hear of your spill. Bob Fenner, who has had more than his share.> Your friend and fan, --des

Re: Tank Toxicity, Triggerfish Hi Bob, Welcome back, and I hope Tijuana was grand... or was that Cancun? <The latter and a sprint to Cozumel> I had a situation (as described below) when you were in Mexico. Many thanks to Steve for his excellent advice. You gentlemen perform a great service to aquarists and their pets alike. <Thank you> (after the tide contamination) Here's what I did: I performed 2 50% water changes, 2 days apart. After the first, my Atlantic blue tang showed serious amounts of his ever-present ich. Just before my Tide debacle, I began raising the salinity with my weekly water changes from 1.020, and was about 1.021 when this incident happened. I had lowered it to fight the ich about 6 weeks earlier. I now lowered the SG to 1.019 over the 2 changes, and added another 25lb of very cured live rock, and a bunch of Caulerpa. Yesterday and this morning, the tang looked better than I've seen him in months. He had been getting very pale overnight, and this morning had crescent pale patches on his sides, like I believe he should. <Yes... and do change considerably during dark/sleeping times> Of the guests in my 72 gallon, (3 hermit crabs, 1 maroon clownfish 5", 1 lionfish 8", 1 blue tang 5", 8 snails, 1 very small and sickly quadricolor anemone, chocolate chip star, and brittle star) who do you believe would be the first to show the long-term affects of my possible (ok, ok.. probable) poisoning? <Depending on type/cause... the snails, crabs, anemone...> My choco appears to have lost a little weight, but I think I might just be paranoid. Also, do you have a suggestion on how long I should hang on to the anemone who has lost a number of tentacles from his move, but still has a number that are bulbous? <Hang on? As long as it's alive> I don't want to throw a viable creature away, I don't want his death to add even more pollutants into my system and kill more livestock. My clown paid attention to it the first few days, but has abandoned it - making me believe that it is doomed. <Not necessarily> Additionally, I've been planning on adding 2 more fish to my system. I'm thinking that a Sufflamen albicaudatus would be my best choice for my next addition. <I would not add a triggerfish to this mix> I'm still not extremely confident that I can properly keep more difficult specimens - and my occasional stupidity clearly reminds me whenever I gain confidence. I would also like to add a large angel, but I would wait a few months. I'm not too awfully concerned about the eventual size of the fish, because I've been itching for a much larger aquarium anyway. So, how long do you believe I should wait before adding my next fish? Would it be advisable to set my q-tank up awhile, or should I put off any additions for more than a month? <Get the larger tank, up and running first> Also, out of curiosity, I've been hand-feeding my maroon clown. Is this practice common? <Yes, common enough> I was very surprised - just after feeding one day, a krill was pinned up against some LR, so I reached in and picked it out, and the clown swam over to my hand, so I just handed the food to him. He eagerly grabbed it. Thanks in advance for your always knowledgeable advice. And, if you make it to Arizona to do any reef diving, look me up. <Mmm, am out to the Desert Marine Aquarium Society in a few months. Bob Fenner>

Fish poisoning (chlorine, cleaning ornaments FAQs) Bob, I have been a long time fan of your website, but I'm having difficultly finding a solution to my problem'¦ I have a 72gal tank and recently did a water change along with cleaning my décor. I did the same as I always have in the past, but this time my fish (all young [1 ½ ' -- 2 ½ ']) all started to act erratic within seconds. My Flame Hawk fish was almost killed immediately, both my Blue and Yellow Tang laid on the bottom with quick, heavy gill movements. I pulled out the Hawk fish, first, in an effort to save him; attempts were in vain. Next I moved both tangs and my Porcupine Puffer to a reef tank that I've been cycling (nothing it but live rock). My Trigger didn't show any ill affects and I left him in the tank as I quickly pulled 50% water out of the tank and added new water. The trigger remained active and aware. I lost my Yellow Tang as he lay on the bottom of my reef tank and slowly stop grasping. Both my Blue Tang and Puffer Gasped heavily but slowly showed signs of improvement (little movements around the tank from time to time). I did another 20% water change last night and put the Puffer back into the main tank with my Trigger who was still doing well. This morning the Puffer is swimming around A LITTLE but still breathing heavy. I did yet another 20% water change today and tried a little feeding'¦ the Trigger ate, the puffer didn't. My Blue Tang is looking pretty good still in the reef tank as he explores his environment from time to time. I am currently preparing for another 20% water change, trying to dilute whatever it might have been. My guess is that when I bleached my corals (as I have done MANY times in the past), I didn't clean them well enough before re-introducing them to the main tank.  <Very, too common> My Trigger never really showed MUCH of a reaction to this problem, and seems to be fine'¦ I hope this means water conditions are reasonable now. My question is: The Puffer and Tang, both show a little improvement, but both still have HEAVY gill movements. Is there anything that I can/should do to relieve this? Methylene blue claims to detoxify nitrite and cyanide poisoning, should I use a bath of this assuming that a toxin poisoning has taken place; how long do I leave them in the bath? <I wouldn't move any of the livestock... more stressful than it's worth. Do increase aeration, circulation, leave all as is (including NOT changing the water... the chlorine from the bleach is all gone by now... and feed sparingly... the fishes will recover or not on their own otherwise at this point> Can the Heavy gill movement remain a permanent result of this incident? Should I continue my water changes and introduce my Tang back to the tank?  <Not permanent, no water changes, replace the fish to the main tank> Please help me out, I feel bad for my fish and want to alleviate their sufferings. Thank you, Mark (I live here in S.D., you can give ma a call if you think that you can help better over the phone) <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

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