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FAQs about Toxic Water Conditions 1

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

Related FAQs: 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, Cleaners, & Troubleshooting/Fixing,

Echinothrix calamaris (Pallas 1774), the Hatpin Urchin.

PC bulb broke.. parts in tank 8/14/05 Hi Crew, <<Hi - Ted here>>     Sorry... I don't feel like I have time to search the FAQs on this one.  I just had a SunPaq 6700/10000K dual daylight bulb break over my 125 reef tank.  It appears that tube was filled with Argon  and some of the bulb shards fell into my tank. I'm concerned about the phosphor, et. al., leaching into the tank. I removed the shards ASAP but there a few small pieces I haven't been able to get out yet.  I also posted to the 911 board but it looks like it's a little slow.  I'm stressing out because I don't know the composition of the phosphor, or it's toxicity.   Fortunately the tank was mostly covered (the shards fell  in through a hole in the top). Please pardon my brevity (between checking the board and writing this I've been cleaning all the tiny shards of the top of the tank and mixing some water).  Any  suggestions? Anyone know the probability of and/or toxicity of Argon and Phosphor in a reef tank? Right now the tank is only a FOWLR w/light bio load. <<I would not be overly concerned. I would remove the shards as best you can and run carbon to remove the chemicals introduced.>> Thanks Tom <<You're welcome and good luck - Ted>>

Broken Hydrometer...What Now? 4.26.05 I was using my Hydrometer to test the salinity today and it broke inside my tank. The Alcohol was not released but some of the little silver balls or weights sunk into the gravel. I do not have any fish yet because I am still in the two week waiting period. What should I do ? I know this is probably lead so I siphoned all I cold find. Please Help !!!! <Hi Harrison, I would remove all the substrate, and wash it down with freshwater, making sure that all the heavy metals are gone.  Heavy metals are capable of poisoning your fish, so do your best to get every little bit.  Good luck, Ryan> Appended: Unexplained Fish Deaths? Bob, I sent you another message this morning (attached) asking about some unexplained fish deaths. At lunch today as I looked into the tank and saw a greyish/white translucent slug looking thing with antennae perched on a rock spewing something into the water. I left the room for just a minute and when I came back it was gone. Do you know what this could be and could it be my fish killer.  Thanks again, John <Not a/the fish killer you might believe... But likely some sort of snail, worm reproducing (or maybe just eliminating), in response to (one last gasp) to poor environmental conditions... ADD NOTHING MORE TO THIS TANK for a few weeks... it will settle down... Then we'll talk about spiffing up your water quality... Maybe take a look at this issue, skimmers.... at my site: www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner>

Within about two hours, every fish in our tank died (Firefish, Percula clown, Mandarin). We also lost all the snails, almost lost our shrimp and polyps and mushrooms too, but we got them out in time. None of the fish had looked sick. No spots, discoloration, or any weird behavior. If you would have looked at the tank, the top of the water almost looked like it had suds on it and our protein skimmer was bubbling over. We had our water tested and everything came back perfect. I was wondering if you have any ideas as to what could have happened and what we need to do to get our tank back up again. Nicki Kubes <Something, very, acutely toxic... either started from outside (an ammonia based cleaner, soap/detergent on a hand, a cigarette butt...) or inside... A cascade of events... from the organisms you list, likely the mushrooms... poisoning their tankmates... A type of chemical warfare that goes on "in the wild" regularly... but with a much larger dilution salvation....  To prevent or forestall such future problems, regular water changes, the use of chemical filtrants periodically, keeping the mushrooms clearly separated from other sessile invertebrates... plenty of circulation, aeration, growing macro-algae in the system or a specialized sump (mud/rock/algae) filter... all help. Bob Fenner, who is sorry to hear of your losses and directs you to the "Toxic Tank Conditions" and "Environmental Disease" areas of www.wetwebmedia.com for more information.>

2 month old tank w/ ich Help!! I have a 55 gal tank and its been running for months. I checked my levels and quickly my ammonia level is very high (6,8) all other levels are normal. I have 3 damsels, Camel shrimp, scooter blenny, and a emerald crab, also I have noticed a case of ich on 2 of the damsels and I don't have a sick tank yet. Please help!!! <Six or eight ppm of ammonia? Yikes, do a very large water change, fast... and do not feed the tank... Do you have another tank, or a friends that you can borrow/beg some used substrate and maybe old filter material. Do so, and place it in your tank ASAP... Usually anything over 1.0ppm and anything near "normal" pH will kill marine fishes... and most invertebrates. Bob Fenner>

2 month old tank w/ ich Help!! I have a 55 gal tank and its been running for months. I checked my levels and quickly my ammonia level is very high (6,8) all other levels are normal. I have 3 damsels, Camel shrimp, scooter blenny, and a emerald crab, also I have noticed a case of ich on 2 of the damsels and I don't have a sick tank yet. Please help!!! <The "ich" is no doubt part of the response to the poor water quality... Let's get the ammonia down to zero, then find out what died, who threw the whole can of food in, what Cleaner with Ammonia was poured in... Bob Fenner>

Cured live rock Recently I received a shipment of live rock that wasn't cured all the way. I have done water changes for 5 weeks to get the water crystal clear again.  Ammonia tests at 0, nitrite tests at .1 ppm, nitrate is at 5, pH looks good. However, I can get small fishes to live in the tank, (mollies, damsels) but larger fish die within 12 hours. All fish have an erratic gill  function. My only guess would be a toxin in the water, but why would smaller  fish live? <You'd make a fine scientist... on the way to becoming a good mystery writer... I agree with your hypothesis re the poisoning factor... And all live rock is only "cured to a point"... The smaller fishes have a greater tolerance for a few real reasons... The most fun/easy to point out is their gill surface area per size of body ratio... Just like young dogs with large feet... fishes that are going to be bigger, have more "exposure"...  More to a/the point, what to do now? I would get my hands on a pad of PolyFilter, do a very large (almost 100% water change), put the PolyFilter in your filter flow path... and then try culturing some macro-algae... and wait a month to try another fish. Bob Fenner>

Hi Bob: Everything seems very happy in my 90 gallon reef tank. After it had been established for approximately 6 months I added a fine reef sand to the bottom of the tank, it had been bare up till this point. I have vacuumed it once and stirred it a couple of time sense putting it in. The sand has been in the tank for about a month now. I noticed it has little bubbles all over the top of the sand and the bubbles slowly come up to the surface. I assume the this is nitrogen, but what should I do about it or for it? Thanks for you time...........Lin Smith <Not much, IMO... the bubbles are probably "biological" in origin... getting trapped and coalescing under more "biofilm" material at/near the gravel's surface... Unless you see some sort of blackish material accumulating around the substrate base near the viewing panels... or detect a "rotten egg" sort of smell... I would just periodically stir, vacuum much/most of this stuff away... And do consider the possibility of some sorts of stirring livestock... Bob Fenner>

Funny smell in water... I have a question dealing with a strange smell in my saltwater tank. When ever I clean the tank and change the water I smell a foul odor that comes from the water and it smells like vinegar or a rusty steel wool pad. What is this and how can I get rid of it? I use carbons but it seems not to solve the problem? I also have question about algae control. What kind of equipment can you recommend for me to keep algae from growing in my aquarium? I can't afford an ultraviolet stabilizer, but I could afford a protein skimmer. Will this do the trick. I was going to buy a Sea Clone Protein skimmer from Aquarium Systems. Is this a good protein skimmer and will it solve my algae problem? Thank You, <Hmm, you are right to be concerned about the smell of your system water... Healthy tanks smell sort of like, well, seawater... a little musty like earth... and salty. A few things will definitely help to improve the smell, and overall viability of your water... A skimmer is a very good start. Though I consider the SeaClone to not be a very efficient make/model, it is adequate for a small fish only system (let's say up to forty gallons) or a very small reef (let's say twenty gallons)... Otherwise, if your system is larger, there are other "hang on" models to consider. There really is no "gear" that will do away with algae entirely, but adding live rock along with the skimmer will do a lot of good in combating your algae problems... You might benefit from reading the articles on algae and their control in marine systems I have stored at the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com Do get the skimmer, and try some live rock and possibly macroalgae in your tank... Bob Fenner> Thanks for the help w/coral selection, but now I have a new problem. My nitrates and phosphates are real high and they haven't been a prob before. I will describe my set up and maybe you can help. I have a 29 gallon eclipse has been set up a year or so. I have about 1/2 inch of crushed shells on bottom, limestone base and about 30 lbs atop that. The live rock is mostly covered w/coralline algae. I don't have a protein skimmer since hood is enclosed. I have 4 fish, a shrimp, colt coral, green star polyps, and mushrooms, all doing well. When I clean the tank I can only get vacuum into a few places due to the rocks, therefore most of the substrate isn't vacuumed. Is this the problem and how do I correct it? The pet store told me to set it up this way then when I started to have prob.s w/phosphate they told me I set it up wrong. They said there shouldn't be any substrate around the base rocks at all and said to take it out. Should I believe them this time? Is this the thing to do and is it good to have a bare bottom tank? I'm taking another water sample in tomorrow and I just wonder what they will tell me and that's why I need your opinion. corals don't like phosphate or nitrates right? Thanks again...PS.. A different pet store is holding a nice coral for me, but I'm sure I need to fix this prob before picking it up... <Hmm, well all corals... and all living things need some "nitrates and phosphates"... but too much is a bad thing depending on species of livestock... even corals... much more than 10 and 1 ppm respectively should be avoided... for most species kept. How best to limit these materials? In a 29 Eclipse... the best thing to do is to retrofit a skimmer (it can be, is done all the time... something like a CPR BakPak or even a SeaClone...) by cutting the top... The gravel around the rock has a minimum effect... in fact, under propitious circumstances, the anaerobes living there may be helping to utilize available nutrients... By and large, I like substrates in marine and reef tanks... for looks and function. Bob Fenner>

And more questions - and an update! Okay, I follow you, it appears to be cycling just as it did before. I will also remove the lettuce and stop the feedings for a few days. But don't you find this an extremely fast cycling period? I haven't seen one person who doesn't think I'm full of it. My readings are my readings, what can I say. I'll get back to you once anything develops... Spikes, deaths, whatever. I've also got a water quality issue I'm wondering about (regarding RO's/bottled water versus tap... What about the GOOD stuff in there that could get filtered out? If I just had it without so much NITRATE I'd be happy (20PPM is straight from the tap). Thank you again, very much. Bruce <Hmm, and you'd be shocked and dismayed to find how much nitrate is typically introduced into marine systems via lettuce feeding (often ppt, yes... not a typo... parts per thousand)... Much of the nutrient input of tap is overblown by folks... but a whole bunch more undesirable material is easily and cheaply avoided by utilizing an RO device... and IMO most everyone is a fool for not having one for their own drinking, cooking use... let alone ornamental aquatics... Well off the shoe box. And, am I surprised at the rapidity of cycling....? No!, and adamant about "what I would do in your circumstances"? Yes! Things will/are working out... No worries. Bob Fenner>

I have a 55 gallon tank with 2 Fluval 403's, a protein skimmer, and a UV sterilizer. I also have a bio-wheel running on it (for some wet/dry action?). I have 50 lbs. of live rock & crushed coral for substrate. I only have one fish, an 8 inch Fiji rainbow parrot (a beautiful fish). I also have some inverts; a crab, an arrow crab, 3 starfish, a leather coral and a flower pot coral. I have a major problem with my nitrates. every fish in my tank has died over time but the inverts and the parrot (they all seem very healthy). I do weekly water changes of about 5 gallons and have added Acquamarine's nitrate reducer for 3 weeks, with no effect. my nitrates are still off the scale. I have a dry tab test kit and it has the same result every time, the nitrates are the highest rating, my nitrites are somewhat high, but not bad. HELP!! what am I doing wrong!! <Hmm, glad to offer my opinions... and am concerned with the last bit of your message... that you have "nitrites that are somewhat high"... You should have none. And the loss of fish life... likely has not much to do directly with your nitrate situation... And am glad you listed your gear... I would like to know what additives/supplements you use, if any... but besides that possible input, I fully suspect your tank is under-aerated... Yes, something this simple (a lack of gas exchange) can bedevil a system... the microbial and macrobial life on your rock and sand, and filters are being "gas starved"... You certainly have enough aerobic (the 50# of rock and other surfaces) and less than aerobic (the contents of your canister filters) to support more oxygen-using life... And the "finishing clues" of what you still have that lives are tell-tale... the Parrot, though large-appearing, has a lot of gill surface area per unit volume (sort of like a puppy dog that is going to be big having large paws)... and is also a relatively sedentary species... The other fishes, especially if you had any tangs/surgeons/Doctorfishes... probably perished on the basis of their "gas-demand" requirements... highest to lower... Now, more important than all this "Sherlock Holmes" input, let's get to some solution. I wouldn't pull any of your existing filtration, but would add a power head or two with some air intake into them and their discharges aimed toward the bottom and sides to render better/complete circulation... Barring this, do consider adding a simple mechanical aerator (bubbler with an air pump) in a low corner spot. For you browsers, yes, a dissolved oxygen, RedOx meter would be nice...  Bob Fenner, who says, get that added aeration/circulation going and keep measuring the nitrate and nitrite... the latter should go to zero, the former to less than 10ppm in a few weeks.>

Ammonia Spike Bob, I have written to you a few times in the past month, and I certainly appreciate your timely and useful responses. I have been cycling a 72 gallon tank for the past 30+ days. I initially started with 12 Damsels and lost all but 4. Yesterday I added 46 pounds of Premium Cured Fiji to the tank.  This morning I lost one more Damsel. Tonight the ammonia reading is way off the scale......the darkest green I have ever seen (prior to the live rock, ammonia had gone to 0 for the past week or so). The nitrites are at .4 (where they have been for 8 days). I can imagine I will lose the remaining 3 Damsels with this type of ammonia activity. Sanity check: Does this seem normal? I have a wet dry and an Eheim mechanical. My protein skimmer was supposed to arrive today but UPS says it  will be two more days (is that cause for concern?).  What should I expect in the coming few days? Thanks Again <Hmm, yes, all this is well within a consideration of "normal"... And would dearly like to have started with you "at the beginning"... Let's see, at this juncture, what is the better way of making known... what otherwise you might have done. For one, I strongly advocate people "curing" their own rock in a new tank like yours... without fishes, other living things... and at the same time, this process will "cycle" the system...  At the "recycling" stage you're at, the rock's living component is continuing to devolve, with many organisms dying, being supplanted... and yes, a great deal of ammonia will be released... overwhelming the little-established nitrifier population the damsels/tank had going...  If you have the flexibility, do move the damsels... to another system, back to a/the store... And pretend you're starting from the get go now... Run the skimmer full blast, and do massive water changes if your ammonia or nitrite spikes off the chart... The system (with the live rock) will soon "cycle"... a few weeks to maybe a month... and "all will be much better". I am with you, Bob Fenner>

Dying fish... Bob- HELP!! I can't keep anything alive for more than several weeks. I have a 125ga with 130+ lbs of LR covered with coralline algae, 1-2" of crushed coral substrate, wet/dry sump, protein skimmer, Eheim filter, UV filter, 2 powerheads, 2-24" blue actinic bulbs and 2 trichromatic bulbs. The tank has been set up for about 18 months. For the first 6 months or so, I had a juv. Imperator, a yellow tang and a blue tang. The imperator died of unknown cause, but the tangs continued on. Since then I have killed 2 powder blue tangs, 3-4 flame angels, 3 Auriga Butterflyfish, 2 Longnose yellow Butterflyfish, Koran angels, juv French angels, gobies, etc, etc... I have been able to keep the 2 original tangs alive for 18 months or so, and I have had pretty good luck with the 'clean-up crew'. Those that have died, I assumed became dinner for some lucky fish. None ever appeared to be diseased with ich or any other parasite, they generally would stop eating and be dead within a day or so. 3 weeks ago, I got an Auriga from FFE, and it did fine in the quarantine tank. It was in the quarantine tank for 2 weeks and died 2 days after being in the main tank. The night before it died, it was eating and acting normal. Because of its aggressive behavior, I put the yellow tang in the small tank when I put the Auriga in the main tank. The tang died this morning, after having it for 18 months. The fish have been purchase from local shops as well as FFE. I feed 1-2 times a day and have used small amounts of Ocean Nutrition Formula One, Two, frozen as well as live brine, dried red and brown algae. All the food is gone within several minutes. I have done 10-20% water changes using RO water from a local 'water store' the entire time the tank has been up. The water has always tested within normal ranges. For the last 6 months or so, I premixed the water in a large trash can for 2-3 days. Prior to this, I would premix it in the 5 gallon containers. I put de-Chlor and 'Prime' in the water. Most of the time when I did water changes, I would vacuum the substrate. Having talked to several local shops, they all said to cut back on the vacuuming. The last time I did was several months ago. Since then, the nitrates have been lower than normal, 10-20 instead of the usual 30-40ppm. The skimmer has been foaming more than usual though. I wash my hands every time before I put them in the tank. The only thing I can think of that would contaminate the tank would be the usual household cleaners used in the same room as the tank but, not on the tank itself. I clean the Eheim every 3 months, changing the charcoal and rinsing the pre-filters. I've used Poly Filters in the overflow for the last year or so. The quarantine tank was set up with gravel from the main tank and the water changes are done with water coming out of the main tank after the new water has been added. I've kept a log for the last 8 months and have found no connection to anything. When I talked with the local shops, and they suggested cutting back on the vacuuming to allow for the biological filter to build up, I got a dozen damsels to help 're-cycle' the tank. All but 4 died within a week. As I mentioned earlier, I haven't noticed any parasites or any 'mystery worms' or strange inhabitants as I have read about so many times in your daily column. There has been an occasional 'scratching' on the rocks but nothing that would indicate any other sign of stress. I have read and re-read CMA until I think I have it memorized. Should I start all over? I hate to get rid of all the LR if I don't have to, but at this point I am willing to do most anything. A friend has 3 smaller tanks and never does so much as a water change and they are all doing great. Please help! This is really frustrating (and expensive). I'm sorry this is so long but I wanted to give as much background as I could. Thanks. Andy Lange PS. During the writing of this, I took a break for dinner and noticed the remaining long time surviving blue tang, acting strange. <Thank you for writing... and supplying necessary information... I do suspect some form of chronic poisoning as you hint... Can you tell me, what color, if any, the PolyFilter pads change to?  It's possible that there are some toxic organisms also that could be slowly poisoning the system... we will get rid of them as well: And if we can't find the root cause... not cleaners in your case... their effects would be direct and immediate... but some sort of "tramp metal"... like a rusting clamp, some ferrous trash that came with your rock, substrate... a break in a coating on a metallic component in your filtration... (I would take some of your water into a dealer that has a sensitive iron test kit... this is the most common metal element that causes trouble)... then I would definitely go a/the extreme route... as I'm soon to list: Do consider taking the tank apart... This is not such a big job as it may appear at this point, and will indeed be satisfying... in solving your mysterious death problems. Take out and freshwater rinse your live rock, and stack/store dry (i.e., not underwater) out of the way... Drain the tank to the near bottom, but with some water above the gravel, and apply a good gallon of "swimming pool" bleach (sodium hypochlorite)... carefully so you don't stain anything... stir the bleach water in and around your substrate. Let this whole mess stand for an hour or more... with your windows open on a "nice day". Add freshwater, drain, add freshwater, drain... and then take out the gravel, rinse it, store it, and return it to the tank... re-set the whole thing up... with synthetic salt mix... and replace the live rock in about three/four days... Yes, not a typo. Let the rock air-dry this long... Much of the desirable life on it will come right back... and the not so desirable will be dust. Let this whole system run for a month... before starting your re-stocking...and one last item: cease using the Prime product... it probably has not much to do with your situation, but is unnecessary. Bob Fenner>

Help! My Entire Tank Is Dead! Hi Bob, I bought a fish that started showing signs of sickness a couple of days after I put him in my tank. Whatever this illness is, ended up killing off my entire tank. Here's what happened: My fish started looking like they had dead skin hanging off of them. My local fish store suggested RxP so I started treating the tank immediately.  Within 24 hours, half of my fish were dead ( 2 within hours of adding the RxP) and the other half started looking even worse. They were all eating just fine throughout all this massive death.  Anyway, I've tested and retested my water and everything looks fine. However, now there is all this white tubular stuff on my live rock and just today there are little white things on the glass of my tank that look a lot like smaller versions of these long tubular white things. Honestly, most of this stuff looks like mold! Some of it is even on the plants of my live rock and it wasn't there before.  I bought 20 pounds of Fiji live rock a couple of weeks before I got the fish that was the first to become ill. Didn't know if this had anything to do with it. So after being so long-winded, I suppose my question is: What in the world went wrong and where do I go now to get my tank back in shape for more fish? So I'm back to my original statement: Help! My entire tank is dead! :) Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Apryl Duncan <Yeeikes! Let's go back a few, make that all steps... Don't know, can't say what the problem was, the root cause(s) or if the medicine hastened your livestock's' demise or you did from overdosing... And at this point, don't know from your description what the tubular bits are... but they might well be decomposers... they are of little consequence. At any length, I do know what I would do at this point: Take about a third of the water out and replace it with freshwater...as in tap... and let the tank run for a month like that... Much of your "live" part of rock may die, but so will about all of the possible disease-causing organisms that might have been there...  After the month, raise the specific gravity back to about 1.022 and try a few damsels... and then we'll talk again. Bob Fenner>

Can't figure out what it wrong Hello, We have a 150 gallon tank that is about 6 months old. After going through the maturation process we tried to stock it with fish, we would add the fish and they would be fine for about a week and then die. We keep a close eye on the ammonia, pH, nitrate, and nitrite, all were zero when we added them and it was zero when the died. Every time we add fish they look really healthy eat good and swim with no problems, but with in a week to 14 days they all die. What are we doing wrong? We have read several books can't find anything to help. It seems the only thing that I can keep alive is a pacific cleaner shrimp, and he looks kind of small in this big tank all by himself. Thank You, M. Pinkston <Somewhere, somehow something chronically to acutely toxic has made/is making its way into your tank. A few ideas come to mind. Ammoniated "window" cleaners being sprayed around, soaps/detergents coming into contact with your water (through a communal bucket, sponge...), "tramp" metal sneaking in through your gravel, d?or (some "lava" rocks cause this, and often an iron test kit will reveal it), even a metal thermometer... any metal contact... I know it must be discouraging (to put it mildly) to keep losing your fish... so I would make the big move: Dump the tank, remove the gravel, clean and dry it, spread it out and look for signs of metal introduction. Re-set up the tank, add some live rock (this will really help) and put the shrimp back in. Wait about a month and introduce some fishes. If the new fishes seem to be going sideways, add some PolyFilter in your filter flow path and get back to me about what color it changes...Bob Fenner>

Milky Tank Hi Bob, Love your column! Yesterday I did my routine water tests, about 1 week from the regular water change. Ammonia, Nitrite, were unreadable, pH 8.2, and Nitrate 10ppm. That was about 10:00 pm. This morning at 8:00 am my tank looked like a huge glass of milk! In a HUGE panic, I immediately did 3 consecutive 25% water changes. ( empty, refill, empty, refill, etc.) Trying to "fix" it without dramatic shock if that's even possible. Retesting at that time reveals the exact same results as last night, Nitrate still 10ppm, so it must have been incredibly higher before the panic water change.  The tank visibility is improved, but still very cloudy. Any idea of what happened, How to prevent it in the future, and how to clear the water????  The tank has been successfully running for over 2 years. Additions to the tank in the past month: 1 green brittle star, 1 long spined sea urchin, 1 arrow crab. Capacity: 75 Gallons. Other inhabitants: 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 boxing shrimp, 5 hermit crabs, 1 blue/yellow damsel, 1 Clarkii clown, 1 checkered goby, 1 Banggai cardinal, 1 bubble tip anemone, 1 carpet anemone, and a full compliment of live rock. Filtration: 1 canister filter rated at 350 gph, 1 protein skimmer . Water changes at 1 month intervals (25-30%) Nitrates generally run between 5 and  15 ppm. All of the inhabitants are accounted for except the clown, I haven't seen her  yet.  Thanks in advance for your input! Lisa <Thank you for writing, and the mystery. Gosh, all sounds like a good set-up and maintenance regimen... except the "white out"... Let's see, because most all the livestock that might contribute to the condition seem to be okay.... at least they didn't just dissolve and make the water change color... And of the livestock list, nothing jumps out as "reproductive products" as a cause... I'm inclined to speculate (is this vague or what? Maybe there is a career for me in politics!) that "something" went awry in your live rock and/or substrate to render the observed effect (it may have been a microbial explosion, or "wipe out"). The very good news is you're observant, intelligent and diligent... and as a consequence of having a good set-up and healthy livestock to start with, you will likely not have problems going forward. In other words, you did about what I would do at least, given the same conditions/circumstances. Oh, and how to "clear the water" (read the input Bob)... I would utilize a pre-packaged unit or two of activated carbon and resin... like Chemipure in your filter flow path. Bob Fenner>

High Nitrate Problems Bob, I have a 55 gallon reef tank with a 10 gallon sump. I have a protein skimmer in the sump and two power heads in the tank. I have about 60 lbs. of live rock, 5 small fish, many invertebrates, snails and hermit crabs. My problem is Nitrate. Five weeks ago I noticed several snails had died at once so I had the water tested. They tested the water using a TetraTest NO3 and got a reading at about 100. I changed 33 gallons and the figure came down to under 50. However I can't seem to get it down any lower. I get a reading of between 25 and 50. I change about 10 to 14 gallons of water every other week but the level still remains high. These large water changes seem very hard on the tank as well as hard on the pocket book since I have to buy water. I buy RO water from a store because my well water has too many phosphates. I cut back on feeding by half to, a piece the size of a dime of frozen brine shrimp every other day, which they eat in under two minutes. The tank seems fine or at least nothing else has died and my mushrooms look better, but the reading still seems too high. Should I change water more often? Change more of it? Can you tell offer any suggestions. Ken <Hmmm, something is awry here... You don't mention your lighting, but I'd bet it's too little on for too short a period of time. Does any algae look like it's growing on your live rock? I would increase the lighting intensity and duration (you can send me the info. on what you currently have/do.). I'd check that protein skimmer as well. Is it clean? Does it need adjusting? Is it big enough?     The nitrates may be just from parts of the live rock dying off... or...?     Lastly, do look into just getting an RO system for your house. If your tap is not good enough for your system, you don't want to use it for drinking, cooking. These units are not real expensive... and much better than driving and lugging around water. Bob Fenner, who says, next we'll talk about adding some macro-algae to your sump with some live rock and its own light... that'll fix those nitrates and much more.>

I have a 125 reef tank that experienced a major melt down The tank is 4 months old with 150 pounds of hand picked Fiji rock, wet dry system, ETSS Gemini 750 downdraft skimmer, UV, 3 175 watt metal halide lights with 2 6' VHO. Water parameters are normal. Ammonia is 0. nitrite 0. Calcium is hovering around 450. Carbonate hardness is 10. Tank temp about 77-78. The other day I came home from work and found my fish breathing rapidly. I have 16 fish. The fish show no signs of disease. No white spots. Nothing. The next morning everything is dead except two clown fish and a Banggai cardinal. What happened? <System components and parameters sound okay, and the real clincher clue is the fish livestock that is still around... Some sort of acute poisoning event occurred that favors fishes that live in close association with invertebrates... over those who do not. Now, what is it? Did you have a large sea cucumber? Something happen with a largish stinging-celled animal? Something, somehow triggered one or more of your other non-fish organisms to release toxins into the system. Something got sucked into an intake, something got stung severely, fell on to something else...     At this point, I would encourage a large water change (about half), a change in chemical filtration media (or addition if you don't generally use same), and a good month abstinence for adding more livestock of any kind.>     Hi There; I really enjoy reading your column; your methods and advice are right on target! I am having a death march in my 55g reef, and I hope you can help. I have 50lbs rock, various inverts/LPS/leather/polyps, and for the last 3 years, I have had death come and go in the tank. Now, something strange is going on, and it is killing my fish, 1 by 1. They are gasping for air, and with 2 days of the gasping starting, the fish die. No signs of ICK, white spots, or anything else indicating a disease. My corals seem to be doing fine, but they are very "puffy", versus extended, as they generally are. No inverts or corals have died, except a Sally Lightfoot that died yesterday when trying to shell. All water parameters are fine; I use an ETSS Reef devil skimmer, and a HOT magnum, filled with carbon, wave maker, & 2 power heads. I do 10% water changes, about 4 times per month, and have used RO/DI water for over a year. I add trace elements, iodine, and strontium regularly. Things were going great, until a week ago, when this started to happen. What else could I check, that would give me an idea of what is happening? Thanks for the great column, and I hope you can give me some ideas on how to stop this death march!! Michael Wasserman <Thank you for your encouraging words. Very interesting situation going on in your system... from the info. provided I can assure you one of two conditions are causing your loss of fish livestock, and offer some advice on how to remedy/end the mortality. Either the non-fishes have endeavored to compete with each other on chemical bases that are more toxic to your fishes... or, more likely, you've brought on a type of chemical poisoning yourself, with the use of your supplements AND the ETSS skimmer... Don't be shocked (or at least too so), this is a very common situation. What is happening, briefly, is that even with those almost weekly ten percent water changes, the addition of additives and semi-selective removal of materials by the skimmer has conspired to make something less than a suitable blend of salts, minerals, cations in your system. You can "re-center" your water quality through a few means, and I'd use all of them: 1) Effect a massive water change (50%), the easiest, simplest way to cut half the imbalance. 2) Give up on the supplements, or at least cut back in concentration, for a while. 3) Cycle your skimmer, maybe every four hours, daily... on/off. 4) Resort to chemical filtrants. In the short term, my fave PolyFilter, to scavenge some/much of the excess cationic material... And "call me in the morning", or get back to us when "things" are stabilizing. Good luck, and be of good fish/cheer. Bob Fenner>

Hi, my question might seem weird, but no one has answered it so far. I'm considering buying an R.O. Unit for aquarium use and I'd like to know if this unit might be used to produce drinking water. Why spent money on two things if there is a possibility to use one for several purposes. Thank you. <Oh, or a certainty, yes. I have put a reverse osmosis in all the houses I've lived in for some time. For drinking, cooking, plants and pet-fish use. A very cost-effective way to render mains water better and better tasting. Bob Fenner>

Dear Bob, My question relates to higher than usual levels of phosphates in my hospital tank. Currently I have no "sick" fish, but in doing my weekly water tests I've discovered the following: Ammonia 0 Nitrite .05 Nitrate 0 Phosphate 3.0 pH 8.2 Alk 4.0 It's been a few weeks since I had any fish in the tank, but I was using CopperSafe. I did not do a copper test tonight, although I've done a few water changes since then. I don't have any fancy equipment on this tank (not even a skimmer). I've used RO/DI water since I started my tank a year ago. I have no substrate, but do have a piece or two of live rock. The tank size is 29 gallons. Will this phosphate level harm my new tankmates I anticipate putting in there soon? What should I do to lower it? My current carbon filter is probably less than 30 days old, but I would anticipate that it has probably pulled most of the copper out? No sign of algae or other problems. My other tanks (29 GA) and (160 GA.) each maintain a phosphate level of .6 generally, never getting to 1.0, but seldom lower. I've tried PhosGuard . .but it didn't really have much affect either. Your help is appreciated. Sincerely, Cavin Lambert <That's a lot of phosphate! There are a few approaches to the high concentration of this major nutrient. One, you can add more live rock, macro-algae... and all the nutrient using metabolism that goes with them... Or, you can use some types of chemical filtrants. My fave is PolyFilter, not to sing that same old song... And the semi last possibility is the constant water changing (let's see 50% would be a 1.5ppm reading...), but where is that phosphate coming from I ask? Do you know? Gotta be from somewhere... food, some part of your decor... where? Find it and limit it. Bob Fenner, who says 0 nitrate? but your other readings look fine.> Q. My Question this time is that all of my snails died. I installed a set of brass Quick Disconnects to my filter line to make it easier to remove and clean. About five days later I noticed some of my snails on their back and not trying to get up. I touched them and they would move, but very slow. A few days later they were dead, they smelled very bad. One anomaly to this is: I have three, three spot black damsels, that look great and are swimming well. In fact their color is better than it was a week prior. All Ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and salinity are in spec. Any Ideas????? Heavy metals? or Cu poisoning? I asked my local marine shop, they had no clue. Thank you again A. Yikesville! Yes, get the lead and the brass out and remove those fittings! Brass is an alloy of Copper (about 90%) and zinc... both toxic to marine life. Both heavy and toxic... btw, your damsels may be looking brighter because, yes, they are being poisoned. Remove the disconnects, and change a bunch of water, maybe add some PolyFilter, and say thanks. Bob Fenner, who can't believe the bit about the local marine shop; go elsewhere!

Bob: Great column!! I've been in the hobby for about 8 years on and off (and only off because my military duty takes me out of the country for long enough to kill my fish off every so often) and I have never seen a better forum for fellow salt-water fish enthusiast. Keep up the great work. Now I need some help. I recently got back from Korea and proceeded to set up a tank, my goal to be a fish/invert mix. Everything was going fine, I cycled the tank for 8 weeks and went down to the local pet store to buy some "tester" damsels. I purchased 2 4-line damsels and 2 jewel damsels and I could not resist also getting a cowry. I have never seen one before here on the east coast, so I took a shot and bought it. I acclimated the fish according to spec but almost immediately I could tell that one of the jewels was doing poorly. He died the next day, but the other damsels ate and did fine for the next week. Then the other jewel died. One week later one of the 4-line damsels died, and the day after next the other died. All the fish went from excellent condition to death inside 24 hours, except first never looked good to begin with. The first symptom was refusal to eat, then listlessness and hiding, then rapid breathing and then a red discoloration (possibly due to the rapid breathing) inside the gill area, then death shortly after. All except the last to die had slight to moderate frayed fins, I think from harassment from the survivors. The last fish to die was over a week ago, yet as I write this the cowry is scooting all over the tank eating off the glass and base rock. I tested for Nitrate, Nitrite and Ammonia, and all were within acceptable tolerances; very low or zero. I had a slight ammonia spike of course once the fish were added, but like I said, well within tolerances. Since the last death I did a 25% water change with instant ocean sea salt. I can see no parasites and no signs of infection. The set up is a glass 55 with a 220 gph canister filter (carbon and bio-bags) and one large powerhead in each corner for water movement connected to undergravel filters. Dolomite substrate. Plenty of base rock and shells for fish to hide in. I have never had trouble keeping fish alive in this setup, I just don't keep a lot - one or two 4 to 6" fish and 3-4 less than 2" fish, and in fact raised a juvenile white-spotted green moray in it a for almost 2 years with no problems. I have no idea what species of cowry I have. It has a brown shell with white splotches, and the body is deep purple with lighter 'tentacles' and a grey foot. Could the cowry be poisoning the water? Help, I am afraid to add anymore fish until I figure this one out. Damsels should last longer than this, even in a "new" tank. Thanks, Dave <Thanks for pumping me (and this query/input process) up! Spent some thirty years (dependent/dad, draftee, dependent/wife) in the DOD so, I know what you mean re being moved about... Hopefully soon, all these (let me say MANY) questions/responses will be put into a logical order and archived, opened to a flowing stream of strings from others...> <Sounds to me like you got hold of a quartet of bunk damsels. Don't think the cowry has anything to do with their loss. There are a few Net and other resources to chase down the family Cypraeidae (the cowries, natch). Some 162 spp. as I recall. (friends in common are looking to karyotype all, and have asked my help at collecting "fresh" material of a few "missing" species...). Talk with your dealer, tell him about out "conversation" and ask him for credit/replacement of the damsels. Try some from another shipment, other species (maybe some of the old standards like the 2,3 stripe "humbugs" of the genus Dascyllus, or the sturdier blue, yellow-tail Chromis...). Sometimes whole batches, shipments of damsels are "bad" for a few reasons... Once again, I doubt if the root of the difficulty rests with your system or the mollusk. Bob Fenner>

Question: What do you think about the Electro-Chemical Nitrate Reducers on the market. They advertise that they can quickly reduce nitrates to a "low" level and maintain it there. The idea of eliminating water changes seems "too good to be true". I am interested in using this with a medium-heavy stocked fish aquarium. Bob's Answer: Such devices do work, but at a large cost (relative to what you get) and the whole world of "wastes" chemically, physically and biologically is definitely not limited to nitrates and denitrification. Put another way, no, IMO these tools are a scam and a waste of time for home aquarists. I don't use them and don't endorse their use.

Question: I've got a 75 gal tank that's been set up for approximately 2 years. It's a Hexagon shaped Relatively deep tank with the following inhabitants: 2 large Feather Dusters, 1 4' diam. Leather Coral, 1 Banggai Cardinal, 1 blue/Yellow Damsel, 1 Checkered Goby, A cleaner Shrimp, Coral Banded Shrimp and 5 small red-legged Hermit crabs. I've been adding Live rock gradually, up to about 45 pounds now. Filtration consists of a canister type rated at 250 gal/hour, an over-the-side filter, and a protein skimmer that seems to work effectively ( at least I dump green slime out of it weekly). I use a tap water purifier to filter all water that I put in the tank, and test it showing no readable nitrates, nitrites, or ammonia. Water changes are done every month (1/4). I want to build this tank into predominately reef, but I'm having a problem with Nitrates. It's odd because water testing of the tank water reveals minimal ammonia, and absolutely 0 nitrite, but Nitrate stays at 10, and rises. This confuses me because my understanding is that nitrate is created through the decomposition of Nitrite. So I always think that after a water change, with no nitrite evident, the Nitrate will diminish over time. I'm concerned about placing sensitive invertebrates in my tank with my nitrate levels detectable. Please advise on ways that I biologically control these levels. Bob's Answer: Lisa, thx for writing, and esp. with so much useful detailed info. First off, I wouldn't sweat ten ppm of nitrates... not a real peril and to be expected... This resulting concentration is mostly a feature of a typical unbalanced series of ongoing events in a captive system... and you point to the balancing factors that can help you keep this variable in check: 1) More and faster photosynthetic metabolism... A few ways to boost this nitrate-using process. Increase lighting, increase amount of live rock, increase both by adding a (shallower) sump with its own lighting and live rock (ideally on an alternating light/dark cycle with the main/display system), and/or 2) Enhance denitrification. I.e. the reverse process of ammonia to nitrite to nitrates. This anaerobic (largely) series of rxns can be boosted most simply by installing Siporax beads, CellPore material or other small "nooks and crannies" media in the canister filter you mention... but also will be aided by adding more branching coral type live rock, beefing up your substrate (intentionally adding more NNR, plenum area) or really making a Natural Nitrate Reduction system on your tanks bottom... But back to the original statement: don't fret too much re 10 or even 20 ppm of NO3. By itself this is not a worry... and do consider the above approaches. And btw, all nitrate does not come about via nitrite mineralization (or "decomposition", as you list), but that's indeed another lengthy topic.

Question: I have a 150 gallon tank with U.V., Skimmer, W/D and a Chiller. I have had the tank for 17 months. In it (for 13 months)

  • 2 Tangs (Sailfin 3in.- Blue 3in)
  • 3 Angels (Majestic 3in-Singapore 2in.-Coral Beauty 1.5in.)
  • 7 Dam. (1 strip 2in.-3 blues 1 in. -3 unknown 2.5.in. each)
  • 1 Tomato Clown 2in.
  • 3 Butterfly ( 2 Raccoon 2 in. - 1 falcula 1.5in.)
  • 5 Fire Shrimp
  • 3 Cleaner Shrimp

I add Boyd's vitamins as recommended weekly, change 30% and clean the tank every four weeks. My fist question is, can I add 1 small Auriga Butterfly or two small Pacific Cleaner Wrasse? My water is crystal clear. Yet, my two Tangs have developed discoloration around the head and the Sailfin looks like he has tail rot and the upper fin seems like someone has bitten it off. Both are still eating and very active. Help, what can I do? Bob's Answer: Chris, you may well have a combination. of "bad fish interactions" and semi-poor water quality going on in your system. I'd leave off on the proposed additions and put my big bongo bucks into some decent live rock. Your tank is pretty crowded and the Live Rock will help improve water quality and give livestock something else to nibble on. And consider taking the media out of the Wet/Dry.

Question: I have a 125 gal. tank that has been set up for about 1 1/2 years. It has a UV filter, Eheim canister, a wet/dry sump, several power heads and about 2-3 months ago I added a protein skimmer. When I bought the tank, I went with the recommendation of the fish store and got the wet/dry sump over the protein skimmer. After reading your book, and talking to another fish store, I bought the skimmer. My problem is keeping fish alive. I just lost a juv. Imperator angel that I had for about a year. Prior to that, some fish would last a few days to a few weeks. The water always has tested OK except for the nitrate level, which has generally been around 60ppm. After I installed the protein skimmer, the level slowly came down to around 20ppm and I thought I was finally making headway on the problem. After the Imperator died, I checked the water again and it had climbed back up to around 40ppm. I have always done weekly or bi-weekly water changes of 15-20% using RO water. Help! I'm down to 3 fish that seem to be doing OK (2 tangs and an angel). I'm afraid to get any more fish. I'm wondering if the protein skimmer is too small. I empty the collection cup every few days of about a cup or so of liquid. I'm not sure what size the skimmer is, again I just went with the salesman's recommendation. In your book you state the wet/dry sumps are 'nitrate factories', am I spinning my wheels have both the sump and protein skimmer? Where do I go from here? Bob's Answer: Andy, I sense and feel your pain. Re: the skimmer, does it produce "foam" continuously? It should not. Instead there ought to appear a sort of cyclicity with the unit gathering more and less during different parts of the day. But more to the point, no, you are not doing anything "wrong" by operating a wet dry and a skimmer (millions do). There are a few approaches that would get you big help, but the best (that will also drop those not-really-so-important nitrates down) is to add a good quantity of live rock. Buy a box or two of cured rock and write me in a month or two to tell us how it's all going.

Question: Hey Bob I enjoy reading your replies to others problems especially when I come to the same conclusion before I read yours but now I have a question that I hope you can answer for me. I have a 240 gallon tank that has been set up for about 5 months. I use a 350 magnum, HOT magnum, and a HOT wet/dry filter as well as a number of power heads. Basically a lot of scraps that I have from other tanks in the past. I also use a "home made " filter for polishing on a once every few weeks basis. As far as fish, I have 2 Leopard sharks and a Masked Puffer right now. My problem is that about two weeks ago I noticed my tank started to turn green so I tried to "polish" the water with no success. It got to the point where it looked like Mountain Dew. I did some tests and it was always fine and the fish seem to not be affected by it at all. I never left any uneaten food around in the tank either. I started doing MAJOR water changes in the past week or so and it is better but still not clear like it should be. Do you have any suggestions? I'm thinking of buying a protein skimmer but will that rid my tank of the discoloration or are water changes the best way? Also what do you think could have caused this in the first place? I was thinking of using a algaecide but I asked about it at a local pet shop and they said that there were no algaecides made for saltwater just freshwater and I really didn't want to take that risk if I didn't have to. I really don't like adding anything to my tanks. Any help would be appreciated. Bob's Answer: Hey Tim... you're experiencing "unnatural selection" of a sort. The probably single-celled green algae that are proliferating in your system are taking advantage of a lack of competitors and predators and over-running your view! Yes, I do have somethings that I'd do, and encourage you to chew on. One, definitely get a big skimmer going on this system. With Triakis semifasciata eating how much they're probably doing, not to mention that beefy puffer!!! You need to extract some of the gunk that is feeding your algae problem. The cheapest, surest way to do that is through foam fractionation. Do you run any amount of carbon through any of those Marineland filter products? You should. A few pounds in polyester bags and switch them out every few weeks... BTW there are algicides for marine systems, but in your case... I wouldn't fool with them. The copper-based ones are DANGEROUS with sharks especially.

Question: We set up a salt water tank 90 gal. We have a 45 gal tub salt that has been set up for 5 years. The problem is with the 90 gal. tank it has been set up for 3 months and every thing was going good. Then all of a sudden, the tank went cloudy. Water change did nothing. All water test came out good. What else can I do? HELP! Bob's Answer: Hmmm, a tank going cloudy after being up three months? Doesn't sound good. Tell us about the mechanicals on this system, and its set-up. What sort of filtration do you have? Synthetic salt mix? What do you feed to what livestock? What is your cleaning/maint. regimen? Any "little hands" helping that might have poured something in? My advice is to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING out of the ordinary. Don't change more water, do not buy and pour any ANY water clarifying product, no more livestock, and cut back to the greatest minimum on feeding till all clears up. Now, give us that info.

Question, part II: Hi and thanks again. I have Atlantic crushed coral on the bottom [store bought ] and there is 90 lbs. of it. I cleaned and rinsed it before putting it in tank. Thanks, and as soon as tank is clear again I will be ordering from your web site. This and the other reply shows me that you must care about your customers. Thank you and have a happy holiday. Bob's Answer, part II: Yes, Pat, for whatever reasons the tank went cloudy, just wait a few weeks and I'm sure it will clear. Q. To give a little background on my 150 gallon tank - its been set up for over a year with the following water parameters: pH= 8.3-8.5; Temp = 77-80?F, No measurable Nitrates, No measurable Phosphates, All evaporation water being replaced with Kalkwasser (I have not measured Calcium levels), 10-15% water changes every 3-4 weeks with Scripps water (letting it sit in dark for 2 weeks). Recently I acquired some live sand, hermit crabs, and two corals: Acropora and Favites from Adam Whitlock, who dismantled his reef because of his move to Alabama. Next thing I know, my tangs (yellow and Sailfin) suddenly died, and so did my Hawkfish (Falco). The remaining fish - a pair of always hungry maroon clowns suddenly showed no interest in food, and showing rapid gill movements. Suspecting Oodinium, I am treating the clowns with copper sulfate in a separate 30 gallon "hospital" tank. The live rock is covering up with hair algae and there is an outbreak of Cyano bacteria. The Phosphate and Nitrate levels are still not measurable but I noticed that the pH is slowly drifting upwards (with a max measured at 8.65). The Xenia which was growing well and pulsing has completely closed up, I had a lot of green star polyps and yellow polyps, now they won't open. My haddoni is closing up. I have 2 175W, 5500K metal halides, 1 175W 6500K metal halide and 4 40W, Actinic for lighting. a venturi driven protein skimmer which has been producing the same amount of gunk for over a year, I haven a UV sterilizer plumbed in, that I keep turned off, but I have fired it on right now... The water return from the sump is via a 1/5 HP chiller using a Little Giant (700 gph) and a Hydrothrustor (900 gph). There are a couple of more powerheads in the tank. Recently red slime (Cyano) was inadvertently introduced with the introduction of Xenia from a friend's tank. The Cyano is growing like crazy and now hair algae is BLOOMING. I am planning to kill the Cyano using "No-Cya-No", pull as much hair algae as I can using my fingers and using a toothbrush to remove the rest, and then doing couple of massive water changes. I normally use Scripps water, would you recommend Scripps water for water change or should I make saltwater using RO/DI water and Instant Ocean salt mix? sincerely, Sunil. R. Sunil, you need to test your water for alkalinity and calcium levels in addition to the pH... I suspect you are/have been creating an imbalance by the use of the natural water and Kalkwasser. Please do consider switching to synthetic, making at least one massive (more than 50%) water change, and leave off with the calcium hydroxide make-up till your system re-centers itself. I doubt if your fish(es), have/had a parasitic infestation. More likely your tang losses and remaining anomalous appearances are due to the poisonous conditions set out by the above mix... So many real possibilities of actually what the root-chemical cause is, but a sure-fire approach is to go with the synthetic... and drop the Kalkwasser for now. Bob Fenner Question: Help, I can't keep my fish alive. I have a 65 gallon tank that has been running for 15 months. I have about 100lbs of live rock, and many hard and soft corals. I also have some serpent stars, snails and crabs. My water parameters are almost perfect. I run a Reef Devil Skimmer and an Aqua UV. In the tank I have a 1 inch Percula. Any other fish I put in there is fine for a couple of hours and then seems to go into some sort of respiratory problem. They begin to breathe heavy, start piping and die within 24 hrs. This has been a problem for the last 3 months. I have tried the following:

  • Run up to 3 bags of Chemi Pure Activated Carbon
  • Not used any cleaner in the room
  • Re arranged and cleaned rock
  • Removed substrate
  • Added up to 6 powerheads
  • 50% water changes

I am running out of solutions. What can I do? Bob's Answer: Chris, you apparently have developed a very serious toxic chemical condition in the system. A massive (near 100%) water change and more chemical filtrant (I'd try Poly-Bio Marine's Poly-Filter) may reverse the problem... do stir the gravel and vacuum it at the time of changing the water out.

Question: Bob, my wife and I have an adolescent Imperator who is suffering lesions induced from poor water quality. We were using a source which contained some metals for about 6 months. We've since switched to a cleaner source and have been using in for the past three to four months. However, over the time we were using the poor water our Imperator developed some severe lesions on and around is facial area. What is the best treatment to help him heal these wounds? We are currently using vitamin supplements with feeding. Also, he has stopped scratching completely since the change to the cleaner water. Bob's Answer: Do check out that supplement packet and make sure it has boodles of A, C, D vitamins AND useable/assimilable iodine. Additionally, want to give a big plug for TMC (Tropic Marine Center, UK) new carbon product. This stuff is amazing and well worth utilizing for removing phenols, scatols and short chain fatty acids associated with HLLE (Head & Lateral Line Erosion) and general water quality lesions...

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